Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The Watcher

Posted by Hello
When you see a road crew, Anywhere USA, one guy out of four is *maybe* actually doing something and the three other guys are standing around watching. Unless they are convicts and then they are ALL working except the guy with the beer gut and the shotgun who is looking for some shade.

Sometimes farmers can seem the same -- take a load of hay and grain to the cattle in the far field and then stand there and watch them eat. It is probably more obvious with the factory farmers but we subsistence farmers do the same. Have to. It is a good management technique.

Here is what I mean: You have to engage in mindful watching to ever see what is really going on. If you do not see what is really going on, you are not going to be able make that slight correction that avoids death and destruction. This is true whether it is animals you are watching or corn, you just watch the corn more slowly. It is even more true if you are trying to get insight into your own life. Mindfulness.

Mornings now when I go out to milk first thing, there are three hens out. They weren't in the coop when I shut it up the night before. I've been looking for them for a good week. Some mornings only one is out but most mornings it is three. The same three pretty little reddish Aracauna hens.

Every night I've been searching the trees around the coop for them. Some nights I've found one to three roosting in a tree, knocked them out of the tree and gotten them in the coop. These three have changed trees evidently and as hard as I search, my flashlight blinking between the evergreen limbs in the dark, I haven't found them.

What I have to do is to get out there during that 15 minutes they are going to bed and find which tree they are flying up in. The good thing is that a chicken going to roost is not a quiet thing usually, flying up on the lowest branch and gradually working their way on up the tree, talking the whole way. But it is a very short time frame in which to be watching in order to see this. If I am too early, they will fly to me thinking I've got more food for them. Since I am their primary feeder and since I feed in the evenings so as to encourage their foraging during the day, in the evenings they treat me like the Pied Piper. If I am too late it will be dark and they will be still and quiet and gosh darned hard to spot.

Hopefully this evening I will remember to put supper aside and go and be there, sitting quiety in the edge of the woods; the watcher. The cats will come and pet me, and the screetch owls will start talking to each other, and the stars will start twinkling, and hopefully I will see which tree these hens are getting up in and I will be able to get them down and back into the coop. About three times of chasing them in and usually they give up trying to roost elsewhere.

If I fail, an owl or a fox or a possum or a raccoon will eventually eat the hens. That is the order of things.

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