Five-fifteen a.m. and I'm sweating like a horse, feeling like I've already done a day's work. Opening one eye as I rolled over at three-thirty this morning, I had the idea that one end of dark is as good as another to transfer the pullets over to the big house. It's not dark at night until after nine o'clock and by that time the thought of one more chore is one too many. Bessie Anne thumped her tail a couple of times from her side of the bed as I got up and got dressed, and murmured, "Knock yourself out, Mom...I'm sleeping in." A quick cup of coffee and I was good to go. Sixteen times I crept into the pullet pen. Sixteen times I grabbed a chicken, checked its wing (clipping those few leftovers missed before), and walked over to the hen house. The resident hens barely opened an eye as sixteen times I tucked a pullet into a laying box. May they all live long and prosper.
If the pullets had been able to stay in the covered dog run longer, it would have been better. They were going to have to take their chances in the big pen sooner or later, and they had simply outgrown their sleeping quarters and I was out of options. Yesterday morning as I was leaving the big pen after letting the girls out, suddenly every hen turned into a statue and one made a low, guttural sound I can only describe as a warning growl. A hawk was circling overhead. The chickens were as still as stones until the danger had passed, and then went on about their chicken business of the day.
Joel called to give me a heads up, too. The local grape vine (yes, we use that phrase even in wine country) was passing the word that a mountain lion is working our area, having been seen by others in places very close to us, both day and night. I keep hearing Tire Guy the other day saying as he looked around the goat pen, "Wow, you've got a regular mountain lion smorgasbord here!" There's not much I can do but watch and listen, tuck the kids in at night, and hope those words were not prophetic.
I'm beginning to feel like an ostrich, with my vulnerable parts stuck up in the air. Weeding, gardening, trimming hooves, etc., all done bent over. Yesterday's big job was to give Bessie Anne her summer "do." While still relatively mild, the heat has been building and she was still wearing her heavy winter coat. Getting trimmed down with the hair clippers I used to use on Steve is not one of Bess's favorite procedures. I worked as fast as I could and she withstood it as long as she could. My back and her patience gave out about the same time. Bessie is about ninety-five percent done, and we'll have to go back to the deck to finish up the details. It is very important when giving a dog a haircut to reassure them how pretty or handsome they are. Years ago, my then-current dog hid under the bed for a week when the Kids made the mistake of laughing at her "puppy-cut." Dogs are very sensitive about their appearance.