Category Archives: chickens

wayward winds

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citrusI went outside this morning to pick the tens of oranges that the east winds blew from my trees and I could hear baby birds…the wayward winds and baby birds … confusion in the atmosphere, seems more like March?

 By my own direction, I have baby chicks in the laundry room in late January, a bit early but I was anxious. I picked them up at the United States Post Office last week. I had 8 Ameraucanas– the Easter Egg Chicks – that I ordered and 5 little roosters that just came along for the ride here from east Texas. It is a cruel thing to think of but, the little female chicks are what I buy, for the eggs they will eventually lay, and the company packs a few free roosters in the box to keep the females warm. Oh my! Where is the justice in that? Hmmm…

Anyway, Nature is for real and sometimes it seems cruel and unfair – she does not concern herself with being politically correct – she leaves that to all of us.

 I have only 6 of the 8 Ameraucanas left and 3 of the 5 roosters. It seems that during the night, when they are huddled together under the light, seemingly as one united flock, one will get stepped on and once the chick is down, once it is vulnerable, the rest have no problem continuing to step on it until the little chick dies, usually a slow death. It is a very cruel display of Nature, one of several that I have seen for the 20 plus years I have raised chickens. They will even begin to peck on the smallest chicken – pecking order, the original bullying?

baby chicks I have learned so much from watching this simple animal. They have given me an insight into the darkness and the pureness of nature. What halts this barbaric treatment I write of, is the growth and maturity of the little chicks. I am very attentive (hence, a box in my laundry room) to constantly supply them with food and fresh water to assist or even hasten their growth so they can become strong enough to take good care of their selves and survive. The more care they get, the more they grow. On the other hand, the harsher the treatment, the more brutal the outcome. Wish me luck and hope that most survive to flourish and lay eggs in late summer.

Peace and Love  

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It all started with the irises…

It seems the weather is hinting at Spring here and while I wish for a deep freeze to kill the mosquitos, I do love the way the sunshine feels. In response to this mild weather, I decided to move around some Louisiana Irises. These densely packed rhizomes will soon hide the ugly spot in my backyard with their perennial green vertical beauty and brief show of yellow flowers in spring. While digging in the dirt, my hens kept me company – they knew what was just below the surface of that undisturbed soil – worm treats!a white hen

I also spotted a tiny ladybug sitting there doing what lagybugs do so well. All of this bucolic reference made me think of the bees that would soon be back – I am blessed with a nomadic beekeeper that delivers about 100 hives to my property in very early spring and then moves them in summer.They sit at the edge of the woods near a small canal and fly through the woods everyday that they are here. They not only give me honey, they give me tranquility. The irises, the hens, the ladybug, and the bees…life is good.ladybug

bees

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questions answered…maybe

I wanted to post something today and I began a story about an owl I saw this evening but no “story” emerged, just a snapshot appeared. I write:

 I went for a short walk today, late in the afternoon but before evening. I walked across the field towards the little coulee that separates my space from a neighborhood and watched for the moon. I did not see it, this winter moon in its waning phase for the sky was cloudy and filtered its light, but as I stood there I heard a whoosh sound cutting the stillness. I looked up to see an owl in flight. It landed near where I stood in a tree – perched there and magnificent. I felt I didn’t belong there, this was his space, it is a place he had come to many times before when there were no people, no houses and concrete. He now seemed out of place and that made me sad.  Later, as I was writing, I heard him outside of my window. By then it was nighttime and he was hooting. There is something mysterious about that sound. It seems foreboding and ominous.

That’s it, that’s as far as I got. I distracted myself from the owl and began rummaging around in my folders and I came across something I wrote last summer – I may have already posted it but, that’s okay, I post again because now, unlike then, I can answer some of the questions. I suppose if we just allow our lives to progress as they should, we can find answers, but that’s not what we typically do, we force things to happen – patience is a virtue. Anyway, here it is, perhaps, again.

 

 
summer 2012
I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…

 
 It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.

 
 

I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.

 
Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.
 
 
 
 

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winter

 
I drug the Christmas tree to the burning pile this morning.It is a guilty pleasure I suppose, to burn my very dead tree, but I recycle so much I need more than my allotted one roadside can and I compost nearly everything so, I burn my tree. I will sit there on a winter afternoon in January and I watch the fire while giving it a fond farewell. Anyway, along the way to its final resting place icicles fell from its branches. They are  there in the winter grass and I know, that this spring, when I cut the grass these fragments of this Christmas’ adornments will catch the light of the warm spring sun and glisten; I will see them and think of now. I will remember this Christmas. So, I leave them where they are and I say adieu to this holiday season and a fond farewell to the tree that occupied a special place our home for a while. 

 
I have not been outside in a few days so I explored a bit to see what winter had done. It has brought visitors from the North – small warblers camouflaged in the winter grass that seem to make the ground move as they do, it was enchanting to see them once again. And the starkness of the woods helped me to see through and be thankful for the lushness of summer but enjoying this moment to “look within”. The rabbits are there hiding in their holes and now and then darting about looking for food, sometimes I see their backsides – their cottontails – bounding about and I naturally think of Peter! And the raccoons come out at night, looking for food and threatening the smaller animals, I know that because of my diminished chicken population (sometimes I forget to close the door to the coop). Winter is challenging for animals and people.
I did find more camellias near the woods. I thought they were over by now but there are some left – almost a revitalization. Anyway, I picked a few for inside and one smaller one especially to sit in a Christmas present, a tiny pot Elizabeth made for me in her pottery class, one of my most treasured Christmas gifts. Even in winter there is beauty to bring inside.
LSU 1974
I suppose that is what I’m trying to say with this post, trying to remind you how each season has its purpose and its beauty – just as each season of our lives has its. Like spring and summer, our beauty and purpose is very much apparent in our youth but as we continue, like winter, the landscape becomes a bit more puzzling and our purpose must be redefined. As an art student I painted old, weathered faces – I had a fascination with and regard for the miles of life that were evident – years and years of wisdom, wisdom that needed a place to be. We all have purpose always, in each season of our lives. Just like the woods in winter, as time goes on, time gives us more opportunity to look within and redefine.
 Read the poem beneath and the first time you read it, think of it literally, think of the seasons, and them read it again and think of it figuratively and substitute the seasons of nature for the seasons of your life…
 
There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.Ruth Stout
 
 
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what to do?

I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…


a display of last year’s ambition
It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.


an easter egg chick
 I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.
It’s difficult dealing with the wonderful memories of this place – perhaps I stayed too long?

Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s idle rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.

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Liberation

I spent a bit of time revamping my blog this morning – a reflection of what I am trying to do in all aspects of my artistic life. Some days I want to just toss out the whole deal and not do art – no writing no painting – it is so possessive of my thoughts. I always knew it was a burden, this desire to create. It keeps you captive; it keeps you from being “normal”. I don’t do other things because I “need” to write or I “need” to paint or I should be promoting my art – it never really leaves me. That is exactly why when I was raising my family I put it all aside – I knew it was all or nothing for me and I wanted to do the best possible job I could with my kids. Well, they are, for the most part, grown and I have begun again and it has gripped me. When I think of letting it go, I instantly know I cannot. This is why I am turning this blog into my liberation – I will sit here when I need to and I will write what I need to write without concern of anything more than just releasing what I have formulated in my head. I have nothing preconceived or contrived – it’s raw. And if, along the way, you can connect to something I am thinking, then it is worthwhile in a broader sense; it becomes more than just the freeing of random inspired thoughts, it becomes a contribution.

The day was wonderful – spent inside doing left brained things like organizing a closet and pictures and domestic things like scrubbing my kitchen floor and folding all of the clothes in the laundry room. Sandwiched between these tasks were the moments I spent here, writing. I had a pot of coffee on nearly all day and I wrote and had coffee – staying inside of my head for the biggest part of the day. It is Mardi Gras in the outside world – parades and revelry that I no longer have to attend – I am so happy that that part of my life as a parent is over! Let me say this now, “I hate parades”. There, done…That felt good. I did step outside this morning for a bit to gather eggs from my hens. I have 9 new baby chicks in the laundry room waiting for the warmer weather to move into their new home.
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rituals

The moon was right above and it lit up the garden enough for me to see the “girls” in the coop waiting for me to lock them up, to make them safe. It is such a ritual, every night I walk in the garden and close the door to the chicken coop. it says day is done for me. Rituals, routines, so comforting. It is something we do that is normal and expected in this sometimes not so usual universe. I see myself years from now in my garden guided by the moonlight while closing the little door to the chicken house – it connects now with then – the ritual lights the path. Of course I write these words and think of the displaced people in Japan; even the simple rituals like a morning cup of coffee are gone, rituals that would help them feel just a tiny bit better amongst the horror that is their lives. How wonderful would a cup of coffee would be for those people? I thought of that while I had an afternoon cup on my swing in the glory of early spring – a near perfect moment, a moment spent in ritual.

treats

one of the secrets to a happy life is continuous small treats
iris murdoch
here’s my list:
  • i woke up
  • “good morning mom” elizabeth
  • my favorite coffee cup
  • 25 lbs of potatoes to plant
  • dark chocolate
  •  organic apples
  • fresh lemon with my tea
  • end of school bell on friday
  • holding ringo, our cat
  • feeding my chickens
  • making a fire
  • writing this entry