Mattie the Courageous
“There are ten of us. We rule the world, or at least the one mile circumference of land we call home.” That is what I imagine they say as they chirp and squawk all day.
They are ten little black and white feathered Guiana Hens and their one mile of earth is located in southern Arizona. They are the true rulers of all that is encompassed within.
Early each morning they stream from their coop up the road following the fence line; stopping and scratching along the way for any bugs they might find hidden beneath dead leaves and rocks. “Ah, breakfast and fresh air…it doesn’t get any better then this. What more could you ask for?”
The leader, I call her Mattie, leads and keeps watch over all the girls––(I assume they are all girls), doing both with great care. If any threat appears, leave it to Mattie to sound the alarm, pull the ranks together, and lead her troops to victory. She will take the stand of a lion and be ready to fight, then with a few squawks away they all go.
On this fine early spring morning they have made their way into the rear part of the yard past two dozing ‘watch’ mongrels and are heading towards the neighbor’s shed. All heads are held high–a strut in their walk. I spy a coyote in a pasture over yonder and sit back to watch the little drama unfold––ever mindful that it is not the first time this has been played out.
“Chirp…chirp…” Nine heads rise in unison. Wings flare. “Squawk…squawk. Necks crane, heads cock in Mattie’s general direction. The invisible radar that exists between Mattie and the brood connects and a fever pitch of squawking begins.
Mattie leads the way for her troops heading towards the unsuspecting coyote with a vengeance that only General Patton could rival. He is in her territory now and he must be stopped at all costs. “Squawk…Come on girls!”
The coyote by this time has lowered his head and is running nose-to-the ground heading in the general direction of the hens. (God, help him!)
For awhile small scattered bushes and a few mesquite trees block my view and only the rapid-fire squawking of the hens leads me to the area of contention. I sit and wait. It is only a few minutes until I see Mattie heading back in full gait, something akin to the speed of light––dust flying, followed by her nine sister hens. Necks stretch out with wings extended and beaks wide open––the ruckus is ear piercing. The mongrels merely lift their heads and then go back to their naps.
Mattie and her 3rd Brigade of gals come blazing up towards the roof of a neighbor’s shed in single file and in one bound, wings at full extension, they rise up and fly to the top of the roof.
From the direction of their heads I trace the coyote’s path. He meanders left and then right some distance away, and all the while the ‘call to arms’ is being shouted from the roof top. The coyote is not as dumb as he first appeared. He leaves. (Thank God!)
Slowly, one by one, and maybe two by two, the hens settle down and give all their attention and honor to Mattie. It’s at this time she does her little ‘strut of pride’, and with a few chirps gives the ‘all clear’ signal. And one by one, or maybe two by two, down from the roof they come again to pick and scratch and continue on their merry morning rounds.
It has been just a glimpse into the simplicity of life. It gives my day a lift of spirit and puts a smile on my face. Somehow I feel richer for viewing it.