If we were having coffee today I’d be in a confessional mood. Yes, I’d admit, I’ve been feeding the neighbor’s chickens. There is a hole in the fence and for quite a while a few chickens and guinea fowl have been getting out. They wander into our yard all the time.
I’ve never had much experience with chickens. A couple of them had been lurking really close to the house and a couple of months ago I decided to haphazardly throw out some birdseed. Big mistake. The primary culprit is a big Rhode Island Red rooster we call Pepe. If I go outside or if I talk to somebody outside or if I return in the car, I can expect Pepe to come running; really, he RUNS. He knows ME. He usually has a couple of his girlfriends in tow, we call them Beatrice and Henrietta.
For quite a while it was just Pepe and Beatrice. Then Henrietta started hanging around. I ran out of birdseed. I went to a local feed store and inquired about buying some chicken feed. The conversation went like this:
“What kind?” I was asked.
“I have no idea,” I answered.
“You don’t know what kind of chicken feed you need?”
The clerk looked at me like I was insane. Maybe I am. I bought the smallest bag of feed I could, twenty-five pounds. It’s filled in pretty good. Some days we have had as many as four or five chickens and maybe a stray guinea.
Okay, yesterday, Pepe was outside when we left for a doctor appointment. We were running late. He flapped his wings and crowed. “No dice, Pepe,” I told him, “we’re in a hurry.”
I could see him in my rear-view mirror, standing in the driveway and plotting.
When we returned a couple of hours later we could see them. Yes, them. Pepe had been talking and the word was obviously out. My neighbor’s side yard was full of ducks. They were lounging near his carport, some were roosting on his carport roof and even the roof of the house. Now understand, we see his ducks from time to time. Mother ducks often come waddling through our yard, cute ducklings in tow on some sort of field trip. Never have we seen anything like this. And the second I pulled up the driveway they started moving into our yard.
When I first saw them all in total and saw them begin to move, the opening bars of the Ride of the Valkyries started rolling through my mind. I wish I had a video of it because the music would have been a perfect backdrop, especially when the ducks started soaring off the roofs. And yes, from some unseen corner, here came Pepe and the girls too, sprinting over as usual. When all of them finally made the long waddle I counted twenty-two ducks, plus the chickens.
Obviously, we have bitten off more than we can chew. I mean, we don’t feed them a lot. It’s not a meal by any means, more of a snack. My neighbor doesn’t care. They eat bugs in our yard too. I usually pick up a tick or two every month but I haven’t had a tick all summer.
I guess this isn’t the worst of it. Others are waiting in the wings …
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in NC. Kindle versions of his novels THE FEVER and A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP are ON SALE 9/28 and 9/29. http://thefensk.com/spec.html
There are no birds in the novels.