March 1, 1966
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. I’m out in Holly County today reporting from Miss Sally’s farm. To be exact, and Dad says a good reporter should be exact, I’m reporting from Miss Sally’s chicken house. Baby chicks are cheeping all around me. Miss Sally just got one hundred baby chickens in a box at the feed store. Can you imagine that? One hundred baby chickens in a box.
I went with her to pick them up. The heavy cardboard box had round air holes all over the top and sides. Inside the box were four different sections with the baby chicks divided out in them. Miss Sally said that was so they wouldn’t mash one other by all piling together in one corner of the box.
There was still one poor little chick that had ended up on the bottom of the pile in one of the sections and so when Miss Sally and I took them out of the box and put them in the place she had fixed up with a warming light for them, she only had ninety-nine. We took them out of the box one at a time.
They were soft little fuzzy balls in my hand when I gently picked them up and then set them down on the fresh straw Miss Sally had fixed for them under the lights. She had jars of water turned up on glass trays and little feeding troughs for them.
Miss Sally likes raising chickens. She says before she got electricity out on the farm she just put eggs under a setting hen and then let the hen raise the little chicks. But it was harder to raise as many then and sometimes something would happen to the chicks. She says you have to have the lights to keep the chicks warm or they’ll pile up on one another and more of them will be mashed. The lights take the place of the mother hen that keeps her babies warm and safe under her wings and feathers.
It was fun helping Miss Sally with the little chicks. She says I can help her feed them whenever I’m at her house.
Did you ever buy a box of baby chicks?
Now are you ready for more of Bailey’s story? When we left him last week, he was thinking everything was too quiet.
BAILEY’S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week. The whole story so far is under the Bailey’s Bug title up top.)
Lucinda hissing jerked Bailey awake. Eyes were all around him and Skelley. Suspicious, glinting eyes. Hungry eyes.
Coyotes. He shot a look up at Lucinda crouched on the rafter, her tail rigid and her fur spiked up.
Bailey stared back at the coyotes. They were like certain dogs he’d seen but leaner with a wild scent about that that made a growl want to rumble in his throat. Bailey mashed his mouth together to keep the growl inside.
There were five of them, shifting first one way and then the other around Bailey and Skelley. They made no noise, at least none Bailey could hear over the rain beating against the barn and the roar of the stream outside. Water was running through the barn now. The only dry place was the hay pile where Bailey and Skelley were.
Bailey slowly got to his feet. Skelley was already up, looking even more worried than when the monster bulldozer had pushed down his house.
“The look in their eyes puts me in mind of a tiger I knew once,” Skelley whispered. “Always hungry, he was.”
Bailey swallowed down the growl that kept wanting to climb up his throat. He flicked his tail back and forth and thought hard of something friendly to say.
“We just came in to get out of the rain. We’ll be leaving soon.” He summoned up the nicest voice he could.
The coyotes stared back at him. Two of them curled up their lips in a snarl.
“I’m not sure they speak our language, lad,” Skelley said.
“I guess we should try looking friendly then.”
“Me thinks in their eyes we look more like a meal.”
“That can’t be true.” Bailey glanced over at Skelley. “Lucinda says nothing normal eats dogs.”
“Are you so sure they’re normal?” Skelley picked up his baton and clutched it tight between his teeth. He talked around it. “Me thinks we’d best be making a break for it, lad.”
“Listen to him, you lummox,” Lucinda hissed above Bailey.
Bailey was listening, but he was also looking at the coyotes. Their legs were thin and long. Nothing at all like Bailey’s. They didn’t look like the kind of animals who would trip over their own feet the way he did.
He inched backward. Skelley matched his steps. Bailey hesitated when he stepped into the edge of the swirling water, but there was nowhere else to go. So he kept backing up even though the water got deeper with each step and grabbed at his paws.
Bailey dared a look behind him. Water was pouring in through the barn boards, pushing some of them aside. The barn shuddered and groaned and more boards lifted up to let a new rush of water inside.
Bailey stopped moving and tried to dig his toenails into the soft ground. He was afraid if he lifted up even one paw, the water would sweep him right into the coyotes’ mouths. The coyotes had followed them to the edge of the water, watching and waiting.
(To be continued.)