"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bold Red Fox, Dead Red Hen

Fox have found our chicken coop and they've been taking them out in broad daylight, one by one. A neighbor alerted us to the dead chicken in their yard and fox in the driveway. Fox on the prowl. The egg count is down and now we know why. We wonder how long it's been going on, From a flock of one hundred, you could lose a few and not realize it. We close up the coop at night once the birds are all inside. They are safe at night. But daytime is killing time. Now we know.

The fox slip through the poultry fence like eels through sea grass. Nothing can stop them except a ten gauge, a keen eye and a steady finger.The loaded gun sits by the back door, though I don't like it there. We guard the poultry fence towards dusk when the chickens are still outside foraging. We watch the field, the woods, the fencerow.

We can't go to town, or down the road to dinner, can't weed the asparagus or trellis the tomatoes. Here they come across the open field, bolder than fox should be. There one goes out of range at a brisk trot with a chicken in its mouth, disappearing into the woods. Feathers on the ground. Carnage in the fencerow. Buzzards overhead, cleaning up after the fox.

We mull the fate of the birds we've raised, nurtured through winter with heat lamps to ward off the frigid wind, and now move around on open pasture, water and pamper for the eggs they give us. They are just now beginning to reach their peak egg production. All the hard work through winter was just beginning to pay off.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mother And The Cutthroat

Every year mother gave me dried delphiniums (massive blooms staked against the wind swayed above the irises and poppies). She’d hang them in a dark closet along with sprigs of lavender. Once dried, they would hold their color through the winter.  I have one delphinium from two years ago. Though faded in color, I save it.

One of her poppies survived the Polar Vortex. I fleshed it out of the weeds and pulled out the invasive quack grass that was smothering it. Big egg-shaped buds covered the plant, a tinge of pink at the tip promising salmon-colored crepe paper blooms in a week, or two, with sun and rain and faith. Faith was  for daffodils in my grandmother’s dictionary, but the daffodils are done and the tulips are done but the poppy is to come. 

But wait. The whirr of the gas-powered weed whacker warns of danger. The swoop of the handle cleaves the air, dismantling everything in its path, protective goggles and gloves for the whacker in full-throttle  approach. Protection for the cutthroat but none for the poppy. In one fell unsupervised swoop, the poppy is in ruins, flecks of bud (hints of salmon) lie scattered in the grass like fluffs of dandelion. 

Sister presented mother with the remnants. Poppy pieces in her lap, like rose petals saved from a prom corsage.