Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Evening in July

This is Rachael. She's three years old, and one of only three chickens left of our original ten who were given names. The fact that we lose them occasionally is the reason we stopped naming them. But Rachael is distinctive enough that I always know her.

She's molting. Chickens molt from time to time, and during this phase, they drop feathers like snow.

But when I walk into a barn and see a bunch of feathers on the floor, my heart stops and I quickly count heads to see who has been done in by a predator.

I recognized these buff and gray feathers immediately, and was relieved almost to tears that Rachael was not eaten, but merely molting. Poor Rachael - she looks pathetic. The other down side to molting is that while they molt, they don't usually lay eggs. I'll miss her pale turquoise eggs for the next couple of months, and so will my customers.

The sun finally went down today and the grazers emerged from the fan-cooled barn to snip some supper. The Jacobs look particularly pastoral in the fading sunlight.

Too bad Mr. Jethro is as ornery and dangerous as a junkyard dog. He really would butt me into next week if I ever turned my back on him. So I don't.

Whenever we have a big rain, interesting things work their way to the surface of the pasture. Our usual harvest of nails, hardware, Army men, Hot Wheels cars, fence staples, and pruner pieces has slowed over the years, but every once in a while, I stumble on a treasure from the past. Wouldn't it be fascinating to know the story behind all this debris?

The alpacas wait all day for the sun to sink behind the treeline. Then they grab the chance to move into the green field and munch on the grasses and forbs they find there.

White alpacas don't stay white - I spray them with the hose to cool off, and then they go directly to the bare black soil spots and roll, coating themselves with clay chunks. Lovely.

Fortunately it's a long time till shearing, and all that mud will be a thing of the past. Right now, it's just so good to feel the heat lift and the breeze blow, before the world goes dark for the night.

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