Like Mother, Like Daughter


This is a first here. A few days after Buttercup’s chicks hatched, her daughter, which she raised last year, hatched a clutch of eggs too. How often does this happen, where a mother hen and her daughter hatch eggs on nearly the same day?


The Adventure Begins


The adventure begins. Buttercup has her chicks outside teaching them how to dig for earthworms and where to find good things to eat. She‘s also teaching them with her clucks and her calls when danger is nearby, which hens are friendly, and which hens and roosters to avoid. A little chick has so much to learn.


See how attentive she is? A mother hen cares for her chicks as much as a human mother cares for her child.


After a morning full of adventure, it’s time for a warm rest. The chicks find a perfect resting spot under Buttercup. This is what a hen looks like when she is giving her brood a well deserved nap.


Winter is a Distant Memory


Winter is now a distant memory. Spring has fully taken root, filling the air with the scent of flowers. After heavy rains during the night, the sky is so blue, it takes your breath away. Clean air is not a luxury. It is a necessity for happiness.

Walkways and roads lined with flowering cherries can be found all over Japan. The longest is more than 12 miles long and lined with 6,500 cherry trees. I have fond memories of biking in the countryside in the spring and seeing rows of mountain cherries in full bloom, looking like low hanging clouds against the dark evergreens.


Even the chickens enjoy a stroll under the cherry blossoms. King Richard is out with some of the hens, looking up at the cherry blossoms and wondering when their blossoms will flutter down so they can snack on them.


The five great cherry trees of Japan

In Her Face


This is how little chicks spend much of their time, huddled around their mother’s face. When they’re not staring into her eyes to see what she’s doing, they’re usually resting underneath her, bundled safe and sound, listening to her beating heart. It’s an infinitesimal number of an infinitesimal number of chicks who are lucky enough to have a mother. Even while they are in their eggs, the chicks at some point must feel and hear their mother’s heartbeat. Being able to take naps and sleep listening to the sound of their mother’s heart must be soothing.


The First Trillium


This calls for a celebration. I found the first trillium in bloom in the woods. The rest are just poking out of the forest floor, but this one is already in full bloom. This one is so far off the beaten path, that I may be the only human who ever sees it. Still, most flowers in this world are never seen by any human. They don’t bloom for us. They bloom for themselves. Be grateful for every flower you get to see.


Off the Beaten Path


It’s tulip time in the valley. On weekends the traffic jams of tourists eager to see the tulip fields choke the towns and stretch for miles through the tulip fields. Off the beaten path are tulip and daffodil fields where the tourists don’t go. You can stop and enjoy the flowers all by yourself. There are no parking lots with tourist busses, no one to tell you to move along, no chatter, just the sound of the occasional car and the wind stirring the tulip blossoms.

Don’t aske me where. If I tell you, they’ll no longer be off the beaten path.


Spring Has Hatched


Spring has officially hatched. Around here, spring hatches as much as it springs. Buttercup and her new chicks are in their nursery barn. In a few days she will have them out exploring the world.

This morning when I first went outside, the songbirds were singing from every tree and bush. The names we use for the four seasons don’t adequately describe what is happening. And there are more than four seasons, with some overlapping each other. A better word than “spring” for this area would be “bird song” or maybe “nature singing”. In the morning and evening, the singing of the thrushes, robins, warblers, redwing blackbirds, tits, and other birds is non stop. Once the sun sets, the frogs continue the chorus into the wee hours until the birds pick it up again. Maybe downtown, it’s “honking time” year round, but around here there is nothing but the peace of nature singing. It’s loud, but not noisy. Just a happy, peaceful sound.

The greatest gift we have is this magical earth and it’s abundant life. Why are we so intent on paving and developing it out of existence?


Out of the Garden Today – March 25, 2015


A bowl of fresh greens is a sure sign of spring. Food never tastes as good as when it comes fresh out of the garden while you are cooking. By the end of April, the garden will be overflowing with greens. With most people living in vast urban settings, it’s only a lucky few who get to eat fresh produce. If it’s more than a day old, it’s not really fresh.

I Only Have Eyes for You


“I only have eyes for you,” or are the hens saying, “I’m watching you!” Niji-himi 虹姫 is downright hawkish if you get too close to her nest. I wouldn’t put it past her to aim her beak right at my eye if I venture too close. Sunshine, below, is more mellow, as are Tangerine and Ungetsu-hime 雲月姫. When you study their faces, you see how different they all are. The shape and shade of their combs, their eyes, their beaks, their wattles, the color and pattern of their feathers. Their personalities are just as varied as their looks.


The Forest Floor Awakens – Liberate Yourself


The trilliums, spring beauties, and bleeding hearts are awake and pushing through the fallen leaves. Soon the forest floor will be a carpet of green with pink and white flowers. Can you imagine that almost no chicken ever gets to wriggle her toes in such lush undergrowth? And yet they are birds descended from jungle fowl. With such ancestry, every chicken deserves to spend time every day feeling the lush forest floor between her toes.


So do humans, when you think about it. We’re descended from forest dwellers too. So why are so many of us walking on concrete all the time? Our feet are made to move over thick carpets of moss and fallen leaves and wet tickling grasses. Feel the dew drops kiss your toes. Reclaim your heritage. Venerate our ancestors of a million years ago. Feel the grass between your toes. Liberate yourself from concrete.