Thursday, July 19, 2012


IN BIRDLAND WE HAVEN'T MOWED SINCE MAY, AND THE GRASS IS STILL AS CLOSELY CROPPED AS IT WAS THE LAST TIME I HAD THE MOWER OUT.  Only now it's as dry and brown as shredded wheat. Everything in the yard is waiting for rain, including me. I generally have something blooming all summer, but the wild Day Lilies are all but gone—only a few bedraggled blossoms when I picked a bouquet for the table yesterday. The tame Day Lilies have mostly decided it isn't worth the bother, and the Asters and Sedum that should bloom next are all stunted, buds not even swollen with hope. I drag myself out in the yard to make sure the animals all have plenty of water, and then I go inside and wait for evening. I water the vegetables and the flowers, keeping them alive, but not thriving. The humid sky muffles the colors, and the atmosphere doesn't seem so friendly now.
Thank Goodness for
Queen Anne's Lace!

Thank goodness for Queen Anne's Lace. I mowed around a patch in the back yard a few years ago, and it has expanded to become a small oasis of green in the desert of my back yard. These wild carrots are not native to Illinois; they escaped from cultivation, but they do so well in the wild that I count them among the common weeds that I am encouraging to take over my yard, patch by patch. I'll bet their fat taproots keep them from the distress showing in all the rest of my flowers. I don't even water the Queen Anne's Lace, and it provides a landing pad for all kinds of butterflies and other pollinators. I watch a bumbling bee skate across the top one wide flower, then another. It is buzzing and rubbing its belly in what looks like ecstasy, pollen dust rising in the arid heat. It's a good thing I can supply a little island of green and pollen to tide these insects over until the rains come.

We have two new roosters in Birdland—a couple of Golden Sebrights. I named them Hopscotch and Roosevelt. The Mayor of Myra brought them to me. She read about the loss of my flock a while back, and offered them to me. I have such kind readers! She is Myra's only resident, so we decided she was the Mayor. She arrived in a charming dune buggy with her gift of two little roosters in a cat carrier. We had a nice visit, touring around Birdland. She told me about her barn and showed me pictures of her chicken coop. I showed her the aviary, and introduced her to the 4 parakeets, Rumpus, Cloudy, Frida, and Dandelion. She told me a story about how her mother lured a feral parakeet into a cage to bring inside out of the weather. He had been hanging out with the sparrows, and had developed a sparrow's song. She mentioned goats, and she shouldn't have done that, because one of these days I'm going to drive over to Myra, invite myself in, and have her tell me all about goats. I'll take notes.

New Roos in Birdland

 We transferred the roosters to my cat carrier to wait for dark. It's easier to integrate new chickens into the flock if you do it in the dark. They get used to each others' sounds and smells in the night and wake up in the morning and nobody can be sure who is supposed to be there and who is new. My chicks are starting to fill out and just beginning to look like chickens, not chicks, but they are the same size as the new roosters, who are banties. In the morning, I was a little worried, walking out to the coop to open the door. I was afraid they might have a few scuffles before figuring out the new pecking order, but everyone was quietly milling around the chicken yard, the waiting punctuated occasionally by some stimulating crows. I opened the door and they started their morning, busily scratching and searching in the grass. The new roos kept watch over the flock, one eye on the sky, looking for the rain.

Crow in Beauty;
Wait in Peace;
Blessed Be!

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