Heidi squinted when she went into the dimly lite barn. Beams of sunlight streamed through the cracks in the boards and illuminated the straw. She paused at the goats stalls. The gate creaked when she entered Queens stall. “How’s it going?” She scratched the snow white doe behind the ears.
Angel knelt in the straw to pet the twin babies Romeo and Juliet. She rubbed her dainty hand over Romeo’s white blaze on his black forehead. “You are cuter than a kitten.” Juliet bunted and tucked her white head under Angel’s arm. “Your cute too.”
Heidi turned towards the gate. “Come help with the hens.”
“Want to play with Romeo and Juliet for awhile. Don’t like the old hens. Their mean.” Angel said as she cuddled with Juliet.
“You like eating the eggs. Gather the quail eggs while I look after the white hens. The bantam hens might have eggs.” Heidi turned to leave. “Their friendly.”
“All right. The quails are cute. Ma always boils their eggs.” Angel closed the gate securely behind her and crossed the rough plank floor to the logs that sectioned off one corner of the spacious drafty barn.
Heidi hummed as she raked the dirty straw off the floor in the hen enclosure behind stacked logs and rocks. “The hens scratched in the straw. “Hi girls. How’s it going Loretta?” Marigold, who had gold flecks on her wings, and Gloria, who had grey feathers in her tail clucked as they crowded around eagerly anticipating the oats that were in the small, dinted pail that glittered in the sunlight. “Rita do have any eggs for me? Hope you aren’t too frightened. Rebecca are you going to hatch cute little chicks?” The hens crowded around and clucked as Heidi scattered oats. Heidi sang softly as she went to the nests underneath the rough wooden roosts that covered an entire wall. In a few minutes she had six eggs in her wicker basket.
“There are twelve quail eggs and six from the Bantam hens.” Angel said. “Are there enough to make an angel food cake?”
“Don’t think so,” Heidi answered. “Let’s take the eggs to the kitchen and then pick raspberries. I can make a crisp the way Ma showed me. Ma told me there were sausages for supper.”
“Oh yum. My favorite,” Angel said as they went into the kitchen that smelled of homemade soup and fresh bread. “What do you think stole the eggs?”
“Not sure,” Ma answered as she stirred the soup. “Set traps and will keep watch tonight.”
“Want to play with Bun Bun,” Angel said, as she hopped from one foot to the other.
“All right, but you are getting to attached. You know the rabbits aren’t pets,” Ma said as she cleaned the eggs. “There are more than I thought there would be.”
“Bun Bun is different than the other rabbits. His one ear flops over and his fur is long and as soft as silk,” Angel said as she gave her ma a sloppy kiss.
Ma smiled at her youngest saying, “Run along then. Lunch will be ready soon. Don’t go further than the barn.”
“I’ll keep an eye on her while I pick raspberries and blackberries. Hopefully the birds haven’t eaten all of them,” Heidi said as she headed to the door.
Later that evening they sat around the gaily decorated table enjoying sausages, baby potatoes, carrots, peas and Heidi’s raspberry crisp; as the sun started to sink in the sky leaving it a mixture of pink, blue and mauve.
Heidi yawned as she pushed her plate away. “Can’t stay awake. Was going to help watch for the egg thief.”
“That’s all right. Angel you should go to bed too,” Ma said.
“Can’t I stay up? Want to help,” Angel paused with one foot on the ladder before following Heidi to the loft.”Read me a story.”
“One story and then bed,” Ma answered. “Which one?”
“The ‘Three Little Pigs’,’ Angel said, as she snuggled beside her sister in the double bed.
The next morning Angel woke as the sun peaked through the gap in the blue curtains. She rolled over and was surprised that Heidi was already up. Ten minutes later she scampered down the ladder into the empty cheery kitchen. She dashed outside banging the screen door and down the path towards the barn to see if Ma had trapped their raider.
“Did the eggs disappear again last night?” Angel asked when she found Ma near the faded red barn.
“The hens spent a calm night,” Ma answered. “The culprit fell for the bait and was caught in the trap.”
Angel jumped up and down, “What was it?”
“Come and see,” Ma answered.
“Aw how cute,” Angel said her eyes as big as saucers, as she looked at the little racoon, in the metal cage, that sat on his haunches looking at them. “Can I keep it?”
“No, this is a wild animal and not a pet,” Ma answered. “Also an egg thief.”
“I’ll feed him and he won’t want eggs,” Angel said, as she looked up at her ma with a pleading look in her big blue eyes.
“Absolutely not,” Ma said, her voice sounding harsher than she intended.
“Aw why not?” Angel pleaded. “Look at his cute face. He looks like he’s dressed for a ball with the mask around his eyes. Can’t he live in a cage and I’ll feed him?”
“No, he wouldn’t be happy. Racoons like to roam at night. It’s a wild animal and won’t make a very good pet. You wouldn’t have any eggs to eat. He will have to be let go many miles from here. Heidi ran to fetch Mr. Owen who will take our raider deep into the forest and let him go.”
written by M.E. Hembroff