I’m very happy to be back home in CA, but the city life it most definitely is not.
Take this morning, for example. The chicken coop was especially messy and I was up to my elbows in bleach and pine shavings when several of the hens decided to “help” me clean. Each time I set a section of the counter top right, Tulip or Coco or Hope started kicking and scratching and pretty soon I had to start over.
And then Tulip turned her back to me and I noticed a bigger problem. Her backside was covered with clumps and clumps of, well, you know what. Many flock keepers call their hens “fluffy butts” and the fluffier the butt, the greater the possibility of, shall we say, hygenic issues. Tulip has a very, very fluffy butt.
I grabbed the protesting Tulip and held her under one arm like a bowling ball while I searched out a plastic container and filled it with warm water. Yes, I was wearing gloves – I’m not completely crazy. She honked at me like an angry goose, but ten or fifteen minutes and several rinsings later, Tulip’s backside was a much prettier sight, while I was soaked and probably should have just committed myself to the compost pile. If you would have told me I was full of s*** at that particular moment, I would have had to completely agree.
My thanks from Tulip for all the trouble was a fierce wing flap to the face when we were finished. But I did check with other folks at backyardchickens.com and found that this is a fairly common state of affairs, especially in inclement weather. One person even volunteered that she has “spa days” for her hens where their hindquarters are bathed and then blow-dried! Now that sounds like a perfect life!
We took friends Pamela and Kirk out for dinner last night to thank them for holding down the zoo – er, fort – while we were away. They managed to find humor in the situation: Kirk was on cat box duty and said he “raked them to look like Zen gardens” and Pamela said they adopted a “see a cat, feed a cat” motto that seemed to work out fairly well.
They trailed chickens around and chased hawks away. Dogs were walked. Gaggles of animals joined them for sleeping.
And as I heard all this played back and realized oh my gosh, this is my life they’re mirroring back to me, it occurred to me that it’s probably time to get one. A life, that is. And then I realized – it’s too late. What’s done is done; these animals are all here to stay for awhile. But I also noticed when we returned from NYC this time that Chloe is starting to show some white around her muzzle; “awhile” is not forever.
We free-ranged the chickens this afternoon and took a walk with the dogs. Tonight we’ll read with various cats snuggled up next to us while the logs crackle in the fireplace. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but somehow it seems to work for us. And as long as we have dear friends like Pamela and Kirk and Dave and Karen and Ashleigh and Paul who are
crazy enough kind enough to pinch hit while we get our city fix, all will be well. Just know that I won’t ask any of them to wash chicken heinies…
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Pamela and Kirk!