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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

STEVE CATES: OF LIFE AND DEATH AND GEESE AND DUCKS

Folks,

Kind of overcast this late summer morning. Slight breeze. Nice rain last night. Just enough to keep the hoses coiled under the faucets while everything remains green.  The raspberries are over and not much of a crop. Lots of moldy berries and moldy grapes. Very unexpected. But last night we had the first ears of this summer’s corn. Delicious. Will we get tomatoes after the pounding from the hail storm? Little fruit now but will they ripen? A very strange summer indeed.


The golden wheat field to my south was cut over the weekend. Thus, wheat harvest art for the art feature of this issue and the wheat field on the cover. There is a certain beauty that although we see lots of wheat field here in North Dakota they remain the beauty in the eye of the beholder.

Then there are the two geese and three ducks. The miracle of new life was brought home to my granddaughter with the hatching of eggs in the incubator in the apartment bath tub. Then the cute little fuzzy beings could not stay in the tub so a “temporary” arrangement was made and we put them in the “clubhouse”. Temporarily. Until arrangements could be made. But….then $18 worth of poultry fence and we seemed to have inadvertently become owners of a small flock. The flock kind of became part of the extended family, with complete dedication, following the wife who brought the food and water to them in the pen.

Then, under supervision the flock was allowed to roam about a little. At first we were afraid that the cat herd would be the untimely end of the flock. Surprise! It only took a single episode after which the cats were scared to death of the extremely aggressive geese. Then the geese started going after the poor old fat yellow dog. She never knew what hit her. Almost deaf and blind in one eye, the geese would come up behind her and bite her behind. So the flock moved to the top of the pecking order. This caused some conflict as both the dog and the cats were accustomed to following the wife around as she worked on the gardens and flower beds. At each work station, the dog would lay down, two cats would curl up with the old dog while another invariably gets in the way of actual work being done brushing against the legs of the wife and demanding affection and attention. The flock turned this idyllic scene into bedlam. Dog, cats, geese and ducks, yelping, quaking, honking, hissing, and squawking. It was entertaining to watch the whole chaotic scene but the flock started to be a little too “born free”. It turns out that they eat almost everything small enough to get into their mouths. Even pretty flowers. A few flattened bushes and flowers and confinement to the movable pen would have to be the sentence for the balance of their mortal existence.
But what of the deeper question of life and death of ducks and geese? The expectation is that I will dispatch said flock to the freezer. There to await our mid winter feasting, the, for the first time, Christmas goose? But somehow the idea of grabbing any of those fowl and wringing their necks seems foul. There will be violence. There will be flapping. There will be lots of noise. There will be lots of blood. On me.

The wife keeps inferring that the deed needs done sooner rather than later. How I wonder, can she feel like that when those creatures obviously hold her in such high esteem? I believe that stomping the flowers ended the mutual affection. So, I bought one more bag of feed, and anticipate moving the pen once or twice, to further fatten them up, before……


I will let you know next month about the impending duck/goose harvest. I am perhaps as curious as you how this all turns out.

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