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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chickens and Woman Play Games

Day One
She has them and I want them… henfruit , otherwise known as eggs. The basic conflict between womankind and chickenkind plays out every day at HomePlace.
            The day’s offering rests in the nest box, but some seem to be missing. The chickens’ opening gambit is to hide eggs in a corner of the pen. The pen is only three-and-a-half feet tall. I can’t go in after the eggs, so I need to use a “grabber”, one of those sticks with pinchers on one end  to reach through the fence. Cantankerous chickens lay as close to the fence as they can. The finer wire close to the ground blocks the “grabber’s” reach. While I manipulate grabber  around, the rooster lines up for a cheap shot at my hand. His favorite bite is the spot between my index finger and thumb—oh, so very tender! Shaking my hand in pain, one eye on the rooster, I find a stick and use it like a pool cue to knock the egg away from the fence. Finally I close the pincers around the egg, lift and… “plop!” The egg falls from the pincers. “Oh, hot ham!” I shout. Or something similar. Repeat the process until I get the egg threaded through the fence. Helene—1, chickens— 0.
            While I’m angling for eggs, another hen plants herself over the clutch of eggs in the box. Her beak is facing out, and murder shines in her beady orange eyes. I have to open the pen door to get her off the nest. She growls in warning (yes, chickens growl), and the rooster rushes up to help. Already wounded, I wave the grabber menacingly in his face. He strikes at it with spurs, so I give him a mighty shove while I knock the top off the nest box. Glove on one hand I reach toward the hen to dislodge her. She pecks me smartly on the wrist just above the glove. “Ow! Schmidt!” I squeal. Helene—1, chickens —1.
I retreat to the house, arm myself with tasty kitchen scraps, and return to battle. I push the scraps through the fence into a far corner, open the gate again, and snatch up the eggs before the foul creatures finish their snack. I think I deserve a point for each egg, which would net me seven points. Hubby says that’s cheating.  Helene—2, chickens —1.  I am the winner for the day! I cheer myself loudly and go for a band-aid.
Day Two
Toting the egg basket, I return to the arena. I look into the nest box and shriek,” Ham, ham, ham!” Defiant chickens glare as I look at shards of eggshells in the box. They ate them!!! They ate my eggs!” Chickens get a penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior. I clean out the remains and stomp to the house.
I select an egg from the fridge, tap a hole in each end, and blow the contents out into a bowl. I apply a waterproof  band-­aid adhesive to the larger hole, and grab a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce I fill the egg, and apply the other half of adhesive to seal the egg bomb.  Back to the pen I go. I wear a malicious smile as I place the egg into the nest box.” Go ahead girls, eat my egg!” I say.
I retreat to my lawn chair to watch and wait. I wanna know, do I get points or a penalty ? What do you think?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Deer Season Equals Lost Sleep

As my son and friends readied for deer hunting season, I dreaded my upcoming loss of sleep. I don’t hunt, but I do have several important functions to help stock both family freezers with venison.
The first day of the season, the phone rings at 4:00 a.m. “Mom, we’re on our way!” My son carols when I pick up.

       “Urf?” I whimper.

“Mom? Mom, are you awake?” he asks. Silly boy, I think. I’m vertical and clutching the phone two hours earlier than usual and haven’t had my coffee.

“Yeah,” I sigh. ”I’m up. C’mon out.”
I start the coffee and grab some dog snacks. My first job is to keep Bear-Dog quiet. I see the lights of the truck turn into the drive and I leap (stumble) to the door with snacks. I’m astounded at the decibels Bear can produce; deep, booming barks that originate from his toenails.
The deer will scatter if he gets started, so I stand next to him on the porch, garbed in my ratty sleep shirt, stuffing him with treats. Truck parked, the boys and grandkid of the day check in, exchange the news, and steal off to the deer blind. I stuff seventy pounds of protesting dog into his crate. He thinks our morning walk is starting early, rateand takes the hunkered down stance of dog-stubborn. He follows the handful of treats I toss into the crate and I slam the door shut. I drape an army blanket over it and tell Bear to hush, wishing I had my own crate and blanket; yearning to retreat back to bed.
Coffee is ready, so I pour an extra-large cup and search for something besides infomercials on TV at 4:30 in the a.m. Yeah, right! I can’t go back to bed; my work is not done. Cats draped over my legs and shoulder, I sip java in my recliner while I wait for the flash of light from the deer blind. The light signals a grandchild on the way to the house.  Back out to the porch to silence the dog again.

Grandson “Spud” is an active child, and the hunters need a break from what my husband refers to as a reprise of “Sponge Bob’s Greatest Hits.” Bless a talker. We select a movie and Spud entertains me with family tales his father wishes he’d left untold. Always infothe child; he’s quite rmative and very entertaining!

When Spud gets bored with his Nana, I call his dad’s cell phone to tell him Spud is on the way back to the deer blind. Later in the morning after the deer bed down, the hunters return to the house to share leftover baggie omelets and blow by blow descriptions of the day’s “hunt.” By this point I’m totally awake.

We repeat every weekend as necessary, until someone gets a deer.  Earlier would be best, or I’ll have to drag myself from the bed every weekend for the rest of the season. I’ve found nothing is as determined as a deer-less hunter, but Momma needs her sleep!