10/4/2020 3 Comments
Hens may safely graze, I was thinking, as I sat in the sun reading a book about medical ethics and the hens grazed on the lawn which offers quite a range of greens from dandelion to purslane, buttercup to dock, even the occasional rare blade of grass, sought after by the hens though just about the only form of greens people can’t eat. Maybe if we’d evolved to eat grass we’d never have been able to raise sheep and other grazing animals without eating all the grass ourselves, and Bach would never have written “Sheep may safely graze,” I was thinking, as I watched over the hens, trying to work out how anyone decided to go anywhere. The hens themselves seemed not to have an idea between them, I was about to write, well, have written, but it is the other way around, the only seem to have ideas between them rather than original ideas belonging to an individual hen. Every hen keeps a close eye on the others, and when one hen moves off, the others follow in case that hen may have had an idea. A lot of the time they just wait around, keeping themselves busy idly trying out a leaf here, a leaf there, waiting for someone to make a move, which can begin just with a glance in one direction or another, followed up with a step in that direction by another one of the hens, which will set another off to follow, and one hurrying to keep up will get ahead and confirm the flock decision, investing it, even, with some urgency. And then suddenly there was real urgency, a warning volley of clucks, heads raised, a dash for the irises from Mabel, a confused run with flapping wings from Maude, first in one direction and then in the other, while Goldie took off like a merlin hawk, with a most magnificent soaring flight right over the top of the bank down to the feijoa grove. This was all because of Albi, a small cat, hardly more than a kitten, from a couple of doors down. Momo, who likes to join them in their forum on the deck, they’ve come to warily tolerate, even sit down with, and they only slowly edge away from Storm, who lives next door and comes out every time I have laundry to hang on the line, a particular interest of his, but the dramatic response to Albi’s arrival was impressive and gives me hope that Goldie, at least, would get away if a real predator was after them. As for Wilma, who was the one hen who did escape the dog massacre which took the lives of Fly, Orly and Brownie, she was nowhere to be seen, until she eventually emerged, with the others, from the depths of the feijoa grove, their place of safety.
10/4/2020 09:31:03 pm
"the dog massacre which took the lives of Fly, Orly and Brownie"
Oh, you have to go back to the very first post of the hen diary when Wilma was newly bereaved, this was before the hen diary began and in fact I began it because when I had Orly, Fly and Brownie I wished I'd kept a hen diary of my Rhode Island Reds, Rizza, Piccadilly, Rhoda and Puds, because they had been such magnificent birds, with such interesting and complex flock politics, and then when I brought Maude, Mabel and Goldie home I wished I'd kept a hen diary of Orly, Fly and Brownie who were so affectionate and odd, Orly in particular lived an unusual life for a hen being unable to walk and yet still, somehow, retaining a place at the top of the pecking order, quelling any subordination with a quick, fierce glance. There will never be hens like those again....but one day I'll think that about Maude, Mabel and Goldie, and Wilma too.
12/4/2020 07:10:04 pm
I went to read the first post and ones closely following as I had missed them, earliest posts I had read were ones from February. There's so much context I had missed. I went back to glean the posts I had prior read, and whether due to poor comprehension or because Orly, Fly and Brownie had seemed particularly full of life I could not have deduced that they were gone and I had been reading the souls of dead little birds (among the living ones) all that time. They made special impressions with Orly's cicadas, Fly and Brownie fluffing in the hole in the lawn, and the picture of Fly as a tiny chick. I never picked up on verbal patterns of 'miss being able to', 'much-missed', 'used to', 'wonder whether Orly and Fly would have', etc or perhaps I did but never made any significance of them and deduce from which should've been obvious. "a hole that"... "is still there today well over a year later"... ... I had gleaned from these posts only the pastorally jovial and calm and had missed the undertone of missing and loss that have accompanied passages about the hens that are gone.
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