Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who Needs a Man?

Me, apparently. I do. Who would have thunk?

Don has been out of town, again, these last two weeks. His father took a sudden turn for the worse and was rehospitalized, so Don drove back to Illinois on the doctor's strong suggestion. We were both hoping that it was a false alarm, not as bad as it seemed, maybe the doc and his mom were over-reacting, etc, but apparently the doctor knew of what he spoke, as Don's dad passed away last week. It was decided for me that I should remain here and not travel for the funeral, so while Don has been there, tending to his mom, funeral arrangements, financial stuff, and cleaning his parents' garage; I've been here, holding down the fort. So to speak.

It is interesting, in a way, to discover exactly what one can and can't (or won't) do, when one is used to having a handy spouse around. Can I mow the lawn, having never done it before, and being eight months pregnant? Apparently, yes. (Four times in two weeks, since I can't do the back yard and front yard at the same time. The chickens aren't as scared of the mower as I think they should be.) Can I fix the air-conditioning unit when it breaks during an almost-unprecedented 90-degree April weekend? No. Can I still move the chicken coop, in my delicate condition? Yes. Operate the string trimmer? No. Fix the toilet, which also broke? No, but I know how to turn the water off at the base. Buy 120 pounds of compost and manure from Lowe's, haul it to the backyard, spread it on my garden, rake it in, and plant all the plants? Yes. Without crying from the pain and stiffness the next day? No. And I can take the dog on every one of her walks, morning, afternoon, and night, and keep everybody fed, watered, pooped and happy.

Really, it's as though the house knew Don was leaving, and felt vengeful towards me for some reason*. The high on Saturday was 93, and the air just never kicked on. It got to 89 degrees inside the house, even with all of the windows open and ceiling fans running. At 4:30 in the morning, it was still 79 inside. Sunday and Monday were the same. I did essentially nothing all weekend but take cool showers and lay naked on the bed under the fan-- so much for my to-do list. Who could vacuum or do laundry in that heat, I ask you**? Meanwhile, the toilet started running nonstop, water trickling endlessly from the tank to the bowl, and fast. I think the house doesn't like me.

When Don gets back, it will be to a neat yard, semi-clean house, planted garden, and healthy chicken-coop. But can I say that while I'm glad to have earned my I-can-do-it, who-needs-a-man! badge, I'd rather not have to? I hope yesterday was the last time I'll have to mow the lawn this season. On the bright side, I found at my doctor's appointment this morning that my weight has actually dropped a bit. Whether from all of the physical exertion of late, or from doing nothing but drinking water and sweating copiously all weekend, I don't know, but I'm guessing the latter. To think, some people pay a lot of money to experience such things. Come to my home, and sweat for free!

*Does this count as paranoia?

** Except for all of the generations of women who did it before a/c was even invented, and didn't get a break for being pregnant, either.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Try, try again

I have new chickens, replacements for my girls that were killed in the Pre-Thanksgiving Massacre. We have a new back gate, and new reinforcements on the back doors of the coop. It takes me some time now to undo all the latches in order to change the feed, water, or bedding, but that's OK. These doors can't be opened by anything but human hands and a decent amount of strength. I also accidentally trapped myself in the backyard, as the gate opens out (so that it can't be pushed in) and the latch is the type that drops into the ground. It seems that it is possible to drop the latch by reaching over the gate, but once it's lowered, it's too low to reach from the other side. Thank goodness Don was mowing the front yard and saw me jumping up and down trying to get his attention.

We are also experimenting, trying to determine exactly how "teachable" chickens are. Obviously they can learn some things; for example it only took them a few days to realize that Mara = food and they like me a lot, now. What we want, is for the girls to learn to run for the coop should they see a dog in the yard. We're using Alice, who is a hunter by blood and would kill the birds if she had the chance. We walked her down to the backyard and when she saw the birds, she froze and pointed. She raced around and around the run, and the birds ran in circles inside. Then three of them jumped up into the coop, while the fourth (re-named Stupid) continued to flap in circles. Eventually she figured it out, too. It's too soon to tell if they're learning (we'll do another trial next weekend but I don't want to put undue stress on them), although I noticed last night that when a bunch of neighborhood dogs started barking, the chickens all ran to the side of the run (haha, that sounds funny) and stared out, alert-like.

I hope it's safe to say that, whatever may happen with THESE chickens, it won't be a dog attack. I say all this because whenever I announce the arrival of New Chickens, the first thing people tend to ask about is our new defensive system, as in, "You're not going to let dogs get these ones too, are you?" Still, when I called Don yesterday evening, they were the first thing he asked about-- "Is it the chickens? Are they OK?"-- still traumatized, I guess, by my phone call last November along the lines of, "All my chickens are dead and I need you to come home and deal with the bodies."

I'll have pictures soon. Meant to take some Sunday when we were free-ranging, since the photos come out so much better without the wire mesh of the run in the way, but I forgot to bring the camera downstairs with me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Let Me S'plain.

No, there is too much; let me sum up.

Sorry for the extra-long, worrisome silence. Everything is OK.

My father-in-law was hospitalized shortly after my trip to Texas, with a cascade of issues; the most serious being a stroke and the most immediate, a kidney infection. I didn't want to write about it until I knew more about what was happening, which took a long time. He has since been moved from the hospital to a nursing home for 'recovery'; whether he graduates from there back to his home remains to be seen, but the estimates right now are at about 3 months. Whether that estimate is based on his actual progress or on insurance, I can't tell.

Don drove out to be with his parents and was there for a little more than a week. I didn't want to post about that, not wanting to advertise my being all alone, not ever really knowing who's reading the blog, etc. There's something about being this much pregnant that makes me feel more vulnerable than usual. I don't know if it's because I'm all big, slow, and wobbly, not my usual nimble self, or because I'm feeling defensive for the little one within. Either way, I find myself suspicious of passers-by, fast-moving vehicles, thunder and lightning, everything.

I am finding out why nobody seems to rave about the last trimester of pregnancy; it's really starting to kick my ass. All of the energy and drive that I had in January and February left me sometime in mid-March. All of the great things I was getting done, have been un-done by sheer entropy and nap-attacks. The baby is coming and NOTHING IS READY.

We did get more chickens. Many posts to follow, surely, about the new chickens.