Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chicks in the Summertime

I see sunshine cast through the trees that caresses the long grass in Edwin's field. The color is difficult to describe and nearly impossible to capture on film. But I should try. The color is equal parts grass and sunlight reflected in the dew and the result is vibrant, yet pale, milky green that shimmers in the midsummer breeze. I feel like I could look at it for hours.

Yesterday was a big day. My laying hen chicks arrived and I have to pick up the broiler chicks on Friday. I put the finishing touches on the brooder, I installed the heat lamp, and I marveled again and again at how beautiful and fragile young living things are.

My Chicks Arrived

Like their respective mother hens, I checked on them repeatedly, peeking in through the ventilation gaps in the brooder.

Oooh! A tiny hen planted her beak into the food and took a nap.

Another hen stretches and flops on her side.

Oh boy. What do we have here? A black, cross sex-link hen decides to bathe and walk in the watering tray, nearly wedging herself in!

A friend in the UK who is enthralled by my operation named one of the black chicks: Posh.

One of my co-workers told me that she was amazed that I would rearrange my schedule for chickens. I tried explaining that it was akin to her taking time off to bring her dog to the vet. She didn't buy it and I didn't push the topic too far.

The benefits to raising chickens are numerous. The emotional reward for cupping the chicks one-by-one in my hands, breathing on them to socialize them (I don't know if this works, but it's what I do), and directing them to their first sip of water fills me with indescribable good feeling.

And then worrying about them, watching them play tricks and do funny things is better than television. Speaking of television, I haven't turned mine on for over three weeks and I'm still standing.

From a long-term view and especially in light of our declining economy, preserving and sustaining a farming culture is important. We never know what will be necessary in the future.

I am grateful for periods of time like this. My rooster is crowing, my cats are relaxed and happy. My new chicks arrived. My gardens are doing well (although something, a deer maybe, ate only the tops of most of my pea plants), the weather is gorgeous. The sun is rising further and shining brightly now.

Life is good.

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