I got up early enough. A full 20 minutes before the first breakfast shift was due to be served. I was up late last night for very good reasons, so I had to pretty much grope my way through the personal prep process till I could open my eyes without the light shriveling me. If you open your eyes too quick the light will shrivel you.
Anyway, Jesse's here. Jesse's Brent's brother and he's staying with us for a few days because of his work location. He needed to leave before the rest of the tribe so he got his breakfast on his own shift. Peppered bacon, a couple fried eggs, and a couple slices of toast. Not hard at all.
That shift went off without the slightest hitch. And Jesse was on his merry way.
I fried the remaining bacon, piled it on a platter and joined the rest of the tribe for morning devotions.
We sang two songs. One song we didn't know, so we had to learn it first. We're working our way through Songs of Life and Praise, singing every song, whether it deserves to be sung or not.
Devotions was over. All there was left to do for breakfast was scramble some eggs, toast and butter some bread. What could be more straightforward?? I delegated the toast job and set to cracking eggs. I had just the right amount. Crack...bloop...crack...bloop, each little golden orb slid neatly in to join the others. One more egg...crack...oooh....it was NOT a golden yellow orb. It wasn't an orb of any sort. It was a long brownish string of slime, but it was just as anxious to join its brothers and sisters in the bowl. "EWWWW!" I shrieked. "Yuck!" I despise rotten eggs.
There was no saving any of them. Even the thought of trying was too much.
"You should have cracked each egg into a separate bowl before you added it, Mom", offered one of the natives helpfully.
Yes, I should have.
"I'm going after more eggs," I said.
There was time. Todd opted to join me and together we ripped out the lane, catching each gear with gusto. It was a beautiful morning in Georgia. The sun was lying bright on a wet world.
In a minute or three we were pulling up to the hen house behind picturesque Paddock Place. The chickens spilled out of their house, clucking with delight to see us. "I guess I should really feed them first." I decided, feeling the first prick of urgency. I gathered them a few handfuls of grass before I entered and let it scatter for them to fight over on my way to the feed barrels. Their feeding bowls were full of rain water and swollen feed. I turned them each over and clapped out the sludge. A couple scoops of corn. A couple scoops of pellets.
"There, little ladies! Isn't that better!" They seemed to think so.
I hurried out of the chicken yard and grabbed my egg carton from the car. It was getting later. I had better hurry for real.
I unbolted the chicken house door and entered the dim cob-webbie interior. Most of the chickens were gone but a few were taking care of business in their nesting boxes. The first box was full of chicken, the second box was full of...What?? In the second box lay coiled a large black and white snake. I saw a few eggs other places but I had to pass the snake to get to them. I was not going to do that. The hen house frankly was not big enough for both me and the snake, so I got out and shut the door.
Now what? What about breakfast? I needed eggs.
I called the Chief...what are husbands for?
"Honey, can you come quick? There's a snake in one of the nesting boxes."
The Chief was not especially disturbed. He mostly sounded tired. Like maybe running down the road to Mr.P's hen house and killing a snake wasn't at the top of his Want-To-Do list.
He said, "What kind of snake is it?"
"I don't know." I said.
"It's probably that big black snake that's been around there." he said. "There's a big black snake that's been around the house there at Paddock Place a long time." As if maybe we had no business interfering with it being it was on its own territory.
But then he said, "Alright, I'll come."
I knew he'd say that.
So Todd and I waited outside the chicken house. I pulled some more grass for the chickens to try to lure the remaining hens outside that dreadful hen house. A few more came out. I thought of that one hen sitting there placidly laying her egg with the snake in the box next door! Horrors!! Triple horrors! What was wrong with that stupid chicken! Why didn't she get out of there??
How many minutes had it been?? I checked the time on my phone. He should be here in 4 minutes probably. Except, he hadn't sounded especially panicked. I hoped he would hurry.
Suddenly Todd shouted, "Here come's Mr. P!" And sure enough! There was Mr. P's little white truck coming up the road! Had the Chief called him to come? No. That wouldn't be in character for the Chief.
Mr. P drove over to his tractor, hopped out and began tinkering.
What should I do? Should I get him to come over and help me? The Chief was probably on his way. I called the Chief. He hadn't left. He had had to gather his snake-killing equipment. He told me since Mr. P was there it would make sense to have him come over and take care of the snake.
I walked across the field.
"Good morning!" he said, turning from his tractor.
"I came to gather the eggs", I said. "There's a snake in one of the nesting boxes. I called Kent to come, but he said if you're here maybe you would take care of it."
"It's probably that big black snake that's been around here." he said. He seemed to ponder briefly whether it was even worth walking across the lawn to investigate. But he came. Probably because he wasn't sure what to do with me otherwise.
He opened the door and entered. "Where is it?" he said.
I told him. He stood and regarded it with no expression for a minute. and then he said "Do you have something to put the eggs in?" He proceeded to go around the chicken house gathering the eggs and putting them in the carton, not at all worried about the snake being between him and the door. He almost tripped on some baler twine and stopped to pull it out of the straw.
Then he folded the twine up and started swatting at the snake with it. It looked feeble to me. And ineffective.
"Here. Do you want this stick?" I said handing him the stick I had been warding the chickens away from the door with.
He took the stick and started poking at the snake. And sort of hitting it. It was a sturdy stick, but pretty short....not a snake-killing cudgel.
But that was no problem, I came to see. He finally made the snake mad enough that it made a fast exit from the nesting box, hit the floor of the chicken house and took after the closest chickens. The chickens fled. Mr P watched it a little. It was a big snake. Then he took the broken egg from out of the nesting box and gave it a pitch into the grass outside the chicken house. "It's probably been eating our eggs." He said.
Yes, it probably had been.
"What kind is it?" I said.
He stood watching the snake again for a minute.
"I don't know what kind of snake it is. Probably a chicken snake."
Yes, it probably was.
Mr P came out and bolted the chickens and the snake into the chicken house.
Todd and I hopped back in the car with our freshly gathered eggs, and barreled out the lane, catching each gear with gusto. The sun splashed the rain-washed landscape on either side. Mr. P walked back to his tractor.
And that is why breakfast was late.