Well everyone, we could talk about Kim Jong Crazy getting the H-bomb. Nope. We could discuss the flooding in Houston. Nope, it’s been covered everywhere by almost everybody. We could talk about how the 173rd Airborne isn’t ready for peer-on-peer combat, according to internal Army documents. Nah, not going there, either.
No, I’m going to discuss chickens. Or rather, what chickens mean for an old soldier trying to come to terms with normal life.
Some six years ago I got back from my last tour and everything was crazy. Lots of drinking, confusion, and bad stuff. I won’t get into details, but it was rough. Add onto that the stress of going through the Army Medical Board, and times were tough. I threw myself into projects on the old house I bought years ago. My family has done a lot of fine-tuning on this old homestead.
Of course, in the midst of all of this, I wrote books, too, and eventually retired.
The whole time I’ve been looking for peace, and I have stayed in contact with other guys who were on my advisor team. One of them was Pete the Ranger, for some of his tales look through older posts below and in the archive.
Well, one day this spring my wife had the idea that we needed chickens for the eggs. I took the idea and ran with it- sometimes I go overboard. That was the case this time. I built them a fancy chicken house and enclosed a part of the lawn. We built perches, feeders, special laying boxes, the works.
The other day I ate my first omelet from their eggs, it was hands-down the most expensive omelet I have ever eaten.
The omelet was delicious.
But my flock was missing something. I was raised on a farm, and one of the things I always enjoyed was seeing a rooster going about his business and crowing. Yeah, I like hearing a rooster crow. It drives some people nuts. I don’t know why, but hey, everyone has their thing.
Well, I’m not the only one who has picked up some animals since returning to the ‘States. Pete the Ranger did too. His collection dwarfs mine, and his son is huge into chickens. So I texted Pete and asked if he had a spare rooster. He did. I got in my car and made a road-trip to his house to see his menagerie.
We used to live in the villages in Afghanistan on tiny combat outposts. The two of us saw a lot of Afghan rural life and it rubbed off on us. When I came home, I felt naked for years because I had no walls around my house with an AK by every window. Well, guys on the team have had a penchant for collecting animals, I guess I’m no different.
Pete took it to new levels. He even bought a donkey. As I stood in his lawn looking at various beasts and drinking a cold one, the clucking of the chickens and the sight of the sad-looking donkey really took me back. Took me back to the dusty villages along those mountain rivers.
Funny how you can collect the sights and smells of a deadly dangerous place, and you can later transform them into an inner peace.
Pete and I have sub-consciously done just that. We came home and created a soldier’s dream. I didn’t think of it until I sat down to type this blurb.
His son gave me a fine looking Easter Egger rooster, my kids named him Texas.
I think I’ll privately call him ‘Stan.
2 thoughts on “A soldier’s dream”
I have always loved hearing stories of how people find peace. Yours is no exception.
My mother is starting to lose her memory, she is a very smart woman (one of the first female computer programmers in Australia) and this distresses her greatly to the point where she gets frustrated and angry knowing that this is happening to her. On Friday she told me that when she is reaching for a word or a memory and she cant quite get it instead of getting angry she retreats to the Bluebell Woods. It’s a place she used to go in her childhood. The local woods when they were alive with bluebells and you could sit under a willow surrounded by bluebells and try to pick out the very few white flowers. I’m sorry this is happening to her but I am glad she has found a way to cope with it.
Thanks for putting that out there, Jason.