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  • Last modified 153 days ago (Nov. 24, 2016)

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Another Day in the Country

A cold wind blows

A chill finally came to the Kansas plains; are we ever ready for it? These warm days of fall have been so intoxicating that it became hard to imagine winter.

I do remember last year with its sunshiny days in November and then, surprisingly, Thanksgiving Day found us rushing home in a horrendous ice storm. It’s like death and taxes — we know that winter is inevitable; but ignore that it’s coming.

The chickens have been receiving light therapy now for three weeks and the younger set have commenced to laying eggs again. It’s such a delight to gather eggs! I’m like a little kid again, tagging around after Grandma out there on the farm across from Lewis Cemetery, reaching into nests filled with fragrant hay to claim my prize.

I don’t recall that Grandma’s chickens had such lovely nests, though. Theirs were usually scraped bare. In contrast, my hens set their fannies down on lovely prairie hay, contoured to perfection. I imagine them sighing with pleasure when they settle in to do their egg laying business, somewhat like I cuddle down in the old loveseat in my living room with an afghan to watch TV.

Since I have three kinds of hens, I gather three colors of eggs: blue, white, brown.

The Barred Rock hens get first prize because they are the most consistent layers. Their eggs are brown and medium-sized.

The Polish Topknots lay white eggs, small and fragile looking. Some days there are white eggs and some not.

The Easter-egg Gals take the Oscar with their eggs in shades of blue. Their eggs tend to be larger, and one of those hens shocks me every day!

This girl lays an egg, a double yolker, that is so huge it is painful for a woman to behold! This must be a gigantic effort and if I knew which hen it was, I’d caution her to slack off a bit. I’m worried that she’ll become egg bound and die. Or maybe she’ll just use up her quota of egg ‘starter’ faster and have a long and peaceful menopause in my chicken retirement center.

I was so shocked by the size of her egg — like a goose egg — that I got out a tape measure. This particular egg that I measured was three inches long. It’s not the biggest I’ve found, it’s just the one I finally measured. These eggs won’t even fit in an egg carton properly. They poke up like a future 7-foot basketball player in a line of ordinary third graders.

Since winter and freezing weather is coming, I know that I should be winterizing the chicken coops. There are windows without glass and they need to have plastic covered over them. I need to get out the electric water heaters so the chickens will always have thawed water to drink. It’s time to deepen the bedding on the floor to keep them cozy. Maybe today, I’ll get around to it, before Canada shoots another lung-full of cold air in our direction.

Speaking of Canada, I heard on the grapevine that Canada’s website for immigration information got so many hits that it broke down right after the election. I can understand the unease, especially for some of our newer immigrants. And, Canada has always been a welcoming country for populations hunting for a new homeland.

We have a group of hunters who visit us every fall from Canada. They were immigrants into Canada years and years ago, coming from Italy. They’ve often told us stories of their decision to leave Europe. Italy was in an economic depression. There were no jobs. They were young friends, the four of them, just out of high school. It’s a tale that could be told of most of our families, and while sometimes these guys are nostalgic for Italy, go back to visit relatives, they’ve embraced their new homeland with relish.

I had to ask myself, “What would make me leave my homeland to go to another country?” I came up with ‘starvation,’ ‘internal war,’ ‘persecution,’ and maybe ‘love.’ In the long run, I’m too old to be hunting for opportunity, too poor to take such a huge leap, and too content, I guess, with just spending another day in the country.

Last modified Nov. 24, 2016

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