by Henry Lane Hull

This winter our barnyard is bursting with activity to the point that I hardly can keep up with the residents’ comings and goings.

Gladys and Lew, the goose and gander, are being particularly solicitous of each other, giving me the faint hope that finally this spring might be the year that they learn how to be parents. Until Gladys stops laying eggs all across the pen and settles down to perform her true anserine duty and make a nest, that aspiration of mine will not come to fruition. Still, I am hopeful that this spring will be different.

The chickens do not like the cold weather and have gone on strike as to egg production, although their appetites are greater than ever. The bantam Silky rooster definitely has a “little rooster” complex. He is much smaller than the 11 chickens and although he lets them boss him around the lot, he crows with such authority, thereby claiming a status that the others do not acknowledge.

He has been confused since the untimely death of his Silky hen spouse three years ago and cannot quite adjust to being the low fowl on the totem pole. All of the chickens are frustrating during this cold weather when they demand to roost at night in the open, rather than enjoying the comforts of the nice house we built for them. Indeed, they rarely ever enter it.

With the absence of greenery the goat naturally is more insistent on her meals being served, as opposed to her foraging on the hillside. Her favorite food remains a banana peel. I learned that quite by accident when I dropped a peel on the way to the compost pile some years ago. She leapt for it and thereafter when I finish my morning banana I take her the peel, which she greets wagging her tail and after consuming it comes over to give me a goat hug.

The latter gesture consists of her rubbing against my legs and looking up at me with eyes filled with love. I wish I could eat more bananas to reciprocate more completely, but one a day is about all the potassium I can handle.

The two Welsh Corgis, mother and daughter, react differently to their barnyard colleagues. Being house pets, not to mention being herding dogs, they assume the right to be in charge.

Lily, the mother, is more reserved, but Maggie, the daughter, is itching to be able to boss the other animals into submission. She goes to the fence, looks across at the goat and begins barking commands, to which the recipient of her utterances pays no attention, a typical caprine reaction. Perhaps I should give her the banana peel to attract the goat’s attention?

This winter’s activity in the barnyard encourages me to think that spring will lead to a new generation of fowl, at least on the part of the chickens and perhaps even with the geese.


In the late Middle Ages along with the rise of towns came the office of mayor and in those days, when most office holders were male, the term for the mayor’s wife, namely, mayoress. In 1978 when the late Edward J. Davis was elected Mayor of Kilmarnock, his wife Peggy assumed the unelected position of Mayoress, which she held throughout the 24 years that he served as Mayor, the longest tenure of any of the town’s mayors.

Tomorrow, Peggy, known affectionately to many as The Mayoress, becomes a nonagenarian. She has been one of Kilmarnock’s greatest assets ever since moving here from White Stone upon her marriage to Edward J. seven decades ago. She has served the town and the broader community in countless ways, always with utter competence, profound graciousness and urbane cheerfulness.

Today the quality of life we experience in our town is due in great measure to her abiding effort to be of service to everyone who comes her way.

Happy Birthday, Peggy, Madame Mayoress! You are at the Peak of Youth!