Updated: Dec 20, 2018
The first Saturday of my and Lillian's winter break dawned warm and clear. So of course we had to hold a photo-shoot with our beautiful ladies. Lillian and I spent an hour hanging out with the chickens while our parents did actually productive tasks nearby.
Sunflower seeds made the perfect bribe to get them to stay nearby and pose. They may have gotten an overdose of protein, but we got photos, so it was worth it.
Just like little siblings, chickens think food tastes better if they can steal it from their sisters. They love taking food directly from each other's beaks, and squabbling over who gets which crumb. I had an open bag of seeds in my lap the whole time and none of them ever tried to eat directly out of it. They would simply wait impatiently for me to hold out a handful and then peck voraciously.
Chickens are such cool, complex creatures. I went to sit on the plank-perch out in their field, and they all immediately followed me. The grass there was basically untouched. I think they felt safer venturing away from the trailer with me there to ward off possible predators.
Action shots of chickens are far beyond my cinematic capacity. I tried to capture them scratching and after about 20 blurs I gave up. Their feet are such perfect tools for foraging, with protective scales and long talons. In lieu of actual pictures you can just like... imagine them using their feet to scratch.
The flocks have properly merged, although the little buttercups are still at the bottom of the order. To avoid conflict they move in for food after the big girls have gone. The other chickens are organized into a hierarchy as well. Some of the chickens are far more assertive and would jump up on the plank with me. Others would hang out below and sorta steal the left-overs they could reach.
Stuffed with seeds, the ladies wandered off to nap beneath the trailer. The lighter-colored chicken we call Ducky fell right asleep.
Birds are incredibly closely related to crocodiles and dinosaurs. In fact, all of those creatures are in one group called the Archosaurs.
While feeding feeding the chickens bits of my lunch, I was viscerally reminded of their reptilian family members. They would rear up like crocodiles from water, beak gaping, neck extended, translucent lid sliding protectively over their eyes.
Sometimes when they grab bits of food they twist their heads in tiny imitations of crocodile death rolls.
Thank goodness crocodiles can't fly.
Despite their more dinosaur-like qualities, the ladies make charming company. It was lovely to hang out with them in the sun on such a warm winter day.
Concetta has been hard at work accumulating organic matter on the farm. She's brought leaves and mulch from the community and logs from home. The logs are already woven with mature fungal communities. Our old mulch pile is dense and damp, dwarfed by the fresh wood chips beside it.
While we were walking around the fields, we discovered a hatching praying mantis egg sac! The babies were wiggling out and forming a cluster. They were waving precariously in the wind and were connected by only a single tiny baby. Hopefully these beautiful little mantises survive to prowl our land.
Leaves are still coming in, and the chickens are hard at work preparing the earth. I'm excited to spend break joining the efforts to build our farm.