I knew that this first year using the greenhouse to start seeds would be a bit of a learning curve. We do not yet have electricity out there…aside from an extension cord from the house to run the fan when it gets too hot. It gets pretty warm, pretty fast during the day, but it doesn’t take long to cool down to outdoor temperatures once the sun dips below the horizon.
Even though I knew this and even though I had warning of that first late-season freeze, I did not do much to really protect my seedlings. I should have at least brought the tomatoes and peppers in.
I did better for the second freeze.
I had to start over with most seedlings. The tomatoes and peppers froze, turned brown and withered. The lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower survived, but stalled a bit in their growth.
After the freeze…the sun comes up. The glistening frost melts away. Surfaces, once dull and drab, sparkle.
After the freeze…the light gets in. The bitter cold recedes. Dirt, once dry and parched, revives.
After the freeze…new life emerges. The harsh winds gentle. Grass, once brown and dead, brightens.
When Ray and I decided to get chicks again, we agreed that we only wanted layers for eggs. We went with the bigger layers so that when they were ready for retirement, we’d have some nice meat for the freezer.
“Chicks,” I said. “Let’s get ’em.” “We’ll be home for awhile.” “Why not?” he said. “Let’s do it.” We both shrugged with a smile.
We brought our new flock of 8 home and the boys immediately fell in love with them. We handled them daily and played with them as much as we possibly could. Joe named one Crystal and a few others Cheep and Peep. Jake called one Pupil and the rest were The Sunny Sisters.
At first, they’re cute and fuzzy, with the sweetest little cheeps. Then they grow real feathers, and sharp claws and razor beaks.
One of the Buff Orpintons was quite a bit bigger than the rest. We thought that maybe it was just older or maybe just grew at a faster rate than the Red Comets. She quickly claimed the alpha position in the flock.
One buff was big and fluffy, her feathers had a shine. She nipped at all the others, keeping them in line.
And then, one morning when we were moving them outside for some fresh air…we heard it. Not yet a full-throated crow, but the early attempts of one. Ray, deep in denial, said that hens sometimes crow too.
“I’m sure it’s not a rooster,” my husband shook his head. But I knew we had one, so I just smiled and said…
“I know you’d like to think that, but you should hear this crow.” He hung his head, defeated, “I just don’t want to know.”
He is right. There are times when a hen will take the alpha position in a rooster-less flock, but it is rare for a young hen, only 10 weeks old, to suddenly start crowing.