Monday, April 04, 2005

Will this wind

Other bloggers seem to be reminded of epic poetry this time of year. Spring, new growth, rebirth and whatnot.

Not being as well versed in the classics, I just keep thinking of Peter Cook, Rowan Atkinson, and the Will this Wind sketch.

We picked Saturday to clean out the chicken coop and add fresh wood chips. At the same time we refurbished the old watering trough and moved the chicks up there too.

It was calm in the morning, but later it turned out to be the windiest day of the year. Gusts of 50 mph and chips flying everywhere. Hard to say whether it was the pollen or the dust we generated that had us sneezing so much. We put the old litter in a few low spots at the end of the garden. (There's been a little flooding problem. The garden looks more like a rice paddy at times.)

The chicks settled into their new home. They had been too crowded, and were getting pretty stinky in the smaller pen. They grow so fast.

They have much more room now, although at first they were scared and all huddled together in one corner. Overnight the temperature dipped into the 30s, for the coolest night we've had in a while. I ended up wishing we'd waited one more day to move them, since there's no electricity in the coop for a heat lamp. But they came through just fine.

Migrants are on the move! The Martins and Rough-winged Swallows have actually been here a while already. But they're so much earlier than the other spring birds that I tend to consider them more of an advance guard than a first wave.

In the past week we've seen (or heard) for the first time this spring: Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Parula, and Louisiana Waterthrush. We saw some Blue-winged Teal that were passing through, and a beautiful Little Blue Heron at the pond. (This time a really blue one, as opposed to the young white one we saw last year.)

Soon our winter birds will be leaving us: the Juncos, Cedar Waxwings, White-throated Sparrows, Kinglets. And the Yellow-rumped Warblers, that we affectionately call Butter-Butts.

We saw our first snake of the year. It was a bit far away to make a positive ID, swimming away from us at a distance, but I think it was a Northern Water Snake.

For the first time the grass looked like it needed mowing. So far we've managed to ignore it.

After a weekend hike, we noticed our first ticks of the year, both on us and in our clothes. Bugs are going to be bad this year since our winter was so mild. Gnats are already horrible.

A sad first too... the first missing chicken of the spring, a Dominique. It may have been a hawk that took her, but I'm thinking coyote since no tell-tale feathers were involved.

Early last spring, coyotes ended up with a few ducks and about a dozen of our chickens. But since we got Jasmine, and especially since she got bigger, we hadn't had any predation. The chickens insist on staying in the woods though, and she can't watch them there and the ducks in the yard at the same time I guess.

In the back of my mind I keep thinking there's a possibility the hen just found a good nesting spot outside the coop, and will show up again with a clutch of chicks... but in my heart I know it's unlikely.

I was also reminded more than once last week of a line from an REM song, "The storm it came up strong, shook the trees, and blew away our fears."

Since first hearing it, I've often thought about that song during storms. But sometimes it's hard to think poetically, especially when you're wondering if your tornado "safe place" is really all that safe.


roger said...

great picture. everywhere i've had chickens their survival depended on being locked in a sturdy coop at night. they always went in by themselves and the best arrangement was a way to close the door without entering the yard or non-chicken part of the coop. not always possible. i did run out long after dark more than once to close the door.

shannon said...

"we noticed our first ticks of the year, " Do you have any guineas? It's amazing how fast our ticks dissapeared when we got them!

Hick said...

Lovely photo.

I hate ticks. I got one in my ear about a month ago and I didn't know it. Boy, I was miserable for several days before I found out what it was.

happyandblue2 said...

Your chickens stay in the woods? I thought chickens stayed in chicken coops. I need to get out more I guess, tee,hee..

Rhodent said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rhodent said...

You live in such a lovely place! I love reading your descriptions of the birds, your dog, your life there.

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all.

Well I added a comment on this yesterday, but Blogger appears to have eaten it. I think what I said was something like this:

DPR, they are in a coop at night, but during the day they are free-range. There is a big coyote problem here - we even see them in broad daylight sometimes, especially in the spring when they have pups. Love the name DPR by the way! From one of my favorite movies.

Shannon, we thought about getting guineas, for just that purpose. But the chickens and ducks do a great job keeping ticks (and anything else that crawls) out of the yard. It's only when we go on these long hikes out of their range that we pick up the ticks.

Hick, I think I would have been miserable for several days afterwards too, just thinking about it!

H&B, they just go where they will during the day. They love to scratch the ground, and I guess it is more satisfying in the woods. I have tried herding them but it doesn't work too well. :)

Thanks Rho, keep in mind though that my brother says it all looks better in pictures, LOL.

jenni said...

I LOVE that photo. It's so zen! You seriously need to put a calandar together, or something. These photos are so very lovely and peaceful.