Remember this past (already!?) summer and our broody hens’ defiance of my law and determination not to have chicks? Toey’s two that we got from a friend of ours are now young adults and one is a confirmed cockerel, every morning tuning up to Schtude’s crow with what sounds like an old car horn dying. “Weiss” is a young Schtude, and “Schwartz”, I am pretty sure, is leaning the same way.
Splotches’ four chicks are rapidly growing mini Schtude hats and, if tails are how we judge males to females, we have a ratio of 3 to 1. Again. Thus my own confirmed insanity.
Six roosters are not an option. Winter approaches.
Our friend who loaned us those two exotic chicks, one black, one white, Schwartz and Weiss, recently lost a couple of her hens to a weasel and so is open to having a rooster . . . but two? Unlikely. The only fact in their favor is that you don’t look at them and think, yum, yum, them’s good eatin’. No, they are lean, wily roos and this has happened before. I delude myself into thinking all chicks are future pullets. I hope until Doo-ca-ca-doo.
I looked at the margin of my journal this morning. There’s a red line vertically down the left side of the page about an inch in. I don’t tend to write to the left of that margin, only to the right. That’s how most lined pages are in the Western world. And it got me thinking about all that space to the left of the margin. Most people (?) don’t use it, other than, perhaps, for an occasional note. It keeps the page looking tidy. Organized. And I thought about all the lined pieces of paper used over decades by millions and millions of people. All that unused space. I wondered how many trees were cut down to mill the pages, parts of which were never used because there was a vertical line telling us not to bleed over. Without that line, would less paper have been used? Would there be more trees now, or was the waste inevitable? Just humans being human. The difference being that red vertical line down the page is a boundary we recognize and respect.
That got me thinking about how people like their margins for their delineation of space, and how people need their space. That’s why Carl and I put an addition on our perfectly-sized house. We “needed” more space for our stuff, to entertain and host events. . .. And so, too, do our chickens need their space. We spent Saturday doing to the Chicken Condo Complex what we did to our living room a few weeks ago: moving every movable object around and about and some ended up exactly where they had begun. But the shifting about is satisfactory (in a why-are-we-once-again-spending-our-mortal-time-moving-chicken-coops-around kind of way) because, apparently, we are attempting to balance chicken needs with human needs here at Darwin’s View. Making sure there’s a margin between them and us, however, at times, indistinct.
This time the coop moving began with my desire to be prepared for the likelihood of a blizzard this winter. How many times have Carl and I been out in 50 mph winds in the middle of a rain or snow storm trying to batten down hatches that should have been battened at less invigorating times? I was envisioning a massive blizzard heading our way, with winds howling at rates never heard of before, and wouldn’t it make sense to have the Quonset Hut coop ready to move into the garage so the chickens wouldn’t be blown to Peterborough? If we were prepared, we could just hook up the Quonset Hut coop to the truck, pull it out of its conveniently placed position and back it into the garage. Ba-da-bing. That easy. Thus, we spent two hours moving around the Providence coop, the Red Trailer, the Bus Stop Quonset Hut and the twirly composter—because we also intend to maintain our compost through the winter. Which brings to mind our as-yet-unnamed resident rat whose holes in the chicken run are a constant reminder that the wildlife around us too easily permeate our margins.
We use a different ratio of space for chickens than do factory farms. At a factory farm, one chicken gets the space of one piece of lined paper, inclusive of the margin. Sometimes. No pecking and scratching and wing spreading there! Whereas here at Darwin’s View the coop is 4’ x 7’ x 6’-ish and that is connected to the Bus Stop run which is 7’ x 16’ x 10’-ish. And then they have the outside with the two alternative coops, if they need alone time or a place to gossip, and the enclosed garden area which is approximately 125’x125’ square, and even with that much space, the chickens at time determine that it’s time to go explore the great outdoors, a.k.a. their margins. Thus, our chickens can be considered feral. We might go visit them on a daily basis but I don’t want to insult their personal space and so don’t tend to pick them up unless they allow it. Mostly, the squawk and leap away. Until I offer another worm. Sometimes, they let me pet them.
We planted our garlic. One more day of battening and we are ready (sic) for the storms.
Oh, wait. What about the frogs. What are we going to do about the frogs. . . .?