Protector

About eighteen years ago, I lived on a small farm. There were no cows or horses to tend, but there was a dog. The dog was a mixed breed named Bodie. Bodie consisted of: the square head and the gentleness of a Labrador Retriever, the black specks from a Catahoula Leopard (colloquially known as a cur), and a curled tail, black tongue, and one blue eye of a Chow-chow. He grew up as a protector of this small farm.

Bodie was confused when I received a gift of fighting chickens (Asils) two hens and a cock. He was constantly being scolded for chasing these small creatures with brightly colored feathers around the yard. It was weeks of fussing at him before he realized that they were not there to entertain him. Once Bodie and the chickens became accustomed to each other the chickens developed a preference to scratching the yard near Bodie. Perhaps they knew wild things from the nearby wooded area would not come near if Bodie were around to protect them.

Well it was not long before I wanted a dozen Indian Blue peachicks, especially since Bodie had done so well with the chickens on the yard. I hand raised these chicks with Bodie looking in to acclimate him to their smell. I had seven peacocks four of them grew to maturity, and three out of the peahens grew to maturity.

The peacocks and peahens flocked together with the chickens all scratching and pecking for bugs and grass not far from Bodie, if Bodie could be found, because he liked his privacy; yet, this feathery crowd seemed to always find him. He never found much use in these creatures since he always got fussed at for chasing them, but they sure liked his company. The peacocks grew into beautiful cocks with their plumes of iridescent feathers that shimmered in the bright sun stopping traffic on the nearby road to admire the fabulous dance of these majestic creatures. I never could figure out exactly who they were dancing for since I myself received the affection of the cocks who danced every time, I was near, and the females would attack me. I had to start carrying a stick with me to warn off any and all attacks.

Then one day my  peacocks became ill. The local vet researched diligently the possible causes of the illness with no luck. I lost all my beautiful cocks and two of the three hens were lost, leaving me with one healthy and quite playful hen.

I used to step out of my front door to find her perched upon the hood of my freshly waxed car with her large black claws scratching as she quickly dismounted to run around the car with me in pursuit. We made about six circles around the car as I was fussing at her the whole time. I switched directions several times and yet she knew of my direction change because she would turn and run in the opposite direction as well. So, I stopped, and I got down on my hands and knees to see where exactly she was by looking underneath the car. Looking back from the other side of the car was the hen trying to figure out exactly where I was so she could make her strategic moves to outrun me. She or I one got bored with the chase until the next day and the game began once again. Several people did not agree with my patience for the hen scratching my car, but I still could not hurt her.

This hen laid a clutch of unfertilized eggs, and she was dedicated to sitting on her nest only leaving them long enough to get water and food. I was so impressed with her motherly instincts to hatch these dead eggs that I would almost cry. Someone suggested that I should sneak over to her nest tucked between two pine trees in a bed of pine needles, while she was away getting water and food, and replace her dead eggs with some of the Asil eggs that were fertilized. Asil eggs are very small (a large golf ball) compared to the peahen eggs (the size of a large baseball). I knew that once she returned to her nest, she’d be able to detect the difference. She did not notice the difference, and she eventually hatched the two little Asil chicks. These two fuzzy chicks were about the size of her big feet. Yet, she stepped so carefully around the small chicks as to not step on them. She taught them how to slip into a hollow log as she crouched close to the ground in front of the hollow log when the large shadow of a bird flew over. She was very dedicated to her small chicks always finding Bodie in the yard so they could scratch and peck the ground while utilizing his protective services.

I used to go walking around the block by walking out of the drive way and down the road out in front of the property. I was so focused on my power walk; it was not until I was about of a quarter mile into my walk that I heard something behind me. When I turned around, I found Bodie quietly walking directly behind me, then the chickens and their chicks behind Bodie, and finally in the rear was the peahen and her two chicks all in line with each following their protector Bodie.

I find myself sharing this story many times because of the power of nature to protect their selves and their young by any means available. Bodie had no clue , he just knew everywhere he went so did the feathery crowd.

Thank you,

1/1/20

Bodie is no longer alive. And the chickens are long gone. The peahen was hit by a speeding truck on the road in front of the farm. Things change, but the memory of them trailing me that day many years ago will never fade away. 

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Published in Senior Chatters

Comments

  1. odal

    I have never got any animals of my own, but as young teenager I often visited an old farmer that had a cat, a horse and three cows. The horse helped me to grow potatoes, around 500 kg harvest, and the cows provided wonderful fat sour milk. It was milked by hand, strain through a cloth and cooled in a spring. Then I made it sour to eat for breakfast. The cows were of a very old breed. The milk was like from heaven. Today modern existence is a sad excuse for a life.

  2. tania

    Lovely story, it brings back memories of my late brothers farm, my sister-in -law still lives on the farm.Being from a rural area myself, I can relate to many of these stories…Thank you