The wild turkeys who visited earlier this week have ventured into our yard often this fall. They're not full-sized, so I'm guessing they are last summer's babies. Although they eat grain that was accidentally dropped on the ground near the coop, the chickens, for the most part, pay them no mind. I wonder, though, if the chickens were out free-ranging and the turkeys came by, would the chickens decamp with them? Sort of like running away with the circus? I hope not. Our guys have been very good about their curfew, returning to their coop when it gets dark.
The hens are now about six months old, but so far they have not laid any eggs. I check every day. Zeno the Rooster crows all the time; he has gotten very big and is quite a beauty, as is his sister, Fuzzy. She is a light gray color. One set of neighbors now owns a puppy who barks a lot, so maybe her barking has masked the crowing. No one has yet complained. Petunia and Bossy, the Barred Plymouth Rocks, remain the friendliest of the group and the first to snatch a snack when it is offered. Somehow all of them have become enamored of string cheese, and will come running over if they think we have some.
I always like to mention a chicken-themed picture book when I talk about the flock on Saturdays, and the selection today is Goodnight Lulu, by Paulette Bogan. The chuckle-inducing art—done in watercolors and ink—features an array of irresistible crayon-box colors, and all the spreads are big two-page affairs. Finding it hard to settle in for the night, Lulu, a wee chick, expresses her fears to Momma Chicken. "What if a big, brown bear comes in while I am sleeping?" Lulu wants to know. The next pages show a fierce Momma, eyebrows knitted, going after such a creature. "Then I would flap and cluck and scare it and chase it all the way back to the forest where it belongs," Momma says. Lulu imagines more frightening animals, and Momma reassures her every time.
As a comma enthusiast, I am bothered by the lack of one between "Goodnight" and "Lulu" in the title, and in general think the copy-editing could have been tweaked in this picture book. But the story is fun, and the repetition of the lengths that a mother would go to protect her child makes this a swell choice to share with preschoolers. Sometimes my son reads aloud to the backyard flock. I wonder what they'll make of this one. I hope it will dissuade them from running off with turkeys.
Photo: Zeno Incognito, Fall 2007