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by Laura Parker Roerden

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.

Photo by farm intern Anja Semanco, 2012.
Photo by farm intern Anja Semanco, 2012.

My nephew Ed Parker opens the upper pasture and the cows move north, too, like some oversized sundial stamping out time with hooves.

Photo by farm intern Anja Semanco, 2012.
Photo by farm intern Anja Semanco, 2012.

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.Mama Cow

5 thoughts to “Signs of Spring on the Farm

  • susan burpee

    Laura, that shot of the young fern fronds brings to mind a spring ritual on the farm where I grew up in Eastern Canada. Picking “fiddleheads” along the Saint John River when the spring flooding recedes. Baskets and baskets of them. Fresh steamed fiddleheads with butter and vinegar is still one of my favourite vegetables.
    Thanks for this post:)

    • Laura Parker Roerden

      How lovely and amazing that you could pick baskets of them. It makes me want to make a trip to the St. John River right now. I love them too. Delicious! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing that.

  • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons

    Lovely! I miss having chickens, they are so full of personality.

    • Laura Parker Roerden

      Ha ha. They really are, Liz. It’s like living in a children’s book sometimes. Thanks for commenting!

  • mcclure24@gmail.com

    Laura, your post is full of word jewels!

    It’s great to hear about and see early spring on your beautiful farm. I’m rooting for those baby chicks – and imagining their wacky antics right now. Please keep us posted on how they do!


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