After arriving, they walked up a narrow ramp leading into the chicken coop. Honey disappeared into a small hole just big enough for a hen. Charlie looked at Walter and said, “How do we get in? The hole is too small.”
Walter giggled and said, “The farm takes care of you, just have faith. Go on, walk up the ramp.”
Charlie looked doubtful, but stepped onto the ramp. The closer he got to the hole, the larger it seemed to get. Charlie peered back at Walter and he looked the same size, but the coop’s hole had grown larger as he approached it. He wasn’t sure if he had shrunk or the coop had gotten bigger. Walter playfully bounced up the ramp hitting Charlie like a bowling ball and they tumbled inside. First, Charlie and then Walter plowed into a pile of sawdust making them laugh so hard it hurt. Charlie stood up and dusted off his jacket. His gaze drifted around the enormous space.
“WHOA!” he exclaimed. “This is a chicken coop? This is crazy… it is huge!”
Before Walter could start to explain, a thunderous sound ricocheted throughout the space. The band’s rhythmic sound had hit the walls and rolled through the space.
“Aren’t they wonderful?” a nearby hen swooned. In her excitement she laid an egg. “Oooh! What a beauty!” she cooed. The chickens swayed in their nests and rocked their heads from side to side like a pendulum keeping time with the beat.
A rooster gently plucked his guitar and Walter said, “That’s Rex on guitar and there’s Matt the Malaysian Tiger playing base and Liz the Meerkat on the thunder drums.” A beautiful songbird with magnificent plumage sauntered up to the microphone. She began to hum a melody then burst into song. “And that… that is Ella… isn’t she dazzling!” Walter closed his eyes and swayed along with the hens.
“Welcome to the coop!” exclaimed a voice from above. Charlie looked up to see a rabbit dancing down a ladder.
“That’s Reba! She’s a Texas jackrabbit from Amarillo,” Walter said.
Then a squirrel ran past with an egg in his arms. He tripped over his long narrow toes and the egg went flying into the air. Walter shot out a pumpkin vine and caught it. He softly dropped it back into the squirrel’s paws. The squirrel gave Reba a nervous glance and she greeted him with a warm smile.
Relieved, he turned to Walter and said, “Thank you, Walter. It’s great to see you!”
Walter gave him the thumbs up and the squirrel scurried away.
Reba turned to Charlie and said, “That was Ralph. He’s all toes, but a hard worker. Thanks for catching the egg, Walter, because that would have been the third broken egg this week.”
“Sure, Reba, I’m happy to help out,” Walter said.
Reba loved being in charge, but always gave a smile and encouraging words when something went awry. The hens depended on her, the squirrels respected her, and Walter thought she ran the factory like a Swiss Army watch. After all, the Martis were from Switzerland at one time, so it seemed appropriate.
“Happy to meet you, Charlie. Would you like something to eat? You look hungry,” she said.
They sat on a nearby hay bale and another squirrel walked up holding a plate of crackers. Reba described the systems behind the factory while they munched on the crackers and enjoyed the music.
“We always have wonderful activities for the hens each morning so they can relax and lay their eggs. The squirrels collect the eggs and take them to the rabbits, who place them in the boxes, and then put them on the conveyor belt.
See the area over there?” she asked as she pointed to a huge collection of upright wheels. “That is our power system,” she said. “Gabby the Gopher leads the running team in the big upright wheel. It turns the gears and makes the conveyor belts move. The boxes are loaded onto the carts and sent to market.
It’s a tight system and the mornings are our busiest time of the day. Later we all meet in the barnyard for fun and food.
Speaking of fun, are y’all thirsty?” she asked with her Texas lilt. “Those crackers can be quite dry.”
They nodded their heads in unison because their mouths felt like a dry gulch. Milk would be a welcomed relief.
“Great! Follow me and we’ll get you some milk,” she said. They slipped out a side hole and crossed over to the barn.