Tag: chickens

Silence of the hens

WE HAVE ENTERED a new era at the Hacienda.

For almost 16 years, we have endured various, usually minor but persistent, problems due to the gang of chickens running wild next door.

Because of the sourpuss neighbors’ apple tree that abuts our property wall and because of the chicken flock’s fondness for snoozing up there at night, the fowl have long noticed the literally greener pasture next door.

New ImageSo they jump over. Oh, not all that often, but too often for my taste. Thankfully, they soon weary of this new world or perhaps they miss their sisters, so they flap back over the wall to where they belong, their familiar world of pigs, dogs, horses, etc.*

Recently, something odd happened. A hen leaped over and decided to stay. I addressed that challenge here if you missed the drama.

Two days ago, while I was standing on the upstairs terraza admiring the lovely morning, I noticed something next door because the terraza offers a clear shot of the neighbors’ yard. An enclosure of chicken wire, and inside that enclosure were all the darn chickens. Trapped!

Even better, the new chicken coop abuts the wall on the far side of their property, not on our side. And yesterday morning, unlike all mornings for years, the dawn cacaphony of cackles was drastically reduced. The coop, unlike the apple tree, seems not to encourage sunrise conviviality.

With luck, this situation will continue, but things tend to fall apart in time next door, both literally and figuratively. Our fingers are crossed.

One wonders if the neighbors missed the wandering hen who came here and never returned, or if building the chicken-wire coop so soon after was pure coincidence. No matter. All’s well that ends well.

* * * *

* You always want uninvited migrants, i.e. illegal aliens, to do precisely that, go back where they came from as soon as possible.

November at last

shot

WE HAD TO shove the rainy season out of here this year. It was stubborn.

But now it’s gone, and the best month of each year is upon us, just a bit tardy in arriving. Though November is the best, December can be good too, depending on the mood of Mother Nature.

January and February are too cold (at night) and this can bleed over into March. Then April and May show up, the nastiest months of all. Dry, dusty and, at least upstairs at the Hacienda, way too warm for our druthers.

It seems the rainy season was evicted here Tuesday night by a cold front that, while it did bring some rain, also dropped the temps into the high 30s. It was nasty on Wednesday, got better on Thursday, and then it dawned quite lovely on Friday. which was a typical November day.

I was sprawled on the Jesus Patio yesterday, enjoying the sunny, cool afternoon, doing nothing of note, and watching the chicken walk around the yard.

I noticed a reflection in the living room window, a mirror of the property wall that was behind me, the aloe vera bush and part of the peach tree.

So I snapped the above shot.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman comes this morning to mow the lawn. I’ll ask him to catch the chicken, and maybe he can. I’ll tell him to bring his kids to help.

But yesterday was beautiful. With luck, today will be the same. I’m optimistic because, after all, it’s November, every year’s most delightful month.

Getting rid of the chicken

Caramba, mi amor! Caramba, mi amor! sang someone on FM 106.5 as I drove the Honda home in the dark of early evening.

Twenty minutes earlier, I had been walking in cool twilight across the beautiful, downtown plaza, clutching a brown paper bag containing two sugar donuts, and thinking of my chicken.

Our neighbors have chickens that roost overnight in an apple tree that abuts our property wall. Now and then, an adventuresome soul will make the leap and walk about in our yard for a spell. Then she’ll head home, back over the wall, in a flap of feathers because chickens don’t fly well. They have a low-max altitude.

This has been going on for years, and we didn’t mind much because the nasty things always went back where they came from. Till a week ago.

One came over and decided to stay. She sticks mostly to the side of the wall that abuts where her kin live, and she lurks beneath aloe vera and bougainvillea. Sometimes, she stands in the big, center semicircle of grass to taunt me.

I’ve tried to catch her, but I’m not as agile as I once was. My child bride assists on occasion, but so far the fowl has eluded our grasp.

New ImageOn Monday, a couple of guys come to lay talavera tile in the downstairs terraza. They’ll be out there for quite a few hours. They say the work will take two days, maybe three.

Here’s my plan: The first day, I’ll offer 50 pesos to whomever catches the chicken and tosses her into the street. If she’s still there on Day Two, I’ll offer 100 pesos, and that should inspire them enough.

I don’t want to eat her, and I don’t want her tossed back over the wall into the neighbors’ yard because this chicken has wanderlust and might revisit. That’s far less likely if she’s out in the street with multiple options for adventure.

The walk across the twilight plaza would have been more enjoyable had I not been thinking about the cursed chicken.

I would have focused fondly on those sugar donuts.

* * * *

(Update! My yardman came Saturday morning and had the bird in his clutches within a minute. Incredible. Mexicans can do anything.)

Memories of beasts gone by

I WAS AWAKE before 6 this morning and listening to the chickens.

I have a history with chickens.

The poultry next door are the most recent. Around 6 or so, they begin to wake up and converse. It’s not the rooster, which has a distinctive morning call. No, it’s the hens, which also explains the constant chatter from their apple tree roost.

I was born in Atlanta, but I’ve hardly ever lived there. My parents and my sister lived in Atlanta for decades, but not me. When I was about six months old, we left Atlanta and headed to my maternal grandparents’ 500-acre farm in Southwest Georgia between the towns of Sylvester and Albany.

In later decades my parents and my sister returned to Atlanta, but I never went back except to visit. It’s a beautiful city, especially in the Fall.

Among the Herefords, rabbits and cats on the farm (we never messed with pigs and there was just one dog. I’ll get to him later) there were chickens, about 2,000 of them at one time.

The chickens were my father’s doing. He intended to make a living off chickens while becoming a famous writer. Neither of those notions panned out.

One dark summer night in Georgia, a large chunk of those 2,000 chickens was stolen. I remember Sheriff Andy and Deputy Fife standing in the kitchen the following morning. We never did get those chickens back.

New ImageDuring those chicken days, my father would give me baby chicks that he figured were not going to survive.  You read that right. My father gave me dying chicks as pets, and they did. Die, that is.

But I played nursemaid with each for a few days, keeping them in shoeboxes. They didn’t look ill to me when I got them. But they always died.

On that farm, we raised rabbits for profit, but my sister and I had one rabbit we considered a pet. We named him Rusty due to his color. One afternoon at dinner, as we were finishing up, it came out that we had just eaten Rusty.

I’ve written about some of these events, years ago, so it may sound familiar.

There was a dog on the farm too. He was named Pepper. He was a frisky, middle-sized dog of unknown mongrel heritage, and the only (almost) dog my sister and I ever were allowed to have.

Pepper was still there when we left the farm after six years. We then saw him only during our frequent visits up from Florida.

For First Grade I went to a Catholic school in Albany, even though we were not Catholics. Between First and Second grades, we abandoned farm life — chickens, cats*, Pepper, rabbits, Herefords — and moved to Jacksonville, Florida.

I never lived in proximity to poultry again. Till now.

The neighbors’ apple tree in which they roost abuts the property wall, and the chickens on occasion jump down to our yard and walk around. I’m not fond of this because chickens are nasty animals, and then there’s the poop.

But their visits are short, and they’re capable of the brief flight back to the apple tree, back to their own home where they belong.

Especially when I shoo them!

And every morning they greet dawn with chatter, reminding me that I once lived with their ancestors, thousands of the bloody things.

* * * *

* Sometimes there were up to 25 cats!