Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gardening with Lucky

Image: Creative Commons License

There are times when one wishes they had not made such good friends with a bird. The term birdbrain takes on an entirely new meaning. Like the day I made the new raised planting bed on the north side of the deck.

There I was peacefully playing in the fresh, dark soil and minding my own business. The planting was now down to the half flat of Begonias I saved to fill in the outside corner. Suddenly a flapping of rusty red wings plopped an eight pound body with skinny green legs in the midst of my activity. Damn bird! She was squashing two of my just installed Begonias.

"Lucky! Get out of here ... go on now."

Of course she stood firm, craning her neck around and surveying the scene. I know what her next move is before it has entered that pea sized brain. There is nothing red here so she is about to start digging for her favorite wiggling delicacy. An activity that will not end until she hits the hard ground below. There are no grubs in my just screened soil.

"Shoo! Get!"

I was rewarded with the evil chicken eye. A swiveling head motion that puts their profile face first and places that beady eye up close and personal above your nose. At times the evil eye is comical, but not while the miniature dinosaur is crushing my flowers. She was testing her authority to the limit.

I gently pushed her aside to move her off the broken little plants. But ol' Luck was not in the mood to be told what to do right then, and commenced to digging. The soil she removed was settling over all the little Begonias. At a furious pace, I might add - I no longer wonder why chickens have such sharp edged toes. Those feet work like prehistoric rototillers with a miffed pea brain is minding the controls.

Having had enough of her brand of help, I pushed her off the end of the bed. It wasn't but 8 inches to the grass so I wasn't worried about hurting her. This strategy only served to set the imperious Queen Lucky's feathers on end.

One should use caution when dealing with the head of the hen house. She had more power than any of those cocky roosters. No one, or should I say no bird, stood up against her. I, however, am farther up the totem pole and reserve the right to stop her from time to time.

Shall we say that we weren't seeing eye to eye right then? If you think that chickens have no expressions, then you have never lived in close proximity to them. She stood on the grass almost shaking with anger over her unseating from a moment of industrious glee. Wee little mind that she had, the decision was instantly reached as to the next strategic move should be.

She jumped right back up there next to me and pecked a hole in the back of my hand. Having had the final word in a one sided argument, she drew herself up with all her lofty airs and strutted away like the Queen of England. While I sat there cussing her feathered behind as the wound began to bleed.

Lucky was normally my pal and followed me everywhere. She was actually mad at me. Refusing to keep company with me for weeks. If she saw me coming - she ran the other way. If I tried talking to her when I did get close, she stuck her head in the air and dramatically marched away.

Snubbed by a chicken - can you imagine? What an uppity old broad! She may rule the hen house, but she wasn't in charge of me. Tit for tat, I began ignoring her completely. After a couple of weeks, she must have decided to let the loss of a power struggle slide. She returned to being friendly and placing herself in the middle of any activity that involved in digging in the dirt.

It was rather hard to dig a hole with her around. If you were walking with a shovel, Lucky would come screaming from any direction to help you uncover what lay below. Somehow she figured out that the implement meant there was assistance in uncovering juicy white grubs. If you think digging a hole is hard, try doing it with a big chicken jumping in and out of the hole. Don't stop - she'll attack your feet and untie your shoes.

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