Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Farewell Sunshine

Writing about Sunshine's cranky demeanor and posturing was fun, and accepting the fact that we needed to find him a new home came easily. Leaving him behind, taking him far from his home and hens, was very hard indeed. In the truck, Alex sat beside Sunshine and spoke to him in calming tones. For the first few miles Sunshine crowed and paced a tight circle in the little cage. He was soon quiet, resigned, it seemed. And that is when I started to feel reluctant. He has only ever threatened to do harm, and that's his job after all.

The woman at the feed store was genuinely impressed with him. "He really is the best looking Rhode Island Red I have ever seen," she said. And she praised the boys for doing a fine job of raising him. She told them she could tell that they had taken very good care of him. She said all the things that we could hope to hear for our pride and reassurance. But everything she said made me want to scoop him up and head for home. He is handsome, and healthy, and wonderful.

She introduced us to silkies. She let us hold a small, fluffy white rooster. He was as tame as a mild kitten and funny looking too. And when Max was fearful of him, it was a good reminder of why we needed to let Sunshine go. Max has definitely been the most intimidated by our rooster and we don't want him to live with that fear any more. We have the option to return to the store and bring home a silky chick; silly little things, with feathered feet and purple cockscombs. It might be fun to have a freaky feathered fowl, but first I think we'll have to finish saying good bye to Sunshine, our very first rooster.

Rancho Days

Just another day at El Rancho. Joe, the rabbit, was in the chicken coop, the chickens were locked out, and none of us knows how it happened. I really am going to clean the truck today, and then we are taking Nena, the senior cat, to the vet. She is not herself, and we want to resolve any issues before our departure day. Once we have Nena settled we will be delivering Sunshine to the feed store in a nearby town. Yes, we have found suitable arrangements for our infamous runt turned rooster. The boys are firm in their decision. Geoff, on the other hand, is taking it rather hard. He wonders if the hens will be deprived of their dedicated protector while we are away.

Sunshine is a poor choice for a small child's pet, but he is an excellent rooster. He warns of low flying hawks, he stands aside to let the hens feast when there are bugs or snails or extra scratch, and he has even gone after dogs 20 times his size. He is handsome. His feathers are full, brilliant and iridescent. His posture is dignified, robust and athletic. Sunshine has a deep red cockscomb, and penetrating, golden eyes.

Of course we can't take all the credit for his good looks and dutiful behavior, but I am proud of the boys. They have raised their first chicks, remarkably well. They have been patient and considerate, even of Sunshine. And now they are showing unselfish concern for the well being of their hens; they don't think Sunshine display suitable manners in the area of "love." "He is too rough when he's loving Rosie and Gracie," Alex worries. So, though they are sad to see their once runt sent away, they know it is for the best.

Geoff is down in the pasture inflating the tires of the tractor; then he'll head to the office. Diego is pawing the sofa cushion; preparing for a nap. Nena is sitting in my chair; slowly nudging me out. The boys are reading Muse, and laughing and improvising. Grandma and Grandpa are quiet, still sleeping, I think. It is Tuesday at our Rancho.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

"Ooph." I remember waking up and feeling ready to go back to bed. One of those nights. Now, after a long day, and one too many chocolate chip cookies, and pre-trip anxiety building up, I am highly primed for deep sleep. All that remains is to pajama Max, read to children, tuck all in, brush own teeth, lock up chickens, tuck in children again, get Max a glass of water, apologize to Grandma for skipping our Scrabble game, and attend to all other unforeseeable 'things.' Max is squawking; over tired. Geoff is singing the theme from "The Love Boat;" also tired, obviously. William and Alex are writing goofy stories about "Loverly forests and boarded up houses with endless roads, giant desert dwelling spiders and factories with circus tents." They are not nearly tired enough. All is well.
Good night.