Friday, July 29, 2011
At the Hen House
The Tree Hugger and I drove to our cabin in Ohio last weekend. Halfway through our nine-hour drive, the temperature hit 103.
No threatening tornadoes during the weekend, as we'd had in June. Just several end-of-the-world rainstorms. On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Roman's house. Roman is the Amish man who built our cabin six years ago. A falling branch ripped a hole in the cedar siding last February, cracking the wallboard and knocking a kitchen cabinet askew. After assessing the damage, Roman sent an estimate to the insurance company. The check arrived just before we left for Ohio. We needed to tell him about it, but he has no phone. So we stopped at his farm.
Roman's family was about to have a cookout to celebrate Gary's birthday. Gary is their "English" neighbor. He, or more often, his answering machine, takes messages for Roman. Roman also uses Gary's phone for occasional calls. Roman was in the shower. Two small boys, each pushing adult-size mowers, were cutting the grass. One of the girls had just laid a rack on the grill, which was ready for dozens of hamburgers. Esther, Roman's good-natured wife, chided her duaghter gently for placing the rack upside down. Then she said, "Oh, well, I guess we'll just use it like that."
While Phil was waiting to talk with Roman, I watched ten or eleven red hens strut around in their grassy pen, pecking at bugs. The air was heavy. Three little brown birds flew out of a small opening at the base of the hen house. Could any of these plump dowagers squeeze through that narrow door? What would happen if they panicked and all tried to get in at once? Lightning was flashing in the sky and thunder was muttering in the distance. Suddenly, directly overhead, BOOM!
One of the larger hens registered a brief look of surprise. She stopped pecking, stood upright, elongating her neck. Her beady eye widened momentarily. The others kept on pecking. There was no hoped-for squawk!, no scramble for the henhouse. What a disappointment!
Then it was time to go. All eight of Roman and Esther's well-behaved children lined up quietly on the porch, watching us drive away. We were a few miles down the road when the cloudburst hit. I wonder what the chickens did then.