We are home, but everything is not the same as the way we left it. Helen and Mrs. Hall decided, while I was gone, to stop sleeping in their chicken tractor roost and to stop laying eggs in the nest box, but instead are sleeping on top of my cement elephant (which was meant to be a fountain but has become a vine covered planter) and laying eggs on the porch and on the ground under the elephant. I think it's kind of cute to have chickens perched on an elephants head in the back yard, but I don't think it is the most sensible place to sleep while it's raining, nor is it the most safe place to sleep should a predator actually make it past the neighbors dogs. Chickens do not have a reputation for being sensible, so I'll have to help them out by re-training them. Party is over ladies, back to chicken behavior boot camp!
I can tell by the variety of vegetables and herbs that I was able to pick from the garden on Saturday morning, that the garden hasn't missed me much. The weeds definitely haven't missed me, since they are flourishing right along with the vegetables. With some of the many eggs Helen and Mrs. Hall deposited in weird locations, mom created a veggie omelet masterpiece to give us energy while she, Jamie, and I cleaned the front porch and did other chores. I always know when someone volunteers to help me clean that it's time to pay some attention to my housekeeping. When mom messaged me while I was out of town to ask if I meant to leave piles of torn apart garlic bulbs on the front porch, I had a faint recollection of leaving it look more like a potting shed than a attractive entry to our home. The porch got the kind of deep cleaning that involved the serious elbow grease that can only be achieved under a mother's direction, so I shall no longer be an embarrassment to my neighbors. Although I'm not sure even a squeaky clean front porch can compensate for chickens sleeping on an elephant head.
We opened the second to last bottle of the Feb. 2012, Strawberry vintage, one of my home made favorites so far. I'm sad that's it is almost gone, but I needed a drink after what I saw inside my house upon returning from our long absence.
I've learned, the hard way, that it's important to take out the trash, and to not leave any fresh fruit sitting in bowls on the counter when I'm going to be gone for several days. I have also learned that an innocent and not quite ripe tomato can ripen and turn to a varnish dissolving acid puddle on a quick trip away. I once forgot a banana in the trunk of my car and was nearly convinced that I would need an exorcism to remove the unholy smell. So, before I left for a month away I made sure to double check that I didn't leave anything fruity out where it could go feral.
This blue jewel is the butt end of a loaf of homemade bread that I left wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. Disgusting, I know, but child's play compared to what we found...
I was just pointing out to Jamie that the sweet potatoes that were in the top of a colander in the kitchen, with some onions, had grown vines that were nearly two feet tall. We were admiring their growth and I lifted the colander from where it was sitting. This must have unsealed it from it's resting place, because a gush of back liquid ran from the holes in the bottom of the colander and spewed, like a fast motion lava flow, from the colander, over a chair, and across the floor. A cloud of gnats swarmed into the air. We screamed. Both of us, and not just timid squeals of icky-ness, but real screams, because what our brains saw, sprinkled in the chocolate colored, foul smelling potato juice, even before our eyes really understood what we were seeing, were... baby gnats! We took up a simultaneous cry of "MAGGOTS! MAGGOTS!", like it was some sort of fire alarm. I quickly set the colander back down, like there was some hope to undo what had happened, but there is no going back once something like this has been released into the world. My legs started moving on their own, in that way they do when the flight or fight instinct is triggered, but there is no place to run, so I just sort of jogged in place and turned in circles. My mind automatically rapid fire rifled through, and then discarded, all my emergency preparedness training - fire extinguisher? first aid kit? tourniquet?! - before it really hit me that I have had no training for this emergency. There is nothing I can do to save this situation. There are maggots! In the kitchen! And all I have to arm myself with is paper towels. While all this is flashing through my brain, Jamie has begun to laugh, and I would argue that it's not just the normal glee of seeing a sibling traumatized, but the brittle laughter of someone who's brain is breaking, and the only way to release the pressure is to laugh dementedly. At least that 's what it sounded like to me while I was freaking out.
It's good to be home!