Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I built the Ark on runners, but an Ark's eventually got to float , so I made the cabin of nothing but scrap foam board. No two by fours. To keep light I added oyster shells to the stucco mix. Davey had bought the bag of oyster shells for chicken feed. It's supposed to make strong eggs, but Davey's chickens wouldn't eat any oyster shells.
All chickens love to eat foam building products though, and this Spring, a couple of my companion chickens pecked through the stucco from inside the cabin and ate out caverns in the walls. I stuffed them with foam scraps and plastered over thicker than the first time. I want the Ark to be tight for cold weather, and I want it ready for hard traveling.
Anyway, yes, recent events have made me take a good long think, and what I think is, I think I will soon have to pull the Ark out of here and head on up the lake.
Not right away, and not on a dead-line or with a time-line or any of your line items, but when I least expect it.
I could be set off by a sudden speed-up of of global warming followed by rising water, a break down of the power grid, or just some stupid thing Davey says.
In an experimental way, I actually tried to move the Ark down back of the house a notch or two, but in the middle of the driveway I saw it wasn't working.
Too much friction on the gravel. I had to saw up a pvc drain-pipe for rollers, and use a digging bar to lever the Ark back in place for now.
I guess the Ark got a lot heavier when I stuffed so much mortar into those cavities.
Still, the runners should slide really well on snow
But the beginning of Winter wouldn't be the best time to head north.
I'm thinking at the moment that I could cut the end off the digging bar and stick it through the runers as an axle for a couple of eighteen or twenty inch wheels, two thirds of the way back. With the right balance, a couple of poles and peg legs in front, Like a donkey cart, I'll be ready to roll. Might have to add some main deck with more floatation and spread, enough space fore and aft to stand and pole the Ark, but then I would have to think about more wheels. And a Yak. Heading up North by North West.
Last Summer this hill was a desert, and this Summer it's a jungle about to clamber over the chicken house.
Never mind that the moisture is only a foot deep and the dug ponds have shrunk back into the deep shale trenches. The ground cover is so thick that roosters who ranged up and down and even across the road last year, now stay within a hundred feet of the chicken house, eating volunteer crops and everything in Davey's garden. Davey has been building cages for his vegetables , but the roosters still leap up just to knock down the tomatoes.
The deer had their fawns in Davey's orchard and wouldn't even run from the dogs. The dogs are agreed not to chase anything that won't run. Before the deer wandered off to see the big woods, they deer broke off some of Davey's fruit trees to get at the growing tips, so Davey as been building caging his rees.
But there haven't been any critters recently trying to eat the chickens themselves. The coyotes have gone wandering for the summer, and the foxes and weasels, and coons must be stuffed with a mincemeat of mice and fermented fuit, sleeping back in the cover.
We have never that I know of had a problem with the Harrier hawks, which are temporarily off their range, with the owls, even when we have illuminated white chicken roosting on the open deck. No problem with the crows who share the corn beside the chickens , or the vultures which only eat the dead. The skunks, which are technically weasels, are still living with a passage into the rooster quarters, where they eat with the roosters without conflict.
For a while, the neighborhood dogs were a problem. The Roosters do know that it's their job to guard the hens and, being also wide and bright targets, have taken most of the hits from the dogs.
Now that the neighbors have taken charge of their dogs, there has been no problem with them either.
So there would be little predator problem at all, except that the sexual predators among the roosters themselves are the worst threat to the hens.
One night a month or so back, when Davey was up at Lake Bonaparte to do some fireplace repairs, the roosters broke through one of the barricaded windows that he had slapped up to keep them from the hens.
The roosters mangled one hen, killed another, and kept the rest from getting to the food and water until I showed up.
I decided right there, this rooster rescue business has gone too far. We had to get rid of the three or four roosters most inclined to rush the hens, the ones that always wanted to pile on, to pull out their feathers, bite combs, and use their spurs. Some of these buckaroos have wicked spurs; they could ride a dog .
Maybe it was a mistake not to wring a few necks right then, instead of leaving the cull to Davey. But getting and harvesting is Davey's end of the chicken business here; my job is to keep them alive.
And anyway, There is road kill fresh every day on this hill , and I occasionally take a liver or bring back a pheasant from that source, but I long ago lost my taste or guns and killing . Mostly, all those years ago, when I shot the bear in Alaska and saw him l(ike I can see him right now) running around and gushering blood, with his head flapping on only a hinge of hide. So I left the slaughter to Davey.
Davey (his grandchildren call him Granny) was really irritated when I told him how the roosters broke through the door and mangled the hens.
He said he would cull a bunch of them, but he didn't do anything until a few days later when the rooster Ruby came out of the dog-wood bushes and attacked his ankle bone.
So then Davey got seriously pissed and went to the house for the Winchester .22.
The Winchester had belonged to an old trapper who had carried it to deal with undead critters in his traps and gave it as payment of a debt to Davey's grandfather. It is the little pump model which used to be common in shooting galleries because it held so many shots, though pump rifles are not so accurate. Not that shooting- gallery owners wanted accurate rifles. It was also the rifle Annie Oakley used to break clay pigeons in about the first movie footage made by Edison. Maybe she used mini shot rather than bullets in the load. Anyway, even if Davey was Annie Oakley, that rifle would not so great a weapon choice for shooting a dodging rooster in the head.
But Davey came out of the house with the little Annie Winchester, told me to take the dogs inside, and went back down after Ruby.
Ruby ( who has markings like a permanent blood-splattered bib) is one of the half dozen birds smart enough to leave the chicken house back when the coon, or whatever it was got in there twice in three nights.
Most of them stayed outside after that, but Ruby went back to the chicken house when the hens were refusing to come out in the cold. He tends to rush them at the door, he pulls out the feathers, and latches onto combs, but scaring Davey might have been the bigger mistake.
I heard six shots from the .22 , about as loud as horse chestnuts dropping on his tin roof.
Then Davey came back up the path. He said "Shit "to me as he came in to exchange the .22 for the sixteen gauge Fox shot gun.
When he was back down at the chicken house he fired six more times in maybe three minutes. Each shot, as compared to the nut dropping report of the .22, was as loud as a telephone pole as it snapping.
With the first shot, the roosters and the hens inside all squawlled, as if one of the broken telephone poles had fallen on the chicken house and set it on fire.
Afterward, Davey walked the gun back up and the chickens were still squawling and the dogs barking, so Davey went for a walk, and took the dogs, partly so they wouldn't see were I put the dead roosters, which, shot from fairly close range with antique ammunition from before it was outlawed, were full of lead pellets.
When I came down and piled the ruined roosters on the plastic sled, all the roosters were still back in the brush, except for Ruby.
Davey had missed Ruby's head with every shot except for one, which took a nick out of his upper beak so he looks still more like a bloody warrior. . He stood a few yards away and watched when I buried the dead in the path of the bamboo.
Maybe he has an understanding of mortality now. Or maybe he has an illusion about being bullet-proof.
Maybe the other roosters were impressed by Davey's immoderate demonstration of power and mortality, but the best thing I could do for this place is stick another three or four roosters in the Ark and haul out of here for a little outward bound experience, or maybe even for a foreign war. Before the rioting and the shooting starts again right here at Dog's Plot.
I dreamed that a woman in blue jeans came up the driveway carrying a hand basket with something wrapped up in it, like it was a loaf of hot bread. Maybe it was a coyote skin.
That night while Davey was sleeping like a baby and I was sitting on top of the Ark with a smoke, I saw a coyote, jump out the window of Davey's loft. It licked itself all over quick, then trotted down to the chicken house.
Right there in that dream, I pulled the Ark out the driveway and down the road on its runners.
With wheels, I actually could go down the road. I'm just looking for the right pair of wheels.