Scenes from a Winter Garden

Part One: Violet and the Ghost of the Great Pepper Tree

Violet doesn’t belong here. She wasn’t invited. And neither was her brother, Squats for that matter. These were random chickens that were squeezing their tiny fluffy butts into my garden through a gap in the fence.

Just big enough to fit little peeping babies that would peck and scratch the shit out of all my garden beds and make a hell of a mess on my manicured pathways. My precious, precious pathways.

This I could not abide for long. An action plan began forming in my head and I decided to set up some chicken traps and capture these usurpers of my calm. I set up a net at the end of my long cement makeshift patio. A tunnel of many confusing obstacles leading to a hidden circular lobster net. I then went inside and waited. Maniacally so.

After a few hours, I went out to find them in my veggie garden picking, scratching and eating all my vittles. Our eyes locked and all three of us were frozen in the timeless dance of predator v. prey. I pounced, barefoot and snarling. As planned, they leaped out of the raised bed and began sprinting down the long cement pad with me slapping bare toes behind them.

They hit the hidden net like so many drunkenly applied darts into pub dartboards. *thunk, thunk*. With wings flapping uselessly, they could do no more than submit to my gentle yet firm grasp.

After some moments of gentle cooing, I placed them in my little elevated chicken coop for newbies. And there they remained. The day was won!

Continue reading “Scenes from a Winter Garden”

Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Alpha

Holy hell people! I’ve been crazy swamped with all sorts of emergencies and/or projects and/or emergency projects. All the while thinking about how little I’ve been posting to Mind Your Dirt. So lets just quickly go through my list of excuses so that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Excuse number one:

As you know from the last post I’ve been playing wet nurse to a dying stray kitten. She was suffering from renal failure most likely from being poisoned out there in the cruel and inhospitable world of man. You can follow all those updates and video and stuff by visiting her campaign page here. Long story short, she’s doing much better now and is acting like a normal kitten should. Or all cats for that matter. A total selfish dick.

On the subject of saving the life of no-tailed yard critters, I also saved this poor little tail challenged alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata multicarinata). She fell into one of the post-holes I dug for this chicken run project and was trapped in there for who knows how long.

Her tail was most likely borrowed from her via one or more curious hens. Of which I’m sure they will return to her once they’ve completed whatever chicken scientific studies they are performing with it.

She was so grateful for her rescue (or extremely cold, dehydrated and scared shitless) that she allowed me to take a series of extremely close-up photos and videos. Here’s one that I love. It’s an alligator lizard staring contest. Ready? Go!

Aw, you lost too? So did I. She’s good. Damn good. In fact, I thought she was dead at first until I zoomed in on my camera and say her pupils dilating. Watch it again. It’s pretty trippy. Continue reading “Fancy New Chicken Run: Phase Alpha”

The Somber Feast: Roasting My Troubles Away in 2017

The other day I let you guys know that I was no longer playing games with my game. That 2016 was finally going to end, along with the lives of my flock of guinea fowl.

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Well, I was mostly true to my word despite the shakiness of my convictions. On the last day of 2016, I was unable to sleep in at all. I knew what the day would bring and I was nervous about doing the dirty deed that needed doing.

I was up before the sunrise and began the mental preparation. I enlisted the help of my friend Kevin for the day of hunting. I needed help catching these high-flying screaming ninjas, but I also really needed emotional support. I caught one early that morning, but couldn’t bring myself to kill the little thing quite yet, so I let it go.

When Kevin showed up, the hunt was on and I was resolved as much as I could be. It wasn’t going to get any easier for me emotionally, so I had to suck it up. So we armed ourselves and headed out into the wilds of my urban backyard.

We had a few clean shots in the beginning, but the bow and arrow proved to be utterly useless for the dead-eye accuracy we needed. With a few shots off, the guinea fowl were on to us and quickly took shelter in the giant pepper tree.

This meant that I had to run around the front of the house and down the back of the dirt lot next door. Up over a cinder block wall and up into the tree. I climbed about 20 feet up to the top where I could scare the fowl down to the ground.

This time we tried to use the crossbow. But here’s the problem, you can’t take a clean shot unless the arrow will go into the ground if we missed. And missed we did! The sight was no longer calibrated properly so we had to do the best we could. We did manage to kill a shed and a metal door with the bolts, but not a single shot hit it’s true intended mark. I had about five shots that would’ve surely killed a fowl, but it was too dangerous to take them with all the houses around my yard. It just wasn’t safe enough to try the crossbow much longer.

So we improvised. We tried to catch them by hand. I would climb the tree or hop a fence to try to scare them towards my friend. After about three hours, I estimate that I had climbed the tree over eight times and hopped over about twenty five walls or fences.

It was just impossible to catch them and I was getting crazy tired and sore. It was just like watching Ninja Warrior. Except it was three hours long. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and all four guinea fowl were about four houses away from us at this point. I couldn’t press any further for fear of getting shot myself by wandering into a strangers property.

With much weariness and frustration, we called it quits. Guinea fowl 4, humans 0.

I was saddened that I couldn’t finish this dark deed before the end of the year, but couldn’t figure out any other way to snag the beasts. So, we questioned our manliness and hunter/gatherer status and made preparations for new year eve sorrow drowning.

My resolve was tested and my promise to you readers was broken. In shame and defeat, I decided to drink heavily at a tiki-themed party in Mission Hills. Continue reading “The Somber Feast: Roasting My Troubles Away in 2017”