We were eating dinner when Floss started her urgent “there’s an intruder” bark. I flew outside and immediately saw the telltale white blotch of a Friesian in the dark – a bull had meandered up the driveway after having strolled over a fence smashed in a big blow.
As I raced to chase it down the drive, Kate, the heading dog whose brilliance I have praised, sent it the wrong way – through the veggie garden and towards the new poultry pen! Oh no, it’s made of shade cloth and the bull could charge through it.
Luckily the farmer left his dinner to resolve the shambles. When he returned, I was still worked up: “You guys should have put rails around the middle of the pen so there’s no chance of a bull blundering through,” I said.
“But you said you didn’t want rails,” he replied.
A ‘you said – I said’ conversation led to an astounding revelation. Rex, Tony and his buddy Mason, who built the pen, weren’t certain what I’d said, but came to an agreement about what they thought I’d said and did exactly that – if you get my drift.
The pen is evidence of their willingness to please. It took three men and a tractor mounted with a post rammer about three days to build. It’s the size of a large room, has six-foot walls and features cosy sleeping and nesting facilities.
Its pampered residents include Whitey Esq, Glamour Boy having been sent to heaven in a heart-wrenching process. Afterwards CC – short for Crooked Comb – patrolled the pen looking for him. I felt awful – and was not alone: egg production dropped to zero.
I gave the matter of the hen house some thought and figured that as I couldn’t convince the farmer of what I really had said, there was no point trying to convince all three of them they had misunderstood or misheard. Or were they just ‘nod listening’?
When men are ‘nod listening’, they nod when you’re talking to them and you think they’re listening, but actually they’re thinking about rugby.
NB: I learned about “nod listening” in the Listener, a NZ magazine which invites readers to invent names for various situations.