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The toddler, the chicken and the hound

GAYS MILLS - We went and visited our new nephew in Arcadia this past Sunday.

It was a dual purpose trip, as we had intentions of returning a vehicle to Chasca’s mom and bringing one back to our house that was a spare to her. They thought that being a small car it would be much more reasonable to drive to work for the commuting father than the giant, rambling monstrosity that is his big blue diesel truck.

Neither of us really turned on our brains yesterday however, and I ended up following Chasca in my car the whole way there and back. It never occurred to us that this was a silly idea, until everyone kept asking us, “Why did you drive separately?”

We also ended up leaving Thatcher at home. We decided it was better if he stayed home because he had a cold and we didn’t want him passing it to the new baby. But, rest assured, that was well planned—it wasn’t like we had the old hound dog watching him or anything like that.

Thatcher stayed home with Grandpa, which was a fairly unusual situation for ol’ Ma and Dad, who bring the little tyke everywhere. 

Perhaps it was this odd change of pace that resulted in the bizarre car situation.

Seeing and holding the new teeny, tiny baby made us miss our own little nipper, and like any good parents, we found ourselves regaling the crowd with highlights of toddler parenting. Including the condensed version of the previous day.

Saturday things finally felt like autumn. There was certainly briskness to the air and we all busted out our real jackets and were warm for their maiden voyage of the season.

Like any good rural Wisconsin kid, Thatcher has associated his little pair of brown lined boots with going outside and doing chores. I’m beginning to suspect that he feels the same way about bibbed overalls and hats. Two things he would fight wearing at times that he now complies with easily.

One nice thing about a baby turning into a toddler is that they have a short-term memory and know how to use it.

Saturdays is usually a pretty slow day at our house that involves a lengthy breakfast ritual, usually corned beef hash and pancakes, and then going outside to accomplish some chore or another.

Thatcher sat down for breakfast with his mom and pop, opting to try ketchup on his cakes instead of standard maple syrup, but seemed to be in a rush.

Getting to the point of crabbiness, he began attempting to push his tray off of the high chair and squealed “Bucccckkkk Bucccckkkk!”

The kid really wanted to get done eating and go feed his chickens.

We released the little beast from his confinement and directed him to retrieve his boots, thinking this would keep him occupied long enough for us to finish our breakfast.

Unfortunately for us, the little shaver has a memory like a steel trap and managed to find the boots, which were located at two separate ends of the house in record time. He attempted to toss them onto the island and our breakfast plates several times before we were finished. We need to work on having him learn to put them on himself obviously.

Geared up in his red-striped, fleece-lined Oshkosh B’gosh bibs and 40-year-old lined Levi jacket, he patted his head and exclaimed “haaaaa haaaaa.” This really showed that he meant business.

Chasca had plans to finish pouring the new concrete walkway. So as he ripped open bags of quick-setting concrete, I took Thatcher over to the chicken shack where the feed is kept in big metal buckets.

Grabbing his scoop, the curly haired, little person carefully walked over to his dad’s side, a herd of chickens trailing behind.

Then, the toddler began to carefully toss handfuls of the powdery egg maker here and there for his beloved ‘Buck-Bucks.’

The ever bumbling and dopey Bud saw this commotion going on coupled with his boy that always offers up a loving pat on his head. This combination seemed unavoidable and enticing, so the hound meandered over, sneaking up on the flock.

Although one wouldn’t usually describe Bud as particularly stealthy, he managed to trick the chickens.

Leaning down to administer a curious sniff to the chicken’s fanny proved to be too much for the already excited birds to handle.

The agitated red hen took flight, in a remarkably clumsy manner, attempting to almost immediately land. Unfortunately for Thatcher, he apparently seemed to be the most fitting post for a wayward chicken, knocking him down into the dirt.

As things like that often occur, it all happened pretty quickly and the chicken took off running into the woods, balking all the way.

Looking startled and issuing the mandatory momentary fuss, we offered our son a hand. We examined him and deemed him no worse for the wear, only coming out with a bit of a scratch that luckily didn’t even break the skin.

“You’re okay!” we reassured him while brushing the chicken feed and dirt off of him. Not one to dilly-dally, he picked up his scoop and grabbed my finger, insisting on another round of feeding.