Saturday Jots 09-05-2009

Til Death: Companions Eternal
Til Death: Companions Eternal

☼ We now have a small herd of chickens (4 to be exact.) Flock I think gives too much the sense of cohesiveness, of creatures banding together, the former the more accurate noun carrying the sense of having to corral the little darlings back into the gated community in which they live, and thence, into the small and secure wooden house where they go each night to practice good and frequent bowel hygiene and perhaps extrude a tiny egg or two. I figure so far the ratio of input to output is about $50 and 2 hours and a pound of cloacal content per egg. We’ve yet to let them out of the fence to “free range”, an occasion which holds exactly the opposite promise for the dog.

☼ The deer found the beans (again) growing on the perimeter fence of the Vegetable Containment Compound because the dog and I neglected to sufficiently and regularly mark the area as we had been faithful to do over the bean season. You can tell exactly the reach of their long lovely necks and that, thankfully, they were too lazy to stand on their hind legs as they are wont to do to reach the very topmost apple on your semidwarf tree the night before you intended to harvest your coveted crop.

☼ Interesting conversation yesterday with a visitor at the Country Store. We had talked for perhaps 15 minutes, introduced by the store acquisitions staff as a local writer, when the fellow, an Oklahoma native living in South Carolina, asked about the politics of Floyd. He assumed we were so out of the flow as to be indifferent. He was appalled to discover the county is about 50-50 red and blue (terms I had to explain, which led me to believe he might have more opinions than data on board.) He equated “liberals” with Nazi Germany. Our conversation on his part slid quickly towards concrete labels, black and white and it did not continue long thereafter.

☼ In mind of the degree to which the medium can influence the message as a writer, I’ve purchased a new writing tool. The second book largely happened because Devonthink Pro software made order appear out of the chaos of 120 different bits of writing over three years. But its chief strength was in ordering pieces already written. Future needs will be different. You know the old saying: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I bought Scrivener yesterday and hope it is a welder or a joiner. I want to fasten all those shorter essays into a freestanding structure that will hold more weight. The tools we have available either limit or expand our native abilities, augment our thumbs, our vision, our language I hope. We’ll see. Scrivener also works well for blogging research if I fail at using it for anything more.

☼ THE IMAGE: from my cemetery ramble while killing time (poor choice of words perhaps) in town last week. I know there were names chiseled into the granite on the opposite side of these two stark and closely pressed headstones, probably man and wife. But the anonymous emptiness against the somber sky seemed a more expressive image in keeping with the mood of the moment.  Click to enlarge.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I think people have forgotten or never understood the horrors of Nazi Germany if they think they can compare ANYTHING going on in our country today with that. Good Lord.

  2. I like the photo…..perfect.

    I agree with Carrie.

    Small herd of chickens….you are too much…..good luck with the chickens.


  3. Ah, yes, concrete labels. Van Jones is a communist and there are 37 more to go. I can well imagine how short your conversation with the fellow from Oklahoma was – I’m not sure I would have lasted as long as you did! Glenn Beck: 1; Compassion: 0.

  4. Freddie,

    Visit We have had as many as eighteen at once! Right now we have a rooster, 10 hens and two ducks. They are really a pleasure to watch, especially while free ranging.

    Good luck, and be careful about your predators.