The inspector cometh

The Big Boat Man was crafting his tiller when ‘five’ came up to inspect his work.  BBM says she flew up, pushed him aside to inspect his work and look over the boat from the raised vantage point.

It all started several years ago with five chickens for freshly laid eggs.  The chickens all looked exactly the same so we never bothered naming them.  We could tell them apart from their personalities at times, and there was always one chicken who preferred foraging by herself.  By default she was called ‘five’ because the other four were hanging out together.

The five chickens loved working with me in the garden, and I would talk to them, relaying to BBM our conversations and their antics of the day.  I insisted that I could understand the changes in their tones and cackles, and BBM would ask me not to talk about the chickens in front of other people. He was afraid they would think I was nuts.

Strange things would happen that made me think chickens were far more intelligent than people give them credit for.  Because they had no names, when it was time for the chickens to return to their pen, we would have to look for ‘five’.  Often she was over in the neighbour’s garden picking through the underbrush and we would ask the other chickens, ‘Where’s five?’  They would help find her by calling, especially if we gave them a treat of wheat.  ‘Five’ would come running to get her share.

One day I was hanging out clothes when four chickens came running to me.  They stopped and started chattering to me all at once.  It was almost as if they were telling on ‘five’.  So, I asked ‘Where’s five?’  Every one of the four chickens turned to look at my open back door.  I thought, surely not! Not indoors!  When I checked inside, there was ‘five’ quietly tiptoeing around the wooden floors of my kitchen.  It was as if she knew her claws would make noise. I shooed her out and the other four chickens were standing outside the door waiting to see what would happen to her.

When we went to visit grandchildren in Portugal a couple of years ago, we needed to find someone to take care of the chickens.  Brynn’s friend stated she could do it, but it had to be under controlled circumstances where she just accessed the eggs from the laying box and didn’t have to be in contact with the chickens. It seems she has a chicken phobia. So, instead, BBM built another chicken coop and pen next to his Man Cave where a male neighbour could benefit from the eggs and keep watch over the chickens.  And the five chickens enjoyed their new home…..

Until they started dying one by one.  Now all the literature says that chickens only are good for eggs for about 18 months.  Ours is years old and still laying.  We believe the deaths had more to do with the gardener who is very proud of her spraying certificate.  Ignoring our pleas to not spray, she regularly gets out her backpack and wand.  So, over time our chicken population has waned, to where we only have one.

And by default this one is called ‘five’.  It was as if she understood when ‘four’ died that she now would get to do things the other chickens were never allowed to do.  Like go into the boat shed (Man Cave).  BBM has gone from shooing the chickens out, to allowing ‘five’ to sun herself in the doorway.  Guess who she talks to now?  Guess who answers her?  Guess who has gone from tiptoeing under the boat where she can’t be seen to strutting around inspecting things?

When I go to visit the boat shed I know immediately if BBM has not given her wheat that day.  She tells me.  I let her into the boat shed.  She goes directly to the shelf where the wheat is, and stands there looking at the bag.

All I can say is that BBM just acts gruff.  He’s a softy who fights with me over bread and chips leftovers – will my sparrows here at home get them, or will ‘five’ get them as a treat at the boat shed?  He would never admit it, but he actually hides leftovers in plastic bags in the fridge so that he can take them in the morning.

And, he likes the fact that she inspects his work.  She approves, and he accepts the praise.

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