Friday, June 6, 2014

upstairs, downstairs

Note: Today's quotes are from Downton Abbey on PBS. Our favorite example of an Upstairs | Downstairs British drama. In stark contrast to the Upstairs | Downstairs urban homestead drama we are portraying here this week. Important question: what accent would you use for that? Egg-lish?


The chicks have gotten quite big. And despite our efforts to keep them close and warm and snuggly in the house for as long as possible, we reached our limits as to just how long we could have their...odors...and our family room. I resisted for a long as possible because our hope with these new chicks is that they will be raised by hand with frequent human contact. So that we would be raising a family friendly flock that was comfortable being in a close and shared space with us here, in our urban backyard.

But it was getting a bit more than we could take inside. The smell, not to mention the interested cats, who needed to be kept upstairs and were not at all happy about this. This particular Upstairs | Downstairs drama, was getting a bit much to maintain.

And so, it was decided. It was time for the chicks to move outside, down to the coop, where there is a heat lamp to keep their small bodies warm. And a fortified enclosure to keep them safe from predators. And safe from our two remaining hens.

These two mature ladies. Raspberry and Dark Hawk. They are the two survivors from a series of sad nocturnal predator attacks. And it is no mistake that they are the ones who survived. They are the surliest, most attitudinal, most likely to defend themselves that we had.
I'm a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess

So contrary was Raspberry that she was deemed a possible rooster, so frisky was her behavior, until we had only her and and Dark Hawk -- a blue egg laying Ameraucana. Suddenly, Raspberry seemed to need to demonstrate her worth to us, and she has gifted us a lovely brown egg each day ever since.

But, there is no doubt that these rough and tumble ladies are going to be difficult to blend with our gentle and immature chicks. And so, arrangements will need to be made. We are going to have to keep them separate, but close, so they can become acquainted, but the chicks will need to be protected from the hens' personalities for some time. Keep the natural pecking order at bay.
I hope you know that really smart people sleep in separate rooms.
Lady Mary Crawley

And so, we carried our chicks down to the coop. Jonathan set them up in the upper section, dubbing them the gentry class, Upstairs. For now.

I tidied up the Downstairs for Dark Hawk and Raspberry. I put in a temporary roost for them for the night time, and gave them fresh bedding and cleaned and filled their waterer and feeder. It was my way of saying sorry, for the inconvenience.

I hoped they would see it this way.
Isobel: You take everything as a compliment.
Violet: I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.
While I was doing this, I needed to kick them out of the coop area for a bit. Because they seemed very interested in the little chicks up above. And so, giving up on their efforts to get into the coop area, they found themselves a cozy spot to watch my nearby antics. On the playground.

I think I heard them chatting. In their Bawk-ney accents of course. Figuring out how this whole blended family thing was going to work. As matriarchs of a new family.

Mrs Isobel Crawley: What should we call each other?
The Dowager Countess: Well, we could always start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham.
I gave the chicks a way to come out of the coop and down to the fenced area.

They were curious, but so far no one has attempted the ramp. I think they will. Very soon.
Robert: They do say there's a wild man inside all of us.
Violet: If only he would stay inside.

But they seem happy out there. Calm and warm.

And so, we moved the hens into their downstairs area.
Violet: Robert, people like us are never unhappily married.
Robert: What do we do if we are?
Violet: Well, in those moments, a couple is 'unable to see as much of each other as they would like'.
They squawked toward the upstairs for a bit. Tried to figure out just where that ramp went that usually allows them to go upstairs. But they calmed themselves down and seemed to be accepting their new locale.
Cora: Are we to be friends then?
Violet: We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.
And we closed them all up for the night.

Thomas: Funny. We're quite a pair, aren't we? We both like to look very sure of ourselves, but we're not so sure underneath, are we?
No doubt, there is a lot of work to do to figure out how these two flocks can coexist. And I am hoping, with some thought and time, that we can make it work.
I believe marriage should be something more than agreeing to share the same house and butler.
Lady Diana Russell

But before that, we have some even more important work to do.
That is the thing about nature: there is so much of it.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess

The hens were giving me a look as I closed them up for the night, dusk settling in. Dark Hawk seemed to be sending me a message.
Mr. Carson: But what does it matter anyway? We shout and scream and wail and cry, but in the end we must all die.
Mrs. Hughes: Well. That’s cheered me up. I’ll get on with my work.
Because during the night, really all night long last night, the downstairs drama continued.
I hate Greek drama... you know... when everything happens off stage.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

As we got the kids into bed, Raspberry alerted us that things were not going as well as hoped.
Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

And Jonathan went down to see what was going on. He found the door to the downstairs area half way open, despite its rather secure and tight fit. The hens chattered screeched and fluttered away at him, and the whole neighborhood really, the whole time.
Is there any way to shut him up?
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

Jonathan barricaded the door with a cinder block and a bungie cord. And came back inside.
Well, we can't have him assassinated...
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

An hour later Raspberry started screeching again, and I went down to find the Downstairs girls upset and frightened. Something rushed away through the underbrush as I approached.
Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

I was armed with my flashlight setting on my cell phone and I heard the creature rush down toward the river.
Is this an instrument of communication or torture?
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess, of a telephone

And so, as an extra layer of protection, we put them in a locked dog crate inside their area. They spent the night that way and safe.
Blake: By the time we got back, we looked like we had been wrestling in mud.
Gillingham: And had you?
Mary: No. We had to leave something for another time.
But today, we have some protecting to do. We are going to install a skirt of fencing around the bottom of the enclosed area. Because clearly there is a creature out there that can dig and open doors.
She's an obstacle to your happiness, dear, and must be removed.
Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess 

And hopefully, that will be enough to keep the predators at bay.
Sir Richard: I doubt we will meet again Lady Violet.
Lady Violet: Do you promise?

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