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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Opening Day of Duck Season

The alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. Unlike on weekday mornings, when he hits the snooze button and goes back to sleep, the Farmer was up and out of bed before I could bury my head under the pillow. Headlights slowly crept up the driveway.

“Good morning Cody,” I heard someone greet our intrepid watchdog before entering the house through the door under our bedroom window. Cody snorted and retreated deeper under the porch. I heard a few more vehicles arriving, car doors being shut, tired, early-morning greetings being exchanged.

Within minutes I could smell coffee brewing, bacon frying and toast...toasting. The Farmer built this house well. It’s almost soundproof from room to room; the conversation in the kitchen was well muffled. Lying in bed while so much activity filled the room below reminded me of being at my grandfather’s cottage as a child. On those summer nights the adults would laugh over a game of cards in the kitchen while my sister and I lay in our cots, watching the lantern light flicker over the ceiling.

I returned to sleep before the hunters slid out the back door. They started up the ATV and a few trucks and headed down to the creek that runs along a mile of our property. My husband had already set out blinds and piles of decoys the day before, in preparation for this pre-dawn hunt. It was now probably about 5:30 am.

I woke at dawn, to the sound of guns popping in the distance. Pulling on my barn clothes, I headed down to the kitchen. It looked like a twister had just passed through. To be fair, everything was neatly stacked, but there was still quite a bit to clean up. The Farmer likes to clean up his own messes but I knew he would need help, as he still had a big meal to cook for the traditional opening day lunch. I decided to go to the barn first.

Halfway to the barn I realized I had forgotten my gloves back at the house. Oh, well. The mud at the entrance to the barn was more like quicksand after the rain. I stepped in a soft spot and the sludge promptly sucked my rubber boot right off of my foot. I stood on one leg and put my hand out to the side to stop from falling into the muck. I grabbed the gate right where a healthy crop of stinging nettle was growing. The shock made me drop my foot into the mud.

I picked myself up and hopped on one foot over to the water trough, where I scrubbed the nettles out of my now-throbbing hand. I picked up a nearby rag and wiped the mud off my foot before stuffing it back in my boot. The sheepdog whined at me. My strange behaviour was probably making her nervous.

I continued on to feed the cats and the turkeys. On my way to feed the rams (who are now in isolation awaiting winter mating season), the bull started to approach. I waved my pitchfork at him. He gave me a sidelong look and then backed away. I hurried into the lambing room before he could set me up for a charge.

After feeding and watering all the animals, I returned to the house to clean myself up. Next, I headed to the kitchen to put a dent in the mess. Just then, the hunters returned. They put two measly geese on the porch and headed into the house. As they had already been awake for more than six hours, they were just about ready for beer, wine and cigars. It was about 11am.

The Farmer started up the bbq and prepared to cook their feast. I was beginning to feel a little out of place. Testosterone hung thick in the air like a cloud of cigar smoke.

I decided to leave the boys to their manly chatter, and grabbed my car keys.

Kissing the Farmer on the cheek on my way out the door, I announced I was going to do some hunting of my own. At the shopping mall.

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