Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not a Whimper But a Shout

Winding down, huh? HA!

So, when last we met, we had found the perfect place to rent.  (Yes, rent.  We continue saving money to be able to afford to buy in this area.  When a small starter-type house costs more than a quarter million, you know you live in Northern Virginia.)  Well, that perfect place was for the other applicant who DIDN'T have a dog.  (grumble grumble)  Fortunately, my original first choice was still available, our application was approved, and we signed the lease yesterday.  Funny that even if it was my first choice since the beginning, it feels like a bit of a let-down after finding that other amazing place.  Oh well.  It is a lovely townhouse, and will put us back in town, and the Boy will be in the same elementary school where he went to kindergarten.

But, yesterday.  Completing the lease packet was quite a process.  But the farm decided, after weeks of relative calm, to act out, to let us know that it perhaps is not pleased to find that our time here is limited.

So, first, it threw a fox at the chickens.  Thank goodness the roosters know what to do...which is scream like a bunch of girls, and make the hens run in terror.  I stuck my head out to see what the hell was going on, and saw the beautiful fox that lives on the next property, trotting after the girls.  I started screaming, and tore out (in my inside shoes, like a moron) after it.  Amy got excited to be running with me as I shouted incoherently.  I chased the fox around the building, and I saw it look over its shoulder.  I swear it had an "Oh sh*t!" look on its face, and that is when Amy finally understood why I was being such a maniac.  She took off like a bat out of hell, and she either tangled with it  or it disappeared suddenly.  I heard her barking up a storm.  Meanwhile, I went inside, changed shoes, and finally saw to the chickens.  It didn't take too long to get them back in the yard and shut them up safely--not a missing bird or feather.  But good grief!

So, the farm sat back, cracked its knuckles, and threw the next thing at us.  The Husband, late in the afternoon, was patrolling around, verifying that the fox was indeed gone.  But, who should he happen to see?  Clarence, in one of his many bodies. (He is Legion.)  Clarence, who has been steadily digging the floor of the corn crib into a terror-pit of soft dirt and hidden holes.  The Husband took the shot, and down went Clarence... or this body, anyway.  The Husband didn't report the black swarm of evil escaping the body, but then it had also had enough energy to try to hide under a lumber rack.  This Clarence was not the size of a small bear, but it is one less Clarence.  All this happened just after dinner.

But, that of course wasn't enough.  Nope, the farm just chuckled.

After the demise of Clarence, I went into the chicken yard to check on the birds, and I noticed that the same hen was sitting up on her roost.  This was too many days in a row, and could no longer be written off as her being anti-social.  So, I walked up to her and easily caught her.  I tucked her under my arm and went outside to look at her.

She had only one eye.

That is what it looked like, anyway.  It was swollen and hidden in deep folds of filthy skin.  She also had a huge swelling next to her beak.  I noticed around this time that she kinda stunk, too.  I had the guys get a towel so I could wrap her up, and we used baby wipes to clean away the crusty yuckiness.  This was way beyond our ability to deal with.

So, I got to call the emergency vet (again!) and find out if they dealt with chickens.  The receptionist said they do have avian doctors, but they were not in that evening.  She had an opening at 8:30 in the morning.  Fine, I'll take it.  She took my name and found my file.  New pet entry... but she wanted a name.

I was flummoxed.  The only remaining chicken with a name is Princess Leia, who is one of the first chickens we got.  We stopped naming new chickens a long time ago.  So, after a moment, I said, "Chicken?"

The receptionist laughed, and as the boys started yelling out names, I blurted out, "One-Eye Jack!"

She laughed some more.

But she called back about half an hour later, saying that one of the vets on duty could do emergency treatment for birds, and he wanted One-Eye Jack in tonight.

So, at 8PM last night, I traveled with her to the vet.  I was already famous.  And so was One-Eye Jack.  But the humor and fame didn't soften the blow.  She has mycoplasma gallisepticum.  Otherwise known as Chronic Respiratory Disease.  The vet thinks she probably caught it from a wild bird, since it can spread that way.

The entire flock is likely infected, even if One-Eye Jack is the only sick one. It can be treated with medicine, but it makes the bird and eggs not safe for human consumption for over a month after the treatment.  Frankly, the normal course of action with an infected flock is to "remove" it and disinfect the coop, leaving it bird free for several weeks.  There has been a lot of talk and discussion with Country Kitty and the Husband, and then a follow-up discussion with the vet.

But, ultimately, we have decided to sacrifice One-Eye Jack for the good of the rest of the birds.  Special food for awhile, and I will have to do more in the coop:  replacing the waterer, disinfecting the feeder, scooping out the poo under where she'd been roosting.

So, yeah.  One of my favorite musicals is Chess.  In one of the songs, a character talks about his father:  "When I was ten, my father moved out./ Went with a whimper, not with a shout."

In my case, it is more like:  "After a year, we tried to move out./ Farm made no whimper, mostly a shout." 

I know I have personified the farm, weather, wildlife, and plants on a regular basis.  But, seriously?  To have all that drama on the day we sign the lease?

Most suspicious.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Winding Down

Over the last month, I have learned that uncertainty kills creativity.  How does one celebrate the glorious cross-fade of summer into autumn when one is poring over MLS listings, debating the merits of a familiar school zone versus the cost per square foot, and whether a garage is really important or not?

The simple answer is, I take the moments for the moments they are, and accept that those moments are not going to be shared.  Oh, I've been taking photos like crazy, marveling over the abundant fruit of the Russian olives and the wild grape.  I watch the chickens wander around the property devouring grasshoppers and flies and fighting over the flower beds I have finished weeding.

Life continues, even when I am not recording it.  School started.  The roosters scared off a flock of wild turkeys.  The car had so much dirt from the roads caked in the wheel wells that it threw the tires out of alignment.  We've built another burn pile, and are eagerly looking forward to that first fire of the season.  Birthdays came and went.  Leaves are falling already, and I am harvesting the last of my vegetables, although I am considering leaving in the carrots for the County Kitty.

What this all means is that this blog is winding down.  Country Kitty will be home in a month and a half, and I will be moving back into town.  We moved on a lovely home.  We walked in with our realtor, and we knew within three minutes that it was the one.

Inner reflection has begun.  I have changed.  The other night, I was watching a film, and I felt something on my arm.  I looked, and a teensy little spider was crawling there.  All I did was pinch it off and wipe my fingers on a tissue.  No shriek, followed by laughter.  No grimace.  No...nothing.  Look, pinch, kill, wipe, and back to Pride and Prejudice.  I didn't even pause it.

Who is this, and what did she do with City Kitty?