Tuesday, October 07, 2014


I've gone away before. Of course I have. Even when Ed still was willing to travel with me, there had been plenty of solo trips. And yes, things are always a little different when you return. Typically, everything seems gentler, softer. Comfortable and comforting.

Not so this time.

It's not surprising that Autumn has taken hold. I went away at the cusp of Fall and now it's moving swiftly toward its zenith and within a few weeks, we'll still have Fall, but in name only. More like pre-winter. Or some such state of dark fields and brown grasses, bare limbs and short days. November stuff.

So the seasonal shift doesn't surprise me when I return.

The big change -- and it is a completely unexpected change -- is in the cheepers. Ed had warned me that Scotch had stopped laying again. We thought maybe she's hiding her eggs. I told him to follow her around and he did, to an extent. No eggs. Alright. She's a summer girl. I accept that. But last night - my first night back, for the first time since we got the cheepers, she did not return to the coop at night. Ed finally gave up searching for her. Until the middle of the night, when he went out again, found her this time on the fence and put her where she belongs -- locked up, protected from any number of predators.

So Scotch is in some bubble that we do not fully understand. Not a problem. Maybe it's the way she greets Autumn.

Nor is the problem with the white girls. They eat, scratch and lay. Pretty much as always.

The problem is Oreo. In the three weeks that I was away, he completely turned against me and now, if I am anywhere within his sight, he lunges at me in a straight on rooster attack. He'll hurl forward as best as he can, half limping half flying at me. Frontal attack, so that I have to either chase him off with a stick or call Ed for reinforcement.

The rooster has lost his marbles.

Of course, he's always had that little protective drive within him. He's chased children. He's chased the wedding planner. Once, he even chased my younger girl. He lived here on borrowed time, because if he continued down that path, his days surely would be numbered. But, toward the end of June he settled down, in peaceful harmony with all at the farmette. Only Isie boy tiptoed around the rooster, never quite trusting him. Smart Isie.

And now, I can't be within his visual range, or he'll attack. And that makes me just want him to go away.

Of course, life at the farmette is never that simple. Oreo adores Ed and Ed adores Oreo. Yes, I could say: it's either me or Oreo, you decide! But that would be rather dramatic. I think, after moments of great contemplation and deliberation, Ed would give in and I would stay and the rooster would go. I think. But it would make Ed terribly miserable to let go of the animal without even trying to make things work.  Ed is so patient with troubled animals that he held on to a feral cat for years (sweet but scarred Larry), even though the cat had the disconcerting habit of peeing on anything new that was ever brought into the sheep shed. I remember my first visit there, some nine years ago. As I entered the shed, Ed said -- don't put your purse down. Here, let's wrap it in a big plastic bag. Sure enough, Larry marked it. Ed never gave up on the cat and eventually the cat calmed down, but it took years.

Still, it is not fun for me to venture outside right now. The rooster is ready to lunge.

The other components to the day have been far less stressful. With a few interruptions, I log in ten hours of sleep. That happens maybe once in a blue moon for me.

Then breakfast. In the sun room.


And work on my writing project. Grocery shopping for the week. Tennis! In a court dusted with fallen pine needles! Oh, I missed that!

On our way home, we talk about Oreo. If it were up to me, I'd say au revoir, monsieur le coq! But I know Ed's sensitivities and I want to at least consider other solutions.

He suggests that I let him attack me.
Nothing will happen, he'll see it's futile, he'll stop.
I don't want to be mauled to death so that the rooster's light bulb will go off!
You wont get hurt -- he's a rooster!

We go around this a bit. I remain apprehensive. He suggests -- wear protective clothing if you're truly concerned.
I don't have protective clothing,
Jeans. Boots.
I don't have jeans or boots. I only have soft, girl-like pants.
Okay, what if you wrapped that old ratty sleeping bag from the garage around yourself?

So this is how I spend the early evening: like a bull fighter, baiting the animal to charge, only the goal here is for "the animal" to eventually just walk away from it all.


And it did happen exactly like that: Oreo charged me several times and, finding it to be rather daunting, what with the sleeping bag swirling around my legs, he gave up.
For now, I say to Ed. He'll be back.

So this is my reentry day: I'm fighting with a lame rooster.

On the upside, there is my stay at home guy, eager to engage in all our rituals again. And there are the flowers. Still crazy pretty, even after a three week slide into Autumn.