I’m so lucky that both the barn cats we adopted four years ago turned out to be the kind that love humans. Emmie is a little stand-offish when her “brother” is present and she hisses at him to make it clear that he is not welcome to share in the attention. Mickey is oblivious, though, and is right there winding between my feet and rubbing against my ankles when I come to the barn.
We had a sunny day last week and I went out to prune the peach tree. As I walked around it, nipping at the branches that did not conform to the upside-down umbrella configuration, Mickey surprised me by leaping straight up into the cradle of the tree and staring me down. He has that tiger-stare all figured out. All he wants is to be picked up to cuddle into my shoulder.
The chickens are another story. We had gone almost two months with no eggs at all, and I decided to do something about it. I’d already tried every trick I could find to get them back on track, but I was feeding, watering, and cleaning up after 20 birds with nothing in return.
I finally put an ad out on Craig’s list – Hens that have stopped laying, FREE. I do not have what it takes to slaughter an animal, but if someone takes them off my hands, I was prepared to not think about what would happen next. Sure enough, I got an email the next day and an enthusiastic guy arranged to come and pick up the seven I was offering. (They were the ones I had never named, so I guess that really does make a difference.) The night before he came, I captured all of them and put them in a caged area by themselves, covered overnight to stay warm. I didn’t sleep well, worrying about them out there separated from their flock.
The next day, the guy quit communicating altogether and I got irritated. I had put in all that emotional energy and physical effort for nothing. I dismantled the cage and gave them a reprieve. Now, interestingly, I’m beginning to get eggs! They are brown and white ones, most likely from the hens who were on the edge of being exiled just a couple days ago.
What’s the moral to this story? Maybe: Why did the chicken lay the egg? … To stay off the dinner table.