It’s Weirdly Hot for May in Maine

Day 3 of 365

Ruby is off her nest of eggs right now, and she has just 12 minutes before it makes an hour. I’ve read broody hens can be off their eggs for longer, but an hour is a safe window of time for a break. So, in the middle of writing this, I will have to go check on Ruby. She didn’t take a break at all yesterday, so I know she needs one. Still, I’m hoping she will get back to work soon.

It’s been really hot this week, very hot for May in Maine. Ron has been planting everything early but has been most worried about getting the broccoli and cauliflower going because it will bake in the heat and not produce. It needs our usual cooler temperatures. He did well, he got the plants into the ground, but getting hot this early is a concern. Hopefully, the plants will survive this heat wave.

The heat is hard on our animals too. We have several very old chickens. One is a meat bird, Mary Jane. If she makes it to the first of June, she will be five years old! This is something of a miracle, but she’s very large and very old, and I worry very much about losing her to the heat. Thankfully, our birds have a lot of shade from the many trees on our property, and I take great pains to make sure everyone has access to fresh water and cool treats throughout the summer. Still, a couple of years ago, we lost an older hen to the heat. I try to keep a watchful eye.

Yesterday, my son and I went for a walk on our road, and when we got home, I noticed the chickens looked so hot and dry. Earlier than usual, I went to the shed and got their extra waterer. I gave it a good scrub and put it out for everyone near the dust bath hang out. It was a hit. As soon as I sat it down, several chickens circled the waterer. They still had access to their main waterer, of course, but new is better. They always think this. When I am feeding scraps, I have some hens who will constantly move on to what I am dropping last, even if they are giving up a very good position with very good scraps I dropped earlier. Apparently, these hens do not understand the old saying, “a bird in the hand.” In so many ways, humans are the same.

While I was scrubbing the waterer, I noticed the ducks, who have their own area separate from our chickens. That’s another story in and of itself. We tried to keep our chickens and ducks together, as some farmers do, but it was a hard “no” for us. This meant Ron had to build an entirely new duck area complete with duck house and 1/2 acre fenced area. He’s kind of a miracle, though he doesn’t think so. Anyway, the ducks were watching me closely with the water hose, and one duck in particular, a duck we rehabilitated after she was over-mated at another farm, was making eye contact. Her name is Anna Maria.

I looked at her. She looked at the kiddie pool. I didn’t feel like scrubbing and cleaning their pool, as I needed to go make dinner, and we try to just do the pool clean just once per week to be frugal with water. They have access to large bowls with fresh water every morning, but the pool is pretty big. It hadn’t been a week yet since it’s last clean and fill, but when I looked at her again, she looked at the pool. I got the message.

“Alright, Anna Maria, hang on.”

I scrubbed and filled the pool with the sparkling water made extra beautiful by the fact that the kiddie pool is light blue. The ducks gathered and watched in anticipation. When the pool was filled Antonio, our only male duck, was the first one in. “Come on in, girls, the water’s fine,” he said with the bob of his head. The ladies seemed skeptical.

But after a few minutes, they couldn’t resist, and the girls piled in as well. But not Anna Maria. She waited. I went about my other work, as I knew she would get her turn. Indeed, she did. I came back by a few minutes later, and Anna Maria was in the pool with one other female. They were both ducking down and raising up, letting the cool water run over their heads, and my heart was so happy for Anna Maria. I will have to write more about her soon, but she has been though a lot in her life. Every single time I see her being joyful, I feel like I have done some good in the world.

I feel like I flail around the world most of the time–wanting to do some good, usually feeling helpless. I cannot affect much change in the world. I cannot convince world governments that we need to take action now on climate change, that Maine is too hot in May. I cannot even figure out how to help my children prepare for an ever-changing, more difficult world than I grew up in. I try but feel like a failure at every turn.

But I made Anna Maria’s life better.

And, yesterday, in the sparking water, as the sun shone on her between the trees, I saw a joyful duck, and there, before my eyes, was some good I have done in my life.

***

While writing this, I had to take a break and check on Ruby. Her hour was up, but she was still off her nest. Much to her dismay, I had to capture her, which is no easy task. Chickens are fast! But when I took her back to her eggs, she went to them immediately. She sat her little self down, adjusted her body to spread over the 8 eggs in her nest, and looked content. I guess she just needed to be reminded. She’s on day 2 of 21. On day 7, I’ll candle the eggs!

What’s Going On?

by James Sands, guest blogger

“… and I scream from the top of my lungs, WHAT’S GOING ON?! “

My wife was casting about for potential guest bloggers, and I reluctantly answered the call—not certain if my current brand of comma-laced (the world gives me pause), cynical incredulity would be deemed appropriate for public consumption—but, if you are reading this, and hopefully not reluctantly, it, apparently, was.

Perhaps some or maybe even most of you will remember the pop tune from the early nineties, “What’s Up,” written and performed by Linda Perry, formerly of 4 Non Blondes, and its unavoidable, inherent question. Linda Perry could belt one out, and that question was aurally etched into the auditory pathways of my brain with the earnest fierceness and underlying frustration of someone who, I imagine, knows the biggest and most important questions are typically the ones that go unanswered. Her question, timely then, is even more so today.

“What’s going on?”

There is much I do not understand. We are in the midst of what is possibly the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. And, in addition to climate change, we are also in a pandemic that has sickened almost 250,000,000 people and caused the deaths of over 5,000,000 people world wide. This seems like a time when humans should come together, should unite in common purpose against global crises that detrimentally impact us all.

Yet what do we do? We divide; we attack; we fracture—swayed by forces that seemingly are out to confuse, profit, segregate and control. Why?

It is apparent many of us live in two separate realities, polar realities supported and fueled, in part, by major media organizations that, seemingly, no longer view themselves as purveyors of the news, keepers of the sacred truth. Instead, they have become “social influencers.” My spell-check does not like the word “influencers; “neither do I. I am disgusted by it. The truth is sacred—but not to some.

Social media for example. What promise. What possibility. What potential to educate and unite. But no. Social media has become a powerful wedge for the dividers—and a money machine for those who have the power to check and eradicate the lies that live and thrive there. Tragically, it is also, for some, the only source of “news.”

Why is it easier for some people to believe prominent democrats run child prostitution rings out of pizza shops or JFK junior is not deceased but has been in hiding the past twenty-two years and will return to become president or Covid vaccines contain satanic markers than it is for them to believe the burning of fossil fuels has altered our climate to the point where we now are on the cusp of irreversible, planet-wide disaster?

The internet, via social media, now runs the biggest tabloid press on the planet. 

I can see with my own eyes the climate is warming. Ten years ago, my young son and I built a snowman on the day after Halloween. This year, on November 2, I harvested the last of my peppers from plants that were still producing blossoms, yielding almost a half bushel basket the day before our first major frost. This in Bangor, Maine. I have never had pepper plants survive, let alone thrive, outdoors past mid October.  

I have been to Los Angles; I have been to Boston; I have been to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo. I have witnessed the traffic; I have seen the sick gray skylines, the billowing clouds of smoke. I have watched the documentaries, seen the pictures of smog-shrouded cities in India, Pakistan, China, Kuwait, Uganda, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Peru, Egypt, and Iran to list a few.

Where does all of that pollution come from and where does it all go? I have read the literature. I understand how CO2 emissions affect the upper atmosphere. Climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is accepted as fact by a majority of scientists world-wide. Do they have an agenda? Are they making money by promoting this. Is there an international corporation of scientists whose board of directors dictates this truth be told in order to keep their stock holders cash-fat and happy?

I do not own a gigantic mushroom-shaped projectile filled with enough liquid rocket Viagra to penetrate and inseminate the mesosphere nor do I have a cowboy hat. I grow a garden; I raise chickens, and I refuse to be divided. Many of my neighbors do not agree with my political views. I refuse to hate them for it. Granted, I do not agree with or understand why they are where they are regarding issues like climate change and Covid-19, but I do understand how they were led there. Still, I refuse to be divided.

We are all human; we are all one; this planet is one—our only one. I cannot escape it nor would I want to. I love the earth and all the creatures on it. This is my home. Agree with them or not, all humans are my people.

And this is where I really get cynical. Do I think we will come together to save ourselves? Right now, I do not. There are powerful forces aligned against us, powerful people hell-bent on dividing us–hell-bent on turning this planet into a hell. Too many seem unwilling to change; too many seem profit-driven rather than socially motivated. Too many seem selfish, mired in ego and greed. As a whole, we humans just might be fatally flawed. We continue to repeat the same terrible mistakes, revel in the same ridiculous arguments, fall along the same unwholesome divisions.

Will we survive? Will we find the common ground that exists all around us, under us? If we are going to find a way out of this, we had better. And that, now, is the ultimate truth.  

And maybe next year, I’ll plant watermelons.

photo credit: Rachel Jarboe, Unsplash