Roosters stand
on opposite sides of the farmhouse
and call
loudly
to one another
as soon as the solar-operated barn door
opens and they dash away.
If I’m not out of bed yet,
I might as well get up.
I can hear the hens too,
clucking and pecking
at the watermelon rind left for them
at the back door.
In the lazy, summer afternoons,
all is quiet
as hens and roosters hunker down
in the dirt in the shady, breeziest
side of the barn.

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Getting eggs has been challenging
this summer. Snakes get into them.
And two hens have been brooding
over eggs for way too long,
allowing other hens to lay more,
which makes gathering them impossible.
So Ann has re-purposed
an old chicken tractor,
hauling it into the barn,
securing it against cats,
maybe snakes. She moved
the pile of eggs, one hatched chick
and the two hens into the pen.
They continue to sit and we hope
they hatch a batch. We’re not sure
if the single chick is nestled
under a hen in the nest
or not. Another chick, born earlier,
didn’t survive. We think a cat ate it.
Other hens can now lay their eggs
in new nests Ann has built for them,
on a stilted platform
from a re-purposed vertical feeder.
We hope it’s snake-proof.

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The five keets born in an incubator
within hours after Ann rescued the eggs
from the nest of the guinea hen
who met her demise in the teeth
of dog Sadie,
are all healthy and now living
in an outdoor pen at the barn.

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Life with poultry
and cats
and dogs
and snakes
and possums
and skunks
and coyotes
and hawks
and owls
requires endless
creativity.