Chicken Run

I have been wanting to get laying hens for a while.

Sent the last ones packing about a year ago because we were not getting any eggs.  It’s not that they were not laying, (they were).  But because I was letting them free range, they were hiding the eggs all over the property. Then, one of the little stinkers acquired a taste for farm fresh eggs.  It finally came to a head when they started venturing over to the neighbors every morning  and stealing the neighbor lady’s cat food.

Free ranging chicken sounds good in theory, but  a chicken has no concept of property lines, and when they can fly over a 6 ft fence, good luck telling them they have to stay home.

But in the back of my mind, Robert Fulguhm’s  essay “Not Even Chickens” continued to cast a long shadow over my life.

I really do feel like a rich man when  I have a few chickens.

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So, while the desire was there,  that didn’t mean I was just going to act on it.

Financially, I wanted having chickens fit into the big picture of our life and not be a slow bleed on our finances.

And then last week, I had enough discretionary  money saved up between my monthly stipend, some cash I got for Christmas, and then more cash for my birthday to buy some chickens.

I figured 6 or 7 chickens would be perfect.

Decided to put out some feelers on a local garage sale site on Face book.

30 minutes later I had a lead.  Lady had 13 pullets born in August, that had just started to lay.  She was looking to get a different breed.

The only catch, I had to take all 13.

Then we started to talk money.  I asked her what she wanted per bird?  She wasn’t sure.  How much would I pay her?

I hate dickering.  Told her that right up front.  Didn’t want to insult her, by being too low.  She would just need to set a price and I could say yes or no.

Having bought chickens before, a fair price for a young laying hen starts around $10 a bird, and could be as much as $12 to $15, especially if you’re only getting a few.

She said, “Well I raised them from babies …I would like maybe $3.00 a bird but if that is too much we can talk.”

Sold!

Told her I could pick them up  Saturday morning.

As we finished loading the birds,  She teared up as we put them in the back of my pick up.  I could tell the chickens were her pets….her babies as she called them.

“They need to ride in the cab if it will fit” (the cage). 

Temps that morning were single digit.  I had brought a tarp,  my intention was put them all in one cage together, throw a tarp over the cage for the ride home.  (They would have been fine).

Well, the cage fit into the cab, (barely).

The ride home was interesting.

13 chickens taking up 2/3’s of the front seat.  I managed to get the drop cloth under part of the cage.  Wasn’t long before they were crapping past the tarp.  I noticed my coffee mug was directly below an untarped portion of the cage.  ;-(

I was glad to get home.

I really didn’t want to keep all 13 of the birds, so I put an ad on Craigslist Sunday morning.

Pullets for sale – $10

6 pullets for sale. Born in August 2018, just starting to lay. (Brown eggs) $10 firm. I had to buy the whole lot when I picked up these birds…few more than I really need.

Had an offer in 2 hours.  Delivered those 6 hens  Monday morning.

Paid $40 for 13 hens.  Sold 6 for $60.

So there are now 7 happy healthy laying hens on the property and I’m $20 ahead.

Just got home after an hour cooped up with 13 nervous birds

Early morning view of the chicken house.

Life lesson in this for me again is this…

God knows the desires of my heart.  He is not some cosmic Genie, nor is he a killjoy. He is unpredictable.  And sometimes, in the most unexpected ways, he shows himself in my life.  DM

 

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Reading Out Loud

Woke up this morning still laughing about a couple of Robert Fulghum stories I read out loud to Mrs DM before calling it a day last night.

We do that sometimes.

Read to each other.

My go-to author of short stories is Robert Fulghum.  Many of the stories are only a couple of pages long.  He’s got a wicked sense of humor. I highly recommend  just about anything he’s published.

Last night I picked up his book What On Earth Have I Done?

Mind if I share one of the stories with you?  It’s called Sunday Morning….

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Sunday. Sunday morning.  Some in church. Some in bed.  Some in limbo.  Some in slow motion to nowhere in particular.  And one alone looking for a small slice of the pie of delight:

Around 8:30, cool and foggy- shifting toward warm and sunny.

Walking along a quiet street, I hear a melodious voice sing out:

“Sweetie Pie; oh, Sweetie Pie, where are you, Sweetie Pie?”

I stop and listen.  “Who? Me?”

The voice came from a porch of a house across the street.

Trees and bushes hide the front of the house.

All I can see are the bare legs of a woman who is calling.

Nice legs.

“Sweetie Pie, oh, Sweetie pie.  Where are you, Sweetie Pie?”

So, what the hell,….what harm?

“I’m over here, darling,”  I answer in my best bedroom voice.

She can’t see me either.

I’m hidden by the trees and bushes on my side of the street.

But she’s hip and sings out:

   “I hope you’ve taken your dump, she says, “Come eat your nibbles,”

Aha!  A game is afoot.

 

“The dump is done. Can I have a latte with my nibbles?”

She doesn’t back down.

“And would you like a tummy rub with that?”

She laughs.

I laugh back.

And now her shaggy little black dog has finished his dump and comes woofing across the lawn and charges up the steps.

“Come to momma,” she says, “I didn’t know you liked coffee.”

I wander down the street, and the lovely voice calls after me.

“Have a nice day, Sweetie Pie.”

I see her now.  An old lady in her nightgown waving from her porch.

Nice legs.

Nice, nimble mind, too.  She’s a player.

I walk on with the dog of my imagination running unleashed through the bushes of my brain, looking for a place to unload.

Too bad her dog came back.

I could have used a tummy rub.

Photo by Google

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Do you have a favorite author(s)?  Tell me who (and why).  Any books you’d highly recommend?

Call me old school.  I still love the feel of a good hard cover book in my hand.  Normally buy them for pennies on the dollar through Amazon books (used hardcovers).

Later!  DM

Not Even Chickens

The desire to have our own laying hens around here (again) resurfaced recently.   What stirred the pot was seeing this years potatoes in bloom.

My favorite meal this time of year is farm fresh eggs,  new potatoes steamed with onions, (and green beans when they are ready)  smothered in butter…especially when the potatoes are so fresh, their skins literally slide off when you scrub them.

This desire to have our own chickens  reminded me of another Robert Fulghum story… from the book   What On Earth Have I Done?

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With all the recent seaside development, it is easy to
forget that Crete and Cretans are fundamentally about the mountains –
the steep places, the high and isolated villages that breed independent,
self-sufficient people who have always been a rule unto themselves.
They still are.  The Mountain Cretans say they fear nothing and nobody,
and would look at God, Himself, with hat on and eyes open.  Thus they
look upon strangers with interest, not suspicion.

One afternoon I parked my car and walked a narrow road that
connects several small villages along a high mountain ridge.  A voice
called out from the porch of a whitewashed house:

“Ehla, ehlah, kahtheeseh!” (Come come, sit!)  An old man beckoned to me, pointing to the chair beside him.

I went.  I sat.  On a small table were almonds, raisins,  olives, and a bottle of tsikoudia (tsee-koo-di-ah)  the Cretan
equivalent of white-lightning or grappa- the proffered sign of
hospitality and welcome to a Cretan home.  He was expecting company -and
anybody would do.

“tho-kee-maseh” (Drink this, eat this!)  he said, handing me
a glass of tsikoudia and filling a small plate with almonds, raisins,
and olives.

 “Lee-pon.  Germanos?” (Well, then, are you German?)

I was touched to know that the hospitality came first,

even though I might be German- from a country that had brutalized Crete
in WW II.

“Oshee, Americanos.”  (No, American.)

“Americanos!  Americanos!  He shouted into the house, and a  younger man appeared.  They spoke high-gear Greek with a Cretan
accent.  The look on my face tells them I cannot follow, so the younger
man says in fine English, “My father is excited to meet you.  He has
never met an American.  He hears that in America they have everything.
He would like to ask you some questions.”

 Fine. 

With his son translating, the examination began.  “How old was I? “

“How many children? “

“How much money do I make?”  

Very Cretan  inquiries.  Then a harder question that led to even tougher scrutiny:

“How often do you dance and sing and recite poetry?”

 “Not very often.”

The old man looked at me with narrowed eyes.

“How many sheep and goats do you have?”

“None.”

The old man looked puzzled.

 “How many olive trees do you have and how much oil put away?”

“None.”

The old man frowned.

” How many vines do you have and how much wine put away?”

“None.”

The old man was nonplussed.  He raised his eyebrows.

“Do you have any chickens?”

“No.”

The old man looked mildly outraged and fell into high-gear Greek again with his son.  The son was apologetic.

“Pardon me, but my  father says that it is a lie that Americans have everything.  You have  no sheep, no goats, no trees, no oil, no vines, no wine, not even
chickens. “

He asks,” What kind of life is that?  He says, “No wonder you
don’t sing or dance or recite poetry very often.”  He is dismayed.”

 The old man peered at me with pity bordering on contempt.

Shaking his head in disgust, he mumbles in English, as he

rose and limped out into his garden, dismissing me from his mind:

“Nothing.  Not even chickens….”

 

Thoughts While Scrolling Through Pictures On Facebook

I was scrolling through pictures last night on Face book.  High school classmate of mine has a son who recently returned from India.  Didn’t take me too long before I had a pretty good handle on where the son is at in his life journey.

Spiritual Seeker.

Willing to fly to India, just to try and get “it” figured out.

Woke up this morning, still thinking about that young man.  My mind went to a story by one of my favorite story tellers, Robert Fulghum….

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Like many westerners in the late sixties, I wanted to be somewhere else in my religious journey.  Confusion reigned in the kingdom of my mind, and I yearned to construct a framework of understanding that seemed beyond my present cultural tools.  I couldn’t seem to get “there” from “here.”

Zen and its idea of enlightenment appealed to me.  That one might sit very still and empty one’s mind and suddenly be hit by a mighty wave of comprehension beyond words – well that would do. Hit me with the big news and let me walk away with a sense of “I got it!”

Took a leave of absence from my dailiness and went off to Japan to get Zenned properly.  Got connected to a temple and a master.  Shaved my head and face, put on the drab grey robe of the novitiate, and stood in line to get enlightened.  Figured to become a  pretty holy man in pretty short order, like in about six weeks, which was when my return ticket home expired.  Right.

But of course it was not to be.  Sitting still gave me hallucinations and cramps, but not enlightenment.  The food gave me diarrhea.  Sleeping on a board gave me a backache.  And my fellow monks treated me like a Western fool, laughing at me behind my back.  It was one of those times when you know enough to realize there’s something everybody but you knows,s but you don’t know enough to know exactly what it is you don’t know.

But I did know it was time to leave.

To my surprise, an invitation was extended for an interview with the master of the temple.  Which was like a stock-boy being asked to have lunch with the president of thee company.

Since it was largely because of his reputation that I had chosen this particular temple, and since he rarely spent time with tourists like me, the master’s invitation seemed a special honor.

Mabu Kohara, Ph.D. in economics from Tokyo University, solver of all the Zen koans (mind puzzles), adviser to captain of industry, writer of books, speaker of seven foreign languages, a paradigm of the great teacher.  Wise, good, respected, accomplished.  If he didn’t have “it” all figured out, then nobody did.

After I was ushered into his private study, we knelt on cushions and bowed our mutual respect.  He out of courtesy and I out of awe.  For  along time he looked at me and into me.

Very deliberately he shifted his weight to one knee and just as deliberately reached for his backside and scratched himself in that way and in that place your mother told you was a no-no- in public.
“I have hemorrhoids.  They hurt and itch.”

There was nothing in my mental manual as to how to reply to such an opening remark.  I kept my mouth shut and pretended to be thoughtful.

 “The hemorrhoids come from stress, you know.  From worrying about tourists burning down this firetrap of a temple.  From worrying about trying to get enough funding from businessmen to keep it in repair.  From arguing with my wife and children, who are not as “holy” – he smiled- “as I am.”  And from despairing over the quality of the lazy young fools who want to be priests  nowadays.  Sometimes I think I would like to get a little place in Hawaii and just play golf for the rest of my life.”

He leaned to one side and scratched himself again.

It was this way before I was “enlightened,” you know.  And now it is the same after enlightenment.”

A long pause while he silently gave me time to consider his words and actions.

Rising he motioned me to follow him to the entrance alcove of the temple, and we stood before an ancient scroll I had often passed.  He said it was time for me to go home, where he felt I had been a “thirsty man looking for a drink and all the while standing knee-deep in a flowing stream.”  Yes….

With a wink, he turned and walked away.

Carefully scratching his backside.

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