The Weather Report for Chickens

Day 89 of 100

I was going to write tonight about corn and give a crop report. It’s fascinating to me what Ron has managed to do in the garden despite the water and temperature struggles this summer. Some things have failed–but not many things. But I will have to give more detail tomorrow because I have a joyful story to tell, and I feel like, right now, if you have a joyful story to tell, I want to hear it. I hope you feel the same.

This is Juliet’s baby, who is on her own with her brother since last week. Oh, Juliet! She has no name yet because I have to know her a little before I can name her well. Today, I learned something about her. I was giving watermelon to the big chickens first, and this tiny hen squeezed under the fence, ran out there with the grownups and stole some watermelon. That’s bold. There’s an order in chicken culture, and this would be punished with a good peck if she were to be caught. She surely knows this, but that baby ran out there anyway while the other babies watched in awe and stole some watermelon. This is fantastically bold.

I always give my chickens the weather report to try to help them through the bad days. I am so sensitive to how they feel that, when they are struggling with extreme weather like we are, I worry extra. I try to make their lives reasonable during tough times, I mean, the watermelon rinds are piling up out there. Still, hot and miserable weather is hot and miserable weather for everybody. Generally, in the summers, I can say, “just a few days, and we’ll get a little break,” but it became apparent last month that we were in for a long heat wave and dry spell the likes of which I have not seen in Maine. I did not want to tell my chickens the bad news, so I just laid low.

But, today, as I delivered another round of watermelon and checked all of the waterers, I got to to deliver the good news as well–one more bad day! The cooler temperatures are coming for us on Monday. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 95. The high on Monday is supposed to be 70–and the rain is coming too! All the animals, including some very old hens who I was really worried about in this heat, seem to be going to make it!

Mary Jane is still alive. I gave that old girl a pep talk today. She is doing much better than I thought, so I told her to hang in there a little longer. If she can make it just one more day, she can live to see another glorious fall around here. Chickens LOVE the Fall. The cooler temps, the leaves, the bugs on the leaves. Even if they take turns molting, overall, fall is a fun time for our pasture-raised chickens. The pasture gets extra fun.

I was feeling so good about sharing the good news with all the animals tonight when I tucked everyone in for their bedtime. Shortly after, I came inside after wrapping up the duck game. While outside, I could hear music coming from the house, as, of course, all of the windows are open. When I came inside, I found Ron and our son dancing in the kitchen with the music so loud I am sure the neighbors could hear it. It was 7 Nation Army by the White Stripes, and they both looked so quirky and adorable. Our son was wearing his sunglasses and dancing around with his “old da.” The best part was that Boudica was joining in and jumping and playing in between the two of them.

I smiled so big my face literally hurt.

There is joy in the air on our little homestead. The rain is coming. The heat will break. Ron has kept the crops alive, and I have kept even Mary Jane alive. It’s been tough. I am so thankful rain and cool are coming.

The weather report looks good.

P.S. If you are a farmer or homesteader reading this post and you are struggling with heat and drought, my heart goes out to you. I hope with all of my might that you get some rain soon, too.

Home Again, Home Again

Day 82 of 365

We are home, and I am with my Boudica again! Just now, I was outside freshening the duck water, and Boudica came up to me with a big smile on her face. She, apparently, did a great job with the sitter, but she’s happy we’re home.

I experienced a lot of mixed emotions being home. I was happy to be here, but things had changed more than I thought they would in just three days. Mainly, I missed the departure of my tiny neighbor’s second and last brood of babies. I had a bad feeling I was going to miss it, and I did.

I took this picture the day we left. There were four babies, and there was simply no more room in that nest. I hate that I missed them go. Last time, I was able to witness it. Thankfully, I got this picture right near the end of things. I had read you have to be careful getting too close to the nest right when they are about to fly. You can scare them into trying too soon and cause problems.

I approached the nest so tentatively and pretty soon realized this little gang of wide-mouthed baby Eastern Phoebes was only going to watch me with mild interest–and I do mean mild. Yes, I am thankful for this photograph.

Interestingly, when we got home Ruby was out with the flock!

I could not believe this, but there she was, acting like a normal chicken. Kate, who has officially dumped her baby was also out with the flock, as was Bianca. Everyone was behaving so well and so orderly like. How could these be my chickens?

But it didn’t take long for the quirkiness to reappear. As I was out saying hello to my babies, who grew so much I almost cried when I saw them, I watched as, one by one, all of my quirky chickens flew over the fence and came my direction.

At first, Ron was like, “Well, you spoil those chickens too much.”

But, later, he said, “I’m sure there’s just a certain comfort level with mom being home. It can’t be easy on them to be cared for by a stranger.” I agree with this wholeheartedly. I am amazed at how differently my chickens behave when people they do not know come around.

Our little vacation was the first one we have taken since becoming homesteaders. There’s just too much work to leave to other people for very long, but we did it thanks to a fantastic farm sitter. I am so glad to be home, but I don’t want to wait so long before we do it again.

And I am hoping with all of my might that, tomorrow morning, I hear “fee-bee, fee-bee” outside of our bedroom window.

Ruby’s Back in the Coop

Day 59 of 365

When I started this journey, Ruby started her journey with me. Right as I started this blog, Ruby got her eggs. For the last nearly 60 days, I have observed Ruby’s journey. I loved watching her be a great mom. The last few days, I have been watching her have a really hard time coming out of motherhood. Her hormones have made her a wreck. I can empathize.

Tonight, as we were wrapping up dinner, I heard a baby chick screaming in the garage. They scream big for even the smallest things, but, of course, you have to go check on all of it. I found Ruby in the crate, and as her babies tried to join her, she was giving them a good, hard peck on the head.

There were seven baby chicks in hysterics running around the garage.

I reached in and pulled Ruby out of the crate. Immediately, a few babies piled in. I held Ruby a long time trying to decide what to do with her. I talked to her and gave her lots of pets. She even let me hug her. I decided to walk her to the coop and see how she did. Everyone else was on the roosts for the night.

I sat her down, and she ate some food and walked around looking a little lost. But then…she hesitantly hopped on the roost and looked up, longing for a higher roost but so hesitant. Ruby never fit in with the flock very well even before becoming a mama. I worry about her trying to find her place in the pecking order again.

She seemed like she was going to settle herself with the bottom roost, but there was plenty of room on the second highest roost. I reached down and scooped her up. She fussed about it a little bit.

As I held her, I talked to Mary Jane, who would be above Ruby (Mary Jane is a meat bird we pardoned and just so happens to be one of the smartest chickens I have ever met), and told her to NOT peck Ruby on the head. I touched her feet and told her to be sweet. Then, I told Betty, who would be next to Ruby, to be nice to Ruby.

I sat Ruby on the roost, put my hands on her feet, and leaned my head onto her back. I thanked her for her hard work being a mama.

No one pecked her on the head.

Spoiled Ducks

Day 53 of 365

We have seven Indian Runner ducks. Six are the ones we special ordered from the best waterfowl hatchery we could find. One is a duck who taught me one of the most valued lessons I have learned in my life. She’s a chocolate runner named Anna Maria, and I will have to tell her story one day soon. It will take me some work to do justice to Anna Marie. She’s special.

But she’s spoiled. All of our ducks have become so spoiled. It happens every summer. We are with them so much they get used to us and start bossing us around. Only, this year, it’s worse. Every year, they get a little bolder and a little bolder. It’s a new level this summer. Today, those ducks sat at the back door and quacked very loudly until we brought them treats–three times. And, I assure you, a group of female ducks can make a lot of noise. So, you give in.

Our neighbors are not that close, but duck sounds carry. Our neighbors have geese and ducks, and when my son and I go for a walk down our road, when the ducks and geese start carrying on, you can hear it for like a quarter of a mile for sure.

So I worry about the loud ducks. So I give them everything they demand.

It’s usually Anna Marie who starts it. She’s extra spoiled. She’s been through a lot in her life. We got her when she was about one year old and have been spoiling her extra every day of her life. Ducks are very smart. They all figured out that everything Anna Maria asked for she got.

Yesterday, we found that some of the ducks were leaning across the fence into a garden area eating the broccoli leaves. Ron went over to them away, and they all ganged up on him and quacked and quacked at him. They were clearly griping at him. Ron had to move the fence farther from the broccoli, and those spoiled ducks quacked at him, complaining about it the whole time.

Tonight, while I made dinner, I took the ducks their nightly greens from the garden. During greens season in the garden, every single night, Ron or I give the ducks their fresh greens.

And I’m not even kidding about this–our ducks will not eat store-bought greens. I have thrown some to them at times when I have bought lettuces in the off season. They’re organic. But nope. The ducks will not eat store-bought greens. They would rather go without. How are they this spoiled?

But they are. And they are so cute they can get away with it. And it helps us on feed bill that both the chickens and the ducks can eat from the garden. I mean, look at them. You can see why they are so spoiled. It’s why every single night I play the duck game.

A Wasp Sting and a Fairy Egg

Day 52 of 365

Thursdays are the busy grading days, so I am writing late. But I spent the entire morning picking strawberries. I am in awe of how many berries our plants are producing this year. We have shared and shared, and I am pretty sure I am going to have enough berries to make all the strawberry jam this year. Well, I might go to the big strawberry farm and pick one good batch–just to be safe.

While I was out picking, I had all of these wonderful thoughts in my mind about how generous the berries were. I was watching the birds play all around me. The sun was warm, but the air was cool. I was in love with the moment and with nature. “Nature must love me back,” I thought. “Just look at how generous these berries are being.”

Then, I thought I felt something in my eye. I thought I felt a little sting. It hurt, but there were so many berries. I just kept picking. But, by the end, I realized I couldn’t keep my eye open or see very well. When I went into the house, I found I had a giant swollen eye lid, and though I could barely see my eye, it was very blood shot.

I took a Benadryl and put ice on eye. I whined until Ron gave me some attention, and he then washed out my eye, which helped. It all hurt quite a bit, though I should add that I have learned in my life I have a very low threshold for pain, and my melodramatic son comes by his melodrama naturally I think.

“Nature bit me,” I told him, “just when I was romanticizing it.”

“That wasp didn’t mean to sting you,” he said. I knew this, of course. I was still mad at the wasp. Ron could take the wasp’s side if he wanted, but I looked like Rocky.

Later, my eye was all better. Ron made a wonderful dinner with garlic scapes, salad, beets, and peas–all fresh from the garden. It was like a feast.

And, then, when I collected the eggs tonight, I found a fairy egg! It’s only the second one I have ever seen. It’s so tiny and cute.

Now, I must keep grading essays. I can’t decide if my life is very interesting or very boring.

A Miracle Egg (and Kate’s a Mama)

Day 40 of 365

I have be eluding to a miracle egg in the last week or so because I didn’t want to jinx my wish that an egg I had under Kate might hatch. I am quite superstitious.

A couple of weeks ago, when Kate and the adopted babies rejected each other, there were five eggs under Kate that she had been sitting on for two weeks. When I switched the eggs for the baby chicks the night we tried to give her the adopted babies, I put all of the eggs in a box near her crate. I wanted to candle the eggs, just to see if our rooster was doing any good work in this department, as he is wonderful but quite old.

I couldn’t carry all of the eggs at once, so I carried in all I could–four eggs–and just left the other in the box in the garage. I candled all four eggs, and they were all duds. I was sad about our rooster but glad I had bought new babies from a good breeder.

Of course, the next morning, Kate and the babies rejected each other, as you know from my earlier post. Kate was so confused and so devastated she lost her eggs. She kept looking and looking for them. In a sad state that morning, I grabbed that egg in the box that had sat in the chilly garage all night.

“What are the odds that egg is developing?” I asked myself. Of course, then I had to admit, even if it was fertilized, it had sat out all night without heat. I had heard of eggs making it for some hours without heat, even though my standard rule is 1 hour. I thought for a moment. “9 hours,” I said out loud. I sighed mightily.

But it wouldn’t hurt to try, and if it would help Kate get to motherhood more quickly than starting all over, it would be worth a try. I took the egg in the house and candled it. There was a baby in there that was quite developed. I said all the bad words. I won’t share those, as I know some children read this blog, but I said all the bad words. I was so mad at myself for not checking the egg the night before. I could have kept the egg warm in the house, just in case Kate rejected the babies.

But there I was–with nothing but a hope for a lot of luck. It would take a miracle.

I put the egg under her and made a wish as I did. Again, I am very superstitious. I also grabbed three eggs from the coop and thought maybe she might get one baby out of those. I thought poor Kate deserved to be a mama. Seeing her get so upset about losing her eggs that morning broke my heart. So, within half an hour, Kate was back in business. She had eggs back under her. Worst case, she would have to go 21 more days with the new eggs from the coop. Best case, one week with the miracle egg.

But a week passed, and there was no hatch. I took the abuse from Kate and grabbed the egg to candle it. I thought maybe it had developed further than when I had seen it last, but I wasn’t sure. It had been a week and though I tried to make a good mental note, I doubted myself. Still, “a few more days, just in case,” I said to Kate when I put the egg back under her.

A few more days passed, and there was still no hatch.

Yesterday, when I woke up in the morning, I told myself “today will be the day I’ll dispose of that egg.” I needed a miracle, but I researched my odds. I understood my chances were small; still, I was melancholy about it.

“After tea,” I told myself. Every morning, after morning chores, my husband and I sit and try to talk for at least half an hour. We won’t see each other much until dark, so we try to touch base every morning.

We had just finished tea, and Ron headed outside to start his work for the day. He came back to find me and said, “Guess who is a mama?” My eyes widened!

“I heard Kate purring and couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” he said. When he went to look, there was a little baby chick. I could tell he was so happy for Kate too. This is one of the many reasons I love that man.

I ran to the garage, and there, right in front of Kate was her little mini-me. Not only did that baby hatch, five days late, but that baby also looks just like Kate did when she was a baby. It’s almost too much cuteness to take.

Empty Nest

Day 36 of 365

This morning was a big morning, full of mixed feelings. Our tiny neighbors moved out. By the end, we could see that our Eastern Phoebe couple had raised FOUR beautiful babies, and that little nest was quite crowded.

On Saturday, the parents put on quite the show. It was like they decided that Saturday was the day they were getting those babies out of the nest. All day long, there was flapping and encouraging–and back and forth between the nest and the deck rail, the nest and the fence, the nest and the strawberry fence posts. Those parents were working hard!

The babies were having none of it. 

It reminded me of potty training my children. You get geared up for it and decide “this is the day we’re starting.” Then, you work so hard all day, maybe two days, maybe three days, maybe a week, and then, you’re so tired you have to take a break.

That’s what happened with the Eastern Phoebe parents. After all of that work on Saturday, on Sunday, they just rested. The babies seemed content with this plan, except that mama and daddy were feeding them far less. One time, I walked up to the nest and their little mouths opened. 

But, after that day of rest, the parents were back to work yesterday, and this time, things were hopeful. There was much wing flapping from the babies. They stood up and flutter, flutter, fluttered. 

“They’re close,” I told Ron. 

“I wonder if they’ll stick around a bit after they can fly,” he responded. 

“I hope so,” I said but worried in my heart they would head out on their own before I was ready. 

This morning, Ron was watering the garden because we didn’t get the promised rain, and I was working at the kitchen table on a special quilt for a toddler. As I stitched, I could hear a lot of fluttering outside the kitchen window. When I made it to a spot where I could take a break from my stitching, I went out to check on the nest. 

I have checked on that nest at least five but closer to ten times a day every single day since the parents started building. This morning, when I checked, the nest was empty. 

My heart sank. 

I went to check under the nest, and there were no babies on the ground. “I guess everyone flew away,” said to myself and started looking around the area. 

Then, on the strawberry patch fencing, I saw two babies. They looked just like their parents, so grown up, only smaller and with that wide baby mouth still. I walked down to see them but didn’t want to get to close. After as much study as I could give them, I made my way back to our deck, feeling melancholy for myself but proud for our little parents. 

As I headed toward the chairs on our deck, a little flutter occurred not five feet from me. And, there, on one of our chairs, one of the babies stopped, rested, and looked right at me. He just stared at me for the longest time, and I, of course, took pictures. That baby sat there forever. He or she sat there with a look like, “thanks for letting us crash here, human.”

Finally, the baby flew away. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love this little family of birds any more than I already did, but I was wrong. 

Right now, I don’t know what happens next. I am trying to find research about what happens to the babies. Do they stay close? Do they head right out? Will our little parents raise their next batch in this nest (they raise two broods each summer), or will they move on? Will they be back next year? Can I make it a year without this little joy in my life? 

What a gift this experience has been! Our deck is quite bug free; my heart is full of love; and my mind has been expanded by the learning about these wonderful birds. What a fortunate human I am!

I just have to figure out how to cope with the reality of an empty nest.  

*If you are catching this blog for the first time, you can read more about our tiny neighbors, the Eastern Phoebes, in these posts: A Tiny New Neighbor and An Update on My Tiny Neighbors.

The Solstice Is Coming

Day 25 of 365

I will have to be very brief tonight. In about half an hour, I have to go try to sneak the baby chicks under our mama hen, Kate. I am nervous about this. It almost always works, but, out of the about 20 times I have done this, one time, the hen rejected the baby. It was devastating. But I know how to do everything right, and I am going to try really hard to do it stealthily. Ron helps me, so we are a pretty good team at replacing eggs with babies under sleepy broody hens. It should go well.

Still, you always worry a bit, right?

But I just had to write quickly to say how magnificent 9:00 PM in June in the woods in the state of Maine truly is. I grew up in the south, and one of the things I love most about the “up north” is how light it is in the evenings, just before the Solstice. The light lingers so late. It’s beautiful.

I was just playing the duck game with the ducks, and after I had them all tucked in, I turned my eyes toward the tree line and just had to stop and take it in. The light fading in the pine trees in the woods behind our home was breathtaking to me. I have lived in different parts of this country and found beauty in those places too, but there’s something special about Maine to me. It has my heart.

This picture is not one I took, but I searched Creative Commons photographs quite a bit to find a beautiful picture that kind of captured what I saw. This is pretty much it. So magnificent, right? I just wanted to share it with you.

The photo credit for this beautiful photograph goes to m wrona at Unsplash. You have to take a peek at their other photographs if you have a moment. These photographs are so fantastic that they inspire me to write.

And wish me luck with Kate. I’m going to be holding my breath, hoping for the mama hen purr.

An Update on My Tiny Neighbors

Day 24 of 365

Well, I broke my promise to keep my distance from my tiny new neighbors’ home. I didn’t get too close, but I got a little closer than I had promised. To be fair, I was worried one of the babies was dead. To be honest, I mostly knew it wasn’t and knew I should mind my own business even if it was. But I am curious. I am also a worrier. I had to take a closer look.

I just kind of looked with my phone though. I stayed about 10 feet away and just held up my phone and zoomed the camera all the way in. I got a picture. I also saw the baby that I thought was dead shake their little head. Not dead, of course. Just very chill babies. This is my first experience having a bird nest so close watching wild babies. I thought the babies would be rowdier, like baby chickens. Not at all. They are so quiet and chill. They only cheep every now and then. Maybe they are really content. They do have two parents working to meet their needs 24/7. Ron said maybe they have to be quiet for danger reasons. That makes sense too.

Either way, I learned today that the babies are not dead. I also learned they are fuzzy and adorable, like ugly adorable, and now I am in love with these babies, just like I am in love with their parents.

I seem to be learning something every day from these tiny neighbors. I looked and could not find a book on Eastern Phoebes. I feel like these amazing birds should have a whole book devoted to them. How can there not be such a thing?

So I am learning everything I can from the internet. The Audubon Guide to North American Birds has been helpful but is not nearly as detailed as I would like. But here are a few tidbits I have learned so far.

  1. Eastern Phoebes mate for life! How magnificent is that? Apparently, sometimes, the male will have two mates though, but he stays with those for life.
  2. Their nests are made of mud, moss, leaves, grass, and animal hair. I am certain the inside of that nest must include Boudica fur. Every nest I have ever found on the ground around here included Great Pyrenees fur.
  3. Both parents feed the babies, and they stay very busy. I have seen so many mouthfuls of bugs headed to that nest. The babies are thankful. I am also thankful. We live in the Maine woods. There are plenty of bugs to spare.
  4. They will often raise two broods each summer. I am hope, hope, hope, hoping they use the same nest. Apparently, they often do. I believe these birds know they are very welcome here. My husband and I have our tea and coffee on the deck every morning and just watch them in action. So far, they seem totally fine with us being there, but I hope they know I love them.
  5. The migrate as far south as Mexico. I have never been to Mexico but would love to go. I wish my neighbors could tell me about Mexico. I wish they could tell me about their amazing journey. Can’t you just imagine?
  6. And, of course, the babies are amazingly chill. I will have to keep reading to see if I can find out more about this. I can’t see for sure how many babies are in the nest, but I definitely caught two little fuzzy heads in my picture.
  7. The babies will start to leave the nest in about 16 days. I think we are at day 3 or 4 right now.

That’s all I have for now. I can’t wait to learn more, and I will keep you posted on the babies. It’s fascinating to me to have these wild birds and babies to observe while Ruby is also raising her baby chicks. It’s a great vibe. We have some children coming to our little farmstead to visit in the coming weeks, and I can’t wait to share all of this with them.

Also, how devastated am I going to be when my tiny neighbors leave? There will be many tears.

A Scream in the Woods

Day 5 of 365

I have a story to tell today! But, before I can tell it, I think I have to give a little context.

In 2019, we had our first hawk attack on our chickens. I was in the house and heard a loud scream from the chicken area, but I didn’t run out there right away. We had 8 young chickens, who were about 9 weeks old, and they had just been out with the “grown ups” for a few days. I watched them closely for the first couple of days to make sure they weren’t picked on too much. They weren’t. We have a pretty peaceful flock. But a couple of them just screamed and screamed at the slightest peck on the head. They had some melodramatic leanings for sure. One was a little rooster, and he was as cute as can be–and such a mama’s baby. When his mama said he had to be grown up at 9 weeks, he took it hard.

Given this situation, I took my time getting out to the chicken area when I heard that scream. When I opened the front door and saw the reason for the scream–a hawk on the back of one of my original Rhode Island Reds, Lucy II, I was devastated. I ran upon the hawk, but I was too late. It was truly one of the most devastating experiences because I could have saved her. I felt like the worst chicken mama in the world, and truly, that day, I was.

I vowed that would never happen again.

And it hasn’t. I am now extremely in tune with every sound, every call, every bit of talking. At the slightest potential sound of distress, I drop everything I am doing and go check. Without fail. Every single time. For nearly 4 years. I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if it’s good for my nerves, but it is what it is.

I have become so adept at figuring out bird calls, I feel part bird. This has been helpful in keeping my chickens safe, but we live in the Maine woods, and in the spring and summer, this means I also hear, with far too much detail, the calls of the birds in our woods. It’s mostly wonderful, but being awoken at 4:00 in the morning because a wild bird is upset about something does get old. And the worst is when I hear a baby distress call. The very worst is when I hear a baby distress call that goes on and on and on and on. I know something must have happened.

That happened last night. I was cooking a very late dinner because Ron was working in the garden until dark and I had some final grades due for a class. As I was cooking, it was starting to get dark outside, and I heard the distress call. I kept hearing it and hearing it and hearing it. It’s heartbreaking.

When Ron came in, I told him about it. And then told him about it some more. I knew there was nothing to be done. I could tell it was in a tree very near our house, but I had no idea what tree, and what would I do anyway? Climb a tree?

Ron got up and shut the windows. “There,” he said. “No more outside noise.”

We finished dinner, and then I got the duck’s peas ready for bedtime. I opened the back door and stepped out to greet the ducks and was also ready to listen carefully to see if I still heard the baby bird distress call.

What I heard instead was a scream that sounded just like a human screaming in terror, and it was coming from right above my head.

I just froze in panic. For a few seconds, my brain had no idea what I had heard. I had this instinct to drop the peas and run, but I also had the instinct to run to my ducks to protect them. I couldn’t move a muscle. And then, about 30 seconds later, I heard “who cooks for you?”

photo credit: Richard Lee, Unsplash

Oh my gosh! That’s a barred owl, I thought to myself, and I could breathe again. Of course, then I realized I had better get the ducks into the house, as that owl was right above us. I watched far too much of a video one time about what an owl does to a duck head. Thankfully, the ducks didn’t play their games too much last night and went into the duck house fairly quickly. As I circled the duck house for a few short rounds of the duck game, I realized I also didn’t hear the baby bird in distress anymore…

It could be a coincidence, but the sounds were definitely from the same area. And, as sad as I am for that baby bird, I know an owl has to eat, and it’s better this way than that poor baby starving to death.

Nature.

When I came inside to tell Ron about it, he didn’t seem to understand the weight of my fear of that first scream. He probably would have known it was an owl immediately. I did not. I hear a lot of owls, but I had never heard that particular scream that close to me before. I’ll bet it was less than 15 feet from me.

My adrenaline must have gotten up so much from the scream that I ended up with a terrible headache, and, of course, felt silly for being so scared. I guess, for about 30 seconds, I thought Stephen King was right and there were terrible things in the Maine woods.

Thankfully, it was just a barred owl, but if you have never heard the scream, you must listen to it here. I found it by Googling “barred owl scream.” And when I searched for it, one result come up “owl that screams like a human.” Here it is below. Listen at 0:07.

If you think it’s terrifying too, please leave a comment because I think Ron thinks I am ridiculous for being so frightened.

***

And I have to give a quick Ruby update. She took a break from her eggs today and didn’t want to go back again. She flew over into the main chicken area and was just having a party with everyone else. I had to run her down in the chicken run after an hour of her party, which made her stress–and everyone stress. I honestly can’t believe I caught her again. She’s so fast! But she ran under a shrub and thought she was hidden from me, so I scooped her up. When I took her back to the eggs to see if she was going to get back on them (I was starting to think I was maybe going to have to give her eggs to Kate, who has also gone broody now), she went straight to them, wiggled her little self on them, and then screamed at me for getting too close when I checked her water. That chicken.

She’s on Day 4 of 21. Sigh.