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Summer seems
so quiet.
The breeze has calmed,
catching the wind chime only
now and then
instead of constantly.
Birds chirp
rather than sing.
There is quite a lot of silent
motion: butterflies, wasps, dragonflies flit.
Now a hen lets out a string
of cackles,
then
there is a hush
before the breeze stirs
and chimes ring
again—
a guinea
squawks.
Cicadeas’ sizzle
starts. A rooster
out back
crows.
But even the sounds—
the chirps,
the squawks,
the chimes,
the cicadeas—
seem quiet.

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Evening is quieter
still. Air hangs
thickly.
Motionless, silent cranes
fish.
An orb spinner is so still
I bash into its web reaching
for a tomato.
In the night,
fireflies glow greenish yellow
all around the yard,
in trees. Stars keep company
in silence.
Where is that
mockingbird and why has he stopped
singing all night?

 

The youngest flock of chickens—
plus three young guineas—
have been living in an outside pen
that connects to the barn.
They’ve had access to the indoor coop
but not to the entire barn,
where the older flock lives.
This has protected the younger hens
and younger roosters
from more aggressive roosters.
Now they are all grown up—
and last week,
Ann and Frank butchered
the three most aggressive roosters.
That leaves two roosters—
a white-tailed one
and the big, beautiful Cochin.
The Cochin are shy souls.
I’ve seen the rooster back away
from hens, who fend him off
with a simple peck.
The big, beautiful gray Cochin hen,
who snuggles underneath him,
does not fend him off.
She is so shy,
her fertive forays into the bigger barn
end with her finding a corner to hide in,
and she always finds her way
back to the safety of her coop corner.
We wonder if she’ll ever have the courage
to venture outdoors,
once its safe for the birds to leave the barn.

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Cochin hen, hiding in a corner

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Cochin rooster, standing next to Cochin hen, hiding in the corner

Now,
Pearl, one of the pygmy goats,
escapes daily from the barnyard pen
that is her home.
We were surprised when she greeted
Ann one evening
as Ann walked up to the barn.
We were surprised when she escaped
again
after we had spent much of the morning
reinforcing the fence.
We were surprised
when she found her way out again.
We don’t know why she leaves the pen,
because we usually find her
just outside the gate,
waiting to be let back in.
We reinforced another patch of  fence,
secured a gate more tightly,
and she escaped again.
At this point,
we have no idea how she gets out.

Barnyard mysteries
are part of daily life here;
life we can’t
predict,
control.
They keep us open,
observant,
engaged,
amused.

Lately,
when I open the door
to the chicken coop
in the morning
a male guinea
chases one of the chicken hens.
Then rooster chases the guinea.
They do this for a few minutes
and then get serious about eating breakfast.

Yesterday,
up in my yard under the Hackberry tree
where I scatter sunflower seed and chicken scratch
for the wild birds,
a male Brown Headed Cowbird flew in
with a flock of black birds,
but then he didn’t fly away again.
And he didn’t eat.
He sat, hunched,
on top of the seeds.
Neither did he fly away
suddenly, when the others did.

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Chickens under Hackberry Tree

Rooster and the hens
venture into the yard later in the morning
and while they’re pecking,
the sick Cowbird toddles out of their way.
Eventually the cowbird moves over
to the heated water bowl.
He reaches his head up
and pecks at the rim of the bowl,
but can’t reach the water
and doesn’t seem to have the energy to hop up
for a drink.
He sits, hunched against the bowl
for awhile
and eventually,
takes a low flight path
away.

Late afternoon,
chickens are back,
and so is the Cowbird,
though I don’t see him
until it’s too late.
A cat appears from somewhere,
nabbing the sick cowbird,
which sets off a chain reaction
among the chickens…
a brown hen is disturbed
and flies up,
which sets off rooster,
who runs after the cat
who dashes toward the barn,
rooster chasing,
until a male guinea goes after rooster.
They have a long cock fight,
head to head,
flaring neck feathers,
flying up,
dancing in circles—
neither getting the advantage,
until another male guinea
rushes the male guinea
who started the fight,
and they run off together.

I find cat but the cowbird
is already dead.
Before long,
chickens, guineas,
cats, birds
are all pecking the ground,
or sitting in the sun,
wandering around,
keeping safe space,
coexisting again.

 

 

Hardly know where to start,
things are moving,
changing,
so quickly.

Black hen
did not want to stay
on the nest with eight eggs.
She kicked out three eggs
after a day or so.
We kept filling the food and water bowls
that she upset.
But the nesting space seemed
too small to stay in for 21 days,
so we opened the door
and she hopped out,
never to return.
There are still eggs
in the incubator
due to hatch next week.
Meanwhile,
a Guinea Fowl has laid an egg
on the floor in the barn.
An Ameraucana hen
laid one of her blue eggs
in the guinea’s nest.
Now it’s broken
but the guinea egg remains.
We’re hoping for more;
the guinea hen hangs out close by
most of the day.


Sadly,
dear Bella died.
She was in the rabbit village,
staying in a burrow
for several days without coming
to eat.
Her two village mates had died
a few weeks ago
and we thought it was because
we fed them too much rich, spring grass.
We stopped feeding grass to Bella,
so we have no idea why she became sick,
or if the other two actually died
from eating grass.
We have kept the two new rabbits
in a different pen
because Bella was initially
aggressive with them.
We’re glad we did.
And now we’re pretty sure
this handsome couple
will produce babies.
(Only once.)

Yesterday,
Ann and her friend and beekeeping mentor, Everett,
checked out the bee hives.
The hives are healthy,
with lots of bees,
lots of honey.
In fact, Ann and Everett opened
four new hives.
And in the process,
they made a surprising discovery:
about 14 queen cells,
in one hive.
A hive only needs one queen,
so, since the others would have been killed,
Ann and Everett removed the queen cells.
Everett, who cares for about 90 hives normally,
currently has several hives without queens.
He took them home
to put the queen cells in those hives.
Ann has been busy planting
150 trees and shrubs
that will make blossoms
for the bees.

Cedar Wax Wings

Other news:
A large flock of Cedar Wax Wings
stayed for a few days
on their way north.
And now Barnswallows have arrived!
We are glad for all insect-eating creatures.
After such a mild winter,
we’re already seeing lots of bugs.
With vivid memories
of last summer’s grasshopper devastation,
we have put out a natural substance
to do in the nymphs
we saw about three weeks ago.

Weary from all the extra physical exercise
that has been necessary
to keep up with the tasks
created by an early spring,
I have been falling into bed early
and had missed seeing the full moon.
Then, last night,
I was awakened around midnight
by birdsong.
Indeed,
in the light of the full moon,
observable now and then
as clouds floated by,
Mockingbird sang
a medley of melodies.