There is not a day that goes by at the farm that I am not thinking about birds in some way, shape, or form. I guess some of it comes from the day-to-day responsibility of feeding and caring for the chickens. But there is more to it…..I think if I could be an animal I would want to be a hawk. I think some of it is that they are the typical symbol of freedom. Birds fly from place to place and get to see the world though a perspective way different from our own. They are beautiful, graceful creatures seemingly without a care in the world. The perfect example of this was last week when I witnessed about 6 small black birds bathing in a pool of water by the gate in the alley. It must have been in the 30’s and the pool was melted snow or ice and no doubt freezing. They just bathed enjoying the sun, water and company of other birds and then went on their way.
A couple months ago, a hawk made our field part of it’s hunting territory. I think it is safe to assume that it wanted the chickens. Early one Tuesday back in November I was getting water for the chickens from the green house when I came out to see the resident hawk perched on our chicken coop. Fortunately, the chickens were no worse for the wear after the exciting visit. A week or so later Kirsten and I saw our friend in the alley eating something. As we walked up it flew away with its prey and then we could see it was a pigeon. It made me think about the lack of pigeons in Harrisburg. Maybe we have a large enough hawk population to keep them in check. Sometimes, I still see the hawk in the tree like it is watching over the farm protecting it.
Besides the hawk’s presence, we have had another change regarding birds at the farm. Recently, I noticed just how quiet it is here. I realized that it is due to the lack of crowing from “Fuzz Bucket,” our resident rooster. A few weeks ago we decided that it was time that Fuzz Bucket stop terrorizing the neighbors with its early morning wake-up calls. Molly gave me a lesson on the finer points of killing, gutting and plucking poultry. I can tell you, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do. He didn’t peck, struggle or flap around. Molly did mention that it was the easiest bird that she has ever done. We ate him two days later at a community meal and he was delicious. I slow cooked him in a crock-pot with a bunch of herbs and veggies.
We are constantly moving the chickens from place to place for their own well-being. After Christmas, we decided it was time to move the chickens into the high tunnel for more protection during the colder months. To take up less space, we combined the younger chickens with the older ones. They are still in the process of establishing a new pecking order. But it seems that the Speckled Sussex is top hen. One of the white hens has had a rough time of it but things seem to be calming down. We will separate them if they can’t seem to get along. They are eating and drinking and laying eggs together even if they seem to have the territory divided between them. Their behavior in their new habitat is fascinating. I could watch them for hours, I think, and recently I have watched them more then usual. I convince myself that I am just making sure that they are getting along but I really just like watching them. I noticed today for the first time they have brilliant yellow eyes with a tinge of orange. They are quite beautiful and wonderful creatures. I am enjoying a slower work pace during the winter months but there is still much work to be done. The slower pace helps me to be present while being in awe of God’s wonderful creation.