"The time has come," The Farmer said, "to speak to Nabe Next Door.
Of how his dog has a feather tooth, and now I'm chicken-poor.
And how we can resolve this mess, and harmony restore."
Yeah. Play along with me. I know Farmer H doesn't speak in rhymes, or use words like resolve and harmony. But he's had enough of Copper eating his chickens. Got another one Tuesday night. Allegedly!
Let the record show that I caught Copper black-mouthed a week or so ago, when Farmer H was gone to Kansas. Saw him running across the front yard with a black chicken in his mouth, headed for his own yard. And when I hollered, "HEY! What's that in your mouth?" (because I expected an answer, of course, knowing that Copper speaks the Hillmomba English), Copper turned and looked at me, and I saw it even better. Plus, Farmer H found some black feathers in the yard, and our black hen was missing.
Wednesday evening, while floating just below the surface of Poolio on a raft not quite rated for his weight, Farmer H said, "I guess I'm going to have to go talk to Nabe. That dog got another chicken last night. One of the little white ones. There are feathers all over. But not a body."
"Well, you can't blame the dog. He wasn't raised with the chickens like ours. He doesn't think of them as part of his pack. They're just little animals to chase and eat for him. We need to use a shock collar on him. But I don't think the one we got for Jack is big enough. And Nabe may not want us to put a shock collar on his dog. We can't even CATCH HIM, anyway."
"Yeah. We have to do something."
"I don't want him to chain up Copper. A dog shouldn't live like that. He should get to roam, living out here in the country. He doesn't need to be in a pen. What kind of life is that?"
"Well, the chickens don't need to be killed, either."
"Copper just needs to be trained to leave them alone. But at this rate, we're not going to have any chickens left to train him with."
"I can always get more chickens. And we have the guinea and the turkey."
"That's not the same as a chicken."
"I don't want Copper chained up either."
"Just when I was almost starting to like him. Giving him a piece of bread every night when the dogs get their snack. And him coming up to sniff my hand when I walk. And he stopped barking at me in my own driveway!"
"Yeah, and I want him here because he chases off that crazy dog across the road. Gets real aggressive with it."
"I know. The one that had Juno down in the yard, biting her. That Rottweiler."
"Yeah. I don't want it to start coming back."
"Well, make sure Nabe knows we like his dog, and don't mind it living here. We just want to train it, if he can catch it."
I have no idea how this conversation is going to go over with Nabe. Farmer H went to school with him. We used to socialize with them before we moved out here and were both busy raising our families. Nabe had another dog several years ago, a Husky, that somebody shot and laid at the end of his driveway. He knows that wasn't us. His dog before that was a yellow lab named Penny, who came over and took Farmer H's yard ornaments every day. When they got a decent collection, Nabe's wife would bring them back and line them up along the porch. Farmer H didn't mind. He put them back in his rock garden for Penny to take again.
Can't we all just get along, and have chickens roaming the yard laying fresh eggs?