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Another Day in the Country

Thankful for squawkers

© Another Day in the Country

We’ve just had ourselves another day of Thanksgiving. What were you thankful for this year?

Was it the fact that you weren’t quarantined and you could have whomever you chose around the table for a sumptuous meal?

Was it, perhaps, that you were feeling good and able to cook or just as lovely (if not more so) to take your seat and tuck your feet under someone else’s table and be surprised at the menu?

My sister and I went once again to visit our cousins Joe and Janet Fike and their kids and grandkids in Lawrence for Thanksgiving.

We were thankful to be invited.

Last year, they all came to Ramona, which was great fun — some of them staying in the Ramona House, some of them staying at my house, and the rest just driving in for the big day.

It seems to be one of nature’s patterns to bring in a serious weather shift around the Thanksgiving weekend.

As the big day approached, I was watching the forecast and saw colder weather and rain predicted and then at least a week of freezing temperatures after the big day.

I watch the weather because I have ducks and chickens to care for. During freezing spells (which can last a few days or a few months in Kansas) it’s a trick to keep them in water — especially the ducks, who delight in splashing water everywhere.

During rain that came at the beginning of the week, the ducks had a heyday in their pen, with mini puddles all over the place.

The white ducks were an especially dirty mess. They drag mud into their water container, which means the poor chickens who have been their housemates are having to drink muddy water all the time.

With winter coming on and cold weather setting in, some changes were in order.

First item on the agenda was getting all the chickens into the same house so the ducks could have a house of their own.

I let the chicken and duck flock out for a little while in my backyard and — wouldn’t you know it — a fox came calling, again.

Neighbors came banging on my front door, “Pat, there’s a fox with one of your hens! We heard the chickens squawking and came running to yell at the fox!”

We headed for the backyard to count the remains.

Two hens were missing. Em found a trail of feathers at the lower corner of the yard.

We shook our heads sadly.

“Doesn’t look good,” I said.

“Maybe they got away and are hiding somewhere,” Jennifer said, “like in the garage?”

I’d had that happen before, but there were no visible, wild, traumatized, hens in the garage.

An hour or so later, however, one of the missing hens was back.

I picked up feathers in the yard and mourned the loss of one free-spirited hen who yelled “Help!” louder than the others and alerted the neighbors across the street.

As the sun waned, I finally was able to get the ducks and chickens safely back into their fenced-in yard.

“Can that be?” I said to myself, counting again. And sure enough, all the hens were back, which is a lesson to all of us to yell like mad when trouble strikes so help can come running.

“It’s time to move this little flock of chickens over to the big house,” I said to my sister. “Let’s do it tonight.”

It was pretty late when we made our way to the little chicken house, hoping all the chickens were asleep.

Jess held a flashlight, and I stepped in and quietly picked up the first hen within reach.

“YIKESYACKSQWACKHELPLETMEGONOW!,”

The hen sent up a racket the likes of which I’d never experienced.

“Wouldn’t you know it,” I said to Jess. “This is the poor gal who was carried off by the fox, and she’s sure that this is a repeat performance.”

I’m supposing that most of you have had the experience of moving chickens in the dark.

You probably predicted that everyone else in the henhouse was now on high alert, and my job to catch chickens was 100% harder, but we finally got them transferred.

The ducks were completely bewildered after all that ruckus in the night, finding no chickens in the little house when they came in to lay eggs the next morning, but they’ll adjust.

Sir Reginald was bamboozled to wake up the next morning and find eight old-lady-hens with minds of their own added to his harem.

It’s just another day in the country, and I hope he’s thankful!

Last modified Nov. 30, 2023

 

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