https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7693-Chickenspeak Four Beady Eyes Several of us were leaning on the huge counter at the hardware store, waiting for various things in the weekly shipment. Turns out most of us were getting hardware cloth or other accessories for coops. One of the men is a crusty guy named Ralph, who invariably chews on a toothpick and drawls as he speaks. "There was a ruckus in the old icehouse last night, I could heard the rooster screaming, and I ran out with my shotgun." He had our attention, the old icehouse was infamous and the beams in there were from the 1780's. It has a cupola of sorts and the wooden vents were hand-hewn without a single nail. Now the icehouse has been mended from time to time, it could use a coat of red paint, and the double walls need to be re-insulated with fibreglass rather than seaweed and newspapers, but it is considered a building of significance. Many cats live there and Ralph boast of being rodent-free. Ralph is a poultry man of moderate significance and has acquired many animals, and is also known for his produce at a local market. "it took me a long time to find 'em, too." Ralph is notorious for dragging out a tale, but Dale the warehouseman had not returned. No doubt he was under half the tractor-trailer load of goods gathering the various items we each needed so we could go home and work on our properties. "I though they wuz in the cupula." What is what he called it. "But no, the vermints wuz scratching in the corner above the red girls." None of us would have interrupted, we assumed he mean the layers he got last year from the co-op. He chewed on his toothpick a bit longer and the aroma of peppermint wafted from his mouth. "So I want outside because there weren't nuttin in the barn, but no, they wasn't thar neither." You could have served coffee in the lag time before he put us out of our misery. How could we possibly leave now that he had a mystery to share? "So I opened the door between the walls and crossed through the seaweed and darn it there wasn't four beady eyes looking at me from the corner of the roof. Those varmints chawed past the shingles and you know that old board I've been meaning to fix, well they had it pried up and they wuz ready to climb down when I..." Meanwhile Dale returned with a large wheeled contraption containing rolls of hardware cloth, at least four metal waterers and wall mount feeders, cheapo plastic thermometers, No-Pest strips, and a huge batt of R-25 pink fibreglass insulaton. Ralph cracked open his wallet. Several heads turned and finally, a lady named Judy snapped. "Well, then what?" A collective sigh of relief passed through our group which had swollen to perhaps twelve as meandering customers drifted from the asiles to listen. I'm sure everyone had images of Ralph sandbalsting those raccoons to kingdom come, but instead he filched through his wallet. "I'll show you." He grinned. I grimaced, ready for too much information, explicit details, and I though Judy was going to leave. He pulled out a photo. "It's the two I raised a while back. Last year? I released them over at Ed's but he musta brought them back." He had crushed the toothpick to fine fibres by then and we all broke into a laugh. Ed is Ralph's best friend, both are widowers on adjacent mixed farms. " I was up all night fixing that darn roof." "But what did you do to them?" Judy insisted, her blue hair bristling. I thought she was going to grab him by the arm. "I took them back over to Ed's of course. Before I fixed the roof." And he winked, nodded to Dale and followed the load of goods to the checkout. I love this village. Two weeks to Chick Day and I expect to see most of them but especially Ralph and Ed, in line with the rest of us at the co-op.