Saturday, February 24, 2007
2.22.07 A GENTLE VISIT
Spring tapped us quietly on the shoulder this morning. After weeks of below freezing weather, we have a day in the 50s. The air is filled with the blessed smell of mud!
On my morning walk with Zippy I carefully examine the roadside ditches looking for signs of amphibian eggs in the water. Eggs usually show up in the spring wet areas around here among the thick strands of algae. I have yet to determine whether they are frogs, toads, or salamanders. The biologists call these tiny temporary bodies of water vernal pools and have identified them as a critical part of the life cycle of our local amphibians.
I share the fine weather with the chickens by giving their laying boxes a good cleaning. In one chicken house I find a distraught Mille Fleur rooster just standing in the the box. All of his mates are down on the ground picking at grit and visiting the feeder and waterer. This little rooster stands quietly in the dark in this attic area of the chicken house. I carefully take him out of the house to look him over, I can’t find his eyes. They are literally missing! I have a bucket of warm water for refilling the chicken waterers so I gently wash his head. There is a lot of dried material – poop, blood, and puss – caked around his head feathers and comb. Quite suddenly one eye just pops right open out of what had looked like raw flesh. It rolls its red lizardlike gaze up at me in suprise and, I like to imagine, gratitude. The opposite eye soon appears. The jauntly little guy – completely unfazed by the experience rejoins his fellows, happy to be able to find the feeder and waterer. None of the other chickens seem to be having any eye problems so I imagine this fellow has simply been suffering life at the bottom of the pecking order.