on chickens and place

I’ve moved 19 times since September 1995.  Yes, I counted.  That’s more than one move per year.

[For all you detail-oriented people out there who care about definitions, I count a move as any significant relocation into a new apartment/condo/house, storage unit, and/or 8-week or more research trip to France.   I suppose the latter shouldn’t really count, but going to France requires a lot of planning on both the France side (apartment rental, money, passport, letters for archives, not to mention research plans, etc.) and the U.S. side (utilities, bills, etc.), so it almost feels like a move.  But if you are wondering, there were 4 extended research trips to France in that list of 19.]

The most intense period of repeated moves was between September 1995 when I started graduate school and December 2003 when I moved to Bozeman, Montana to take my first tenure-track job.  I basically moved at the beginning and end of every academic year.  Plus a random apartment move and the four extended research trips to France thrown in there.

Some moves were across town.  Others were across the country.

Some moves were for work.  Others for love.  Still others for pragmatic reasons.

Some of the boxes have moved with me from the beginning.  Seriously.  I still have several boxes from that first move from Seattle to Stanford!

Non-academics often think academics have very cushy lives: summers off [cue the laugh track], teaching “only” two classes a semester [more laugh track], trips and conferences abroad, and so on.  It’s true that there are many, many privileges that come with academic life.

An itinerant life is not one of them.

It was significant, then, when I adopted Biscuit, my now 10.5-year old cat a month after I moved to Bozeman.  I hesitated–a lot.  I didn’t know how long I would be in Montana.  I knew I needed to go back to France to do more research.  Going abroad would be more complicated, now with a condo but even more so with a pet.  It would be expensive and tricky.

In January 2004, I talked to my friend Sarah one day and told her I was thinking about adopting a cat from the SPCA in Bozeman, but I was a bit hesitant to do so.  She basically said, just do it!  If you want a cat, adopt one!  I’m so glad that listened to her and I think Biscuit is, too.  (Thanks, Sarah!)

Animals alter place and places are altered with animals.  Biscuit is part of the reason why I’ve taken shorter trips to France since 2003.  But adopting a nonhuman also signals a commitment to a place: being there, making it a home.

We didn’t end up staying in the Bozeman area as long as we expected [cue another move], but Biscuit came with us, of course.  Now, on the heels of the latest move, we are getting to know a new place.

This move and this place are supposed to be different from all the others.  As Ron said to me in late June when we were suffering from endless 12-hour days of packing/schlepping/moving in 85-degree heat and humidity, “This is supposed to be the last move.”  [insert black humor about retirement homes and graves here]

White Pine Farm is intended to be our home for a good long time.  We’ve invested in the land and the place.  Of course, we’ve literally invested in it ($$$).  But we’ve also invested in it in other ways.  From planting the orchard and the garden to managing invasive species.  From building the driveway and garage to setting up compost piles that will decompose, turn, and fertilize our garden for years to come.

And, part of that investment is picking out the newest members of the farm last weekend: three 10- to 12-week old hens, which I have, probably for better and for worse, named Caroline, Daisy, and Ella.

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One Response to on chickens and place

  1. Wishing you the best with your new blog!

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