Continued from SAVE FERRIS.
Originally posted on 8-16-12.
If you’ve never kept chickens, you can’t imagine how unbelievably soap opery your life can become. This guy is a problem for me.
And what old lady doesn’t just fall in love with a beautiful gangly teenage boy? Well, he’s getting past the gangly part now, but ok, say he’s like 25 or something, and he’s going all drop dead gorgeous on me, kinda like Bradley James in Merlin. He’s suddenly starting to get his confidence and following the girls around, which you hear throughout the day as surprised and very angry squawks, because about all you get when someone twice your size hops on is one squawk. It kinda sounds like someone tripping over an old fashioned bicycle honk horn off and on through the day. *squawk* ~he’s at it again~
Living with stuff like that going on makes a person think about things, like how we all can’t do much more on this planet than practice on each other. We practice all kinds of stuff until we eventually sift out the important stuff and get it (hopefully) boiled down to kindness and consideration. In the meantime, we all take turns tolerating what others stumble around learning, in this case, impromptu sex without any kind of manual. Humans at least get all kinds of social guidance, but that poor rooster has to figure it all out by himself on a group of angry females.
The problem is that I live in a covenanted subdivision that doesn’t allow ‘farm animals’ (and that includes frowning on racing pigeons), but I’m getting away with a few chickens since 2005 because we house them in a very nice building tucked back behind the house (and it actually matches our house, right down to the siding and tiled roof) and I stubbornly have them documented with a psychologist that these particular pets are important to my psychological health. I grew up with chickens, but never had them here until my health took a nasty nosedive and I spent several years recovering from injury and illness impacting my nervous system, which totally sucked. Desperate for distraction and a reason to crawl out of my house and into my yard, I wobbled into the local feed store and came home with baby chicks. That works, by the way. If you can’t find a reason to keep living through anguish and pain, by all means, *create one*. I’m much better now, and I have no doubt it’s because I challenged myself to the caring for other beings on this planet that required more of me than I thought I was capable of giving.
Ok, got sidetracked. The problem is that a rooster crowing in this neighborhood is a dispute just waiting to happen, to put it nicely. Neighbors have taken each other to court over so little as a foot of lawn, and the whole covenant thing means some of my neighbors go to great pains to enforce little ‘laws’ that are so nidiotically stupid that you can’t believe they have nothing better to do with their lives than to write lengthy letters to offices in the county courthouse. What’s even more frustrating is that these same neighbors will own very expensive dogs that the state says is illegal for me to shoot at even with a pellet gun (but the state conversely strongly encourages us to shoot and kill ‘feral’ cats), and these dogs sometimes run around the whole neighborhood, leaving wakes of chaos and destruction.
Personally, if *I* owned a $900 dog, I’d be a little worried someone would kidnap it (Missouri has one of the highest dognapping rates in the U.S. for illegal pit bull fight training). One year got so bad that I put video on youtube of a neighbor’s dogs throwing themselves maniacally against my chicken pens (chickens will destroy themselves having panic attacks and stop laying for days, and I have rare breed chickens that have to be special ordered, so I get a little tense), and I was so ill that year that I could barely get across my lawn, and just trying to grab one of the dogs (I grew up with dogs, I can handle dogs) turned into a scary situation because I didn’t have the mobility or strength to negotiate its constantly lunging body weight. The only thing I can do about the dogs legally is call the police, but I can’t illegally detain the dogs, so by the time the police come, it’s just my word, unless I’ve got video of the uncontrollable violence. Chickens are like the playstation of the dog world, that’s total video gaming to them, and sooner or later, someone dies and the dog rolls happily in extra points and the easter egg prize, pun intended. Anyway, the point is, I have more leverage with the dog owners and whatever legal recourse they feel entitled to in the name of peace and quiet (which is a joke with their ATVs) if I keep comparatively quieter hens and no noisy rooster.
The simplistic answer to this problem by nearly everyone I know is just eat the rooster. And yes, I grew up doing that, that’s what you do, it’s practical, it’s logical, and it’s the circle of life on any farm. You eat your pets. Your babies. Your loved ones. And that’s where this soap opera goes all nutty, because, thanx to midlife and a major hormone crisis last spring that dredged up flashbacks of losing an unborn child in an awful way, I can’t touch this. You know why women anywhere near menopause either stay on birth control or wind up on head pills? Because people who *don’t* can wind up like ~moi~, melting down into disassociating on a highway in traffic. I don’t take ‘medicine’, like Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies, but a LOT of women I know drink their way through their midlife crises. I’m a firmly renounced alcoholic, I drank that stuff like koolaid in my mid 20′s and nearly destroyed myself. I’ve spent the last two years getting *off* handfuls of meds that got me through the worst of my debilitating pain, and I’m not going back on them because they screwed me up in the long run as much as anything could. So I’m just gritting my teeth and pushing forward through skating around the edge of what feels like mental illness, although my psychologist assures me I’m ok, take it slow, ‘small bites’, weather through the hormones readjusting themselves. It sounds like this is really common stuff, but you don’t just hear women confessing how ‘crazy’ they feel during big hormone changes because it’s so taboo, especially now with tv shows like Snapped (which I’ve actually never seen).
So here’s the deal. I grew up killing things, on a Mennonite farm. I have strong values and core beliefs, but I grew up with a hatchet in one hand and a knife in the other. I grew up smelling blood, blood smeared all over me and other stuff, even worked on jobs later where lots of blood was involved, like cleaning in a hospital after births and surgeries and deaths. The LAST thing I want in my life while I’m feeling even vaguely crazy is a beautiful little guy dying by my hands and then having its blood on me and then *eating* it, because right now everything is triggering flashbacks of losing that baby.
This is a big thing. There are people I know who won’t understand this, they’ll think I’m making a bigger deal of it than it actually is, I’m being ridiculous. When you grow up around practical people, you get blown off a lot if you have a problem. Or if you are the rock solid one around other flighty people, they’re floored when you suddenly have the problem, they don’t know what to do with you. I’m in a weird situation. But people who didn’t grow up killing what they eat are probably shocked to read this. Any vegetarian, I’m sure, is doubly shocked that this is such a conundrum in the first place.
I had to break down and spell it out to Scott the other day, because he wasn’t getting it, either. He’s sweet, though, and asked around work if anyone would want a rooster, and guess what, tomorrow is the big day. A coworker has a brother who in years past was a principal or superintendent or something in one of the school districts, and he has chickens. *wow* Talk about luck. And after I hand my rooster off, this burden is gone, and I don’t have to know any more what happens. Dr. Isaac Parrish just might hit the jackpot and get thrown in with a whole flock of more experienced hens… I doubt his new owner will call him that, but for a short time in my little life, a chicken named Dr. Parrish was a real thing. And that’s where it’s a good thing I named him for a tv character, because otherwise I’d be able to say I saved Wil Wheaton’s life, and people really would think I was crazy.