As I sit here this morning in the pre-dawn light, watching as the approaching day greets me the same way it does each and every morning. It is so peaceful at this time, with a breeze coming through the screened door of the dogs exercise yard, which keeps the bugs at bay, (at least those bugs hearty enough to fly and wear a coat in the morning chill) yet it still allows me to catch a whiff of that elusive honeysuckle, or whatever it is that has been permeating my sense of smell each and every morning for the last two weeks. The sounds of life are emerging, as surely as those increasing sounds of the hatching chicks beginning their lives in the incubator in spring. One little, but constant chirp, turns into a chorus of many excited, hungry chirps as time marches on. So does the dawn of each day...beginning with a cock’s crow...and a birds chirping song, soon including others of it’s kind....to the added sounds of dogs barking, crows cawing and chickens hurriedly performing the days work of eating, squawking and egg laying. It’s funny how the hen sits so quietly as others around her squawk and putt...but as soon as she lays her egg, she exits the nest and does her “bock, bock, bock, baaa-calk” announcement.....sounding like, “Look, look, look, An Egg!” They stand and announce for several minutes....repeating this call....before moving on to leave the egg fend for itself...all alone. They never protect their eggs or build a clutch until they go broody, which is nature’s way of keeping her on the nest to hatch a brood of chicks. She will leave for a very short period of time to eat and drink...at which time another hen may deposit an egg into her started clutch, which she will then reclaim upon returning...to guard and build the number of eggs. This continues daily until she feels a sufficient amount of eggs exist to start perking the brood. When this starts she will be glued to the nest indefinitely for the next 21 days, seldom leaving to eat or drink.....and if so, for only a minute and then is right back on the nest until they hatch. We have only achieved a hatch under a hen once, to find the chicks killed the next day, so now we hatch solely in the incubator, kept in the brooding house. When they hatch, they go under a heat lamp on a brooding shelf until they are old enough to mix with the rest of our 250 chickens.
We’ve had two separate clutches of Guinea Fowl hatched by parent birds, only to lose the entire clutch to rain or chill a few days later. In the future, if a hen brings a clutch into the yard, we will scoop them into our net and put them into the brooding house too. We did have a female Rouen duck that was very, VERY intent on hatching a clutch of ducklings....so intent; in fact, that she sat 28 days to find none of her eggs hatched...So we snuck the eggs out and replaced them with six more duck eggs, which she sat upon for another 28 days to no avail. I then pulled the six out and placed about a dozen or more under her and at exactly 28 days....the day of the hurricane, she hatched six little guys and took excellent care of them.
She did, however lose one to predation of some kind, be it snapping turtle, fox or hawk...but the remaining five are alive and well, beautifying the farm, as they go about their everyday life....just being a duck!
Anyway....by now the sun has pulled itself from below the horizon, scaled the trees and is climbing into the sky. Unfortunately, the clouds from an approaching rain is gliding across the sky, toward the sun like a blanket being pulled up around a childs neck, soon to obliterate the sun's warming glow. I feel the chill of the approaching rain in the air, causing the trees sway and sing in the breeze, it's leaves performing their dance with some being eliminated from the competition.... leaving the dance limb, to drop down and take a seat on the forest floor, watching the remaining contestants in the fall dance extravaganza.
Soon the rain will begin, casting an uncomfortable wet feel as the world becomes soaked. This will cause many of the beautifully painted leaves to give up their display location, swaying and waving like hands in a parade...ending up with those others on the forest floor to begin their next purpose in life...creating that life giving loom to the earth, which will help guarantee a healthy tree to supply leaves again in the spring.
To everything there is a season.....a reason and a purpose.....as it is for us also
043292Cluckin' "A" Critter Farm, LLC