Friday, October 18, 2013

I'm back in the four-legged chicken game again.

Last week, I received the gift of yet another four-legged chicken. It's still just a baby, only a couple weeks old. In this video it's drowsy after a big lunch and slightly annoyed that I just won't let it sleep.

I don't know if it's a boy or girl so there's no official name yet. The current placeholder name is Telegram Sam because it reminds me of an old-fashioned telegraph transmitter tapping out Morse Code (and also because I like T. Rex).

As I write this, Sam is perched on my shoulder, peeping rather loudly directly into my ear. Any minute now, Sam will probably poop on me with its two poop chutes. Yep, Sam comes equipped with dual exhaust.

It will be a couple months before I can consider integrating Sam into the main flock. Until then, I am Sam's mother and will be spending a lot of time with this baby bird under my wing (which actually means it likes to sleep with it's head tucked into my armpit).

Monday, October 7, 2013

I never really went away. I just wasn't here.

Wow. Did I really just let two years go by without updating this blog? More than that, I essentially went two years without writing a goddamned thing, unless you count Facebook posts. I never stopped thinking about this blog or the fact I wasn't writing anything anymore. It was just one more thing in my life to feel shitty about. One more thing I should be doing instead of whatever drudgery or nonsense I was doing instead.

It's not that there weren't interesting things to write about. I never did do the write-up on the autopsy of my four-legged chicken, Four-Door Dostoyevsky. Nor did I tell you about my second four-legged chicken, Suzi Quatro. She died last year from a devastating respiratory infection that swept through my flock, wiping out a third of my birds. Just a couple days ago, I got another four-legged chicken. It was a baby, about a week old, that died a few hours after I got it.

I'm still working at Moore Farms & Friends - recently voted best CSA in Atlanta for the third time in four years by Atlanta's alternative weekly, Creative Loafing. Been there two and a half years now and I love it. I work with great people and feel like I have a job that actually does some sort of good in the world. It's part-time, which is how I like it. I'll only make about $13,000 this year but, after living on $6,000 a year for so long, I feel like I'm living high on the proverbial hog. You have no idea how good it feels to not have to save up for six weeks to buy a four-pound sack of sugar or to contemplate stealing a freshly-caught quail from your cat.

I'm making enough at this job (product packaging and bookkeeping) that I finally quit the last of all my shitty odd jobs. No more cleaning other people's houses or taking care of old people. No more mystery shopping or sorting eggs in a factory farm.

The only business sideline I have now is the sale of skulls, bones, mummified specimens and other natural oddities. Earlier this year I went from selling to a couple private collectors to selling to the public. I had a booth at the most awesome folk-art festival this side of the Mississippi: Doo-Nanny. I didn't know how well my wares would go over but it turned out that dead stuff sells like hotcakes - people were throwing money at me all weekend. In two days, I made as much money as I used to make in a good month (which isn't all that good when you remember I was only making six grand a year). 

I will be back at Doo-Nanny again in March with even better stuff. From as small as a mouse scapula to as large as a horse skull. From as common as chicken vertebrae to as rare as an infection-ravaged possum ulna. Mummified rats, rattlesnake skins, dried chicken feet, gastroliths, miscellaneous teeth, cat claws - I got all your weirdo voodoo needs covered. I may even have a mummified four-legged baby chicken ready for sale by spring.

Alcohol sales finally became legal here in Randolph County this year for the first time in over 100 years. Now it's only a 15-minute roundtrip to buy cheap crappy beer instead of an hour. Good beer is now only a half-hour roundtrip instead of an hour and a half.

I went back to Alaska last month for an all-too-short six-day whirlwind trip. It was my first time back in almost seven years (!). My good friend, Buzz Schwall, unexpectedly passed away and many of our mutual friends passed the hat to buy me a ticket home for the memorial. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was good to be home again amongst my tribe but...well, I don't really want to dwell on the bad stuff. I can't really help but dwell on it, but lets just say I don't want to dwell on it here. It is what it is and there's nothing I can do about it now. There's always one in the crowd who goes out of their way to prove the old adage that you can't go home again.
Wah wah, woe is me, whatthefuckever.

When I woke up in my old house in Spenard that first morning, walking into the kitchen for morning chitchat with Angela, it truly felt like I had woke up from some long nightmare. A week later, I woke up back in Alabama and then it was my time in Anchorage that felt like a dream. I'm still struggling to put it all in perspective. 

While I was there, I was a guest on my dear friend, CC's, internet radio show. You can listen to it right here if you're so inclined. You can hear how ravaged my voice is after a week of non-stop talking, especially when compared to my voice on the old poetry slam piece of mine she played. My voice continued to deteriorate even after I returned to Alabama but it's finally back to normal now. For my first few days back, my voice kept cracking like that of a boy going through puberty. It was a reminder of how little I actually talk out loud in my present incarnation as a hermit. 

 Me 'n' CC

The current population of Spenardo del Sur consists of me, five cats, ten goats and 17 or 18 chickens. There's one hen who hasn't been seen in a couple weeks but I'm hoping she's sitting on a nest of eggs. Rattlesnake season has kept me from checking on her but cooler weather has arrived and I hope to look for her in the next couple days. There's also one dog, Melee. She was an abandoned puppy I found last year - one in a litter of five. The animal shelter only had room for three which left me stuck with two. The other dog, Ruckus, died at about six months old. Both he and Melee got very sick, most likely ate something poisonous. Melee got better, Ruckus didn't. 

She's an honorary chicken

So, I just wanted to let you all know I'm still alive and kicking. Well, alive anyway. A number of you have written and called, wondering when the blog was coming back. It's gratifying to know that my musings were actually being read - even more so to know they were missed. But for the last two years I have just been wallowing in my own crapitude here at rock bottom, wondering if there was any point in writing about whatever cute thing the chickens did that day.

I really do want to get this thing jump-started again. It's part of my grand plan to climb up from the depths of my own despair and rejoin the world, even if only the online world. I figure, even if I have nothing current to write about, I have the last two years to draw upon for stories and photos.

Many thanks to everyone for their support over these difficult years of self-imposed exile in rural Alabama. Here's to hoping that this is the beginning of something better. If only because the thought of something worse is mindbogglingly insane.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No More Four-Door

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my little four-legged miracle chicken. I ended up naming the bird Four-Door Dostoyevsky. I liked referring to the legs as front/rear driver side and front/rear passenger side. But since the parasitic twin (ie. the passenger) was on the bird's left side, that actually made Four-Door a right hand drive chicken. You know, like in England. The car comparison also gave me a delicate way to refer to his pipes.

The official cause of death as ruled by Spenardo del Sur's coroner (a.k.a. me) was pulmonary hypertension. In smaller words: freaky chicken had a bad ticker. It may or may not have had anything to do with the parasitic twin. Pulmonary hypertension is pretty common in factory farm refugees. They grow so big so fast and it can put a great strain on their developing hearts and lungs.

I was holding Four-Door when he died. The moment of death is pretty easily recognizable: pupils dilate, head flops over and they shit themselves. It's pretty much the same for all of us when we die (yep, you're gonna shit yourself when it happens).

My right hand was under his left wing. He didn't have many feathers there yet so my hand rested against bare skin. For almost four full minutes after Four-Door died, I could feel his parasitic twin's heart continue to beat.

It probably would've stopped beating sooner if I hadn't been giving the bird mouth-to-mouth. As long as I was getting any heartbeat, I was holding out hope. I am a crazy chicken lady and that's what crazy chicken ladies do. Me and Four-Door had big plans for this coming spring, dammit!

Of course, there was an autopsy. Of course, there were lots of photographs taken. Of course, I will post a bunch of them here - just not today. The end of the month snuck up on me again and I wanted to be sure November at least had one measly post. For now, I'll post a photo that better represents how I'd like to remember Four-Door (instead of flayed, splayed and filleted on the kitchen counter). Here he lounges on the poop deck in an old pie pan.

You are now thinking of some kind of food joke. Perhaps something about chicken pot pie. This will inevitably lead some of you to wonder if I ate Four-Door Dostoyevsky.

I did not.

Not that there was anything wrong with Four-Door's flesh (though the extra legs had absolutely no meat on them whatsoever - quite literally skin and bones). It's just that several days had passed before I was able to conduct the autopsy so I wound up feeding the meat to the cats. I saved the skeleton though. It will be an awesome souvenir of the time I had that stupid idea about homesteading in rural Alabama.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!

The universe has heard my cry and given me a distraction from my drudgery.

First it sent Pilgrim.

He's about a year old and is a factory farm refugee. He showed up on his own Saturday. Found him sleeping in a stand of tall grass near the driveway. Looks like he spent a few days traveling the underground chicken railroad before finally reaching Spenardo del Sur.

I don't need another rooster. Pilgrim makes eight. That is a stupid number of roosters. But I'm a sucker for a hard luck story and he seems to be getting along with the three roosters he lives with - Pasha, Bart and Zevon - so he can stay.

The universe sensed that I was not impressed enough with this gift so it sent me another chicken.

An incredible chicken.

A stupendous, fantastical chicken that will amaze and delight kids from one to a hundred. Step right up and take a gander at the most awesome sight you'll see all day. Trust me when I tell you that you don't want to miss this. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....


It was culled from a commercial chicken farm yesterday. Sentenced to death for the crime of producing twice as many drumsticks as anybody else. What kind of country do we live in where someone is penalized for that? So I have commuted its sentence to life as a happy free range chicken who moonlights as a sideshow freak.

I don't know yet if it's a boy or girl. I certainly don't need a ninth rooster but, if it is a boy, I'm leaning towards the name Sideshow Bob. If it's a girl, I'm thinking Suzi Quatro.

This morning I put it with ten other baby chicks I have behind the house. The four-legged chicken is only a week older than they are. The meeting seemed to go okay. Nobody was openly hostile but they were all very curious about the extra appendages.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Post in which I piss and moan a lot

Gah! This place has robbed me of my will to write! That's the only explanation.

I think a lot about writing. Really, I do. But when I sit down in front of the computer...nada, zilch, kaput.

I'm not just talking about slacking on the blog either. I wish I could say I've been busy writing that novel or working on essays or at least churning out poetry like I did in the golden days of yore. But no. My repertoire seems to consist of nothing but Facebook updates and shopping lists of things I can't afford to buy (fucking socks have been at the top of the list for fucking months).

I think this place feeds on the creativity of its people - some sort of artistic vampire. It sucks the marrow out of any creative bones in their bodies and shits out hymns, humidity and horrendous creepy-crawlies (like the scorpion I killed in the kitchen last night).

Maybe it's just the PMS, but this place is really chafing my ass even more than usual lately. I'm sick of dumb people. I'm sick of nowhere to go and nothing to do. I'm sick of racists. I'm sick of the word nigger. I'm sick of tea baggers. I'm sick of racist teabaggers using the word nigger. I'm sick of people who think Applebees is fine dining. I'm sick of people thinking Boone's Farm is real wine. I'm sick of people thinking drinking is a sin.

Gah! The more I dwell on it, the angrier I get. Angry at the people who think and do these things and angry at myself for ever agreeing to live amongst them.

Sigh. It's not all bad. There are good people here too. Even people I would go so far as to deem cool. I know enough cool people within a thousand square miles that, if they all had the same night off, I could assemble a decent-sized cocktail party without having to import too many people from Atlanta.

Grrrrrr. I know a lot of this is PMS. I get extra angry/sad every month around this time. Just because I made this stupid bed doesn't mean I have to enjoy laying in it. Oh, woe is me. Just ignore this shit, okay?

Look! Here's a picture of me at a party earlier this month:

It's actually a nice picture. I look half-way decent. But you know what? I don't really look like that. It's a Herculean effort to look that civilized. I actually think I'm turning feral in this environment.

You can't tell from that picture how bad my back and right hip hurt damned near every morning. You can't tell that the stupid pipes under my stupid trailer are leaking and I had to shut the water off, turning it back on once a week for scheduled showers and laundry, hauling water inside two gallons at a time the rest of the week. If you saw me now, you'd now I'm overdue for a hosing down. Nor can you tell I whacked myself in the face with a two-by-four this summer and lost a tooth in the process. If I can't afford to buy fucking socks, do you think I can afford to go to a dentist? Don't even get me started on how the car's transmission is at death's door.

Gah! Maybe it's not just the PMS. Maybe this place really does suck ass and I was an idiot to ever leave Spenard. Hmmmmm.....I don't think there's any maybe about that. I am currently inclined to believe that leaving Alaska was the dumbest dumbshit thing I've ever done - and trust me when I say I've done a lot of dumb shit in my life.

Okay, I'm going to go to bed now. Tomorrow is a brand new day, a brand new month even. Perhaps after I wake up and hobble over to the stove to boil water hauled from outside to make a cup of coffee, I might feel a little better. Probably not but, stranger things have happened. It would probably be cathartic to take the shotgun out and blast some shit but, sadly, bullets are also on the shopping list.

I'm really not searching for sympathy here. Honest. It's just the final hours of the last day of the month and I needed to write something. I was just in no mood to write about current chicken events. So, instead, you get this wailing and gnashing of teeth. Sorry 'bout that. I'll make it up to you later with pictures of the new adorable baby chicks.