May is the cruelest month…for housesitters.

With all due respect for T.S. Eliot, he had it all wrong. Yes, he murmured eloquently of lilacs and hyacinths, but little did he know the cruelty he escaped by not having to house-sit for us in the month of May.

(This brings up an interesting concept – if you could pick a historical celebrity to house-sit for you, who would it be?)

Friend Lori and her kids Bryson, Lauren and Chadd somehow convinced us that there was nothing they would rather do than spend half a month with our menagerie.  Undaunted by the “walk-through” whereby she learned that several hours a day are spent administering to various animals’ health, well-being and grooming rituals, Lori promptly sent me an Excel document with various tabs to reflect the daily goings-on. I should have known right there and then that she was bringing her A game.

Chadd and Lori

How do we get so lucky with our housesitters? Yes, there has been the occasional bad experience like the one several decades ago when I enlisted a former work acquaintance to stay a weekend with our cat (this was before we started the pet collection) and he took the opportunity to host a wild (and I suspect, drug-fueled) party, leaving the sordid detritus for us to discover upon our return.  But more recently we’ve had Dave (who has actually been known to rake a carpet after vacuuming!) and Karen (patience of Job!) , Pamela (the chicken lady alter-ego!) and Kirk (who hates cats but allowed mine to sleep with him for two weeks, go figure!) and now Lori and her kids, who, by all accounts, kept the place running like a Swiss watch, despite the animals’ efforts to trip her up.

As far as we know, Lori never sat down. She walked the dogs multiple times a day, herded chickens for hours at a time, created systems all over the house, re-arranged drawers and catered to the whims of each evil feline in residence. How did the evil cats thank her? By leaving the severed head of a captured bird on the shower mat. Nice. Doesn’t it make you want to run over and house-sit for us?

Chadd has some quality time with Chloe and Dizzy (photo by Lori)

Then there was the dead crow out front and the dead mouse in the chicken yard. Lovely touch, don’t you think? T.S. Eliot would have had to channel Edgar Allen Poe if he’d written The Wasteland at our house.

And for reasons that remain hidden in their tiny dinosaur brains, the chickens caused all kinds of trouble. Hope went broody on the eve of our departure, but little did she know she was up against Lori, the steely Chicken Behavior Modificator. Despite our best efforts a year ago, Hope remained broody for two months until we finally sated her with baby chicks. This time, Lori had Hope whipped back into shape and laying eggs again in a couple of weeks.

Pippa was another matter, however. Due to a disturbance in the force, or perhaps just more mean-girl activity on the nest, Pippa decided she would no longer lay her eggs in the designated nesting place. I guess you at least have to give her props for ingenuity:

A drop in the bucket: this is where Pippa laid while we were gone! (photo by Lori)

We’ll probably never know all the problems our fearless friends fended off in our absence, but we are ever so grateful and eternally indebted. Thank you all so much!

We liked it better when you were here! Please come back! (photo by Lori)

“Somehow, I’ll find a way to be happy even though my masters are amateurs…”(photo by Lori)

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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10 Responses to May is the cruelest month…for housesitters.

  1. dizzyguy says:

    Former Chicken Emperor here (I have been replaced by Lori and her brood – not chickens: I do not know where to begin. Every tool in its place, the spoons in the kitchen drawer actually “spooning”, every leaf raked, laundry completed, all plants and animals not only alive but requesting new owners, shelves cleaned and arrranged, etc. Napoleon, having run a meritocracy, would have definitely appointed Lori either Chief of Staff or Executive Officer, or both.

    So thank you, thank you very much! We just hope you did more than work while here and did manage to enjoy yourselves a bit as well.

    Displaced CE

  2. says:

    “It was good for my mom to have to take care of the animals since she doesn’t do anything.”

  3. Lori says:

    It was a treat staying at the Gutsche “farm.” On top of saving us the Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara commute, you made everything at your house so easy to take care of. Thank you for making our stay so enjoyable and, yes, relaxing! We appreciate it very, very much!

  4. Katherine says:

    Oh my – there really is no greater honor than the presentation of dead animals to the host.

    Pippa clear believes that she is closely related to royalty and therefore deserves her own throne. No doubt the diligent servitude of the LBLC-crew heightened her sense of importance.

    I, for one, am glad you’re home. (And if Lori needs to shorten some sort of commute near Montecito, have her call me – my leaves and/or carpets having been raked in years.)

  5. Emily says:

    Are those portraits of chickens on the wall by where Pippa decided to lay? hilarious. What an interesting spot to lay!!

    • polloplayer says:

      Yes, those are portraits of our four original hens – our other housesitter, Dave, took the photos and framed them as a surprise for us upon our return. We have the world’s best housesitters! How is Casino doing?

      • Emily says:

        That’s so nice!! I love the portraits.

        Casino is ok I think but I’m worried. She took over an egg that another hen laid and has been sitting on it for 2 weeks now. I decided to let her do it hoping it is making her happy. Plus I thought it might make her body stop ovulating. Hopefully it will hatch. But she doesn’t eat as much while on there. Do they tend to pull feathers off their behind when laying? I was worried about that – it’s all red and swollen but that’s probably from the internal laying.

      • polloplayer says:

        Hi Emily – I wonder if she’s gone broody? That would be a good thing because it would suppress the laying process. I know that Hope pulls feathers from her breast when she goes broody – it’s in preparation for keeping the (mythical) baby chicks warm. But I’m not sure about the red and swollen vent. Could it be prolapse?

      • Emily says:

        If this egg is going to hatch it is going to be in the next few days. I hope it does. She does come off everyday and eats a little bit. Mostly blueberries these days. Takes a big poop and a frantic dust bath. But she does look skinnier now. If it doesn’t hatch will she give it up or will I have to take it away?

        I just looked up prolapse. It doesn’t look like the pics. It is just puffy and pink and bare. Nothing big and red like that.

  6. pollo amigo says:

    How lucky are all those animals. Well, at least the severed heads, etc. show that the cats were being helpful keeping the varmint population under control. That Pippa is one unusual hen!

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