"Why are you wearing a dress to do the chickens?" my fellow chicken co-op friend asked. "Because we only get about two weeks a year when it's warm enough to wear sun dresses," I responded, " and I'm grabbing any opportunity I can get." My friend nodded understanding. It's beautiful living by the Rocky Mountains yet hot summer weather is fleetingly short.
|The shine on my neck is "eau de mosquito repellent" -- essential to chicken farming as rubber boots.|
|One-day old chick.|
|10-day old chick.|
This year's baby chicks have arrived and with six other families, we are back to taking turns caring for our livestock. And visiting. After the chickens are feed and watered, we often sit on the porch to visit. Summer lends itself to visiting.
It's our third year raising chickens together and we've come to expect that we will lose a few of the flock. As much as we take the best care of them possible, occasionally we come to the coop and find one little chick has died. This year, I found the first one, its little body flattened by the other chicks heading to and from their feed dish. I pulled it out and placed it far from the coop on a fence post. A hawk or coyote will get a free meal. Then I got back to making sure the remaining ones had food. My daughter sought out where I'd put the dead chick to take a look -- but mostly, we dealt with this death matter-of-factly. Death can be a part of raising chickens, but the key is to give them all the best care possible. Last year at the end of the season, each family took home 11 good-sized chickens to their freezer that cost a total of $100 per family. They gave each family an abundance of good meals through the winter.
"Chicken" also sums up my lack of blogging. I realized recently that I have a long list of blog posts in progress and photos that have been edited. But not posted. And some of you may have been wondering what happened with the search for my Dad's birth Mom. Photos and stories I do have! Yet they are not posted. "Chicken," I am.
A story recounted by one of the characters in Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Last Crossing prods me to turn a new corner: "(Charles) Collins was an artist of care and patience. A great future was predicted for him. For years, he worked out of doors in all weathers to capture a quaint, tumble-down shed, holes gaping in its roof, planks missing from its walls, light streaming through the tottering wreck. But when Collins finally finished rendering the shed after much painstaking labour, he was at a loss as how to proceed. The shed was always intended to be a background but for what, he could not say. For the rest of his short life, he debated what he might place in the foreground and dismissed all ideas. An old shed was all he had, ever would have...'Collins died with the unfinished canvas lying on his bed." (p. 204 -- McClelland & Stewart, 2002).
A morbid story, yet there is truth in it. So I set aside fear and attempts at perfection to tell more stories. Some stories may deserve to die and be placed on the fence post for the hawk. But hopefully, most will be a flourishing flock.