I thought I was joking when I called it Farm O'Death. But our foray into senseless slaughter has continued to mount into a grievous pile of dead things.
My neighbor came knocking. I was on the phone. I had girded myself that morning for an hour or two of boring paperwork, just to finalize Blue's school plans. And moments before she knocked, I was coming to the slowly, painfully, phone-call-by-phone-call-reveal-edly realization that I had just been plunged into School District Tartarus. What I could see ahead was a tangled bureaucratic mess that would eventually stretch into three weeks, become political, turn my life upside-down and make me a homeschooler. But enough of that. My neighbor was on my doorstep knocking. The only other time she'd shown up had to do with cows, out, eating her rose business. She began with pleasantries that I interrupted: "Just... um ... is this about my cows."
"Where are they?"
"It's about the fence. It's killing gold finches."
Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.
Cavalier, I said, "I don't mind a few dead birds. We've got hundreds around here. They're eating my tomatoes (at this point, that's a blessing. We've had way too many. The kids actually used a box of them for batting practice). And if the fence keeps my cows in, I guess we'll just have to deal with a couple dead birds now and again."
"oh my god."
The birds were landing on the electric fence, sagging, connecting with the pigwire fence, and exploding. Who could have known the would happen?!
A week later, my sister helped me rearrange part of the fence. I thought I'd turned off the fence, but when I first grabbed it, I sizzled and my arm went all twitchy . Serves me right, yes, I know. But the funny thing is, that even when the fence was unplugged, and I'd made my sister test it, the message had been so clear that every single time, all 50 of them, I squirmed and squinted and nearly peed my pants as I reached out to touch the clearly dead wire.
And today, I did the rest. And counted 54 bodies. Or parts indicating a body had once been there. There were severed legs hanging from the wire, still clinging to its executioner. About 10 whole fried birds hanging upside down. A few t-posts with feathers burnt on. And a bunch of bloody stools. It was terribly gruesome and I feel horribly bad about it. Bad. Bad. Bad. However, I would like to note that those birds ate all of my grass seed. Not that that justifies a slaughter, just saying...
The next day there was a mouse on the dining room floor. Just sitting there, enjoying the tortilla chip crumbs under Coyote's seat. I screamed. It ate. I screamed some more. It ate some more. I got the cat and put it on top of the mouse. It ate some more. The cat ran off somewhere. I got a jar and put it over the mouse. It ate some more. And then jumped up and bashed it's head on the top several times. The kids wanted it as a pet. ABSOLUTELY NOT! "But," Coyote pleaded, "it's so cute, and maybe, you know, you have something in common with it." Like what? "Maybe it's a mom too!" ACK!!! EEEK! That would mean baby mice!! The lid was put on tight and the mouse died by morning. Her baby, electrocuted in my little black box, the better mouse trap.
The next day, I felt a chill in the air and wondered about the our first frost, long over due- still. Weather Underground said 30. It was our anniversary. A full moon. And Huck and I worked hard in the garden, harvesting the "last" of the zucchini, peppers, basil. Huck lifted 6 tomato plants, whole, from the ground and piled them, dirt and all in the conservatory room. We tucked the rest under warm blankets. Whew! I'd almost missed the first frost. How lucky we were that I'd checked! I awoke the next morning, eager to see how low we'd gone over night. 48. What? 48? 48!! What the hell?! Exactly what Cheney town had I checked? And now I had a ton of dirt and 1000 green tomatoes in my house screaming for immediate, and yet totally nonexistent and unavailable attention and time.
The next night, I found a dead chicken. It looked perfectly fine. The body was in tact but dead. By the time the man of house saw it, the head was missing. Huck wondered if we could leave it out for owls or coyotes. But I didn't want them thinking our house was a buffet. So, as Huck took the bird to the field, I remained behind to inspect the area for clues to it's death. That is when the world's largest owl with, I swear, a 24 foot wing span dive bombed me. And I screamed my lungs out. The moon was still fullish. And Huck yelled from across the field, "Holy crap! That looked awesome!" "Not from these eye balls!" We hauled the chicken coop, chickens and all into the barn and then buried the limp Buff Orpington known as Nugget in a shallow grave, which took an hour or so, in the dry end-of summer concrete that used to be soil.
The next night, around 2am, I heard this terrible chickeny squawking outside my bedroom window. I leapt up and saw an owl flying away and a chicken stranded on the top of a telephone pole, screaming. I wondered if I should call the fire department like they do for kittens. It seemed kind of species-ist not to. But it wasn't one of ours and about five minutes later, the owl returned for it.
And then King Louis decided to start putting his gophers (he has a taste for gophers and birds, but NOT mice) in his food dish. Blood smears all over the floor.
And now our sump pump died and no one can take showers or do laundry until it's fixed for an exorbitant sum.
Death. Death. Death. Day in. Day out. That's the way it goes. It harvest time here, for the Grim Reaper too, I suppose. Maybe we're just making space for new things. Like invasive starlings and rats and really expensive shit-moving equipment you never see.