Teeny Tiny Turkey

I was working from home, upstairs in my office, when I heard the piercing, frantic sound of a baby bird in trouble.  At first I thought the sound was just regular birdsong, as our forests are quite alive with all sorts of trills and tweets and screeches.  But no, allowing myself a second to really focus on the noise was enough to make it clear that somewhere nearby was a baby bird crying for its life.

What’s a girl to do? I couldn’t callously return to my research and ignore the piteous sound. Moreover, I had a every reason to presume that it was partially my fault that the bird was under attack, having introduced one said Junebug, savage huntress feline extraordinare to this avian paradise.  No, I needed to intervene.

Sure enough, the sound was coming from under the deck, and I immediately saw Junebug trotting away with a struggling chick in her jaws.  But it wasn’t a baby songbird, it was a day-old, speckled wild turkey poult.

Junebug dropped the bird right away to meow proudly to me.  The baby took the opportunity to run like crazy, but its choice of direction wasn’t ideal for a successful escape, and it was quickly trapped behind a cooler.  I collected it in no time.  It was miraculously unharmed, other than being utterly terrified.

I already had the components of a chick refuge on hand – a brooder, a heat lamp, chick feeders.  It wasn’t long before the baby was installed in our bathroom, where not but three days ago our Buff Orpington hen Flora had finished a convalescence while being treated for a bad case of chicken lice and anemia.  Seems like a normal thing now, having poultry in the bathroom.  As the fella said to me last week, you know you live on a farm when….

So we have a teeny tiny turkey now.  It’s still alive, and growing. Lettuce and crumbles are its favorites, and it loves a little snuggle up close to your chest where it can burrow in and pretend the cloth is feathers. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it will, and it won’t be Dinner.  Being stole from its mother and mauled by a cat is enough hardship for this little creature’s lifetime. Nope, this here is a Pet Turkey.

tiny turkey

The Life/Work Balance


People talk about having a work/life balance.  A friend who recently graduated from a very progressive graduate program in non-profit management just posted something about it.  It’s a legitimate topic, as I know from personal experience: when your work/life balance is out of whack, bad things happen.  My job was literally killing me. Sure, I was having all kinds of success at work, but in the meantime, I was going to the doctor all the time, gaining weight, having nightmares, crying out of nowhere, drinking wine to get to sleep, drinking coffee to wake up, hemorrhaging money on god knows what.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you claim not to, well congrats.

Anyway, I quit all that.  I took that work/life balance warning to heart.  I quit the deadly job, moved to the country, started raising chickens and bees, growing my food, running in the woods, that sort of thing.

Now I have a new and interesting problem: I have a life/work balance issue.  As in, the arm-wrestling match between life and work is looking to come out decidedly in life’s favor.  Go life!

But what about work?  Okay, caveat being that the life I’ve chosen IS a lot of work (maintaining an old house, a vegetable garden, raising meat and layer chickens, tending bees, preserving and cooking and making everything from scratch) it’s not breadwinning.  But aside from not just being profitable, all the worthy tasks I shoulder into here on the homestead tap into only part of the skills I have worked very hard to acquire in my life.

I AM a homesteader, without a doubt.  But I can’t just walk away from the other very important part of who I am.  I am a lawyer.

And I’m proud of it.  Yeah, that’s right.  See, I’m not the kind of lawyer that (deservedly) features in jokes where Satan, a lawyer, and a pile of poop walk into a bar… I’m not an ambulance chaser or a corporate shill or a politician.  No, I help people.  I mean, I really help people.  Simple, real, frightened people who walk into my office and don’t  know where to begin.  I help victims of domestic violence. I help refugees.  I help the poor who would otherwise get chewed up and spit out.  And I do it by providing big-city lawyering to small town folks at a fraction of what I should charge.

And there’s a lot of work to be done in that department, believe me.

But meanwhile I’ve got the garden to plant and the animals to take care of and the house to tend to and the bread to bake and the cheese to make and the projects to finish.  Oh, and don’t forget to save time to look at the stars and count wildflowers and live in the moment.

ranch spring 1

The gist of it is that I am feeling a bit underwater.  I just recently – out of a real desire as well as serious financial need – dove back into the work thing in a big way.  It’s been quite some time since I’d worked a full lawyer-week (i.e. 50-60 hours at a desk, on the phone, with clients, writing writing writing), but that’s what I’ve been doing.  And what timing! Last year I swore I would make sure to take a month off in April/May so that I could get a real handle on the madness of the winter/spring transition tasks. I should be planting the garden, cleaning out the animal pens, tidying the yard, weeding the flower beds, mowing and weedeating around the house, refinishing the deck, tending the bees, working with my horse…

Instead of doing all that, I’ve been sitting at a desk for hours on end, not even looking out the window.

I guess the lesson is that the tension between life and work, work and life never really ends.  Whether you’re trying to fit in time to travel (god, I wish!) or exercise or read a book, or, like me, trying to maintain a degree of professional success while running (and hopefully enjoying) a homestead, the juggling act seems inescapable.

Rather than get bogged down in the struggle (I must remind myself) it’s better to focus on the highlights. A successful first attempt at raising broiler chickens. An upcoming oral argument in the California Supreme Court.  6 to 8 eggs a day.  A thriving new colony of bees.  Public speaking engagements and community outreach.  An ever-stronger relationship with my fella.  A glorious sunny Saturday and some free time to dig in the garden.  If these are the reasons why I continue to wobble along the life/work tightrope, then I have to say it’s worth it.