Category Archives: Menlo Park


The coyote was limping, just slightly, and one could barely tell when she sprinted straight at me, veering away and down the street.  I was standing about three house down from ours, just before I was leaving for work.  Mari had told me there was a coyote on our street, which was strange, even though we are between the Santa Cruz River and Tumamoc Hill.  The river being mostly a dried wash except in big rains, and Tumamoc being wide open and closed to people except for the road in the early mornings and evenings to walking and running.  Still, we were only a mile from downtown Tucson, and in my mind it was only a depressing omen that a coyote was on the streets.  After veering away from me, the coyote slowed to a trot and proceeded to the west of our house.  I watched until I could not see her anymore and then waited, not knowing why, but somehow feeling more of the intruder than she.

Two mornings ago I was standing at the back of my yard checking on my chickens and surveying the large empty lot behind the house that may one day be the sight of a new FBI building (oh joy), when I noticed a red tail hawk skimming the wild grasses in search of breakfast.  For a second it headed directly towards me in the fresh morning air, only to turn to my right and float up and over the mesquite trees that separate our houses from the open lot.  Evidently the lot was not serving breakfast.  I had little concern for my chickens, as even if the hawk did see them through the shade cloth, it would take some serious effort to break through into the chicken palace, not to mention hoist one of our well-fed hens up and out.  The hawk flew past my view to the south, eyes scanning for furry morsels in the paved reaches of Tucson.

When I first moved into my house, nearly two and a half years ago, there was a roadrunner that frequented the backyard, poaching lizards off the walls of my shed in the morning sun.  He once came within 5 feet of me, before deciding I had nothing juicy to offer and continued on.  While I haven’t seen my flightless friend in the backyard for some time it is not uncommon to see one or two in the wash down the road.

It is a mixture of blessing and sadness for me, these sightings so close to home.  When I saw the coyote on my street, I briefly thought the landscape of New York City in the movie “I am Legend” or the recent book, “The World Without Us”, both evoking a reality where nature takes over all the artificial landscaping we’ve been constructing for centuries and wildlife returns.  Having a special place in my movie-going-heart for zombie and end of the world flicks, I must admit there was a certain part of me that felt like I was seeing a flash of the future as the coyote disappeared around the corner.  Then it was gone.

Generally predators don’t find their way into cities unless their habitat is destroyed or severly encroached upon.  At the same time, there is probably something to be said about the intentional habitat building within city limits to make our neighborhoods and communities more in line with what naturally grows in the Sonoran desert, and more inviting to its longstanding inhabitants.  Though believing that Tucson has attained some level of ecological balance and friendliness is simply foolish, at least for the moment.  I certainly hope the coyotes can manage without scouring our cities, but on the other hand they are scavengers and what better place to scavenge than at back doors of our consumerist culture of waste and overabundance.  Either way, they are beautiful animals.  But they better stay away from my chickens.  I think that’s only fair.


New chickens!

So for the last week or so we have repeatedly had to catch and release our neighbors recently flight able chickens that prefer the shaded, vegetated, backyard of our house over the empty, dirt parking lot of a backyard that the neighbors, complete with yapping, undersized and overaggressive dogs. No wonder. Today Riley and I caught them and kindly imprisoned them in some remaining chicken wire and cardboard with water and snacks until I could talk with the neighbors. As there was no place at the neighbors to keep them from escaping to the shaded paradise of our yard, this was really the only option.

The conversation was quick and to the point. They don’t know what to do with them, and do I want them? Well seeing as I have a chicken palace of sorts in the backyard and I wouldn’t want the egos of Hayduke and Cracker to bloat any more than they already have, adding three new chickens to the mix seems convenient and the easiest way for all of us to live in relative harmony. So now we have three juvenile chickens who are attempting to keep their relative distance from the other original fab five of the backyard and of course gorging themselves on the overabundance of feed. In short time they will be fat I am sure.  And if either of them turn out to be a rooster, then we will have chicken for dinner.  I’ll keep you posted.

The two new chickens that appear to be of the Americauna breed – kind of a mut of the Araucana and other breeds.  The other one (not pictured) seems to be a mix of Rhode Island Red and maybe something else.

Making herself comfortable in the hen house.

The difference in size is quite noticeable between Hayduke and the little one in the back right.

The Inside Coop #1

Let us begin a new chapter in the Chicken Diction library of knowledge so that we may further educate all the faithful readers of this holy book of fowlish lore…The Inside Coop. After hearing the cries of the local masses I am giving you what all of you want: a probably-weekly but definitely-regular update of the goings-on of life in the near famous backyard of Menlo Park.

1. The chickens have survived the freezes quite well, however Cracker decided to go on a very long sabbatical from egg laying. Fortunately she has come round as of today.

2. One of the Araucanas got loose on Sunday, which was not anywhere near as exciting as one would have expected or even hoped for as he was writing a blog about such an event. It appears that the chicken aviary has become quite a fulfilling home for the five feathered friends in the back, as she hustled right back in as soon as I could manage to open the door and chase her in.

3. Most exciting was what I found in the chicken house today…

…Granted, we hadn’t checked for two and a half days.

Tragedy continued.

Well they identified the young man who was shot and killed near my house. Manuel Fimbres-Moreno was 26. He will always be 26. I did not know Manuel – at least that I know of. But I am terribly saddened by his murder and cannot begin to imagine the pain of his family.

They arrested someone on suspicion of killing him. The kid they arrested is 21. Certainly it is not proven that he is responsible, but undoubtedly prison is in his future given the broken beyond repair system of injustice. For me it is simply a furtherance of a terrible tragedy. But this time, more than ever we will be complicate in what takes place as the tax payer funded “justice” system will do everything possible to ensure that no rehabilitation will ever take place.

Are we now safer that a young man will spend years in prison learning how to be more violent, less feeling, possibly drug addicted, and completely removed from his family? And when he returns to our community (96 percent of all Arizona prisoners do) will he have any better idea how to positively impact the people around him? Or will he be hardened, broken, and lacking any real understanding of what responsibility would actually mean in a situation like this? Will he ever have a chance at anything different than just that? These are questions I ask myself, but are never asked when laws are passed and people punished. Whatever happens to this young man, will we as a community be better for the judgment that is made on his life? I am positive we will not. This makes the tragedy of last Wednesday evening even that more horrendous.

Tucson police identify man who was fatally shot last week…

Local food you should eat.

For all of you in Tucson and looking for a little incentive to visit a local farmer’s market, here is a fabulous little clip that aired on Channel 12 about the Santa Cruz River Farmer’s Market about five blocks north of my house and the University Farmer’s Market. They are just some of the many gems here in the downtown area of Tucson. Hopefully you can find the chance to make it to one or the other of these places. Oh yeah, Mari and I happen to be on a few of the clips at the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market…


Last night an unidentified young man was was shot and killed on the street about four houses down from mine. It happened right after Riley and I left for ultimate frisbee practice. Mari heard at least five shots. No one knows who this person is, nor who shot him, other than he drove away in a white truck. I’m not sure what to say about this other than it is a tragedy. This morning I walked down the street and lit a candle by the blood stains in the road. That is all I can think to do right now. But somewhere, a young man didn’t come home last night, and another has blood on his hands. I guess we all do in some way. So please, take a moment, and do something thoughtful, something kind.

“Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas

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