Sunday, March 29, 2009

Has it been a month already?

It's been a month since my last post. Sigh... It's been a busy month. This court shit is busting my ass. In addition to my community service (11 days down, 19 to go), this month I've had to attend re-education camp in Roanoke every Saturday. That's 25 miles one way. That's 8 rides I have to search for (sessions are about 5 hours long) because I don't get my license back until the middle of May.

Fortunately (for me anyway), Bark Boomhauer has to go to the same re-education camp as me. He got a DUI over a year ago across the state line and had finally finished all that the court required of him. He applied for license reinstatement and was basically told "Well, you may be squared up with Georgia but Alabama still has a few hoops for you to jump through." So now he's paying $265 for re-education camp and I'm bumming along with his rides. Re-education camp also required us to attend four AA meetings this month (another 5 miles each way).

I also have a once-a-week trip to Wedowee for community service. That's another 15 miles each way - 10 more rides this month. And the once-a-month trip back to Roanoke to pee in a cup. And the once-a-month trip to Wedowee for "court review." That's when everybody on community service shows up to court and has to face the judge.

You sit around waiting for your name to be called. Luckily for me, it's alphabetical so I get out of there pretty quick - less than an hour. God forbid your name is Williams. You go in front of the judge, a hard ass straight out of central casting, who asks if you've been coming to community service every week and if your fines are up-to-date (even though the court already has paperwork on this shit). If the answer to those questions is "no," you will go to jail. If you do not show up to court review, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. The cops will show up at your house.

Many people I've worked with on community service have lost their jobs because of these demands on their time. Those who were already out of work can't even look for a job because who's gonna hire you when you're guaranteed to miss at least one day a week?

In another stroke of good fortune (for me anyway), I met someone at community service who lives very close to me and I now hitch rides with her. She was one of 148 people arrested at a weekly cockfight a mile down the road from me. She got 40 hours of community service and fines totalling almost $4000 - a much harsher penalty than drunk driving. Hell, she probably would've gotten a lighter sentence had she been selling drugs in the school parking lot. Not to condone cockfighting but this seems silly to me. In all honesty, those birds probably didn't have it any worse than the millions of factory farm chickens being raised and slaughtered for meat in this country.

Speaking of factory farm chickens: I got four new refugee hens a couple weeks ago. Like all my new refugees, they are sad and pitiful looking. They are missing lots of feathers and scared of everything. They are still confused by the "real" food the other birds greedily devour, preferring the feed they grew up on (of which the factory farm kindly donated about 150 pounds). They spend all day inside the coop even though that have access to the whole outdoors. Only one of the new hens has started venturing outside and has discovered that earthworms are magically delicious.

Speaking of creepy-crawlies: I recently uncovered this humoungous grub while transforming the old barn floor into my newest garden plot:

It's the larvae of a scary-looking yet harmless stag beetle. It's probably three or four years old. It's been underneath the old barn this whole time, feeding on rotting wood. Decades of decomposing pine planks and oak rafters has left this little plot with six inches of some of the best, rich, black soil on the property. And, since it's all encased in a concrete foundation, it's a raised bed garden!

Since the wondergrub will do no harm beyond scaring small children, I snapped a few pictures and put it back where I'd found it.

Not everyone was in agreement about reburying the grub. Buddie was eyeing that thing like it was a juicy jumbo prawn. A bug that size could choke a chicken!

Speaking of choking the chicken: I finally had to dispatch my overly-aggressive rooster, Caleb. At the time of his death, he weighed a whopping 18-pounds. Not only was he constantly attacking me, he had grown so large that he could no longer safely mate with the hens.

He had previously injured Murray who spent a month being mostly confined to the porch while she recuperated. She had finally healed enough that I was able to let her run loose with the rest of the flock, though she still had to wear a saddle to protect her from Caleb's amorous advances. I fashioned it from a 50-year-old flour sack I'd found in the old barn.

When his sharp spurs ripped holes through the skin of a second hen, I knew it was time for him to go to that big chicken coop in the sky.

The question was how to send him there?

His neck was so large I couldn't even get my hand all the way around it. There was no way I could get a hatchet through it with one swift blow. His feathers were so thick they would've blunted any blow I could deliver. When I had killed Cornelieus, who weighed almost 15 pounds, it took more than a few swings to do the job - a situation that was horrible for both of us.

I came up with the bright idea of shooting Caleb in the head - kneel down next him, level the barrel to his temple and pull the trigger. Have you ever tried to shoot a chicken in the head with a .22? Even at extremely close range, it is not an easy task. A chicken's head is in constant motion. They're like bobbleheads.

I put the gun away then chased Caleb around the yard until I caught him. I held the struggling rooster tight and weighed my remaining options.

I thought about wringing his neck. I've never been comfortable with this method even though it is widely recommended. I tried it once with Joshua, the first chicken I ever killed, and it didn't go so well. I hadn't tried it since, opting for the chopping block. I wasn't sure I wanted to give it another shot, at least not with Chickenzilla.

I was reconsidering the inadequate hatchet when he almost broke free of my grasp. I knew if he got away, I wouldn't be able to get near him all day. If that happened, I'd end up having to shoot him in full view all the chickens. I hate killing chickens in front of other chickens. Besides, I'm such a lousy shot that the prospect of all that could go wrong made this prospect unpalatable.

Instinctively, my right hand reached for his neck and squeezed. Yes, I literally choked the chicken. And he fought me every inch of the way. Can't blame him. Hell, I don't even blame him for the things he did that made me have to kill him. He was just doing what roosters do. But he was large and under the misconception he was in charge - a dangerous combination. There was no way I could have this angry, horny cock running loose in the yard all spring. In the end, I was just doing what farmers do. Well, I don't think this was the way a real farmer would've done it.

I fought Caleb mano a mano. While he got in a few good hits, I finally pinned him to the ground with one knee, one hand wrapped around around his feet to keep his sharp spurs from digging into my skin and my other hand wrapped around his neck. I didn't dare let go now - I'd never get near him again. I held on for dear life until I knew for certain he was dead - a fact made evident by the evacuation of his bowels. In other words: With his dying breath, Caleb shit on me. I reached for my nearby knife, slit his jugular vein and bled him out.

After butchering him, I had ten pounds of meat in the fridge and freezer. His drumsticks and thighs alone weighed four and half pounds. That's about how much each of my other two roosters weigh. The breast meat came to three pounds.

a single chicken breast - one and a half pounds

Speaking of something completely not related to anything above: Angela recently posted photos to her blog of a bruise she got from wiping out on her bike.

After being roommates for almost a decade, Angela and I are like this (you can't see it, but I'm crossing my fingers to show we're super tight). We can read eachother's minds, we can finish eachother's sentences, we can leap to the same conclusions in a single bound. Even our periods were synched up.

What I'm trying to say here is that a mere 5,000 miles cannot break the bond that we share. So it was no surprise to learn that Angela got a big bike-related ass bruise within days of me getting a big bike-related ass bruise.

A neighbor-cousin lent me an old-school one-speed bicycle while I'm without a driver's license. I use it for traveling to and from various odd jobs. It sucks not being able to change gears while traveling this hilly terrain but it still beats walking. It's not so bad going to jobs because I live on one of the highest points around and can coast downhill much of the way. Coming home is a different story, taking at least twice as long because I spend a lot of time pushing the bike uphill.

The furthest commute takes place on Fridays when I ride five miles each way to earn twenty-five bucks cleaning a house (though, if someone is home, they'll give me and the bike a ride home). I had just pulled into their driveway when their dog ran up and bit me on the ass.

This is no ordinary dog. It's a full-grown male Great Pyrenees, weighing well over 100 pounds. He's big enough that he can keep all four feet on the ground and still reach my ass on a bike seat. He didn't bite me nearly as hard as he could have, yet it still hurt like hell and left a bruise that looks like somebody punched me in the ass with pointy brass knuckles.

Sadly, no one was home that day so me and my sore ass had to pedal/push the bike home.

So, Angela, this ass shot is for you:

There are still absurd tales from community service and re-education camp I want to share but those will have to wait for another day. I hate to see March pass without a single post and I'll never get this done if I try to tell those stories right now.