Chapter Five of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “Day 3 Ongoing — The Encampment”

Note to Readers– This is Chapter Five of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can catch up HERE for the beginning and previous chapters.


Panic.

Clearly not how Saturday mornings are supposed to start out, with – PANIC – inside and out.

Chased by the weasel, Henrietta the rabbit darted in and out between the legs of the picketing ostriches and coyotes, by now having lengthened their picket line to totally encircle the cabin.

Henrietta raced frantically to escape the weasel, whose plan, as always, was to chase and harry the older bunny until she finally wore down and collapsed, unable to defend herself from the weasel’s final onslaught and attack as he sought to wrap his muscular body around his victim to hold it in place in order to sink penetrating fangs into its brain like a jaguar.

Round and round they went at a breakneck pace, in a life and death agility race around the cabin.

The weasel, a compact ball of energy eating half its own body weight each day and much younger with more endurance, knew it was only a matter of time before the rabbit wore down and he would be able to pounce and claim her for breakfast.

But not this day. Spotting the chase from the window, I hopped as quickly as one good foot would allow, but Little Red Bear had already rushed out to our receptionist’s rescue before me.

Waiting for Henrietta to complete another lap around the cabin, Little Red Bear jumped onto the path behind her as she raced past, placing himself directly in front of the charging weasel.

Henrietta immediately veered right, changing course and making a break for the cabin, leaping up the front porch steps, thru the door I was holding open for her, and into safety. The pursuing weasel made skid marks in the dirt trying frantically to stop before crashing into Little Red Bear’s big foot, swerved at the last second and retreated into the nearby woodline.

“You can stay out here and picket in the hot sun and rain all you want, but we ain’t havin’ none of that!”

Little Red Bear admonished the ostriches and everyone within earshot, waving his right paw at them to emphasize the point in the same manner a mother might scold a misbehaving child.

Little Red Bear walked up to the largest ostrich and faced him, nose to beak. “If you want to carry on your stupid protest, that’s fine. Do it. But you WON’T be harming any of our friends or you’ll be dealing with me!”

He tromped over to the smallest ostrich, abruptly grabbing away the protest sign the bird had been carrying, the one saying that Little Red Bear was “fat, stupid and ugly” as you may recall, broke the stake handle over his right knee and crumpled the sign into pieces between his paws.

“That’s what will happen to you if you harass or harm any more of our friends or story characters!” Little Red Bear declared for all to hear as he hurled the sign pieces into the air, turned and walked away.

The gallery of squirrels, raccoons, possums, chipmunks and other small critters already chased up into the safety of nearby trees by the weasels and coyotes, burst into applause, whistling and cheering wildly for Little Red Bear as he returned to the cabin.

But it’s fair to say, that little ostrich was madder than a wet hen in a fox’s tote sack after his protest sign was destroyed!

Back inside, Little Red Bear calmly sat down beside me where I was checking over Henrietta to make sure she was all right, trying to reassure and soothe the old bunny’s jangled nerves.

“Guess I told them, huh?”

Little Red Bear laughed heartily – the loud, deep, belly laugh guffaw which he so often does and is known for.

“I suppose you did, Red,” I responded, chuckling myself.

Catching her breath after a short time, Henrietta patted Little Red Bear on the foot. “Thought that weasel might have had me there, Red,” Henrietta admitted. “I don’t run quite as fast as I used to, you know. I was starting to wear down. Thanks for saving me. I was just trying to come in to work, that’s all. Figured you boys might need a little help with all this rabble-rousing going on.”

“No need to thank anyone, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear responded. “We all stick up for each other and appreciate your dedication, for sure. You are family working with us here. And your bunnies back in the nest need you.”

“What about them, Red?” Henrietta responded, with suddenly a worried tone in her voice. “Will they be safe now? I should go check on them!”

Little Red Bear gently held her shoulder to keep the mother rabbit from rushing back outside to run and check on her family.

“They will be fine, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear reassured. “I never thought it would come to this but hopefully they all got the message to leave everyone alone from now on. But just in case, we’ll have Albuquerque stay closer now to help keep things in order. On the way back inside, I sent our friend Stanley the Cardinal to find him and to have Albuquerque bring all your bunnies back to stay inside here with us, just in case.”

“Thanks, Red. It’s really not nice or fair what those ostriches and other tormentors are saying about you out there.”

“Sticks and stones, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear replied, with a knowing wink in my direction.

It was at that time Little Red Bear and I simultaneously realized it was quiet. The protesting chants and howling coyote racket had subsided following Little Red Bear’s intercession on Henrietta’s behalf. We looked at each other and sighed. Could we be that lucky? Had Little Red Bear’s outburst ended it all?

Well, seems we’re never really that lucky, truth be told. A moment later the disturbance started up all over again.

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

And continued.

1-2-3-4 – They’re scared and hiding behind the door!

5-6-7-8 – We’re gonna make their stories late!

1-2-3-4 – They’re not gonna be able to work no more!

5-6-7-8 – We’re gonna make their readers wait!

Arising once again to make sure the window was closed and looking out to see what was going on, Little Red Bear and I observed the ostriches and coyotes had resumed their picket duties, circling the cabin with protest signs being thrust up and down and waved about in the air for all to see. Except for the smallest ostrich, who was nowhere to be seen.

And now, for the first time, the noise was not coming solely from the front of the cabin, as there seemed to be a commotion going on in the back and from other surrounding areas, as well.

Looking out a rear window, Little Red Bear and I witnessed an impromptu village of woodland critters camped out not only behind the cabin, but also beginning to expand and surround it, seemingly growing in size by the minute. A few curious human onlookers were intermingled amongst the critter encampment to boot! The image of General Custer flashed uncomfortably thru my mind.

An unimaginable display of nests, burrows, bedding and other improvised shelters had sprung up overnight all over our property like mushrooms following a spring rain, and continuing to pop up seemingly in every nook and cranny right before our eyes. Activity and construction was going on everywhere, with more homes and housing than we could begin to count.

Several deer and elk had bedded down in what used to be a very nice stand of tall prairie grass in the back. The skunks and porcupines seemed to be enjoying a secluded area pretty much all to themselves off in the side yard to the right. Best for everyone, I suppose.

Ol’ Cooter’s ‘Raccoon Platoon’ had set up a row of lean-to shelters off to one side, with Farmer Turner’s prize hunting dog Blue and the hounds having raised a row of pup tents on the opposite side.

Grass and leaf huts seemed to be cropping up everywhere!  Find an open patch of ground, turn away for a moment and then look back, and a slapdash home had been erected on the spot in the meantime.

Long lines of varicolored little tents were arranged closest to the cabin in almost military-like precision, fashioned by rabbits from old discarded blankets. “Those add a nice touch of color to the landscape,” I mentioned in jest, nudging Little Red Bear for him to notice. Apparently, the bivouacked bunnies felt safer in considerable numbers.

“With all those rabbits, we are definitely going to need Albuquerque’s help keeping the peace and them all safe now, Red.”

Little Red Bear grunted and nodded in agreement, and pointed out a  very large, jumbled pile of sticks and twigs in the corner of the left side yard.

“Who made that mess?” I wondered out loud.

“That’s no mess, Jim. That there’s a beaver lodge,” Little Red Bear advised.

Indeed, it was a beaver lodge, constructed in hurried fashion overnight by our beaver neighbors in Hoppers Holler, who, as we watched, were busy simultaneously working off to the side on second and third lodges also, with “For Rent” signs in front of each.

“Beavers don’t build lodges on dry ground,” I observed.

“No, they don’t build on dry ground, Jim,” Little Red Bear agreed. “Think about it. It’ll come to you.”

And then it hit me. Flap and Slap, the beaver twins, are good friends, but if they even think about diverting a stream thru my yard to form another new beaver pond, I will . . .

Sorry. Got sidetracked there for a moment. It’s all starting to wear a bit, you see – the protests, chanting, picket lines. The dream that felt like a dream but which burnt my foot and set the old oak tree ablaze from the inside out. Almost losing our receptionist to a hungry weasel right before our eyes. Hundreds and maybe thousands of animals, birds and people encamped on our property, with more arriving every minute. And now the prospect of our side yard being turned into a beaver pond.

“All we need is a ringmaster and a few clowns to make this circus sideshow complete,” I muttered out loud.

“Careful what you wish for,” Little Red Bear deadpanned, with a vacant stare into the distance. He motioned again, to bring my attention to a distant hilltop.

Up on a back hill to the west and overlooking the unplanned and unauthorized campgrounds, teepees were hurriedly being erected. Recognizing the markings, it was apparent that word of the protest and goings-on had also reached Indian John and our good friends over on Bent Feather Creek.

I would never have expected Daniel Yellowhorse to bring along his pet bison though. Just hope those big fellas don’t wander down into the yard section we’ll be mowing later, if you know what I mean.

Off to the southeast I spotted a group of backwoods folk that I recognize from the next county over. Looks like they might be planning to visit and stay a spell, with what appeared to be several outhouses under construction as they were hurriedly throwing together a line of single-purpose buildings in the distance resembling a line of porta potties at the county fair, but disconcertingly more permanent in nature.

Although, I suppose we do need sanitation with all the unplanned guests continuing to arrive in numbers. Appreciate their lending a helping hand with that, after thinking about it more. But what happens to them all when this ostrich mess is over?

The hoped-for peace that I thought the weekend might bring has instead brought flocks and herds of onlookers and looky-loos wanting to be witness to what is turning into the biggest news event in quite a while here. With nearly every critter and human freed up from their weekday woodland jobs and having the weekend off, it appears the entire backwoods populace of the tri-county area decided this was the place to be.

I blame the squirrels.

“WEEKEND CAMPOUT AT LITTLE RED BEAR CABIN! Y’ALL COME!”

Yeah – that was the headline in last night’s special edition of “Squirrelly World”. Explains it all, doesn’t it? Apparently, “Squirrelly World” has a much more extensive reader and subscription base than I had been led to believe.

After the initial shock of discovering the overnight encampment in the morning, I started serving what refreshments I could gather to the potential story characters still waiting patiently in line beyond the picket line. Little Red Bear and I need to keep them on our side as this all unfolds, with still many unfilled story character positions needed for upcoming stories.

They always say the fastest way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach, and I have always found that approach works equally well with critters, too. So, refreshments for everyone in line seemed both the natural and prudent thing to do.

I did not feel comfortable asking Little Red Bear to do it since I feared his presence outside might provoke the ostriches even more after that protest sign smash up and encounter earlier, and to be honest I’m not sure I trust him in close proximity to them again, either.

So, I took it upon myself. While out, I chased off a pair of weasels who were trying to charge arriving campers a fee to enter the area. Weasels, true to their nature – trying to profit from uninvited campers on our property.

Since I was out there already, I tried to again engage the ostriches in dialogue to move this to a settlement and resolution, but they refused to talk at all, saying only that they have now filed a complaint with the NLRB—National Labor Relations Birds. I suspect a Venue of Vultures will arrive in a day or so to start the hearing proceedings, wind currents permitting.

Things will get out of hand sometimes. But tomorrow is Sunday. Certainly, peace and camaraderie can be achieved on a Sunday. So, keeping a good thought and hoping for better tomorrow.

With Albuquerque, the little red fox sheriff, having arrived safely with Henrietta’s little family of bunnies and now patrolling the bunny rabbit tents and campsite area out back to keep the weasels at bay, we all seated ourselves around the table for dinner. It had been another long and arduous day for all of us.

Little Red Bear distributed fresh greens and veggies for the rabbits, and some very special honey roasted carrots he had specially prepared as a treat for the baby bunnies, playfully teasing them with the honey jar while making sure each one took only a tiny piece for dessert, not to overload them on sugar highs and have baby bunnies bounding about the cabin all night.

Little Red Bear’s special carrot treat was never sampled though, as without warning a large rock came crashing thru the front window!

Pieces of glass flew everywhere as the window at first shattered and then seemed to explode from the force of a heavy, grey granite rock hurled from outside, startling everyone and causing all the bunnies to scurry in fright beneath the table to shelter from flying bits of glass.

Thump-a! . . . Bump-a! . . . Thump-a! . . . .

The rock hurtled, careened and bounced across the cabin’s wooden floor, finally coming to rest against the far wall.

Wearing boots and not wanting any of the others’ bare feet to be cut on broken shards of glass, I motioned Little Red Bear and everyone away. Carefully stepping around the larger glass splinters, smaller pieces crunched and crackled beneath my feet as I made my way across the room.

Reaching the rock, I carefully picked it up to find a message, painted in bold red letters on the flat bottom.

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

To be continued . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! As a special ‘thank you’, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for those Honey Roasted Carrots he made for Henrietta’s bunnies. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, simply tap on the image to find the recipe.

Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!

Random acts of kindness cost nothing, yet yield the greatest rewards.  Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


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3 thoughts on “Chapter Five of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “Day 3 Ongoing — The Encampment”

  1. James, just be glad they all didn’t play a musical instrument in the backyard or you would of had a full blown “Wood Stock” on your hands. 🙂

    Will be looking forward to who threw that rock! Hum?

    Those carrots amazing. I will look up that recipe. Thanks!

    Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Woodstock? We’re in the backwoods you know, so we never know who may wander by. Stay tuned. If you check my Pinterest ‘Veggies” Board, I have a number of roasted carrot and other veggie recipes, including a Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Carrots, Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots and more. Little Red Bear wasn’t sure if the baby bunnies would really take to the garlic, so opted to leave it out for them. Here is a link. Thanks always for your visits and comments! 🙂 https://www.pinterest.com/jamesmilson37/veggie-recipes/

      Like

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