Saturday, May 24, 2014

between species

What a day! Martha the groundhog glared at me for a good ten minutes, Isis rekindled his predator skills by bringing a chipmunk into the farmhouse, and Oreo decided that young boys are a real threat to his three hens and so he asserted himself by flapping his wings wildly and jumping up and down on one foot, and basically scaring the daylights out of two kids.

So what was your Saturday like?

And the dawn was so ordinary. Or, ordinarily beautiful!


Ed and I both were there to greet the day. And to greet the chickens.


And we had a quiet breakfast, on the porch.


Again, not to drive you nuts with repetitions, but it really was a beautiful day.

Perhaps this is what gave us the will and the energy to work on the overgrown land by the sheep shed. We'd dug up the shrubs and saplings yesterday. Today, we return to pull up all the weeds and, more importantly, the fabric underneath a layer of soil -- put there a long time ago, to limit the spread of invasives (it didn't have the desired effect). Once a messy jungle, now an open universe, waiting for a  plant or two.


This is when we go inside to rest. But before we catch a single extra minute of sleep, we spot Isis, bringing to us his gift of a chipmunk.


I haven't a clue as to what should happen to the chipmunk now. Ed tells me he may only be playing dead. He picks it up and places is it in the rosebushes outside. Isis acts like it was all in the catch. The release is of no interest  to him.

This was only the beginning of   exceptionally interesting times.

There is the mater of Martha the groundhog. She has delivered babies and occasionally, you may view  them  playing just by the wood pile. But Martha herself is extremely camera shy. Once she catches you sneaking up on her, she runs and hides. Here she is, waiting for me to go away.


And here she is, tired of waiting, but holding her own. To the left? The chipmunk, carrying his own wee guys away from this suddenly very crowded place.


I wanted to say -- that's what you get for chomping away at my flowers, but I let it go. The chipmunk family was having a rough day without the added burden of my reprimands.

Meanwhile, my friend comes with her husband and three sons to pick off some raspberry canes. (Does anyone else want some? Special price for Ocean readers: a penny a piece!)

It's important to note that the boys' ages are very young,  somewhat young and  nearly done with grade school young. At first, the chickens are merely puzzled. There are suddenly more people fussing over them than ever before. But it doesn't take long for Oreo to realize that the visitors could well be predators, looking to make a meal out of his hens. Well now, time to act! He knows better than to show off in front of the nearly done with grade school older boy. But he is adamant about protecting his chicks from the curious interest of the littlest fellows.

It was quite a show. Both the rooster and the littlest fellows will remain traumatized for a long time. I'm sure of it.

In the evening, Ed and I build little cages around the emerging beans.


And I water the veggie patch and some of the newly planted perennials. In standing there with the hose, I smile at the recollection of the innocent message that children's literature often puts forth -- the one about the harmony that exists in the animal kingdom, where beasts, birds and butterflies coexist in the most friendly fashion. Fostering chickens shatters that myth. There are animals out there, ready to pounce on the chickens, at the same time that the birds and little creatures fly or run at the sight of  the chicks, for good reason. Each animal is both a hunter and hunted by others. Harmony my foot. It's a dangerous world out there!

Ridding myself of animal thoughts, I make a spring soup for supper that is purely vegetarian: onion, potato, kohlrabi, spinach. Oh, oops! It has a chicken broth base.

Like I said, it's rough to be an animal on the smaller end of things. Ask the chipmunk that Isis brought in. Or the little fellows who wanted to run around and play with the chickens today.