Yesterday, I arrived at the Sawmyl Synders disaster recover project with new objectives. Since the mitigation’s critical Phase I – “Stemming the spread of mold” – was accomplished. I thought I could stem the spread of death in the barnyard by starting Phase I of that cleanup. Yes, there is beau coup debris to be gathered over a two acre area but the big large huge wood, in the form of tree trunks, wooden beams and dimension-ed lumber seemed to float strategically into the chicken coop area. These sawed logs incredibly blocked the entrances and exits of three of my four chicken coops, keeping the poultry that was trapped inside trapped in and the birds found outside trapped out. The work to remove these impediments was made possible by a little John Deere, a big long chain and a struggling old man – me! No need to drone on about how the wood made its way to the pile. No point in giving my view of this new world from my eye. What was seen today by those beady eyes, those same ones that suffered while I tended to my dwelling over the holiday weekend?
Certainly, if the chicken eyes could talk, if their beaks could speak, I would have heard the understated cliche, “It’s about time!” This is how they do. The Rhode Island Reds wonder why I can’t seem to keep the gate open on Coop IB for their access to food and water. Coop IA, my Americanas have taken to laying their green eggs in the other nest boxes because I haven’t properly feathered (hay) their own beds. On to Coop II, the Sophia Lorens of the barnyard, my dozen Wyandottes (minus nine), with looks forlorn, trudge sadly and silently through the rubble, blaming me, I know, for this thing that defies comprehension by beast or me. Coop III, here is the dross, twenty-four layers, plus two roosters, reduced to two. The quiet, gentle, iridescent Australorps nest but lay no more eggs, search but find no food, look to me and find no relief. Coop IV, the productive and chatty Gold Sex-Links continue to pump out eggs equal to their remaining number. Having lost their white rooster to a coyote some two months ago, that’s when I noticed that work was their response to tragedy as well as uncertainty. Some in the coop, some in the run, some in the pasture but none of them is done. Yes, I have failed them. Yes, they deserve better. No, they will not stop doing what they do, laying eggs. If I were less humane, I would tell the disgruntled huddled in the other coops to follow the example of the Coop IV. If the fowl in Coop IV were more bitter, they would gang-up and throw me on to the spikes that project from the disarray of landscape timbers in this courtyard of chicken misery, and cluck “Can you feel me?”. However, inhumanity toward chickens and bird bitterness toward me never surfaces and functionality is restored to a facility that now has no function.
Now that the flood formed stockade in the middle of coop central has been re-located, there is also clear access to the goat shelter (through the once impassable gate) to where no lasting protection for the three goats took place. Goats hate the rain. They had open access to higher ground but would rather drown in the deluge than flee up field from it. Destiny, the Good Friday 2016 doeling, was carried off and she got caught up on to the far barbed wire and succumbed as observed by me and her guardian dog on the night of Thursday, May 26th. The next day her carcass was missing. Her mother Desi the doe, rode the wave of destruction over the fence and her whereabouts are still unknown. What remains is a very tame Billy. My rambunctious Boer goat buck now sits in the wet hay and mourns the loss of his charge. Billy finds no comfort or solace or requite in my approach. The big beast resists response as I scratch between his massive horns and brush the “sipon” from his runny nose and kneel to inspect him and…maybe cry. He is a social animal without a society. In charge without a charge. A male without a mate. There is no consoling him. The flood took everything from Billy and I was not there for any of them.
My crew of helpers consisted of one this fine Tuesday – Amy. She arrived and piled wet clothes into plastic tubs to take to the laundromat. Two hours later, Vee and I had clean, dry, folded formerly flooded fabric – shirts, pants and even my treasured marathon quilt. Amy is gracious and humble and completely resolved to help us recover. She is working on her English language skills and I am confusing her with my lack of clear skill in speaking to her in that same language. Our limited conversations are already storied.
One last observation. At 1 p.m., my son Patrick brought us lunch. He brought his three year old son, Dean. Dean asked if he could ride the tractor and feed the chickens. He noticed the house looked different. My grandson decided to inspect further. He walked the entire house deliberately, his tiny legs sure as his curious head twists and turns from one side to the other, from one room to the next, from the back laundry room and kitchen to the far bedrooms – in silence. He returns and faces me, ready to opine. First he says there are too many fans. There are five, he says, but there should be only four. I am amused and impressed and ask him how old he is. He says one and holds up two fingers. Dean is three. Finally, after doing a visual panorama of the furniture-less carpet-less dwelling with four feet of drywall removed (allowing a clear view of every room without him taking a step) Dean declares: “I don’t like your house”.