We can read! I decided not to tell my husband that hens could talk. I know. Such the right decision. I didn’t want to be sent away just yet. Our morning routine is coffee, dog walk, let the girls out of the coup, feed them, and then read our Bibles. Then, Fred goes off to work and I go to the gym and run a few errands. I’m usually home by 10 and the girls’ free range. Our back yard is big with lots of trees. It’s very strange. If the girls are in the palace, they rarely talk. But, let them out and wow, it’s non-stop stream of conscious talking. One morning I let them out and they marched past me in single file order. “Thank you, Ms. Hilda, for removing the rooster from our premises,” Ruby said as she marched past my feet. “Any treats this morning?” asked Lucy. “Nope,” I said as she waddled away. “We are going hiking!” Clara said excitedly. “No, you aren’t going hiking,” I said. “We are going hiking!” Claire huffed. “No, you aren’t.” “Yes we are! See you later.” “Can you put our water in the middle of the water? That would be divine, Ms. Hilda,” Hazel said as she sashayed away without turning around. I sighed heavily and went to sit in a rocker to watch them. “You aren’t hiking and I’m not Ms. Hilda,” I said to five chicken butts. I watched as they walked to the very corner of the backyard and began their little waltz. Two scratches and a bend, two scratches and a bend. Butt in the air and peck, peck, peck. So, now I know how chickens hike. I watched them smiling. They really are the sweetest, but demanding, things. I got up and put their water in the middle of the yard. Hazel looked up from her waltz. “Thank you, Ms. Hilda!” She screamed. “Your welcome…my name is Jeanine,” I said. As I went in the house I could hear them. “Jeanine. What a silly name!” “That, Ms.Hilda, she is incorrigible.” “What a delight!” A few hours later, I decided to sit outside and do a devotional. They ran, or rather hiked, toward me. “It’s been a lovely, day.” “We’ve seen a remarkable variety of wildlife on our hike.” “That’s nice,” I said as I plopped down in my Papasan chair. “We have eaten so many bugs.” “And, that’s gross,” I said opening my devotional. “Now, we are going to help you.” “Help me do what?” I asked. “Just help,” Virginia stated as she jumped in my lap. “Yeah, I’m going to read a daily devotional,” I said as I put on my reading glasses. Claire jumped on the side of the chair, tore a page in half, and ran off with it. Ruby and Lucy chased her. Hazel jumped in my lap with Virginia. I sighed and decided to read the next day’s devotional. Hazel and Virginia pecked at the letters which poked holes in the paper. “Really? You aren’t helping,” I huffed. “Yes we are!” Claire said. “We are reading!” All six sang out and began laughing. “We love reading!” I salvaged what was left of the devotional and sat it on the table. Hazel jumped trying to pull it off the table. “That’s not reading.” “Yes, it is,” Hazel said. “No, it isn’t!” I said. “Yes, it is and we helped you read!” Virginia exclaimed with much satisfaction. “Aren’t you glad we help you!” Ruby said with a mouth full of paper. I went back inside. A few weeks later I got the bright idea off Pinterest to place newspapers on the ground before I put my pinestraw down. The article said that you would be weed free all summer. It took a few hours and it looked beautiful. I was glad I wouldn’t have to weed. I let the hens out and went to work in the front yard. Two hours later I walked around to the backyard. Oh my. There were thousands of tiny pieces of confetti newspaper everywhere. The pine straw had been piled up in these little chicken size piles. The confetti blew across the backyard with every gust of wind. Lucy looked up. “Whew, we are exhausted! We have been reading all morning.” “Oh, Ms. Hilda. Look, we helped you read,” Virginia said. “Reading is so much fun!” Hazel said. I wanted to cry, but I just shook my head and went inside and, yes, I poured myself another glass of wine.