Friday, April 10, 2009

I want to attempt to tell you about an experience that I had this evening. I may do a shitty job of it. Please bear with me.

I should tell you that the last three days have been gray, dim, wet and cold. I love the rain and wet, but I will be honest - I have a saturation point: All the gray skies have left me a little glum, and bored with being locked up in the house almost constantly.

I should also tell you that we have nearly as many roosters as hens. Absurd, you say? Yes, but true. See, when you order hens through the mail, they toss in some males for warmth. The idea is, males are sort of pointless, so they can toss them in for free, and they absorb some of the inevitable percentage of chicks that will die in transport. Not ours, apparently. Our cute little male chicks held on to life with every iota of their fuzzy little bodies, and my mother fell in love, and there you have it. "Aren't they beautiful," she gushes. Yes, lovely. I guess. And aggressive, attacking us, each other, and any hens they can come in contact with. In fact (and this is one of the reasons I find roosters to be disgusting beasts) they will get so excited around a female that they will fall upon her as a group, pin her to the ground with a grip from their very cruel beaks, and gang rape her. Yes, lovely. The hens have cuts on their necks and backs and their feathers have been ripped out.

So my step-dad built a second hen house, this one for just the hens. A veritable Woman's Country, where the only thing they have to fear is that another hen will eat their eggs out from underneath them. The hen house, due to a lack of materials at the moment that Dale was throwing this thing together, is very low. So low I have to bend at the waist to gather eggs. So all the hens went in and loved their new, pro-fem diggs, except these two crazy little buggers who kept trying to fly through the chicken wire to the extent that they were bloody and cut and mom was afraid they were going to kill themselves, so back into the rooster house they went.

So, now you are up to date. Moving on. I went out this evening to feed the hens the contents of grandma's compost bowl (they get the ends of lettuce and string beans and bread, while less yummy stuff gets dumped in the compost barrel, natch.) As soon as I got the rooster house door open one of these crazy little hens flies right at me, roosts on my arm and begins to peck at the contents of the bowl. I would love to tell you that this was because the hen innately sensed my "Fowl Whisperer" spirit, or simply my kind and sweet disposition, but that would be awarding these creatures more sense than is their due. Instead, it was most likely because the roosters attack the hens at every opportunity, frequently keeping them from the food. If this little henny penny had been sent in to hiding, she most likely came to me because I came bearing food and had, as yet, never tried to rape her.

So there was this funny scared little thing, pecking at the soggy chocolate chip cookies in the bowl (don't ask) and happy as a little hen clam can be. I let her sit there for a few minutes and she clucked and made what are possibly the sweetest little noises known to chickendom. I was, of course, utterly charmed. I have a thing for all things that need protection and gentleness(Which may explain my sometimes questionable taste in men. But that's another story.) And at this moment, the sun broke through the gray clouds, bathing everything in a gold light, glittering the fruit trees and grass with diamonds, warming the air. I looked around me and saw the bunnies hop out of the blackberry patch, the air became alive with insects, the dogs lay all around, tongues lolling, enjoying the warmth on their backs. It was a moment of such utter, benign joy that I couldn't help but feel completely at peace.

Of course, that feeling had to pass. It was then I noticed this gory, horrible gaping wound on the back of the hen's head, which is why she's been too scared to come out and eat. Roosters really are nasty creatures. So I chucked henny penny under my arm and headed to the well house to find an old pet carrier for her to roost in for a few days while this thing heals. This was made harder by Velvet, black lab puppy of Doom, who was leaping and snapping at the hen in my arms, overjoyed that I had FINALLY provided her with a worthy toy. And that slavering maw was coming inches away, too!!

No shit, there I was (useless SCA reference that will be lost on every one who reads this) in the barn yard, struggling hen clutched under one arm, mice infested cat carrier in the other, kicking and flailing at this leaping black Pooka (folklore reference, may be lost on most) while Chief, alpha male of the horse herd is kicking at the metal portion of the fence to remind me that the horses rule this farm and they get fed first, lady. Boom Boom Boom. In short, it's chaos.

And I look up, and over the horse corral, really only a good softball lob away, is this gorgeous white bird. Smaller than a hawk, and way sleeker, startling white with gray areas on her wings. A kite of some sort, possibly a white tailed kite? I'm not a bird person. Thank heavens for google. It was just the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. Compact and graceful in every way. There is this moment when she is right in front of me over the corral, flying towards me, and she breaks a bit and hovers, staring in a way that seems to look right into my soul. And then she turns and is gone, into the forest at the edge of our land.

And of course, henny got put away and is calm and safe, and the horses got fed and Velvet just ate one of my socks, but I keep seeing that beautiful bird, and the golden sunlight at the end of the day and the sweet safety I was able to give a scared thing. A lot of the personal issues I've been dealing with melted away this evening. I can't help but think that there is some balance at work here. I may struggle with so much, but I am rewarded with so much too. And, in the words of my sifu, "That is a good thing to think on."


To Mock a Killifish said...

Well written and engaging as always! Also, I'd like to humbly and sincerely apologize on behalf of all us "roosters". There are some things that just shouldn't be the way they are...

mariann said...

amazing. the hovering bird at the end... whoa. amazing.