A new development, it was warm for a few days before our weekly six inches of snow, it was enough of a change that as the snow melts it is exposing bright, spring-green grass. A sign that we are headed in the right direction.
I've been too busy with other activities to do things like garden and whine about the weather. My daughter turned 12 this past week, and with the birthday comes the inevitable slumber party. I use the event as a way to kick myself in the behind to get some house cleaning done, despite the fact that I could name a few thousand productive things that I would prefer doing. After a week of mopping, polishing, sorting, organizing, recycling and tossing, I then commenced baking, decorating and other hostess-y things.
About an hour and a half before the first guests were set to arrive and I was frosting the chocolate cake, the chickens made distressing noises by the kitchen window, Paisley flew up past the glass in a panic. I rushed outside to find my neighbor's hugely overweight lab/pit mix, not quite a year old puppy trying to pounce on the girls. Ursula cut out from the rest and he pursued, she found the gap in the garden fence and lost him for a moment, but then found herself cornered. I sprinted out, coated with confectioner's sugar, and threw myself in between the two. Shrieking at the top of my lungs, hoping my neighbor would hear me. I kept telling the dog, "No!" and he would back off a bit, but he seemed mesmerized by what he perceived as giant, fluffy dog toys and seemed compelled to go back. He didn't have a collar on, there was no handle to hold. I tried and tried to hold him, but he kept slipping from my grip. He pounced again and Ursula dodged, I snagged her, kneed the dog and sprinted to the coop. Locked her in and the dog was on to seek out the next chicken. My daughter came out of the house having heard me shouting. "No, Nooooo, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!", wearing socks, but no shoes, and tried to round up the others, but he just followed her and she didn't want to expose them, but we didn't want them out any more. She kept his attention on the back steps while I ran for one of the leashes that groomers use. He let me put it on and didn't seem to mind and then whoosh, it was off and he was off. I chased and caught him again and looped it again, but his neck was just as fat as his head and he slipped it again. I did this several more times, until I decided to tie the leash around his neck. The whole time I was bellowing, "Where the H*ll is your owner?" We got him to his owner when he called him, I was asking him to keep the dog in his yard, as my daughter went back to round up the rest of the chickens, Only to have Tank (the dog) escape again, he wouldn't come when his owner called. He chased Paisley around the house as my daughter gave chase, shrieked and pushed him away--she probably weighs about the same as Tank, about 100lbs. Paisley, smart girl, ran under the quince bush. The dog pursued, but then discovered quince thorns and hopped around the perimeter. In the mean time, I sprinted from the neighbor's yard, through the woods then across our yard to the quince bush, captured the evasive chicken, kneed the dog again and blasted over to the coop with the dog in hot pursuit, I slammed and latched the door right as his nose arrived. He took off to find the other chickens, our neighbor, citing knee surgeries, was just now arriving in our back yard. We finally were able to send Tank home, with a promise that he would either be on a lead or in the fence in the future and that he will wear his collar. We gathered up the Buffs and put everyone in the run, with snacks and water. Then my daughter and I had a good cry,straightened ourselves out and finished the preparations for her party. I felt like I had used ever shred of energy available chasing and fighting off the dog. The dog never seemed vicious, he had a goofy look on his face the entire time, listened to me, sometimes, and leaned up next to me for a pat when I put the leash on him. He just seemed compelled by some force to pounce on the chickens.
Just writing all this has been exhausting, If I hadn't been in reasonable shape, we wouldn't have chickens anymore, there's no way in my old shape I could have done what I did.
An hour or so later, the cake frosted...the girls came, then ran around outside in the dark playing flashlight tag ( I don't know the rules, darkness, flashlights, shrieking and giggling are all required) for a couple of hours waiting for the late comers. After that, they did the annual treasure hunt, per request of the birthday girl. They followed my riddles around the entire yard until they found this year's treasure, matching t-shirts and glow-in-the-dark fabric paint. One was disappointed that it wasn't candy like last year, though the candy was set out on the snack table, I guess it is the joy of discovery. Halfway through the hunt they discovered one can of silly string for each kid, of course, the obvious occurred. My daughter realized the next day why adults have some reservations about silly string, as she picked most of it out of the lawn, so that the chickens wouldn't eat it. (It appears that they don't even sense it, they walk right past, but who knew that?)
A friend lent me all the necessary equipment to turn the living room into the dance party zone: disco balls, lava and glitter lamps, a thing that shines different colored lights on the walls and rotates. My husband's prized 1980's stereo with giant speakers provided the music. At about 9:30 one of the girls reclined in The Red Chair with her root beer and extolled the wonders of this "the best party ever".
Between the cleaning, decorating, baking, dog catching, chaperoning and assorted other chores, I slept a good deal of the next day. I still had time to get in a couple of runs to the horse farm to finish top dressing all of the trees planted in the last two years, just in time for the new ones to arrive, just in time for the weekly six inches of snow. By looking at my photos from last year, our second and final snow was on March 25th and by April 9th the flowers in the garden and yard were starting to bloom. I'm ready.