Coyotes! – by Curt Swarm

Curt Swarm - Empty Nest

In typical fashion, I had passed out early in my recliner. Ginnie woke me up to drag me off to bed. It was really late, going on 10:00 o’clock! I stumbled into bed. No sooner had my head hit the pillow, than I heard children outside our bedroom window. It sounded like they were playing games, shouting and laughing and having fun.

Empty Nest chicks Ginnie startled awake, “What’s that?” she asked.

Coyotes! I shot out of bed, stumbled into my slippers, grabbed a flashlight and headed out to check on the baby chicks.

It was a dark night. I stumbled over a drain hose on the downspout before I turned on the flashlight. The beam cut through the darkness like a hot knife through butter. I aimed the beam toward the chicken house. I could see nothing awry—no shadowy, four legged creatures up to deviltry.

As I got closer, I shined the flashlight beam along the foundation of the chicken house. Everything looked normal. I could see the glow of the chicks’ heat lamp through the side window. It had a look of warmth and security. I stood on my tiptoes to look inside, the bill of my cap bumping the glass. I was hoping I wouldn’t see a scene of carnage and mayhem. Nope. The little chickies (not so little anymore) were all bunched up under their heat lamp, cozy as peas in a pod.

Relieved, I headed back to the house. The shed we use for a chicken house is old and rotting in places. I had patched up the holes in the floor as best I could. If coyotes really wanted to get in, I’m sure they could chew their way through. Looking up at the night sky, the Big Dipper seemed to pour bounty upon our little Empty Nest farm.

I fell back into bed. Ginnie asked if the chickies were okay. I assured her they were.

At 1:15 a.m., I sat upright up in bed. I was dreaming about the chicks. Once again, I made the trip out to the chicken house. The cool night air on my bare legs let me know that I should have pulled on sweatpants.

Standing on my tiptoes again—still no problem, the chickies were not even aware that I was spying on them.

Wide awake now, I stayed up for the rest of the night, which is nothing unusual for me. I’m an early riser, with the wee hours of the morning my favorite time for reading and writing. God time.

At breakfast, Ginnie asked, “Did you really get up at 1:15?”

My early mornings are the reason for my early evenings.

As Ginnie was leaving for work at 5:30 a.m., I checked on the chicks again. A-okay.

Memorial Day was fast approaching and the sale ads were hard to ignore. After a Memorial Day service, Ginnie and I hopped in our beater truck and headed for Burlington, two farmers going to town. A chest freezer was what we had in mind, for the vegetables our garden would produce and, of course, home-grown chicken. Ginnie doesn’t think she can look at our “babies” in the skillet. I told her that she’s gonna have to toughen up if she wants to be a farm wife. Ha! Ha!

The freezers really were on sale. I couldn’t believe the savings. We headed home with a 16 cubic-foot chest freezer in the back of our truck, feeling like we were hauling home a prize.
It wasn’t until the next day that I cautiously asked Ginnie, “That freezer is frost free, ain’t it?” Refrigeration units have been frost free for so long, we hadn’t even thought of checking it out.
She looked at me, and I knew the answer. “The booklet has directions for defrosting,” she admitted.

Aaarrgh! Life on the Empty Nest Farm.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him, or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read on 107.3 FM in Farmington.

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