Sunday, July 19, 2015

Country Life Not Portrayed In Southern Living Magazine

I love that picture. Mick was in the box in the pump house where occasionally a hen lays an egg. He was doing that thing that Elvis used to do which was to find a place he deemed a suitable laying location, trampled it all down and called it to the hens' attention.
He did that to one of the big potted ferns on the front porch and I found eggs in that thing for months.
This is another rooster behavior that I did not know about until I had roosters of my own. There is a popular saying which is that "roosters do all the crowing but the hen delivers the goods."
Well, on the face of it that is true but a good rooster does far more than crow. He protects the hens as best he can with warning crows, with spurs, with his beak. He keeps watch as they scratch, looking out for potential threats. He goes and collects them to escort them back to the flock after they've laid. If he hears a hen calling from anywhere, he runs to her. He calls to them at night to round them up. He tid-bits, offering them food before he eats it. He calls to them if he finds a little stash of good food. And of course he does a lot of what I call "fertilizing" when I am talking to Owen. Which the hens may not enjoy that much but which does provide for another generation if the hen is a brooder.

Okay. Rooster-behavior class over but in other chicken news, when I was cleaning out the hen house, Miss Trixie was still on the roost and not happy at being disturbed so I picked her up and put her in the coop and the next thing I knew she was eating and drinking and then Mick came to join her and led her out to the yard and they contentedly pecked at corn together. I guess she's with the flock again because she's not in the coop or hen house.

And I tried to work in the garden today. I'd go out and work for about thirty minutes and then realize I was about to die and come back inside. I repeated this about three times. I got a little weeding done and picked some more peas. God but they're gorgeous.

Those big fat pods, those protein-rich delicious peas inside, slick and round and just waiting to be freed and cooked and eaten. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus for the peas and the beans and I'll bet you anything that the women of old said the same prayer of gratitude and added another one for giving them a good excuse to sit on the porch with sisters or moms or aunties or friends to shell and chat.

When I took the trash I got to talk to the man who works there on weekends again. He's the man who used to have a forty-acre "garden" but now he only messes with ten acres.
Holy shit!
I have no idea how old he is but his mama is 95. He's at least my age. Maybe older. He has the ebony skin that makes it hard for me to guess but his eyebrows and hair carry the same gray and white as mine. We talked some today again. I love talking to him. We started out about the heat and how soft we've all become due to air-conditioning but how we don't want to give it up, NO SIR! He said, "When you and I was coming up, ain't no one had air conditioning."
We talked about that for awhile and then he told me that he grew up with not only no AC but no electricity or indoor plumbing. "We couldn't even take a bath!" he said. His mama cooked on a wood stove and the house "kept the heat all day." He told me, "We didn't even have real windows, just wooden things we could pull to close or open."
And yet, his daddy supported them all. He worked a money job and then came home and farmed his acres and was the farmer for the whole community and raised cows and hogs and chickens. And that he and his siblings got off school, came home and were given a hoe to go work.
"We helped with the cows and the hogs too," he said.
"You never got to play!" I said.
"Nah. We didn't play much. We worked."
And then he told me that on Saturdays, sometimes his daddy would take off of working and load up all the kids in their truck (and his daddy was so proud of that truck because most people didn't even have cars) and they'd go to the river and fish and cook them in a little grease in a big iron pot and that was fun. He smiled when he told me that story and I could just see it.
His daddy passed away a few years ago, was ninety-something.
"Hard work doesn't kill you, does it?"
"Nope," he said. "It doesn't."
This man volunteers, coaches kids' sports teams, farms, I don't even know what all. But I know I love to talk to him, listening to the stories of his life, and we both stood there in the sun with the garbage all around us, sweat pouring off both of us and I was in no hurry to get back into my air conditioned car to come home.

But finally I did and I've taken a shower and gotten the clothes off the line and put away and Mr. Moon spent all day carpentering me a new drawer and he finally got it in and it's a thing of beauty. The sky is darkening, I hear thunder off to the south. The radar does not look ominous but I don't trust that shit. The air is as still as a dead man's finger, heavy with damp and portent.

It's been a good day here in Lloyd and although I am naught but a pretend farmer and a desultory animal tender, I have done my tiny bit today and feel the better for it. I made an incredibly delicious chicken pot pie last night and we're going to have leftovers tonight. Honey, I put crust on the bottom AND the top of that thing. Good pastry, rolled out and pretty. Every vegetable I had in the house is in that pie and the chicken was some that Mr. Moon grilled on Friday night.

I love my life.
I wouldn't trade it for anyone's.

Hell. I even have a dishwasher. And no, the thrill is not gone. Not in the least.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I love your life too. These post from azaleas to chickens to pot pies to roosters and everything in-between just thrill me.

  2. Me too, Denise. It's such a treat to be permitted so intimate a peek into someone's life, especially someone who writes so beautifully and with such vigour and life.

  3. Denise- Well, there are ant bites too. But thank you. So much.

    Stubblejumpin Gal- Dang. You made me smile a lot. Thank you.

  4. Life is good in Lloyd. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Well, that was a humbling story. God. Why am I so tired? I live a life of luxury and ease. I have a dishwasher and hot water and electricity and a part time job.
    *shakes head*

  6. Angella- It is a life. It is one that suits me.

    Jo- I know! I know! How did they do it?

  7. If it ain't got two crusts it ain't no chicken pot pie!

  8. I love your life too. It seems like a storybook and I love reading about it. I wish I could have coffee and pancakes with you on your porch with Maurice and the chickens for real. And with Owen and Gibson playing next to us. Heaven.

  9. Those kind of guys give meaning to the old saying "salt of the earth." You, too. Thanks for sharing his stories with us. x0 N2

  10. I love hearing about your chickens and your neighbors. I can't imagine farming one acre, let alone ten, and I can't even begin to fathom forty!

    It's so interesting to hear the older generations talk about what life was like. I have no doubt it was hard, but sometimes I'm a little envious that they didn't have to think about Syria and Madonna and all the other junk the media brings us every day. They just got about the business of living. (Well, there were a couple of World Wars, too, I suppose...)

  11. Oh, and for what it's worth, my father's grandparents, who farmed in Arkansas, lived well into their 90s. Hard work indeed!

  12. He must be an incredibly interesting person. I think about how spoiled I am with AC and a car and all the modern conveniences. But if I had to, I could live with almost nothing. We are capable of much more than what we think.

  13. I saw Neil Kramer in NY this weekend and we talked about what a wonderful writer you are. You are, you are. xoxo

  14. Catrina- Then this was definitely a chicken pot pie.

    Joanne- You might want to wait until fall. It's brutal on the porch, even with two fans going. I swear!

    N2- People like this humble me. And I am surrounded by them and I feel honored to hear their stories.

    Steve Reed- Frankly, I'd rather deal with what's on the internet than windows with no glass or screens. And a woodstove. My god. But you're right- there were some ways in which life had much more apparent purpose, I think.
    I think the human body is supposed to work hard. Some of them, anyway.

    Syd- I could live with a lot less than I have but not THAT much less. I tell you. I know I'm soft and spoiled.

    Lisa Page Rosenberg- Oh honey. You just made my day! Thank you!


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