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I was in the shop and had the old hay truck in the ER. The oil was changed and the grease gun was delivering all the special juice needed to keep the thing together when I heard the car come to a screeching halt on the gravel. Of course and always, I bumped my head hard as I jumped to look toward the door.

My close relative was there, face red and that look of exasperation on her face. She stepped quick toward me and I knew something was sure amiss in the region of her happiness!

I was wiping my hands as I hurried toward her, and the first word I heard was chickens. Something about the chickens, her personal flock of fine laying hens that have been giving us those free eggs.

She was certainly upset. The tone of her lecture was sorta like something a prison warden would use if a threat of riot was suspected and I was the ringleader. No, I did not know some varmint had made a hole in the wire and I did not know Old Dog did not protect her precious hens. And no, I did not hear something causing a ruckus in the night or wake up from my deep sleep to wonder about the gentle hens.

I took hold of her shaking shoulders and walked her back to the car, reached in and turned off the motor and closed the door. She would have wrecked it or driven through the garage in her state, so I edged her toward my pickup and helped her in. Not one tear, not one act of helplessness was evident, just deep anger!

The time of this great incident was about midmorning, time of the day when a feller's done a lot of the morning chores and his breakfast is still holding on but not for much longer. The exact time a dutiful close relative would begin to plan the midday meal and maybe fire up the oven! I drove slowly toward the new and costly chicken coop, dreading what I knew was gonna be the mess of feathers and other avian leftovers.

The hens I could see were fine and working on the grain in the feed bin. What I expected was not what I saw, and now I was sure wondering what the heck was going on. Old Dog was sniffing around the edges like he did every day, and my close relative's lips were pursed so tight her face was white around her mouth. I got out and, finally, at the other side of the coop, saw a pile of feathers and a very dead possum.

Looked like the possum had gotten in and took the hen out, then got caught and beaten to death by the murder weapon lying on the grass next to the bodies. The shovel handle was cracked, the spade was covered with what appeared to be chicken or possum blood, and I was relieved to see all else seemed fine. Dog was happy to see the possum, proceeded to bark and do his business like a dog and finally grab the carcass and shake it.

It is my opinion, and everyone has one, when your partner or your partner's belongings are threatened by the vile critters of the wilderness, you move with great haste to remedy the problem. I quickly marched to the toolbox on my truck and got out a hammer and some baling wire and proceeded to completely mend the hole. I kicked around the dirt so the dent the nasty chicken killer made in the ground was once again flat and no sign of the tragedy was evident. The member of the flock so violently abused was placed into an otherwise empty feed sack and we drove on toward the house. I suggested we run up to the local diner for hamburgers since it was so close to noon and she just nodded and proceeded to go to change clothes.

Another day in the romantic life of the beef producer!

Bill is the pen name of the Gravette area author of this weekly column. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 08/14/2019

Print Headline: You better take action when a critter invades the hen house

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