Leaked

Story continues from yesterday

[This is a darkly comic satire not recommended for readers under 12]

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Surveillance

Story continues from yesterday

[This is a darkly comic satire not recommended for readers under 12]

Story continues tomorrow 😉

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Things don’t always go according to plan

Story continues from yesterday

[This is a darkly comic satire not recommended for readers under 12]

And …And …

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Mobilising the troops

Story continues from Friday

[This is a darkly comic satire not recommended for readers under 12]

18 March  2027

Prime Minister mobilises British troops.

Elsewhere…

Elsewhere…

But …

Story continues tomorrow,  🙂

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Happy Birthday Luke

Chapter 24 continues from last week:

As soon as the red car turned out of the cul-de-sac Luke ran home to get his rucksack.  He grabbed harnesses and leads from the hook in the kitchen and tossed them to Joe.

“Can you put these on Curly and Squirt?”  Dudley started barking and wagging his tail.  “Sorry boy, not this time.”  He hitched his heavy rucksack onto his back and returned to the garden for the sheep.  He was in such a hurry he didn’t close the door properly and Dudley followed him out.

Joe handed Luke the leads.  “Are you sure about this?”

“Got no choice,” he said sadly, “gotta keep Curly and Squirt safe.”  Dudley jumped up and pleaded to go with them.

“Not this time boy, I’m sorry.”  He crouched down to give his dog a hug.  “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon.  Look after Scratcher for me okay?” Dudley licked his knee.  Luke looked at Joe. “Stay in touch on the walkie-talkies.”

He led Dudley back into the kitchen and closed the door properly, but before he could make his getaway, he heard Dad’s car.

“They’re home!” He snatched up the leads and looked frantically for somewhere to hide.

“The garage!” said Joe.

Thankfully the side door wasn’t locked but getting them all in was easier said than done.  Partially blocking the doorway was some kind of large structure, covered in an old sheet.  They heard Mum and Dad’s voices; they heard the gate hinges squeak.  There was nothing they could do but give up.  Luke tucked his rucksack behind the rose bush just as his parents entered the garden.

“Oh, you’ve seen it!” said Mum, disappointed.

“Seen what?”

“He hasn’t,” said Dad, peering over their heads through the open door, “it’s still covered.”

Luke looked back at the mysterious structure.  “What?”

Mum and Dad smiled at each other and then at Luke.  “Happy Birthday.”

Luke looked at Joe.  He’d completely forgotten.

“Happy Birthday Luke,” said Joe with a big grin.

“Did you remember?”

“No,” he laughed.

Luke looked back at his parents, “but it’s not my birthday ’til tomorrow.  Is it?”

“No, but we thought we’d do it today because I’ve got to work tomorrow.  Is Jared home?”

“Yeah, he’s upstairs.”

“I’ll get him,” said Mum.

“I’ll get the stuff out the car,” said Dad.

“Presents from Aunt Clara?” asked Luke.  He was surprised because Aunt Clara usually just sent a card.

“Not exactly,” said Dad as he disappeared through the open gate.

Luke didn’t know what to think.

When everyone was back, Dad put two boxes on the ground in front of him.  “Happy Birthday Luke,” he said again, and stood back.  “Open them.”

Luke stepped forward and did as he was told.  Inside each box were two red hens.  He stared at them in disbelief. “But you said no.”

“I had to,” said Mum, “we wanted it to be a surprise.”

The chickens climbed out of their boxes and one of them chased Dudley back into the kitchen.

“And that’s not all,” said Dad. “Marian, Jared, Joe, follow me please.”

Joe looked at Luke, shrugged and then followed the rest of them into the garage.  Luke removed the sheep’s harnesses and crouched down to introduce himself to the new chickens.

“Try to herd them to the bottom of the garden,” said Mum, “I’m opening the gate wide.”

Luke did his best but with little success.  He could get one to head in the right direction, but as soon as he returned for another the first one would run back towards the house.  As it turned out, though, that didn’t matter.  What happened next sent them all running towards the damson patch at top speed, closely followed by Curly and Squirt. Through the wide open gate came four people slowly carrying a large, wooden triangular prism. They bent their knees and lowered it onto the concrete base vacated by the old greenhouse.

“It’s a chicken house!” said Mum excitedly, “Dad made it.”

“You made it?” Luke was overwhelmed.  “All by yourself?”

Dad laughed.  “Yes.  It took me a while but, yes, all by myself.”

“It’s marvellous,” said Luke, walking around the new house, running his hand along the smooth wood.  “Absolutely marvellous.”

“Glad you approve,” said Dad.  He looked at Mum and smiled.

“Thanks Dad,” said Luke warmly.  “I love it!”

“Can we see inside?” asked Mum.

“Yes.  Okay.  You unbolt these and then you use these handles to lift this off.”  Dad detached one end of the house so that a person could climb inside if he crouched.  “These shelves are the nesting boxes – you fill them with soft wood shavings – and they can perch on the front of them when they go to bed.  They’ll be able to see out the window from there.”  Dad was proud of the house, Luke could tell.  “Put shavings on the floor as well and then it’ll be easy to sweep out in the mornings.”

“Easy,” Luke agreed.

“When it’s all clean you put the end back on by slotting it in like this.  Here, you have a go.”

Luke tried but it was too heavy.

“That’s alright, I’ll help you,” Mum promised.

“And then, when that’s bolted back on, you leave the hatch open all day so the chickens can come and go as they please.  Close it at night when they’ve gone to bed to keep predators out.”

Luke nodded.  “I will.”  He couldn’t stop grinning.

“Now, about Curly and Squirt,” said Dad, and Luke’s face fell.  “I’ve spoken to Fred and you were right, they can’t go back to the allotments.” Luke held his breath.  “So they’ll have to stay here.”

Luke could hardly believe it.  “Really?”

“Yes. We’ll make the old shed into their stable.”

Luke looked at Joe.  “Good idea,” he said tentatively.

“And the damson patch really isn’t big enough for them so they can share the whole garden with the chickens.”

“Really?  What about your flowers?”

“Well, as your mum pointed out, I’ve still got the front garden.”  Mum squeezed his hand.

“Thank you thank you thank you,” said Luke, “this is the best birthday ever!”

Dad nodded.  “You’re very welcome.”

Luke gazed at the new chicken house.  “How many chickens would fit in here?” he asked.

“The plan said up to twelve,” said Dad.

“Marvellous,” said Luke, “absolutely marvellous.”

And they all lived happily ever after 😀

If you’re late to the party and want to catch up, you can find all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters here 🙂

Have a great day ❤ 

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Ten past four

For the whole story click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

Isabel peered through the shed window and smiled.  “Looking good!” she said.

“What time is it?”  Luke was slightly anxious.

“Ten past four,” said Isabel.

“Where the heck is Tania?  She said she’d be here by three!”

“Actually, you told her to be here by three.  What she actually said was, I don’t know how long it’ll take.”

“Well she didn’t say it would take this long!”

Joe came out of the house.  “I’ve just seen Jared from your bedroom window.  He’s at the bottom of the cul-de-sac!”

“Quick! Into the shed!” said Luke, panicking.

Isabel didn’t move.  “We haven’t done anything yet,” she said, “there’s no need to hide.”  At that moment her phone received a text.  “It’s Tania.  She says they’re five minutes out.”

“Joe, go and see where Jared is!”

“You go and see where Jared is.”

Luke went to see where Jared was and got to the back door just in time to hear the front door slam.  He stepped quietly into the kitchen and listened.  Jared’s heavy boots took the stairs two at a time and within seconds of them reaching the top, loud music blared from his room.  Luke ran back to the damson patch.

“It’s alright.  He’s in his room with his music on.“

“What if he looks out his window?” asked Joe.

“He won’t.  Look, his curtains are drawn.  He’s obivlious.”

Isabel resisted the temptation to correct him and smiled.  “I can hear a car!”

They all ran out into the cul-de-sac.  Tania’s dad’s car had just pulled up.  Mr Spriggs and Tania got out and Luke approached them hurriedly.

“Hello.”

“Hello,” said Mr Spriggs brightly, “you must be Luke,” and he stretched out his right hand.  Luke smiled and shook it without saying anything.

Tania was beaming.  “Shall we take the chickens through?” she asked.

“Yeah, quick as we can,” said Luke, “this way.”  Tania handed one box each to her eager friends and they carried them carefully up the drive towards the back garden gate.

“Would you mind if I use your toilet?” asked Tania’s dad.

“Daaad!”

Mr Spriggs ignored his daughter and looked hopefully at Luke.

Luke couldn’t risk anyone going inside and alerting Jared.  “Er, sorry,” he said, “I don’t have a key to the house.”

“You don’t?”

“No.  I did have one, but I dropped it when I was … when I went…” he said, awkwardly.  “I don’t know where I dropped it.”

“Oh.”

Joe felt bad for the man.  “I saw on telly that it’s good for compost heaps.”

Mr Spriggs raised his eyebrows, “and you’ve got a compost heap?”

Luke pointed to the far end of the garden and Mr Spriggs ran down there.

“Oh good grief!” said Tania to her shoes.

Isabel looked at her watch.  Half past four.  “Come on,” she said, “let’s show the chicks their new home.”

They were beautiful.  Three of them were orange and gold, with red crowns.  One of them was a soft grey and the other a dark red-brown with black at the tips of her feathers.  As soon as they were out of their boxes they ran away to explore.  The one with black-tipped feathers seemed to be the boldest.  Wherever she went the others followed, but if any of them got too close to her she reprimanded them with a quick peck to the head.

“We should call her Boudicca,” suggested Tania.

Curly and Squirt were very interested in the newcomers but when they approached for a closer look, Boudicca saw them off with a squawk and a frenzied flap of her wings.  The grey hen kept getting told off too.

“Aw, poor baby,” said Isabel, “they’re picking on her.”

“She’s alright,” said Joe, “Look – she’s keeping her distance from Boudicca and Frosty now.”

“Frosty?”

“The one with the white face.”

“Okay,” Isabel smiled, “and the grey one’s Millie.”

“Why?”

“I just like it.”

“What shall we name the other two?”

Everybody looked at Luke.

He grinned.  “Kes and Neelix.”

“Neelix is a boy’s name,” said Tania.

“Doesn’t have to be,” argued Luke.  “Neelix is the speckled one.  She looks like Neelix.”

Mr Spriggs watched from the other side of the fence.  “A splendid bunch,” he said smiling.  “You’ve got them a nice set-up here.”

“Thanks,” said Luke, “thanks for pickin’ ’em up for us.”

“You’re very welcome.  I hope your mum feels better soon.  Is she back from the hospital yet?”

“Er, no.”  Luke glanced anxiously at Isabel who mouthed ‘ten to five’.  “But I think she might be home any minute an’ she told me in no certain terms that I have to be quiet and not have any friends round when she gets back.”

“Quite right!” said Mr Spriggs, “come on Tania, let’s make a move.”

“Er, can I cadge a lift?” asked Isabel.

“Of course.”

***************************************************

This chapter concludes on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can finish it by clicking here now 😀

Have a great weekend 😀 

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Getting the chickens

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

Tania’s dad pulled in to the car park at Butcher’s Field, the ironically named rendezvous for the chicken rescuers.

“You wait here,” said Tania, “I’ll go and get the chickens.”

“Where from?”

“I’ll ask the woman with the clipboard.”

“Alright.  I’m going to look for the toilets,” said her dad, “I’ll be back in a few minutes hopefully.”

“A toilet Dad, not a tree,” she reminded him.

He laughed and they went their separate ways.  When she reached the clipboard woman, Tania waited a polite distance behind the man who was talking to her, but she still couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.

“You a bit thin on the ground this year?” he asked.

“Yeah, because of the charge,” the woman told him.

“What charge?”

“She’s charging for them now.”

“Really?”

“Yes unfortunately.  She didn’t charge before.  Just wanted to save them.  But now she says she can’t afford to keep letting them go for nothing.”

“Why?  What brought that on?”

“She says she’s losing money ’cause she could get at least 50p each for them if she sent them to slaughter.”

“No!”

“Yep.  Nine thousand birds at 50p each is £4,500!”  The man just frowned and shook his head.  “So she tells us she wants to charge people for them, thinks it’s perfectly reasonable, and who can’t afford 50p?  But of course that’s not what we signed up for.  We don’t want to fund animal farming.  You pay to release one animal and that money’s used to enslave another.”

“Exactly.”

“But if we say no, there’s thousands of birds we could have saved going to slaughter.  So we had a vote and decided, fourteen to six, in favour of going ahead.  The six who voted against it resigned from the group.”

The man shook his head again.  “So you’ve had to raise another four and a half thousand on top of your usual costs?”

Clipboard woman nodded.

“You’re an amazing woman Sheila,” he said, “I don’t know how you work with someone like that.”

“When you have to, you do,” she said, smiling.

He started to turn away but she reached out and touched his arm.  “Er, Mike.”

“Yeah?”

“That’s just between us okay?”

He nodded, “see ya Sheila,” and walked away.

Tania approached.

“Hello love,” said the woman.  She looked tired but she smiled.

Tania smiled back and gave her name.  The woman looked down her list.

“You’re taking five?” she asked.

“That’s right.”

The woman looked around.  “You on your own?”

“No,” said Tania, “my dad’s here.  That’s our car over there.  The red one.”

“Have you brought carriers?”

“No sorry, we didn’t know …”

“That’s okay, we’ve got boxes,” the woman smiled again.  “You wait by the car and someone will bring them over in a minute.”

*****************************************************

Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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“You said left!”

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

“No! Not this one!”

“You said left!”

“I said second on the left.”

“All I heard was ‘left’.”

“You’ll have to turn round and go back.”

“I know!”  Mr Walker was in miserable mood.  He pulled in to a lay-by and waited for the traffic to clear.

“Are you going to be like this all day?” asked his wife.

“Like what?  There’s nothing wrong with me.”

She took a deep breath and counted to ten while she looked out the window.  “Did you get through to Fred?” she asked eventually.

“Yes.”

“And?”

“He won’t budge.  Says the committee’s votes are final.  No more animals on the allotments.”

“There you go then, Luke was right.”

“He still shouldn’t have spoken to me like that.”

“No he shouldn’t but put yourself in his shoes.  He was protecting his animals.  You should be proud of him for that.”

“I’m sick of being treated like the enemy.  I do my best for him.  And the animals.  It’d be nice if he gave me the benefit of the doubt sometimes.”

“Okay, maybe he did go off the deep end, but he was panicking.  And he was livid about that horrible boy next door.”

“Did you speak to his mum?”

“Yes but she’s no use.  She thinks the sun shines out of him.  He can do no wrong as far as she’s concerned.  She said Simon says Luke’s a liar and maybe we shouldn’t be so gullible.”

“Ha!  What did you say to that?”

“I admitted Luke can be trying at times but, unlike one child I could mention, he’s not a shallow, slimy, arrogant, little toe-rag.”

“Ha ha ha!  Did you really?”

“No.  But I wanted to.”

Dad made a U-turn and got back on track.

“That’s it,” said Mum, “left, ……… and then left again.  Yes – look: Wixham 36 miles!”

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Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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A matter of life and death

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

In the garden Luke led Curly and Squirt away from Dad’s flower beds.

“We might not be able to stay here,” he told them apologetically, “but don’t worry, I’ll come with you, wherever you go.”  He stroked the back of Curly’s neck while he considered their options and very soon it came to him.  “We could live at the country park!” he said, “there’s trees to climb and woods to hide in, and plenty of grass for you to eat.  It’d be like livin’ in Sherwood Forest!”  It was a brilliant idea.  He wondered why he hadn’t thought of it before.  “On’y thing is,” he added, “the chickens are comin’ tomorrow.”  He sat on the lawn and pondered.  He was sure he could figure something out but it would require more thought.  Squirt laid down next to him and put his head on Luke’s lap.  Luke looked at him and smiled.  “It’s alright,” he said, “I’ll think of something.”

****

SATURDAY 14 JUNE
C-DAY

When Luke woke up at half past eight the house was quiet.  He was greeted by Dudley when he went downstairs but everyone else was out.  Dad had left a note on the fridge.

Luke called Joe.

“Hello.”

“Can you come round?”

“Now?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

As soon as he put down the phone Luke let Dudley into the garden and checked on Curly and Squirt.  They’d made themselves at home and were enjoying the abundance of dandelions in the damson patch.  Joe arrived five minutes later and Luke took him upstairs to help look for his tent.

“What d’you want the tent for?” he asked.

“To live in.”

“Why?”

Luke put Joe in the picture.

“So you and Curly and Squirt are gonna run away and live at the country park?”

“Yeah.”

“What about school?”

“I won’t go to school.”

“It’s the law.  You have to go to school.”

“I’m an outlaw.”

“Oh yeah.  But how will you live?  What will you eat?  And what about the chickens?”

“Don’t worry,” said Luke with a conspiratorial smile, “I’ve got it all worked out.”  He took his walkie talkies out of the wardrobe, opened the box and handed one to Joe.  “I’ll keep in touch with you on this – channel six – and then if I need anything I’ll tell you and you can bring it.”

“Like what?”

“Food for a start.  You’ve got your own food allowance.”

“It’s only enough for me.”

“Yeah but if you look for stuff that’s buy one get one free, you can give the free one to me.  And if you go to the Co-op at the end of the day when they’re sellin’ things that are goin’ out of date – like bread for 10p a loaf – you can get stuff cheap so your money’ll go further.”

Joe nodded slowly.  “Yeah, I s’pose I could do that.”

“Good.  Oh, here it is!”  He pulled out a bundle of grey nylon fabric from under the bed and spread it out on the carpet.

“You’re not going to be very well camouflaged with that picture of Spiderman on the side,” Joe pointed out.

Luke was unconcerned.  “I’ll hide that with twigs and leaves.”

After checking nothing was missing he rolled the tent back up and went to the airing cupboard for his sleeping bag.

“Your mum and dad are gonna be pretty upset about this,” Joe told him.

“Well they’re not ezzactly givin’ me a choice are they?  My first duty is to protect Curly an’ Squirt.”

Joe nodded.  “Yeah, okay, but what about the chickens? Your mum and dad don’t know they’re coming so if you’re not here to look after them …”

Luke grinned.  “It’s alright, I told you, I’ve got it all worked out.”

“How?”

“I’ll come back when they’re not here.  Simple.”

“How will you know when they’re not here.”

“I already know.  Dad goes to work at seven every mornin’; Jared’s gone before eight; and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Mum works at the Co-op.”

“What about Tuesdays and Thursdays?  And weekends?”

“Well she’ll have to walk Dudley won’t she?”

“But you don’t know what time she’ll go.”

“That’s where you come in.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“Well, you can keep watch and then tell me when she leaves, with the walkie talkie.”

“But I’m s’posed to be at school!”

Luke frowned.  “We all agreed to rescue the chickens together.  They’re all our responsibility, not jus’ mine.  We’ve all got to work together.”

“I know but how can I do it on school days?”

“Look, I’m riskin’ prison by not goin’ to school at all,” Luke reminded him, “so the least you can do is risk bein’ marked late!  That’s not askin’ too much is it?  I mean, it’s life and death for the chickens don’t forget!”

Joe nodded.  “Yes, you’re right.  Sorry.”

“It’s okay.  Now then, Tania should be here with the chickens by three.  That should give us plenty of time to get them all settled in to the damson patch before Mum and Dad get home.”

“When will they be back?”

“They said they’d be gone all day so I s’pose that means after five.”

“You suppose?”

“Yeah.”

“What about Jared?”

“We haven’t gotta worry about him.  He always disappears on Saturdays.”

“Where to?”

“Nobody knows.  Skate park prob’ly.”

“So you don’t know when he’ll be back.”

“Late.  He’s always late back on Saturdays.”

“How late?”

“Joe!  Don’t worry about Jared!  We just need to make sure we’re out of here before Mum and Dad get back.”

“Before five?”

Luke nodded.  “Yeah. But I’d like to be away by four.”  The two boys sat in silent agreement for a moment before Luke added “oh, but you’ll have to come back when it gets dark.  I’ll give you a gate key.”

“On my own? Why?”

“To lock the cat flap on the chicken house so a fox doesn’t get ’em.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

“Well I can’t leave Curly and Squirt in the park by themselves can I?  And I can’t bring ’em with me – they’re not ezzactly stealthy!”

Luke stuffed his tent, sleeping bag and walkie talkie into his rucksack.  “I’d better get some rations,” he said, “come on.”  Downstairs he crammed every pocket and crevice of his bag with food and a couple of bottles of water.  “Now let’s go to the allotments and get some straw!”

********************************************

Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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Butler did it!

For the story so far click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues:

“Where’s Luke?” asked Dad.

“Must be out with Dudley,” said Mum, “I expect he’ll be back soon.”

“Right, well as soon as he gets in, I want to give him his present.”

“You’ve finished it?”

“Yes,” said Dad with a big grin.

“Can I see it?” asked Mum excitedly, starting for the door.

“Not ’til Luke gets here,” Dad laughed and stepped in front of her.

“It’s not his birthday ’til Sunday,” said Jared.

“I know but I’ve got to work on Sunday.”

“Oh no!” said Mum, “didn’t you tell them you had plans?”

“Yeah but they’re desperate.  A lot of people off with stomach flu.”

“Again?!  Lucky for them you never get it.”

“What if you did?” suggested Jared, “tell ’em you caught it and then you won’t have to work.”

Dad frowned disapproval at that idea.

Mum pouted.  “Oh, I don’t want you to miss Luke’s birthday.”

“I don’t want to miss it either.  That’s why I thought we could do it now.  While we’re all here.”

“Luke and Dudley are home,” said Jared, looking out the dining room window, “and they’re not alone.”

Luke greeted his family with a fierce scowl.  “Butler let Curly an’ Squirt out and now they’re not allowed on the allotment!” he told them angrily.

“What?” asked everybody at once.

“Curly an’ Squirt got out and they messed up some o’ the plots and ate some o’ the plants but it wasn’t their fault. An’ I told Mr Tipton it wasn’t my fault either but he said I must’ve forgot but I didn’t an’ I told him I didn’t but he wun’t believe me!  He said there was a new rule and no animals could live on the allotments so I had to bring ’em home!”

“Luke slow down.  What exactly did Fred say?” asked Dad.

“I told you!  He said he wasn’t gonna let animals on the allotments any more coz he couldn’t risk it happenin’ again!”

“The sheep got onto other people’s plots?”

“Yes!”  Luke was exasperated.

“Oh no,” said Mum, “did they do much damage?”

“It’s not their fault,” Luke reiterated, “they were just eatin’.  They didn’t know they weren’t s’posed to.  They didn’t mean to spoil anything.”

“How did they get out?” asked Dad, “did you forget to bolt the gate this morning?”

“No!  I told you!  Butler did it!”

“Simon Butler?  Why d’you think that?”

“I saw him just now – laughin’ with his stupid friends about it!  He shouted at me that I shun’t have left the gate open.  How would he know that if he din’t do it?”

Mum and Dad exchanged serious glances.

“I’ll speak to Fred,” said Dad, “don’t worry.  I’m sure we can work something out.”

“We could put a padlock on the gate,” suggested Mum.

“Good idea ….”

“Won’t work,” interrupted Luke dejectedly, “I already offered to do that.  He said no.”

Dad ruffled his hair.  “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him,” and he reached for the phone.

“No!” said Luke firmly, “they’re not safe there.  I want them to stay here!”

“They can’t stay here Luke, I’m sorry.”

“Why not?  The garden’s big enough.”

“I’m sorry Luke, no,” Dad insisted, “I’ve worked hard on this garden and I don’t want it ruined.”  He looked out the dining room window.  “Look – they’ve already eaten half my purple mallow!”

“Well they’ve had a rough day!  Give ’em a break!”

“I’ll go next door and speak to Anne,” said Mum, “maybe she can keep her slimy son in check.”

“Okay,” said Dad. “Luke, put the sheep in the damson patch.  I’ll phone Fred.”

“No!  We’re not sendin’ ’em back!  A padlock won’t keep ’em safe!  Anyone could climb over the fence an’ hurt ’em!  I want them here where I can see them all the time!”

Dad spoke low and calm but there was no mistaking his hostility.  “Let me make one thing clear: I am not giving up my garden.  I tolerated the loss of my vegetable patch to your rabbits and you’re lucky I didn’t put my foot down then.  I’m putting it down now.  The sheep are going back to the allotments.”

Luke was infuriated.  “Aren’t Curly an’ Squirt more important than a few flowers?  It’s dangerous for ’em there!  It’s cruel to make ’em go back!  Cruel and selfish!”  He paused for a response that didn’t come.  “If you make ’em leave, I’m goin’ with them!”

Mum put her hand on his shoulder in an effort to calm him down but he pulled away angrily and stormed back out into the garden.

Mr Walker slammed his garage keys down on the table.  “So glad I worked every spare minute to make that child’s birthday present!” he growled.

“He didn’t mean it,” said Mum sympathetically, “he’s just upset.  If he knew what you’d done …”

“He shouldn’t speak to me like that whether he knew or not!”

“I know but …”

“I think I deserve a little bit of respect!”

Mrs Walker reached out to hug him but he walked away.  She sighed.  “I wonder what it would have been like to have daughters,” she thought.

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Story continues tomorrow but if you don’t want to wait, you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegan children, veggie kids, animals, animal rights, juvenile fiction, chickens, sheep, vegan children’s story

Wandering off

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues from Tuesday:

Mum smiled.  “Looking good.  Do you want some furniture?  I’ve got a couple of deck chairs and a coffee table you can have.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks Mum.”

“I’ve got some old curtains as well, if you want privacy,” she offered.

“Why? You can’t see in the shed window from the house can you?”

“No, of course not.”

“Okay, good.”

“So you do want privacy.  Top secret stuff is it?”

“No, course not, well …. we just don’t wanna be watched, that’s all.”

“I quite understand,” said Mum, trying to suppress a smile. “Do you want lunch?  I could bring some sandwiches down here if you like.”

Luke shook his head.  “Thanks, yeah, but no, we’ll come up to the house for ’em.”

******

FRIDAY 13 JUNE

When Luke got home from school there was no one else there.  The house was silent.

“Dudley? D’you want to go outside?” he asked when he stepped into the kitchen.  The clang of an upended stainless steel water bowl was preceded by the sound of four clawed paws hitting the floor.  Dudley was at the back door in seconds.

As they walked to the allotments Luke and his oldest friend talked everything over.  Well, Luke talked, Dudley couldn’t get a word in edgeways.  Luke had always been grateful for good listeners.  The best, he’d found, were those who didn’t try to push their own opinions into the discussion; those who let him get out all his jumbled thoughts and feelings without comment or judgement; those who just listened.  That left Mum out.  And Dad.  At one time Luke’s first port of call when he needed to clear his head or puzzle a dilemma was the damson patch.  The rabbits’ listening skills were second to none.  Sadly Ash and Rusty had grown old and passed away in recent months.  Scratcher was still around but she’d moved into the house for company and was often so busy rearranging soft furnishings that it was hard to get her undivided attention.  That very morning she’d spent half an hour dragging the back doormat into the dining room.  She seemed to prefer it there, no one knew why.  Thankfully Dudley was always ready to lend an ear.

“Tomorrow’s C-Day,” said Luke, as if Dudley didn’t already know.  “Mum an’ Dad are goin’ to London to help Aunt Clara move so that’s perfect timing.  We should be able to get the chickens all tucked in before they get back.  As long as Tania’s dad gets ’em here in time.  She told him to go early but he said it was a long drive so he doesn’t know how long it’ll take.”

Tania had told her dad a white lie.  She didn’t want to but Luke reminded her the chickens would be killed if she didn’t.  She told him that Luke’s mum had an ingrowing toenail and his dad had to take her to hospital to have it removed so they wouldn’t be able to pick up the chickens they were adopting.  She asked him if he’d mind doing it instead and he kindly agreed. Tania’s dad had never met Luke’s parents and with any luck he never would.
Luke arrived with Dudley at the allotments, unlocked the gate and walked between the immaculate plots en route to his own.  The weird thing was, some of them didn’t look quite as immaculate as usual. What was yesterday a neat row of cabbages, now looked as though it had been trampled by a football team.  Some were strewn across the path and a couple of them had rolled under someone else’s bean poles.  The carrots on an adjacent plot had also been rudely and prematurely unearthed.  Dudley attempted to investigate but Luke wouldn’t let him.

“Dudley no!”  Luke wound the lead more tightly around his hand.  “If anyone sees you doin’ that they’ll think you made this mess.  An’ they’ll blame me!”

In fact the blame was fast approaching Luke’s position, as he soon realised.  The trail of destruction led all the way back to his own plot, at which the gate was swinging open.  There was no sign of Curly and Squirt.

“Curly! Squirt!” he called frantically.  He rushed to the shed and looked inside; he looked behind it and under the bushes.  They were gone.  Dudley started sniffing eagerly.  He seemed to be onto something.  “Where are they boy?” Luke let go of the lead.  “Find them boy, find Curly and Squirt!”  Dudley followed his nose across the grass to the open gate, out of the gate and along the path until he arrived back at the scattered carrots.  He loved carrots.

“No!  Stop it Dudley!  We’ve got to find Curly and Squirt!”

“Young man,” Luke was startled by the deep voice behind him.  He turned to face Allotment Committee Man, otherwise known as Mr Fred Tipton.  “I believe these belong to you.”  Mr Tipton offered Luke one end of a long piece of rope.  At its other end stood a very curly haired ewe, accompanied by her son.

“Thank you!” said Luke, “where have you been?” he asked them, “you had me worried sick!”

“Where they’ve been,” said Mr Tipton, “is all over these garden plots.  They’ve done a heck of a lot of damage.”

“I’m really sorry about that,” said Luke, “I’ll put ’em back now.  It won’t happen again.”

“No it won’t because you won’t be keeping them here any more.”

“What?  That’s not fair, it wasn’t my fault!”

“Whose fault was it then?”

“I don’t know.  Whoever opened the gate!”

“Who checked on them this morning?”

“Me.  But I bolted the gate!  I know I did!  I always bolt the gate!”

“You must have forgotten today.”

“I didn’t!” Luke insisted. “Somebody else must have let ’em out!  On purpose to get me in trouble!”

“They’re your responsib…”

“Somebody who wants an allotment!  Whoever’s next on your waitin’ list – they’ve got motive!”

Mr Tipton shook his head.  “I can’t run the risk of this happening again.”

“It won’t,” said Luke pleadingly, “I’ll get a lock, so no one else can open it!  Please don’t make us leave!”

“I’m sorry, the decision’s been made.  No more animals are to be kept on these allotments.”

Luke, Curly, Little Squirt and Dudley walked slowly home.  They cut through the park and Luke racked his brains for inspiration.  Would Mum and Dad let him keep the sheep at home?  After all, the garden was big enough.  And there was nowhere else they could go.  Plus, it wasn’t his fault.  He’d bolted the gate that morning, he knew he had. Someone else had let them out, whatever Mr Tipton said.

Half way across the playing field his cogitation was interrupted by someone calling his name.

“Walker!  Nice sheep!”

A group of boys by the swings laughed but Luke ignored them. He had more important things to worry about.

“Got kicked off the allotments did ya?”  They all laughed again, even louder.  Luke kept walking.

“You should’ve kept the gate shut!”

This voice he recognised.  Luke stopped and looked across at the laughing boys.  At that moment he knew.  Butler did it!

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Story continues on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian, animal farming, chickens, birds

Getting ready

For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀

Chapter 24 continues from yesterday:

Joe changed the subject.  “How do we tell them we want to adopt some. Is there an email address?”

“Er, … oh no, it says we have to phone this number.  We’ve got to talk to them.”

“The farmer?”

“No, Wixham Animal Action.”  Isabel was concerned.  “They’re not going to let us adopt without parental consent are they?”

“You do it,” said Luke.

“Me?”  Tania was apprehensive.

“Yeah, you’re good at soundin’ grown up.  Like when you did that impression of Mrs Tyler.  You sounded just like her.”

Tania smiled.  “Okay,” she said, picking up her phone, “what’s the number?”

While she waited for the call to be answered her heart beat hard and fast.  She turned away from the others so they wouldn’t make her laugh.

“Hello?” said the woman who eventually picked up.

“Oh, hello,” said Tania in her best Mrs Tyler voice.  “I would like to adopt some rescued chickens please.”

“Oh great, hang on a minute, let me get a pen. ….. Right, how many can you take?”

“Erm,” Tania looked at the others and mouthed ‘how many?’ but they didn’t understand her.  She put the phone on speaker.

“We like people to take at least three,” the woman advised, “because they’re sociable creatures.  Wouldn’t be happy on their own.”

“Oh yes of course,” said Tania, looking at the others for a sign.

“Shall I put you down for three?” the woman suggested, “or have you got room for more?”

Luke held up his open right hand.

“Five?” said Tania uncertainly.

Luke nodded.

“Five?” asked the woman.

“Yes,” Tania smiled, “five please.”

“Good.  Okay, now do you have a garden and a house for them?”

“A house?”

“A chicken house for them to sleep in.”

“Oh yes, a shed.”

“It’ll need nesting boxes and perches.  And it’ll need to be fox-proof,” the woman explained.

Luke nodded at Tania.

“Yes,” she said, “it will be.”

“Okay then, I’ll just take your name, address and phone number and then we’ll get back to you on the thirteenth to give you a pick up location and time.”

“Pick them up?”

“Yes. Is that a problem?”

“No no, that’ll be fine,” said Tania with feigned confidence.  “Absolutely fine.”

******

SATURDAY 7 JUNE

When the doorbell rang Luke rushed to answer it.

“Expecting someone?” asked Mum.

“Joe and the others.”

“Oh.  Will you be going out?” she called after him.  She’d been hoping to have the house to herself so she could give it a good spring clean.

Luke returned from the front door with his friends in tow.  “We’ll be in the garden,” he told his mother as they headed for the back door, “where’s Dad?”

“Working in the garage.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Mum was relieved until she remembered, “oh but you can’t go in there!” she shouted after him as he approached the garage door.  Luke stopped and looked back as Mum rushed down the garden path in her slippers.  “What do you want Dad for?” she asked, “he’s busy, doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Just wanted to borrow a screwdriver.”

“Okay, I’ll get it.  Flathead?”

“Phillips.”

“Okay.”  She entered the garage and closed the door behind her.

“Dad’s a bit grumpy,” Luke explained to his friends.  They nodded.  Moments later Mum emerged with the screwdriver and the Society resumed course for the damson patch.  They entered the shed.

“Not bad,” said Isabel.  “It’s solid.  Bit dusty but we can sweep it out no problem.  This’ll make a good chicken house.”

“Let’s put this on,” said Tania, “where do you want it?”

Luke showed her the hole he’d hammered in the wall years ago to make a door for the rabbits.  “Down here,” he said, moving the boxes that were blocking it.

“Perfect, that’s just the right size,” said Tania, holding the new cat flap up against it.  “Once we’ve got this on, the chickens can go in and out during the day and at night you can lock it closed to keep them safe.”

“Great,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks.”  He handed Tania the screwdriver and she got to work.

The others swept the floor, dusted off the cobwebs and cleaned the window.  In less than an hour, the shed was almost fit for purpose.

“What are you going to do about bedding?” asked Isabel.

“I’ll get straw from the bale in Curly and Squirt’s shed.”

“I thought it was better to use shavings.”

“Straw’s all I’ve got, it’ll have to do.”

“That’ll be fine,” said Tania. “What about nesting boxes?”

“Ahh,” said Luke, smiling.  He opened the door and went outside for a moment.  When he came back he was dragging an old rabbit hutch.  “This was what Butler kept Scratcher in before I rescued her,” he explained.  “When he left it out for the dustmen I went and got it.”  It was in good clean condition.  Luke opened the doors.  “I’ll take the doors off and make a straw bed on both sides.  They can lay their eggs in there if they want to.”

“There’s only room for two though,” said Isabel.

“Three,” said Luke, “I’m sure three of ’em could fit comfortably in there, and they’re not likely to all wanna lay an egg at the same time are they?”

“Actually,” said Joe, “don’t take the doors off.  If you open them wide and fix them open, the chicks can perch on them.”

“Good thinking!” Luke agreed, “What can we fix ’em with?”

At that moment Mum put her head round the door.  “Ready for lunch?” she asked. “Ooh, this looks tidy.  You have been busy.”

“Muuum!  This is a private meeting!” Luke escorted her back outside.

“What are you up to in there?” she asked, “is it going to be your HQ?”

“Er, yeah, that’s right,” it was as good a cover as any.

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Story continues tomorrow 😀

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vegan, vegan children’s stories, humour, animals, animal rights, animal rescue, vegan children, veggie kids, vegetarian, animal farming, chickens, birds

Focus

For the story so far, click here 🙂

Use the zoom in your browser to make it bigger for easier reading 🙂

Story continues Wednesday 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, veggie kids, vegan children, vegan children’s stories, vegan comics, animals, animal rights, cows, animal sanctuary, juvenile fiction, dogs, children’s comics, goats, chickens,

Animal Sanctuary Poem Week: Day 4

Hillside Animal Sanctuary

Frettenham, Norfolk

Wendy Valentine’s amazing

Her firey compassion don’t stop blazing.

Her sanct’ry is home to many a horse,

It goes without saying, she’s vegan of course!

There’s chickens and ducks and budgies and turkeys,

And sheep and cows and llamas and donkeys.

There’s rabbits and emus, alpacas and deer,

There’s even some chipmunks and goats live here.

But rescuing’s not all that Hillside does,

They also investigate farms because

They need to make public the horror that’s hidden

Behind the farm gates of those animal prisons.

❤ 🙂 ❤

Hillside is now home to over 3000 animals and is one of the UK’s most successful campaigning organisations for the animals’ cause.  They have always known that one of the main reasons animals are left to suffer in factory farms is because people have little or no idea about the immense cruelty involved in their food production.

Snow White and Rose Red remembered.

children's story

Once upon a time there were two beautiful girls called Snow White and Rose Red.  They were very unhappy because they were imprisoned in a large windowless shed with thousands of others like them.  They were cramped and miserable; they never saw daylight or felt the wind on their faces;  and the prison guards were rough and cruel.  Then one night, everything changed.

children's story

As the wind blew and the rain poured down, someone came and lifted them out of their prison and carried them out into the night.

children's story

The beautiful girls were scared at first.  They tried to shelter their heads from the wind and rain, instinctively ducking under the chin of the person carrying them.  What was this cold, dark, wet outside world?  They had never seen it before and didn’t know what to think.

children's story

After hours and hours of jostling and jolting in the wind and rain; after feeling cold and wet and very very nervous; they arrived somewhere.  Somewhere new.  Somewhere unfamiliar.

children's story

They explored with care.  They didn’t know what to make of it.  They didn’t know who to trust.  But they were curious.  They weren’t so desperate to get away anymore.  They started to wonder if this was, after all, something good.

children's story

As they settled in to their new surroundings they were approached by other individuals.  One of whom in particular, Mrs Teapot, became their devoted friend.

children's story

children's story

children's story

children's story

And so they lived happily ever after 😀

O is for omelette

Oo

Omelette    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  beaten eggs fried and often folded over filling.

Our definition:  Omelettes are made from eggs laid by birds (usually chickens) kept in unnatural, confined conditions, more often than not in over-crowded barns with no access to the outside and no natural light or fresh air.  Their miserable lives are short, ending when they begin to lay less eggs at about 12 to 18 months of age (naturally, healthy chickens could live into their teens if not taken by a predator, though those rescued from chicken farms don’t usually live longer than 4 years due to their harrowing start in life).  Contrary to popular opinion, buying free range is not the cruelty free option since these birds’ lives will also end in brutal slaughter by the tender age of 18 months.  NB farms can label their eggs free range if there is access to an outdoor area from the chickens’ barn even though most of the birds in the overcrowded barn are never able to reach the door.  Male chicks are horribly killed en masse shortly after hatching.

Buying tofu, on the other hand, is the cruelty free option and if you love eggs, you’ll really love tofu 😀

Spinach Tofu Scramble. Photo by Evelyn Oliver

Spinach Tofu Scramble. Photo by Evelyn Oliver

For the rest of the dictionary, click here

20 Years of Hillside Animal Sanctuary

These guys are amazing.  Not only do they provide sanctuary for over 2000 rescued animals, they also do undercover investigations into farms which lead to the exposure of horrible cruelty and the prosecution of the perpetrators.  Take a look at what they’ve accomplished over the last 20 years and support them if you can 🙂

Click here for info about how you can help 🙂

“Hee Hee” said the cow

cow

 

 

“Hee hee” said the cow,

“Woo hoo” said the hen

“Hurrah!” said the sow

And the sheep cheered again.

hen and pig

“He did it!” they cried

                 As they skipped and they ran,

                 “Farmer’s eyes opened wide,

                   And he became vegan!”

sheep

 

And it’s true!  It’s happening again and again!

Click here for some wonderfully moving true stories of animal farmers who awoke to the reality of what they were doing and completely turned things around 🙂

Chickens Are People Just Like Dogs

chickens are people

Chickens are people

Just like dogs.

They enjoy dust baths

And jumping on logs.

  chickens are people

Chickens will play games

Like ‘chase’ and ‘steal your smalls’.

They’ll splash you in the paddling pool,

Though not keen on fetching balls.

chickens are people

Some of them are gentle, 

Some of them are tough.

Some of them are bossy, 

Some timid and soft as fluff.

  chickens are people

They all have personality

And every one is different.

Just like Rover and Fido and Max

They might be quiet or exuberant.

chickens are people

“Pay, I say pay attention boy!”

Hey boy!  Pay attention to me when I'm talkin' to ya!

Hey boy! Pay attention to me when I’m talkin’ to ya!

What, I say what's the big idea?  Don't stand there gawkin' woman!

What, I say what’s the big idea? Don’t stand there gawkin’ sister!

Nice girl, but more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind!

Nice girl, but more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind!

Pay attention to me boy!  I'm not just talkin' to hear my head roar!  Get down, I say get down to Raystede and support the good work they're doin'!  Any of this sinkin' in???

Pay attention to me boy! I’m not just talkin’ to hear my head roar! Get down, I say get down to Raystede and support the good work they’re doin’! Any of this sinkin’ in???

Raystede: Giving animals a better life.

I like birds

It’s time you met the beautiful birds of Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare!  Raystede rescues and re-homes chickens.  They have a lovely big garden to live in filled with places to play and have fun or rest and relax.  As well as chickens they have two magnificent turkeys who inspire awe wherever they go.

Photo8361

What are you looking at?Photo8347Come closer. I want to see what it tastes like.

Photo8344

Maybe you could take a picture of me looking to the right? I think my left side is my better side. What do you think? Don’t  I have beautiful eyes?

Photo8341

If you just come a little bit closer… that’s great.

Photo8337

Are you still here? I thought you’d be gone by now.

 

http://www.raystede.org/news/chicken-rescue/

The inspiration behind Clarence and Luca, Part 2

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens

Libby and Louie

The other story from the blog of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary which inspired Clarence and Luca’s story is that of Libby and Louie.  You might wonder why, because Libby and Louie are chickens not turkeys.  And Libby and Louie are devoted partners, not siblings.  But the story of their devotion to each other, beautifully articulated by Joanna Lucas again, is the perfect illustration of the love felt between two individuals, whatever their species, the reliance they have on each other and the place they fill in each other’s hearts which cannot be filled by anyone else.

To all those who have said that animals live by instinct alone; that they don’t think and feel as we do; that they don’t have relationships like we do, I say read Libby and Louie’s story and then think again:

Libby’s thoughts were silent. Silence was her nature, her disposition, her remedy, her talent, her power, her gift, and her pleasure. She looked at the world in soundless wonder – her thoughts, streaming and darting, swelling and swarming in the dark pools of her eyes – and filled it with the hush of her mind.

Libby at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby

In the blush of her first weeks at the sanctuary, when everything astonished her – the open sky, the endless fields, the scent of rain, the feel of straw underfoot – we thought we heard her voice a few times: small, joyful cries coming out of nowhere, seemingly formed out of thin air, the musical friction of invisible particles, not the product of straining, vibrating, trembling vocal chords, but a sound of pure joy coming from the heart of life itself. But, after she paired up with Louie and became his sole partner, Libby turned so completely quiet, that we began to wonder if the voice we had heard in the beginning was truly hers.

Louie at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Louie

Louie’s delight in the sound and functioning of his own magnificent voice, his pleasure in putting sound faces on everything – their finds and failures, their contentments and complaints, their yearnings and fears, their joys and hopes, the major, minor or minute events of their daily lives together – gave Libby the improbable ability of being heard without making a sound. For the first time in her life, she could enjoy the bliss of silence and the full power of voice at the same time. Her thoughts, her needs, her feelings, her pleasures and displeasures, were all there – perfectly voiced, perfectly formed, perfectly delivered in Louie’s utterings – each experience, captured in the jewel of a flawlessly pitched note. And in these notes, you could hear the developing musical portrait of Libby’s inner happenings.

There was the sighed coo for Libby’s request to slide under his wing, the raspy hiss for her alarm at OJ, the “killer” cat’s approach, the purred hum for her pleasure in dustbathing, the bubbling trill for her enjoyment in eating pumpkin seeds straight out of the pumpkin’s cool core on a summer day, the grinding creak for her tiredness, the rusty grumble for her achy joints. 

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens at Peaceful Prairies Sanctuary

Libby and Louie roaming

There was the growing vocabulary of songs used to voice their shared moments of delight – the lucky find of the treasure trove hidden in a compost pile, discovered by Libby and dug out with Louie’s help to reveal a feast of riches to taste, eat, explore, investigate or play with; or the gift of walking side by side into the morning sun and greeting a new day together; or the adventure of sneaking into the pig barn and chasing the flies that landed on the backs of the slumbering giants. 

Occasionally, there were the soundbursts for their shared moments of displeasure, hurt, sadness, fear, or downright panic, such as the time when Libby got accidentally locked in a barn that was being cleaned and Louie, distressed at the sudden separation, paced frantically up and down the narrow path on the other side of the closed door, crowing his alarm, crying his pleas, clucking his commands, flapping his wings, showering us with a spray of fervid whistles, following us around, then running back to the barn door, clacking at it, knocking on it, then running back to us, whirring his wings, stomping his feet, tapping the ground with his beak, staring intently, and generally communicating Libby’s predicament in every “language” available to him: sound, movement, gaze, color, and certainly scent too.

But, for all of their panache, Louie’s most spectacular acts of voice were not his magnificently crafted and projected vocal announcements but his quiet acts of allegiance, his tacit acts of devotion, his daily acts of restraint. The things he did not do.

Libby and Louie - rescued chickens at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby and Louie’s roost

There was the silent song of giving up his treasured roost in the rafters, his nest in the sky where he had bunked every night of his years before Libby, the space where he felt safest surrendering to sleep, strongest entering the night. Happiest. The spot closest to the clouds. His personal Olympus. But, in her lameness, Libby couldn’t join him there. She managed to climb next to him a few times but, with only one foot to grip the perch, [she had lost her right foot to the wire floor of the “cage-free” egg farm from which she was rescued] she kept losing her balance and fell to the ground and, after a while, she stopped trying and just stayed there, grounded, anchored to the earth. So Louie quietly descended from his blue yonder and settled next to her in her terrestrial roost – a long, narrow tent created by a leaning plywood board – and he slept near the entrance, exposing himself to the intrusions of curious goats, wandering cats and restless geese, the better to protect Libby from them.

There was the soundless song of limiting the sport of his summer days to fewer and fewer hours when the stiffness in Libby’s stump increased with age, and the effort of following Louie in the fields, hobbling and wobbling behind him, turned from tiring to exhausting in fewer and fewer steps, and she started to retire to their nest earlier and earlier in the day. At first, she was able to make it till 6 in the evening, but then 6 became 5, and 5 became 4, and then it was barely 3 in the glorious middle of a summer day when she felt too weary to go on. The day was still in its full splendor, there was still so much more of its gift to explore and experience, and there was still so much energy and curiosity left in Louie to explore with, but Libby was tired, and she had to go to her tent under the plywood plank, and rest her aching joints. And Louie followed. With Libby gone from the dazzling heart of the summer day, the night came early for both of them. 

Then there was the tacit song of forfeiting his foraging expeditions and his place in the larger sanctuary community only to be with her. When Libby’s advancing age, added to the constant burden of her lameness, forced her to not only shorten her travels with Louie, but end them altogether, and when her increased frailness forced her to seek a more controlled environment than their plywood tent in the barn, she retired to the small, quiet refuge of the House. And Louie followed her there, too, even though he still enjoyed the wide open spaces, the wilder outdoors, the hustle and bustle of bunking in the barn. But Libby needed the extra comfort of the smaller, warmer, more predictable space inside the House and, even though Louie did not, he followed her anyway. And, when she started to spend more and more time indoors, curtailing her already brief outings, Louie did too. 

And there they were. Just the two of them in the world. A monogamous couple in a species where monogamy is the exception. Determined to stay together even though their union created more problems than it solved, increased their burdens more than it eased them, and thwarted their instincts more than it fulfilled them. 

Libby and Louie together at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby and Louie together

It would have been easier and more “natural” for Louie to be in charge of a group of hens, like all the other roosters, but he ignored everyone except Libby. He paid no attention to the fluffy gray hen, the fiery blonde hen, the dreamy red hen, the sweet black hen dawdling in her downy pantaloons, or any of the 100 snow-white hens who, to our dim perceptions, looked exactly like Libby. Louie, the most resplendently bedecked and befeathered rooster of the sanctuary, remained devoted only to Libby – scrawny body, scraggly feathers, missing foot, hobbled gait and all. It’s true that, with our dull senses, we couldn’t grasp a fraction of what he saw in her because we can’t see, smell, hear, touch, taste, sense a scintilla of the sights, scents, sounds, textures, and tastes he does. But, even if we could see Libby in all her glory, it would still be clear that it wasn’t her physical attributes that enraptured Louie. If he sought her as his one and only companion, if he protected that union from all intrusions, it wasn’t because of her physique but because of her presence.

It would have been easier for Libby too – so vulnerable in her stunted, lame body – to join an existing chicken family and enjoy the added comfort, cover and protection of a larger group, but she never did. She stayed with Louie, and followed him on his daily treks in the open fields, limping and gimping behind him, exhausting herself only to be near him.

What bonded them was not about practical necessities or instinctual urges – if anything, it thwarted both. Their union was about something else, a rich inner abundance that seemed to flourish in each other’s presence, and that Libby nurtured in her silence and that Louie voiced, sang out loud, celebrated, noted, catalogued, documented, expressed, praised every day of their 1,800 days together. 

Except today. Today, it was Libby who “spoke” for both of them. And, this time, there was no doubt whose voice it was, or what it was saying, because it not only sounded off, it split open the sky, punctured the clouds, issued forth with such gripping force and immediacy that it stopped you dead in your tracks. It was a sound of such pure sorrow and longing, hanging there all alone, in stark and immaculate solitude, high above the din of sanctuary life, like the heart-piercing cry of an albatross. She had started to cluck barely audibly at dawn, when Louie failed to get up and lingered listlessly in their nest. She continued her plaintive murmur into the afternoon, when Louie became too weak to hold his head up and collapsed in a heap of limp feathers. And then, when we scooped him up and quarantined him into a separate room for treatment, her soft lament turned to wrenching wail.

The next morning, she was still sounding out her plea, her love, her desperation as she feverishly searched every open room in the house, then wandered out into the small front yard, then the larger back yard, and the small barns behind it. Soon, she left the house and the fenced yard and took her search to the open fields, cooing, calling, crying like a strange sky creature, using her voice as a beacon, it seemed, a sound trail for Louie to follow back to safety, and roaming farther than she had in months, stumbling and staggering on a foot and a stump, the light in her being dimming with every solitary minute, her eyes widened as if struggling to see in dark, her feathers, frayed at the edges, as though singed by the flames of an invisible fire, their sooted ends sticking out like thorns straight from the wound of her soul, her whole being looking tattered and disoriented, as if lost in a suddenly foreign world.

rescued chicken, Libby, at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Libby alone

And, for three excruciating days, we didn’t dare hope she’d ever find him alive again. Louie was very weak, hanging to life by a thread that seemed thinner and thinner with each passing hour. He didn’t respond to the treatment we were advised to give him and, after three days of failed attempts, we were beginning to accept that there was nothing more we could do except to keep him comfortable, hydrated and quiet until the end. 

But we underestimated both his strength and her determination. Libby did find her soul mate again. We don’t know how she managed to get into the locked rehab room, but she did. We were planning to reunite them later that day – going against the Veterinarian’s advice, as we sometimes do out of mercy for the animals – because it had become clear to us that Louie’s ailment was not contagious, it was “just” a bad fit of old age. But Libby beat us to it. She found her way into his room, only she knows how, and Louie found his way back to life too, seemingly at the same moment. There he was, looking up for the first time in days, life flaring in his eyes again, and there she was, huddled next to him, quietly sharing his hospital crate. And there they still are, Louie, slowly recovering, and Libby, blissfully silent again. She hasn’t moved since. She won’t leave his side now that she’s found him again, she refuses to even look away from him, as if he might disappear in one blink of her eye, as if the force of her gaze alone can keep him anchored in life.

They are both quiet now – Louie, exhausted from his ailment, regaining his strength, Libby, exhausted from her dark journey, gazing steadily at him. Both, brimming, basking in the rich silence that is so alive with voice and flowing conversation, that it glows between them like a strange treasure. And it shines.

Libby and Louie, rescued chickens

Libby and Louie