“Stop, Baba! Stop! I’m scared! Turn around!”
My grandkids are screaming with terror in the back seat of my car.
Too late to stop. We are climbing straight up the side of a mountain that is mainly enormous shiny boulders. Chicken Lady lives here and we have come to meet her chickens.
Eeeh gads. Even I am nervous. I haven’t expected this.
We reach a small plateau surrounded by more Straight Up. I park the car. This is the place. We all get out and we are leaning forwards so we can stay upright.
There is an old house up the grade aways and behind and beside us and in front of us are long, slung together chicken sheds.
Around us, beside us and in front of us run big goats and baby goats, loose chickens and cats.
An old woman dressed in overalls slides down the mountain towards us.
It’s Chicken Lady!
Loch who is 6, is looking at the ground around his feet which is littered with small, moist brown balls. The balls are arranged in artistic scattered piles and lines, as far as we can see.
Loch says to Chicken Lady, “What is that stuff?”
Chicken Lady puts down a bucket and says, “It’s goat poop.”
Loch winces, cries out and tries to dance around and away from it.
Chicken Lady looks at me and says, “Where is he from?”
I say he lives at the Coast and they don’t have goat manure there.
We tilt our heads back and look up. More goats are climbing the rocks and the mountain. I am trying to keep my balance by flailing my arms and moving my feet.
Chicken Lady suggests we meet the chickens. We turn and slide down the hill and kind of roll into one of the vast sheds. The sunlit sheds contain all kinds of chickens that are roaming at will. There’s also a lot of goats in here.
The kids are impressed.
A big, gold goat comes trotting up to Loch, stops and stands in front of him and pees a massive pee.
Loch points and yells, “What’s that!?”
Chicken Lady looks surprised and disgusted at his question.
“It’s a goat peeing,” she says.
Loch screams and backs away, going into a ragged wail of fake crying.
“What’s the matter with you?” Chicken Lady says.
She stares at him and says, “Everything poops and everything pees. Get used to it.”
This is our day at the chicken ‘ranch.’
As we climb into the car to leave, Chicken Lady sidles up to me and asks if I think the kid will ever be normal. I say that I hope so. That I am trying to teach Loch about Real Life Beyond The Cosmopolitan Coast.
We say ‘Good-bye’ and ‘thanks,’ to Chicken Lady. Then we slam our car doors, kick the red car into gear and slide it down the mountain, leaving (I’m sorry to say) Chicken Lady in a great whirl of dust and tiny stones. The kids yell, “Go faster Baba! Go faster!” (more…)