Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chickens in the rain, February

This is a day thick with fog from a night filled with rain that started around midnight and continues into this morning. Woods only partially visible obscured with an impressionist mist that softens and mutes everything within sight as I look out of my studio window. The chickens, when I let them out earlier this morning raced out into the fog like escaping penitentiary prisoners making a break for freedom from the restrictive confinement of their smaller run and coup to the larger fenced confinement of the vegetable garden. Their freckled bodies were visible for only the briefest time as they scampered towards the blueberry bushes and the relative concealment of the espaliered fruit trees at the far end of the garden. They have such distinct personalities one can't help but find them fascinating. Watching them you can see their dinosaur ancestry and the reptilian influence through their actions and movements. The way they move their heads around in such animated jerks demonstrates the relationship to their long extinct progenitors. It's like having diminutive raptors scouring the garden for insects and edible green things. The four of them Jeanette, Brunise, Annice and Pauline have totally turned the garden upside down in the few short weeks since I have given them the relative freedom of free range chickens. Nothing is where it was before their foraging activities began. There is no way they can be unfettered at night as the fox, raccoons, opossums, bob cats, coyotes and other predators would render them extinct in no time at all. Each night after they have given up on the daylight and meandered back into their pen, I have to go down close and lock their coup door. This is for their safety even though some times the hungry predators dig their way into the fenced area and oddly take the head and necks from the defenseless chickens as they sleep on their perches. This is nature as surely as the African lion taking down the zebra on the Savannahs of Kenya. Well, maybe not so dramatic, noisy or time consuming but equally disastrous for the chickens.

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