Friday, May 22, 2009

Pecking Order in Action

It's spring. So it's chick time.

A teenaged barred rock hen is the newest addition to the Cat Crossing Farm menagerie. The owner of a local coffee shop called my husband Doug and said there was a chicken running around their parking lot. The coffee shop is in an urban area so it's not likely that the chick just hatched somewhere in the bushes and developed a taste for coffee...

So, of course, Doug went to get her. Now's she's living in our greenhouse until she's big enough to go into the hen house.

We also inherited 8 cute fluffy chicks that were used for a magazine photo shoot. They are in the greenhouse too.

And here's what we learn from chickens: That pecking order thing? It's real. Our big hens tried to peck Coffee Shop Chicken (and that's why she's living in the greenhouse). And although you'd think that this experience would soften Coffee Shop Chicken to the tiny chicks, she has nothing but evil-chicken-eyes for them.

I assume they will all get along someday...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Springtime in The Netherlands

I just got back home from a trip to The Netherlands where I saw millions of blooming bulbs: tulips, narcissus, muscari and hyacinths. The fields of flowers in and around Lisse are beautiful. And surreal. After living in Iowa much of my life, row crops are a familiar sight--long straight rows of green corn and soybeans. But sections of red, yellow and pink flowers aren't. Big blocks of color like a Mondrian painting.

Canals rim the bulb fields. In fact there's water nearly everywhere, but it stays well-behaved in canals because the Dutch are masters of water management.

The farm pastures were carpeted with grass and Texel sheep, Holstein cows and Friesian horses (all Dutch breeds) grazed happily. Long-legged European hares danced in the fields and white trumpeter swans nested along the canals. The landscape there is just startling beautiful.

And when I arrived home after 10 days abroad, Spring had arrived at our farm too. The narcissus were up and waving, the crab apples trees held tiny fists of petals that were ready to burst open and the grass was the same emerald green as in the Dutch farm fields.