Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cottonballs with legs

Hello Junko, here are more stories about chickens and such. I had a quiet day with the chickens, neglecting my other duties. I worked on finishing the baby pen. The little chicks look like black and white cotton-balls with toothpicks for legs. Short toothpicks. The babies are very curious and get into every nook and cranny of their environment. They need a world that is smooth with small openings. Today one of the babies got in between the wooden crate that they sleep in and the fencing. The crate was very close to the fence with just enough of a narrow passage to inspire a curious baby to explore. It soon found out it was a one way alley with no way to turn around. The exit was in view when it got too small for even a cotton-ball to pass through. It struggled and pushed managing to get its leg stuck in the mesh of the wire. I was working in another part of the pen at the time but my "mothers intuition" kicked in and I went to check on them. I had this funny feeling something was wrong. I checked and only saw two babies. I could hear an occasional peep but couldn't see where it was coming from. Their little peeps have a ventriloquist quality. It jumps all over the place making it difficult to pin down where they are. I moved all the rocks holding down the bottom of the fence but no baby. I searched for 5 minutes but couldn't locate it. It quit peeping so I couldn't zero in on it. I'm the good shepherd and didn't give up and finally noticed a dark spot near the bottom of the crate. I gently moved the crate and waited for it to run off. It stayed by the wire. Then I noticed a tiny little foot stuck through the wire. I went and got my wire cutters and did some very delicate cutting. After about 6 careful snips it hopped free and seemed none the worse for the experience. It didn't have a limp which is a relief. I moved their bedroom out away from the fencing and looked the whole pen over for possible problems. I think we're in good shape. Tonight I noticed that the mom is sleeping in the corner on some soft grass I brought for them so tomorrow the crate is out.

After I mow the lawn I rake up the grass and spread it around the chicken pens. They love to eat the fresh greens and spread it around with their chicken dance. It also makes good nesting material. The mothers make wonderful, cozy nests to lay their eggs in hatch their newborn chicks.

This evening I went out and sat with Hiromi and Helena, our geese along with Nancy the duck. It was dusk and the night sounds were starting. I watched Hiromi listen to each sound with caution seeking to sense any danger. He doesn't yet know how safe his world is. I'm hoping in time he'll know and relax into a deep goose sleep. They nap a lot during the day with their heads tucked under their wings. They feel safe when I'm there.

Their world has all the essential elements of the human world but without the maliciousness. I love my time with them. The work is hard but satisfying with amazing moments like when a chicken decides to perch on my shoulder or take a rest on the back of my leg while kneeling to fix something. It's a joy to spend some time with some chickens. It takes a little time for them to accept you. They're suspicious but they learn to trust us and in time find all sorts of handy uses for us such as moving rocks so that they can eat the bugs hiding underneath. When I'm walking around the farm and find a grub or bug I grab them and make a trip to the chicken pen. They all come running. It's a wonderful feeling to be the star of a small world. Well, time for me to hit the nest. Bye for now. Wally

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