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Wednesday, April 15 2020
The Blue Wenches & the  Hammer of Thor

Last spring I succumbed to the temptation to buy chicks at our local Tractor Supply. I bought a dozen Blue Wyandotte chicks (Blue, not Blue-Laced Red) Statistics say that half of those chicks would be girls that would grow to be productive little hens. Screw statistics. I got eight roosters and four hens. 

The roosters were bad. Soooo bad. Within a few months they ended up going to freezer camp where they make great chicken & dumplings. The four hens were soon reliably laying eggs and I forgot how much I hated raising chicks inside the house.  The blue hens joined the rest of the free-range flock which roams the barnyard all day, scratching and pecking to their hearts’ delight. All is great with that system as long as they don’t leave the barnyard or the Livestock Guardian Dogs. Do chickens understand that?  

No. 

Not at all. They leave the barnyard immediately to scratch in the forest. Last summer one of the four blue hens was stolen. We found blue feathers by the pond. I couldn’t get angry at the bobcat, fox, or coyote. The hen was waaaaaay away from the Dogs and the Barnyard. Play by the rules, Chicken. Play by the rules. 

So then there were three. 

These three hens are pretty smart. Wily smart. Have they learned anything from the fate of their sister? 

No. 

They go the exact same place. Hopefully these will at least look over their shoulders a little more often. They do appear to be smarter than the average chicken. Criminal smart, not Einstein smart. 

Every evening the chickens must be locked in their coops. Seven birds in one coop. Three in another. And three blue hens in another. The other chickens dutifully go to bed before dusk (except Berta! This little Speckled Sussex hen waits until the very last drop of daylight.) The three Blue hens are now called The Blue Wenches because they simply refuse to go to bed until dark. 

Enter Border Collies. Mesa and Wyatt have been putting those blue chickens up at night since there were twelve of them. Now that there are only three hens, it’s gotten to be a real chore. The birds have learned skills. Mad skills. They must sit up at night reading books about How to Trick a Border Collie. 

Their first trick was to split into three different directions.

Since there are only two Border Collies this insured at least one bird got away. The next trick was to run underneath the cabin. The next trick was to double back and run for the sheep pens where they can fly up onto pen gates and look down upon confused Border Collies. And if the dogs are successful in getting them cut off before they can get to the sheep pens there is one last trick - the picnic table. 

It’s right in the path to their coop. It’s their last ditch effort to avoid going to bed - hop onto the picnic table and stare down as the dogs stare up like Jedi warriors willing the birds to move.  Guess what! 

Jedi mind tricks don’t work well on chickens. But guess what else! 

Possum, the deaf Australian Shepherd has no Jedi mind tricks. In fact, she has little or no herding skills at all. But she tries. And that’s the important thing. Possum knows the drill. She knows the chickens are supposed to go into the coops at night. So she gets in the way helps every night. Most of the time everyone ignores Possum. I mean, she’s not a Border Collie. 

Hah! 

Possum has the last laugh. 

So while the Border Collies practice futile Jedi mind tricks, Possum bounces in like Thor wielding a hammer. She gives a cute little bounce and a thunder bark. This never fails to startle hens off the table where the Border Collies commence to moving them to the coop. Possum bounces around with a grin, happy that the ball is back in play and the game can resume. 

I put some thought into this yesterday. The Blue Wenches are annoying, but they are sharpening the dogs’ skills. Wyatt is learning patience and to think outside the box. Mesa is learning to give an inhibited bite to get some respect. And we are all learning that Possum doesn’t have to be a Border Collie to be some help around here. She brings other skills to the table, and Possum makes us think. She never fails to teach me life lessons.

Sometimes you can stare and study the puzzle of life like Bobby Fischer playing chess and you get nothing. Sometimes it takes a bounce and bark, a shake of the board, a flip of the table, and the game resets itself. 

Maybe that’s what this pandemic is about. Maybe it’s a shake of the board, a flip of the table, a bounce, a bark, a chance for a reset.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Comments:
Some place there is a list of roles for everyone and everything. Possum may have more on her list than you have seen.
Posted by Michael Samsel on 04/15/2020 - 12:47 PM
Possums got skillz! BCs need to stand back and take notes.
Posted by Virginia Gilmore on 04/15/2020 - 12:57 PM
Hilariously and beautifully written. The strike through and re-phrasing made my snort my lemonade! Well done.
Posted by Donna Black on 04/15/2020 - 02:24 PM
I so love your writing.thank you for sharing.
Posted by Joy Elliott on 04/27/2020 - 06:13 PM

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Red Feather Ranch, Failte Gate Farm
Email:   sheri@sheridanrowelangford.com  failte@farmfreshforensics.com

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