July 7, 2007


No way to describe how when that solstice happens suddenly the weather changes here on the farm. With six gardens (four veggie, two flower) to maintain, plus animals the longer days seem to fill up quickly. But the change of season also changes the pulse of growth. In the henyard, my chickens are getting bigger. We have put the old hens in with the new ones. There's even a nesting box and the one hen that was so badly injured weeks ago laid her first egg since that attack.

Water is scarcer day by day and rattlesnakes start to invade our little patch of low desert looking for food this time of year. Two days ago my sister picked up a board to find a small rattler sleeping underneath. The rattle only had two sections, but it began buzzing the moment it woke up. If you look closely you can see it had eaten recently.

So we don't head out across our property at night this time of year without a flashlight to watch for snakes where we walk.


The coyotes are also getting bolder. Right around the solstice we heard the dogs barking and went to look to see a large coyote (let's call him Wiley) vainly attempting to catch a peacock at our neighbors' across the river. Wiley took off when our neighbor's dogs also began barking, without the peacock. It's unusual to see a coyote during the day, so we knew Wiley was hungry.

That night we were concerned that the dogs might get into a fight with Wiley if he returned, so we tied them on two sides of the hen yard. Now our sheepdogs are well trained, they don't bark when tied unless there is something to ANNOUNCE. But at 2am there was a single WOOF.

We stepped outside, it seemed quiet and we shushed them and went back to sleep. The next morning we came out to find that there were feathers crimped up in the chickenwire around our yard. Wiley had lunged to snap at a rooster sitting on top of the nesting boxes and got only feathers. The rooster, a mystery chick from this year's chick order who was a whitish blue andalusian seemed fine. So far.


The next night we were awakened by a loud chicken SQUAK. The tied dogs really began barking . It was about 3am, and my husband stepped outside, shone our powerful light around and saw nothing. The dogs finally quieted down. When we came out the next morning the whitish rooster was gone. Wiley had silently chewed his way through two layers of chicken wire and gotten the rooster.

That rooster was not too friendly, so he was destined for the BBQ anyway. But it's a lesson to me not to get complacent about predators. We are in the process of rebuilding our chicken yard, and plan to ring it with both chicken wire, hog fencing and cement blocks to thwart this type of entry. I'll throw a picture in when we're a little further along with construction. Until then the chickens are crowded together in a series of prefab yards. It's a little small, but it's predator proof.