We have baby chickens that arrived last week and are sitting comfortably under a heat lamp, in a cardboard box that is set up as what would, in the world of chickens, amount to a luxury spa. These birds are pampered. As first time chicken minders, we are vigilant. We check on them every few hours to make sure their water containers are topped up. We keep them well fed with organic feed and sand (it helps them digest) and we keep their room as clean as is humanly possible (they are worse than the grossest rock band in that regard). We've even been bringing the box out in the afternoon so that they get some real sun and fresh air (and to give the heat lamp some respite).
Fall is a challenging time to start chickens, especially with our fickle weather patters. Within a span of three days last week, we went from heat advisories to frost advisories. A month from now, the birds will be living in a barn in the stall next to the pigs. They will not be crowded into a warehouse like those in bigger commercial chickens operations. But they will have to be tough birds.
As we tend to our domesticated animals there are all kinds of wildlife living their wild lives. The land we have has not been sprayed with chemicals in years, perhaps never has been. We have unimproved hay fields and woodland and a lot of brush. Every step on a walk through the grass seems to summon a frog's leap. The other day I was walking along a path and came upon a grass snake with half a frog sticking out of its mouth. The rest was bulging in his neck as he slowly swallowed it.
There are also lot of wasps and hornets around. Frogs and snakes don't bother me, but furry yellow insects that fly and sting and don't even pollinate do. Recently, I woke up in the night, to a sound I couldn't identify. It was the faint whir of the traffic on the highway which I couldn't help mistake, in my semi-conscious state, for the whir of hornets presumably nesting outside the window. I spent the next while wishing they would disappear. Go away! I thought, as I drifted back into a fitful sleep.
It has been almost a month since the move. Among farmers in this area, I don't hear talk about Toronto so much as southwestern Ontario, as in, "well, we couldn't compete with the greenhouse operations in southwestern Ontario" or "we just don't have the kinds of soil they have in southwestern Ontario (or population density or climate, etc.)." I, however, am far more aware of the difference between rural and urban life, Toronto and South Frontenac Township. At times I get nostalgic for the bustle of the streets, a workplace with friendly kitchen banter and the constancy of social interaction that the city offers. I got an email from my old TO badminton club informing us all that the club was full and that it would be a busy fall for Wednesday night play. It got me itching to stop in, see the gang, play a few matches before walking back to the subway.