To what do we owe this embarrassment of eggs? The days are getting longer and chickens do have that proto-third eye (okay pineal gland, but it has photoreceptors) inside their noggins to detect that kind of thing. But with snow at the Queensland border and the coldest spell of weather in Sydney for the better part of twenty years, it’s not like spring has convincingly sprung.
“Too few and too busy with other endeavours, early colonists lacked the labor force and the time necessary to supervise livestock closely or to contain them adequately within fenced perimeters; livestock were turned out to fend for themselves… ranchers deliberately neglected their livestock and let them roam at will” (La Rocque, 2014, 76)
Sounds like us, alright! Except we don’t grab a gun and ride out on the range to kill the varmints, which is what LaRocque reckons was was the inevitable outcome of roaming-animal-neglect in the US West. Although, I’ll admit, when the population of brush turkeys in the chookyard was triple the number of chooks, the temptation was certainly there.
Legal protection for top predators has meant the “git-ma-gun” strategy won’t wash these days, so instead LaRocque advises US ranchers to follow the path of African herders who “have exquisite control over the whereabouts of their animals…[taking them] on daily treks and bring them back at day’s end to a safe haven where animals and humans mingle in a common area.” (LaRocque, 2014, 77).
I wouldn’t say we have exquisite control over Abby (skittish) or Snowball (faster than fluffy greased lightning), but I guess the kids scaring off peckish brush turkeys by leaping around on the trampoline while the chickens have their breakfast might count as “animals and humans mingling in a common area”: “all parties find[ing] satisfaction in a mutualistic interaction of sorts” (LaRocque, 2014, 77).
Treasure – pre and post egg laying. If you’re ever wondering whether to serve omelette at your next dinner party, take a Dulux colour swatch to your chook’s comb. Is she Pastel Barren or Fiery and Fecund?
As I’m idling at the bottom of the garden waiting for the girls to finish their meal, I’ve started to think we herders need a new term for talking about our animal friends. From the wonderful Mildly Extreme blog I’ve learned that evocative word koremorebi for light filtering through the leaves. I wonder if Japanese can offer me a word to describe the exquisite glow of sunlight filtering through a flushed and fertile comb?