Archive for September, 2020

Stolen meme

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people who don’t think their ideas through to the logical outcomes. For a long time now, I’ve felt unsure about discussing politics in public forums, mostly because I am never entirely sure if I am right. However, I do spend a significant amount of time reading about history and philosophy, and while I do not think I am the greatest at remembering specific timelines or finding words to make the connections – I do understand context. I also feel very confident that my actions are typically aligned with my beliefs, and so are my philosophical beliefs. So, I can honestly say I agree with the above cartoon. Libertarianism is really motherfucking dumb.

New hens! As yet unnamed.

Which is not to say that we shouldn’t be oriented towards liberation. It’s just to say that I firmly believe my personal liberation is fundamentally bound to the liberation of all. I also believe every action has a consequence, and while I am not a fan of strategy games I do know that it’s important to consider all possible outcomes before committing myself to action. On a micro level, it’s why I’ve spent all weekend doing “chicken math,” and trying to figure out how to configure my poultry situation so everyone is happy. On a macro level, I have been thinking a lot about consensual accountability within groups. I feel like strong social bonds and meaningful relationships that are built on a framework of limiting or eliminating interpersonal harm is what SHOULD separate radicals from reactionaries.

Can you believe I fucking live here? I’m really enjoying my first full autumn in New England

It’s definitely a lot to think about. I’m very much an introvert and an extreme loner, but damnit if I don’t freaking NEED other people. And, because I need people, and I have a need for peace of mind, I don’t want an offhand or unconsidered action to hurt someone. And if it does, I want that someone (or someone who witnessed) to let me know, so I can avoid doing it again. It’s kind of that simple.

My morning ritual with my roosterful flock.

With this in mind, it’s really interesting to observe how chickens flock together. Prior to today, my flock consisted of 9 birds. Four of them are bantam, five are standard sized, all are cochins. I chose cochins because they are docile and friendly birds, usually. I was hoping to have at least one friendly rooster, and I ended up with at least 4…probably 5…POSSIBLY 6 out of 9 roosters.

Check out Aranea’s RIDICULOUS leg feathers.

One of the roosters is clearly the dominant roo. He is the one who wakes me up in the morning with constant crowing beginning at 6 AM. He’s a sweet bird, and he follows me around like a dog. However, he was partial to the two little bantam hens to a torturous degree that was difficult to watch. For awhile, it was sweet that those bantam ladies, along with one of the bantam roos (NOT Aranea – who is the other bantam roo and is a bit of a loner) would fly up onto my head and shoulders every morning to get their fair share of mealy worms without drama or trauma.

Another shot of little Aranea

Knowing I was going to have to split up the flock anyway, I set up a separate pen, assembled a prefabricated coop, and created a cozy little threesome with Nellie and Joy (the two little splash bantam hens) and Charlotte (their sweet rooster.) It’s been really nice to see them able to relax and act like normal chickens, rather than constantly running in terror from the giant cockerel. Charlotte seems to treat them well, even though he’s become kind of aggressive towards people. I may be adding some older hens to the flock to see if they will help me keep his ass in line.

I baked bread for the first time in a LONG time, and it wasn’t half bad!

I guess what I’m getting at here is there are always consequences to actions. The “chicken math” is about finding the best possible combination of variables to provide everyone involved with the best possible outcome. Today, I added 6 lovely cochin pullets (young hens) to the flock. They are super sweet and docile, and I kind of don’t even want to introduce a rooster to their whole situation. So it’s back to chicken math, trying to figure out what combinations will provide the best outcomes. Since we have a meat-eater in the house, it’s not out of the question that one of the roosters will end up in the freezer, but I would prefer to find a creative solution to my overabundance of roosters, and maybe learn a little bit about how to balance the needs of a flock in the meantime. Maybe a chicken version of The Bachelor (which is a show I have never watched, but I imagine it suits the scenario? Or maybe the bachelorette?)

Now Reading…

I’ve also been trying to read more. That zine above called Colonization and Decolonization is what I’m working on now. It has me thinking a LOT about how propagandized our high school history classes are. I wonder if the reason I was not interested in history for so long was because it felt so much like lies. When I discovered REAL history that is not tempered with patriotism and nationalism, I became more interested in it. Because when making choices about politics, I feel it’s pretty damn important to understand things contextually. At any rate, that particular zine is a very well-sourced and PERFECTLY edited concise history of colonization, and even though I know a lot of that history – it’s eye-opening to see it condensed into zine format in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way.

One of my few vivid memories of high school places me in my sociology class. I was listening to a lot of punk rock, which is where I learned a lot of the historical references that inform my thought today. The teacher was giving us “a quiz” – asking various questions that were meant to spark a discussion about politics. One of the questions he posed was “My country, right or wrong.” Do you believe this is how it should be?

My beautiful yard.

I was shocked to discover I was in the minority of people in my class who thought this was a harmful statement. I probably should have been more shocked that this was the first time I was able to discern the political/philosophical leanings of my classmates, as many of them were aggressively displeased that I disagreed with them. There were other questions of this ilk, for which the answers of my classmates were disturbingly nationalistic. I have spent a long time thinking about this, and continue to this day. When thinking about folks who support politicians or policies that I feel are harmful, I remember that classroom, and that teacher, who – though he was careful not to reveal what he thought was the “right” or “wrong” answer – I felt was firmly in my corner.

More fall beauty

I’m not sure I have a point here, except that I’ve been thinking about this. How people form opinions, particularly harmful ones. And also how deeply we are propagandized in our public schools. Our history textbooks normalize genocide in the interest of maintaining an illusion of “exceptionalism.” But the reality is that descendents of colonizers all have blood an our hands, and the VERY LEAST we can do is learn about history so we can vigilantly guard against repeating before we even have a chance to attempt to repair the damage we have done as a society and culture.

So, that’s just a peek into my thoughts this week…accompanied by some pics of my lovely situation here in Maine. ❤ Now I need to go to sleep!

After the Wrecking Ball…

It’s difficult to be writing this when the entire world is once again exploding in righteous rage over injustice – in this case Breonna Taylor. I haven’t wanted to read the verdict, but I have skimmed over headlines enough to know one of three were indicted and for firing into neighboring units ONLY. Which, and again – ENTIRELY based on my currently uninformed opinion – just sounds more insulting than no indictments.

The reality is – this is how it is now. And if I keep waiting for a time that is right to talk about or process about my own feelings and thoughts in a way that is helpful to me in this semi-anonymous venue…it will never be time. And there will always be other more pressing things to do. And this is the thesis upon which my entire time management system is built and STILL, I would rather make time worrying over headlines than write, or plan, or study. It’s been like this for at least the past 6 months, if not longer…and I really do feel now that the best self-care for me is to care about myself enough to start setting some obtainable goals and attempting to accomplish them. And, since I tend to set my intentions and rhythms on the changes of seasons – now is a good time to set them.

I spent the actual equinox traveling to Vermont to empty a storage container that has been filled with approximately 5 boxes that were packed and stored for us when my eldest son returned home from college unexpectedly and was not able to return back. I was in shock over circumstances that brought him home and I vaguely remembering paying a nice man a bunch of money to do the packing and then forgetting completely about it for a few months, until I suddenly realized I hadn’t been billed for the storage.

I penned an email to the man, asking where I was supposed to be sending payments. His sister responded, asking “Could you please call?”

Her brother – the man who performed such a kind and useful service for me – had recently died. They found my boxes in his home and were hoping I would reach out.

We shared a good cry together over this. I thanked her profusely for her consideration and she had the boxes but in storage for me. And there they have been…for 3 years.

Let me tell you – those three years haven’t been the most joyful years of my life. It’s been pretty rough, tbh…but not without its share of sweetness and reward. And each of the years following seem to have involved some sort of road trip of actual or impending doom around this time of year – and then last year was the year I first visited the house I am currently living in. So I guess if this was the end we could say Everything Turned Out Fine.

But so much is uncertain – for myself and for so many people I love and people I don’t even know but I’m sure I would love and even for those assholes that I ain’t give a shit about. I try my best to be optimistic, but I have no idea what the future holds. The future is unwritten?

It feels *too* hopeful without the question mark.

It’s September, and I haven’t done my annual plan yet. That’s where I am. It’s on my to-do list. But I suppose I can always start a new year any time now. My annual plan is just gathering all of the information I need to maintain this house over the course of a year. This includes the gardens and landscape, interior, exterior, and all of the domesticated critters (and perhaps some treats for the wilds.) I suspect it will take a couple of years for me to get a good rhythm going. I have a start, but not enough. I can feel the shift to autumn and indoor activities happening already, but there’s still plenty to do outside for now.

For one thing, it’s making sure I can get the chickens set up in separate areas without encouraging a bloody turf war. I’ve separated the little bantam hens and one of the roosters into a larger pen, because the big roosters were harassing them and causing them grief and strife. Every morning, I would go out to feed the birds some mealy worms, and the littles would fly up onto my shoulders. I truly wanted to believe it was because they loved me so, but it became very clear it was mostly because they were being terrorized by the loud-ass roster who follows me around like a dog. Or maybe like a creepy stalker guy. We haven’t decided which, but we’re hoping we don’t end up having to deal with a flock of aggressive roosters, because that’s not going to end well for ANYONE.

I have some contingency plans that involve adding hens and perhaps segregating roosters to the other side of the property, and all of those things will be tried before we start talking about freezer camp. There is a meat-eater among us who thinks he is brave enough to kill and dress his own meat and I don’t know that I want to discourage that if it comes down to it. But, for now, everyone is at peace, and the bantams have a cozy little threesome situation going on that, frankly, I do not want to disturb or disrupt. Those poor ladies have earned it, and I will tolerate if their roo is a little fussy over them, because he’s sweet to them. And it’s been so interesting to witness how they change in different situations. I have an eye on the remaining hen (or hens – the jury is out on whether ol’ Templeton is a hen or a roo, but it sure looks like Aunt Edith is – along with Fern, Uncle Hen, and Aranea (the other bantam.) I may have to subtract 2-3 roos from that situation and add 2-4 hens to keep the peace. But I think it’s also true I’ll have the winter to figure it out, and perhaps winter is a good time to get some hens that folks may not want to support with winter feed.

Those are my chicken goals. I’m sort of just making this all up as I go. I suspect this will require that I construct or find or buy another coop at some point. If I hang on to all of these roos – soon I may have little chicken federations dotting the landscape. Which I guess isn’t so bad.

The roosters have gifted me with an urgent reason to wake up in the morning, and I’m glad for that. I always wondered what being a morning person was all about, and I quite enjoy it…but it’s hard for me to maintain. I’m setting the intention to continue living in my current time when we fall back – meaning instead of setting my alarm for 6 AM and stretching my getting out of bed sometimes all the way to 7 AM…when the time change happens, I’m going to start setting my alarm for 5 AM (which is technically the same time) and seeing if that will move me closer to my goal of actually DESIRING to get out of bed in the morning.

This goal is often hampered by my excessive media viewing, and therefore I aim to stop spending so much time in front of screens this quarter. It’s gonna be weird, because I’ll be in the house more, so the temptation will be great to veg out…but I might move back to the rule that if I’m watching TV, I’m on the treadmill or folding laundry…with one movie night a week.

As my time in the garden winds down, I want to continue to maintain and build my strength and endurance using the exercise bike or treadmill when I’m unable to be outside.

I want to fully plan and prepare for a decent spring garden. I’ve been building infrastructure to organize myself and set reminders, but I’m still working on details. I have a bunch of garlic on order to plant next month, and I’m putting in bulbs and broadcasting seeds for spring flowers. We’re hoping to broadfork a big space and cover it with cardboard, compost, and mulch before the ground freezes. I need to put the asparagus bed to bed, and plan for planting strawberry crowns in the spring. I am willing to bet there will be a zillion and one volunteer tomato plants in that bed, as well.

I need to make sure to put the other trees and shrubs to bed. I’m learning how to care for my blueberries, peach, forsythia, and lilacs. I feel like the apple tree may be a lost cause, and I haven’t been able to find an arborist that specializes in fruit trees. All of the fruit-bearing branches are super high up, and the lower branches all appear to be dead. I need to research that, as well.

What can nI say – the dudes dig me…

I may be way too late to start veggies in a cold frame, but if I can eek it in, I will. I am just waiting to move the chickens.- which is more difficult than you might think. I’m not gonna stress about it too much, though. I may throw row covers on my deck beds and see if I can get some herbs and green onions going in the kitchen greenhouse (which may expand into a mudroom annex.)

I’m still scared to death of power tools, but I am also still working on psychologically overcoming my fears. Lately, I’ve noticed myself thinking about the concepts of building in ways I never could have imagined, so I’m going to just be patient with myself. If I work on organizing a work space in the garage this season – I can start using that space to do small projects next season.

One of the things that is out of balance in my life is human contact. Too often I find myself thinking I am totally fine with not being around other people, and that’s not wrong. However, it has come to my attention that I probably actually need people…and that maybe it’s ok for people to also need me. I’ve been unreliable in so many parts of my life. I intend to work on this. I desire to continue sorting out my feelings about my current living situation.


Baking and experimenting in the kitchen is another thing I would like to make more time for. This is one of those enjoyable things that I never get around to because there are too many other “important” things to do. I will once again set this intention, as well as all of the intentions around making sure to eat what is fresh and most nutritionally available as much as possible.

Practically speaking: I need to see the dentist, I need to see the eye doctor, I need to get my Maine license plates and maybe also snow tires this year (and I need to figure out how to get that annoying hazy film off of the inside of my windshield.) Oh, and now that I’ve been in this house for a full year, just about – I need to actually sit down and write a budget and, like, stick to it. It’s been fun being temporarily wealthy, but…um…I am trying to support three people on a single (not-so-great-believe-me) income, and…yeah. That.

To come full circle – it is also my intention to overcome some of this fear of irrelevance and just do what I need to do to convey my truth. No one has to read this, but it helps me to organize my thoughts and hold myself modestly accountable, so I’m doing it! My intention is to post at least one more blog post this quarter (hopefully more, but I’m going to start with one.) and publish at least one zine (again – hopefully more…but I was overly ambitious at the start of the year, and when I saw a publishing schedule I did what any respectable zinester would do and started composing long intros about how sorry I am that this issue is so late. (And what better excuse than a pandemic and the rise of global fascism for a “sorry this issue is so late” missive!)

This looks like a cozy spot for an understory garden and maybe a summer home for more birds?

I would also like to do more organizing in the house, and hanging art, and carving out spaces…but that all will get done around the other work. I’m still feeling my way around this place. Today, I walked the perimeter and noticed 2-3 potential new garden sits. I can’t get ahead of myself. Slow and steady wins the race.