I am not nice. But I try to be. One fine day, my wife took an order for eggs, a hen and a rooster. Eggs and hen in inventory. Rooster on backorder. Chicken to customer travel clucked several miles, so parties agreed to a meetup point – inexplicably a short distance from the buyer’s house. Such a compromise. Anyway, after exchanging the eggs, hen, some of feed, a cute chicken feeder and some nesting hay, we were off. Another citizen on her way to home grown farm fresh eggs. We seemed done…not so fast.
I am not easy. But easy I try to be. It wasn’t but a week or so before the lady called and said she was out of feed. I previously gave her some feed and a little feeder as a courtesy and told her of at least one place where she could buy feed. Ok, but she needed me to bring her feed. The hen had nothing to eat. I bought a 50-pound bag of Layer Pellets and drove down to a different rendezvous point for the exchange – about the same distance for me to travel but quite convenient for her. So, after the exchange of feed and money, we were off. Another citizen on her way to having a well-fed hen and home-grown farm fresh eggs. We thought our deed finished…easy there rider.
I’m not generous. But I try to be. The next time my wife talked to the hen lady, she said her hen was not laying eggs. This was odd. A Gold Star hen less than two-years-old had stopped laying in the prime season of spring. With no other information I concluded that the hen needed company. I could donate one of my older birds so that companionship and egg production would commence. So, one day down the road we drove, old hen in cage. Good deed on the way. This time we drove to her house. I’ll never forget my shock on that sweltering summer day when I saw the non-producing hen in her backyard, tabled up high in a – wait for it – parakeet cage. My head, my heart and my hope dropped. Here I was donating one of my beloved birds to someone who cluelessly tortured her first purchase. I presented the free bird and left the small cage which was more than twice the size of the current housing. Dejectedly, we drove off determined to come back with a reasonably sized chicken coop for my former fowl. We thought we had a final solution…hold your horses Samaritan.
I’m not tolerant. But I try to be. Due to circumstances beyond our mutual control – her husband’s death, our Hurricane Harvey, the sweltering summer of 2017 – the roomy coop did not materialize until one hot Saturday this fall. While I struggled to complete the project with materials and remnants on hand, my wife struggled to contact the bird lady of Alcatraz. I finished the cage in the afternoon – some of my best worked. However, my wife could not get in touch with the lady by any means. We decided to make the drive south and check things out. Wow. We got there – she was gone! No furniture as observed through the bare windows. No parakeet cage with suffering animal. No loaned out handmade roomy cage with free bird. In addition, cell phone – cancelled, forwarding address – nada, personal contact – nope. Tracking this lady down to give her new free stuff (roomy coop) in exchange for old free stuff (homemade cage) loomed problematic because she was known to my wife only by her nickname -Ya Ya. With waning hope, we talked to the neighbors – who knew nothing, checked the mailbox – with mail addressed to both the living and the dead, and knocked at the door of the leasing office – closed on Saturday at 3 pm. Naively, we drove away towards home knowing that somehow there would be answers about the disappearance of Ya Ya, without knowing when or how or what. We knew, assuredly, that it was only a matter of time…until what?