Dinosaurs Among Us

Standing over the makings of a new compost pile,
hose in hand,
I was surprised to see a little head pop up.
Tiny nose, whiskers, beady eyes emerged
surprised by the unrequested bath (soaking really)
disturbed from its nest.
Out popped a mouse from the jumble of wood shavings,
pulled weeds, branches, leaves.
Apparently a home.
And then another. And another. And another. And another.
Like furry popcorn dashing out of the pile, wet and quivering
and in need of a new place to rest, to hide, to build a nest.

For want of a cat I turned, hose in hand, toward the house
and called,
“Come here dogs. Come get some treats! Animas. Piedra. Come!”
The black dog and the yellow dog looked up from their resting spots
in the shade of the porch, ears back, squinty eyes,
tails wagging in short, nervous sweeps.
“Come on girls! I have some treats for you!”
They eyed me and the hose and my excited voice,
and turned and slunk up the back steps into the house
sure of a soaking.
“Animas! Piedra! Come! Treats! Damn dogs.”

“Useless dogs. Where am I going to find a cat?”
And soon. Two turned to ten turned to twenty with me standing over them
with my cold, drowning eviction notice drenching the neighborhood
turning them out on the town.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of our black australorp nearby.
“Here chick, chick, chick.”
She wandered toward me in her attentive, waddley way.
And noticed a mouse.
In feathery flash she was on the evictee, grabbed it in her beak,
smashed it to the ground a few times, stood up tall with the carcass dangling,
walked a few proud steps and swallowed it whole.
Just the tip of the tail sticking out of her mouth as the only reminder it had every existed
and then it was gone.

Goldie Hen Helps

In moments, the rest of the flock arrived,
heads low and stretched out in front of them, wings out to their sides with their powerful legs
driving them like a squadron of fighters on a strafing run.
And in a few seconds nine more mice became nothing more than tail tips between cruel beaks.
But the flood continued and so did the evacuees.
The hens were ready.
They hunted in teams. Some would pair up and push mice to one another.
Other battlefield tactics emerged.
I saw flanking formations, pressure lines, pincer movements.
Some would flush while others killed and when the killers consumed they flushed for the others.
One of the silver laced wyandottes was especially good at knocking off the mice
that tried to escape by climbing a piece of fence. I saw her do it at least three times
while her killing partner, Raggedy Anne a disheveled araucana, pounced on the fallen mice.

I lost track counting in those ten or fifteen minutes. More than fifty young mice,
damp victims of a soggy eviction were greeted by ten hens
without a survivor.
Like falling out of a boat into a shark feeding frenzy,
crawling out of your overturned jeep and being met by a pack of velociraptors
or getting kicked out of your home and running into a pack of loan collectors,
bankers and debt repayment officers.
There are dinosaurs among us. They didn’t die out.
We pluck them and grill them or fry them. We collect their eggs and eat them scrambled, over easy,
hard boiled or deviled.
Too bad bankers aren’t as useful or delicious.