Friday, March 6, 2015

Meanwhile, Down In The Barn

This big old tom turkey was waiting for breakfast with the chickens.  That "beard" of funky feathers on his chest is an indicator of age, said to help attract females to the older and wiser.  Female turkeys, that is.  The hens were not in the least impressed.  Nicholas, the rooster, had no intention of tangling with the tom, but the hens kept running him off and away from their feed.  They're spunky little girls.

There are so many mice in the barn now that I've got to put down feed on both sides of the room to satisfy appetites.  I've wanted for the longest time to get a picture of Mini-Squint, the one-eyed mouse.  He shows up daily, but usually on the grownups' side.  Yesterday he popped up out of the burrow on the adolescents' side.  Mini has little to no fear of me and, in fact, posed for his closeup.  I was rooting for Mini-Squint to grab the Willie Wonka prize, that large, flat kernel of corn, and was so happy when he took it.  (Okay, I'm easily amused.)  Mice paws are so very tiny.  It's difficult to imagine the bones and vessels in such miniscule "hands."  Mice who get the Wonka prize race with it in their mouth back down the burrow, but frequently the little creatures will sit up on the surface and munch the smaller grains, holding the treat like a ham sandwich and nibbling away.

At the same time, across the room the milk bar was open and the customers had bellied up for their morning slurp.  It's hard to see them all, but seven mice were sucking milk out of the wipes and more were waiting in the wings.  Sheila and the milk bucket notwithstanding, it's never dull in the barn.

I've got a great new Helper Dude.  Michael is a 15-year-old almost-neighbor (just down the road and around the corner) who wants to earn his own money.  My woodpile was looking like Mother Hubbard's cupboard, pretty darned low.  There were plenty of rounds piled under the oak, cut by Dave and his buddies, but it was much like looking at cookies through the bakery window; not reachable by me.  I knew how to run the log splitter, but realized I'd never be able to wrestle those rounds.  Michael got the splitter started, no easy task as it hadn't been run in quite a while.  Helper Dude provided the muscle and I ran the ram; in less than two hours we'd split and stacked a cord of wood and had it tarped over for the next cold spell.  I foresee a happy future for Michael and me.  As Camille said, we'll run out of money before we run out of jobs for Helper Dude.

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