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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Good fences make
good neighbors

It would be hard to find better neighbors than Jerry and Emma Workman. They have occupied the concrete-block house on the corner since Jim was in knee pants and Lindley was a twinkle in Jerry’s eye.

I’ve called upon them in times of trouble and shared the good days, including a bumper peach crop. They’re always willing to do what needs to be done.

Mostly, though, they tend to their business and I tend to mine. A tall fence between our backyards ensures our privacy and separates the bird dogs from the chickens.

That is, when my chickens don’t slip through a hole in the fence or fly over, and Jerry’s dogs don’t knock down a board to get to the chickens.

Jerry decided to remedy that situation and other problems by installing a new metal fence, and boy, does it look great. Now my 50-year-old redwood fence looks shabby in comparison.

It was the month with no fence between us that reminded me of the old adage, “Good fences make good neighbors.” No. his dogs didn’t come over, because they are in a sturdy wire run that they can’t break down or dig under.

Someone else’s dog did cross the line, though, and killed five of my chicks. Although I didn’t see the two separate attacks, I know the chicks were in their pen, and something broke through the fence to get to them. What else besides a dog would kill a helpless chicken and leave its carcass to be hauled to the dumpster?

I feared thieves while the fences were down, because anyone driving down Eddy street could see my shiny red lawnmower and gas can, lawn chair and garden tools. Jerry’s yard was even more exposed than mine, and he has more stuff in it.

As if that weren’t enough worry, Laura Briggs dumped two hens and a rooster into my backyard Thursday morning before she noticed the fence was missing. I happened along before she made her getaway and put them into the pen, so they were still there when I returned at noon.

Then the fence was installed before dusk! I let the new flock out to graze and catch bugs for awhile, knowing they were safe. Keeping a watchful eye on them, I noticed the rooster eyeing the back fence when it came time to hunt a roost for the night. He abandoned that plan when I stepped onto the back porch, and went back into the pen.

Now comes the fun part. The pomegranate tree that I incorporated into the pen for a roost has leafed out, and it is hard to see the horizontal limbs I inserted. The rooster circled the tree for a while before finding a perch, then called to the hens to join him. They resisted, walking the fence and looking for a way out. Finally, though, they joined him for the night and I found the three huddled together this morning.

Not only do fences make good neighbors, they make good chickens, too.

“Don’t be afraid, little flock. Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32, God’s Word

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