Is there such a thing as a professional free-range chicken herder? I could be that. I should be busy packing or washing dishes or doing any number of chores, but I’m mesmerized by the browns, yellows, whites, and blacks fluttering among the mondo grass, pecking at every plant as a toddler tries to gum every object. They don’t yet know what’s edible.
They gathered in a circle today around a toad who hopped too near the flock of chicks half-napping under a young tree.
I saved the toad.
Osiris, named for the Greek god of agriculture, is the bravest. We think he may be a rooster one day (are they roosters before they crow?). He (we will go with ‘he’) perched in the lowest branch of the young Leyland Cypress. It’s a wee tree in the forestry world, and Osiris is a wee chick in the avian world. But in his world, Osiris is King of the Tiny Tree Realm.
See? I have no will power over beautiful moments like this. It’s 74 degrees and Not Humid, when yesterday was around 80 and so humid we were lethargically breathing water molecules. But today reminds me of the Psalm “this is the day that the Lord hath made,” and it would be a shame not to recognize an artist’s handiwork, no?
Now, the sun slants to where I’m sitting. The chicks know it is the last hour of their day. Getting to bed by dusk is in their instinct. They’re gathering near me, who has spent weeks quietly making “chick chick chick” sounds and hums and whistles as I work alongside them. They don’t want me to hold them, but I am allowed to be near, and in fact, they come to be near me. I find that comforting.
And also – it gives me the permission, or excuse, I need to stay in their midst. But still, a part of me struggles with what should be considered as wasting time. So I wonder, is there a career in free-range chicken watching? A chick herder?
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