Safari I already mentioned that the girls don’t talk in their pen. They simply make noise, lots of noise. If they are not out by 10:30 a.m. it sounds like a twenty peacocks having sex while being pelted with rocks. I’m not kidding. It’s horrendous. I will say I have never heard peacocks having sex or being pelted by rocks - but it is what I think they sound like. One particular day was worse than others. I went out to run a few errands and as I was putting up groceries I heard the twenty peacocks. I decided to ignore them and do some much needed garden maintenance in the front yard. No such luck. The screaming continued. Seriously, they gave me a headache. It would not stop. They were so loud that my neighbor, with a hearing aid, came out to ask if everything was okay. I sighed and said yes and went to let the ladies out. As I opened the door, all five sashayed out. “Ms. Hilda, where have you been?” “Today is a monumental day for us!” “Please tell us you have small pith helmets.” “What?” I asked. Let me say here, that I want to be angry with them. I want to scream and stomp my feet. But they are so dang cute, they make you smile. They cock their little heads up at me when walking by. They stop at my ankles for the daily stroke as they start their day in the backyard. I can’t be mad. Frustrated, yes! “Pith helmets, a sola topee?” Ruby asked craning her head to look up at me. “I don’t know what ya’ll are talking about,” I sighed. At least they were quiet now. “A sun helmet, Ms. Hilda!” Lucy said in exasperation. “It’s Jeanine. I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about!” They were headed toward the deck. Virginia didn’t even turn around. “A safari! We are going on a safari hunt! We need the hats for our safari.” “I don’t have five little safari hats, sorry.” “We have seen big game today from the palace grounds. Big game, Ms. Hilda! Today is the day,” Hazel stated as she jumped on the deck. “Whatever,” I mumbled as I went back inside. I had only been inside for about ten minutes when the screaming began. “Get it!” “Faster, Lucille!” “Ohhh, ho, it’s getting away.” “Flank it!” “Go for the kill! Go for the Kill!” “I got it.” “I want it!” “Give it to me!” “It’s mine!” “I saw it first!” “Killer killer, I’m the winner!” Did I hear killer? I charged out the French door and stopped in my tracks. Oh my! I am not witnessing this, what butchers! How could these precious chickens be so brutal. Ruby had a bloody mouse in her mouth. Not a small one either. She was running all over the backyard with Virginia and Hazel, Lucy and Claire close behind demanding that she share. Share? I thought. No, they can’t – ugh oh yes they can. Lucy looked back and realizing she had two chicken lengths lead stopped running and swallowed the mouse whole! I began gagging while Virginia, Hazel, Lucy, and Claire started whining that they didn’t get any of it. I was scared that they would catch something, I don’t know what. The plague, perhaps? I jumped on BackyardChickens.com and lo and behold it’s normal. Ugh. My precious, sweet, talkative girls are gross. I decided to stay inside until I could keep my breakfast down. Not thirty minutes later, it started again. “There it is under that bush!” “Herd it to the palace!” “Come on, ladies. Stay in a tight formation.” “It’s in the palace! Hooray!” “It turned, it’s trying to climb the palace walls!” “Claire, you are the tallest. Get it!” “Hurry!” I ran back outside. This time it was a baby squirrel that had fallen out of its nest. The poor thing had been chased into the palace and was frantically trying to climb the chicken wire. Claire was jumping up and pecking the poor thing as it tried to climb higher. Unfortunately, Claire had a good vertical leap and down came the injured baby. Lucy lunged for it. Hazel hurt it. And Virginia eviscerated the baby. Oh, where was my husband when I needed him. I grabbed a shovel and kicked at the girls. I put the baby squirrel out of its misery and scooped it up and tossed it over the fence. “NOOOOOOOO!” The five girl’s screamed. “YEEEESSSSS!” I screamed back. “We wanted it for a snack,” Lucy yelled. “No, not that for a snack,” I huffed. “They are a delicacy,” Ruby said. “So much for our safari,” Claire sighed. “If we had only had plithe hats.” “Plithe hats,” I mumbled. “I’ll get you purple pudding.” Purple pudding is what the girls call blueberry yogurt. “Yes!” Hazel said excitedly. “Please,” said Lucy. “Thank you, Ms. Hilda!” Virginia replied. “A poor substitute for wild game,” Ruby grumbled. I brought out the blueberry yogurt and curled up in a chair. Five hens sat in my lap taking turns with the yogurt. Lucy, Claire, and Ruby hopped down and began foraging in the dirt. Hazel and Virginia found comfortable spots on my lap. As I stroked them they made their soft purring sound and closed their eyes. How I do love these little complicated creatures. “It’s been a lovely day, Ms. Hilda,” Virginia said with eyes closed. “Yes, and it’s only a bit after noon.” I closed my eyes and continued petting the soft silky feathers as I tried to block the murders from my mind.