So much yet to do. The biggest item is off the list: make sure the automatic coop door opener really works. Although I bought it last year (paid for a pricey rush delivery in fact) it sat uninstalled all year long in my garage, as I just couldn’t manage to do it myself as I’d planned. Even bought a sawsall to make the cut in the wall – really, how hard could it be? As I set out I discovered, hard enough. Maybe if I’d had more practice with the saw – which was much harder to control than I’d expected – I’d have been able to cut myself a hole into which I could then install the door. But I simply couldn’t manage it. The whole project, for as simple and straight forward as it looked was too much for me to muster on my own, and in the end I hired my brother to watch over my flock as we left town for a couple of days on divorce business. (And I gave the sawsall to a kid who mowed my 5 acre lawn in trade.)
This year, having a much larger flock and hoping to go away for a much longer time, I simply had to get it installed. When I unpacked it, we discovered chimpmunks had not only filled the entire thing with corn (the industrious little fella was dead at the bottom of his own cache) but had cut both the cord that pulled the door up as well as the wiring that told it to do so. God bless this handyman that I found at random from the local Pennysaver. He fixed it. And installed it. Then, as it began to appear a task completed, the timer got knocked to the ground by the birds on the first night, and came apart in pieces. Day two of coop preparations, four days to departure. I was beginning to panic. Lower back pain had me all but immobile, and now this. Swearing like a sailor, I wrestled the pieces back together in the obscene heat of the garage. It worked, but not quite as it should have. It took two more days until we had both a successful raising of the coop door on its own as well as a successful lowering of the door. Hooray! Right? Nope.
First night it was the new guys. The chicks – who are now just about full grown chicken size, but who eat like teenagers and don’t know the routine of the mature flock quite yet – they haven’t figured out where to go at night. At dark, when all the others are high on their roosting bars, safe for the night, the younguns are in a crowded clump on the ground, huddling for safety. How else do young ones learn but to be taught? I’d thought they’d imitate the elders, but no, apparently it’s up to Elihu and me. So, one by one, Elihu puts the little guys through the tiny open door, where I then take them and place them on a roosting bar. We are teaching them. We hope. Day one it’s forced. Day two, the timer still isn’t working right, so we miss an opportunity. Day three – complete success! Out on their own in the morning, up and safe on their roosts by nightfall! And the tidy little door shut all by itself! Houston, we have liftoff!
Except for Maximus, who walks around the empty pen, waiting for us to come and talk to him. He fits through the small door just fine, but for some reason he has chosen not to follow his flock. He’d rather wait for me to come out and make my nightly check; he likes to talk to me. He gurgles and grunts low to me, follows me on my feeding and watering chores, stays ever close. “Oh Max” I cry to him in frustration. “You’re supposed to use the door too!” Maybe he needs some teaching like the little ones did. I can’t open the door or I’ll throw off its timing, so instead I open the large door with the diamond patterned window panes (Elihu called it the ‘Shirley Nelson door’ the moment he saw it cuz he said it looked ‘just like the kind of door a woman named Shirley Nelson would have in her house’.!) I pick up my soft, white goose and I carry him across the threshold, depositing him gently inside. “You must go inside with everybody else, Max” I scold. I’m happy to see the little ones have all now found their own spots on the new roosting bars. All seems well. If only the goose would go in on his own. I’m prompted to do some googling on the subject of geese and raccoons – could a raccoon, of which we have plenty, really take down my gander, attitude and all? I learn that yes, he could. So I have a goose problem still. Earlier I’d had too much testosterone in the pen, so I’d placed Bald Mountain on his own in the brooder pen for the week. Sorry, you’ll be ok big guy. It’s still a lot better than being stuck in a tiny cage for the 4H poultry show at the county fair for a week…But what to do with the goose? I’m trying to make it so that ALL my birds go in, roost and the door closes. Period. So the gal who’ll watch them has only to fill the food and water. That itself if enough of a chore. One more dilemma to solve before we go. Geez. Will we go at all? I wonder.
While I try to get every last piece of laundry folded and put away, and while I refresh my bed with a seldom-washed sheet still hot from the dryer, Elihu takes up a corner to help me make my bed as we begin to discuss the Max situation. It is clear that we cannot simply leave him outside in the pen. He will likely be gotten. The only option is our garage. Full of crap, some garbage, much of it not – in fact there are many nice things still left from my mid century life that I need to find good homes for. But I do not want to come home in a week to find the furniture chewed on, green sloppy goose shit all over the cement floor… but what choice do we have? “Look”, Elihu begins, “it’s not a tiny garage, he’s got enough room. You just have to cover up the nice stuff and make Max his own little area. Wood shavings in that corner by the brooder pen. That’s all he needs. He’ll be fine”. Good lil man. Yes, if we doctor up that one last open bit of garage and make it his, he’ll be comfortable. Leave a fan on. He’ll be ok. And I can put up the baby gate by the door so that when our chicken sitter comes to set out food she won’t get goosed by our goose. (Sweet creature to me, to everyone else he is his master’s protector. )
All the while, my back continues to morph and shift, to become something foreign and new. I’ve had lower back episodes – one or two a year – for the past decade. I always bounced back within a week, nothing was ever any different afterward, and in fact it was all but forgotten by a month out. But this time I blew it, I guess. I went to a chiropractor. Initially , my experience was insightful and educational to a certain degree, but holy shit! That man actually did something to me! I was glad to leave my first appointment standing straight – when I’d walked in hunched over and to one side. But today it is a vastly different situation. I think I’d gladly take back my initial posture if I could get rid of this: I am now asymmetrical, my spine is twisted – as in no longer a straight line up and down – and my back sounds like jiffy pop being made on a stove… almost any movement at all and there’s a crackling sound. No pain, but the sound is new and disconcerting. And that I feel I’m a walking S is weird too. I can do stretches, breathe in deep, visualize my stretch and so forth… but nope. Nothing doin. I cannot straighten myself out. I seem to now have a new problem on top of the original one I’d come in for. !!!! I was so ready to receive this as the wholistic means of treatment and health from here forward…A practice that took into consideration the whole body, stress level, diet, movement…but in reality it seems much more focused on simply vertabrae related ‘subluxations.’, one of which I believe the good doctor may himself have created. I know I sound a little paranoid here, but I’ve gone from a situation which though uncomfortable, was at the least, familiar, and at best, something I knew how to manage. But this popcorn popping, s – curving back is altogether new to me. What do I do with this? It’s annoying as hell! I can’t carry my bag on my left shoulder because I’m so newly outta whack. Huh? No one told men that new problems would likely pop up…. did they? Did I miss the handout?
Bed made. Kid asleep. Post slogged through, perhaps less intelligible than most, but well, it’s done. Soon I’ll update you on our itinerary. Our plans have changed so many times that to have posted updates as they occured would only confuse. This we know: I will drive us, with my new little popcorn-popping back, to the historic Mayflower II. (We’re smack in the middle of a historic kid’s book about a young boy on a whaling ship – and he speaks of my own mother’s home town, New Bedford, as if it were modern day New York City. It will be fun to see the town so described in the novel.) Yup, we’ll see the ship, then promptly ship out to visit my Uncle Paul and Aunt Sandy. Cousin Rusty seems a lot like my brother Andrew; he’s 50 and still lives at home. He slinks in and out, says very little and what he does remains mostly mystery to his family. Then there’s Janice, his younger sister and my other cousin. While younger than me, she is a grandmother. Yeeks. My paternal grandma had my dad at 45. Janice musta had hers in her late teens. Crazy. But for us, the craziest thing will be hearing ‘that accent’. We don’t often hear people who sound much different from ourselves, so it’ll be fun to be in the area and hear this local accent. Elihu will get a big kick out of it.
We have two decadent nights in Wareham, and nothing but beach and family to fill our time. Oh, and maybe a visit to the Plimouth Town Living Museum where the actors in costume speak as they did some 400 years ago, and where they don’t break character, where they serve food of the time sans utensils. That, we just might go see. Whale watching will have to wait. Money and time don’t allow it this run.
Next, our question is to return home? Or to continue west, via New Haven to New York City. My back pain will likely play a large role in this decision. We have yet to contact our NYC friends with the latest timetable, so friends, if you’re reading, please know things have been tricky. I hope that I may leave it at that and not cause hurt feelings or piss people off. I’m also aware some may have altered plans on our account. Hope not too much. We’ll ask if you might receive us Tuesday, maybe also Wednesday night?? And Jersey friends, maybe the following two nights with you?
Little time. Lot and lots to do. I think I may even have forgotten how to pack. Hoooo – I’m woozy tired now. I’m gonna go and rest my crackin’ back so tomorrow I can start crackin’ the whip….