- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
Spring is running riot! Wild weather whipping up winds, hurling rains, threatening to tear everything apart, then relenting, lightening, brightening, heaving sunshine with fierce alacrity. Blossoms chasing blossoms, from shoot to plant to bush to tree, many gaping and snapping with the hide-and-seek sun. Grasses rising, stretching, throwing themselves this way and that, loyal only to their roots, following the passions of the breeze. Hungry trees, branches flung wide, twigs bursting with leaves, newborn yet already adolescence green, coursing with sap and heat and energy. Birds singing and swooping and settling and snatching straw, tufts of fallen hair, a forgotten thread torn from the sleeve of an unraveling winter coat. Anything soft. Anything cradle-worthy. Anything nurturing. Then, beaks full, shoulders bunched, knees bent, they dart away, a whir of wings and hope and streaking color. Goat kids crying, suckling, racing and chasing, frisking and frolicking, all focus, all heart, all enthusiasm. Life is their sweet feed; they can’t get enough. Horses galloping, spinning, hurtling headlong, nickering and huffing, then rolling, legs kicking out, dirt and grass flying as they scratch and rub and scour their bodies of winter fur.
Everything is atumble, aturning, arising, anew.
I’ve picked up the tempo. The gyrations. The gay disorganization. Everything from drive way to backyard, store to basement, is in disarray, heaped and piled and spilling over. Everything is demanding attention. The animals. The house. The store. It’s become a race to keep everything together, contained. At any moment, everything could go sprawling out of control like a poorly shuffled deck of cards. Like petals lost to the wind. Like water splashed from a pail.
There are chicks in a box in the bathroom. I ordered them from the hatchery during the winter, when all was cold and calm, when days lasted a full twenty-four hours and I had all the energy in the world. They arrived yesterday. Twenty-two of them. Turkeys and chickens. Chirping, whistling, scratching, fluffy bundles of energy. They move in waves, some sleeping, others hustling around, ricocheting off the feeder, the waterer, waking the sleeping then falling asleep themselves. A constant cycle of calm and commotion. One becoming the other.
In the dining room, there are eggs in the incubator. Twenty-two of them. (A synchronistic coincidence). I put them in eighteen days ago when the thought of monitoring temperature and humidity and turning the eggs twice a day didn’t faze me. I still thought I could do it all. In a few days, they’ll hatch. Or not. It’s my first attempt at raising birds from eggs and I’ve missed a turning, let the temperature rise a couple of degrees. The eggs may end with chicks and goslings, or they may end up as rotten, fragile stink bombs, waiting to explode.
In the kitchen, there are four white doves. Homing pigeons. Purchased for a dear friend’s wedding. When I ordered them in February when warmed by the romance of upcoming nuptials, I thought I was buying chicks to hand raise. Instead, the birds arrived fully-grown and beautifully feathered. But untrained. Fearful of humans. Every night, I feed them standing stock-still, my seed-filled hand outstretched, letting them take the seeds from my moist palm. Soon, I’ve got to move them outside. Teach them where we are. Train them to fly back to their coop. Three will be set free at the wedding in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I want them to survive the release. I want them to return home. It’s a one hundred and twenty-five mile flight. I’m hoping they will fly at night.
The rest of the house is filled to the rafters with store supplies, equipment, inventory. Not to mention five indoor dogs who have made a maze of the boxes and constantly knock stacks over. Plus, there are all of the accouterments of everyday life. Like furnishings and dishes and laundry and a bed longing to be overslept in and hoping to be made.
Outside, the driveway is covered with fresh one-inch gravel that needs to be smoothed and shaped. It’s navigable, but thick as beach sand and rough as washboard. Where the store parking will be sit piles of gravel. Minor mountains compared to everything else, but mountains nonetheless. Mountains low on the To-Do list. Beaten out by chores and feedings and finishing the store.
The store is in final stages, though that’s hard to tell because everything inside has been pushed into the center so the walls can be painted. Ninety percent finished and it looks half done. I’m surprised it’s taken this long, even with all the tremendous help from Bert and Dean, Doug and Karen Fredrick, Randy Emery, and Kenny Massey. We are all older than we used to be, though, and we value breaks as much as we do work. When anyone wears out, need to take five, we all stop working.
When people ask why the store isn’t open yet, I tell them, “It’s been delayed by love.” Which is true.
The lawn has gone wild.
The horse fence I paid to be put up is all but finished. All but a stretch of wire fifty feet wide. Far too wide to stop feeding hay to Sundance and Scout and Flicka and let them run free in the tall grass.
The goats need to be wormed. And given their spring shots. And have their feet trimmed. One, a doe, keeps getting her head stuck in the fence. I finally taped a stick across her horns so she couldn’t get her head through the wire openings. It looks funny, but she doesn’t seem to mind.
Sharif and Leilah, the goats’ Great Pyrenees companion dogs, now the largest dogs on the farm, can often be seen sporting yokes made of mimosa branches and baling string. Without the yokes, both dogs can easily hop the fence and go visiting the neighbors. It’s happened twice already. But never when wearing the yokes. Which I must remember to put on them.
It’s a hectic time. A chaotic time. A restless time. Everything is in upheaval. Constant transformation. What a joy it is. What an exhaustion.
How happy I will be when we move toward summer. When things slow down a little. The blossoms turn into berries and the fruit begins to ripen. When that happens, I think I’ll feed the birds, pat the dogs, nuzzle the horses, then hang a wide hammock from the nearest tree, stretch out, yawn once, and take a well-deserved nap.