Monday evening I went to shut all the animals safely in the coop, as I do every night.
The chickens go into the coop themselves as soon as it gets twilight-ish so all I have to do is count that they are all inside and shut the coop doors. The only time it’s difficult to get them into the coop is when I want them to go in early–for example, when I know we won’t get home until after dark. Fortunately, I don’t often try to shoo them in early because chickens refuse to be forced or herded to go anywhere they don’t want to go. They are very stubborn, independent creatures.
If the cats aren’t already in the coop, I just yell, “Here, Kitty, Kitty!” and they come running. During the summer Annie preferred to sleep out in one of the dog houses we have in the garden for shelter. However, when the weather turned colder, I put her in the coop despite her protests because it’s warmer and safer in the coop. After a few days, she quit complaining and now she spends a lot of her time in the coop, sleeping on a bed of straw.
So….Monday evening at twilight I went outside to make sure all the animals were safe in the coop. Suddenly, I heard a loud rustling in the forest, somewhere back beyond the garden fence. I thought at first that a tree had fallen. Sometimes trees fall in the forest with a rustling crash. But then I heard it again. It didn’t sound like a deer running away. For one thing, the sound was not moving off into the distance. I felt a little spooked, trying to guess what it was.
As I continued my evening chores, I heard the sound again, and yet again–a large rustling noise in the same direction as before. I began to wonder if it was a bear. I’ve never seen a bear, but we’ve had reports of them in our area–one last summer was reported to be only a mile away. I began to make an escape plan, just in case an ornery, hungry one emerged from the forest. After making sure all the animals were safely in the coop, I shut the doors. Then I did what people always do in monster movies when they hear a strange noise–something I’ve always ranted was stupidly idiotic and which I’d never do if I found myself in a similar situation: Rather than sprint for the safety of the house, I paused, took a step closer to where I heard the noise, and peered into the depths of the forest, trying to see what was there. I saw no bear, no bobcat, no legendary Michigan Dogman, which is rumored to roam in the very region in which I live. I saw nothing. Then, suddenly, I heard the rustling noise again and I saw a large dark shape rising up through the trees like a creepy wraith in a haunted forest. Yikes!
Then I identified it. I laughed in relief. Ha, ha. The rustling noises had been turkeys flying up one-by-one to roost in the trees for the night. I had seen them a short time before wandering past our windows on their way to the back yard.
However, this morning I saw something even scarier than the scary noise in the forest: Snow. It has begun. The wintry season has arrived. It’s time to dig out my boots and mittens.
Actually, I like winter, even with its challenges. But the first snow is always a bit of a shock–kind of like jumping into a cold lake for the first time. Once I get in it, I enjoy the beauty of the season.