High Meadows Farm is the centerpiece to a collection of heartwarming stories that take place in this small New England town where good manners and treasured friendships never go out of style.
Some people might think that life on our farm is boring with little or no
diversity from the daily routines needed to keep High Meadows' 40 acres running smoothly. But nothing could be further from the truth. Every
day presents something new, rather it be a blessing or a challenge.
Recently, I awoke one morning to find the wind storm that had
barreled through our valley overnight had caused a tree limb to fall on
the chicken coop, leaving a gaping hole and scattering my laying hens in every direction. I alerted Andrus and he decided to use the shepherds
to track them down.
German shepherds possess a powerful ability to follow a scent which our dogs have repeatedly proven. A few years back they led a group of local men and rooted out a pack of coyotes that had been attacking farm
animals up and down the valley.
Last summer, they successfully tracked a missing 6 year old boy who had been visiting relatives and wandered off into the thick woods that rims our town. After a preliminary search, Sheriff Higgins called the state
Canine Rescue Unit for assistance, but was told that the dogs had
already been employed and that it would likely be several hours before
they could be dispatched. With nightfall just a few hours away and
fearing for the child's safety, the sheriff called Andrus.
I never saw a man so proud as when he came out of those woods carrying a small boy and flanked by two extremely happy dogs.
Since Wolfgang and Amadeus had repeatedly proven their keen tracking
skills, Andrus naturally assumed that they wouldn't have any trouble
finding the missing chickens. So, he tore off a plank from one the
chicken's nesting boxes, let each dog take a whiff, then followed that
up with the command to 'find'. But instead of eagerly beginning a
search, they just looked at him with confusion, as though to say, "You want us to find... what?"
Confused by the dog's reluctance, Andrus repeated the process, but
instead of rushing off to find the chickens, both dogs sat down and
refused to move. For the next 15 minutes, Andrus repeated the procedure again and again; and for the next 15 minutes, the dogs continued to
look at him as though he was speaking pig Latin.
I was just about to turn on my Kitchen Aid mixer when Andrus stomped into the kitchen.
"Get your coat on," he growled. "I need your help finding these gosh, darn chickens of yours."
Although few enjoyed their breakfast of fresh, brown eggs with rich
golden yolks as much as Andrus did, my laying hens are a bane to his
existence. This is most evident during the spring when they inevitably
break loose from their pen and use their sharp claws to rototill the new spouts in the
vegetable garden. I do have to concede that when they're through, it
does look as though a minefield has been tripped. The entire garden will need to be replanted.
Later, as Andrus goes about re-rototilling the large garden patch while plotting the demise of my laying hens, I try to explain that a weed and a tender new plant do look alike to a chicken. That night, I serve his
favorite spinach and mushroom quiche, making certain to leave the bowl
of eggshells in plain sight.
Before Andrus appeared, I had been in the midst of baking a batch of
cookies for the Women's Club luncheon, but I surmise that he's in no
mood to be told to wait until the baking is done. Prudently, I turn off
the oven and grab my 'farm' coat, the one that is so badly stained that I can longer remember its original color and prepare to follow him
"I thought you were getting the dogs to track them," I say.
"I tried but they won't move. Darnest thing I ever saw. They just sit there. I don't know what's got into those dogs."
I know, but prudently decide to keep it to myself. Since pups, I have
imprinted in their minds that my chickens are off limits. They were
never to go after them. Apparently, I had trained them too well since so no matter what Andrus commanded, they were not having anything to do
with 'mom's' chickens.
Just then, the phone rang. Andrus pick up on the second ring.
"You missing any of your chickens?" our neighbor asks.
I watch my husband's face go dark red as he mumbles, "I'll be right over."
"Well, we found your darn chickens," he says. "Apparently, they decided to take a stroll across the road and ended up in the Fred's barn and now,
they won't leave. Meanwhile, they're spooking his horses since they
don't take too kindly to a bunch of noisy chickens weaving in and out of their stalls."
I watch from the back porch as Andrus heads towards the barn while
mumbling several unchristian-like phrases. The dogs join me and lean
against my legs, seeking protection from the crazed master who is now
tossing cages onto the hay wagon with so much force that two split right in half.
Andrus hops on the John Deere and turns over the engine. With a plume
of black smoke rising like a swarm of angry bees, he points the tractor
down the drive.
Shifting into gear as his passes, he shouts above the din, "I wish
you'd learn that there ain't nothing wrong with store bought eggs."
Copyright©2014 Katherine Valentine
Katherine Valentine is an Award Winning Author whose novels center on
the charm of small town living. To learn more about Katherine and to be
placed on her mailing list, visit:
www.katherinevalentine.com. And check out High Meadows on
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