Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was hoping by this time to announce to the blogosphere the birth of a brood of baby peachicks at Andalusia. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to do so. More than a month ago we noticed one of the hens sitting on a clutch of eight eggs. Since we didn't wish to count our (pea)chickens before they were hatched, we resisted the temptation to post anything about it on the blog, website, or Facebook. We were, nevertheless, pretty excited about this prospect and planned to hand out candy cigars in the gift shop once the birds were born. A couple weeks ago I went out to the aviary while the hen was off the nest and counted only four eggs. Where did the others go, I wondered? Not wanting to disturb the nest or alarm the mother I chose not go into the coop for a closer look. The same thing happened again last week, only this time there was only one egg left. On Monday morning when I went out to feed the birds, I was able to go into the coop and have a look around. This time the nest was empty. I dug around in the straw to see if, perhaps, the sole surviving egg had been moved. There were no signs of it anywhere. What could have happened? The aviary protects our birds from all predators - except one. Snakes.

An email to one of our visitors, a man who raises peafowl, confirmed what we had suspected all along. According to him, only a snake would eat an egg and not leave behind any shell remnants. Moreover, the culprit(s) had to be pretty large - at least in the 41/2 to 5 foot range - in order to unhinge their jaws wide enough to down a peacock egg. This good man also gave us some recommendations for preventing a similar outcome in the future.

Despite the violence in the aviary, I am happy to report that none of our birds was harmed. Indeed, they seem happier than ever munching on the parrot treats we bought them in the wake of this rather disturbing incident.
- Mark

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fabulous Feat

With our eighteen visitors from the Atlanta Girls School this morning we surpassed the 4000 mark in yearly attendance for the first time in the Foundation's history. We have now had more than 22,000 visitors tour Flannery O'Connor's home in the seven years Andalusia has been open to the public. It is quite a feat considering that we're a bit off the beaten track. In a letter to her agent, O'Connor once quipped, "The only way to get here is by bus or buzzard." (Habit of Being, p. 77) Nevertheless, O'Connor fans by the score manage to find us and never fail to be captivated by the farm home of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. We thank all of you who have made the trek to Andalusia and hope you'll come back again.
- Mark

Friday, August 13, 2010

Champion Sugarberry

Anyone who has walked the nature trail at Andalusia can't help but be impressed by the majestic trees on either side of the path. Even on the hottest summer day - and believe me we've had a bunch of them this year - the shade trees along Lower Tobler Creek provide welcome relief from the sun. One of these trees - a 92' Sugarberry - was named this week by the Georgia Forestry Commsion as the largest of its species in the entire state of Georgia. While we don't have a blue ribbon to nail into the trunk, we are nonetheless proud of our Sugarberry.
- Mark

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scraggly Squawkers

'Tis the season for birds of all feathers to lose their plumage. The peafowl at Andalusia are no exception. During the last week I have been raking up feathers by the wheelbarrowful. The male is looking especially scraggy these days with only a couple feathers from his once regal train now sticking out at odd angles. Seeing our birds this scruffy reminds us that they have now been living happily in captivity at Andalusia for a year. When we got the birds last August, they were molting as they timidly adapted to their new environs. I am happy to report that they are now thriving.

Just arrived in our gift shop...the 2010 edition of The Flannery O'Connor Review ($15.00). In this beautifully edited journal be sure to check out the review of Lorraine Murray's new book, The Abbess of Andalusia. Murray's much-in-demand account of Flannery O'Connor's spiritual journey is also available for purchase in the gift shop ($16.95).

Last but not least...birthday wishes are in order for Andalusia's executive director, Craig Amason, who passed the half-century mark August 4th. Happy Birthday, Craig!
- Mark

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A birthday of a different order

Today marks the 46th anniversary of Flannery O'Connor's death. Many visitors to Andalusia mistakenly assume that the author died in her bed at the farm. The truth is that O'Connor died at Baldwin County Hospital in the very early hours of August 3, 1964. In February of that year the author had an operation to remove an enlarged fibroid tumor. Unfortunately, this procedure reactivated her lupus and she began to decline rapidly. The last time Flannery felt well enough to receive visitors was on July 25th when her friends Mary Jo Thompson and Fannie White of the Sanford House stopped by Andalusia with food from the restaurant. Flannery got up from her sick bed, dressed, and sat out on the porch in a rocking chair and visited for a short while. By the following week, Flannery O'Connor was extremely ill and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance on the morning of July 29th. The next Sunday, as her kidneys began to fail, she received the Eucharist and was administered last rites by Abbot Augustine Moore of Holy Spirit Monastery. Shortly after midnight, she slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. on August 3rd at the age of thirty-nine. Her funeral mass was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church the following day.

Last March we celebrated what would have been Flannery O'Connor's 85th birthday. We had a party at Andalusia in her honor complete with birthday cake and the mayor of Milledgeville came out to the farm to proclaim March 25th Flannery O'Connor Day. Today, August 3rd, we celebrate an event of a different order: Flannery O'Connor's heavenly birthday. Requiescat in pace.
- Mark