I awoke with a start at 1:15 am this morning and dizzily searched for my shoes. I had fallen asleep watching television (Ghost Hunters) and failed to close the chicken pen! Drat!
I could not find a single flashlight, not even the headlamp my kids gave me for Christmas. How would I be able to tell if all the chickens were alive? Oh yeah.... I could turn on the yard light. I stumbled around, still stupid from waking so suddenly, trying to get my bearings. I turned on the yard light and stepped outside.
The faithful Dukenator was at the front door and ready for any adventure, even if it was just out to the chicken pen. We made our way over the wet leaves and across the uneven ground. Evil Roo was crowing, so I knew he was still alive.
I am loathe to admit it, but if something should happen to the Evil Roo, formerly known as Elvis, I would grieve. Though there has been personal animosity between us since he matured, his chivalrous dedication to his flock has won me over. There must be romance or there would be no peeps, but I have never witnessed it, nor heard any sexual assaults the way it was with Big Man, the first alpha rooster. Evil does not bully his ladies or peck his children. The babies know they can shelter by their father. ALL the hens peck them. There is a strict pecking order in the flock and the babies, once they are a certain size, get pecked if they get too close to a higher ranking chicken. Their mothers will defend them ferociously until they are on their own, but as adolescents they continue to shelter by their father. I do not know enough about roosters to know if this is typical behavior. It is touching and admirable. I was relieved to hear El' crowing.
The three Weird Sisters, the remaining Silver Sebrites, were roosting below El', so that was a huge relief, too. (I lost three of the silvers in one night, which is when I implemented the closed pen before dark policy.) I could not see well enough into the coop to see if everyone else was present, but I could hear low mutterings. At least no one seemed to be traumatized. I think they are all safe. I will have to wait until the sun comes up to get a count.
The good thing about having horses and chickens... and trees and tall grass and a creek... I might have to go outdoors, at any time of the night, into fresh air, warm or cold, beneath a dark or light sky, and be instantly at peace. When it is raining at night, it is so black, and quiet. The comfort is tangible and I breathe it deeply into my spirit.
As long as I have Duke's trustworthy companionship, nothing dangerous will catch me unaware, so I am never afraid. If the sky is clear, the stars are bright and immediate and beautiful. Sometimes there is moonlight. Living here, I have had opportunity to observe the phases, position and rhythms of the moon. It is surprising how much more often the sky is dark than lit by the moon. I understand a bit better the power and magic the moon held for our ancestors, as if I have to think about it. We are steeped in the ancient power of moonlight. We recall it with cellular memory and carry it in our spiritual DNA.
Any excuse to go out at night beneath the ancient burning sky ....