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Cooper is turning into a chicken.

Not really, of course, though his intelligence seems close to poultry depths with an alarming frequency. I laugh to scorn all of the border collie aficionados who tout their breed as uniformly bright.

My beautiful wife picked up a bucket full of corncobs from the field after harvest (How’d it go, Buddy? Price sure is good!) to toss into the chicken coop along with the feed. Having something to peck other than one another is a Good Thing for chickens.

Cooper quickly discovered the bucket and has taken to pilfering an ear every day or so, strewing bits of cob and half-crunched kernels about the house like a Hansel and Gretel trail leading everywhere. This is actually OK compared to many of the alternatives, including books, DVD cases, TV remote controls, medicine bottles, a plastic pitcher, the leg of my marvelous mother-in-law’s dining room table, a bag of flour (extra fun to clean up!), couch pillows, the couch cover, pens, pencils and, of course, three separate batches of chicks. We are long-suffering with our pets here at Chez Davis.

He’s actually much better than he used to be, and we avoid the worst of his excesses by scattering rawhide chew toys around the place, which is probably not a Martha Stewart-approved home decorating practice but does keep the damage to a tolerable level.

The corncob-as-chew-toy innovation makes Cooper even more of a pleasure on our morning walks because now, in addition to such humorous behaviors as running at random into various packmates, picking up sticks and waving them about in apparent triumph while capering like a demented court jester, and barking down groundhog holes, when he finds a cob, he wants to chew it.

His dilemma here is obvious: To chew the cob he must stop; if he stops, the other two-thirds of the Permanently Puzzled Posse and I get ahead of him, which offends his sense of solidarity. So he picks up the cob and runs with it until he reaches us, whereon he stops to chew the cob again, and we get ahead again and … He’s pretty goofy.

It’s a fun time of year with the Worthless Ones. The deer are in their annual mating period, when animals that normally are fairly stupid ride a wave of hormones to levels of suicidal dumbness unrivaled in the local animal kingdom.

The other morning, we came upon a strapping buck, a truly impressive animal with 10 or 12 points on his mighty rack, standing quite exposed in the middle of our biggest field, sniffing the air with a preoccupied look and clearly wondering where all the women had got to.

The pack was able to get reasonably close to him before he noticed them, and even got between him and the treeline, which is usually where they give up, being no match for a healthy, adult deer in sailing over fallen trees and the like.

The buck gave a little start of surprise and raced off. The Cowardly Crew poses no actual danger to deer as big as that, and an earlier incarnation of the pack has run from in-rut bucks a number of times, but still. If the Terrified Trio had been, say, three Rhodesian ridgebacks or any number of hunting breeds that actually can hunt, he would have been in trouble.

As it was, the dogs gave it their usual perfunctory chasing performance, barked him off the property most thoroughly and came running back for pats all around.

Then Cooper ate a corncob.

‘Nutcracker’ to be staged at CSM

Northern Virginia Youth Ballet, The Studio Cooperative and the College of Southern Maryland will present performances of “The Nutcracker” at 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the college’s La Plata campus at 8730 Mitchell Road.

Join Clara in her magical dream as she journeys through the lands of waltzing snowflakes and flowers. The production is unmatched in the area, featuring sets and costumes handmade in Russia and professional lighting and special effects, according to a news release from Studio Cooperative.

As part of community outreach programs of all organizations involved, the matinee performance at 2 p.m. will be available only for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, senior centers and groups, and hospice and rehab center groups. Tickets will be $10 per person.

Tickets for the 6 p.m. performance are $15 for adults and $12 for youth, seniors and military before the program, or $20 for adults and $15 youth, seniors and military at the door.

Call 301-861-4345 or go to www.thestudiocooperative. org.

Library wants kids to meet Santa

Join the staff of the La Plata library 1 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1 for a visit with Santa at the library at 2 Garrett Ave. Come upstairs first for stories and songs. Elves will escort children downstairs to visit with Santa. The event is sponsored by the Citizens for Charles County Public Library.

Call Donnie Storms or Suzanne Steward at 301-934-9001.

Museum hosts gingerbread lighthouse workshops

The Calvert Marine Museum at 14200 Solomons Island Road S. in Solomons will hold gingerbread lighthouse workshops at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Dec. 16 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 23.

Kids can learn to build an edible lighthouse. Admission fee is $4 per child.

Sign up at the admissions desk on the day of the workshop.

Go to

MSP planning safety seat check

Maryland State Police will sponsor a free child safety seat check 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 1 in the parking lot of the Walmart on Drury Drive in La Plata.

According to Sgt. Melanie Harvey of the MSP La Plata barrack, a similar event Oct. 27 was a success, so another seat check is being held.

A certified technician will be on hand to make sure seats are properly installed and that parents are using an appropriate seat. Harvey suggests that, if possible, participants bring the child seat manual and vehicle’s owner’s manual.

She can be reached at 301-392-1241 or

Farm guide offers ‘fresh’ holiday ideas

The new “Farms for the Holidays” Southern Maryland Winter Farm Guide showcases more than 60 family farms and agriculture-related businesses offering farm products for the holiday season and through the winter months.

The guide’s listings include where to find locally grown Christmas trees and holiday décor, unique farm-made gifts and crafts, flavorful produce, quality meats, fresh local seafood, award-winning wines for festive tables, and even yarns and apparel made from local wool and alpaca fiber. Many agritourism farms also are hosting a variety of fun family events for the holidays including Nativity scenes with living animals and actors, petting zoos, candlelit caroling walks, visits with Santa Claus and hayrides.

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission publication is available in print at participating sites, regional public libraries and welcome centers, and can be viewed or downloaded at

Veterinarian house calls spark message to check licensing

As more veterinarians begin to offer house call services, the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners urges consumers to take the simple step of checking either its webpage or the State’s online database to make sure a veterinarian is properly licensed to practice in Maryland.

If a veterinarian is not on the SBVME’s list, the individual is likely not legally allowed to practice in Maryland, according to a news release from the board.

Check the PDF list at

Go to a searchable database at: