Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Introspection And Chicken Poop

Let me tell you, there's a lot of chicken poop on our tiny farm. Rabbit and horse poop too. Rabbit manure can go directly on the garden; as far as I know it's the only stuff that doesn't have to age before it's used as compost. The only problem with this is that we feed our rabbit hay, which has seeds... that aren't fully digested. So if you want to grow a lot of hay in your flowerbed, go ahead and use rabbit poop on it.

Chicken manure, on the other hand, has no seeds in it at all. And, it is reportedly in such high demand that I am told in a funny book I have been reading that I could sell it. Hah! Someone will pay for the contents of my chicken yard? Those little hens are cash cows, so to speak. First we can sell the eggs, and then bag up the soiled straw for delivery to some farmers' market somewhere. I guess. The world is truly turned upside down when bird and rabbit droppings are (theoretically) worth money.

Right after I read about that little (heavy on the potential) profit center... we had a farm visitor. This happens a lot, but this woman seemed to have been sent from the authors of the book I've been reading. "The Urban Homestead" is really a political book, and I think I might review it, or not. I couldn't seem to stop reading it in downtown SF, and now I'm still thinking about it in the middle of my real-life homestead.

Most people who visit us on the farm are our neighbors and fellow ruralites. When I was growing up, we had a long, wooded driveway with a narrow bridge to cross and a steep hill at the end. No one came to visit unannounced. Today, I live in a country church-turned-home next to an active grange hall, an operating country church, a volunteer fire department and a 37-student rural school. You might say it's smack in the middle of the sticks. We get all kinds of folks dropping in, and this is both wonderful and problematic.

Yesterday while the EGE was working in his shop and I was making my famous homemade mac-n-cheese for dinner, a strange white SUV with a gold trim package and those pimpish specialty wheels (They still spin after the car stops. What's that about?) pulled in my driveway.

She must be after chicken manure, I thought to myself.

No, really, I thought, she's lost between vineyards on a wine tasting tour.

Or, I thought, she's looking for a place to repent her flashy choice of vehicle and has mistaken my house for a confessional.

So I wiped my hands on my apron, picked up the baby, and walked out front to greet our visitor.

Naturally, since my children are now officially homeschooled and thus socially deprived, they all flocked out to stare unabashedly at the stranger. I ignored the embarrassment factor and continued to march toward her in a hurry lest the dog should jump on her white dress in greeting.

"I was looking for the fire chief? I was told he's here every Monday night? Even though it's Labor Day? I'm supposed to pick up a hose? Because my father-in-law's on a cruise...? You know, a hose for the water collection effort?"

I swear she asked way more questions than that. And even though they weren't grammatically questions, she had the the voice of a woman way out of her zip code. Luckily she didn't land her stilettos in any of our, um, naturally occurring fertilizer.

Then I had to invite her to relax in an Adirondack chair while I sent one of the girls in for the phone so I could call a neighbor for a key to the fire hall. She accepted some iced tea while she waited for the key delivery and then proceeded to talk nonstop while she watched the tail end of our holiday weekend as though she were visiting a museum exhibit.

For my part, I wondered what would have happened had we never left the city. Back when the EGE worked on the 32nd floor of a high-rise and I worked in a corner office of my own while we paid a couple hundred a month just to park downtown, I probably would have laughed pretty hard at the thought of wearing a vintage apron and a diaper-clad baby while receiving an unexpected visitor in my front yard. I suppose we did look a little odd to her, maybe just as fascinating as she looked to the girls.

I never felt like such a country mouse before. That's probably why I didn't have the presence of mind to sell her any manure.



Toni said...

I can so relate to this post. Sometimes it is complete panic and mayhem when an unexpected knock comes on our door. Living out in the "wilderness" has turned us into such rednecks. But when someone knocks on the door, the "city girl" in me panics, because we are so obviously rednecks. Plus, my almost-three-year-old refuses to keep clothes on and is constantly messing her hair up. We are so-o-o never company-ready.

Barb said...

You know what? This isn't limited to city and country. There's some other dynamic at work. My husband keeps making me go to these "beautiful people" events--Southampton, Manhattan cruise, US Open, the Masters, dinner in NYC with people from San Francisco and big money... I feel so frumpy and out of my element. I mean, I feel like that ALL THE TIME. I think I liked my life and myself better when I lived in a normal city.

Homegrown Evolution said...

This is Erik, one of the authors of The Urban Homestead along with my wife Kelly. Journalists often ask us if our lifestyle and book are a political statement. To us the book is about home economics, with nothing in it that our grandparents and recent immigrants to this country don't already do i.e. growing vegetables, food preservation, etc. I think that the status quo, a soulless life of trips to the mall and processed foods, is the stronger political statement. Thanks for the mention, and we're interested in hearing what you think of the book. Good luck with all your endeavors (I like the idea of selling chicken poop to city slickers!), and our best to your family.

Barb said...



I am jealous beyond measure.

(But I WILL brag about the time the Yarn Harlot left a comment on my blog if you want.)

HonuGirl said...

Hey Girl, if I get lost on a wine tour can I stop at your place too? I promise to take turns holding a baby if she cries!! =)

(hmmm, go with what you're good at - it worked last time!)

Grumpy Momma said...

I read your comment over at Mrs. G's Derfwad Manor, and you sound sort of like a kindred spirit. Except I live in a city, don't homeschool, and only have two children. And I am still not juggling well!!!!!

Then I clicked on over to your blog - what a great read! I look forward to reading more of you...

Agent K said...

Wow! Who knew! Hmm, I have lots of poop...

I am totally jealous of you and your drop in visitors and celebrity commentors.