Sunday, April 23, 2006

Slapstick Farming

As sometimes happens round these parts, a predator snuck into our less secure turkey pen one evening this past week. Said predator was nearly caught by my 15 year old son, Mr. Expert-on-Everything, and my 15 year old nephew, Suburbia Boy, when they went out to feed the birds. The assailant ran off into the nearby brush, leaving behind one dead tom turkey, one nearly dead tom, and a badly frightened hen who had escaped onto the top of the other nearby pen.

What happened from this point forward should have been an easy, 10 minute task - dispose of the dead turkey, capture the hen and put her in the more secure pen, and barricade the hole where the predator got in. But no. The rest of the story unfolded like a forty-five minute scene from Lucy and Ethel Meet Dumb & Dumber.

In the boys' 15 year old minds, the predator had quickly grown from the likely coyote or dog to an immense creature along the lines of a mutant mountain lion on steroids. My son urged me to bring my gun and guard the perimeter of the property while he captured the hen. Why I agreed to this plan, I'll never know. My history with firearms has not been, shall we say, a blazing success. The only way I was going to take down the predator was to chuck the gun at the animal and hope it conked him on the head. In addition, by this time it was fully dark, and if I did take a shot, the only thing I'd manage to kill would be my neighbor's prize bull.

But out I trotted with my trusty weapon. My nephew was already on guard duty, nervously prepared to defend himself with an 18 inch length of exhaust pipe. My pug could have wrestled the pipe from his hand, but I didn't tell him that. The boy has no experience with farm life, so I knew he was going to be about as helpful as an NEA union rep at a homeschool convention. I was followed by his mother, my sister-in-law, who came out to provide background sound effects.

My son was apparently anxious for his mom to show off her shooting skills, because he kept shouting, "It's over THERE! Right there!! Mom, it's in those weeds! SHOOT IT!" I stood there, peering stupidly through my bifocals at utter darkness, wondering if I can order my next pair of glasses with those night vision lenses that the military uses.

By this time, Suburbia Boy was so scared, he was softly singing, "I Will Survive" to himself. My son had climbed to the top of the secure pen and was attempting to walk across the light wire roof to get to the hen. I forgot about the predator and started yelling at my son to get down off the flimsy wire, but he ignored me. Meanwhile, the hen was determined to stay as anchored to that roof as Double Bubble in a kindergartener's hair, so my son had to make several wobbly trips around the top of the pen as he tried to chase her down. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: That won't hold your weight! Get down!

Son: Mom, the animal is right behind [the neighbor's] calf pens! Shoot it!

Me: Quit thinking about the animal and get that hen!

Sister-in-law emits nervous sigh.

Son: Mom, I know what I'm doing. Look, don't you see its eyes, glowing in the dark?! I think it might be a bear. Don't we have bears around here?

Nephew, softly: "....if I'd have known for just one second you'd be back to bother me..."

Son, hopefully: Can I try shooting it?

Me: NO!

Finally, the hen flapped to the ground and my son managed to scoop her up in his arms. I held the pen door open, but he thought maybe his citified aunt might like to see and maybe even touch a turkey up close. I think she probably thought that by holding the turkey, he was now walking predator bait, so she started shaking her head in a vigorous "NO!" motion. So we put the bird in the pen, and I thought that was the end of the adventure. But no.

Part Two, Battle of Wits: How to Catch a Serial Turkey Killer

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