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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

New baby arrives
as chickens deport

It’s a boy for the Briggs family!! Smokey will tell you more later.

In the meantime, I am gearing up to use the snorkeling gear Laura bought for me before she went into labor. Nice Cozumel goggles and fins that will swish me through the clear waters. Now all I need is a place to use them.

Balmorhea is the first stop for daughter Peggy Lynn and me as we launch a vacation of short trips. Kate Vignaron’s ranch is a possible, then Fort Davis, Marfa, Alpine, Marathon and other points south. Next we are looking at Carlsbad and Albuquerque, N.M., maybe Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

Who knows where we will end up? With the price of gasoline dropping, we may even go all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska to visit grandson Jason and his wife’s family. Peggy Lynn hasn’t met the baby, Jacen Drake, so this could be her chance.

Yes, I know my trip to Flomot was supposed to be the last one for awhile. But I owe her a trip, and we need to do it while she is between jobs. She has a possible in Bandera, but may look around while she’s here.

Guess who is baby-sitting the chickens while we’re gone. Nobody!! I gave them to Elva Lujan this morning, so am out of the chicken business for good.

I told you that before, didn’t I? That’s when someone or some thing got the neighborhood rooster and my hens while I was off to the Bob Wills Day celebration in Turkey two years ago. Blackie the hen had disappeared, so I hung up my farmer’s hat.

Blackie didn’t stay gone. She waltzed out from under the salvia bush one Saturday afternoon, trailed by 12 downy chicks, all yellow or black. What a pretty sight.

I had put Blackie down as eye candy who would not likely produce eggs or chicks. I have never been so wrong. She tended those 12 babies and taught them to be as wild as she was. Two of the roosters survived to adulthood and sired another hatch of seven before I put them in the cookpot.

Dogs killed every last one of that batch, and Blackie refused the services of the rooster Laura Briggs brought me, along with two more hens. Nevertheless, Blackie kept hiding eggs and setting on them. I slipped in a few fertilized eggs from Whitie and Red, and she hatched two red chicks. A cat got one right quick, and the little loner roosted in the peach tree along with Blackie until a dog dispatched it.

Blackie never gave up. She had a nest somewhere that I never found, and I think she was setting on it when a predator got her. All I found was one broken egg on the lawn to show that she had been there.

Whitie and Red refused to set, so I have been giving away their excess eggs. Whitie got sick and I had to dispatch her, so it was just the colorful rooster and the Little Red Hen until today.

It wasn’t easy to catch them. They ran from me when I tried to tame them with oatmeal. Then I tried unsucessfully to snatch them off the roost at dusk and again at daylight. Finally, I got into the pen and crawled on my hands and knees to hem them up in the corner.

That pen, with its crust of chicken do, will make a nice garden for something that likes acid. Peggy Lynn will know what to plant there, and we’ll be eating fresh vegetables this time next year. If we’re back from our travels.

“They (cackled) among the bushes and huddled in the underbrush. A base and nameless brood, they were driven out of the land.” Job 30:7-8, NIV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise columnist and feature writer. Contact her at HYPERLINK ""

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