Saturday, November 12, 2011

Looking for ideas

It was late afternoon before Kid made it over to see Lemuel.  For whatever reason, Bart hadn’t headed out for his walk until much later than usual.  And oddly enough, he had quite a bit of spring in his step.  Usually Bart looked as though taking his walk was just another chore, instead of something enjoyable.  Kid ran for the back yard and was over the hedgerow in moments.  He found Lemuel staring off into space in the corner of the run. 

“What was all the ruckus about with the hens earlier?  I heard them squawking for quite a while and I would have come over, but Bart was working where he could have seen me.”  Lemuel slowly turned his head and stared blankly at Kid.  “What’s wrong?  I’m sorry about the whole incubator thing, but please don’t be angry with me.” 

“Bart’s not phasing out the turkey operation, Kid.  We are all scheduled to be turkey dinner for needy folks in the parish on Thanksgiving Day.  All of us. He’s delivering our carcasses to the church hall on Wednesday.  Doris worked it out – that’s eleven days from now.  I believe that’s less than three paws, by your way of counting.  I’ve just been sitting here and remembering…things.”  He turned and stared off into space again.  “I think I’d like to be alone right now, Kid.  Please come to see me tomorrow, I do want to talk to you, but right now I just need to be alone.” 

Kid stood there, stunned and thought of all the things she could say.  All the things she wanted to say to Lemuel.  She realized, though, that this wasn’t the time to say them.  Tomorrow would be soon enough.  She ran at full speed to the hedgerow and then to the house, vaulting over Buddy again.  Since Val’s mom was visiting, the back sliding door was open, and Kid slipped through the pet door in the screen.  She yelled for Emma, Ziggy, Bella and Samma and then told Buddy to come in because they needed to talk.

She explained what Lemuel had told him to the group.  Buddy opined that sooner or later they’d all be gone, so why not know? Ziggy said he was very sorry, but the turkeys couldn’t all stay under the deck and he didn’t think there was anything else to do.  Samma looked confused, since she didn’t know Lemuel.  Bella yawned.  Same story, different day.  Emma looked sympathetically at Kid and said that as soon as she could get access to the computer that she’d send another email out to their friends.  Maybe one of them would have an idea.  What Emma didn’t say was that she doubted that there would be anything anyone could do for the flock.  Turkeys were bred for eating.  Sooner or later, they’d be roasted, or stewed or fried or made into soup.  She was so glad she wasn’t a livestock animal (and that she didn’t live near a Chinese restaurant). 

Kid retreated to the neighbor’s shed, her own refuge when life was not going the way she wanted and put her head down on her paws.  She knew in her heart of hearts that nothing the cats could do would save the turkeys, but she couldn’t just sit by and let them be slaughtered without doing something.  She drifted off to sleep, only to be awakened by a nightmare where Val was chasing Ziggy around with a giant carving knife.  She got up and decided to see if anyone else at the farm would talk to her.  Maybe the cows or the chickens would have an idea.

There was no sign of Bart – perhaps he had made it to the 5 o’clock Mass, so Kid slunk across the farmyard to the chicken coop.  “Pssst.  Pssst.  Hey, chickens.  I’m Kid, Lemuel’s friend.  I promise I won’t try to catch you or chase you.  I just need to talk to someone for a minute.” 

A boss rooster strutted over.  “What do you want?  Them turkeys is no friends of ours.  They get all the good feed and what does Bart feed us?  Chicken feed!”  He scratched dirt in Kid’s direction and went back to the coop.  Oh well.  They probably wouldn’t have any good ideas anyway. 

Next Kid visited the few goats that Bart had on the farm.  He was no threat to them, so he approached them openly and explained the situation, asking if they knew anything that could help.  One of the older nanny goats looked at him and said, “I saw something naaasty in the woodshed.”  Kid asked her what she meant, but she just repeated again, “I saw something naaasty in the woodshed.” 

A younger goat approached her and said, “Oh, she always says that.  Don’t pay her any mind.  But she is right, in a way.  When Bart slaughters the animals, he does take them into the woodshed, and when they come out, they’re not…alive…anymore.  Maybe if you burned it down or something he wouldn’t be able to slaughter them.  And then maybe Grandmother would say something else.  Think about it.” 

The cows didn’t have any ideas.  They were dairy cows, not beef cows, so such matters were not of importance to them.  Quality grass and feed were their main concerns, that and the health of their calves. 

Kid returned home discouraged.  She didn’t think she could burn down a shed.  For one, she lacked the thumbs needed to use a lighter or matches, and for two she would be afraid that the fire would spread and harm some of the other animals.  It wouldn’t do to save the turkeys, but kill all the chickens in the process. 

So, she waited in hope of the means of salvation via email, and eventually slept, this time without nightmares.

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