Ok, I hate to think of you all out there seeing me be a big baby about my lousy day on Wednesday, so I am back to let you know that I have returned to my sunny self. We got great mail yesterday, work at the library has been awesome, we are getting fabulous rain here mixed with beautiful sun so you can practically see things growing in the garden. And...we knocked out three huge cucumbers last night! I can't really say that we ate them all though, because, er, well, we drank two of them! Yup, when life gets you down and the cukes on your counter are giving you a heart attack in the morning: cocktails! We had our fabulous house sitter over for dinner last night (more about her later) and as I was warning her that we would probably be feeding her a six course meal of different dishes featuring the mighty Japanese Long Cucumber I joked about serving her a cucumber cocktail, at which point I remembered really having a very fine cucumber, gin, and mint cocktail at a bar in San Francisco. So. Off to the gin store, mint from the backyard, a few limes and some Reed's Ginger Beer and then I pretty much turned the whole show over to B, who suddenly turned into Cocktail Man and kicked down some totally amazing drinks. There's no real recipe here, but it's good to know what to do with the cucumbers: peel them (feed scraps to chickens if you have them), chunk them up in the food processor or blender, and then strain the whole mess through a sieve so that you end up with bright green cucumber water. One very long cucumber (ours are well over a foot) made just over a cup of juice. Muddle or otherwise smash together your mint and your limes and lime juice, strain. Add enough ginger beer to give it some fizz and a touch of sweet. Simple syrup and seltzer would do fine here if you are not a ginger lover. It was so yum and summery.
So, the house sitter. Right before we left for the wedding, one of our Rhode Island Reds developed a limp. We are talking just days before we were set to leave Asheville. And her limp just kept getting worse. She was so pathetic, standing around on just one foot and practically tumbling down the ramp when she wanted to go downstairs. I had no idea what to do. I picked her up and examined her foot and her leg and saw nothing external. I read our Chicken Health Handbook, and oh lord, it seemed like she could have any one of 900 diseases and the book pretty much said "Cull chicken and dispose of in sterile conditions" or something very dire that basically meant strangle your chicken and burn the remains. Needless to say, I was not prepared to kill one of our chickens just for limping. I really suspected that she had just fallen off the perch and sprained or broken a toe or something, but what the hell do I know about chicken injuries? Anyway, what you are supposed to do with an injured chicken is separate them from the flock and put them in small comfortable quarters so that they don't move around too much and just let them heal. What I wanted to do was to put her in our bathtub and spoil her rotten. What I had to do was get our shit packed and go get married. So after sitting in front of the coop for hours totally panicking about her, I had to hit what I fondly refer to as The Fuck it Switch. Where you run the worst case scenario ("She has a communicable fatal disease and we come home and all the chickens are dead.") and make your peace with it and then move on to what you can deal with, like getting your ass to Maine and getting the houseplants watered. So, you know, I asked the house sitter to keep an eye on her and lined up a distant friend who has chickens to come over if she worsened. Anyway. I will not say that I worried about our chicken through the wedding, but I will say that I definitely thought about her. I figured that every day that I didn't get an email or phone call from the house sitter was good. I didn't call to check, because I did not want bad news if there was any. But after the wedding, while we were just knocking around Portland in a daze and glow, I emailed her to see how things were going. And long story made only slightly less long: she was nursing our chicken back to health by keeping her in her own little box by the window, feeding her special foods, and taking her out twice a day for fresh air. I cried, because, well, before, during, and after our wedding I cried about everything (in a good way), but mostly just because I am so lucky to have such great smart friends. By the weekend before we returned, our girl was no longer limping so our house sitter snuck her back into the coop late at night so that our other girls wouldn't pick on what they would perceive as a new intruder, but rather just wake up in the morning and think she had always been there. She is still our shyest chicken, but she was already our shyest chickens before she hurt herself. And now she is totally a human loving chicken; she comes right over and lets you pet her and feed her and at times I get the sense that she is a little nonplussed to have to spend her days in the chicken coop instead of in the house, like, "Mom, these chickens are so dramatic! They never talk about anything intellectual! Can't we just go for a walk or have a salad together?"
So. That is the story of our amazing house sitter and our limping chicken. The end.