death on our street

We had just finished breakfast. Mark turned on some music, and we began our “normal” family business for the day. As I’m cleaning up in the kitchen, I think I hear muffled screaming. I go to the hallway; it’s not Olive. I figure it must be our neighbor’s dog who has a howl that resembles a screaming child. I step into the backyard — nope, not the dog, but someone is definitely screaming. “HELP ME! OH GOD — SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME! MY BABY!” Hearing this woman’s distress immediately caused my mind to spin will all sorts of conjured scenarios. And while my heart raced for my throat, I couldn’t seem to move my feet fast enough. I pounded on the window, letting Mark know that something is happening out front. We both ran and opened the front door, where we could now see the rueful woman anxiously pacing a corner of the courtyard across the street wailing and screaming. “OH GOD! PETER, HOW COULD YOU? SHE’S DEAD! MY BA-BY.” Mark looks back at me as he runs across the street, “CALL 911!” And just as he reaches her, she steps out from behind the iron fence…

holding her dead dog.

Now. I love dogs. I can even understand crying, maybe even wailing over a family pet. But, come on, if you’re going to WAIL AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS so that every neighbor for a quarter of a mile can hear you, at least specify my DOG! All she could manage to shrill at us was, “I’m sorry. But it’s MY BA-BY! OHHH GOD!”  I felt like a schmuck for how annoyed I was in that moment.

Speaking of endearing “pets,” we have chickens. Yes, you read correctly — chickens. And as surprised as I am to say/write those very words, I’m more pleasantly surprised by how much I like them. We went in with three other families to share fresh eggs. 5 at our house, 8 at another house. Mark and our friend Danny worked really hard to build their own coops, and last week, we were able to bring the little “ladies” (as we refer to them around here) to their new home. The boys promptly named their hens Henry and Peter. I had to later explain to them that all hens are female. “Not these.” They replied. “Because they’re named Henry and Peter, so they’re boys.” They’ve apparently not quite understood all of our conversations about anatomy. Anyway, everyone was happy until one morning last week when we awoke to find one hen missing and another eviscerated in the coop. That’s right. Murder. It was disgusting. Apparently the uneven terrain of our backyard had left a slight (about 1″) gap at one part of the coop. Enough access for something. That night, I looked outside, after hearing the hens “cheeping” like crazy to see a big, fat possum. Mark was out having a beer with a friend. I didn’t know what to do, so I threw a baseball bat at the possum, hitting him smack on the butt. He looked around, then focused back on the hens. I had to retreat inside, recognizing my defeat and how little I know about these types of over-sized vermin. Unlucky, he left. But, Mark is waiting for his return — with a machete and a ditch blade (seen in the last picture). We’ll save that for another post.