How many tonight? 6, 7, 8? Oh, please let there be 7 so of course I can sing Seven Swans a swimming which... I guess... I will anyway... sooo... Oh dear, it IS 7 tonight and one in a corner pen so I guess 8. Lots of water for all!
"You all need to hiss at me? I know I'm a stranger. All I have to do is get your dry food so it doesn't get wet from the spraying."
"Oh now. That's not necessary. I will put it back soon enough."
And then it starts, the parade. With the hose on I start to spray the floor and the swans start to lead the way. It's kind of a beautiful procession, 7 swans, 2 beautiful white adults and 5 gray and white juveniles and me bringing up the rear. Along the way I pull the pool plugs and let the water run free. Pretty soon we are all splashing in water.
"Wait a minute up there" I said "NO picking on each other. Hey! I said stop it!"
I get a hiss and a stare. Soon the parade ends and it appears that I have herded them like a sheep dog into a group "out of harms way" of the hose. Busily I spray here and there. Filling one pool then the other with another hose.
"It's time for me to look in on you." I say to the swan in the pen.
She is bandaged up so tenderly. Her wings and her feet are bandaged. She doesn't stand or walk. Her pen is heavily padded for her comfort and healing. Carefully I need to remove everything and clean the best I can. She becomes anxious and moves more than she should. It is hard to see her suffer. I work quickly but not frantically. I pick her up and remover her soiled bedding and put down fresh I set her in front of her food. I mist her a bit. She likes that.
"Rest now." I whisper
"Okay swans listen up," I say to the other swans, like they are listening to me. "it's your turn for a misting. Now you're going to share whether you like it or not so that's that."
Misting the swans can be a very challenging sharing exercise for them. 2 at a time oh, now 3.
"Wait a minute, you go over there, Hey no pecking, NO PECKING! Don't pull at his feathers. That is not very nice. You're going to wait now. Move over a bit if you are going to be a bully." Off and on they look up at me. I know they are making sure I am keeping my distance and checking me out, but I like to pretend that I have them under my control, like a little group of recruits. I also amuse myself with the full belief that they understand every word I say.
I better go get their food and call it a night. Let's see crickets. Each swan gets 15. 15 x 8 swans that's.... okay 10 x 8 = 80 then 5+5=10 + 5+5=10 that's another 20 and 5. 80, 20, + 5, 105.** Yeah, math!! Not like I am going to sit and count out exactly 105 crickets but I know what that looks like in a dish. I need greens, cracked corn, waterfowl pellets, and I think that's it right?
"Oh come on guys! It looks like I haven't even cleaned in here at all. What have you done? Pooped I guess. Man. Well here is more fuel for that fire."
"WAIT! Don't need to hiss over there. Don't pick on that poor guy. Sheesh!"
I think to myself, I guess they survive fine in the wild without me, but it is a bit refreshing to see we aren't the only ones that bicker and pick on each other.
** after re-reading my work and editing here and there, I read this to Rick. He always has a look on his face that means he has more questions and comments then understanding of my writing, but this time he had a slight smile on his face.
I said "what? WHAT?"
He said "105? How were you even doing that math."
I said I always do my math out loud as I walk the long hall to the kitchen."
He said "No, it doesn't come to 105."
I looked at it "What? it doesn't?"
Why didn't you just do 10 x 8 = 80. 5 x 8 = 40. 80 + 40 = 120."
I said "Oh yeah, I did get 120 that night I remember that, not 105. What am I doing in that math there? Oh boy, whatever." MATH HOW YOU SMITE ME!