Tag Archiv: eggs

Contagious Determination

152277478_TractorManuals

We’ve talked about switching chicken duties from Boy two to Girl two but height has held us back. I sent Girl two for the eggs the other day only to realize that no one tall enough to open the coop door for her was outside.

“It doesn’t matter. I can do it,” she said.

“How are you going to open the door?” I said.

“I think I know a way,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, I’ll come back.”

Off she tromped in snow pants, coat and boots. A few minutes later, she was back with two containers of eggs and a very big smile.

“My idea worked,” she said.

I walked out to the driveway to see for myself the wheelbarrow she had found and parked by the door so she could climb up high enough to unlatch the door. Girl two is now officially responsible for chickens.

 

It was the wheelbarrow and Girl two I had in mind when I set out to plow the driveway. The tractor I usually use is out of commission for the winter, my husband was away at work, and I had driven the “new,” tractor only once for a few minutes in the summer. But how hard could it be? I said to myself donning my outdoor gear.

I found the key, found the lever I was 95% sure would make the plow move up and down, and then sat troubled. Knobs and levers have a way of multiplying when you’re not sure what they’re good for. In my particular mind they also take on explosive qualities. As in, I panic that I will touch something in combination with something else that everyone knows that you never do, only since I am doing it because I don’t know, it will cause the tractor to blow up.

Except for the blowing up anxiety, I really wanted to start that tractor. Since he knows very well I’m not that confident on how to drive the thing, visions of a plowed driveway to greet my husband at the end of the day called quite seductively. The thing that stopped me cold were the two gear shifts. Whatever numbers that came with the tractor fifty years ago to say which gear was where or which of the little sticks did the real work were long gone. I quit and went inside.

That is, I quit until I found my metaphorical wheelbarrow. Who knew you could page through photographs from Ford 3000 tractor manuals on the internet complete with pictures and directions? The manual had such a warm and friendly tone that I dispensed with caution. Although my diagram transfer skills are generally weak, ten minutes later, I was outside getting the old girl started. I plowed the driveway, I did not blow up, and my husband was mightily surprised. :)

 

On Turtles

This picture doesn't do the ones I saw with trailing seaweed justice, but alas I didn't have a camera at the time.

This tidy girl doesn’t do justice to the ones I see with seaweed trailing off them. 

The snapping turtles are laying eggs again. It’s hard not to admire them, hauling their soggy selves up out of their primordial worlds to the warmed up gravel beside black roads. I counted twelve along a stretch of road one evening. I find it all strangely hopeful.

Not that I can’t see. The roads are bad for them. A lot of the females die crossing them at night. The general population suffers greatly from too many roads. But I can’t help it, seeing them gives me hope. I’m running around my life trying to do it right, and there they are, hauling their hefty selves one deliberate step at a time. They’re not attractive, they’re twenty pounds of turtle with fat mouldy toes, algae growing all over their shells and strings of seaweed dripping off them like hair. With speed as a non-consideration, they find their spot, hunker down, claw some gravel, lay 25 – 80 eggs, and cover them up.

Then they saunter back to whatever swamp they crawled out of. According to their own census last year, 98% of them ranked the following as, “no concern:”

*Number of microbial creatures harmful or otherwise invading my person

*Disease

*Sliminess

*Appearance

*Body odor

*Quality of motherly care as compared to others

*Chances of survival

*Time

*Speed

*Progeny success potential

*Birth rate (despite survival rate of roughly 1 in 100 eggs laid)

*Color coordination of algae, seaweed, and shell

*Distance to road (***this is obviously a weakness that I wish they would worry about . . . but lack of worry in general may still prove a key to their ability to survive across time and in all kinds of habitats. Maybe National Geographic knows.)

If they survive the roads, turtles typically live 30 -50 years. As a species, they’ve been around a very long time. I don’t know how to justify how much they amaze me and amuse me, but I slow down for turtles, I watch for them everywhere I go. They’re so simple. So boring. So good at plodding. Reading specifically about snapping turtles, I learned they can go days without food or water. Females can hold sperm in their bodies for years, so no need to rush out for a man every year. They can walk ten miles to find a good place to lay their eggs. No anxiety ridden rushing around, just one step at a time.

Turtles remind me of Horton the elephant, from Dr. Seuss. They don’t appear to have a lot going for them, but they survive by faithfully doing what they know. And they do it without a whole lot of fanfare. They keep it simple and I like that. There’s a wisdom to their tiny brains that’s quite remarkable. They’re worth slowing down to watch and think about.

Letter to Girls of the Feather

county road 21 pictures plus 055Dear Girls of Feather,

Remember when you were laying fifteen eggs a day? We had eggs every day for breakfast and sometimes for dinner. We gave eggs to anyone who walked through the door. The most common search item on my google was “recipes with lots of eggs.”

What’s going on ladies? We solved the rat problem ages ago. December 22 is the shortest day of the year. News Flash: the light is back. It has been back. Where are the eggs?

You know what I am hungry for? That’s right, EGGS.  Not egg, eggS, see the S?  One egg a day, two eggs a day? Unacceptable. Thanks to your breed, you aren’t worth eating. (I tried one of your sisterhood a few years ago when the dog got a hold of you. Not much more meat than a squirrel and a lot more bones.) If things don’t change soon, you won’t be worth feeding either.

I’ve shovelled your outside pen in case you didn’t like the snow. I’ve laid down hay, in case your three pointed toes were cold. I’ve brought out treats to keep you out there in the LIGHT. I’m dreaming of other interventions. Most people leave lights on in the winter to keep their chickens laying. I’ve never loved the idea. If you girls needs a month or so off every year, I don’t begrudge you. But by February 12, I’m beyond overhead lights, girls. I’m fantasizing about putting you in little holders to squeeze your middles and setting every one of you up with the biggest flashlights I can find pointed right at your eyes, and I’ll put your heads in vices so your head stays still.

About those middles. See when the dog got your Aunt Hilda that day, I did a little investigating. Turns out you girls run regular little factories inside. There was Hilda’s egg for that day, preceded by Hilda’s egg for the next day (shell still soft), preceded by Hilda’s egg for the day after that (covered in just a casing). Heck, Hilda’s eggs for the next two weeks were there, in various sizes and shapes of readiness.

Get this in your heads. Put some notes to self on the wall. I know what you’ve got in there. If we don’t start getting some eggs soon, those little middle holders we just talked about are going to have a squeezing button.  We’ll run you through them like a toothpaste tube if we have to. Your choice. But one way of the other, those eggs are going to come out.

Sadly, I have had to buy eggs twice in the last month, although I don’t know as what I got could properly be called an egg. I hope you will see fit to insure that this does not happen again. And I hope you have found this letter informative for your future planning.

Sincerely,

The Egg Collector’s Mother and Chief of all things Chicken