Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Farm at Dawn

by Pa Rock
Farmer in Summer

It is usually still dark as the old farmer steps out the backdoor in the mornings and heads toward the chicken coop to begin the early chores of releasing and feeding the chickens, taking care of the cat, and visiting with the peacocks as he scatters their feed.   Fifteen or so minutes later as he is finishing up, the sun is starting to climb out of the east bringing the first light of day.

One might suppose that mornings on the farm would be a quiet time with the only noises coming from the farmer as he rattles feed cans and putters about getting things done.  But four roosters think otherwise.  The two Red Jungle Fowl roosters who sleep in a tree in the garden spot next to the chicken coop are still adolescents and have been struggling to find their big boy voices, but over the past couple of weeks they have developed a crowing ability the rivals that of the two adult Rhode Island Red roosters who sleep inside of the coop with the hens and guineas.  The four boisterous boys start trying to out-crow each other before the first hint of light has found its way into the farmyard.

The three guineas love a good fuss, and they also begin making their racket in loud competition with the roosters.  And then there is the cat, wandering underfoot and demanding breakfast.  Fiona makes her share of noise, too.  The younger chickens and the duck are all peeping their desire to be released from their pen and get out into the dew-wet grass to begin the day's foraging.  The peacocks are usually aloof in the mornings, sitting silently, but regally, awaiting their meal to be served.  But if those big birds are startled, a raucous honking begins that quickly drowns out all of the other farm creatures.

By the time the farmer can actually see what he is doing, the place is rocking and rolling with the noises of morning!

A couple of days ago as the old farmer was scattering grain for the chickens, a pair of young deer stepped right in front of him, so close that he could have reached out and touched them.  The pair had been nibbling on a couple of young volunteer sassafras trees that the farmer been protecting throughout the summer.  The deer became startled when they saw him and quickly bounced away, their white tails pointing upwards at the lingering night stars. 

This morning, as it was just getting light enough to see clearly, the farmer was surprised by another young deer which was standing next to a bush eating grain that he had just scattered.  She looked up at him with her big, brown deer eyes, surmised that he posed no danger, and went back to eating.  They were less than ten feet apart.

The farmer will probably lose the young sassafras trees before winter has passed.  That is a shame because they are well formed and off to a good start.  But the trees don't "belong" to him.  Their ancestors were here first, and so were those of the deer.   The old farmer is just a temporary caretaker, renting space and trying to stay out of nature's way until he shuffles off to greener pastures. 

Hopefully the deer will be there waiting for him.

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