I stood in confusion as I wondered why there were sheets strung like hammocks between the hemlock trees in our front yard. When we first moved to the foothills of the Blue Ridge I made the mistake of commenting that since we had a chicken coop we needed to get a few laying hens. The mistake was saying it in front of Linda Gail’s dad, Ralph. “You know? There’s a guy down the street from me trying to get rid of a couple of chickens.” Thirty hens and two roosters later I had to say “Enough with the poultry.” A mixed bunch from several different sources, our game hens took offense to our robbing their nest for eggs and decided to take advantage of our free range farming techniques. They just disappeared. After a while we believed that they had been kidnapped by Br’er Fox who had been shopping for dinner. Imagine our reaction to hearing the “peep, peep, peep” sounds of baby chicks emanating from the squirrel nests high in our hemlock trees. Temporarily struck stupid in amazement we never considered how they would make their way to the ground. Their mothers hadn’t considered it either. Chickens at best are not the brightest animals God created and they fly only slightly better than rocks. Chicks? They don’t fly at all but simply make a sound reminiscent of a nut being cracked when they hit the ground. My wife, Linda Gail, decided that sheets strung under the trees was a better option than running around trying to catch them with a butterfly net that we didn’t have. She is one of the brighter animals that God created and was able to save most of them.


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