It’s a party! This is what happens when you accidentally fill a watering can with whiskey. You attract a crowd in a hurry. Never fear. It’s just water in the can. The chickens are all gathered for the sun. It’s not always clear if King Richard is attracting all the hens, or if the hens are seducing him. Chicken love gets complicated. Polygamy gone wild. A try anyone society swaying from one party to the next all day long. If you are a chicken, every day is New Years Eve, every Tuesday is Mardi Gras.
On a cold, icy day, a sunny spot is a good place for chickens to warm their feathers. It’s up to the humans, bundled in layers of warm clothes, to go search for ice art in the woods. So many art treasures to see before they are gone in tomorrow’s sunshine.
“Eat this, not that.” You can see it in Nina’s eyes. “Which one did Mom say we could eat?” the chicks seem to ask each other. “What about that one?” Chicks have as many questions as children. Just like a child will ask their parent a million times, “Why is the sky blue?” listening to chicks chirp throughout the day with their mother, it’s like they are asking her the same questions, over and over, all day long.
It’s no wonder Nina loves to take a break in the winter sun so she can rest while her chicks preen themselves. If a chick is preening its feathers, it can’t ask questions. There’s no daycare for mother hens. For them, raising chicks is a 24 hour a day job.
A cherry tree which knows no seasons blooms a few blossoms all year long. It never bursts into bloom like the other trees. A few blossoms here, a few blossoms there, year round it blooms.
Morning dew drops on a puff of moss. One of the wonders of the natural world. Every few steps along the old, crumbling fence, a wonder on each post. It’s why we don’t rip the fence out and build a new one. It takes decades for a new fence to be this wondrous.
Visitors may wonder why we keep the old fence. But they wouldn’t have to look at a sterile new fence every day. And what would happen to the puffs of ancient moss on the old fence?
A quirk of the calendar had me delivering eggs to Tweets Christmas morning. Seeing the snow on Chuckanuts made for a pleasant bicycle ride. The clouds hinted at possibilities of Christmas Blue. Around here, blue skies, even blue splashes at Christmas make the natives dance for joy.
Nina was out scratching a Christmas feast for her little ones. These chicks, born at the coldest, wettest time of the year are in for a surprise when the winter clouds give way to spring skies.
And here it is, Christmas Blue, tantalizing openings in the clouds. This time of year, it’s easy to forget in the Pacific Northwest that skies can be blue, that above the clouds there is still a sun that shines.
For Christmas dinner, fresh dark greens out of the garden. Blue in the sky, luscious greens out of the garden, what more could one ask for Christmas?
Yesterday morning brought a fresh surprise, the first snow of the season. Just a light brushing of snow here and there, but enough to bring happiness.
At the same time, a buttercup poked its yellow smile through the fallen leaves. Snow and buttercups on the same morning. A very special day.
In less than an hour, the earth reaches that spot in its orbit around the sun when the northern hemisphere starts to tilt back toward the sun and the days here begin to lengthen. It really is the start of the new year. The moment to have great expectations of what the next cycle of sun and growth will bring.
Madge’s eyes are full of expectations as she sits quietly, waiting to lay an egg. Nina is full of expectations as she scratches the earth for her two chicks. There is an intensity in her eyes as she spots something better for her two loved ones to eat. They are a week old now, and scurry at blinding speed around her feet. They are two inches of pure expectation.
Even in the darkest, shortest days of the year, there is plenty of life. Chickens don’t hibernate in the winter. After a full day pecking and scratching, they gather at their favorite spots to gossip. Margaret is still raising her chicks, even though they are nearly as large as she. This is her second brood this year. Will she raise chicks next year, or will she decide that raising ten chicks is enough?
In the woods, fungi don’t stop growing. On this fallen log, they’ve spread their filament hyphae deep into the wood, and now they are fruiting, developing mushroom heads on the side of the log. Over many years, the fungi will eat the log until it disappears onto the forest floor. In time, it will nourish new trees, which will grow old, fall, and become fungal food again.
You’d never think these eggs came from the same species of bird. The one on the left looks like a fairly normal chicken egg. The one on the right? What is it? The egg of a stork? It certainly doesn’t look like a chicken egg … and yet it is.
Looking at chicken eggs in the store, you would never know how varied they are. They come in infinite shapes, sizes, and colors. That’s what makes having your own flock of chickens such a joy, chicken eggs in all their glorious variety.
It’s a great time to be a fern. The weather is cool and wet, the sun is weak, they can let their leaves breathe in the moist air without worrying about drying out or getting burnt by the sun. Their moss beds stay soft and fluffy day and night. This time of year, the forest belongs to the ferns and their mossy beds.
Yesterday, I heard Nina’s chicks peeping underneath her. Soft, happy peeps of chicks drying their wet feathers under their mother’s warm feathers.
Today, I saw two of them. Here is one. The other one snuggled underneath her before I could take it’s picture. It’s not unusual for a hen to hatch chicks in December. The past few years, I’ve had at least one hen raise a clutch in winter. Luckily for the chicks, this December is warmer than usual.