Sunday, October 4, 2009

chickens little

In honor of the feast of St. Francis and the blessing of the animals today, two vignettes from my first venture into poultry raising (which began on Wednesday).

#1: The Sky is Falling

Steven Kellogg chose the right farm animal to have running around yelling that the sky is falling in his book Chicken Little. My nine chicks have seen fit on a number of occasions in their five day lives to act as though the world were ending. Usually this is brought on by nothing more serious than an adjustment to the cardboard and duct tape walls of their brooder or an attempt to move them temporarily in order to change their bedding. There was also the time during their first evening at the house when, with all nine sleeping comfortably in the appropriate donut shape around the heat lamp, I decided that maybe they wouldn't be warm enough after all and tried to replace the regular light bulb with a much higher voltage heat bulb. Not only did I take away their source of light temporarily (they began "crying" almost immediately), the heat bulb turned out to be too much for the lamp and both melted the plug partially into the extension cord and sent a couple of sparks into the brooder. So maybe the chicks have every right to be worried...

#2: Predator and Prey

The book Chickens in Your Backyard by Rick and Gail Luttmann advises the following with regard to chick diets: "You could feed them a few worms or bugs from the garden. They'll love it; in fact, they'll act like they're about to die of ecstasy." Sounds like fun. So yesterday I presented them with a dead fly I found while dusting a windowsill. They were unimpressed and returned to the business of pecking at the cardboard walls of the brooder and enthusiastically kicking shavings into their waterer. Today, Kat and I captured a moth, thinking live prey might inspire the appropriate ecstatic behavior. They showed mild interest as the moth crawled across the pine shavings, but when it started to fly around inside the heat lamp and run into them, they freaked out and ran to the other side of the brooder. So much for the chick-vs.-bug gladiator-style entertainment I was hoping for...

And finally, the blessing from tonight's ATFP liturgy:
Almighty and everlasting God, Creator of all things and giver of all life, let your blessing be upon all these animals. May our relationships with them mirror your love, and our care for them be an example of your bountiful mercy. Grant the animals health and peace. Strengthen us to love and care for them...

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