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Homestead happenings: normal-like

March 23, 2011

* So, just to set the record straight on chickens and their dietary restrictions: mostly, none. Chickens are the great omnivores of the planet, which is not to say that jello is part of their evolutionary history, but in its most basic parts—fruit and animal collagen—it actually is.

* Also, thank you for your appreciation of Col’s fashion fearlessness. Truthfully, it’s more that he’s completely undiscerning about clothes. If I placed a few burlap sacks in his drawer, he’d cinch them around his waist and get on with his day. But every now and then he’ll ask me to tuck in his shirt so everyone can see his rainbow belt.

* Have you entered the small 6512 giveaway yet?

*** ** *** ** *** **

We’re getting back to normal here in fits and starts. Everyone has stopped expecting juice and ice cream at every meal, Dan has removed his couch-cushion bed from Col’s room, and Col is expected to floss his teeth once again. I don’t think anyone is more relieved than Rose, who’s asked every night for the last 15 days: “is Col going to have to floss tonight?” Which I think is her scrambled code for: is Col ready to play yet?

Last week I came home late after teaching my writing class and was shoveling dinner into my face while Dan and I chatted for the first time all day. He told me about his hike near Chimney Rock where he found 3 cougar-killed elk carcasses. His eyes were star-twinkles of excitement and he fumbled around on his computer to show me pictures of the disemboweled elk. What was I saying? Right. Perfectly normal.

He did think to bring me some elk poop for the greenhouse lettuce. I swear, the romance!

On the homestead:

::The fact that someone in the house has undergone surgery has upped the ante on all doctor play. Now everyone gets their tonsils inspected as a matter of course.

Sometimes the anesthesia mask is also required.

And the shots have become, understandably, more advanced.

::The tonsillectomy has become part of our family oral history. It sits in the archival stacks of our mental library, no more or less requested than how Rose used to spit up curdly waterfalls of milk, or how Col first locomoted, inchworm-style, like a tiny breakdancer.

Col’s friend Ella came over last weekend and sat Col down, as girls will do, and got the dirt on the surgery.

Ella: Did they do that thing where they make you go to sleep?

Col: Yes. And I breathed in the mask and it smelled like blueberries and then I fell asleep and that was it. *shrugs*

Ella: Did you dream?

Col: No. Because of the blueberries.

Ella: Right. My mom told me about that.

I love the human subspecies: 6-year old.

::Col wasn’t quite ready to go back to school Monday, so he stayed home and read on the couch while I worked nearby. I secretly loved having him home and had to refrain, about 342 times, from rushing over to the couch and kissing him.

And then Col and I went to his school together for lunch. I sat next to him in a tiny chair and ate salad and potatoes and crackers along with his 12 kindergarten classmates. Everyone wanted to know how he was, and did the doctor really stick his hand down Col’s throat and yank out his tonsils, like Clay said. And then the conversation turned to Japan’s tsunami and the kids all agreed that it was better to lose your home than your life because you couldn’t get that back. And when Asher said that he was in Hawaii over spring break with tsunami warnings, several kids told him, while munching crackers, that they were glad he didn’t die. I love these children, how frank and thoughtful they are.

::We gave our chicken tractor away to our friend Joy, which stirred up a lot of excitement in the hen house.

While this was going on, Col could be heard muttering: chickens, the closest living relative of the dinosaur.

There was a small reunion with our original chickens—turning 3 this spring!-–who spent every night of their first 2 years in that very chicken tractor.

The elders: Emily and Little Buddy.

Which made me want to dig up these pictures from 3 years ago:

Rosie's always liked trashy fashion.

My, how everyone’s grown in 3 years. Seeing this picture also makes me want to kiss Col 342 times.

The best part of the chicken tractor transfer was the well-composted mix of chicken poop, straw and leaves found underneath, which I dug up and planted peas right into. Dan gets excited about lion kills, and I about the fertility of chicken poop. We’re a good match.


::I taught my final writing class last night. Everyone was so courageous and kind. It was such an honor to see a group of strangers care for each others’ personal stories. This is the view from the local college where my class is held.

It was a crazy day of wind and sun and snow and rain, which I guess simply means it’s spring and everything is pretty normal. Thank goodness.

I wish I could invite you all over for an elk poop-fertilized salad. With love,


14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 8:52 am

    1) our random rule on chicken food is that they can eat anything except…chicken. we have no scientific reason to back this up. just what john and i came up with one day and it stuck. the do sometimes get leftover soup with chicken broth but no actual chicken bits.

    2) why are you giving away your chicken tractor? and how did your design work for you? (i’m in the planning stages of making one for our ladies.)

    3) i can’t believe the view from your writing class. wow. talk about inspiration.

    4) i’d like to write more but i gotta start making some lunch for my hungry crew…



    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 23, 2011 10:17 am

      Erin, we really don’t have the land to support a chicken tractor. The design was good (I think we go it from, it was just too wieldy to tote around our 1/8 acre. It was the ladies’ coop for their first few years, while we were learning about keeping chickens. Then last fall Dan built them an insulated coop (which helps me sleep better when it’s 15 below zero) with more accessible nest boxes and some nice roosting bars.

  2. March 23, 2011 8:59 am

    Chickens, the closest living relative of the dinosaur …

    That. Is the beginning of a poem.

    I’m glad to hear that all is back to normal-like again!

  3. March 23, 2011 9:21 am

    My brood (the human ones) are oohing and aahing over Rose’s yellow bead necklace, Col’s friend’s blue tutu, and (of course) all the poop in this post. And now I want to kiss them each 342 times.

  4. March 23, 2011 10:21 am

    I sure wouldn’t mind some of that Elk poop your serving :o)..My garden could use it.
    The childens games after surgery is lots of fun for them and it helps to forget the pain associated with it.. they are lovely children and show love for each other. Col looks so much like his father in that early picture.. they are cute kids..:o)

  5. Molly permalink
    March 23, 2011 10:58 am

    Oh. I guess I should go get some of my friend’s old horse poop, make a pile of it by a fence or something, and stick the peas in it. You are my almanac (I was an urban Ohio community gardener, and I’ve never adjusted to gardening on my own, here in Durango). I subscribed to Edible Living, all b/c of you. Looking forward to it.

  6. Barb permalink
    March 23, 2011 11:29 am

    Dan has his own computer? ;)

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      March 23, 2011 11:34 am

      I know. It’s a work computer that he gets to take home. Mostly used to store elk-type pictures, look up weather, and uh…work on.

  7. March 23, 2011 12:42 pm

    I think I will read this post 342 times, it is so cheery. Much cheerier than the -20 (Celcius) winds we will be battling all this week. My craving for chickens is not at all abated by reading your posts. Must.get.bigger.yard. I think I have 1/100th of an acre. And Rose’s fashion loves remind me of my own, until much older than 3. Fashion without guile is what it’s all about, though I must admit my recently coveted and then purchased smartwool skirt is the best thing ever, and would look smashing with yellow beads, or with elk poop, or with salad (which it will no doubt be wearing by the end of the day).
    Are said cougars done with the elk? Or just having a snooze?

  8. March 23, 2011 3:43 pm

    I love all the playing doctor scenes…I wonder what this will lead to?

    Also, about your husband and the cougar-killed elk: my husband made me a pair of earrings from the ivories of a wolf-killed elk. Romance, I’m telling you.

  9. March 24, 2011 8:58 am

    I think your children would love to play with my children. And my children would love to come visit your chickens and see the elk poop. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  10. March 24, 2011 4:38 pm

    I have so much to say. First, who knew elk poop and lettuce love one another, and how thoughtful a bag of elk poop can be. My hubby brings me shards of metal for my art welding reserves. Some things are so much better than a dozen roses. Second, I loved the irony in “The tonsillectomy has become part of our family oral history.” Great line. Third, really? That’s the view from your writing class? Sign me up {and get me a plane}. So glad things are falling back into normal.

  11. March 25, 2011 3:07 pm

    Can I tell you what’s romantic? That you say things like “Dan and I chatted for the first time all day…” I think so many married couples miss moments like that. This person, a partner, who, with any luck we talk every day, finds a way to share our life.

    Sometimes the talk is so mundane that I forget to remember it’s a privilege to talk to that husband of mine every day. But he knows me. And, after 23 years, when I call him at work, he measures my mood after 3 words. He knows why I’m upset before I’ve told him. He guesses my goose worthy goof ups and he assures me “It’s no big deal, really.” And then I relax, because he said so.

    He is my touchstone. It isn’t butterflies anymore. It’s something with so much, much more gravity. I’ve moved on these days. I’m not chasing the same things of my youth. I’m trying to find my path. That scares me sometimes. It’s beyond a relief to have the same voice in my ear; that something so, so familiar as I step out to find my place in the big, wide world.

    I talk to him every day. It’s romantic.


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