Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, October 11, 2013

Reaching My Beak

Admit it. This strikes terror into your heart.
For three years, we lived in the ‘Little House on the Prairie’.
Really.
It was a little house. (Just over 300 square feet.)
And we lived in it.
My Husby had built it as a dog kennel.
Then turned it into a chicken coop.
Finally, cleaned it up, insulated and finished the inside.
And moved his family into it.
But that isn’t what this story is about . . .
Our little house was heated with a wood stove.
Toasty.
During the summer (ie. July), that stove sat cold and unused.
Once August rolled around and temperatures started to cool, however, it was pressed back into use.
And that’s where this story starts.
Oh, and I should probably mention that I‘m afraid of chickens.
Just FYI.
Moving on . . .
My Dad was over for a visit. Which invariably consisted of trying to carry on a conversation with three little boys playing between us in the only available space in our little house.
It was nearly suppertime. The room was starting to cool.
Time for a fire.
I checked the damper. (I want you to know that I knew what I was doing . . .)
Opened the door of our little stove.
Piled in wood and kindling.
And lit a match.
Flames licked up immediately.
And that’s when we heard it . . .
The scratching and clawing and fluttering of something inside the chimney.
We both stood there, stunned. What on earth . . .?
“You must have a bird caught in the chimney,” Dad said.
What?! How was that possible?!
The poor thing!!!
I grabbed a bucket and doused the small fire, then began pulling out bits of blackened wood and setting them back into the box.
Finally, the stove was clear.
Dad and I knelt down and peered inside.
“Oh, I see it!” I said.
It was a blackbird.
The poor thing had obviously been overcome by smoke and dropped into the back of the stove. Quite clearly dead.
I reached out to grab what I thought was a foot in the uncertain light.
It wasn’t.
“EWWWWW! A BEAK! A BEAK! A BEAK!!”
Dad shook his head and stared at me as I did the dance of disgust. *Shudder*
Eventually, he got the bird out and we gave it a proper burial.
Later, my Husby checked to see how it had gotten inside in the first place. Ah. A loose screen. Quickly remedied.
I can wrangle the most dastardly fur-bearing animals the barnyard can offer.
But chickens and I give each other a wide berth.
Turns out that it’s really their beaks I’m afraid of.
And a beak is a beak.
No matter whom it’s on.

14 comments:

  1. But you had a clean chimney afterr that incident....did you know in the olden golden days (Edwardian) they used to drop a live chicken down the chimney to clean it out? You didn't have to sacrifice a chicken to get the job done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm . . . sounds like a good use for a chicken. Could you eat it afterward?

      Delete
    2. Then I'm there - providing someone else is in charge of the inserting and removal.

      Delete
  2. I'm sorry, but I laughed a bit.

    So you're afraid of beaks. :-)

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chickens (shudder) still freak me out. Bad childhood experience collecting eggs with my mom, I was about 2. Bad.
    Chickens to clean out chimneys?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those early encounters with chickens stay with you. Forever.

      Delete
  4. I thought you were going to say the bird revived when you touched it, but this was clearly just as bad for you! Birds don't bother me, but I sure wouldn't want to get up close and personal with those furry barnyard animals you referred to :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fur, I can handle. Feathers? Not so much. If it had revived when I pulled its beak, you would have seen the explosion from where you live! Gaaahhh!

      Delete
  5. I know for a fact blackbirds and chickens are all the same. I may write about it some day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I definitely have to hear this one! :)

      Delete
  6. The poor bird was almost dinner: smoked blackbird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm . . . maybe I should have re-thought. After all, didn't they make a pie out of 24 of them?!

      Delete

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