Weekend Worrier

My Beloved and I spent this past Saturday until Derby time prettying up our patch of Pulaski. This, like many things in marriage, involved making a deal — I would muddle through some light essay-grading while my Beloved went off to Tractor Supply for, well, supplies. Afterward, we would join forces in the backyard and mulch things.

We don’t know why we do this. It’s just something people “do.” Our mulch never looks like other people’s mulch, all tidy and self-contained. Our mulch always looks like someone spilled a bag of hamster bedding in the grass, but we do it with gusto, because people with yards are expected to throw wood chips around in the spring. It’s like the thing with the May pole. I digress.

What I failed to realize was that sending my spouse to Tractor Supply in May might cost me a bathroom. I was stalking the wily thesis through the underbrush when the first text message came.

<Do we need any baby turkeys?>

This is a question that has never come up in all 31 years of our marriage.

Then I got this one:

<DUDE! DUCKS = $3!!!>

I have also never in 31 years been called “Dude” by my husband. Something sinister was clearly at work in Tractor Supply.

So I replied <No.>

<No ducks.>

<No.>

I tried to go back to the essay, but before I could refocus, the phone bingled again, and there was a VIDEO of aluminum watering troughs, and in each one was a festival of quacking, peeping cuteness. I have never seen so many chicks of various types in my life — baby turkeys, baby ducks, baby chickens. They were adorable, and they were accompanied by (I am not making a word of this up) a text that said:

<… and THESE??!! Pppplllleeeeeaaaaassssseeee!!>

We must insert the truth here, which is that I am mortally afraid of chickens, and have been since I was about 3 years old. My father and grandfather owned 50 of them, and they chased us. When you’re three feet high, a flock of 50 hens bearing down on you looks like the end of the world from your limited frame of apocalyptic references. I don’t even EAT chicken if I can help it, and I certainly don’t want a backyard full of evil-eyed, foul-beaked, spur-legged neo-dinosaurs. Not even if the babies are cute.

But because I love my spouse, I texted back,

<I’m weakening. Are you gonna take care of them?>

And he answered, <We can keep them in the downstairs bathtub. Do you think the dog will herd them or hurt them?>

I think the dog is more afraid of chickens than I am, but the thought of them in my bathtub pegged some kind of “oh no” meter in my brain. I’m not going near a bathroom with chickens in it. The next bit, getting him out of there, is a blur, but he came home with no livestock. Imagine my relief — at least until I had to find homes for the asparagus crowns, the blackberry bushes and the rhubarb.

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