Friday, April 03, 2009


Instead of starting right away with a story of this week's farm happenings I was thinking that I'd just give a farm summary. A sort of vegetable/chicken Headline News .

Something like---

Vampire attack kills six in chicken yard!

Eerie glow continues to light up eastern night sky.

Wrens squat in blue bird house

New source discovered for rotten cow manure

Hoophouse expansion well under way.

Early Lettuce, Arugula, Spinach planted for pick your own 45 days from now!

Buzzards roosting over lower field.

There's a Blue Bird Right Out my Window!

And that’s just the front page. Besides that I could add a business section. (when I taught tenth grade English, back when there was a section in the curriculum on figuring out newspapers, I always said the important news, the stuff that explained what was really happening, was often hidden back in the business section).

Things like--

Share Payment Due Date Passes.

Also, in the business section I think there would be a column. A sort of ‘what if’ piece.

What if you miss your payment due date?

The ‘what if’ would say I’m not going to immediately drop you from the shareholder list and resell your share to someone on the waiting list. But I do want to hear from you. Either a check or, lacking that, a note telling me what's going on.

If you missed the due date send in your check soon. (within the week). Or, if you can’t, write me and tell me why and that you intend to do.

Then, after business there is always the  entertainment section.

That’s where things like farm outings get mentioned. As in --

Open House/farm tour/ get some eggs

The farm outing is where we walk up the hill to the greenhouse. Look inside at the almost 70,000 seedlings. Along the way I usually tell an embarrassing (not to me) story or two about Wenonah growing up on the farm (stories she would usually prefer I refrained from retelling).

Answer questions about the farm. Point out the farm equipment. Tell how (briefly) it works.

Then we walk down to where the chickens are pastured and that's where people (and kids) go about collecting eggs. Which, with Easter rapidly approaching, is pretty appropriate.

And for those who just want to come out and skip the tour, who have done it before,there are eggs. And hikes. Directions are on the webpage.

Also under entertainment, I think, is the helping on the farm section. If you want to do some work, we can always use help.

This week, I was going to have people pick up rocks, fix the stone walls. Walls, sort of like that one in that poem. ( I can still hear my 8th grade English teacher reading it. She sure liked Frost) ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,‘

Our walls, all except for the one around the house, have decades of abuse.

And maybe, if the fields are too wet and we can't get out to pick up the rocks without making a muddy mess, we could put plastic up over one of the new hoophouses. If its not too windy (trying to unfurl a 100 foot by 30 foot piece of plastic on a windy day is always challenging. Sort of like being a passenger on a human sized kite. On occasions I've been lifted up as high as a dozen feet in the air.).

But that's enough for the entertainment section. Let's get back to the front page and that banner headline. 


The time was a week ago. Last Friday night. A night where the weather works in well with a 1930's movie of Transylvania. (or maybe Poe and the House of Ushers).



Deep fog. Your legs are lost in it. This, interlaced with sudden downpours.

And thunder.

I didn't go out that evening. And the dogs? Well, the storm was so loud, they didn't hear anything. I didn't hear them barking.

Actually, I had fallen asleep on the sofa with a mystery by the fire and stiffly woke in the early morning with the memory of a vivid dream.

A dream where I was standing at the door of the hen house. There was a heavy fog. I could barely see down to the ground but I was counting the chickens as they scurried in and out of the hen house.

I was standing there watching them, trying to count and every once in a while, instea of a hen there would be a raccoon, or a bob cat. An opossum.

I didn't remember the dream clearly until I was on my way up the stairs.

I stopped and could see them again.

The chickens scurrying back and forth with all of those predators at my feet..

I stopped and almost turned around. Almost went back downstairs and put on my boots. Grabbed a flashlight and went out into the rain.

Instead I stood there on the stairs for a moment, thinking. thinking about the dream and then turning and continuing up the stairs and off to bed.,

It was the next morning when I saw the corpses (do you refer to dead chickens as corpses?). I had gone out with the first bunch of Saturday visitors. We were down in the hen yard when I saw the fence down.

The storm must have knocked it over.

And as you probably know, when an electric fence touches the ground, it stops working. Its grounded. It no longer gives a shock. The charge, instead of going through the hand, or nose or claws of the creature that is touching it.

The charge instead goes on to the ground. harmlessly making up a complete circuit.  

To the ground and back to the charger.

And the predator can easily step over the fence and do as it may with the chickens.

In this case it was six hens. All of the chickens were dispatched in the same manner.

Their bodies were whole. Only, something had bitten them in the neck and, from that wound had sucked out all of their bodily fluids.

The thighs, the breasts, the legs, they were all there, laying in the mud. What all of these chickens had in common was a bite on the neck and the missing bodily fluids.


Or, in this case, another animal.

What animal eats its victim in this manner? From the inside out?

The next night, Saturday night. Instead of just picking up the fence and making sure it wasn't grounded, I took Andorra down to the chicken pasture and put her in with the chickens.

She has much to much fur around her neck, I reasoned, to be bit by a vampire. Or whatever. A vampire wouldn't have much luck in biting through all that fur.

That was at ten in the evening.

And the next morning, I came downstairs. Put on some music.

Thought of the chickens, Andorra. and opened the back door, the one that goes out on the deck, taking my binoculars. From there I could see the chickens. I could look out and see what had happened.

Had Andorra caught the culprit?

Was the fence still standing?

Or were their chicken bodies laying everywhere?

I opened the door and, before I could step out, there was Andorra, wagging her tail. Smelling like a wet dog..

She had apparently escaped during the night. Had left the chickens unguarded. And had come up to the house to greet us.

I quickly put on my boots. Rushed down to the chicken pasture.

There was the fence where Andorra had escaped. She had jumped it, knocking it askew.

And the chickens? they all seemed to be fine. No new dead bodies. No bite marks in the throat.

And the vampire? What creature eats its victims in that manner? That's a research question for you. I'll give the answer to the people that come out Saturday. That come out for the farm visit. And the others? I'll put it up on the blog sometime next week.

I'll put it up by Wednesday. Give you time to find out on your own.

Leigh Hauter


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