They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb; and they are referring to the weather of course. It is still mid-February, but today’s weather blew that bit of doggerel through my mind. Warm sun and blue sky, gunmetal clouds and lashing rain, snow needles and gusty wind, softly drifting west coast mist. We had it all, sometimes at once. No hail, but pretty much everything else Mother Nature could throw at us in the way of precipitation, she did.
When I was a kid, our family room had two big picture windows, one facing due north and the other south, and the weather outside each was sometimes different at the exact same time. I found this to be fascinating, and imagined, as I sat square in the middle of the green shag carpet and looked out one way (sunny!), then the other (rainy!), that our house was built directly on some mysterious fault line, but for weather, not earthquakes. Today felt like the weather fault lines crisscrossed our whole muddy valley.
Tonight I sit in my easy chair beside a warm fire, watching Island boy Teale from Campbell River lay down a great run on a snowy South Korean hillside. The frigid winter wind pushes hard against the Douglas firs towering over the house. Each big gust sends an uneasy frisson up my spine. The trees creak and groan, but defy the wind together, standing as one, as they have for a hundred years. They’re fine. They’ve been through this before. That’s what I tell myself.
Today was supposed to be the day that 36 two week old baby dinosaurs went to live in their heated outdoor coop. But with Arctic air outflow and snow and freezing temps in the forecast next week, I think I will keep them inside a little longer.
I’m grateful for my well sealed incubator room, far off the beaten path in a corner of the basement and behind two doors, because two week old chicks are stinky, even when their pen is cleaned daily.
I brought a little of the outdoors into their playpen today, a chunk of barnyard dirt with its dense carpet of new grass. A Muddy Valley inoculation. As they climb and explore and peck at it, they injest starter populations of our own peculiar microbrial brew (every barnyard has its own) and begin building their immunity to whatever is lurking in our soil, waiting to exploit vulnerable chickens. Coccidiosis, Mareks, the list seems endless. Chickens have a thousand ways to die.
This group of chicks is incredibly robust. I am delighted with their vigour. I chose their parents carefully and took them off the treat train for months before breeding. I fed the freshest breeder ration I could lay my hands on, cut with a bit of high protein starter. I free ranged them in relays, each breeding group in their own turn, to keep them happy and content. Everyone knows that happy parents make the best babies. And I can see the results. I candled my second test batch tonight, and all are fertile and developing and due to hatch next week. Hopefully into a slightly less wintry world.
Winter has us clenched tight still in his icy claws, and he isn’t letting go, not for a little longer anyway. But he has to go some time, and soon enough spring’s delicate warmth will brush our cheeks as as she casts her fresh green skirt, dotted with fragrant spring flowers, across our muddy valley.
Tonight, I will sit by my fire, and listen to the wind roar through the treetops, and the rain beat and the ice tinkle on the skylights, and the creek tumble through the valley bottom, speeding its heavy storm water load down to the sea. I am warm and dry, and my loved ones are too, and springtime is just around the corner.