Monday, April 30, 2007

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the children's hour.

I was working in my little garden just before dark when I looked up to see a pale, full moon on the rise in the eastern sky. The sky was much lighter than the picture depicts, and the thin clouds, tinged faintly with pink, were still reflecting a sun that had already set. I thought first of the "children's moon" that sometimes shines in daylight, and then Longfellow's poem popped into my mind and wouldn't pop out again.

Now the night is aglow with the bright, silvery light from this moon, and that means the Mille Fleur roosters perched high in the old juniper tree will periodically awaken and, in the first confusion of that wakefulness, mistake moonlight for sunlight. Momentarily believing they have overslept, they will hasten to greet the day with hearty cock crows. Eventually, they will realize their mistake, and tucking heads under wings, drop off to sleep again. This performance will repeat itself throughout this enchantingly moonlit night.

Unfortunately this does nothing to endure these residents of The One Acre Wood to our kindly, longsuffering neighbors, and for that, we are heartily sorry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring chicks

The weather has remained cold and windy here at the one acre wood, but for some residents, like this bantam Mille Fleur hen, spring has sprung.
She appeared from some hidden nest with nine babies in tow. When Eeyore tried to take her picture she flew at him and at the camera with such violent rage that this was the best he could do. See the little heads peering above the still ruffled hen.

Eeyore found the nest and, still tucked inside, two babies. One had hatched, but one little guy was in trouble and needed help getting out of the egg. Since a hen lays an egg a day and the gestation period is 21 days, the oldest chick is ready to go out and about before the youngest has hatched. In this case, with the days being cold, these two probably wouldn't have made it.

In the house, under a heat lamp the little thing struggles to come fully into the world,

finally extricating itself from the shell, but wondering, I think, if it was really worth it. That's a pretty cynical expression on the newborn's face.

A little later, fluffed, warmed, and rested up he's ready to ask that age old question, "Are you my Mother?"
Meanwhile, out in the real world, a night time predator found the nest, tore feathers from Mama Mille and stole two babies. Feral and domestic cats and skunks are the most common predators here on the one acre wood and the Mille Fleur hens who scorn the hen house, roost in trees and nest on the ground often lose chicks to them. It's probably because of this hen's fierce fighting that seven of her chicks were saved.
The next night Eeyore raided the nest intending to put the brood inside a cage where they would be safe until the chicks are ready to fly into the tree to roost. He's done this many times, but this Mama was having none of it and, after wildly flying into Eeyore's face, flapping, pecking and screeching, she escaped, ranting into the night. The seven remaining chicks joined the two in the house.
The white tips of each chick's beak is a hard egg tooth that is strong enough to break the eggshell and will fall off in a few days. The little guy in front is our little hatchling. The good news is that Mama appeared unscathed the next morning. Eeyore put all the chicks out and seven ran to her. The bad news is that the two from the house didn't have a clue as to proper chick behavior and had to be returned to their indoor box. However, they are not entirely bereft of loving attention.

At a week old, they are losing fuzz and sprouting feathers including the funny feathers on the feet typical of this breed. Here, Eeyore (aka Father Chicken) gives them a cuddle.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Blogging would be fun........I think.........

Gee, blogging would be so much fun. Everyone's doing it, and I have so much to say, so why not? Let's see, that was almost a month ago and now I'm wondering just what I wanted to say. Well, I still have things to share, but I can't seem to get my picture onto the profile, and after I mess about with that for awhile, I'm just tired of the whole idea.

The last two weeks were spring break for my Granddaughters, so they spent some of their free days here on The One Acre Wood. We had a tea party for my 93 year old Mom, did some crafty stuff, played some games, watched some movies....The Pursuit of Happiness was a hit with all ages....., all indoor stuff as the days, that had been blissfully warm and springlike for a week, turned bitter cold for their vacation from school.

Now, they are back in school and the rooms of our old house, only a few days ago vibrating with the happy chatter of three giggling girls, yawn silent, empty and just too darn peaceful..........