Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
The last two days have been sunshiney high 50's harbingers of our spring to come. I took the advice of my friend Jenna Woginirich (ok, she doesn't know I exist. I am confident that we are homesteading Idaho girl friend soul mates of the future.) I asked. I stopped agonizing over that which I don't know, can't control and ultimately doesn't matter. I asked to get started. I asked for a jump. I asked to get in the spring dirt and out of the homesteading reference section of our home library. And I received!
The gift of three hand raised hens. An EMT from Idaho County offered them to my husband as a farm warming gift. She had a chunky flock, and we were looking for fat. Tuesday night my 4 year old son and I drove about half an hour towards Montana with cat crates and high hopes. Delise and Stan were friendly, kind and efficient. We met our three new unnamed lady friends and loaded them up for the drive home. My boy insisted they sit next to him, he talked to them at length about the life unfolding before them collectively.
Friendly, curious and impressively calm about the evening trek the newly christened Peggy (the peg leg pirate-short toe,) Rosie and Buttercup settled right in to our refurbished hand me down small coop. Wednesday morning they took to exploring the duck yard. To explain, the duck yard is approximately 40 x 25 just off the kitchen. The gift my sister in law bestowed on us pre-escrow close of 4 mallard ducklings has grown into a human reared flock of two boys and a girl. Maybe it was our intensive human mothering, maybe this farm just tends to lean towards safety....But our ducks have no desire to enjoy our 1 acre spring fed pond. They have only flown out of their yard on a few occasions, rapidly waddling around to wait for re entry at the gate.
I know the wet conditions of duckdom aren't ideal for chickens, but the set up is temporary. The duck yard is safe from predation and full of bugs and sprouting green things. And regardless, the orchard/future mega coop neighborhood is waaaaay too wet for tractoring a big coop there. Not to mention Dom is a couple of weekends away from finishing the coop, and we are a month away from the orchard fence going up. So duck yard it is for now.
The ladies seem perfectly happy to cluck and scratch and explore the new arena. The ducks are watching with haughty ownership from their winter stock tank pond. The girls have gifted us with a big beautiful egg daily since their first sun drenched day here.
Spending more time in the yard also brought me to the weeks' most exciting moment. Jerry, our female mallard, was missing from the melee. On closer investigation, I found her hissing on top of a well made nest of pine shavings in the duck house. At least 10 eggs under my little mama! Now I know nature is happening every moment, everywhere, all around us. And to an experienced country person I may seem simple, but my heart swelled. Little Jerry, less than a year old, raised by this dumb human. I had to teach her to swim. Here she is, listening to her biologic imperative shout in her ear, and following every instinct of motherhood. I brought her water and some food, proud and curious.
Spring has sprung, and with it the magic of every day nature. Today I am asking the Universe to remind me of these days anytime I neglect to see the magic around us. I am asking for this profound fullness in my chest anytime nature takes me by surprise and a million more spring days to feel this remarkable gratitude. Eggs, nature's magic!