Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Light Through Yonder Jelly Breaks?

The harvest was largely compromised this year, giving us an excellent opportunity to support our neighbors who actually grow stuff for a living, but I did put up a batch of crabapple jelly this week. Our friends, Betty and Tom, have a wonderful, decorative workhorse of a crabapple tree that always fruits during Artists Open House Weekend, when nobody has time to harvest the apples. No artist, that is. Fortunately I am a writer instead, so I get them. Ha ha! And Betty and Tom get some jelly by way of rent.

I don’t eat jelly straight up, or even on toast, but I do make a kickass jam tart, which requires me to amass a lot of interesting candidates for the jam layer—thus, this veritable Notre Dame rose window of sugary tart bliss.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pollo de Janeiro

As you can see, my contribution to urban planning so far consists of a slum in my back yard known as Pollo de Janeiro, because, as my daughter said, we have individuals equal in the eyes of God living side by side, some in splendor and some in squalor. Appropriately enough by international standards, the mansion belongs to Paco Negro, aka Paco Tercero, the deposed former benevolent dictator of the henhouse, who was run off a couple years ago by the younger roosters and had to go into the Rooster Protection Program (RPP) because nobody would let him back in the barn, so he was standing miserably in the rain at the foot of the barnyard, looking to die of exposure. I like Paco, and as I said he was a nice, gentle rooster with beautiful feathers, so now he has his own coop, where he goes by the RPP cover identity of Brewster Rooster. His neighbors believe him to be a New England native of a family rumored to have been represented on the Mayflower, but they understand that he could not have retired this early unless he had hit it big in Silicon Valley, which they assume accounts for the wild feathers. California, don’t you know. It’s going to fall into the sea some day.

So a week or two ago we moved the range pen, which is that flat-topped item next door, from the barnyard to the back yard so I could keep an eye on a hen who had gotten a late notion to sit on a clutch of eggs. It was necessary to remove her from the barn because That Black-Hearted Bitch of A Black Hen (who murdered the one and only chick of the little English hen earlier this summer) had moved back into the barn with her seven thriving adolescents, and there was no way I was letting anybody hatch out new chicks in her homicidal vicinity. So the single mom moved into the range pen.

Where, I am sorry to tell you, she leapt straight off the nest she had been sitting on for 2 weeks and began clucking and running up and down inside the screens, provoking the ire of the corgis, who made everything a hundred times worse by running up and down outside of the screens, barking their fool heads off.

Suffice it to say there will be no more baby chicks at Wren Cottage this season.

This is good news in a number of ways, because in addition to not wanting to worry about new babies in increasingly cold weather, this development also opens the door to a new autumnal activity: slum clearing. This repressive, CIA-backed zealot—it’s true, the CIA leaves peanut butter sandwiches in my mailbox every day—is going to brutally and without compassion move the empty range pen back into the barnyard for next year’s baby chicks to live in, as soon as I can conscript some teenagers to carry it.

The corgis may die of boredom, but I am a brutal zealot, so whatevs.