It’s that time again, when the hens become broody and build hidden nests that make morning egg collection a treasure hunt rivaling the White House Easter Egg Roll.
Last spring we found this nest in our calf barn.
Naturally, we left the eggs so that the mother hen could tend to them; though they did not hatch. Nature can be like that, life pressing forward always under the thumb of death, like some mad tiddlywinks game that makes progress in fits and starts.
We take our annual trip to the feed store to “pick up chicks.” This year, we went to Tractor Supply, where the chicks are kept in galvanized steel tubs that call to mind wholesome images of hand-washed clothes hanging on a line.
In no time my youngest son and I had thirty Rhode Island Red chicks settled into brooders in the barn, the chicks lounging under heat lamps like beach goers splayed on warm beach sand. In the morning, chores sound like a busy restaurant, with the clanging of scoops and grains meeting accents of chaos and urgency. Listen here.
At night peepers and chicks compete for the soundscape as the sun sets over the upper pasture, having slid north so slowly over the winter days that I am shocked to notice it no longer sets over the lower pasture.
My nephew Ed Parker opens the upper pasture and the cows move north, too, like some oversized sundial stamping out time with hooves.
Rain from the west crawls along the river valley and comes up our hill as if a legend, depositing rainbows in the eastern sky and worn clay riverlets along our road.
Swollen mud waters the fiddleheads and bluets, which will soon press forward from spongy ground.
Everywhere, life is hungrily feeding or being fed.
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