Friday, November 23, 2012

The Cycle of Life, Black Friday Edition


If you had been standing in our back yard this morning, you would have noticed that air was filled with bees.  Lots and lots of bees.  Way more bees than usual.  You would have heard me and Robb debating whether the bees were (or were not) swarming.  The air was swarming with bees, sure.  But we both knew that bees are not supposed to swarm in the late autumn.  Swarming is a reproductive behavior, and there are no male bees at this time of year. 

Were they or weren't they?  And what were we supposed to do, if they were?

Well, they were.  Goodness knows why.  The bees flew up into one of our tree, and coalesced into a clump about the size of a grapefruit, twenty feet in the air.  Robb and I dragged out our bee gear, we lit the smoker, and got suited up. And then we thought better of it.  We really didn't have any way of catching those bees, and we weren't really sure that we wanted to keep bees that engaged in this sort of behavior.

So, in the end, we let the bees fly off to wherever they wanted, and wished them well.  It was all very mysterious and unseasonal.

We may not be particularly attuned the the rhythm of the season, but our hens are.  Two of our four girls have stopped laying, which is normal behavior when the days become shorter.  Oddly, the two birds on the extreme sides of our flock are the ones still laying.  Big bossy Anne Elliott is still cranking out an egg, just about every day.  As is freaky little Lydia. 

I'm pretty sure that Isabella is moulting.  She looks like she's growing in the chicken version of hair transplants.  She looks quite bizarre, but won't let me grab her for a photo session.

How many of you knew that chickens don't lay eggs in the winter?  Okay, then, here's the next question:  How many of you understood why so many cultures celebrate the return of spring with eggs?  Why does the Easter bunny bring eggs?  It certainly has nothing to do with the symbolism of the Christian Resurrection.  The reason we decorate eggs in the spring is because we are following the long-forgotten traditions of our ancestors. They were pretty stinkin' thrilled to be getting fresh eggs after spending their winters rationing their food supply.  A return of growth.  A return of bounty.  The end of hunger.  That's pretty powerful, and we've all but forgotten it.

Sweet, shy, feral Sleeves is well attuned to the patterns of late autumn winter.  He follows the sunbeams around the garden, staying warm and cozy.

Smog is guarding the persimmon crop.  I think he's dreaming of a career as a scarecrow.

Cardigan has been bringing home a remarkable amount of prey.  Hey loudly announces himself, when he's got a mouth full of rat.  His prey-cry is mournful and alarming, and always sends the indoor cats flying to the back door to see what all the fuss is about.

Cardigan does not share.


jamie said...

That chicken is beautiful!! ick on the dead thing - pthth! Ü

Kaaren said...

How pretty Sleeves is!

Anonymous said...

One of our Speckled Sussex's looks more like a porcupine than a chicken. She seems to have lost most of her feathers at once instead of a patch her and a patch there.


Rabid Quilter from CA said...

Our cats act exactly like Cardigan--that mournful cry, bloody pulp in the ground followed by leftover stomach. . .


ArtGekko said...

Our Sparks kitty is now a mostly outdoor cat. She has proven to be quite the mouser, too, and also loudly announces her prizes. Interestingly, she won't eat the shrews. I mentioned this to my vet and he said they're toxic, so it's good that she doesn't. Funny how they know these things!

anne bonny said...

Not a big chicken fan in general, but that chicken is GORGEOUS! Are they friendly? Just a pretty bird!

Smog is looking very healthy and fluffy too, good job!

Paperback Writer said...

Wow. Learning that hens stop laying in winter makes all those spring traditions SO much more powerful! How disconnected we've gotten...and thank you for sharing. :)


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