Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mary Ann's 60

Following closely on the heels of Leslie, Henry and Mahlon, last week I completed my sixtieth year. Life is good.
I remember my life in phases related to where I lived and what I was learning. Preschool years in the central Adirondacks, school years in far northern NY on Lake Champlain, college in Albany, grad school here at Cornell, arguably the crown jewel of the Finger Lakes.

Okay, so 36 of those 60 years have been spent here in Ithaca. But the learning really spiked after grad school. I started learning about plants, birds and evolution from Bill. I married and spent a year in Germany. I built a house and started raising kids. Along the way I raised chickens, geese, turkeys, rabbits, sheep and a horse. I learned to spin and weave and to handle a camera with confidence. I took an accounting class and returned to an office environment where I re-learned the ins and outs of copiers, multiline phones and office politics.

A few things from pre-Ithaca days have affected my live in big ways. All my formal training in music and religion were from those years near Lake Champlain. And my foundation in computer use is from a post college year in Albany.

Life goes on. Now as an elected local official I've learned more about my town in four years than in the first thirty-two years I lived here. When I built the house, I learned about wells and septic systems. Now I'm well versed in municipal water and wastewater treatment. I've learned about road maintenance, dog control, cell towers, stormwater runoff mitigation, riparian buffer zones and volunteer emergency services (not necessarily in that order.)

I say again, life is good.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Broody Hen

This hen has been sitting exactly like this for 21 days. I suppose she gets out to eat and drink when I'm not looking. But when I'm there, she's like a statue - a statue with sound effects when I poke under her warm, damp bare breast to assess the eggs she's sitting on. She takes a quick peck at my hand and emits a long raspy complaint at the disturbance.

The first chick hatched Friday. More on Saturday. Sunday she was still waiting for the rest.

I usually try to keep my hands off on the theory that she knows better than I do. But by 4:00 Sunday I couldn't stand it anymore. It seemed like that Friday hatchling must need a drink of water. So I eased the five little guys and a few unhatched eggs into a box. The hen grumpily followed as I set the box on its side on the floor. She deposited the biggest, smelliest chicken poop I've ever seen, suggesting she'd been stuck in the next for quite a while.

The chicks merrily tumbled out into the straw as she chirped instructions to them. She demonstrated drinking from the waterer and showed them where to peck for food. She had no interest at all in the remaining eggs. She periodically called the babies back under her wings and purred to them 'til they ventured out again.

Monday morning the chicks were exploring the entire floor of the hen house. I had placed a board across the outside door so that the hens can get out but not the chicks. I want to be sure she doesn't take them outside somewhere that I won't be able to find them when it's time to close the door in the evening. They'll be safer in the hen house for now.