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The dark side of Free Range

The dark side of Free Range
July 18, 2012 Mary Jo

It’s the same story every Spring.  This year, I think, I will finally make something of these flowerbeds.  This year, I did.  Isadora adopted one for her own and we filled it with shade-loving plants.  She took a Sharpie marker and even went so far as to label one plant’s marker with “most prized possession.”  So sweet, I thought, with slight misgivings.  I didn’t want her to become too attached to the bed and its plants.  There was a reason these beds weren’t yet established, one that can be summed up in three words.  Free. Range. Chickens.

Geranium cuttings, nurtured all year indoors, made their way to the lovely ring bed right outside the back door.  There was no rain, then no rain, and still yet no rain.  Captain Daddio took upon himself the task of watering, did it with relish.  He nurtured that little ring bed, letting the hose soak it for lazy minutes on end.  One day, those geraniums bloomed and we rejoiced!

Then I became The Crazy Lady Who Runs From The House With a Broom And Much Shrieking to chase away the chickens ready to dip their toes into this newly discovered dust bath.  Nevermind that it wasn’t the least bit dusty.  Nevermind that we had all worked so hard to get that bed in bloom.  Nevermind that we had, in exasperation, ceded the front beds (including Isadora’s) to their bathing needs.  Nevermind that they had the entire shaded perimeter of their coop to bathe in, plus those two holes rudely placed square in the middle of major farm thoroughfares, the very same that we’ve been meaning to fill for years.

Perhaps I turned my back for an hour too long, or perhaps the heat had sapped my will to live just long enough to stop caring.  In a heartbeat, the bed was toast.  I rallied for one final advance, then swiftly surrendered.  Some days I think these vandals make a strong case for confinement reared poultry.  Other days I can be heard muttering to myself, “Ah, well.  There’s always next year.”

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