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Halloween hijinks in the henhouse

Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

Up until a few days ago, I would have “poo-pooed” any mention of “henhouse goblins” being real. But after what happened one day this week in my henhouse, and in the week leading up to Halloween, no less, I at least have to consider that “henhouse goblins” are real.

Here’s why: My little flock of over 40 chickens is about two-thirds pullets-of-the-year that haven’t started laying yet and about one-third old hens and one old rooster. Since I free-range the flock most days, the biddies — old and young — are always eager to flap happily away into the outdoors every morning. In fact, if they were cattle, I’d get stampeded over once a day when I let those chickens free.

Well, three days ago I went out about 10 a.m. to feed and water the flock and let the chickens take free-rein of the place. So, imagine my surprise when I opened the henhouse door and saw the entire flock — young and old — huddled up in a tight bunch under the far set of roosts.

I immediately thought “murderous varmint” and looked for the tell-tale pile of bloody feathers left over from a raccoon or possum raid. There were no feathers and no varmints. So, I looked up into the rafters for a big scary snake, which wuz another possibility. Nuthin’ snaky up there.

When I dumped in the flock’s feed, usually they fight to eat first. But that day, nary a chicken emerged from the “huddle” to eat.

So, I figgered that when I opened up the door, the usual avian stampede would occur. But, when I opened the door, all the chickens stayed nervously huddled up. Not a single chicken even approached the open door. So, I tried driving the chickens outdoors. They balked at the door and would not go outdoors. When I forced a few outside, they immediately ran back inside and rejoined the huddle.

Stumped as to what wuz happening, I left the henhouse door open and left the flock to disperse as it saw fit. Nuthin’ happened. All my chickens stayed in a huddle in the henhouse all day.

About evening, the young chickens cautiously began to emerge from the henhouse and disperse into the gardens and food plots. The old hens stayed put. At dark, every chicken wuz back on the roost and everything wuz fine.

The next day wuz normal in every respect. I don’t have a clue as to what caused such abnormal behavior that day — and I guess I never will.

So, this being Halloween week, I have to consider that a scary “henhouse goblin” peeked through the henhouse window early in the morning and thoroughly scared my flock to smithereens.

•••

Hallelujah! We got rain yesterday. Last week, I looked at the two-week weather forecast and it showed a fair possibility of moisture to break the fall drought. So, since the planting window had nearly closed, I took the plunge and recruited Nevah to help me dust-in my fall food plots, I figgered “now or never.” The plot seed mix contained winter oats, winter wheat, winter barley, Austrian winter peas, hairy vetch, chicory, a winter radish and turnips. I left out the alfalfa and all the clovers because it wuz too late for them. I’ll overseed them next spring or else plant them in separate plots.

Well, the wind blew like the mill-tails from Hell for two days. Then the temperature plunged into the 20s with a hard freeze for a couple of days, followed by two days of snow flurries. And then …. yesterday the temps rose into the 30s and the rains moved in from the south and by dawn today, we had nine-tenths of an inch of rain. Plus, the forecast is dry with temps into the 60s over the weekend. Perhaps, my food plots will get enough sunshine to sprout the seed. I sure hope so.

•••

For you kindly, faithful readers who have followed my wordy meanderings through more than four decades, you know that I have been a firm and serious advocate that all ORIGINAL wealth comes from Mother Nature. There’s not one single portion of the entire economy that does not trace back to Mother Earth — either from farming, fishing, logging, mining, drilling and recycling.

Good ol’ wise Founding Father Benjamin Franklin said it best: “There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war … This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.”

Now I want to reveal how such a “wealth miracle” happened this year at Damphewmore Acres. The simple example is with my dry shelled lima beans. Last spring, I bought a packet of heirloom “Holstein” lima beans for a couple of bucks. The packet contained a mere 30 seeds. I planted them, put up the trellis, watered them all summer and fall, picked the beans as they dried and shelled them.

From those paltry 30 lima bean seeds, I shelled more than a gallon of dried limas — undoubtedly more than 3,000 beans — or a 100-fold increase in “new lima bean wealth.”

If I eat them this winter, I’ll have at least 10 meals of ham and beans. If I wuz an eager young entrepreneur, I’d package those beans in 30-bean packets and sell them on the internet for $2 a packet — somewhere north of $2,000 total new wealth.

It’s a perfect example of the creation of original wealth. Smart nations could do the same thing by properly pricing all their raw materials.

•••

I have few original thoughts these days, but I had one yesterday. I recalled at my recent annual physical exam, my physician, ol’ Dr. Pillson Shotts, took a lot of time pointing out what wuz wrong with my diet and lifestyle and how to make corrections. My original thought yesterday wuz “at my age, the doctor should be quizzing me about what I’ve done right with my diet and lifestyle to reach my ripe old age in fair to middling condition.”

The national election is over by the time you read this. Hope for the best and have a good ‘un. ❖


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