When Chickens Curse
Letting it fly
Last month I planted a ton of seeds in trays: red peppers, eggplants, and various types of tomato. On reflection, I might have been just the tiniest bit over enthusiastic, because the whole load of those fuckers grew. Now I have to work out what to do with them all. I’ve given a ton to friends and neighbors. I’ve planted even more, yet still they haunt me.
Tomatoes are fairly easy to get rid of - though not to the extent that I planted. As for red bell peppers - come on who doesn’t like red bell peppers? Well, bloody loads of people apparently.
So thats why I was out in the front yard this week pottering around and trying to think of what I could do with them all.
I turned and saw a sweet wee lady standing at the gate. I don’t know her to speak to but I do know she lives in the neighborhood as she often passes by Tweddley manor on her morning walk.
Smiling, she asked about our chickens. Seems that when she passed by on her walk she loved the sound of the chickens in our backyard because it reminded her of her childhood in Chile. But she was worried we might have lost our rooster as she hadn’t heard him crow for a while.
I explained that Genghis is fine and just isn’t particularly crowy. She looked visibly relieved and said that as she hadn’t see the rooster sitting on the wall for the longest time, she thought he might have died.
It took a moment for the penny to drop, but once it did, I laughed.
I should explain. We hatched most of our chickens, and as such you don’t get to choose what one is male and female. One of the eggs we hatched was a rooster called Pegs. Though he was the biological son of Genghis, his genes must have skipped a generation, because while Genghis veers more towards the chartered accountant of the chicken world, Pegs was absolutely the poultry version of Ivan the Terrible. He was all cock and attitude. When he wasn’t trying to cause a mutiny within the coop, he used to love to fly up and land on the side wall crowing a blatant “fuck a doodle doo” to anyone passing by.
That was the rooster she was talking about. The one she apparently found charming.
It was never going to work out with Pegs and Genghis so we had to let him go. A good friend of mine keeps a ton of chickens on a ranch out of town, and Pegs was the perfect fit ( after some adjustments). A normal rooster likes to take care of around 10 hens - basically then he doesn’t over shag them. Pegs apparently needed 20, and even then at one point tried to escape in order to take care of the hens in the next coop. But he’s happier there. The move was right for him.
Anyway, all of that seemed to be a bit complicated to explain to my new Chilean pal, so instead I just told her to wait a minute, and went off to fetch her some eggs.
When I handed her the egg box she looked at me like I’d just given her the keys to my car.
“Ohmigod. What can I give you in return? she said.
“Nothing, “ I replied. “Consider it a gift from the rooster.”
“I have citrus. You want citrus.?”
“Don’t worry. Honestly.”
“But I must give something in return”
“Ooh, I have an idea. ” I said, “Hang on.” I hurried off and picked up a couple of potted tomatoes.
“Take these. please. ” I said. “Honestly, you’re doing me a favor”
She was a little astonished, and maybe a little overwhelmed. She thanked me most effusively, and headed off home.
I smiled. Her joy was infectious. And it’s always nice to make a new pal. Then I headed back to my plants, annoyed with myself with not making her take some peppers as well.
It made me happy to think of Pegs. He really was so full on. And so arrogant when he sat on the wall, yelling assorted curse words in chicken language to passers by. I had been so sad at the time to let him go. I’d hatched him from an egg. But there are times in life when you have to accept what is, rather than what was. Whenever I get updates on Peg’s antics, or videos of him trying to lead a coup, it so clear that he is much happier there than he would have been here.
Letting go has been on my mind a lot of late.
I let go of my preventative cancer drugs. It’s not a bad thing. They really didn’t agree with me, and I’ll definitely be a lot healthier without them. I just have to accept that a pill isn’t the same as a promise, and in the life of all grown ups there really are no guarantees.
And work wise, I’ve also let go. Last year I agreed with Mark that I probably wouldn’t ever go back to teaching group story classes. As magical as it is to see and hear people come out of themselves and tell a story to an audience - the logistics of teaching the course just don’t work while I’m juggling so many other things. So, we adapted the course to be online and this week we sent it out onto Udemy.
It’s the beginning of a beautiful thing and I’m proud of it, but there’s an ending there too. I hatched that course, though admittedly Mark is the one who truly made it beautiful. Now I have to let it fly. I suspect like Pegs, it will be a better fit in its new home. I still do believe everybody needs to learn and appreciate their own story, but maybe they don’t all have to do it in a theatre in front of an audience.
I cleaned up in the front yard and headed indoors. I had more letting go to do. After more than three years of silliness, we were recording the last episode of our podcast FHH. Neil, Ches and I started doing it in the days of the pandemic because…well, because. It was all remote - Chesney and I didn’t even meet Neil in the flesh until series 3 and we were podcasting live at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Now we’ve grown from podcast mates to proper mates, and though the only thing we’ll really lose is the legitimate reason for meeting online on a Tuesday morning to talk for hours. It’s still a little sad. But it’s the right thing to do. It’s time. Growth means change. We all feel it.
I finish the recording and head back out into the front yard. There's a huge box of citrus fruits just inside the front gate. There’s lemons and some oranges and these frickin’ MASSIVE citrussy things called Pomelos. If you don’t know what they are, picture grapefruits the size of footballs.
A gift. A beautiful gift from my new Chilean friend. She was only a little woman. Moving that size of stuff takes determination. I’m frankly pretty astonished.
While one story was ending, another story had already begun. Seems like we all have to move things and make room. My melancholy moved to gratitude. Looking at the size of these pomelos, I’m glad my problem is just seedlings.
I pick up the box and lay it next to the pepper plants. There really is quite a bit of citrus there. I wonder. Now what?
Till next Sunday,
Ooh I had a last thought. I know many people are feeling the pinch financially, but I do genuinely believe everyone ought to know and appreciate their own story. I’ve laid aside some free courses. Follow this link and enter the coupon code NOTESFROMTHEVALLEY and one may well be yours. xo
Notes From The Valley is a reader-supported publication. Please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I know the question that is on your mind.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Notes From The Valley to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.