Anna Catches A Mouse

I am bone tired.  Cross-eyed tired.  It’s light at 5:00 am and not dark ’til 9:30 pm, we do 3 shifts of work a day, and my feet ache.  I am upstairs on the computer when the Bearded One comes in the door and says, “Anna caught a mouse.”

At first I think, Who is Anna?  Then I think of our twenty-something son who is downstairs in the den, right below me, as he recovers from knee surgery.  I’m the chief caregiver and it’s been a long, rough day.  The patient mutters in his drug-induced sleep.

I whisper down to the Bearded One at the top of my lungs, “Anna?”  I realize as I say the word that he means Anna the Chicken, our golden Wyandotte hen.  Four of the hens are named for our son’s girlfriends from Kindergarten (Kimber), Junior High (Danielle), and High School (Leah and then Anna).  “Yes, Anna,” he says.

“A mouse?”  I’m a bit slow this afternoon.

I’ve been up and down the stairs 6,000 times and am exhausted.

The sun has been shining gloriously all weekend, and the house is hot.

The Bearded One has been up and down the ladder 6,000 times as he constructs the tent roof of the meat bird pen — the meat chickens will be here in 4 weeks — and he limps a little.

Meat bird pen’s tent roof, made with poles from the property that the Bearded One debarked, twine, and leftover hoop house plastic.

“Danielle is sick with jealousy,” says the Bearded One now.  He is surprisingly energetic.  “She’s chasing Anna and trying to steal the mouse.”

The patient is silent through all of this.  I am trying to picture a chicken catching a mouse, and feel a tiny gray flash of energy.  I toss off my fatigue like a cape, grab the camera, which stays under the computer screen, and head down the stairs.

All the hens are in the lower pasture, and sure enough, there is Anna by the fence with a tiny gray mouse hanging from her beak.  It looks dead.

Anna with mouse.

And there is Danielle, the silver Wyandotte, angling for the prize.  I take a picture, and then the camera has to think for a few seconds before the next shot, giving me time to see that all 10 hens are present.  Meaning that no broody banties are sitting all day in the nesting boxes.  This is very good news, and I greet them all.

While I’ve been icing our son’s knee every 15 minutes, four 15-minute icings in all, requiring many wrappings and unwrappings of ace bandages, repositioning of pillows, and rolling the patient’s quadriceps with a quart canning jar…the Bearded One has made a luxurious confinement cage, or Broody Box, for our 3 stubbornly broody banty hens.

The time-tested, less-severe treatments of dunking in cold water and repeated removals from the nest weren’t fazing them.  But just one night in the spacious, 2’x2’x5′ asylum cured two of them.  Stevie took 2 days and nights.  The box’s bottom is wire to let air finally get to the hot, self-plucked breasts and snap them out of the incessant, exhausting drive to nest.

Broody box, rehab for broody birds that enables them to be among the other chickens while their breasts cool off. They get super hot to the touch.

I try for another picture of Anna, but she turns away.  I reposition and try again and notice that the mouse is … gone.  She must have dropped it.  I scan the ground for the body and see nothing.  I look back at Anna and the nearby hens.  No mouse.  Was it alive?  Has it escaped?  Maybe it was just exhausted.  It sure looked dead to me.

I study the bottom of the lower pasture where we’ve dumped barn straw for the chickens to turn into compost — an idea we got down in Texas.  I see no mouse body and zillions of places to hide.  I’m glad that I’ve got at least one picture — justifying this crazy burst of energy that propelled my worn-out body out of the house like a human cannon ball.

The goats come stampeding down the hill now, a bit late.  Sage’s dreadlocks drip from his shoulders.  He looks like I feel.

Back at the house, the patient is still zonked.  I tell the Bearded One the story of the disappearing mouse, theorizing that it was playing possum and has now escaped.  He is profoundly skeptical.  “Looked dead to me, too,” he says.

“It’s amazing, though,” I say, “a chicken catching a mouse.”

“Garfield won’t have to carry the load all alone anymore,” says the Bearded One, and we head upstairs for a nap.

5 responses to “Anna Catches A Mouse

  1. They catch mice!? So laying the bare minimum of eggs…scratching up EVERYTHING…crowing for days on end non stop…constantly bickering and fighting isn’t enough? We have golden laced wyandottes and a single silver laced girl. Are your Wyandottes totally USELESS as mothers? Ours are. Effel doocark had 12 babies and only 7 remain. If she could have fed the rest of them to the feral cats I dare say that she would have. I hope the patient recovers soon along with your energy. Love the post and spent the day burning the dickens out of every pile of debris that we could find. Very cathartic! Just looking at your last picture…looks like the mouse met a terrible death and one of the hens is covered in its blood! I think that the bearded one has a slight problem with mice?! 😉 (he does the drawings doesn’t he?…)

    • We need to burn a few debris piles, too. It is cathartic, I agree. Perhaps this weekend. The Bearded One wants to set up a sprinkler on the top of the aviary beforehand so a spark doesn’t burn it to the ground.

      Our Wyandottes — Anna and Danielle — will probably not get the opportunity to be bad mothers. We have no rooster, and at this point, are happy with our 10 layers. Our first chicken was Kimber, a wild banty rescued from a defunct farm, and her 3 day old chicks. She is a GREAT mother. Not one chick lost. Banties are known as good mothers…the dark side of this being their tendency toward broodiness.

      Ha! The Bearded One is indeed the artist and he says to tell you that that red chicken is not covered in blood…it is our Rhode Island Red hen, Leah….who is the most curious and affectionate of the hens and is always on the scene of any happening.

      Thanks for your good wishes regarding our patient. He sees the doc today and hopes to return to college in Colorado (and summer school and knee rehab and the Ultimate Frisbee National Championships) tomorrow. We’ll see….

      • The bearded one can have a prize massive great Rhode Island Red rooster that we ended up with after stupidly buying some eggs from up north. We bought 2 dozen on the “promise” that they were mostly Barred Plymouth Rocks but ended up with 2 Plymouth rocks, 2 “white” hens…a few “black” hens and some of the most monstrous hens I have ever seen. They were MASSIVE. They were called Brahmas and are covered in feathers from head to toe, are the greediest thing ever and every single one of them was a rooster…sigh…the Rhode Island Red boy is massive but very gentle and he follows me around waiting for the inevitable insect to hop out of whatever I am doing. He is respectful of Big Yin our top boy and as such we don’t really want to top him. We have 7 roosters that are about to be dispatched and we HATE killing them, but with breeding chooks you have to face up to the fact that you are going to get roosters. I hope that your patient doesn’t think that he is going to be in the Ultimate Frisbee National Championships “tomorrow”?! You might have to do him a favour and tie him down on a gurney somewhere 😉 Have a great day. We are off today to see our lecturer to hand in our latest concept plan for our landscape design course and prove that we know one end of a theodolite from another (just in case we forget, we put a word doc on the phone ;)) wish us luck!

  2. Christine Widman

    “Cross-eyed tired.”
    Perfect description for a condition that we know here during high season.
    I remember rousing myself from bone tired to wow three weeks ago when one of our new cactus spangled itself with 5 intense white star flowers.
    A moment of pure heavenly soul restoration.
    Now we are in HOT – 100+degrees HOT – season.
    But also B&B break time.
    So we’ve been having family/friend time. Pool time. Hiking Box Canyon up Mt Lemmon where it is 30 degrees cooler time.
    Sleep-in morning time. Siesta in the afternoon time. Velvet night time.

    • 100 degrees there, 42 degrees here right now (10:30am Friday) — what are we to make of such a difference??!! I can imagine your swoon over the blooming cactus — I felt that way when our African violet bloomed overnight. What a gift.:) Like a present delivered. Which is how I feel about your comments, Christine. Thanks for sharing your B&B life and observations, and may your friend and family visits be especially soothing for all. Love you.

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