It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oh The Plans They Are A Changing

What! Are you talking no moon pies tomorrow (today)?

Whoa! Hold on there a minute, moon pies were not the only thing on the list for the last half of this week. Tomorrow (Friday, which is now today), barring anything drastic like a volcano, earthquake and hurricane hitting Roy, Washington all at once, tomorrow I will be making more moon pies.

So what is the change? Last we talked Dear Reader I did say that I was going to begin taking my summer cuttings for some propagation of the vegetation sort. My favorite rose, now unavailable is the top on the list. And my projected day for that was Wednesday and here it is Thursday night (Friday morning) and I have not yet gotten to it. (Although the last few days of morning marine front, cloud cover and cool air, is more conducive to taking cuttings than the blast furnace heat we had earlier this week.)

Mrs. Mike called and got a hold of Anna and requested that we change days for the little girl's riding lessons (my girls, big girls; her girls, little girls), something about needing to go to Olympia to get chickens. So my Wednesday became my Thursday and my Thursday became a crazy-man-with-a-hat's Saturday and now here we are, Thursday night and no cuttings taken. (I threw that crazy man thing in to see if you were listening.)

No cuttings it is true, but oh do I have a story for you!

You can read my dear friend, the Chicken Hunter's, perspective on this whole thing over at Suburban_Hedgerow and she'll warn you not to read it if you're a hippy or if you're a liberal or if you're a liberal hippy, but don't worry, I am all three of those things and what I am about to write is way more scathing to the type than what she's got, she is nice, I am mean.

So the story really begins when she gets to the Farm, Vicktory Farm and Gardens, throws her girls out the car door by the barn and swings by to let me jump in whilst she continues around the compound's circular drive at a moderate speed.

Somewhere about Yelm, nine miles into our drive, after we have solved the world's problems, I ask what gives for the trip.

She explains that this guy has some RIR (Rhode Island Reds) for sale, they are laying and they are only ten bucks.

Hey, good find, I say. This now has taken us to between the turn off for Lake St. Clair. and the turn for Hawks Prairie. In there she did manage to also say that we were headed to West Olympia. The phone rings. Her cell phone. She answers it.

"Yeah, hi Jordan," she says in her usual sweet and inviting lilt. "I am on my way there right now, almost to Hawks Prairie and I-5 so it won't be long. No, we hadn't talked about that last night. Oh, I see. Well I was only expecting forty dollars. Okay, I see, well fine, yes, good, we'll see you in a bit then." Snap. (She shut the phone closed and that says snap, not click like hanging up an old fashioned phone.)

I'm looking at her with that so what is up look. She says, "How old do you s'pose Jordon is?"

Well just wildly guessing and wanting to think that folks who sell chickens, even on Craig's list, are at least as old as I am but realizing that there wasn't a Jordan within seven hundred miles of my childhood, I knew he had to be a product of a generation no older than that one where everyone and their puppies were named with 'J' names, as long as all the family members' first initial matched whether the last one did or not. Thirty-ish.

"Why," was what I actually said.

"So after a couple of e-mail exchanges on what he had and where exactly he was located, I e-mail him and ask politely if I could come and get them on Wednesday and he pops an e-mail back fast that says, 'hey, they are all gone.' Then he phone calls me, just a few hours later, and says 'four hens just came out of the woods' and he would hold them until Wednesday."

"Mmm," I say, really meaning, "wow, this is odd."

"Just now he has called to say that he has to charge me fifteen dollars for two of them because that is what he paid for them and he can't take a bath on a couple of chickens."

Mmm so we go from coyote bait to valuable chickens in one day?

Now mind you, hindsight has it that this was Mrs. Mike's and my signal to turn around, turn around now, and go home. But no. We are trusting, hope-filled girls, wanting laying hens. How is it that you take a "bath" on chickens? Stock market, yes, land deal, okay, but two chickens with the price difference of five bucks that you have had for how long? That's a bath? What's he bathe in, a cup? A tea-cup?

So finally we are climbing the back road to this fellow's house, speculating on what kind of person we are going to find at the end of our rope, we should have been prepared. I am rufflin' up my hackle feathers, or so I thought, ready to strike at the idgit that switches prices on a person while they are en route to buy the product. The bummer was, too bad I wasn't better prepared.

Maybe it was the "hey, this place doesn't look too bad" feeling when I got out of the car. But just imaging that scratching ripping the vinyl-record with the needle sound as I wheel around to match a face to the "hi, I'm Jordon, welcome to the farm."

Yikes! From the forty-five pounds of dread-locks, right down to the questionable foot wear. Oh no, we've landed in Greenland!

I take the offered hand, telling myself, "Give the kid a break. Don't be judgmental little missy, you're sporting an eye-brow ring and grey hair for crying out loud. You were here once (not literally, figuratively)."

But the farther we go on this, the more it is just rubbing me the wrong way, like a wire brush on tender skin. He yaps on and on about how the girls free-range and he only brings them in at night and in order to get them in gives them just a little grain and that the grain is only organic. Which by the way folks, I would love to state here that organic does not, absolutely does not, equal nutrition. It can be nutritional, often it is, but it doesn't necessarily follow.

That they go in real easy should have been a tip off that he says whatever strikes his fancy. Because if they go in real easy why did these four "come out of the woods" miraculously one day? Go in real easy should have also been a tip off that perhaps they were not finding enough food. Oh the little voices in your head you don't listen to in time to prevent tragedy.

Right away I can see who the ten dollar chicken is. Dread-lock boy "farmer", who probably works part time at the Organic Nursery and Vegetable Stand we passed on our way up here, where there is an odd mix of patchouli soaked, toe ringed, underwearless, twenty somethings mingling with the fifty-something-cancer-paranoid-granola returnees who both flirt like mares with him, the first because their life-sustaining trust fund is about to run dry and the second because they miss the thrill of living life without a trust fund, has now really gotten under my skin because he is having to hoick his pants, read that, juvenile shorts, up to keep the waistband from hitting his knees and the hem from dusting the dirt just under his non-farmer sandals.

So I let him have it, "Where did you get these chickens and were they the ones who told you they are Rhode Island Reds? Because they are not, true Rhode Islands are mahogany, a deep mahogany color; you have at best production reds." I was thinking that this would just be the begining of my grilling of this yahoo.

He blows me off and continues to insist to the Chicken Hunter that two are ten a piece and two are fifteen a piece. And I just let him go, worried that the Chicken Hunter who is a tender and sweet person will be mortified if I go for it. So when she says, with twenty dollars stuck out to him, "Well I can only afford the two that are ten a piece," the vessel bursts in my head when he says in a vaguely conciliatory tone, after a long pause, "I can let you have a deal, I can give you three for forty."

What?! No, really, what!?! Do you think she is so nice and I am so grey-headed that we are going to fall for that or have you snorted so much incense into your wee brain that you can't do math?

My tongue is on fire by this time and I dare not open my mouth. I want to say, in a nasty, momma-has-you-by-your-hair-you-better-straighten-up tone, that what you can do is, you can let Chicken Hunter have the four for forty like the ad said it would be and didn't get changed when they first came out of the woods and you called to tell her to come and buy them. That is what you can give her!

So even though Jr. has zero business sense and changes the price on folks, and even though he clearly cannot add well or whatever operation it was that took me five seconds to see that his "three for forty" meant that now he didn't want just fifteen dollars for the ten dollar chicken he wanted twenty dollars for a ten dollar chicken, even though we now had all that information, we still proceed.

Why? Because the Chicken Hunter and I never worked out signals that's why. Next time we gotta have signals. Like: I take my sunglasses off the top of my head and put them on would mean, hey, I think you should ditch this joker and his deal. Chicken Hunter waving her money would mean, No, I've come this far I'll just take the stupid things. They are chickens and they will eventually give me the sixty eggs I need to pay for this transaction.

Then I would have felt better about all this, as it was, no signals, we didn't know what the other was thinking.

Now, let's get back to reality.

He insists that we bring our cage over to the pen so that he can transfer the hens from his cage within the pen into Chicken Hunter's cage. He is not offering for Chicken Hunter to look over the hens he is about to shove into the cage and we are too shocked at this point to ask for the privilege.

And that is how we got all the way back to Hawk's Prairie and the lunch parking lot before we discovered the first set of horrors, how really stinking ugly the one hen is. She may be ugly but clearly she is well trained to hide her face on the way to the car!

When we got to the house I had already decided that we would switch one of our production reds with Chicken Hunter's deformed one. She was so ugly I knew that she would polish off forever any desire the little girls had for doing poultry.

I enlisted Bet to help CH and I, while Anna kept the two little girls occupied. When I handed the bird to Bet I was floored by how light it was. Paper light. It was Bet who immediately discovered the tick on her neck. Ah yes, free ranging in a bone dry conifer forest and organic feed, most likely she had not been dusted for lice since leaving the real farm she previously lived at.

Bet flipped her over, gently, to show us how bad this hen's skinny really was. That thing at the top of the pic in the smack dab middle is not her shank; it is her keel bone (breast bone). It looks like she had been de-meated and only thing left were the bones and feathers.

Can you see how little flesh is around the keel? I've never in my life seen a chicken this skinny. Or feather and downless. My chickens molt but they don't go into final stage alopecia.

Part of her problem is debeaking. Not so much that she was debeaked, although it is offensive to the eyes and if done wrong can cause chronic pain for the chicken who is debeaked (however the chickens that where being pecked to death by the one now debeaked no longer have their chronic pain). Her problem is more that the last chicken on earth to be made to free range with just enough cracked organic grain to lure her into her pen is one that has had her beak clipped.
I wish folks would quit rescuing things. I wish I would quit accidentally rescuing things.
A debeaked chicken cannot forage like their non-altered kin. Along with not being able to gather much in the way of food they also cannot pick up the tiny pebbles it takes to hold in their crop to help grind what they do find or grind the cracked organic tid-bits thrown into the pen ahead of them at night.
I beg you, do not go out to a poultry farm that houses their birds together in such a manner that would require the birds to be debeaked; get horrified that the movie you saw in Junior High to make you hate farmers is true really true; think you need to rescue as many of these poor things as you can afford to buy; take them home and let the be happy free ranging. They won't do well.
Debeaked chickens need a crumble feed, fed in a fairly deep trough. They will need all the supplemental vitamins and minerals that they will be missing by not scratching and successfully picking up tid-bits off the ground.
I have been tapped on the shoulder tonight and given the what-for for wanting to lump a lot of folks together right now and be absolutely unforgivingly brutal.
Not everyone who uses the word green, and doesn't really mean the actual color, is bad.
Not everyone who yaps endlessly about only feeding organic is a hippy, fake farmer with unsheared shedding sheep and naked fleshless chickens. (Oh yes, he did.)
Not everyone who doesn't reside in Jamaica but wears dread-locks anyway is an idgit.
And not every pair of women, out looking for some nice laying hens at a decent price, are foolishly bamboozled.
Oh, I need to relax now, and I am sure you do too Dear Reader, sorry if I got you all stirred up either way.
I know, I have a lot of issues to work through. I will need to take folks in very small doses for a few days while I try to regain, and gain more, nice-ness.
I was going to publish Jordan's address and last name, flag him on Craig's list, report him to the authorities, and barrage him with scathing e-mails daily for a month from a new address each day. Instead I will be satisfied with hitting publish post after I go back through and take out all the over the top unkind things.
I do understand what is like to live confused, lied to and ignorant. You end up believing all sorts of whacky illogical manure.
And now for relaxing and a more soothing picture to end this hideous and frightening post, here is a picture of my Veronica spicata growing among my soon to be divided Iris germanica.
See you soon with the results of today's (yes, I am finishing this up Friday morning) Moon Pie test. Today is the fortieth anniversary of the splash down of the lunar landing crew!


LindaSueBuhl said...

THe chicken makes me want to cry, Lanny - just cry- my girls are fed excessive (all you can eat) levels of costly blended chicken feed and scraps which could feed a small village -- anyhow - your indignation is righteous if a little delayed - there is a move we use here in Texas -might work for y'all - called TURN ON YOUR HEEL AND HUFF RIGHT ON OUTTA THERE. Little creep needs someone to show him real women don't fawn,
enough - I need to remember stereotyping is bad - monotyping is better?????

Meadow Mountain Musings said...

Poor chicken! thanks for the soothing picture at the end of the post.

Mrs. Mike said...

Thank You dear Friend, for being so faithful, and finding me a reputable Gallus domesticus dealer. Thursday made Wednesday a day I could laugh at(I thought a giggle might be years in coming)!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Uffda, What a trip! I am however very glad that you rescued the chicken..poor thing..I am sure that she will improve under your care.
A trying to be green idiot shyster, or maybe a bait and switch takes all kind to make the world go round.
You did good not pulling on his ear and cranking it..I would have probably not been able to shut did great ..and it's ok to let off a little steam now and then..buyer beware, next time rehearse the hand signals! :)

Anonymous said...

This chicken is very fortunate to have you and your girls to care for it. How sad. I do love the flower photo you shared - such vivid color. Hoping the rest of the weekend is peaceful and full of joy - I know it will be for one chicken.

Daisy said...

Lanny, this is such a sad and disturbing story. It breaks my heart to hear of animals being mistreated. You have every right to feel indignant and angry. I'd be steamed up right over the top on the inside although I'm not very good when it comes to confronting someone like this. The flowers at the end are lovely. Thanks.

Ha--here's a bit to make you smile. The verification word is jamak---for Jamaican dreadlocks, I guess. :)

KathyB. said...

Oh my, you did good to hold your tongue. You are right though, you two need to work out your signals. Actually, I would not have been nice enough to think about signals. I would have laughed at him and said "bye-bye'.

He sounds like what I keep hearing about Craig's List. I think they should post a big, very BIG "Buyer Beware" on the top of every page.

Makes for an entertaining post, but not much in the way of egg production!

Tipper said...

Jordan needs his butt kicked.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Lanny: Now that is a chicken story I won't soon forget. You really do have to have a better signal, just give him a kick.

Anna Colleen said...

I feel very bad for the chicken, I hope we can get her fattened up.

Lawstude said...

nicely written piece for a chicken. hope the critter is now alright.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

As a chicken raiser wannabe, I was vitally interested in your story, as I am "chicken-brained" about how to go about buying and raising them. I learned a lot and vacillated between laughter and horror. Thanks so much. C

Ted M. Gossard said...