Sep 23, 2008

Nearly Famous Chickens

My chickens are now minor local celebrities.

Last week I received a phone call from a reporter from our regional newspaper asking me if I would be interested in being interviewed for an upcoming article on people who have small backyard poultry farms. Normally, being the reclusive nutjob I am I would have politely refused, but this man had called me early in the morning and while I might have successfully hidden from him- in my voice- the fact that I was snuggled under the blankets in bed with Edison and that he had just woken me up, deep inside my body my brain was not at full operating capacity (and wouldn't be for several more hours) and thus I agreed to have him come out to my house. He asked if he might bring along a photographer to take some shots of the chickens and me and for that, at least, I was lucid enough to request no photos be taken.

Being a person who enjoys her solitude, I fretted for days over my rash decision. I even contemplated canceling the interview, though in the end I went ahead and did it like a Big Girl. I may prefer to be alone in my studio working, but I'm by no means a shy person, so I told Griffin to keep an eye on me and if I started to get too chatty and thus begin to look like a bit of a loony, to please step in and stop me. Some people, I have found, don't get my humor, and as it turns out, this reporter was one of those people.

He asked me a great many questions about chickens as he knew nothing about them and he completely ignored my ducks as they weren't to be included in this article. For the most part I remained fairly guarded, not running off at the mouth and only keeping to the facts about the birds. We joked about a few things, but nothing particularly outrageous, and then he asked me about egg laying. When I explained that the birds need 12-14 hours of daylight a day to lay a single egg and thus come winter production slows down considerably, leaving David to have fits when I buy carton after carton of eggs at Whole Foods for holiday baking and to bemoan the fact that we have a barn full of little freeloaders, I figured the man realized I was being humorous. (Granted, David does hate the fact that we have a barn full of virtually eggless chickens several months of the year, and yes he has referred to them as "little freeloaders" but it's all very lighthearted, I swear). So when the article was published last Sunday morning, I was surprised to see my innocent little tale taken literally and David having been characterized as something of a curmudgeon who is (and I directly quote here) "infuriated" when we have to buy eggs at the market. Well, I guess this puts us a bit further up on the celebrity meter than we've been thus far by not only being misquoted but being made to look like we have personality issues as well. Cool. We should be honored. The two men who were also interviewed for the article only spouted facts and very dryly at that, but being a woman and, well, being me, I came off as a bit too folksy and funny. And maybe a tad odd, which I had been desperately trying to avoid. Hmm.

The reporter also came without a photographer per my request, but did come with a camera of his own and tried to get me to appear on-camera in a video segment that was published both on the local news feed as well as utube, to which I declined (Griffin tried very hard to talk me into it, but I held fast to my guns). I did, however, consent to having some close-up video shot of my girls ambling about on the lawn and in the gardens, provided no mile markers of my property were visible in the frame. I know this sounds very Reclusive Crazy Mountain Man, but I have had some issues in the past with my birds' safety and prefer to not have it public knowledge that I have a barn full of potential targets. The birds are not at all visible from the road, my neighbors know, my friends know, but everyone else need not know and I feel that having less people know about their existence will hopefully keep my girls safe and snug out there. I explained in detail to the reporter what had happened in the past and why I wished to remain anonymous and he said he understood, then published within the paper the exact street addresses of all three of us who were featured in the article, myself included. So much for anonymity.

In the end, it was fun to see my girls featured, albeit for the briefest moment, in a video online and to read about them in print (which wasn't published by me, for a change) but if I were called again to do this, I would honor my deepest instinct, which would be to say "thanks, I'm flattered, but I'll pass." There's a reason why I prefer to remain a recluse and this experience was it. Live and learn. Live and learn.

Sep 12, 2008

Other People's Dogs

It's amazing the cool dogs you can meet when you take your own dog for a walk. Walkies in our house is a big deal to Edison because he gets to get out there in the fresh air, he can chase squirrels up trees, terrify unsuspecting birds who are attempting to grab a quick earth snack and thus causing them to scatter to the four winds, and if he's especially lucky, rustle up a rabbit in the grass as well. Which is all very amusing as two of these three creatures are bigger than Edison. But to me, walkies means ogling- and occasionally lusting after- other people's dogs. I love most dogs, regardless of the breed, size or color (there are exceptions to this rule: dogs with jiggly jowls that I just know make for a giant mess when they eat and cause excessive and gooey nonstop drooling and dogs with really lush, heavy coats are not to my liking). But my heart skips a beat and I go all weak in the knees when I spot a little dog (the tinier the better) who is sporting a short and neat coat and a pointy little face.

The exception to the pointy face rule is pugs. I love pugs. I love their personalities and I love their little mushy, snorting, laughing faces. And the little curly pig tail they sport is adorable. The other night on our walk we met a young little female pug named Princess Diana, fawn with a black face. I was practically on the ground canoodling with her, much to David's chagrin. Even Edison, who is known for his extreme lack of interest in mingling with other dogs, jigged around her and back and forth. While I would love a pug, I'm not sure in living with one every day I could get around that jowly, gooey face thing. If I could rent a pug for, say, a weekend and see how I dealt with it, that would be great, because then I would know if I could handle the wet bits and the snoring and wheezing.

And while today I was technically in a car and not on foot at the time, I have to mention the tiny little black chihuahua I saw jigging along the sidewalk with his owner. It was both the teensiest and the happiest little dog I have seen out walking in a long time. His joy at being out for a walk in the big world was palpable. I only wish I had been walking too so I could have said hello to him and met him in person, given him a pat or let him give me a kiss. Still, watching him from a distance gleefully greeting every person who passed him on the sidewalk was one of those delightful dog moments I cherish so much.

***And a very big thank you to my friend Jo who lives in England for allowing me to use her photograph of her adorable little pug for this post. That photo up there above my words is of Doris, a very charming, award-winning little girl who not only has the looks, but clearly also has a fair amount of fashion sense as well with that ultra stylish cardigan she's sporting. Doris, you're one cute little doll face!

Sep 10, 2008


We have a new visitor to our porch every night in the form of a young opossum. David was coming home from the train well after dark the other night and I heard him coming up the front steps with his bike but then he never came into the house. Moments later the phone rang and it was David telling me to come to one of the front windows. There, balancing on the edge of one of the trash cans was a little opossum who couldn't decide whether it was more important to keep an eye on the guy standing quietly behind him at the top of the steps or the girl's head now poking out of the open window that was talking to him in a soothing baby voice.

After David went back down the steps and came in through the back door, Griffin got an apple and took it outside and set it down for our new little friend, much to David's chagrin. He and I have never agreed on whether to feed the wildlife that lives in our midst and we most definitely never will. He adheres to the "absolutely not because it encourages wild animals to live too closely to us and takes away their drive to forage for food" ideology whereas I am of the belief that supplementing a wild animal's regular diet helps to keep those creatures living in very close proximity to us stronger and hopefully healthier, thus exposing we humans and our animals to less diseased and hungry animals (especially in winter) and hopefully keep most of them out of my gardens. This has proven to be the case with the exception of one very obstinate rabbit and one gluttonous woodchuck (see previous post). And besides, animals are cute and I like to feed them.

So the manky little opossum ate the apple and moseyed off. He's been back every night since and tonight as I was bringing out a handful of grapes to have them waiting for him when he arrived, it turns out he came by early (I guess opossums either don't have clocks or can't tell time) and I startled the hell out of him. He came back later though and ate all the fruit I left for him. David thinks he's started to come closer to the house looking for food because David inadvertently took his food source away last weekend when he cleaned up the lawn under our apple tree of all the dropped fruit (our friend's sheep adore them). The opossums love the drops, too. You can't pull into our driveway on late summer or fall evenings without seeing at least one opossum feasting at the base of our apple tree.

Though he's quite clean, he is one mangy-looking little guy. As David says, opossums aren't known for their good looks. They all basically look half-finished and undercooked, with sparse gray fur and lots and lots of pink skin. And they aren't exactly known for their intelligence either. But regardless, I'll keep feeding him as long as he keeps coming around or until more apples pop off our tree and he goes back to his original foraging spot. Or until David ties me up so I can't get to the food or the front door.

Nighty-night, Mr. Opossum.
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