The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Friday the 13th

photo: Mrs Boss on the nest again

photo: Mrs Boss on the nest again

My stepfather had an uncle who always stayed in bed on Friday the 13th .
“The whole day?” Aged nine, I was amazed.
“Yes, all day. He also used evaporated milk in his tea. To avoid too many trips to the shops, I expect.”

My stepfather never revealed the name of this uncle but I had a clear picture of him. Firstly the bed. An single iron bedstead with stretchy mattress (no wife would put up with the evaporated milk). The carpet slippers nestling on the lino under the bed ready for shuffling trips to the kitchen. The chipped teapot, its belly scorched with the patina of years of tea making (leaves not bags). Endless bachelor suppers of Fray Bentos tinned pies and cans of mushy peas.

Each Friday the 13th I think about this nameless eccentric uncle. As the years roll by I become more and more intrigued by this character. Did he ring in sick every Friday the 13th when he was working? Or did he take it as annual leave. Studying the calendar and marking these days off with big round rings. And how did he pass his day? Somehow I sense an old radio beside the bed and him dressed in pyjamas (the ones with the cotton trouser ties) leafing through a pile of copies of the local free newspaper that he had carefully put in a convenient pile beside the front door over the preceding weeks.

I’m always a bit apprehensive about Friday the 13th.  Although I have survived them for over fifty years.

This morning I went down to the chicken run and I opened the door.  As always, I counted the flock as they erupted into the run. One was missing.

I opened the roof of the nesting box and discovered Mrs Boss had died in the night. One wing was stretched out over the nest of eggs.

She was a great favourite of ours and mother to broods of guinea fowl, runner ducks and chickens.

Like my stepfather’s uncle she stayed in bed on Friday the 13th but just didn’t wake up.

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  1. Lindsay

    Very sorry about Mrs Boss. Friday 13th in July 1961 turned out to be the worst day of my life as regards my future in sport. Playing tennis my kneecap exploded into 68 bits. This lead on to the discovery of more knee problems. I was on the verge of Junior Wimbldon. I have never been able to run since but remain an avid armchair sports follower!

  2. Allotment blogger

    Oh dear. Poor Mrs Boss had a great innings and a wonderful dynasty, but she will be sadly missed.

  3. Poor Mrs.Boss! How sad!

  4. Belinda

    No words, just tears..

  5. michelle sheets

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Mrs. Boss, her adventures were such a pleasure to read.

    I wonder if she ever realized how famous she is. You have to admit, she is known worldwide, and will be greatly missed.

    Tears from Oregon……

  6. Spidra Webster

    My condolences. I’ve been reading your blog for about year and a half now and Mrs. Boss was absolutely my favorite character in your menagerie. What a wonderful hen.

  7. Oh no. I’m so sad to read this. I really enjoyed her adventures. At least she had a peaceful end. RIP Mrs Boss.

  8. I am so sad about dear Mrs. Boss. She has been such a part of your lives and blog. I was reading the post and the picture you were painting of your stepfather’s uncle and never dreaming of the shock ending. It gave me quite a jolt and tears to my eyes for this little lady – at least she had risen in the pecking order.
    Your last sentence was so,so sad. x

  9. casalba

    Oh no! Not Mrs Boss! I’m so sorry. Really I am. I’m sad, so can’t imagine what you are feeling. All I can say is “sorry” and WHAT A MOTHER! (Through your posts I can understand where the expression “mother hen” came from.)
    Lots of love, Sally

  10. Sad day for you! i liked reading stories of her latest endeavors!
    I was also impressed with the way you interwove the news into the story, it was a “punchline” twist that i certainly didn’t expect! Hitchcock would have been proud!
    All the best,

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