Farm store banishment
I got an email this week from ol’ Kent Makdisup in Wichita, Kan. He said it (banishment from a farm store) happened to him, but I have serious doubts about the veracity of the story. But, I have no doubt that it’s humorous, and therefore, fitting for this week’s column.
Here’s Kent’s story, in his own words: “Milo, yesterday I was at my local feed store buying a large 50-pound bag of kibble dog food for Rex, my loyal Border collie. I was in the checkout line when a gal right behind me asked, ‘Do, you have a dog?’
“What did she think I had? An elephant? So, since I’m retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her, ‘No, ma ‘am. I don’t have a dog. I’m re-starting my personal dog-food diet.’
“‘I added, ‘I probably shouldn’t re-start the diet because I ended up in the hospital the first time I tried it. But, I did lose 20 pounds while I was in my induced coma in the intensive care unit.
“‘So,’ I rambled on, ‘based upon that weight loss, I’ve decided to give the dog-food diet one more chance — with more caution about the one little glitch that caused the hospitalization.’
“I told the lady, ‘Ma’am, it’s essentially a perfect balanced diet and it works by loading your pockets with dog-food kibbles and, whenever a hunger pang strikes, you simple grab one of two kibbles and eat them.’
“I told her, ‘the food is nutritionally complete, and I did lose weight on the diet, so I’m giving it another more-cautious try.’
“I’ll mention that by now my little diet story had gotten the attention of all the folks in the checkout line. The crowd was enthralled, hanging on my every word.
“However, the lady with the question was horrified. She asked me, ‘How in the world did you end up in the hospital? Did the dog food poison you.’
“I replied that my hospitalization had nothing to do with nutrition. It had to do with my curiosity about social interactions.
“‘You mean the dog-diet had an effect on your social life?” the woman asked incredulously.’
“Yes, ma’am, it did,” I confided. “I was walking down the street when I felt compelled to step off the curb to sniff another Border Collie’s rear end, and a car hit me and cracked my skull.”
“Everyone in the checkout line broke out in gales of laughter. The lady slapped me. And, I got banished from the farm store forever.”
By and large, chickens have good public relations — even with the cost of eggs around $4 per dozen. Every time you see a TV ad with a chicken flock, it’s in an idyllic setting — peaceful, quiet with tame hens being petted by smiling owners.
Well, after 30 years of having a chicken flock, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the times of idealism and harmony with a chicken flock are few and far between. The best example of that idealistic existence is watching a mother hen and a new brood of baby chicks out in the sunshine scratching in the new grass of spring. That’s a soul-satisfying scene.
Beyond that rare scene, the realism of a chicken flock is that of unceasing internal flock war to determine and maintain a functional pecking order. The hens establish their pecking order by ruthlessly pecking, flogging and bullying. Oft times, it even leads to death. It’s the same story with the roosters, only rooster fights over pecking order gets even more violent, bloody and ruthless. The feathers fly.
The next reason for flock disharmony is the true statement, “Everyone likes the taste of chicken.” Down through the years, I’ve had chickens killed by black snakes, bull snakes, Norway rats, pack rats, raccoons, possums, skunks, chicken hawks, prairie falcons, coyotes, foxes, feral cats and, the worst, renegade neighborhood dogs.
It’s also true that a lot of critters like to eat chicken feeds — both raw grains and processed growing or laying rations. Raccoons are the biggest chicken feed thieves, but pack rats, possums and skunks will help themselves if given the chance. Usually, feed theft is solved by metal or plastic storage containers
Well, recently that feed protection plan went into the dumper. Guess what the culprits were? Red squirrels. They discovered I was feeding whole corn in the hen house — and they were only eating the corn kernel heart. First they dug a tunnel into the hen house. When I plugged the tunnel, they gnawed a hole through a 3/4-inch plywood gate. When I patched that with metal, they gnawed a hole in the top of a $25 dollar plastic garbage can I stored the corn in.
Well, that triggered a full-scale squirrel war — which I’m quite adept at fighting. It wuz a short war. After two days, the war was over.
Our two daughters have been quite the travelers lately. One went to the Rose Bowl Parade in Los Angles and had a quite a flight travail to report. For her return flight, she wuz stuck in the airport with delayed flights for 14 hours. She barely got home before she and hubby took a vacation to Florida. The other daughter and hubby vacationed in Hawaii and had no travel troubles that I heard about.
Words of wisdom for the week: “There are no new sins. The old ones just get more publicity.” Have a good ‘un.