Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chickened Out

We have a neighbor who is somewhat (putting it politely) eccentric.
First clue: He has a horse in his yard.
In his front yard.
Now I have nothing personally against horses. I used to ride my uncle's horses, and have always agreed with Will Rogers, who said, "Something about the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."
A horse in the front yard?
Oh people.
He fenced his front yard with wire, put an old bathtub out there for the horse to drink out of, and then wound yellow "caution" tape around the rickety fence. The horse has eaten every single blade of green, and has tromped the dirt down into the ground. He seems to spend most of his time trying without success to reach the blades of grass waving tantalizingly just out of his reach on the other side of the fence.
Occasionally, the poor horse is tethered on the other side of the road, where he gobbles great mouthfuls of weeds as fast as ever he can, meanwhile watching anxiously lest he be returned to solitary confinement in the front yard pen.

Next clue to our neighbor's eccentricity: Chickens.
Not only chickens.
In the name of all that is fowl, what a mess.
He has a kind of pen, with a huge banner that says, "Fresh eggs for sale."
But obviously the pen has containment issues.
Because the chickens are wandering all over the neighborhood.

They scratch at the grass and dirt.
They peck at the flowers.
They squawk.
They cluck.
They poop.
They crow.
At all hours of the day and night.

They wander down the middle of the road, regardless of cars, golf carts, or bicycles.

Most of them have lost their tail feathers, due to the local free-ranging dogs, who chase them and bark at them incessantly, but don't ever seem to reduce the population.

Frankie, our Pomeranian, spends a considerable amount of time chasing them, but never manages to catch any. The ducks don't play fair--they run into the water, knowing that Frankie can't swim.

I told my husband if he would kill and clean them, I would make chicken and dumplings. He said he would rather pay four dollars for a chicken already cleaned, than to have to scald and pluck one.

If you have any ideas about chicken repellents, please let me know.

Because, you know, I am chickened out.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Last spring, a mama duck built her nest on our boat, up under the cover, so her nest was cozy and dry, and safe for her unborn ducklings. We checked the nest every weekend when we came home, counting the eggs, feeding the mama duck with stale bread, and waiting anxiously for the eggs to hatch. Wick wouldn't clean up the boat, or remove the cover, let alone take the boat out, because he didn't want to disturb the nesting process.
We waited patiently for the eggs to hatch.
And waited.
And waited.
And waited.
One weekend, the mama duck was nowhere to be seen. Her nest was abandoned. The eggs had not hatched, and were beginning to smell. The boat was full of feathers, bread crumbs, and duck poop.
But no babies.
How disappointing.
One of my favorite spring sights is watching the mama ducks swim by, followed by a wake of baby ducklings, quacking and swimming along in the reeds along the shore. We were really looking forward to those eggs hatching.

This year, Wick said if a mama duck tried to build her nest on the boat again,we would have duck eggs for breakfast.

No ducks have nested on our boat this year. We are the ones nesting. We gave up our apartment the last day of school. We have been bringing a load of stuff every weekend for weeks, and now it is all here. It's all still packed up, boxed up, stacked up, and I can't find anything, but it is all here. Scott is spending the week here, and he and his daddy had all sorts of plans for what they were going to accomplish this week.
So far, we have entertained my brother and his family with smoked brisket, potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, raw veggies and dip, and my sister-in-law's orange-pineapple cake; had hamburgers with our neighbors and their kids and grandkids; fished from the dock; replaced the cigarette lighter in the boat so that we can plug in a fish light for night fishing; taken some great naps; and enjoyed the fact that on Sunday night we did not have to pack up and go back to the city, to work on Monday morning.
Like the mama duck, my "eggs" (working on the cabin) have not hatched. But we are certainly enjoying just being.
Being here.
Being home.