Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bye Bye, Birdie

Peepsie's gone.

Thanks to the amazing powers of Craigslist, we had no trouble finding "her" a new home. Is Craigslist not incredible? A very basic free forum exists, and now seemingly random needs of buyers and sellers can be met in one simple space. I've been floored before at the kinds of things available on this site; now we too have participated in the trade of something strange--a rooster.

It was like I'd put up the Bat Signal or something. Er, Rooster Signal? Within an hour I'd heard from a pecan ranch out in Hutto that had a great need for a crowing rooster. One post to that amazing buy/sell/trade site of endless stuff, and within a day our coop was free of testosterone.

Well, free except for that of the rancher and his eager dog.

Husband is an eager an adept rancher. He boldly works the land and tends to the critters with a fearless confidence that makes his ranchess wife quite pleased on a very deep, biological level.

He smokes green chiles and whole chickens on his grill out back--right by the coop--consequently not only making dinner but also forcing everyone to think really hard about the circle of life.

He runs water spigots to locations convenient to the morning critter/plant-watering routine of the ranchess, cleverly encasing exposed pipes in concrete to prevent freeze damage.

No longer does the ranchess have to drag the single hose all over the yard, and no longer does any hose get entangled in the stumps of the old trees the rancher felled earlier in the year. For the rancher also rented a stump grinder and ground those suckers up.

So yes, even though the coop is free of roosters, there is still testosterone in abundance around here. Power equipment usage, the outdoor cooking of animal flesh, and bonding time between Man and Critter all still occur here at the Clark Ranch.

And unfortunately, I find that my more feminine way of doing things is sometimes at odds with the tendencies of the boys.

Take the chickens. Both Brendon and Buddy like to approach the chickens head-on--kind of get in their little chickie faces. Granted they probably have different motivations for doing this; I know for sure that Brendon performs the chicken dance in order to hold them on a regular basis. He wants them to be tame like the other chickens we've seen around the neighborhood, to be used to being touched and handled.

Run, ladies, RUN!

I'm fairly certain that Buddy just wants to eat them.

Regardless of motive, both boys go after the girls every day, Buddy from the other side of the coop fence and Brendon from within. Both approach with a stealthy creep. And both leap in suddenly, causing birds to squawk, feathers to fly, and a variety of end results. Eventually Brendon ends up holding a bird and poor Buddy just stands opposite the chicken wire, watching the girls eye him with an overt irritation I thought only capable in cats.

This is not my method. While it is rewarding to eventually hold one of the girls, I dislike the chase. It actually hurts my feelings when they glare at me once I get them into my terrible grasp.

So when Hubby leaves to go offshore again, I slowly regain the girls' trust. The first couple of days they are notably suspicious. I enter the coop at least twice a day, and they stay well away.

But I fancy myself a Jane Goodall of this flock, so I just crouch down by the feed and remain still as their hunger eventually overrides their concern over what I might do with my hands.

Primates: perhaps slightly more endearing than fowl?

After a couple of days, we're back to our usual routine--chickens walking around me, under me, next to me. They brush up against me, peck at my freckles and my ring, and stand up really straight to look at me, clucking expressively. Lemon and Ruby resume eating from my hands again, and they tolerate the occasional petting. This is a coop situation I can love.

The thing is, I don't believe I have the heart to dissuade The Rancher from his chicken-chasing practice when he returns to our flock again. While I am skeptical as to its results, it makes him very happy to champion over the girls' amazing escape-artist skills and get to slowly pet the subdued bird. So while I love to hear the sweet sound of their trusting and contented clucking when I approach the coop, Rancher's contented clucking is ultimately a sweeter sound.

Plus I'm not entirely certain of my own skepticism. I'm not sure that chasing down the girls and holding them will ever override the antisocial tendencies of their breed, but then I wasn't exactly sure that Husband's recent endeavor in the kitchen was going to be successful, either.

How wrong I was.

Yes, he did it. That Which Is Most Amazing. That installation that has enabled me to break with a particularly overwhelming habit--the Topo Chico habit.

Thanks to the brilliant discovery by dear Nichole, Husband found the inspiration to install the apparatus that now gives us fizzy water on demand. With just a press of the valve and a good shaking, I suddenly have a liter of beautifully carbonated water. These tiny bubbles rival those of Topo Chico, and I can honestly say that I don't miss all those glass bottles one little bit.

And while I casually suggested to Brendon that he put together this ingenious system, ("This is what you should do if you're looking for a really great birthday present, dear!") I still didn't really believe it would be able to fully replace the perfection that is a Topo Chico. What other water achieves that level of carbonation?

I'll tell you--Clark Water does. He turned the pressure up, experimented for a few days, and then he just had it: perfect water. I was made to believe. I am a convert.

Yet again I am shown that he has a kind of handy prowess that surprises me. So while my method with the chickens is to go quietly out there and squat among them, perhaps I shouldn't question his big burly man ways.

I mean, I've been wrong before.

After all, quite recently I was expecting eggs...from a rooster.