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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Barnyard meeting mystery: Part One

Cameras are not allowed at these meetings. It's difficult to take notes and sketch too, but I did my best.

I was just about to do barn chores yesterday morning, when I heard a faint, not familiar knock at the door. I say unfamiliar as it didn't sound like a hand knocking, it had more of a 'click-click-click' sound to it, not human. "A cat?" I thought to myself. When I peered out the door's window, I saw no one. Then I looked downward, and there was the pygmy body of Frankie. She peered up, and very matter of factly announced,"Barnyard meeting. Starts in 5 flies." [A 'fly" is a system of timing for the animals. It took me awhile to figure it out, but basically one "fly" takes about 2 minutes to fly around a body, land, fly, land again before it creates enough annoyance as to cause the animal to swat or tail swap, so 5 flies is about 10 minutes.]

She waddled off in a hurry. Frankie took her role in barnyard meetings very seriously. She was in charge of gathering the barnyard on time, but also made sure the meeting's minutes were properly communicated to me, since I of course am the only one who can type and translate the stories to the outside world. In that way, we are like our own little mini publishing empire.

As I gathered my pencil and paper and made my way to the barn, there was much activity. But not the casual morning greetings I usually heard. It was a bit more like a breaking news story, and reporters were rushing to get a good position for questions. The hens were always in a flutter when such meetings were called...they chirped their opinions, fears, concerns and annoyances as they waddle-rushed to the meeting.

"Cluck, what's it about?" asked Vivienne the red hen.
"I hope it's not about water issues again.." worried Henny Penny.
"Cluck, no, something about Pino." Gracie chipped in.
"Bok, Bok!!!" all the young hens screeched.
"Pino? I just saw him yesterday, in the upper bramble, he looked fine." said Chicken Named Dog calmly, never one to worry.

With that, the older hens found there place at the meeting area, which in summer months was held by the back of the old barn. This allowed privacy from any Two Foot cars on the road 1/2 mile down the hill. There was a strict seating code at these meetings. The chickens stayed in a flock, with Papa Roo and his chosen hens at his side, then all hens fell behind them. This was the first barnyard meeting for the now 4 month old hens, so their excitement was noticeable. Since they had not been named yet, they were treated kindly, but were not allowed to speak at the meeting. This had to be earned through one year of egg laying. Old Guinnias was the first one there, since he left early to get there being so old and slow. He was given a seat right next to me, and the Speaker of the Barnyard, Boone. This helped Guinnias hear of course, plus it was the honorable thing to do. The flock of sheep gathered, and huddled in a tight group, with Daisy at the lead. They had left a small spot within the area they now stood huddled in, and on that small spot was a sprig of rosemary. This touched me, as it was the first barnyard meeting since the passing of our beloved head ewe, Rosie, and it was their quiet way to honor her. The rams stood in the distance, listening, and the many cats of Apifera all took to their preferred perching areas. Huck and Billy sat at my side. The only ones missing from the meeting were Big Tony and Mama, who were always given a choice to attend or not. Finally, Stella and Iris came from the pasture, and directly behind them walked Paco and Lucia. But Pino was nowhere to be seen.

As everyone settled, Frankie scuttered about, understanding it was now time. She jumped up on a bucket, so all could see her short statured pygmy goat body, and she declared, "Madames and Meisseurs, ladies, weeds and bambinos, and to the one mouse attending,may I present, the Speaker of the Barnyard!" We all stood up and applauded, and made as many respectful noises as possible. From the distant shadows of the old barn, Boone strode in, looking so dignified. He had his meeting attire on, which he had mimicked from watching reruns of "12 Angry Men". He took to the Speaker podium, and clomped his hoof on a rickety wood stand three times.

"The meeting will come to order! Silence!" Boone declared.

A hush grew over the barnyard crowd. A kernel of corn could have dropped and not one animal would have rushed to eat it, so great was the suspense of what this meeting was about.

"Fellow Apiferinianites, we are gathered here today to discuss a serious infraction on this barnyard. And that infraction was made on us..." he paused, hardly able to speak the final words.."that infraction was made by Pino."

And a collective gasp came over all of us.

Stay tuned for part 2....

--To Be Continued--