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The grapes of Rosswood

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where the dawning day is greeting with a soft warm rain that falls quietly from the sky.

The low rumble of thunderheads crashing upon each other during the night has subsided and a gray day lies before us. Do be careful in these days so that you might not be pummeled from above by falling acorns (some dropped or tossed by delinquent squirrels or chipmunks) and other debris that falling leaves may bring with them.

It's this time of year that hunters take to the forests and fields in search of their elusive game. Those deer that stalk our garden in the night (much to the chagrin of our shepherds) have vanished deeper into the woods and all we have to worry about are voracious rabbits and other herbivores that love to munch the night away; at our expense.

Here at Rosswood, we grow vegetables of many varieties, but the one thing we did not plant and grow ourselves is our grapes... which are coveted by a slew of animals. As I said earlier, do pay attention to things above you in these harvest days and this tale is about that very thing.

Four years ago, I went to the Deep South on kennel business and was away for over a week. The last leg of my trip ended up in New Orleans (no, I did not go to Bourbon Street) and I was waiting for my plane to arrive at the Louis Armstrong International Airport. I was delighted to be hearing jazz being played softly over the public address system speakers. I had a few minutes left before my plane boarded so I called the lovely wife.

She was sitting at the living room window looking out into the yard and down at the kennels where grapes vines grew abundantly next to them. We had picked a lot of them before I left on my trip but quite a few still remained; hidden by the thick foliage that is common with grape vines.

I was in mid-sentence, telling my lovely bride how my adventure was going, when she told me to hang on. I stood there, phone in hand and a smile upon my face, when she came back on the line. "There is a huge wild turkey sitting on our grape vines."

It seems that a very large turkey hen was performing a balancing act while pecking away with glee at which with the Cirque Du Soleil acrobats would be impressed. Laredo barked at her for a few minutes but realized the futility of the act... he could not get to her so he sat back down and watched her eat away with reckless abandon.

I was receiving a blow by blow description of the hen's luncheon but was interrupted by the announcement that the friendly skies were calling and it was time for me to ascend to the heavens with my fellow passengers. I boarded the plane with a smile.

When I arrived home later that day, it was made clear that the infamous acrobatic hen had been gorging herself on the corn that occupied the field across the road from us. As big as she was, she seemed to be rather nimble. The next day I looked out the very same window from which Cindy had reported, and there she was again, headed for the grape vines.

Evidently she must have missed a few grapes the day before.

I let Lara Mee out, and she and I headed down the hill towards the miscreant turkey (which saw us coming and headed for the woods) and I let Laredo out of his kennel and the two of them took off in hot pursuit of the fine feathered felon. I could hear them crashing in the brush and a few well-placed barks and then all of a sudden, there she was! The hen backtracked and came waddling (remember how fat she was?) as fast as she could towards me with what could only described as mortal fear written across her turkey face.

I stood my ground. What else could I do? Then she helicoptered away from me with such agility that it still astounds me to this day. She had taken flight straight up and then flew over me to a near by Poplar tree and landed. Seconds later, the dynamic duo of Lara Mee and Laredo came rushing out of the brush to! Their noses were in high gear and they were close to finding their prey. Then... nothing. The scent trail ended right where the hen took off for her unfriendly skies.

They milled about for awhile, then Lara Mee (remember looking up?) spotted the hen in the tree across the yard. She went over to the tree and sat down and waited. Laredo had been through this before and he returned to his kennel and promptly lay down. Hours went by and Lara Mee finally gave up sometime around sunset and the next day came and the roosted hen was gone. Thus ends the tale of the "Grapes of Rosswood."

Do you have a tale you would like to share? E-mail me at or write to me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576 or phone me at 218-495-2195. Until next time...