We have egg-laying chickens at our set of New Brunswick, NJ community gardens. We give most of these tasty, deeply orange-yolked eggs to gardeners who perform extra tasks to keep our sizable common areas looking good. I also pass, to non-gardeners/strangers, some free eggs between strands of barbed wire atop the six-foot-high chain-link fence that separates our garden from a park in a low-income neighborhood where characteristically urban stuff occurs. Several times/week, I go to the park to maintain the city’s separate gardens there, or to play basketball.
Well said as usual! It turns out I've REALLY become cynical because I thought the perpetrators had been human until you revealed the source. I was relieved we haven't yet fallen that far.
As always this article was entertaining and informative.
Yes opossums are strange creatures. How many of their tiny babies can fit in a tablespoon?
When living in FL many moons ago, my very stout unwrinkled Shar Pei (Maya) liked to run ahead of me at night through the back alleys of Hollywood. One night I heard a skirmish and hustled up to discover a giant opossum had my dog’s neck locked in its jaws. Despite Maya’s frantic, ferocious efforts, the crazed critter would not release her. Realizing the gravity of the situation, I stopped a few feet away, took aim and let fly my best Lou Groza style kick to the midsection of the aggressor. The varmint let loose its grip, did three turbulent summersaults, popped onto its feet and started again after Maya, hissing with wicked teeth bared. I grabbed the dog, and we did a 180 out of there, figuring that was a no-win situation.
I’d hate to miss any of your paywalled writings so will have to “cut the neck” off someone else’s stack for which I currently pay. As you know, the cost of chicken feed adds up.
New Brunswick NJ? Home of Rutgers University - the first school in the country to mandate covid vaccines to attend school. Are you sure it was an animal that sacrificed those chickens 🐓 🐔 ?
Charge for your work. Donate some free to introduce people to it from time to time. So, I think you are striking a good balance.
And glad you whacked that varmint. Chickens give much but are defenseless to predators.
Last week I came up from Delaware to 'house sit' my sister's house in the Red Bank area. It's the house we grew up in that my sister now owns. Before coming, I thought about trying to find you but the traffic is terrible now. Nearing three score and 10 years of age, the drive would have been difficult.
In the early 90's, I had an apartment in Somerset which eased the commute to my job in Piscataway and I spent some evenings hanging around spots in New Brunswick. I like that you write about living in the N.B. area as you set the tone for your scamdemic essays, which I look forward to since I first read your work at Brownstone. Thanks, Mark
I think I will subscribe.
So sorry about the chickens! Yes possums can be quite dangerous. I had no idea they were that far north, thought they were a southern plague. My dog and cats make a circle around them, and I have seen them walk up a tree as if on flat ground. And no, you don't want to try if they might bite, with these teeth and these formidable claws, better beware. And they are just in for the kill? I would have thought they would eat their prey!
Good morning Mark. I caught a "possum" in a Have-a-Heart trap 15 years ago as there was something burrowing under the back porch of a property my son and I were "flipping." When I arrived the next morning and saw what it was, I was dismayed I might have killed it, as it was not moving. Then, duh, I realized it was "playing 'possum." I released it into our woods and now I am re-thinking that approach. I had no idea opossums could be so vicious. At any rate, I have decided to subscribe to your Substack writings. Most of us as readers cannot afford to subscribe to all the writers we enjoy but we must give honor and encouragement to the ones we respect. Your essays are honest and straightforward and remind me of my own life having grown up on a farm in northern Virginia. I knew you had much to write Mark. Please have at it! Also, please be so kind as to read my Covid story and let me know what you think. I have more to write but, like Robert Frost, have "promises to keep, and miles to go..."
Wrt to subscriptions, it would be interesting to look at a demographic breakdown of answers to a simple three-to-five-point scale, from 'always pay for content' to 'never pay for content'. My hunch is that you would find those willing to pay heavily skewed towards older 'consumers', perhaps in part because of economic factors but also reflecting pre-digital experiences of paying for print subscriptions, music and other forms of entertainment (on whatever medium). The confound of 'free as in speech' and 'free as in beer' seemed to arise as a side-effect of the ease of distributing and sharing digital formats, which led initially to a culture of (mostly youthful) piracy and ultimately to the modern ad-slinging online business models. In the process, the 'disruption' largely wiped out the mid-level newspaper ecosystem and shifted the revenue stream in the music industry from recordings and royalties to performances and merchandise. For some, the economic devastation of the lockdowns served as a wake-up call that they needed to support the businesses and establishments that they hoped to be able to enjoy in the post-lockdown world, as much out of self-interest as altruism. A similar realization appears to be driving the growth of platforms like Substack, Locals, etc., and we may eventually see more of a bimodal distribution among subscriber bases, with older readers in one spike and the other spike made up of the generation that has come of age in an era where the adage 'you get what you pay for' applies with particular force.
I feel your pain and rage. We have a chicken and a duck flock that we have hand raised and when a predator gets to them it is deeply frustrating. I cry and regret every one of them.
Oh hell! Sorry, Mark, I missed the post that you were charging. Subscription paid. I'm happy to support a worthy cause like buying chickens and keeping one of my favorite writers, writing.
Too bad about your chickens. That truly does suck ... especially for those chickens.
Jerry Clower had some funny stories about possum hunting is southwest Ms, but I've never figured out what they're good for. Sorry about your chicks- maybe the possum you trapped will be the last. Looking forward to your upcoming stories.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your flock. As a backyard chicken owner I know how hard it is to lose precious hens to a predator (and possum’s signature beheadings are particularly gruesome). Fortification of the coop is everything! Sharing eggs with your community is such a joyful gift, and although adding new hens to a flock is an arduous process I hope you will do so.
"I found all five pullets dead, their throats cut. I had found another massacre the morning before. Four of our full-size laying hens had their heads severed."
At first I though it was a ritual sacrifice, but then learned it was an aggressive opossum doing what they instinctively do--slaughter chicks.
As the old saying goes:
"You can take the
boy/opossum out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the
I'm an unpaid subscriber. I fully support your position on paid vs unpaid, and am grateful you will still provide content to me. Newspaper were never free. One purchased a copy of the paper, and put up with the ads. TV news was never free, you watched the ads.