One flew the coop

It’s dark in my little corner of the county. Dark enough to see a litany of stars and constellations. Dark enough to have to use a flashlight and the protection of my Queensland Heeler, Izzy, on the cold dash to the barn when I forget to turn the lights out. Every few days, I’ll roll over in the middle of the night and wake just enough to notice the deep black outside my bedroom window, marveling at the fact that I actually embarked on this adventure.

A few months ago, I decided to tackle the dream I had long put on hold – living out in the country. Owning livestock. Raising my children with an appreciation of the land and the beauty that grows from it. I was living in the city, in an adorable WWII-era home two blocks from my ex-husband, which was close enough to be convenient for swapping the kids to and fro, but also close enough to be a little¬†too¬†close. It was perfect for that first year of adjustment – for all of us – but as I reconnected with my independence, I felt a tug toward a quieter life, devoid of the sound of police cars speeding down the heavily-trafficked corridor that flanked my neighborhood. Then the gears started clicking into place. A tumultuous relationship ended. My career shifted unexpectedly and I secured a wonderful job in the heart of the state capital. I found the perfect house, nestled on a four-acre ranch in a rural town where there’s two restaurants, one hardware store, a feed store and a lone watering hole with a generous jukebox. My kind of town.

One door had shut, but two doors had opened. Nudge nudge, a voice whispered, take the leap.

Most mornings, I pad down the cold tile floor of my house, hit the brew button on my coffeemaker and watch the sun rise up over the barn. When I open the sliding glass door to let my dogs out into the yard, we’re often met with the gobbling of wild turkeys foraging in the pasture. About once a week, I’ll spot Peter, the peacock who runs in their gang, his magnificent tail dragging along through the rocky, dusty terrain. Lessons come in all forms here, from the impact of freezing temperatures on water tank pressure to the beauty of hearing children’s laughter above the whinnying of distant horses. There’s a take-no-prisoners approach to bugs and my children are, for some reason, enthralled with D-Con and its, ahem, attributes. In a little more than a week, we’ll add two baby goats to our fold. As the cold grip of winter releases her hold a bit, five chickens will come to roost in the coop that my parents built with reclaimed wood and imagination.

Welcome to Blackbird Ranch, where, like the Beatles tune it was named for, there is light in the dark black night. I was only waiting for this moment to arise.

Sunrise over the barn