Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm not cut out for college

I feel like a lot of my blog posts either begin or end with me in hysterics. This one is no different.

About a week and a half ago, I boarded a plane for Minnesota. I'm starting a graduate program, and had to come up here for three weeks to get down and dirty with some qualitative analysis and quality improvement classes. The other super duper fun thing I get to do is live in a dorm. Might I also mention I'm 27 and have never lived with anyone other than my parents or my husband. Aside from that family I lived with as an exchange student, but they sort of left me in the basement with the slugs for a year so I'm not sure if that counts.

Anyway, in preparing for my first day of classes, I find out that I literally have to cross the Mississippi River to get to the classroom. Not disregarding that University of Minnesota's campus is mind-boggingly huge, I should have recognized that this was not going to turn out well. Public transportation and I have not typically gotten along well (exhibit A: lawn mower boat that took me to my hotel in Guatemala).

I didn't, much to Mitch's dismay, pile some pioneers on a raft and attempt to ford the river while my family all gets typhoid and/or drowns after we hit some rocks in shallow water (he still doesn't believe that I've ever beat Oregon's Trail). No no, I decided to be pragmatic and take the campus shuttle. After getting progressively sweatier and panickier for about 45 minutes while waiting for the shuttle THAT NEVER CAME, I lit'rally started running into traffic sob-screaming into my phone at Mitch to help me find a cab company after Goog411 failed me. I'VE WORKED TOO HARD AND WAITED TOO LONG FOR THIS!!!

Finally, I bawled to some lady on the phone who went a poor cab driver to drive my pathetic ass to my first class. Don't worry, I tipped him well. Then, of course, I had to navigate the West Bank of the campus, which entailed me spastically running up and down stairs around corners and back and forth through hallways until I found the registration table. I made it. With three minutes to spare.

Anyway, turns out that due to construction for a light rail system, most of the shuttle stops are null and void for the summer. Damn green initiatives. Otherwise, I have adjusted well since that horrific experience (for me and the people standing at the bus stop with me). Dorm food isn't so bad. I've learned how to get around pretty well. I've even made friends! Kinda. And none of this would have been possible were I not allowed to drink in my room.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I've retold the Shirley-getting-her-ass-beat-by-the-raccoon story about 50 times by now, reliving each horrible detail as I go. I decided to call my mom and tell her over the phone last night, so as to avoid having to discuss bloody hamburger neck over Sunday dinner.

After arriving at my folks' house, my mom proceeded to tell me that my Aunt Shirley (all the chickens are named after my great aunts: Shirley, Sandy, Angie, Millie, Judy, and Greta), a farmer in rural Pennsylvania, used to sit on her porch with a shot gun shooting any predators that threatened her chickens. Although she's not dead, there's an eerie kernel of karma somewhere in there.

That being said, I resisted the urge to run over a raccoon I saw on the drive home from work tonight, for fear of becoming its dinner in the next life.

P.S.--though I don't want to jinx it, it looks like the little lady's gonna make it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And I was worried about hawks...

Several times a day, particularly since the chickens moved outside, I run through this checklist. I poke my head in the coop and count them. OneTwoThreeFourFiveSix. Check. I account for all their limbs, and make sure their heads are still attached. Then I feed and water them, and call it good. Today it was brought to my attention that this was not sufficient. It was also brought to my attention that our coop was not raccoon-proof.

Only after Mitch checked my checking did we notice an excessive amount of feathers on the outside of the coop, and blood marking the wood at the edge. Dreading what I would find, I started examining each of the chickens individually. Sandy now has a droopy wing, which would explain the black feathers strewn about, but it wasn't until I got a hold of Shirley that I realized why there were so many more blonde feathers. I began gagging upon seeing her partially stripped, fleshy, raw hamburger-y looking chicken neck, and quickly advanced to hysteria.

There is a great amount of guilt that comes with making an animal completely dependent upon you, and then inadvertently exposing it to predators. I know they're not pets, which is why I'm fine with putting her down if she doesn't get better, and I'm certainly not going to spend hundreds of dollars taking her to the emergency vet (I know I've been known to blow money on dog therapy, but that would just be ridiculous). However, we domesticated these animals to serve us, and we have thus thwarted their evolutionary instinct. Chickens were jungle fowl from Asia and South America. They weren't really created to live in a box in a Midwest backyard. They could never live off the land, considering they need to eat ground up oyster shells just so they can produce egg shells. They need us. And it was our responsibility to protect them from raccoons and hawks and whatever else I'm sure we'll encounter. So we spent the rest of the night creating a bomb shelter for the chickens.

For the record, we're treating her. She now owes us five dozen eggs to work off what I spent on betadine solution and cotton balls. Millie is also in debt about three dozen eggs from her eye infection. Considering they only lay about four eggs a week, they better get to work. Nonetheless, I have concluded that chickens are the most badass animals on the planet. Forget Wolverines and Silverback Gorillas. If you had just had half the tendons ripped out of your neck, would you still be milling about the yard eating flowers? I think not.

Friday, May 13, 2011

omg we're screwed

Don't pretend like Corgi butt isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen.

So the hen house is officially occupied. Thank heavens. I thought it would be easy to throw them outside because they stink, and they're pretty annoying, but instead I have acquired a slew of new worries, one of which being hawks.

Omg doesn't it just look like it wants to eat your face? No sooner than about 15 minutes after I threw the chicks out the back door did I look up and see at least half a dozen hawks circling above our house. This launched Buster and me into a frenzied recollection of the flock. Lesson learned: running after a chicken makes it harder to catch them. Fortunately, Buster is actually an intuitive herding dog, and impressed me with his sweet herding skillz. I rounded them up into their spacious coop (see below), and they lived to see another day. This was all fine and dandy until I found out that bed bugs (my #1 fear) now carry MRSA (my #2 fear). If hawks start shooting lasers out of their eyes or grow opposable thumbs, I don't think I'll ever sleep again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Scared Shitless

The weather in Cincinnati has been positively abhorrent. Even more so considering I haven't been able to move the chickens outside until it's warm/dry enough. And seriously, grown up chicken poo smells terrible, and I need to get them out of my house, pronto.

So yesterday was one of the first warm days we've had this year, and I took Millie outside to start getting her acclimated to the great outdoors. I thought the second I set her on the ground she would start frolicking through the weeds eating bugs and rolling in the dirt. Au contraire. Instead she shit herself immediately, which really excited Buster (not sure if I should be worried about him eating chicken poo, but not like I could stop him). Then she stood frozen in terror for about 10 minutes. I picked her up and moved her around in the yard, but she pretty much just stood wherever I put her. I hope this means I won't be chasing my chickens down the street anytime soon, but really it makes for a pretty boring barnyard.