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Teenaged Chickens Scratching for Corn in Barn

Two hens
who hatched babes in the barn
in early summer,
have snuggled down again
in the nests.
A third hen has joined them.
They allow other hens to lay,
adding more eggs to their stash
and making it impossible for us to know
which eggs are freshly-laid
and which are already on their way
to becoming chicks.
It’s been close to three weeks now.
No telling how many eggs
are under them.
So, we wait, watch; soon
we will move them to a birthing center.
Then we’ll have to deal with their continuous
brooding; too many eggs go uneaten,
unhatched.
The hens’ first children
are now teenagers and old enough
to venture outdoors. Every morning
we move the goats into the alpaca pen
and open a chicken barn door
so the teenagers can go into the goat pen.
This keeps them safer and gives them a chance
to learn
where to go into the barn at night.
The goats and alpaca seem baffled
about why they’re locked out of the goat pen.

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That’s not the only thing that’s changed.
Goats and alpaca still have access during the day
to the corral. But normally,
by now,
sunflowers would be over their heads
and blossoming.

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Sunflowers in the Corral Last Summer

DSCN4654The Corral this Summer

There are no sunflowers
where they should be
(which is, everywhere.)
No human has done anything
to stop the annual sunflower event;
they simply haven’t grown this cooler,
wetter,
summer
The few we see,
here and there,
are short!

So, I’m thinking (ahead:)
where am I going to find sunflowers
to place on the table
at the Prairie Dinner
in October?
It’s tradition. A six year tradition.
It’s our “look.” Our natural prairie
“look.”

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Change is the word here.
Hens that don’t brood,
then won’t stop.
Sunflowers that
aren’t.
Perhaps experiencing
and observing the effects of climate change
helps us understand a basic reality
in such dramatic ways
that we can’t ignore it any more:
change is happening every moment.
And has been for 14 billion years.
This is the basic nature
of life.
And it’s not something to fear.
It’s exciting: The universe is expanding.
We are—
or could be—
expanding.

Can’t wait to see
what we find for the tables
come October!