Maggie

Maggie stood at her kitchen sink, washing the breakfast dishes from the morning rush. The kids had gone off to school and Mark to work. 

She looked out the kitchen window, as she ran her dish cloth around the next breakfast bowl. ‘How divine is my life?’ She thought and let out a sigh.

Never in her wildest dreams did she believe this kind of life was possible but it was, and here she was living it – every single bit of it.  

Soaking it all in, Maggie’s eyes moved from flower to flower, bee to bee, native bird to native bird as they all danced through her yard.

She was in awe and wonder. It was beautiful.

There were green tree frogs jumping into the creek at the end of the property, kookaburras singing loudly in the Eucalyptus tress, and the ducks waddling around the back yard, eating as they went.

Her life was an absolute dream and she was excited for the new additions that Mark was bringing home – a bee hive.

Maggie had always loved honey. She loved it on toast, as a face mask on her skin and she loved to use it in her cooking. But what she really loved was watching the bees move through her garden, tantalising the flowers to open up. It was a like a game, an erotic dance. 

The bees would first look at the flowers and it was almost like they try to hold hands with the flower, then they’d gently land on the beautiful petals, flapping their wings, then flying off to watch as the flower slowly starts to open.

The game continues until the flower is fully open and the bee can take the nectar.

It’s a divine dance of the feminine and masculine, and how nature works together.

Maggie was lost in thought, as she heard, ‘Shoo, shoo, get away.’

She didn’t have to look far to know where that was coming from, Maggie giggled to herself. The old man next door was constantly harassing the ducks, or maybe the ducks were harassing him, either way it was funny.

She continued to watch the old man for a few moments as he wandered down into his yard. ‘Off to let his chickens out.’ She thought. 

The old man did look after his chickens well and he did cope with having Teddy come to visit most days to play with the chickens, which was lovely.

Maggie put the last dish in the drying rack and then looked at the seeds she’d been growing on her window sill, it was time to plant them.

‘Aggghhh,’ she heard a loud scream, and when Maggie looked out her window, she saw the old man sitting on his bum. ‘He must have fallen over’ she thought. Maggie wondered if he was ok, and watched as he slowly, one leg at a time, got to his feet. 

The old man dusted himself off and kept walking.

‘He’s ok,’ Maggie thought and smiled.

Maggie kept as many seeds as she could from the food they made, so anytime she cut a pumpkin she’d pull out the seeds and put them onto wet cotton wool and she’d keep the wool wet to see which seeds grew. Once they were ready, she’d plant them in small pots to again, see which ones would grow and go to the next stage.

She was mindful of allowing her seeds to grow slowly and sustainably, to have the best chance of survival. She’d learnt this over the years and smiled as she remembered a time when she just put all the seeds in the ground and hoped. 

Out of about 30 seeds two grew. She was so excited but also a little disappointed about the ones that didn’t grow, she new she had to learn more so she could nurture those little seeds better next time.

She did this same process with tomato, apple and pear seeds. They seemed to be the most successful, that said pear seeds were pretty fickle and of the 3 she’d successfully raised from a seed, they’d died when she moved them in to a pot. Perhaps it was the soil, perhaps it was lonely, perhaps it was the mulch, she didn’t know but she wanted to experiment.

Today, Maggie was planting 4 tomato seeds and 2 apple seeds. There were a lot more seeds on the tray but they weren’t ready yet.

Maggie took the tray out to her green house. Putting it on her bench, she went to pick up her gardening gloves and some small pots. She looked over some of her little pots and noticed that she could add the apple seeds to an existing pot that already had two little apple seeds – now little apple trees in it, but she had to create a new pot for the tomato seeds.

Maggie picked up the apple tree pot and put that on her bench, then she used her little shovel to put soil in one of her empty pots, ready for the tomatoes.

With her wooden dibbler, Maggie made 4 holes in the soil of the tomato pot and two holes in the soil of the apple pot. Then she gently pulled the seeds and their roots out of the cotton wool and put them into the soil, closing up the holes to protect the roots and help the plants stand up.

She then reached down and pulled out a small handful of sugar cane mulch, placing that on top of the soil and around each plant. There were going to thrive, she just knew it.

Maggie picked up her hose and gently dribbled some water onto each pot. Just enough to dampen the soil and help the plants thrive.

Maggie put the pots back with the existing ones, careful to make sure the apple plants were with the apple trees and the tomato plants were with the tomato plants, she then gave them all a water.

Mark had hooked up an automatic watering system in the glass house, which was amazing and so helpful on days where Maggie had a lot going on, but today, she had time to hand water and her heart felt so full when she was hand watering, it was like her heart would burst at the opportunity she had – the gift of bringing a seed to life and to be part of the cycle of life.

These seeds would create plants, that would create fruit. That fruit would contain seeds that Maggie would then harvest, when preparing food for her family and friends, that would then grow on Maggie’s wet cotton wool and the cycle would start again.

Maggie felt so blessed. 

Soil, water and seeds. Food and life was that simple.

 

Maggie slowly, finger by finger, took her gloves off. Setting them on the bench, she headed towards her backdoor as Milo, their cat, wandered passed her legs.

Maggie paused and Milo rubbed her face against Maggies calves making sure her cheek bones were suitably stroked. Putting pressure as she moved her face up Maggie’s calf, starting at her nose and down to the very edge of her cheek bone. ‘Oh that feels amazing,’ Milo thought.

‘You look very happy,’ Maggie said as she bent down to pick Milo up.

Milo flopped into Maggie’s arms, right at home and feeling very loved, like the baby of the family but also the one that ruled the roost!

Maggie rubbed Milo’s tummy and he began to purr, feeling like he could stay there all day. 

The sun was warming up Milo’s black fur and he could feel himself being lulled to sleep, which he was all for, until there was a loud THUD.

Milo’s hair stood on end as he jumped out of Maggie’s arms and ran for the safety of the nearest chair. Under the chair he could see anything and no one could see him.

THUD

There it was again.

Maggie looked around, wondering where the noise was coming from. It was the old man, chopping up wood.

‘Hello’ Maggie said, waving her arm at the old man.

He didn’t hear her.

THUD, as the axe came down again.

Maggie thought about calling out again but instead she walked back inside. She had a client call coming up and wanted to prepare herself for it.

 

She’d been working with Jo, a beautiful soul – actually all of Maggie’s clients were beautiful souls, for a couple of months, helping her to balance her hormones and hopefully, soon, fall pregnant.

Maggie was a practicing Naturopath and had been helping women fall pregnant for decades. She was called the ‘baby maker’ to her clients. Maggie loved her work and after she’d solved her own fertility issues, she knew she had to help other future-mums on their journey.

She was able to keep things simple for future-mums and in turn, they were able to create amazing results together.

Similar to the seeds in the pots, Maggie took it one step at a time with her clients. She didn’t want to overwhelm them, when they already had a lot going on, and held a nurturing space for her clients because what we think is so natural – being a mum – can sometimes not be a natural thing. It can be hard and in the modern world with a lot of stress, conflicting information and options, people often didn’t know what to do, they become stuck, frozen in time.

Maggie would take those frozen future-mums, help them reduce their stress, give them love so they could soften into the amazing woman they are and help them to nurture the seeds within them, that they in turn would nurture with love.

‘Hi Maggie.’

‘Hi Jo, lovely to chat with you again.’

‘Oh it’s so great to chat with you too.’ Jo said with the biggest smile on her face.

‘How are things going Jo? What’s been happening since our last call?’ Maggie asked.

Maggie and Jo had been catching up fortnightly, and Maggie had given Jo some supplements, food changes and stress relieving activities to do over the last few months. Jo was an amazing client, she always made time for her ‘baby work’ and because Maggie made things so simple, Jo found them really easy to implement.

Jo had been trying to fall pregnant for 3 years but with no luck. She’d seen lots of amazing doctors and specialist but nothing quite worked and she hadn’t found someone she resonated with until she meet Maggie.

She’d been referred to Maggie through a work colleague who’d had success falling pregnant with Maggie’s guidance so she thought, ‘why not.’

Jo’s expectations weren’t huge, given she’d been trying for 3 years, but Maggie’s suggestions really supported her and because Maggie had focused on Jo, Jo was then able to surrender to everything in the baby world. 

If things didn’t work with Maggie, Jo was going to look at IVF but she knew she didn’t have a lot of time to dive into that space, given she was already 35.

But Jo had news for Maggie today, exciting news that she was keen to share.

‘Everything’s been going really well. I’ve been tracking my stress levels with my new WHOOP, it’s a super cool device that measures so many things, including my stress levels so as I’ve been able to watch the times of day that my stress is high and then I implement the strategies we’ve talked about and it’s really helping.’

‘That’s wonderful Jo, it’s incredible to feel in control of our body isn’t it?’

‘Oh yes, so wonderful. I thought that stress was something I just had to live with.’ Jo said with air quotes when she said ‘live with’. ‘But I really don’t. Dave has commented that I’m so much more relaxed and I don’t snap as much.’ She laughed, ‘Yeah it wasn’t great!’ She was shaking her head, a bit embarrassed actually.

‘Also, the supplements are really helping. I know we’ve talked about my poo and the fact that I wasn’t going to the toilet enough, well guess what – I’m now going daily, how cool is that.’

‘That’s very cool and well done on seeing how stress doesn’t have to be our every day. It can absolutely play a part in our lives but it doesn’t have to rule our lives. Well done you.’ Maggie clapped her hands in front of the screen, in recognition of Jo’s achievements.

Jo smiled. Jo really loved Maggie, she really felt that Maggie was there for her and that no matter what happened, Jo knew she’d be better for knowing her.

‘Now tell me, we made some food changes last time, just a few small things like reducing gluten, eggs and soy. Some of the inflammatory foods that came up as causing inflammation in your body. How have things gone in this space?’

‘That hasn’t been so easy, but I have made some progress. I’m now having oat mylk instead of soy mylk, that was the only time I was having soy. So that’s a win. I’ve shifted my scrambled eggs on toast to chia puddlings, which are actually really yummy, yummier than I thought they’d be, so thank you for that suggestion. It was fun finding recipes and experimenting with them. As for the gluten, well I don’t eat rye and barley, so that’s easy, but wheat is a bit harder. Of course I’ve shifted my breaky so that’s a gluten win and I’m about 50/50 the rest of the time, it just depends on what’s happening and what’s going on.’ Jo stopped talking, but Maggie could tell she was thinking so didn’t say anything, she just held space for Jo. 

‘Oh but what I have done really well, and I know we talked about this in our first session, I’m drinking over 2 litres of water a day now, which is a real win and I’m excited about that, it’s taken me weeks to get there but I feel like I have a really good routine with it now – a new habit that I’ve mastered, at least I think so.’

Jo was so proud of herself and Maggie could see the delight in Jo’s eyes. 

‘Jo, that’s incredible, well done on everything you’ve achieved in the food space. It’s not easy but finding foods that taste yummy and heal our bodies is possible. Plus getting to 2 litres of water a day, amazing. It’s important to take that one slow because you can end up on the toilet a lot if you go hard at the start.’

Jo laughed, ‘Well I’ve certainly had a few days like that, but generally it’s been pretty good.’

Maggie was all smiles for Jo and at this point it was all about continuing to do what Jo’s been doing. Maggie wasn’t going to introduce any changes in this session but she did have a question for Jo.

‘Jo you’re doing really well, what I’m curious to know is, with all of the shift and changes you’ve made, how are you feeling?’

Jo sat with Maggie’s question for a moment. She thought Maggie was going to ask her about shifts in the baby department, but Maggie always kept the sessions about Jo, knowing that if Jo was healthy and well the bub would come.

Jo smiled, ‘I think the best way to describe how I feel is lighter, freer and happier than I’ve been in years, and that’s a big statement given we’ve only been working together for a few months.’

Jo stopped talking and Maggie could see that she was thinking again, so stayed quiet.

‘You know.’ Jo said. ‘I thought all of this work would be harder. I wondered – why me? Why couldn’t I get pregnant but I see it now, I see that I had to be right for my bub to come. I had to make sure my garden, so to speak, was ready so my bub could have the best chance and I can see that’s what we’re doing here, so thank you.’

Jo had a tear in her eye.

Maggie smiled warmly at Jo and let her sit with what she’d said for a moment. Then said ‘You’re so welcome Jo, and you’re right, your garden has to be ready and flourishing to be able to hold your bub and to give it the best nutrients to grow. This isn’t an easy path and not everyone has to go on this path, but it feels to me that you’re right where you’re meant to be and your time as a mum is coming.’

Jo burst into tears. Maggie didn’t know if they were happy tears or not, she watched Jo for a moment and just as she was about to ask her if she needed a moment or to get a tissue, Jo said:

‘Maggie, I’m pregnant. It’s just a few weeks, 6 we think, but I’m pregnant. I couldn’t believe it at the start so I’ve been waiting for things to fail, but I did a test again this week and it was positive – again.’ Jo had big snot-tears rolling down her face.

‘Congratulations Jo, are those happy tears.’

‘Oh yes.’ Jo said, quickly grabbing a tissue. ‘Yes happy tears and I should have told you at the start of our call but I was so caught up in catching up and then you saying what you said about my garden and you were so right, I hadn’t been looking after my garden…’ 

This time Jo broke down, sobbing deep tears.

‘Oh Jo, I’m here for you, take your time.’ Maggie said to her, looking deeply into the screen.

Maggie had been working with clients online since they moved to the country. It was easier to connect with people that way but when these things happened, and they happened more often than not in Maggie’s work, she really wished she could be sitting side by side with clients so she could give them what they needed. Perhaps a warm hug or a hand to hold or to just sit beside them while they cried.

‘I’m so sorry Maggie.’ Jo blubbered, trying to pull herself together whilst blowing her nose loudly into her tissue. She hadn’t expected to get this upset because it was such great news. 

‘Jo there’s nothing to apologise for.’ Maggie said with a huge smile, ‘this is great news and exactly what you’ve been working towards.’

‘Oh my, I don’t know where that came from.’ Jo said still crying and whimpering.

‘Well.’ Maggie said. ‘We 100% know that you’re pregnant.’

Jo laughed, ‘all those pregnancy hormones huh?’ She looked up smiling at Maggie.

‘Yep, all those pregnancy hormones.’ Maggie smiled.

Maggie finished up she session with Jo. It went a bit longer than planned but Maggie had time for that. She always made sure she had space between clients so if they ran over time it was ok. It didn’t happen very often and it was space for Maggie to write up her notes and get a cup of tea or ground herself in the grass, whatever she needed so she could be the best version of herself for her clients.

 

Maggie had a full day in her practice and she’d just sat down with her rooibos tea when the kids ran through the door from school.

She could hear them from the street, they were noisy and rambunctious, which she loved.

‘Hi Mum,’ said Teddy.

‘Hi Mum,’ said Jem chimed in.

‘Hi Darlings, how was your day?’ Maggie held her arms out and welcomed both her babies in for a big hug. The kids dropped their bags and ran into her embrace.

‘Ohhhhh, I love our cuddles.’ Maggie said as she squeezed her beautiful babies.

The kids laughed and tightened their arms around their Mum. She truly was the best mum and they both knew it.

‘Right’ Maggie said, as she pulled them all out of their embrace, still hanging on, of course, ‘afternoon tea is up!’ She smiled brightly at them.

The kids ate just about anything but it hadn’t always been that way, she’d struggled to get them to eat the same thing at the same time, and then one would like skin on their apples and the other didn’t like apples at all, but Maggie persevered always putting it on their plates and noticing what got eaten.

She gave more apple to the compost heap than she liked but the compost heap was happy and occasionally herself or Mark would eat the left overs.

On their plates today were strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pear. Not all favourites but something for everyone.

The strawberries were always a hit and lately Teddy had been loving the blueberries. Jem was always a raspberry fan, and Maggie nibbled on the pear.

The kids shared about their day. The friends they played with, how Teddy had decided to just hang out by himself during the lunch break for a while – because it felt better to him, and how sport was the best subject of the day because they got to play Golden Child.

Maggie loved listening to her babies and helping them tap into what felt good to them. She didn’t avoid the hard conversations but she wanted to create a safe space where everything was welcome and to teach them how to tap into their intuition and to know that when they did, they always won, even when they felt it was the ‘hard’ decision.

 

As the kids sat down to do their homework, easy for Jem but more challenging for Teddy. Both kids were capable, they just had different preferences about how they wanted to spend their afternoons, but Maggie had a rule, afternoon tea, then homework, then play. It wasn’t a smooth ride but one that worked for them, most of the time.

As the kids pottered away with whatever they were assigned that week, Maggie tidied up from afternoon tea and started preparing dinner. They were having veggie soup and Maggie loved throwing in all the veggies, which made for a very full pot of soup.

Not long after, Mark came home from work. Pulling up in the driveway, the kids took this as an opportunity to let go of their homework and welcome Dad home.

Jem was first to the front door, ‘Dad,’ she yelled out in excitement. Jem was Daddy’s girl, she’d always been attached to her father and of course he returned the love with huge smiles, love and cuddles. Maggie would often find them hanging on the couch laughing and telling each other ridiculous jokes. Mark loved a good ‘Dad joke’ and Jem obliged him, laughing loudly!

‘Jem.’ Mark said with a huge smile on his face as he got out of the car. ‘How was your day?’ Mark never asked ‘how was school?’ because he wanted everything, every little detail she’d give him and he would listen for hours.

She ran through the front door and gave him a big hug, ‘it was awesome Dad. I played with Tilly, Cara and Johanna, we had the best time climbing the jungle gym and I even got an award for best listener!’ Jem smiled proudly at her Dad.

‘How come you didn’t tell me about that?’ Maggie asked Jem.

‘You didn’t ask.’ She smiled cheekily at her mum.

‘Well now, I’ll remember for next time.’ Maggie raised her eyebrow and gave a cheeky smile back to Jem.

‘Dad.’ Teddy said as he came out behind Maggie, and gave his Dad a hug.

‘Hey Tigger, how was your day?’

‘Yeah, ok.’

Teddy wasn’t one for many words, well not initially anyway. His response was always the same, and then, like a flower, he’d unfurl his petals spilling everything.

‘Well guess what?’ Mark said to the kids.

‘What.’ Teddy said.

‘You got the bee hive??’ Jem enquired. She knew it was coming, so did Teddy, but Jem remembered details.

‘I did.’

Jem let out a squeal the whole neighbourhood could hear.

Maggie smiled at Mark, ‘I guess she’s excited.’ She said.

Mark smiled back, leaned in for a kiss and said ‘I guess she is!’

‘Welcome home Handsome.’ Maggie said.

‘It’s great to be home my beautiful Princess.’ He said back to her and squeezed her hand.

They had always called each other by their pet names, but Maggie couldn’t remember how it started. If she had to guess, it was in the before kids days, when they both worked out in the world, they would email each other when they got to work and Maggie had probably addressed one of the emails to ‘Hi Handsome,’ and Mark replied with ‘Hi Beautiful Princess.’ And it had stuck.

 

The kids helped Mark take the bee hive around the back. It was all in boxes so that became their homework. They unpacked everything and slowly built it. Teddy’s interest lasted about 5 minutes, but he stayed a bit longer to show his support before disappearing over the fence to visit the old man’s chickens.

Teddy would be much better once we had bees. He’s be there to collect the honey and would happily eat it all day long.

Jem on the other hand was much better in the build, because she got to hang with her Dad, and they chatted the whole time. As for the collection of honey, she’d come to help but wouldn’t stay, getting distracted with the flowers or the play gym.

Maggie smiled as she reflected on how funny and wonderfully unique both of her kids were.

Maggie had finished off the veggie soup, it tasted amazing, and had come out to help Mark carry the bee hive down the back behind her green house. They’d levelled ground prior to buying it and laid pavers for the hive to sit on.

‘It fits perfectly.’ Jem said, smiling.

‘It does darling.’ Mark said to her.

‘When can we get bees?’ Jem asked.

‘Well I’m speaking with a bee guy at the moment and hopefully in a couple of weeks we can go and pick some up, he’s going to ring and let me know.’

‘Eeeekkkk, how exciting!!!’ Jem squealed. 

Maggie smiled, she loved watching her kids excitement and getting to be a part of it. 

‘Ok dinner time.’ Maggie said.

‘Jem can you go and get your brother?’ Maggie asked.

‘Ohhhh do I have to? Can’t we just yell at him?’ Jem asked her Mum.

Maggie chuckled, ‘No we can’t just yell at him sweetheart, can you see him over there?’ Maggie looked over to the old man’s yard. ‘I can’t, so can you go and find him please?’  She said kindly to Jem.

‘Oh alright.’ Jem was frustrated that she had to help, wondering why she was always the one who had find Teddy.

‘I’ll come with you pumpkin.’ Mark said, that made Jem smile, it always did.

As they sat down to dinner that night Maggie reflected on their day. Their wonderful garden, her amazing clients, the kids and school, plus Mark, they’re amazing Mr Wonderful. They had a lot to be grateful for.

Ode to Floppy

The old man sat quietly on his back deck, reflecting on the day. He’d had a big few days actually but today was the hardest, and he was sad.

He remembered back to the day he went to pick his chickens. There they were running around in a ladies back yard. She’d bred them from little eggs, fertilising them, keeping them warm and watching them, one by one, crack open as each new baby chicken hatched into life. 

She’d then raised them until they were ready to be re-homed which is when the old man went to buy six chicken from her.

He’d taken the little boy from next door with him, Teddy. 

Teddy loved animals and he always said ‘hi’ to the old man – even though he was old and sometimes cranky, ok he was cranky a lot.

Teddy had seen the old man building his chicken run and asked him, curiously, ‘what are you doing?’

‘I’m building a chicken run, for the chickens I’m getting.’ The old man said.

Teddy was so excited, his face lit up and he said ‘Really!’ In his bright, cheery voice. ‘Can I hold them?’ Teddy asked.

The old man looked at Teddy. In his mind he thought ‘bar hum bug, children are exhausting,’ but this one was ok.

‘I guess so.’ He said, and then turned back to keep working.

‘When are you getting them?’ Teddy asked.

‘What?’ The old man looked confused.

‘The chickens silly.’ Teddy laughed at the old man.

‘Oh, right.’ The old man was back on track with the conversation. ‘Ummm, next weekend. I’m going to pick them up.’

‘Can I come?’ Teddy asked. All excited and buzzing at the idea of having chickens next door! Teddy really wanted chickens for himself, but he hadn’t successfully convinced his parents – yet. ‘I could come over every day and pat them.’ Teddy thought.

The old man had the same idea, ‘he’s going to want to come and see them – all – the – time. Hmmmm maybe I don’t want chickens, because I don’t want kids visiting!’ He thought.

The old man didn’t want the conversation to continue but he wondered what Teddy meant by ‘can I come?’

‘Come where?’ Asked the old man.

‘To pick the chickens.’ He said. ‘I could help you, and pick the best chickens for you.’

He watched the old man, he didn’t appear to think it was a good idea. ‘I’d be really good at it, and chickens are fast, I can grab them really quick!! The exact ones you want.’ Teddy said.

He had a point there. The old man wasn’t fast at all and he was just going to tell the lady which ones he wanted, but what if she told him to get them himself? The old man looked away and grumbled something.

Teddy couldn’t understand him.

‘What’d you say?’ Teddy asked.

The old man looked at Teddy, ‘hmmmm.’ He said in a frown. ‘You’d have to ask your parents.’ The old man hoped Teddy’s parents would say no.

‘Ok’ Teddy said excitedly, and ran off.

 

‘Mum said it’s ok, I can come – how good is that!’ Teddy declared at the fence.

The old man didn’t hear him and continued working on his chicken run. Lost in his own world, but perhaps it was more – he was feeling sore from getting up and down all the time as he was building it. His body wasn’t used to this physical labour.

‘Mum said I can come!’ 

The old man got the fright of his life. He fell onto his bottom, landing in the mud, that splashed everywhere. He managed to put his hand on his heart and shouted ‘AGGGHHHHH!’

Teddy jumped back, scared himself from the old man’s reaction but then smiled, realising the old man didn’t hear him come into his backyard.

Teddy had climbed over the fence when the old man didn’t respond. He was so keen to tell the old man that he could go with him to pick up his chickens that he wanted to let him know straight away, but he didn’t mean to scare him.

‘It’s just me silly.’ Teddy said to the old man, laughing.

‘Well young man, I wasn’t expecting anyone to be in my backyard, so it frightened me!’

‘I know, I can see that.’ Teddy said. ‘Can I help you up?’

The old man shook his head, indicating no, and slowly rolled onto all fours, then, slowly, climbed back up. ‘Oh, I’m sore,’ the old man thought.

‘So what’re you doing here?’ The old man asked Teddy.

Teddy’s smile got even larger as he declared, ‘Mum said I can come with you next weekend to get the chickens, we just need to let her know what time we’re going.’

‘Oh WE need to let her know when WE’RE doing it, do WE?’ The old man really emphasised the WE because he was shocked. He’d gone from doing something for himself, getting the chickens, to now having a partner, a ‘we’ so to speak. He didn’t know about that.

‘Yeah, she said we don’t have anything on next weekend, so I can help you go and get them, and then I can help you get them settled. I can stay and play with them.’ Teddy was so excited, he couldn’t stop talking. ‘I could even sleep the night if you needed someone to sleep with them, I’m a good sleeper you know….’ Teddy realised what he’d said and stopped to think.

If he was going to sleep over, he’d need to not sleep, but rather be the watcher of the chickens, like their body guard, so nothing happened to them. He wondered if he’d have to be in the chicken run with them.

He looked at the chicken run, hmmmm he could bring his swag, that would do the trick. He hadn’t slept outside by himself before though, but he could do it for the chickens. Not that he was going to sleep but he’d want to be comfortable. He’d get his Dad to help him set up his swag, have dinner with is Mum and Dad and then come over the fence to sleep. 

He wondered if it would be too scary. ‘Hmmmm maybe’ he thought. His hand wandered up to his shirt collar, and he started to fidget with it. 

Then, looking up at the old man, he said, ’Maybe I shouldn’t sleep over, but I can come back the next day and look after them – all day, I can do that.’ Teddy shook his head up and down, reaffirming that he could definitely spend the whole day with them.

The old man was shaking his head. He couldn’t think of anything worse. He was regretting his decision to get the chickens but he really wanted them and he’d done all this work, building the chicken coup and now the chicken run, and his muscles were very sore.

‘Listen young man.’ The old man said. ‘You can come to pick the chickens with me. I think you’d be very helpful in picking the right chickens and you’d be faster than me when they’re running around. They’ll be little, so they won’t be living in here right away. They’ll live in a little box in my laundry until they’re big enough to come out here. So you can come over, maybe once a week to have a little play with them.’ The old man didn’t want to over commit, because frankly, he didn’t want the boy over here at all. ‘How about we start there?’

‘Hmmmm.’ Teddy thought about what the old man said. He wanted to go with the old man to pick up the chickens and then, even though the old man said he could come over once a week, maybe he’d forget about that and if he was really helpful for the old man, he might be able to come over every day to play with the chickens. Teddy smiled, he knew what to say.

‘Sounds good to me!’

‘Ok next Saturday at 9am, we’re leaving. If you’re here at 9.01am, you’ll have missed me because 9am is 9am – got it?’

‘Yes, 9am next Saturday, I’ll be here.’ Teddy’s eyes were so bright, he had the biggest smile on his face and he knew he’d be there on time, actually he was going to be early. Teddy ran on home to put his alarm on, yelling out ‘see you next Saturday!’ He was going to make sure he was ready by 8.30am and at the old man’s door by 8.50am, he was going to be early, he wasn’t missing this!

 

Knock, knock, knock. The old man heard a knock on the door. ‘Bugger, he remembered.’ The old man thought.

He walked over to his front door, opening it.

‘Hi, I’m ready to go.’ Teddy smiled at the old man.

‘Hmmmm, you’re early, well you better come in.’ He said to Teddy.

Teddy hadn’t been inside the old man’s home before. He wandered quietly into the old man’s kitchen. 

‘Nice home.’ Teddy said politely to the old man. Teddy was nervous. He didn’t know where to stand at the old man’s house and when he was nervous he fidgeted with his hands and was more reactive than normal, especially with new noises and smells.

‘It’s alright.’ The old man said, referring to his home, grabbing his wallet and car keys. ‘Since you’re here early, let’s get going.’

‘Great.’ Teddy said. Anything to be outside and on the way!

They walked out the old man’s front door together, Teddy holding the door open for the old man. Teddy was polite like that. He’d do it for his Mum who was often holding bags and water bottles when they left and then coming back into the house with groceries and more bags. It was his way of helping.

‘Hmmmmm’ the old man was perplexed, ‘what kid does that?’ He thought, shaking his head.

‘Get in.’ He said nodding and pointing to his Ranger.

Teddy climbed into the front seat. He was shocked, the car was really clean, not what Teddy expected for a man who worked outside all day.

‘You all right?’ The old man said, looking at Teddy’s shocked face.

‘Yeah.’ Teddy smiled and clicked in his seatbelt.

‘Ok, the drive will take about 20 minutes.’

‘Ok.’ Teddy smiled again at the old man.

Teddy was really excited. He’d never picked out chickens before, but he knew they were cute, soft and cuddly. He really, really, really wanted some, but his parents wouldn’t let him. This was the next best thing.

They barely spoke the whole way there. Teddy was just watching what was going on outside the car, the cattle they passed, the burnt trees and even some horses.

‘They’re big.’ Teddy said when he saw the horses, they looked ginormous to Teddy.

‘They’re Shires, I think. You won’t see many around here but they’re the tallest horses you can find, and yes, they’re big!’ The old man said.

Teddy’s mouth fell wide open because he’d never heard the old man talked that much to him, ever, about anything, he knew stuff. Teddy’s eye’s lit up, ‘this is cool,’ he thought.

Teddy’s hand moved up to the collar of his shirt, while he thought about what to ask the old man next.

‘Ok, that’s enough talk.’ The old man said, ‘we’re here.’

 

Teddy climbed out of the car, his excitement levels went through the roof. He was trying to play it cool but he was sooooo excited. 

Teddy started walking towards the front door, when the old man said, ‘Hey, the chickens are in the backyard, let’s go this way.’

‘Ok’ Teddy said. Teddy was so used to going to the front door, he’d never go into someone’s backyard without being invited, well except for the old man’s, he didn’t count, Teddy knew the old man.

As they entered the backyard there were chickens everywhere, Teddy was in heaven! 

‘Ohhhh, they’re soooo cute.’ Teddy said as he ran towards the chickens, and they scattered off, squawking, into hidden corners so Teddy couldn’t catch them.

‘Damn they are fast.’ The old man thought as he watched them run away.

‘Hello.’ A lady called out from further in the backyard.

Teddy looked up, smiled and waved, ‘hello.’ He said.

‘Hello.’ The old man said. ‘We’re here to pick up some chickens.’

‘Great, I’m Martha, how many chickens do you want?’

‘6,’ The old man said.

Martha, held her hands out wide and said ‘choose away.’

The old man looked down at Teddy, who had the biggest grin on is face as he watched all the chickens in front of him.

‘Well, you’re up! Get the small, quiet ones.’

Teddy shook his head, acknowledging what the old man said and ran over to pick up his first chicken, but they all ran away from him, he couldn’t catch them.

The old man laughed, ‘slowly, walk slowly.’ He said to Teddy.

Then he turned to Martha and said, ‘They’re all girls right?’

‘Yes they are.’ Martha said with a smile. 

The old man had a big box for the chickens to go in, he opened the lid and as Teddy brought each chicken back to him, he’d nod at Teddy if it could go in, or shake his head if he thought they could do better.

The first chicken Teddy caught, and brought back to the old man, was small, fluffy, brown and white colouring, and happily sat in Teddy’s hands.

‘What about this one?’ Teddy said to the old man.

‘She’s perfect.’

Teddy put her into the box, through the hole at the top. She walked around the box, looking out for her friends, but as soon as Teddy arrived with the second one, which the old man agreed to, she nestled down with the other chicken and was happy.

The third chicken Teddy brought back was struggling and fighting in his hands. Teddy got scratched by the chickens feet and immediately dropped the chicken.

‘Oh no.’ Teddy said, looking sadly up to the old man. Teddy looked down at his hands and saw a red scratch mark from the chicken but no blood, he was ok.

‘That’s not the one we want Teddy, she was a bit too noisy! See those ones over there.’ The old man pointed to a couple of chickens that were stilling quietly in the soil, ‘They’re the ones we want.’

Teddy walked over slowly and quietly and was able to pick up two chickens – ‘WOW two!’ He thought. He brought them back to the old man who nodded and then Teddy, smiling, put them in the box.

‘Ok, two more.’ The old man said.

‘Ok.’ Teddy said, looking up at the old man with his big, excited smile on his face.

Teddy walked back to where he’d gotten the last two chickens but they quickly ran away. Thinking about how he’d gotten the last chickens, he stood still and watched them for a moment and then he saw one chicken standing by herself. She was brown in colour with flecks of cream and the tips of her feathers made a diamond on her back.

Teddy walked slowly over to her, talking to her the whole time.

‘Hello little chicken.’ He smiled at her. ‘Would you like to come home with me?’

The little chicken turned to walk away but Teddy quickly bent down and scooped her up in his arms. She didn’t mind, fluffing her feathers and then nestling into his hands. 

Teddy smiled, she was his favourite. 

Teddy walked her over to the box, looking up at the old man he said, ‘I’m going to call her Floppy, she’s my favourite.’

‘Righto then.’ The old man chuckled.

Teddy put her into the box gently and went off to find his final chicken.

Teddy had so much fun picking which chickens to come home with them that he didn’t want to leave, so he took his time and the old man noticed.

‘Come on you, we just need one more chicken.’ He said, trying to hurry Teddy along.

The chickens were running away from Teddy, and they were going down behind their chicken run, where Teddy couldn’t fit. He slowed down to watch them again and then he saw a group of little chickens off to the side. He wanted to take them all, but he knew he could only take one. 

There was one that was more cream than brown, that’s the one he wanted. Instead of going directly for her, which had caused all the chickens to run before, he went to the other side, causing them to bunch up on the chicken fence and he could reach in gently and pick her up.

She was super fluffy and so soft. She even looked up at him and chirped. Teddy was in love.

He walked her over to the box and said to the old man ‘I’m going to call this one Fluffy, and she’s my first favourite, Floppy’s my second favourite.’

‘Ok then.’ The old man said laughing and raising his eyebrows, ‘this kids interesting’ he thought.

The old man paid Martha. Then picked up the box of chickens and put them in the back seat. Teddy climbed into the back seat next to them, pulling on his seat belt.

The old man looked at him, curiously. 

‘Someone’s got to look after them.’ Teddy said, nodding at the old man with his serious face.

The old man chuckled, ‘of course they do!’

The whole way home Teddy talked to the chickens, telling them all about their new home and how much they were going to love it. That he would visit them regularly (he didn’t say how often because he didn’t want the old man to get cranky) and how cute they were.

All the chickens sat quietly, nestled in together. They were happy they were on their way to their new home.

 

When they arrived home the old man attempted to send Teddy home.

‘Well thanks for your help, I’ve got it from here.’ He smiled at Teddy.

Teddy hadn’t expected that, and he was a bit shocked, but he recovered quickly, saying to the old man, ‘You’re so welcome, I had the best time and given the chickens know me best, I’m probably the best person to show them their new home, so let me help you.’

Teddy didn’t wait for the old man to answer, instead, he got out of the car, headed around to the drivers side and helped the old man pull the chicken box out. He was going to be helpful.

‘Bar hum bug.’ The old man said, under his breath.

Teddy couldn’t carry the chicken box by himself because it was too heavy, but he did what he could to help the old man, and was especially helpful getting them through the front door.

When Indie heard the car pull into the driveway, she’s watched the old man and Teddy get out of the car through the living room window. Peaking her head through the curtains, she could see everything from there.

Indie raced to the front door, listening for the key in the lock and looked up excitedly to see the old man and Teddy coming through the door, she started jumping up.

‘Stop it, Indie.’ The old man yelled.

She didn’t stop, she kept jumping. 

They did their best to get in the door without Indie running through it and down the driveway. 

Then she realised they had a box, she had a hunch there was something in there for her. It wasn’t your usual box because there were noises coming from it.

‘Get down.’ The old man yelled again.

With much difficulty, because of Indie jumping all over them, the old man and Teddy managed to get through the front door and put the chicken box on the kitchen bench. 

‘Are they doing down into their hutch?’ Teddy asked the old man.

‘Nah, they’re a bit young for that. I’ll leave them in this for a few weeks, until they’re a bit bigger.’

‘Can they go outside for a run?’

‘I guess they can, but Indie will have to stay inside.’

Teddy spent the rest of his day with the chickens. He would occasionally go home to get some food but then he’d be right back again.

Whilst the old man didn’t want him there, he was actually no trouble, so he didn’t mind. Indie was the one that was bothered because she had to stay in the house so Teddy could play.

 

As the chicken grew, the old man moved them down into their chicken pen and the chicken run. He’d let them out each morning and put them to bed at night time. They were good chooks in the main. They knew their home and they always came back at night time.

The girls generally hung out together but from time to time Floppy would be somewhere on the farm wandering around by herself. She was always relatively close to the house, but she’d just do her own thing. Pecking away at ground, wandering down to the back fence. She was free.

Until the day she sat down and didn’t get back up again.

It was a Sunday morning and the old man had let the girls out a few hours earlier. He was in his kitchen and happened to look out the window and noticed Floppy nesting in the chicken run. 

‘That’s odd’ he thought.

The chickens only nested in the run when they were locked in. During the day, they’d nest in the dirt up next to the house, where it was cooler and they had a bit of shade. Floppy didn’t have any shade where she was nesting.

The old man made his coffee and watched to see if Floppy moved.

She didn’t move. 

As he drank his coffee and kept watching her, but she didn’t move. Even when one of the other girls came down to lay their egg, she didn’t get up.

He decided to check on her. Leaving Indie in the house, so as not to spook Floppy, he wandered down the back and walked into the chicken pen, she didn’t get up, she just looked at him.

The old man walked over to her and picked her up, she didn’t mind, he could have done anything with her, she wasn’t going anywhere.

She nestled into his arm and rested her head. She was tired.

The old man brought her up to the house, and sat her in the dirt that she loved to be in. She just sat there.

The other chickens just watched her.

The old man took her some water, which Floppy drank, but she didn’t get up, she just sat there.

The old man brought her a handful of grain, but she just looked away, she didn’t eat, it was too hard for her.

The old man left her to sit there and got on with his day, checking on her from time to time, but she didn’t move. What did happen was the other chickens started pecking at her, still she didn’t move.

That wasn’t a good sign. 

Chickens can be vicious, they attack the weaker of the pack and it can be deadly. The old man didn’t want that.

‘What’s happening?’ 

The old man nearly jumped out of his skin, shouting ‘AGGGHHHH’ as he turned around to see Teddy.

‘Jeepers kid, you nearly gave me a heart attack!’

‘Sorry,’ Teddy said, genuinely sorry, he didn’t mean to scare the old man.

‘Is Floppy ok?’ Teddy asked.

‘I don’t know.’ The old man said.

‘What’s going on with her?’

‘She’s just been nesting and won’t get up.’

‘That can be normal though, right?’ Teddy said hopefully.

‘Yeah it can, but it also might not be.’ The old man was careful about what he said to Teddy, he didn’t want to upset him or worry him when maybe Floppy was just having a moment and she’d be fine again tomorrow. 

‘Can I pick her up?’

‘Yeah, go for it, she’d like that.’ The old man said encouragingly to Teddy.

Teddy walked over and gently picked up Floppy, she didn’t mind, she nestled into his arms and rested, she was tired.

They sat like that, pretty much, for the rest of the day. Occasionally, the old man would bring water over to Floppy and she’d drink that, and he’d cut up some cucumber, and she nibbled on that, but in the main she didn’t eat, she just slept.

The old man decided to keep her in the house, so he put some straw in the chicken box, the one they’d first picked the chickens up in, added some water and cut up watermelon, which Floppy loved, she tucked into that.

The watermelon was sweet and wet, just what she needed. 

When Teddy left that afternoon, he had a tear in his eye. He looked up at the old man and said ‘will she be ok?’

The old man didn’t know, he hoped so but he was worried about Floppy. ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘but’ and he smiled at Teddy, ‘we’re doing everything we can to look after her.’

‘Yeah we are.’ Teddy said.

Teddy wanted to keep an eye on Floppy, so he asked the old man, ‘Can I come back before school in the morning, to check on Floppy?’

The old man sighed. He didn’t know if it would be a good idea, but he said ‘yeah, I guess that’s ok.’

Teddy gave Floppy one last pat, whispering ‘I love you Floppy,’ and headed home.

 

Floppy didn’t move much over the next day or so. She’d occasionally have a drink or eat some more watermelon, but most of the time she’d sleep. 

The old man thought it was funny seeing her eyelids close from the bottom up, ‘the things you learn,’ he thought.

He’d check on her every hour or so, putting her outside during the day, giving her time in the soil, hoping Mother Nature would help her heal, and Teddy would come and visit every morning and afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, when Floppy hadn’t eaten much and was sleeping more and more, the old man looked at Floppy, and patting her he said ‘It’s ok to go Floppy, thank you for being my chicken.’

Later that day, just before Teddy was due to get off his school bus, the old man was in his kitchen when he heard a shudder down the hallway.

‘Floppy,’ he thought.

He moved slowly down the hallway into his laundry. It was beautiful and sad all at the same time. Floppy was slumped over, her head down and he watched as she took her last, slow breaths.

She died.

‘Thank you Floppy.’ He said.

He wasn’t ready to move her, he just stood and watched her for a little while, patting her feathers. He was sad.

 

Teddy looked inside the laundry door and he saw the old man. He was sad, standing still, patting Floppy. Teddy knew she’d died and tears rolled down his face. 

He stood there not knowing what to do. He’d never lost a chicken before. In fact, he’d never had anyone die, so he just stood there. 

He noticed the old man had seen him and was sliding the door open. Teddy looked up at the old man, they didn’t need to speak, they were both sad and they both knew she’d died. As the old man walked out the door, Teddy flung his arms around the old man’s waist and wept.

 

Later that day, they carried the box down to the back fence, where they’d dug a hole for Floppy. They picked up her body and put her in the hole with some chicken feed, just in case she was hungry, wherever she was going.

They filled the hole with soil and put a log on top, to make sure Indie (or any other animal) didn’t dig her up.

The old man and Teddy both shed a tear, as Teddy bravely said, ‘Bye Floppy, you were my second favourite.’

The old man laugh, Teddy said the funniest things.

‘Come on,’ he said, picking up his shovel, put his arm around Teddy and they headed back to the house.

 

The old man closed his eyes, it had been a hard day. 

‘Thank you Floppy,’ he thought, ‘thank you.’

Cock-a-Doodle-Splash

As the sun rose over the farm, the darkness disappeared and the beautiful flowers and green grass came to life.

The old man was fast asleep in his warm, cosy bed. When all of a sudden he heard:

‘Cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do.’

His eyes sprung open and he sat upright in bed.

’What the?’ He was confused, scratching his head.

‘Was that a rooster?’ He wondered.

He shook his head, listening for more noise, but everything was quiet. 

‘Nah, musta been dreamin’.’ 

He lay back down, closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.

‘Cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do.’

The old man’s eyes sprung wide open again. He knew he wasn’t dreaming. 

He jumped out of bed and ran to the living room door. Opening the curtain, he saw Blackie on the chicken stand, in the chicken run, singing her, ummmm his, heart out.

‘Blimey.’ He said.

The old man had recently brought 6 new chickens and the kids from the neighbourhood loved them. They’d come over every day after school to pat them. The old man pretended not to like the kids or the chickens, but in his heart of hearts, he loved having them come over and he loved the fluffy bums that ran around his farm.

‘Well I’ll be, I didn’t expect that.’ He said, as he scratched his head again and opened the sliding door.

Blackie looked up, realising the old man was watching him. Blackie looked the old man straight in the eye, pushed out his chest and proudly sung out one more time:

‘Cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do, cock-a-doodle-do.’

Then Blackie hopped off the stand to watch all the girls come out of the chicken coup. He was proud of himself, and thought, ’They know who’s was boss now.’

When all of a sudden, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Molly running at him. Fierce as ever, Molly had her wings out and tackled Blackie to the ground, as she squawked at him:

‘Don’t you ever do that again, I was sound asleep, having a beautiful dream when all of a sudden I’m woken up to you screeching at the top of your lungs! You do that again, I’m going to claw your feathers off!’

Molly pushed Blackie’s chest, knocking him into the ground, just make sure Blackie knew how serious she was. Molly climbed off him, just as the old man arrived.

The old man had seen the girls, well now girls and boy, and hopefully it was just one boy, fighting and had rushed down to stop it. He didn’t need to take the chickens to the vet if they got injured, that would ruin his day for sure!

The old man called out, ‘Hey, stop it’, as he unlatched the door. The chickens and rooster all looked up at him, suddenly forgetting what had happened and wandered out through the gate to forage in the gardens.

 

All was quiet again, well, for a moment, until Indie whizzed past the old man’s legs, into the chicken run to try and get Beth.

The old man grabbed onto the door, to make sure he didn’t fall over, but he banged his head on it as the door swung open.

‘Ouch’ he yelled. 

Indie paid no attention to the old man, her eyes were only for Beth, but she couldn’t see her.

Indie was always determined to try and get Beth, but she never remembered that to this very day, she’d never achieved it. Indie believed that one day, she’d get Beth, but she never thought about what she’d do with her once she was between her jaws, that never came into Indie’s mind.

With a sore head and still in his pyjamas, the old man headed back to the house but he stopped on his way to pick some strawberries from his garden. 

His strawberries lived in a veggie pod, which had a roof on it. As he lifted off the roof, he saw hundreds of beautiful red strawberries, all ready to eat and more growing. He just needed a few for his breakfast so he picked a handful and decided he’d come back later to get the rest.

Judy had seen the old man open the strawberries and she was ready for her next meal too. 

Judy flapped her wings and flew into the strawberry patch. She grabbed the first strawberry she saw and gobbled it down. Then she grabbed the second strawberry in her beak, and just as she was about to delight in its deliciousness, she felt a hand shoving her away.

‘Get out.’ The old man yelled at Judy, as he pushed her out of the strawberry patch.

Then, all of a sudden a gust of wind came up and blew the lid of the veggie pod shut, landing on the old man’s hand.

‘Ouch.’ He screamed.

He immediately dropped the strawberries, that were in his hands, on the ground.

‘The strawberries.’ The old man looked down at the ground and they were everywhere. 

Before he could reach down to grab them, Judy, Mavis, Robyn and Jan all swooped in to grab them, and in the old man’s haste to shoo them away, he stepped on some of the strawberries, ruining them.

Frustrated with his morning, and seeing that there were really no good strawberries left, unless he picked some more, he walked away.

Cranky, sore, hungry and tired, the old man headed back to his house, only to find the other chickens were in his alfresco area digging up plants, scratching away at the sugar cane mulch and poo-ing on his patio. They’d even dug out the soil to create little nests for themselves and they were wiggling their bums into the ground and making themselves at home.

In his hast to make sure the chickens didn’t kill each other earlier, he’d forgotten to close the gate behind him.

‘Agggghhhhh!’ He yelled.

The old man stormed through the gate, getting behind the chickens and saying, ‘Shoo, shoo, shoo.’ Waving his hands around so they’d go back on their side of the gate.

The little ones were still afraid of him and quickly ran down to the gate, but the older ones would run around behind him, treating it like a game.

They’d hide under the table or run behind pillars, so he had to physically bend down to pick them up but they were too quick for him and would run off in the other direction. 

‘Darn chickens,’ the old man would scoff.

The chickens were laughing. They had the best time but eventually the old man had them all bundled up and on the other side of the gate.

With the gate closed, the old man went to head back into the house again, when he then saw the extent of  the mess the chickens had made.

‘Blimey.’ He said, closing his eyes and shaking his head. ‘As if I didn’t have enough to do today!’ 

The old man spent the morning putting the plants, that the chickens had dug out, back into their holes, re-mulching and washing down his deck to get rid of all the poo.

He hadn’t seen the ducks yet, but he’d kept a keen eye out, ready to spray them with water if they came his way.

 

Indie, realising that she wasn’t going to get Beth today, wandered out of the chicken coup back up to the house. 

She didn’t like to use the dog door, so she sat patiently at the back door waiting for the old man to let her in, however he was busy with the mess the chickens had made so she lay down, watching him work. 

When she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.

She turned her head quickly, and could see a little green foot underneath the air conditioning unit. 

She sprinted over to the unit, and the little foot moved underneath. Indie stuck her nose to the floor of the unit, sniffing and huffing at whatever was under there. She had to get it.

Then Indie put her front paw under and she could just feel it.

As if out of no where, Mary, the green tree frog, hopped off towards the grass, but Indie hadn’t realised and she was still sniffing around under the air conditioning unit, until the scent disappeared.

‘That’s weird,’ Indie thought, ‘where did it go?’ 

Indie turned around and saw Mary leap into the grass, close to where the old man was working, still cleaning up the chicken’s mess, and sprinted off towards her.

Indie leapt off the deck, turning mid-air to face Mary but in her haste, she hit the old man, causing him to fall over onto the grass and his face landed in a pile of chicken poo!

‘Aggghhhhh!’ The old man screamed. Hitting the ground with a massive thud. ‘What was that?’ He said. 

The old man could hear Indie barking. What’s going on? He thought.

The old man took his time to sit up, then scrapped the poo off his face, ‘Yuuucckkkk!’ He said. He wiped his hand through the grass to get rid of as much poo as he could, but he’d have to wash his face and hand under the tap.

He could hear Indie barking behind him. Looking around, he saw Indie dancing around and barking. Her noes and front paws were down towards the ground, with her bum straight up in the air, then she’d jump to another spot, again head down, bum up. Jump, bark, jump, bark, jump, bark, Indie carried on.

‘What in tarnations are you doing, old girl?’ The old man said to Indie.

The old man got to his feet and walked over to Indie. He realised she’d cornered a green tree frog, a friend, not an enemy, and she was attempting to put it in her mouth.

‘No you don’t!’ The old man said to Indie. He reached down, pushing Indie aside with his elbow and attempted to pick up the frog, but she jumped away. 

Mary wasn’t going to be dinner for either the dog or the old man. She was out of there.

Boing, boing, boing, she quickly hopped away onto the grass and she bounced into the pool area, ‘I’ll be safe in here,’ she thought.

And yes, she would be safe in there, but it didn’t stop Indie running right into the pool fence and banging her noggin.

‘Ouch’ she yelped. Indie shook her head, she was dazed for a moment and she couldn’t remember why she’d run into the fence in the first place.

She looked up at the old man, who was right behind her, and then she remembered – the frog, where was it? She looked and looked and looked, sticking her nose between the pool fence pailings and sniffing about, but she couldn’t see the frog, ‘bugger,’ she thought. She kept looking though, it had to be there somewhere.

The old man laughed, ‘you’ll never learn girl.’ He knew the frog was gone and that Indie wouldn’t get it now, thank goodness, he thought. 

He headed over to the back tap to wash the poo off his face and hand, and then turned back, continuing to tidy up his yard.

After his big morning the man went inside. Still in his pyjamas, he sat down in his favourite chair for a moment and was soon fast asleep, snoring away.

 

‘Quick, he’s out to it!’ Al said.

‘Ha ha.’ John laughed, ‘let’s have some fun!’

Al & John had been watching the old man from the back fence, waiting for their opportunity to cause some mischief.

In his haste, the day before, the old man had forgotten to put the pool cover on and the ducks LOVED to swim. 

Al let out a, ‘Quack, quack, quack,’ to let the other ducks know that it was ‘game on.’ It was time to rip things up at the old man’s place.  

Three quacks meant ‘Old man time’ and 100 quacks (or lots of quacks) meant ‘get out of here –  NOW.’ The ducks knew the signals and always followed them.

The other ducks were nesting on their pond not far away. They’d had a quiet morning and were ready for some fun, so as soon as they heard Al’s three quacks, they were off.

Matty, Brad & Melissa flew up in the air first, with Bronnie, Phoebe and Silas close behind. As they lifted off, dust flew everywhere but they didn’t care, they were going to play!

The ducks flew over the nice old ladies cottage, and circled over the kids house, before they saw Al and John already in the pool, flapping their wings and flicking water into the air.

The ducks all came into land, some on top of the water and others diving down as if they were hunting for fish.

As Phoebe came up to the top of the water, she stretched her wings out wide, flapping them, and water went everywhere. ‘Oh my, that feels soooooo good.’ Phoebe said.

‘Yeah it does.’ Bronnie agreed.

The ducks had a lovely time, duck diving, flapping their wings, and swimming around. It was like a big bath for them, and the water was so soft on their feathers.

Silas, the baby of the ducks, was standing on the pool step, kicking his feet in the water like a marching band. ‘Left, right, left, right, left, right.’ He said as he marched along the step.

‘Look at Silas.’ Melissa said. Everyone looked at Silas and smiled. He was a shy, little duck and often he’d stay right beside his mum Bronnie, but not today, today he felt confident and was happy to play around in the big ‘bath’.

‘Oh he’s so cute.’ Phoebe said to Bronnie.

Bronnie smiled, ‘I know.’ She could watch her baby duckling all day long.

Other ducks arrived, and they swam around in the pool too. When the ducks got hungry, they flew into the old man’s yard and grazed on what they could find, which included, waddling into the chicken run and eating the chicken’s feed.

The chickens didn’t care, they enjoyed having the ducks around, it was like one big happy family. 

 

The old man snored himself awake. He didn’t even realised he’d fallen to sleep and he was still in his pyjamas.

It was late afternoon, and he’d done nothing all day. ‘What a waste of a day.’ He thought.

He was feeling a bit hungry, so he rose from his chair and walked into the kitchen. Then, looking out his kitchen window he saw them – the ducks, they were everywhere. There were at least 20 ducks in the pool, on the fence, in the chicken run – literally EVERYWHERE.

‘Agghhhhh!!’ The old man’s yelled and threw his hands went in the air!!

He ran straight to the back door, Indie running out beside him, barking her head off.

‘Get out of here you crazy ducks.’ He yelled.

All the ducks looked up suddenly, they were in shock, they’d been having the best time and were so chill. Then, they heard Al ‘quack, quack, quack, quack, quack…’ or in human terms ‘evacuate, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!!!’ They took flight immediately. It looked like the mass exodus it was, wings flapping everywhere as they headed back to the pond.

Except for Mark, Brad and Matty. They’d been eating down in the chicken run. When they heard Al’s quack and headed to the door, Indie came to a screeching holt, blocking them from getting out.

Indie was ready to attack, salivating at the thought of catching the ducks – she wanted all 3 of them!

Indie walked slowly across the threshold of the door, one step at a time, snarling at the ducks.

‘I’m going to get you.’ Indie growled at the ducks. 

Mark, Brad and Matty looked at each other. Matty started anxiously lifting one foot at a time, ‘What do we do? What do we do?’ He squawked at the others.

Brad rolled his eyes, ‘Really Matty? Do we have to save you again?’ The boys were always getting into trouble together, they loved hanging out but sometimes they’d get into precarious situations that required them to be quick on their duck feet. 

‘Come on.’ Mark said, ‘let’s outsmart this dog, she’s not that bright! Let’s split up, you guys go that way, and I’ll go this way, she can’t follow all of us.’

Indie took off, sprinting, 100 miles per hour (at least) towards the ducks. 

Brad pushed Matty to the left and Mark went right. 

Indie had to make a decision, ‘Two are better than one.’ She thought, chasing after Brad and Matty.

Brad and Matty flew up, flapping their wings, ‘quack, quack.’ They squawked.

Indie jumped up, mouth open and salivating as she tried to bite the ducks leg, but she missed and  was wacked in the face with a wing full of feathers, blinding her, filling her mouth full of feathers and knocking her to the floor.

Brad spun out from the hit with Indie and crashed into the side of the chicken run. He was a bit dazed and not sure what had happened.

He shook is head, looked up and realised they didn’t have long before Indie figured out what was going on too.

‘Quick,’ Mark yelled, waving to Brad and Matty to get out of the chicken run.

Matty grabbed Brad’s wing, helping him stand up and they quickly ran towards the door.

Meanwhile, Indie was coughing out the feathers in her mouth. She really got a mouth full. 

‘Cough.’

‘Cough.’

‘Cough.’

She got the last of the feathers out of her mouth when she realised, she hadn’t caught the ducks, where had they gone? She looked around to see them waddling out of the chicken run, ‘nooooooo,’ she barked, she had to get them.

She stood up and ran towards them, giving it all she had, she couldn’t miss out on a duck when she had three in front of her.

Indie was getting closer and closer to the ducks, she opened her mouth ready to bite.

The ducks, now just out of the chicken run, flapped their wings and lifted off into the air.

Indie lept up, mouth wide open, feeling the air underneath her as her mouth filled with feathers. Indie closed her jaws in excitement as her paws hit the ground and she started coughing straight away.

‘Cough.’

‘Cough.’

‘Cough.’

Indie spurted out the last of the feathers when she realised, she was all feathers and no duck. They’d won again. Indie was sad, as she wandered off into the yard, sulking.

‘Phew, that was close.’ Mark said, as the ducks flew off.

‘Yeah it was!’ Matty said, peddling his anxious feet, hoping they’d help him fly faster.

‘How’s your butt Matty?’ Brad asked, laughing.

‘Sore, I feel naked!’ Matty sulked. Indie had taken a chunk of his tail feathers, ‘but we’re alive, so I’m happy.’ Matty said in a happier voice. Matty was genuinely happy they were alive, but not happy he was missing feathers and his bum was very sore!

They landed in the pond, safe and sound, with all the other ducks.

 

Beth had watched the whole thing play out with Indie and the ducks from the safety of her home. She laughed, ‘when will that dog ever learn?’

Whilst the antics with the ducks and Indie were going on, the old man was shocked to see the mess the ducks had made. There was poo everywhere, all over his pool deck and all through the pool. They’d made an absolute mess!

He spent the next few hours cleaning the pool and his deck, cursing the ducks as he went. He wasn’t going to forget the pool cover again.

After he’d finished cleaning up, again, he put the chickens, and rooster, to sleep and as his head hit the pillow that night he thought, ‘that rooster better not wake up early tomorrow or he’s going to be dinner!’

Flying the Coup

‘Watch this,’ Al said to John.

Al flew around 180 degrees and then let one rip, right on the old man’s pool deck.

It was black, thick, oozy poo – the kind ducks do.

‘Ha ha ha.’ They couldn’t stop laughing.

‘He’s going to hate that!’

John flew around and added one too.

Then Mark, Melissa, Brad, Phoebe, Matty, Bronnie, Silas, all the gang, added their poo too. It was like a poo-fest.

‘You little turds.’ They all looked up and the old man was running out his back door. 

His dog was faster though, a vicious little labradoodle named Indie, who wasn’t really vicious, well she was if she got one of us in her mouth, but she didn’t know what to do with us so we could usually escape, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t have her teeth wrapped around our neck in the first place, so we quickly flew away.

‘Silly little dog, jumping and barking at us, she can’t catch us!!’ Al thought.

 

With the ducks gone, and duck poo to clean off the pool deck the old man wandered down to let his chicken out. As he unlatched the gate on the chicken run, the girls came running out, ready to forage and enjoy the day.

They were happy little things, except Molly who could give a bit of curry, pecking at the old man’s feet if she was in a mood, but he liked having them and enjoyed their eggs even more. They were good company for him and the dog.

 

All of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, Indie came racing into the chicken coup at full speed, nearly knocking the old man over.

‘Hold up girl.’ He managed to say, hanging onto the door so he didn’t fall over.

She ran straight to the wooden pallet where Beth the mouse lived. Beth lived under the wooden pallet, in a safe space that Indie couldn’t get too, but she tried. Everyday she tried to get Beth, but Beth was too clever and she’d play with him, running around underneath the pallet, which got Indie jumping and snorting about, putting her paw in to try and grab Beth. Indie was never successful and Beth would roll around laughing, making fun of Indie.

On this day, however, Beth was mid-run, heading over to the chicken feed and Indie knew this was her chance. Beth, couldn’t go back under the wooden pallet, but where could she go? Ah the chicken coup, Indie couldn’t fit in there. 

Beth put her sprint on and ran into the chicken coup. This was where the chickens slept and laid their eggs. She’d be safe in there.

Indie was nipping at her tail, she was so close, as Beth ran up the ramp into the chickens sleeping and laying area. Indie couldn’t fit through the door, she was too big, or at  least that is what Beth thought. 

Beth ran into the back corner of the chicken coup and turned around. 

Then, bang crash, Indie, like a bullet, burst through the tiny door, breaking it. She only had eyes for Beth, and they were blazing. Her salivating tongue was hanging out of her mouth, ready to wrap around Beth. Indie edged closer, she knew she finally had Beth and Beth knew it too, there was nowhere to go.

Beth looked around her, but everything was closed. The side door, closed. The roosting box door, closed.

She was trembling with fear.

Indie took another step towards her, as Beth’s eyes got wider and wider.

Then, all of a sudden there was a crash and Beth felt herself falling. She didn’t know what was going on, but there was hay flying everywhere, and her little body was wriggling in mid-air. She didn’t know if Indie had her, she simply. had no idea what was going on.

Suddenly Beth felt a thud, she’d landed on her back, on something hard. Beth rolled over and realised, she was on the ground. Indie was there too, all sprawled out not knowing what had happened.

Beth looked up and saw that the floor had dropped out of the chicken coup, Indie must have been too heavy for it.

Indie was slow to get to her feet, she was in shock from what had happened and had lost sight of Beth.

Sneezing and shaking herself off, Indie looked around in Beth’s direction.

Beth winked at Indie, because she knew she was free. Then, she sprinted off towards the edge of the chicken run, running out through the chicken wire and climbing the cage onto the roof.

Indie was going off underneath, barking and jumping.

‘Ha, as if that’s going to make me fall.’ Beth laughed.

Beth looked down and smiled at Indie. She knew she’d won this round. 

Then, Beth took a big run up and threw herself over the back fence into the creek. Indie definitely couldn’t get her there and Beth was free to roam rather than having Indie barking at her all day.

 

Indie, still determined to get Beth, kept barking until the old man roared at her.

‘You idiot, look what you’ve done!!!’

Indie froze in her tracks. She looked at her Dad, scared to look at the chicken coup. He was going to have to fix it and she knew he’d be cranky about that. 

Indie was scared about what he might do to her. She wanted to leave but couldn’t. She just stood there, not even blinking.

‘Get out of here.’ The old man yelled, pointing at the door to the chicken run.

Indie sprinted for the gate, before he changed his mind.

 

Indie watched from a distance as the old man spent he afternoon fixing the chicken coup. It was busted up really bad. It was already old, so it wasn’t very stable and screwing nails in could mean he’d break it even more but he had to fix it for his girls as they needed somewhere to sleep and to lay their eggs.

He went and got some wood and a drill from his shed. Then, walking back down to the chicken run, he tripped on a stone and everything went flying.

The old man fell face first into the mud, he was covered, he even got some in his mouth.

‘Yuck.’ He spat it out.

He sat up, sore and even crankier. 

‘Bloody dog.’

He mumbled.

He slowly got up. Every bone in his body aching and muttering cranky words under his breath.

He picked up the wood that had gone everywhere and his drill, and walked into the chicken run.

 

The girls had decided it was time to lay their eggs. They’d tried to go up their ramp, but they couldn’t, it was on the floor. 

‘Ok,’ Judy thought, ‘we can fly up.’

So Judy flew up, only to realise there was no floor. She was shocked, ‘What do we do now?’ She wondered.

She looked down at her sisters and said. ‘There’s no floor, it’s been broken, we can’t lay our eggs!’

‘Emergency, emergency.’ Mavis said, running around like a crazy chicken, because to her it was the end of the world.

‘What are we going to do?’ Winny asked? Looking at Judy who’d been investigating.

Molly look back towards the gate, realising the old man was coming into the chicken coup. She could see he had wood in his hands and he was going to fix it but she needed to lay now – and he had to fix it now!! 

Molly spread her wings and ran straight for him.

‘Oh great, here she goes.’ Judy said, rolling her eyes. Judy knew that attacking the man who was coming to help them wasn’t a good idea. Molly just needed to chill, they’d find another way – they always did.

Molly flew up, opening her beak and bit the old man right on the nose. Her wings were wrapped around his face and her claws were digging into his neck.

‘Aggghhhhh’ he screamed!!

He dropped all of the wood and his drill, and it landed on his feet.

‘Aggghhhhh’ he screamed again. The weight of the wood could have broken his toes.

He reached up and pulled Molly off him. His nose was dripping with blood from where her beak had cut it and his neck had claw marks from her sharp feet!

‘You crazy lunatic.’ He said to her, as he tossed her to the floor.

Molly landed on her back, and the dust rose around her. She was ok, but she wasn’t finished, he had to know she was cranky and that he had to fix it.

Molly got to her feet and ran back towards to him. This time pecking at his feet. She was determined to draw blood again.

The old man, with his head in he air, hanky on his nose, soaking up the blood, felt sharp pecks down on his feet. He was only wearing thongs and it was like he was being attacked – again!

‘Ouch.’

He looked down and here was Molly, going for his feet.

‘Ok, ok, ok, I get it, you’re not happy, but enough with the attacks!’ He said to her as he swung his  foot in her direction, to push her away. He didn’t want to hurt her but if she didn’t stop he’d consider making her his dinner.

Winny and Robyn, ran towards Molly, because they knew she wouldn’t stop unless they made her stop. They quickly ushered her towards a bale of hay that was perfect for laying eggs in today. It was soft and cosy on their fluffy bottoms.

The girls took turns at laying their eggs, there was enough room for three of them to be on the hay bale, so because Molly was in a rush, she went first with Judy and Winny. Mavis, Jan and Robyn went next. 6 perfect eggs for the day and then the girls went off into the backyard to explore again.

 

The old man picked up the wood and his drill, again, and cleaned out the mess of the floor that Indie had made. Then he started rebuilding the floor. He was cranky that he had to do it, he had other plans that didn’t involve rebuilding the chicken coup. But he did a good job and when he was done the girls had a Gucci chicken coup floor and hatching boxes. He was proud of himself.

 

Later that day, as he prepared the scraps for the chickens, the old man looked out the window and he started to rage.

‘BLOODY DUCKS.’

He marched to the back door. 

When Indie heard the door open she bolted past the old man, nearly knocking him over, barking her head off. Just as John was letting one rip.

‘I’ve already cleaned that deck today!!!’ The old man yelled at the ducks. They laughed, and flew away.

‘Told you we’d get him again.’ Al said to John, they’d had a good day!

 

The old man had one more job to do before he sat down for his dinner. It was time to put the girls away.

He grabbed the food scraps from the kitchen and headed out the back door. 

The girls sprinted for the fence because they knew they were getting more food – YIPPEE!!

The old man threw some corn out on the grass for the girls, so they’d eat that and follow him.

Next he threw out some spaghetti, the girls loved it. They thought they were worms and wanted to eat it all day long! They’d fight over the ‘skettie’, eating every last bit.

The old man continued walking down to the chicken run, with the girls running along behind, and he threw out some more corn.

The girls ran ahead to eat the corn, but when Molly got there she didn’t want any more corn, she wanted ‘skettie’. Molly looked up at the old man and thought ‘he’s got more skettie in that bowl, and I want it.’

The old man was oblivious to what was happening, when all of a sudden Molly flapped her wings and few up in front of him, landing on the side of the bowl with all the food in it.

The old man flinched. 

‘Jeepers, settle down there girl.’

Molly looked at the old man, and then at the bowl. There was more ‘skettie’ and she promptly pecked a piece out, eating it all up!

As the old man walked into the chicken coup, Molly flew down. 

The old man sprinkled the food on the floor for them to eat. The girls happily pecked away at all of the delicious food scraps and the old man let out a sigh.

‘Boy it’s been a big day.’

He latched the chicken coup closed, the girls were safe for the night, as he headed back to the house with Indie at his side.