artNotes from Hyde House: HAY! NO HAY! NOW HAY!

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Hay! No Hay! That is how we got in our present Chickie Babes predicament. We should have seen this coming. A couple of years ago I made a rather prescient photo painting on this very subject!

For our girls, given the present limited availability of hay, pine chips seemed a good choice. Our Chickie Babes cared to differ. They do not like pine chips! They refused to go in their coop with them. Apparently they are as finicky about their preference for bedding and nesting as David is about keeping their quarters immaculately clean and fresh.

Until I met David I was totally inexperienced in the world of tending chickens. Oh, as a child, captivated by the promise of impending drama, I accompanied my aunt Gladys out to her farm flock to chase a hen around the yard. With apron flying she would catch her, prep her and serve her up for company as a fine fried chicken dinner. Being a young girl I never gave a moment’s thought to what went in to caring for the fowls that provided those memorable meals.

Now, though we do not keep our chickens to provide company dinners, I do think about the care invested to enjoy the beautiful brown eggs David gathers every evening. Daily, I observe David cleaning up and clearing out the abundant fertilizer created by our Chickie Babes.

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When visitors come up on our front porch and lean over the railing to watch our girls clucking and scratching around beneath the Tibetan prayer flags flying over their palace grounds, our guests are charmed by their chicken ways and their feathery good looks. Often someone will say, “Oh! I want to have chickens, too!” Rather than spoil their enchantment, I keep silent and do not bother to respond, “Well, you may want to consider all the hours you are going to be shoveling up after them.”                        

Having tried various options, for easiest cleanup David has decided hay—fluffy, fragrant hay—is the best bedding nature can provide—better than grass clippings, field straw, pine needles or aromatic, mouse-attracting wood shavings.

Providing the best, most-favored accommodations for our girls seems especially important now. As David says, “If it had not been for the fireworks and CoCo passing, the Chickies might have adapted to the pine chips. They had just had a really stressful time and the introduction of something new and different—the change to pine chips—was just one change too many.”  

Yes, the holiday fireworks were hard on all of us. Our usually serene, small town neighborhood really did sound like a war zone. For four days all of our nerves were frazzled. At dusk a flock of sparrows kept circling our big maple tree seemingly uncertain about where to light for the night. The puppies were cowering in the farthest corners of our bedroom closet, though somewhat calmed by the hemp/valerian/chamomile natural meds shared by friends Lori and David. The Chickie Babes hid and huddled together under the spreading cedar. That was where David found our brave and elegant CoCo. Apparently a heart attack sent her over the Rainbow after an especially bone-jarringly-loud rocket boom.

All this and a shortage of the hay our girls prefer. What to do? There is such a shortage many feed stores are totally out of their stockpiles. After much searching, at a store just down the road David found a few half bales of compressed hay going for $15.00 each. (Gulp! We had been paying $9.00 for a full bale.) Off to the feed store I went with our Aussie. There ensued a multi-dimensional conversation with several local farmers advising me to purchase alfalfa hay, this being the most fluffy and fragrant.

The store was out of alfalfa hay, so I settled on one of the few half bales of orchard grass (hay) left on the store’s single depleted pallet. At home with the precious bedding, I delivered the farmers’ message to David, “Cut the binding and let the hay expand!” Since the half bale was compressed, I had actually bought the equivalent of a full, though price-inflated, bale. Once again we have peace and quiet in Paradise and our girls are happily content sleeping in soft fragrant hay. A new photo painting is underway!

Hay! No Hay! Now Hay! This story has a happy ending. 

Another happy ending is in the making at Hyde House where through Saturday, July 17th, 42 artCentral member artists continue to share their creations in the ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP EXHIBITION. This is a not-to-be-missed collection! Weekend Gallery Hours are Friday and Saturday, 12:00-5:00 p.m.

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