Saturday, June 11, 2016

Vultures Dressed Like Liberace

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Spring

The rains have finally stopped but their effects linger on in the rapidly growing green grass of late spring.  Yesterday, I began the sixth mowing of the season here at Rock's Roost.  I believe that last year's total was twelve, which means the mowing season is now at about the halfway mark.

The baby guineas who went on sabbatical last Saturday while I was away attending my high school reunion have not returned.  Well, two came back but have since disappeared again.  It would be nice if one day they came marching out of the tall weeds surrounding the farm - as young adult birds who had somehow survived and matured on their own - but that outcome, I fear, is very unrealistic.  What is more likely is that they have been martyred by several of the many predators who roam the nearby countryscape.

The new little chicks that arrived while I was in Cuba are getting bigger and developing personalities.  The young roosters are working on their abilities to crow, and in the process sound much like adolescent boys squeaking and squawking during the times that their voices are changing.  The chicks are still completely penned up, and I will probably release them into the general fowl population in about two weeks.

The peacocks, who are turning two this spring are busy learning how to be adult birds.  The six hens have laid several dozen eggs and promptly abandoned almost all of them.  Motherhood does not seem to be a priority on their lists of things to accomplish this season.  I do have a few peacock eggs warming in an incubator - along with some duck eggs.  They should begin hatching in one week. And, last week one of the hens scooped out a nest space in the straw on the barn floor and began setting.  She now has six eggs under her and seems intent on riding out the twenty-eight days that it will take to hatch her chicks.

I always make a special effort to provide the expectant mother with her own supply of feed - sunflower seeds, dry dog food, or pieces of bread - so that she does not have to leave her nest too often to go in search of food.

One thing that I am noticing about the peacocks this spring is their sudden development of personalities.   One hen, in particular, seems to be becoming the boss of the coop, quickly and sternly bending the other birds to her will.  And one of the males has decided to make me his project.  When I am out there feeding, he wants to eat food out of my hand and try to make off with any food containers that I might be holding.  He also likes to suddenly reach out and grab one of my fingers in his beak.

In some ways that big birds remind me of vultures.  A cardinal got trapped in the aviary last week and died there before he could find his way out.  The peacocks made quick work of the corpse.  They also look like vultures the way they lower their necks and raise their shoulders while sitting on the roost.  The hens, in particular, look as though they would be right at home fighting over a mouth-watering piece of roadkill - and the males, while also effecting a vulture countenance, do so as ones dressed like Liberace.  They dine formal.

It's nice to have other things to focus on besides Trump and Hillary!

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