Asking what a hen sounds like is odd

When you’ve kept chickens for a while, you become fairly familiar with the noises they make. From contented clucking to agitated squawking, inquisitive berking to aggressive growling, Chickenese becomes a second language to the flockmaster. Even if you aren’t the one doing daily chores, you can get used to certain chooks and what they’re saying. That’s why it seemed like such an odd question when my hubby asked my daughter “What does that white hen sound like?”

To help you understand just how odd this question is, first you need to know that, thanks to possums, raccoons, and hawks, our flock numbered a grand total of three. One last wily Phoenix rooster stood guard over one petite Phoenix hen and said white hen, the last remnants of a once 30 strong flock. We were pretty familiar with all of them by then, and I couldn’t remember ever hearing the white hen sound anything but normal.

I knew darling daughter hadn’t been bringing in any eggs, but I chalked it up to the shortening days and the general unreliability of Phoenix hens. We had rather figured we’d take care of the remaining three birds for the duration of their lives, then maybe take a break from the egg business. At the very least, we decided to stop providing a top dollar all you can eat buffet for the local predator population and hoped they’d go elsewhere. Darling hubby had been down by the coop stacking wood when he heard the strange noises emanating from inside.

It’s surprising how shocking the cheeping of baby chicks can be if you don’t expect it. My immediate first reaction was denial, then a dawning sort of admiration for the resident rooster. Said white hen is almost twice his size, and not known for her amorous nature. And there she was with four little chicks, happily scratching around in the coop. Mind you, none of them are the color of Phoenix chicks, so it’s anybody’s guess what they’ll turn out to be. It looks like we’ll have chickens for a little while longer. I must say, it’s much easier letting a hen raise chicks than trying to do it myself. She’s much more reliable than a heat lamp.

Speaking of funny noises, our old Allis tractor made one the other day. Hubs has really been impressing me with his tinkering ability, and how he’s kept the old girl running. He went out to fire up the tractor to get a bale for the horses. Apparently the sound of a starter failing to engage the ring gear is a whirr. Always the optimist, he still holds out hope that he can fix it. “All I have to do is take the whole thing apart and rebuild it,” he says.

As much of a Pollyanna as I can apparently be at times, reality took over quickly. There’s noWHERE to tear apart a tractor over winter out here. There’s also no WHEN. Schedules are tight as it is, and we’re going into wrestling season. A new tractor was a must, and fast.

I had noticed a PTO mower for sale a few months ago, parked in a roadside yard with a tractor. Hubs had been wanting just such a mower for a while, so it became his birthday present. (I can’t tell you how glad I am that he’s so easy to shop for. Most guys wouldn’t get overly thrilled about a used mower, let alone about having to go pick it up themselves. Hubs is pretty awesome that way.) The tractor sure looked nice and was newer than Ancient Allis, but it wasn’t needed at the time.

As much as it pains me to admit it, I woke up that morning much as I do every morning, in other words, not independently wealthy or a lottery winner. A brand spanking new tractor was out of the question. Fortunately, the nice man selling the roadside tractor hadn’t sold it before we decided to add it to our mechanical stable. After some wrangling around getting a check for our new addition, we headed out one chilly evening to bring her home. As we pulled onto the yard, a shocking sight met my eyes.

IT HAD LIGHTS. WORKING LIGHTS! Until today, all work on our place requiring a tractor had to stop at dusk. Allis had lights, but they were strictly ornamental. As I slowly mastered my awe, I enjoyed a nice conversation with the man’s family. It was one of those moments that just makes you thankful to be from a small town . . .standing in the gathering dusk, watching the kids play, chatting back and forth and finding things in common. Soon enough, it was time to head home.

We made our way home at a dizzying ten miles per hour. I followed hubs home just in case of mechanical mishap. Those working lights were sure something. Not only could he see in front, but a single bright spotlight aimed back illuminated my face behind him. A strange smell permeated my vehicle. As I drove, I vaguely remembered him saying something about the new Massey Ferguson being a diesel. Maybe I wasn’t dizzied by the speed after all.

As we putted along and pulled into the driveway, I gave thanks. The Lord has blessed us richly this year. Most of it doesn’t have anything to do with money, but the people and places that have touched our lives have been nothing short of amazing. May He give you plenty to be thankful for too.