Listening for the Egg Song

I may already have mentioned this chicken behavior; the hens announce their laying of an egg with an “egg song” specific to each hen.  I still haven’t gotten them down, though, but I listen for them in hopes I can run out and get freshly laid eggs before the thieving magpies.  Sometimes I’m lucky and other times the magpies are luckier.

It’s early spring here, still cold, and predators are already after the chickens.  I don’t know if they will survive as predators are pretty hungry and persistent.  On the weekend I saw the shadowy form of a coyote at the back-end of the coop around 2:30 a.m., trying to figure out a way to get those hens but she gave up.  I think it was a female because she left a big puddle of pee as a mark and a male would’ve lifted his leg against the structure. Yesterday I saw where something smaller—a badger or raccoon or fox—had tried digging its way into the enclosure. I put logs against the base of the chicken wired frame that is all there is between the chickens and these predators in an effort to thwart whatever animal and found some of the bark scratched off today.  On Easter I also found scat that either belonged to a coyote or maybe even a cougar.  It didn’t quite look like Coyote had been prowling on the outside deck but it could’ve been a mountain lion; they are here as well. too.

I don’t know why the chickens intrigue me because they are quite messy, too.They’re also quick to beg for extra treats once they’ve been indulged.  Their behavior is often comical and there is truth to the pecking order.  The smallest hen, Skeeter, continues to win me over every time she does her little tap dance squat to be petted or, more startling, jumps from the roost almost onto my head!

A few days after the first day of Spring, we heard the first singing of a meadowlark out in the sagebrush.  But, we continue to have alternating days of snow and rain, blustery cold winds, and the songs silent without the sun and bright blue sky.  I also saw a golden eagle fly onto the bare branches of a towering cottonwood up the road.  It sat there, eyeing me as I stopped the car to stare, too, and then it glided off on immense wings, the wing tips upturned like long feathered fingers.  The eagles come in to the fields where the cows are calving; they clean up the afterbirth.  It’s an interesting symbiosis of sorts.

I’m traveling to South Carolina toward the end of this month to scope it out as a possible relocation, to visit my sister, to see a few friends and family scattered between SC and NC.  The biggest visit will be meeting new family members of a very large clan that belongs to my birth father.  Now that we have identified him, it is almost overwhelming to me that I will actually be connecting with a new family at this time in my life.  I’m sad he was killed so young in the Korean War and probably never knew about me.  But it is still an amazing moment that has arrived so late.

I wonder, too, about the “egg songs” we all sing as mothers when we give birth to a new child.  While not really egg songs, there is still a song in our soul and our heart that maybe only we and the newborn hear.  I wish, though, that my mother and father had lived long enough to tell me what they “heard” when I came into being.

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