Through Any Given Door

1.24 Itty-Bitty Balls of Tuft

Betty, Claudia, Carleen 1946

1946 • SonoraOne Saturday Mom brought home six dozen chicks from the feed store and enclosed them in the safety of the chicken coop. The next day, Carleen, Betty and Claudia gently carried them from the pen to the front yard, cradling the soft chicks inside their tops, smelling their soft down, and one by one delivered them carefully to the ground to play under the shady elm. Lying in a triangle with their chins on the grass to watch the itty-bitty balls of tuft bob and root around for bugs in the fresh grass, the girls corralled them with their skinny arms to keep the peepers from wandering, their six legs sticking out of their white summer jumpers.

A medium-sized stray dog silently scaled the wall into our front yard. In a frenzied ambush, it went after the downy babies like a madman at a massacre. The girls were hysterical.

Carl Clemens

“DAAADYYY!!!” Dad flew out the door, grabbed a shovel from the shed, bolted to the front, and cracked the long-haired mongrel on its black and white head, splitting its cranium clean open like a watermelon at a country social. He didn’t mean to kill it. Staggering to the stone wall, Dad bowed and threw up. Then he fainted. When the kids roused him to an upright position and his color came back, he lurched to the police station to make a report (we didn’t have a phone), and they sent the Humane Society to pick up the carcass.

The girls tenderly carried the few remaining chicks back to their pen and tearfully buried the others. They sat tightly together on the porch, their skinned elbows on their scuffy knees, their chins cupped in their hands, and watched woebegone while Dad slowly cleaned the shovel. He quietly put it away in the corner on the shed, wobbled across the porch through the front screen door, and crumpled to the flowered overstuffed chair.

to be continued …

© 2017. Catherine Sevenau.
All rights reserved.

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  1. Jim Chatfield says:

    Cathy, those poor girls probably never forgot that experience the rest of their lives.

  2. John Duchi says:

    I can see it happening. One of your better pieces, Catherine. Never slowed Mom down from killing chickens later, now did it? Although she had some favorites, especially those Rhode Island Reds that would lay brown double-yolked eggs. I remember running down and collecting those. My mom always let us eat them because I think they wouldn’t hatch properly because of the double yolks. There was a method by which you could tell the double yolk ones, I think you had to flash a bright light at them. Of all the things my mother learned from your mutual mother, I think the farming was the best. We grew wonderful corn, radishes, tomatoes, pumpkins, all sorts of great stuff. We had every kind of tree. Horses, cattle, pigs, ducks, geese (boy were they mean!), dogs, hell, we even had 30 cats at one point. I think we abandoned most of them when we moved onto the boat. All except Squink, the most amazing cat ever.

  3. Poor dog!

  4. Janet Sasaki says:

    That’s life on the farm! Must have really tragic for the children, but more, the poor father!

  5. Great story

  6. Holy cow, pretty traumatic for all involved.

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