I made Gibson pose so he made a funny face this morning as we were about to eat the standard spend-the-night breakfast. It was lovely having that boy here. He is so special, so loving, so damn smart. Last night he asked me to read to him- Professor Wormbog AND The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza. And then he read me part of a book he is reading. He is also kind, our Gibson boy. His heart is huge.
Y'all- Liberace got taken last night.
Right now the black hen and the young rooster are back in the coop and we'll shut the sliding door when they go to roost so that even if something can get in the coop, they won't have access to the hen house.
And so it goes.
I thank all of you for your suggestions and theories. The Dollar General upsetting the local ecosystem is an interesting one and I am not about to say that's not what happened. This all began around the same time they started clearing that land.
But. It doesn't seem quite reasonable.
As to building a stronger coop- I'm not really interested in keeping chickens cooped up all day. We've never been in it for the meat or the eggs, either. I think I would have kept chickens just to watch them as they scratched about the yard all day even if they hadn't given me so many beautiful eggs. The sounds of a rooster crowing to call his hens, to send warnings, the clucking of the hens as they search for the flock after they've laid an egg, the way the rooster tid-bits when he's found something to share with the ladies, the way they have been free to make their dirt baths in the sandy parts of the yard and to stretch out in the sun like cover girls- these are the things I love. I have no real interest in having confined chickens. It may not even be that big of a deal to them. I don't know! But a free range chicken has to be a happier chicken, that's all there is to it. And they ranged all over these two acres. It even amused us when they would find a new place to lay- the surprise of finding a stash of eggs in a potted plant or a corner of the garage was testament to their slyness and their mysterious (to us) intuition that it was time to create a new nest. I loved the way they would come and keep me company when I was working in the garden, hoping for a stray bug or overripe tomato that I might toss to them.
They had their routines and routes just as surely as I do. "The Stations of the Cross," I always called the way they went from one part of the yard to another.
They made their pilgrimages every day. Watching them do that brought me joy every day. I think it would only make my heart heavy to see them in a coop, listless and bored.
I dug up some more sweet potatoes this afternoon. Some of them even bigger than the ones I dug up last week.
I pulled all of the vines and dug all the potatoes I could find. I am sure I left enough in the ground for next year's volunteers. I also pulled up the last of the field peas. All that's left to get the garden ready for the greens and carrots and the other fall/winter crop is to weed and pull the okra. We had air-fried okra last night and it was delicious. Something is eating all of the okra plants though and so it's time to let that go.
This is the season of letting go, I suppose.
Never easy but part of the yin-yang whole of it. And that's just the way it is.