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Chicken Little may yet be vindicated

September 19, 2012

Jude’s older son Jin is visiting us while on college break, the first time in five years.  He

reports that the weather here, what with its warm days, cool nights and unusual lack of

rain, is much like what he left in Southern California.


As Jude teaches Jin the remarkable versatility of sawdust, I’ve been hustling to get the

new greenhouse ready for the return of said rains.  Hopefully today I’ll get the frame

and roof up on the storage/weather buffer side.  I’ll be showing you this in a lavish

photo essay soon.


Because the project is in the garden with the chicken coop, the girls have been ever

so helpful.  Yesterday as I dug some footings, they insisted on participating, almost

pushing me aside as they sought worms in the newly-turned soil.


When I hung a door, I had to keep shooing them away when they realized it was an

opening to a larger world and presumably more worms.


The only time they weren’t underfoot was when they heard a great blue heron croak.

They froze in mid-strut.  Their eyes grew bigger and stopped blinking.  They got a

worried look on their faces and started to emit a meek, nervous sound.


Because of the greenhouse construction, I’ve had to drop some of the overhead

netting that keeps winged predators away.  The heron noticed this a few days ago

and started swooping very close to the hens, once when Jude was in the garden.


It also did it Monday evening, setting the ladies into a panic.  I yelled at it and it

flew to a nearby tree.  I decided to put the brood up for the night.  Most of them

had already chosen to go in.


I rounded up the remaining ones.  I found them all but Hudi.  She was hiding in tall

grass, stiff as a statue.  I carried her to the coop.  Usually the most obstreperous

of the flock, she didn’t move or utter a peep.


Great blues are the largest herons in North America.  They can reach 4.5 feet in

height and length, with a wingspan of nearly seven feet.  To have one fly over you

is to visit Jurassic Park.  And they can unleash a flurry of feces you’d mention in

your memoirs.


Talk about Big Bird.  One once left a splatter pattern the entire length of  one of our

solar panels.


Slinkee is now fully recovered and back to patrolling the farm.  I’ll soon have the netting

back over the garden.  I can shoo off any great blues until then.  Hopefully I’ll have no

more chicken deaths to report in the foreseeable future.



  1. September 19, 2012 2:56 pm

    It never occurred to me that a blue heron would take off with a chicken. I’ve only ever seen them swoop down on fish!

    • September 20, 2012 9:42 am

      That surprised us, too. We think of herons waiting patiently at the edge of the pond for frogs and fish. After reading up on it a bit, we think it was looking for chicks.

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