Home > Trip > Dispatches > Local Dispatches > Local Dispatch #60

February 4, 2012: Nimby

Yesterday began with a phone call from Pete saying that the flights going out of Juneau had been cancelled because of high winds. Hearing this, I told him to enjoy the day off. Deep down, I was cursing, for overnight we’d gotten yet another large dumping of snow – I’d say about eight inches. Most of it fell as I was going to and from school. I slid around, trying as best I could to stay focused on the road, the traffic, the weather. I at least temporarily shelved the fact that I’d left a hypothermic chicken in her coop. I didn’t want to leave her there. I knew that Nimby was in the coop. I’d known this for a day. I’d


found her there on Thursday evening. I’d hoped that she would climb up the Astroturf ramp, into the roost, where her buddy, Henny Penny Palin, was hanging out.

Friday morning, I went to check on her and saw that she was in the same place as the night before. She is a white chicken, still, she looked kinda pale. Her eyes had also lost their usual spark. I foresaw that it would take more time than I had to dig out the outside door to the coop. So I left her. Of course, I felt terrible about this – I do not neglect my animals.

I made it to school okay. I taught my animal behavior class. This centered around the stories the students have to tell. So I didn’t mention that I was worried about Nimby. And after class, I attended a new adjunct orientation. I was to watch a Power Point Presentation on safety procedures. I looked out the window just once – the image on the screen before me, resembled the image on the far side of the window. Inside, outside: cars, snow, more snow.

Visibility was low as I pulled out of the Mat Su College parking lot. I managed to get behind a plow truck on Trunk Road, which was good, because cars in the adjacent lane were fishtailing. And I made it just fine to the gas station, where I went to fill up the tank. Oh Oh – the lock on the gas tank door had frozen. A kindly fellow offered to let me use a tube of De-icer, but it was empty. I so very badly wanted to tell him about Nimby, but he quickly drove off. This was probably a good thing, because time was of the essence.

I fishtailed, and wove back and forth the entire way home, all the while keeping my eye on the gas tank monitor, which indicated that the tank was about empty. I distinctly remembering that I now had two things to worry about. The first was that my vehicle might run out of gas. And the second was that my chicken might die. However, Sputnik kept chugging along.

Nimby. Her full name is Not In My Backyard – this is the name for environmentalists who protest having coal mines in their backyards. The name was and is fitting for this chicken. She doesn’t need to be breathing coal dust.

A mile from home, on Murphy Road, a neighborhood moose trotted along ahead of me – this was a distraction from the matters at hand.

I pulled into the driveway, and Sputnik, as if breathing its last, gave up the gas ghost.

I got out of the truck, and ran up to the chicken pen. Nimby was where she’d been previously – she looked about the same. I grabbed the shovel, and got the gate open, and put her in the roost. I still could not tell if she was going to make it or not. Then I did all the other chores, heating the wood stove, getting water ready to give to the animals, doling out hay, and picking up the top layer of manure in horse pen.

Then I had to go to Carol’s farewell party. My neighbor Judy picked me up. By this time, I was really hungry, for I hadn’t eaten all day. In fact, I was dazed and until I ate, not even able to talk. All evening, I stayed mum about my day and about Nimby. Aubrey, who had come with Judy and I to the party, left early, so Judy and I rode home with another neighbor. I arrived home and discovered that the plow truck had left a berm that blocked off the driveway in its wake.

Nimby still looked off, so I added extra bedding, gave her and Henny Penny Palin warm water, and an oatmeal bread mash. Both ate voraciously. I thanked my lucky stars that Nimby was out of the danger zone.

I write this all for a reason. When around others, I try as best I can to remain mum about my animals, and their sometimes varying condition, because I don’t want to be seen as someone who is totally animal-centered. And, well, Nimby is JUST a chicken. People routinely kill and eat chickens by the thousands. I also suspect that few would understand if I elaborated, and said that this particular bird is different than most for she often brightens my day. For example, when I go to clean the roost, she sits on the garbage can and chatters away happily. And in good weather, she follows me around. I’m always in a better mood after spending time in her presence.

In his 2/4/12 blog, Jon Katz did a nice job of summarizing my sentiments about animals. He writes “animals touch something very deep and powerful within us. They remind us of our humanity, of the love and emotional connection and empathy that underlies the human experience.” To this I might add, that if and when this idea becomes commonplace, it will then be okay to publicly express one’s concerns about the supposed lowliest of the lows – a hypothermic chicken.”

Next: 61. 2/5/12: Hope Springs Eternal