Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring is in the Air

Life in the Big Henhouse has been more exciting lately. Three hens were setting at once, sisters Dovey and Rosewitha, from the summer hatch two years ago, and black Lady, the frizzle cochin with straight feathers. Rosewitha chose to set on the roof of the closet in the henhouse, but after ten days, Husband and I got her down and put her in the old rabbit hutch. Lady was on the floor of the closet where the big hens bothered her constantly, and Three the Rooster tried to guard her. Every day I lifted her to take out the newly-laid eggs after marking her setting eggs with an "X" to identify them. Her sister Dovey the Fierce was in the nursing cage, gamely setting 11 bantam eggs. 28 days in, Rosewitha hatched a tiny bantam chick, no bigger than an inch and a half, but yellow like all of Rambo's get. Over the next few days, Lady hatched three chicks in the closet, all standards, all yellow. One died, pecked by the big hens, and I pulled the other two and put them under Rosewitha, where they would be safe. Sure enough, Lady's remaining four eggs disappeared one by one, as Mr. T. has made his spring appearance in the henhouse. The large black rat snake is hungry after his winter sleep, and this morning, Lady's last egg had disappeared and Lady was back out with the other birds.

Nothing is hatching under Dovey, and we are beginning to think that her eggs will not. Tomorrow we will lift her - no, HUSBAND will lift her and endure her wicked bites while I check each egg and see if they feel viable. Any light eggs will be pulled as unlikely to have a chance. You would think after 15 years I would buy an egg candler!

Out in the Little Henhouse, there are two silkies on eggs. One has six under her, and her sister is too far away to reach and check. If we open the hatch door on that side, a chorus of squeals comes forth, warning us to keep away. Living with them (and staying near them) is the little red hen that has suffered an injury and is now crippled. She has stopped coming outside, very wise on her part, as she was unable to get up and down the ramp. She is living happily in the little henhouse, and has plenty of clean food and water and will soon have some surrogate babies to keep her company.

After the brouhaha of a family wedding over the weekend, last night was spent quietly catching up on chores. We finally ended up in the adirondacks by the porch, joined by the four dogs, the outside cat, and finally, Beau the Pony. It was so nice to slow down and visit, and watch the animals with each other. We are constantly stunned by the relationships between the animals here at Calamity Acres, and the way pony and dog and cat and llama and goose and chicken can get along. Maybe not all with each other, but enough that we know that kindness to the animals produces kindness back.

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