Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring Rain

Two decades or more ago, I found a scented hand lotion that I loved. It was called "Spring Rain". I have long since given up scented hand lotions made of synthetic chemical formulations. Those nasty chemicals made me (and others) sick. That is another story.

I smile with amusement that a manufacturer of hand lotions and a consumer of hand lotions could be fooled into believing that the fragrance of Spring Rain could be synthetically formulated. The Spring Rains that surround us at this season are the real thing. They nourish the Earth and all beings, inside and out. No chemical formulation from the hand of man could ever approach that.

Many Humans have a tendency toward trying to replicate Nature with synthetic substitutes. Considering the Masterpiece we are trying to copy, we seem to be a bit arrogant or perhaps naive to even try. Our replications are woefully incomplete.

In the meantime, the Spring Rains here have produced a lush green which is indescribable. Nature is waking up.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Spring has definitely arrived. The temperature has moved up, although it will be in the 40's tonight. Nourishing Spring Rains are coming down. All of Life is awakening. On a moment to moment basis, one can almost see the Woods "color up" with Green. Nests are everywhere. Migrating Spring Songbirds are stopping over and singing their Songs in our Trees. With all the Rains, we will need to wait for some dry days to work in the Garden, but we have no complaints.

On this day, we choose to walk in the Woods. We have binocs and camera in hand. Our eyes and our hearts are open to the long awaited beauty of Spring.

The whole place is filled with the Magic of Color, Sound, Smell. The Air in the Woods after a Rain is like no other. Our lungs breathe deeply that breath that nourishes all our cells. Spring is an awakening for all of Life. That includes Humans too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 14

Richard and Melanie have been setting traps to catch the Mice that seem to be intent on sharing Lacey's Digs and Food. They seem to like her House and her Food. Melanie says they may even like Lacey too. Who wouldn't?

So far, the 2 Humans have caught 7 Mice: House Mice (5), Deer Mouse (1), Southern Bog Lemming (1). As creatures intent on a practice of non-violence, we Humans are not nuts about disposing of Mice in such a way. We just need to protect Lacey and those new little Peeps who are shortly to be on the scene. What do we do with them? Lacey's Sisters and Rooster (Freddie) seem to think of them as a grand treat.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 13

Today was a big day. We got Lacey off the nest as per usual. She was reluctant. She was all fluffed up. She was clucking all the way. It is not her plan to get off the nest. She just does it because the Humans think it is a good idea. Once outside the Brooder House, she ran stiff legged around in the grass. Her Sister Hennies and Rooster Freddie, who were 2 Chicken Yards over, were wondering what the doin's might be.

Today, her eggs are at Day 13. It was time to test them to see if they are fertile. Melanie carefully placed them one by one in water. If they float (and a bit off center), they are fertile and developing. All except one did exactly as we had hoped. The 9th egg, which is Amber's, was not quite where we had hoped. But Richard thinks it will catch up.

Richard says that by Day 19, the little Chicks inside will be peeping inside their cozy little eggs. That "peeping" serves the purpose of "synchronizing the hatch". They surely must be cheering each other on.

One of my favorite times in this whole episode is watching Lacey return to her house. I have been trying to get a picture of this, but it is next to impossible. She is really quick. I almost need an athletic function on my camera. Once inside, she settles down on the eggs and carefully puts them back into place.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 12

On Friday (April 24), Richard headed into Lacey's Place for the usual encouragement. It was time for the reluctant Broody Hennie to get out and get some exercise. Lacey detests those short excursions off the nest which the Humans think are so important. She is clearly miffed. She clucks and she clucks, running here and there. She waits for just that perfect moment when the Human gives her enough space to get back into the door of her house and onto her nest.

On this day, Richard got Lacey off her nest of 9 Eggs and placed her outside the Brooder House. One problem presented itself: He had forgotten to close the gate.

Lacey found the open gate. And she took off. She was intent on heading back to her nest as quick as her stiff little legs could carry her. This time, she forgot where her nest was and headed for the Hen House, which is her regular home.

Richard hollers for Melanie, who is hanging clothes on the line. Melanie quickly heads over. And in her calm way, she calls Lacey back home. Lacey heads "back home" and eagerly returns to her nest. She moves the eggs a bit as she adjusts her feathers over those 9 warm eggs. Within a few seconds, she is snuggled back into place.


Our amazing plans of Rabbit Proofing the Garden have been tested. The Humans came up a bit short, which is not what we intended.

Richard carefully put 2 substantial fences around the large Garden. That was a big project. Upon completion, we Humans smiled smugly at the lovely fence and the protection it would provide. "Perfect."

Richard and Melanie came in as I was preparing yet another Blog Entry. Due to the circumstances, I set the previous Entry aside.

It seems that Mother Rabbit had already fashioned a lovely nest in the Strawberry Bed. The Strawberry Bed is inside the large enclosure. Mother Rabbit has 5 tiny Babies. We can imagine that her assessment of her new home was similar to our description of the Fence around our garden. "Perfect."

Mourning Dove Egg Shell

April 23:

I found this little Egg Shell out in front of Lacey's Place (the Brooder House) earlier today. Our resident Ornithologist (Richard) said that it was a Mourning Dove Egg and the Chick was successful. He says you can tell by the pipping along the edge. I am intrigued to think that the Little One pipped its way out of the Shell from the inside out (which of course is the way it would be done).

Can you even imagine? Maybe the Little One was suggesting that this is going to be happening soon at Lacey's Place.

It is only April 23 and the Mourning Doves already have their 1st hatch off the Nest. It seems like they just arrived. Richard says Mourning Doves have an incubation period of 16 days. In these parts, they can pull off 4 clutches of young. The size of clutch is usually about 2 eggs. After hatch, Mama Mourning Dove takes the shells a sufficient distance away to hide the presence and scent of her young.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day. I commented to Matt that it makes little sense for Humans to celebrate and honor the Earth 1 day of the year. He laughed and said that Earth Day was invented by People in Town. Those of us in the Country know it and celebrate it every day.

Bigger than Myself

Yesterday Richard and I planted 24 Cabbages. Richard planted 24 more today. "They were my babies" as I had grown them from Seed.

Our Garden seems to have a late start this Spring due to the Rains. The ground has been wet. We are a little distracted waiting for those special moments when we can get the crops in.

I have lived in Town for 58 of my 60 years. The "Town Kid" in me just did things when I wanted. At least mostly anyway. As we have moved to the Country, we live more in Nature's Cycles. I like that. It makes me feel like I am a part of something way bigger than myself.

Nature Notes

We saw about 75 Broad Winged Hawks in migration today. In a very short period, they headed from South to North out of the Woods and over the House. We were enchanted. They just kept coming.

The Sky in the West turned dark and it began to rain. I have known that Rains bring the Migrating Birds down from the Sky, but I had never seen it. We watched those glorious Broad Winged Hawks do just that. They settled in the Trees. We were filled with awe.

Is not "awe" the natural state in which we Humans are supposed to be?


April 19:

Melanie did a walkabout today with her camera. She took these beautiful pictures of Mayapple foliage from the underneath side of the leaves looking up. Her question was: "Is this what Fairies see?"


Death is part of Life.
It may well be that last Frontier
which we have avoided
but now must be found and embraced.
Embracing Death
enriches Life in every Breath.


As we began our experience at the Farm 2 years ago, we were challenged to put "pen to paper" to define who and what we are. The actual "pen to paper" did not happen immediately. But it is happening over time.

At this moment, I am challenged to think about our "material possessions". What do we choose to have and why? The stuff we have now (and the way we view it) is considerably different than where we were before. This is not a statement about how others should live, but rather a definition of the principles in which we believe and the foundation upon which we build our lives.
  • All material goods are gifts from the Earth. Our Earth is stretched to the max with our society's material desires.
  • Less is more.
  • Things are just things. They are no substitute for living.
  • We try to practice non-attachment toward our material possessions. When we have the greatest attachment toward a given possession, it may be time to give it up.
  • Considering "function" is paramount. Stuff should be useful.
  • When purchasing material goods, we try to purchase the highest quality possible. That is not easy in a day and age where we seem to be manufacturing trash.
  • We take care of what we have so that it will last a long time.
  • We have a lot of art and a good percentage of it is something we have made or others have made for us. Such pieces are a part of the spiritual foundation of who we are and a recognition of the stage of the path of our journey.
  • We love our books. Books are about learning and growing, which is what we came here to do.
  • We do not acquire "new" just to have "new".
  • We have no clue as to what is "in style" and we are perfectly content about that. If we have what we like, it is in style. Our style. How dare someone in some remote spot who knows nothing of me and my family suggest what we should have!
  • We try to consider the consequences of our purchases upon the Earth and all Beings who may have had a hand in its production. In no way do we want to put negative energy into the World. There is way too much of that already. Our actions should suggest that "we care".
  • We do not buy from countries with known violations of Human Rights and Environmental Degradation. We try not to buy goods from China.
  • We purchase at Thrift Stores. While I used to have considerable disdain for "used", I now am intrigued by it.
  • We prefer handmade, handcrafted.
  • We prefer "old".
  • We surround ourselves with objects that hold family history and story. I love the thought of an ancestor holding and enjoying an object that now is carefully held by my family and me.
  • When an object no longer has use for our family, we pass it on to someone who could use it.
  • On occasion, someone has indicated a special like for something I have. While this has not happened often, I have given it to them.
  • When we moved here 2 years ago, we took almost a year prior to the move to go through all of our things one by one, deciding to keep them or passing them on. Everything. We did not put a dumpster out in front of our house. We had almost no trash from our move. Landfills are full anyway.
  • I love "living things". You will see plants when you come to our home.
  • We try to consider these principles in the giving of gifts. Gifts in our culture have often become obligatory. In no way do we intend to be involved in the cycle of obligatory gift giving.
  • Getting gifts that do not mean these criteria has often created a place of great tension. We try to accept that gift in the spirit that it was intended. That is especially true for gifts from Mother.
  • We try to give cards and gifts that are handmade.
  • We are not perfect at any of this, nor will we ever be.


Rosemary and Earl Binkley passed through on their way from Florida to Minnesota a few weeks back. It is so wonderful to spend time and space with fellow journeyers who are seeking to find their place in these interesting times.

Rosemary wrote upon their return. She shared a quote from a book she had just finished: To Each His Home:

"Rather than use their homes as a place to display their material possesions (and by extension, their 'good taste', status, wealth), they see them as places to display aspects of their character, their personal history, and even their ideals."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 11

While Lacey was on her periodic "forced" run outside the Brooder House, Melanie checked the Eggs. All were warm. None had cracks. Some Eggs seemed like they were getting a little "heavier". What's going on inside?

The "bloom" on the Egg is the transparent outer coating, often not visible to the Human Eye. Since Lacey has had a lot of "skin to Egg contact", she seems to be wearing away the bloom. Her Eggs look a bit different than Eggs that have just been gathered. The Humans are deliberating on just how to describe that. Nothing yet comes to mind.

Richard has suggested that at some point soon, we should float the Eggs in water. This will show which Eggs are developing. We will remove Eggs that are infertile. We will be writing more on this one later. Melanie says please don't try this at home, for the safety of all the little Chicks.

Melanie has noted Mouse Sign in the Brooder House. (Although we profess to be non-violent, we may be trying to float him too.) The little guy has chewed a hole in the door. To our dismay, Mouse Droppings are around the perimeter of the inside of the house. And it stinks, in more ways that one.

Imagine that: Lacey, the Broody Hennie, is not likely to leave her clutch for any reason, day or night. Sometime during the night, she is greeted by a Mouse who is delighted to share in the food left for Lacey. We can just imagine the conversation that might ensue. Melanie has noted that Lacey has seemed a bit stressed during the day. This evening, Melanie and Richard have left some traps to try to catch the little critter.

Lacey is on Day 9, with 12-14 days to go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


These last 2 days, we have had considerable Wind accompanied by Cold Temperatures. Don't put away that cooler weather gear. Spring and Winter must be doing their dance, but Spring clearly has the greater hold. We Humans just must be patient.

Freddie, the Rooster, has gorgeous billowy feathers, of which surely he is quite proud. When he gets caught crosswise in the Wind, he is quite a sight. With feathers flying, he gets blown off target of his path. That must be quite a frustration. During times of high winds, Freddie wants to hunker down and nestle in protected places. His Hennies and his Human Friends would agree.

The Wind seems to be drying out the Garden, which is helpful because it has been quite wet. When the Wind settles, we Humans will begin planting in high gear.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 10

On Friday (April 17), Melanie cracked open the eggs Lacey had sat on before we were ready to give her the Eggs that we hoped that she would hatch. These eggs were used to encourage her broodiness. Now it was time to dispose of them.

About half appeared to be fertile. We were very sad to see the little Embryos were already developing. Yet, it was surely a glimpse of wonder, awe, and humility for us to witness the beginnings of life. Only this time, life was not meant to be.

We were excited that an unknown fact is now known: Freddie the Rooster is fertile. We won't go anywhere in our "Hen to Set Saga"without a fertile Rooster. Next year, we will get the designated Hennie to set on Wooden Eggs for the start. Those should be available at a craft or hobby store.

In the meantime, Lacey is on Day 6 of her 21-23 day project. I wonder when she will know there is life inside. Maybe she knows already.

The Land of New

Spring's Magic awakens the Land and All Beings
from Winter's Stillness.
Every day, every moment presents
New Life springing in varied forms.
After a heavy Dew, new Spider Webs gleam
like small fresh Hammocks in Morning Sun.
Carpets of Violets smile underfoot.
Where were they yesterday?
Trees suggest Leaves and Flowers to come.
Seedlings we have planted indoors spend more time outside.
They take on a vigor elusive to Life inside.
Max and the Humans prepare for new adventures.
Birds are paired and on territory.
They sing those vibrant songs
and share their showy Spring Finery.
We cannot even know all the Nests about
because they are carefully hidden.
Pools of water appear offering mirrors.
Pine Cones cleverly come from some magical place in Pines.
Mayapples launch umbrellas
of suitable size for Fairies.
Even Dandelions are new.
I picked one for Mother,
just as I had done years before.
Holes appear.
Everyone seems to be Home Making.
Green arises everywhere.
It's small now.
But just wait.
Rolf brings Aged Cow Manure.
Yes, it's 4 years old
but just think of all those vibrant New Things
smaller than the eye can see teaming within.
Our Soil and Gardens are going to love it,
even more than the Humans do.
Richard has put up a fence around the Garden
which will keep the Chickens out.
When the Ground dries a bit,
we will be planting in full swing.

Nature Notes

We noted that Max, the Cat, had 2 Ticks today. Those are the 1st ticks we have noted this growing season. Last year, Richard noted a tick on Ladd April 21. While Ticks surely must have their place in the natural order, they are not our favorites. It must be time for us to get vigilant on these things.

Gift of Plants

April 11:

This African Violet was given to me several months ago by my sister-in-law Deleta. I just love plants as gifts. Giving them and receiving them is a special sort of sweetness, assuming the giver and the givee have room, of course. Giving plants is a gift of "life". I thoroughly enjoy those plants which were traditional to previous generations and/or have long histories in families. All those blooms just make me smile. Thanks, Deleta.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 9

Lacey's clutch went down from 11 to 9 today. She had removed enough straw from the bottom of the nest so that her Eggs were on the hard plastic of the nest box (Pet Taxi). Two of the Eggs became cracked, presumably as she moved them around. Melanie wonders if she had too many Eggs underneath.

We surely are not in charge here. We just wait and watch.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 8

We continue to watch the process of a Hen Setting. Lacey is on Day 3 with 18 to go, assuming all goes well.

We have been engaging in many conversations, here on the Farm and with others who have embarked on similar adventures. In talking with Ilse on Tuesday, we learned that she and Rolf have had difficulties getting a Hen to Set. They also have tried to set Buff Orpingtons. That's what Lacey is. Buffs are an old Breed advertised to be "Good Mothers". Ilse says all seems to go well for that 1st few days, and then the Hennie leaves the clutch behind. Their speculation is that these Birds are incubator Birds and have not had the experience of Setting and Rearing Young. Now that is a "fine How-Do-You do", as the Old Timers would say.

Richard, our resident Ornithologist, suspects that the Hennie may leave the clutch because she is not sufficiently fed. Their behavior on the nest is intense. Sometimes they neglect food and water. They have even been known to starve. Ideally, they will leave the nest about 2 times a day for food, water, and pooping. We are making sure that Lacey has access to food and that she leaves the nest 2 times during the day. Her appetite is voracious. She feeds almost in a frenzy. And her poops are huge, way bigger than the normal size. Then, in a flash, she is right back on the nest.

The picture above shows Lacey off the nest. Melanie had pushed her off the nest. She ran around the House, all cranky and all fluffed. That's common behavior for Broody Hennies. Once back on the nest, she rearranged herself over the Eggs and added more straw.
In case you wondered what Lacey sees, the following photo gives you are pretty good idea. We Humans are pretty excited about this adventure. And we are trying not to make nuisances of ourselves. It's hard.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


As we embark on our adventure to get a Hennie to set,
as we begin another Gardening Season,
I am left to ponder.
We know so little about these things.
Sure, we read books.
Sure, we talk to folks.
Sure, we have pieces to the puzzle.
But rather, we are clueless
as to how to put these things together
to make Baby Chickens,
to make Garden Plants from Humble Little Seeds.
We can't make Seeds.
We can't make Baby Chickens.
When the rubber meets the road,
we Humans know little of the Creation of Life.
We are helpless in the Creation of Life.
That simple act,
that profound spark,
is an act of the Divine.
We 2 Leggeds just bumble around,
thinking we are so smart.
We aren't.
Somebody must be
getting a chuckle out of watching us all puffed up and big,
watching us trip all around.
Glinda Crawford, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 7

Our broody Hennie Lacey is now in the Pet Taxi in the Brooder House. Should we call it Lacey's Place? She is intent. She is on a mission.

Lacey is on the nest almost 24/7 and she is pretty cranky with anyone who might think that she should move. She gets off very briefly periodically to get water, food, and to poop. She is clearly ravenous and eats very quickly. Then she is right back on the nest again.

The book says Hennies generally come off the nest by themselves. But, it is not uncommon for some Hennies who do not come off the nest to actually starve. That is not our plan. Human Companions need to watch this carefully and push them off the nest if they are not observed to do this on their own. Needless to say, we have been watching Lacey and we are grateful that she seems to know just what to do.

Melanie noted that 12 eggs seems a bit much for Lacey, so we went with 11 eggs. Melanie laughed and asked us if we remember those pictures of the ladies with the very large skirts. When they sit down, they take care to make sure that back and front are carefully covered. That's exactly what Lacey does. She fluffs all up, sits down to cover the eggs in the front and then in the back.

Melanie placed the 11 assumed to be fertile eggs in the nest this morning. The book says that hatching can take 21 to 23 days. That means that they should hatch about May 5 to 7, right on target with the Moon Sign. (We will be getting 5 Baby Black Australorp Chicks from Cackle Hatchery about May 5. We hope to put them under Lacey. That's another story.)

Are we Human Companions pretty anxious and vigilant about these things? I can see the Brooder House as I type away at these keys.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Same Place

April 10:

As I travel to and from the Nursing Home to visit Mother, I try to be open for the teachings. And those teachings abound. Once upon a time, I thought I knew a lot. But rather at this season of my life, I am only just beginning to learn. These days, I do not want to miss a thing.

On this day, I backed Mother in her wheel chair into the elevator. That way, she views out into the hall, as all people are supposed to do. I try never to push her into the elevator with only a view of the back wall. That's what you would do to freight. It doesn't quite fit for a precious human load.

An elderly man in a wheelchair peered inside the elevator and asked if there was room for him too. To which I replied: "Of course." That quick ride between 2 floors on a fairly speedy elevator permitted a teaching that resonated into the world beyond.

But first, a little background: I am intrigued with those disconnections that we/I place upon people in Nursing Homes. I wonder who they are. I wonder what stories are woven into the delicate yet robust patterns of their lived experience. I wonder if the lights are on and somebody is still at home in those ageing bodies. I usually speak, because I am intrigued. I try to engage. Some are startled. There seems an unspoken rule of not speaking to people who appear infirm in a physical sense in Nursing Homes. I intend to break that rule as many times as I can.

So I ask this elderly man: "What is your name?" He replies a name I had not heard since my childhood, some 50 years ago. Come to find out, his son and I were Kindergarten classmates. I remember the elderly man's name as a fairly prominent and upstanding name in the community. I can retrieve no details and the details are not important.

What occurred to me through this brief interaction between 2 floors is that we are all going to the same place. (I could begin each of the following: "If we are lucky.") We are born. We grow up. Sometimes we marry. Many of us have families. Those children are raised and they go about their own lives. Many of them choose to have their own families. We age. Our bodies lose the robustness of our youths. We become physically frail. Those bodies are not needed any longer for our earthly journeys. Of course, we have our ways of viewing and making meaning of these things. But, yes, indeed, we are all going to the same place.

I saw this little teaching in that outer world too. We build houses, sometimes of grand scale. We build walls tall and stout to protect us from the vulnerabilities in that outer world and from our own frailties. We surely would not even want to be vulnerable in any way in this society. Yet regardless of the dimensions of one's home and material possessions, the above facts stay the same. We are all going to the same place.

You could call it a great equalizer. Oh, yes, we could choose to run from that equalizer. We could also sit quietly and humbly in its presence. I sit in awe at the beauty of these things.

Another Day on the Farm

April 9:

Richard and Melanie have gone with Richard's brother Hollis to an Amish family's auction up in the Downing area today. Downing is a small town about an hour north of here. I just love to say that: "up in the Downing area". I can imagine that others at the auction might say they have gone "down in the Downing area" or "over in the Downing area". Words are such fun to play with.

In the meantime, the Hennies are wondering where Melanie and Richard are. I am definitely 3rd string in Chicken caretaking. I fed them a special treat of leftover cold cooked breakfast cereal, which they love. That got them excited and they thought I was really cool. So far, they are content in their coop. I shall let them out this afternoon.

In this picture, you see 2 Hennies on the left. They are part of the 9 Hennies and the 1 Rooster who are in a separate pen where we Humans who are newbies at these things are trying to get a Hennie "to set".

Now that next installment of this story ("Hen to Set" Saga: 3) will take a bit of time and all of us to get the words down. It has been quite a tale. I can imagine the Hennies and the Rooster are writing their own version. I just wish I had the address of their Blog.
This was just another day on the Farm. We learn and we grow. We extend into dimensions we never thought we would. We reach out into the community. Life is good.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 6

We have had a bit of a mis-start. Melanie thought today was the date to "set a Hen" according to Moon Sign. So she tucked the assumed to be fertile eggs underneath Lacey in the Brooder House. After double-checking the calendar, she discovered the date was April 14, not April 12. So she removed the eggs, replacing them with the eggs which we are less certain about fertility. Our apologies, Lacey!

Today was Easter Sunday. After all those years of loving those yellow marshmallow chicks in my Easter basket, I had no idea that some day I would be involved in an initiative intending to produce baby Peeps. Marshmallow chicks were easier to manage. These real ones present a real learning curve.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Hen to Set" Saga: 5

Over the last few days, Melanie and Richard have gotten the Brooder House ready for Lacey. Several days ago, Melanie took down the brushy stuff. A Mouse had a nest over the door of the Brooder House which we discovered when Richard shop vac-ed the nest and the mouse. Thunk, thunk, thunk. Oops! As a result, they have set some Mouse Traps.

Today, they mowed the grass in the coop yard. Melanie also sowed Clover Seeds which will be fine food for the Chicken Family which will reside there. Melanie put the waterer and food dish in the Brooder House. They put down fresh hay. They still need to build the porch. The place is pretty cushy, at least from the vantage point of the Humans, who are clearly novices at these things.
About dusk, Richard created a distraction by throwing Sunflower Seeds to Freddie and the Hennies. Then, Melanie carefully moved Lacey in the Pet Carrier to the Brooder House. The Pet Carrier will be her nest box for this upcoming production. Lacey has stowed underneath 10 presumed to be infertile eggs.
According to the Moon Sign, tomorrow is the optimal day to set a Hennie. Richard and Melanie will continue to collect and monitor eggs on Easter Sunday. As the day goes on, the infertile eggs underneath Lacey will be replaced with those that seem to have a higher likelihood of being fertile. The hatch date correlates with the date we will receive the Chicks from the Hatchery. We hope to place those newly arrived Chicks under Lacey and we hope that she will not reject them. Stay tuned.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 4

So we went back to the drawing board.

Melanie moved over 3 Hennies from the Class of 2008. So we had 9 Hennies total with Freddie the Rooster. That 2nd group was more submissive and was expected to be less likely to reject Freddie's advances.

As a possible back-up, Melanie also called the Hatchery to see if we could add on 5 Buff Orpington Chicks. The following conversation ensued: Hatchery Employee: "Ma'am, we don't allow add-ons. This is our busy time of the year." Persistent and slightly begging Melanie: "Not just 5 little chicks?" Hatchery Employee: "Ma'am, we don't allow add-ons." So the pressure was back on Freddie the Rooster and the Hennies in coop.

In the meantime, the Humans kept a watchful eye on the coop. Melanie marked the Eggs produced prior to the addition of the 3 Hennies. All eggs produced prior to this "marker time" are assumed to be infertile. From this time forward, she wanted to keep an eye on what eggs were coming and who had produced them. To our delight, we have more eggs. But we do need to know which ones have the greatest likelihood of being fertile. So, Melanie and Richard have been keeping track of the eggs, who laid them and what date they were laid.

To our delight, Freddie has been meeting with the favor of some of the Hennies. We tried not to follow this too closely, but these doin's are important for our objective: which is having baby chicks in a few weeks.

"Hen to Set" Saga: 3

One unforeseen (and more than slightly important) problem quickly became apparent. From the start, the 6 Hennies had a definite sense of who they were and what they didn't want. They looked at Freddie as if he was some sort of kid brother. We surely must have picked the Hennies that had previously been known to reject his amorous advances. Poor Freddie was displaying to Hennies outside the coop.
Some speculation about Freddie's socialization became evident. We wonder if he is more of a People Rooster. From the beginning, he was coddled by his Human Companions, which probably was not the best of ideas. While not all the time, he seems to want to be babied especially by Melanie. Other times, he is attacking her feet. They have been known to do an interesting dance in the Chicken Yard.
Add to all of this the fact that poor Freddie is the sole Rooster among 34 Hennies. The suggested ratio for his breed is 8-12 Hennies per Rooster. The poor guy may have been a bit overwhelmed. (Please note that the Humans are telling this story. The Hennies and their Rooster would surely have their own version.)

Our greatest success in this moment has been that Lacey is broody for sure and she is making that fact known to all. She has made known that fact especially to Freddie, whom she will not let him get close.
Initially, we were also stumped by the fact that the Hennies seemed not to be laying eggs in the number expected. Possible reasons were explored: They were likely stressed with their new living situation. Plus, they are 2nd year layers and their production would be presumed to begin to drop off. A closer examination of the situation showed that the eggs were under the Broody Hen, Lacey. How did she do that?

We Humans are learning a lot. To date, our questions seem to outnumber our answers.