Monday, May 31, 2010

Chickens: Alas, Poor Bluestar + Kooshie the Amazing

We received word this morning that Bluestar, one of our Black Gourmet (a meat breed) hens had passed away. Tears didn't accompany this news, because in a large way this hen has lived longer than we ever guessed she would. A couple of years ago Bluestar developed bumblefoot, which, though we tried in various ways to heal, just got steadily worse.  She ended up limping about on one foot, resembling (to our fanciful minds) a "dufflepud" from The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (in the Narnia Chronicles) by C. S. Lewis.

She survived the long cold winter in NE Oregon (even when Cheeseball, her companion on the ground floor of the hen house, passed away).  And she continued on, limping about, and huddling near the feeder for the next year.

The above photo is from a year ago.

Few tears doesn't mean that we're not sorry that she's gone.  With each passing of our hens in far off Washington, we wish we could bring them close again, but it really wouldn't have worked out to have these large birds in our somewhat small suburban backyard!

Bluestar was my younger daughter's favorite hen when we first got our flock.  A young Gwynne would scoop this (then) large bird up and cart her around the yard. 

(a sigh as I type for days of yore)

On the other hand, Kooshie's story is that of a miracle.  Several weeks ago, our friend who is caring for our "big girls" in Washington, phoned to tell us that one of the Easter Eggers had gotten caught in the electric fence.  Who knew how long she'd been caught, but she was all tangled up, and had to be cut out.  Our friend brought Kooshie inside, and placed her under a heat lamp, and wrapped her up.  Kooshie was alive but wouldn't move or open her eyes, and we all feared the worst about her.  I sent Reiki, and beseached my  plant allies for help on Kooshie's behalf.   Many tears indeed were shed, as Kooshie is my older's daughter's hen, and is quite a sparkling personality (she flies to her arm).

Later that day our friend called to say that Kooshie had opened her eyes, and drunk a little water.   A report the next day was that she was standing up, and had eaten.  Within a few days she was back with her flock, fully recovered.  Even as our friend reported Bluestar's death this morning, she also told us that Kooshie was still perfectly well.  It was as if her trauma had never happened.

Our life with chickens is such a microcosm of life and death and trials and celebrations.  I'm in such gratitude for these serious and silly birds, for the love they have awoken in my daughters, in our family, and how they teach us about both the fragility and resilience of life.

Kooshie -  a photo from our visit to Vashon last Dec.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Children's Art and Chickens

I have a backlog of posts on things herbal for this blog, but thought I'd share with you some art I scanned today (they are garden related!).

I love the art children create.  On Vashon Island, our former home and home-to-be-again, first Fridays of the month are celebrated as First Friday Art Walks.  On these Fridays, art galleries and shops and cafes showcasing local artists present new displays of art.  You get to meet the artist, enjoy yummy snacks, chat with fellow viewers, and enjoy fabulous and fun art by folks you know and folks you don't.  When our family was part of a homeschool co-op, I thought it would be a cool idea to feature our children's art in one of our homes and include it in the art walk.  The art could rotate each month, featuring new artwork by the children.

Well, I never saw this vision to fruition, though in our own home for a time I made sure to showcase our girls' artwork in frames and rotate the artwork.  Even now I prefer to display artwork we create, rather than buying that of professionals (unless I know and love them!).   I love the freshness of children's art!

These paintings are by Gwynne from a number of months back, of a rooster (above) and of Amri's rooster, Lord Firestar (to the left).

And since we're on the subject of chickens, I'll include a photo of Lord Firestar with the first bloom of the season of our Mr. Lincoln rose.  Aren't they both handsome?