folly x 50

May 4. For days the word “folly” has been rolling around on my tongue. As in the folly of this web site endeavor as an act of commerce, not to mention the folly of this little farmstead. Webster defines folly: “any foolish and useless but expensive undertaking”. Well there you go. I can’t help but like the word. I want to turn it inside out, like the Tarot card of the Fool, which I find thrilling and auspicious though perhaps not for the faint of heart.

The Fool is the beginning card of the Tarot, that transcendent springtime act of creating something new, aligned with the exuberant green energy of the season. It’s about wonder and curiosity. Stepping confidently off the cliff, eyes wide open, ready to fly or tumble to new ground. No fear.

Lin is threatening to build a new rooster abode separate from the chicken house. Actually she’s gone far beyond threat; she’s assembled most of the materials and is waiting for a slight lull in garden-planting and chick-rearing activities. The new rooster quarters will be a folly too, though unfortunately not one of those Victorian gazebo follies we’d turn into poultry housing in a minute if we had such a structure. It would be lovely to house the Sumatra and Cubalaya roosters in a folly out in the manzanita forest part of the chicken yard, and give their current quarters over to hens. Lovely folly.

Meanwhile in the garden, more rooster folly. I woke to thuds and scrabbling sounds,

but it took a while for me to remember: last night I moved the Ameraucana rooster into the garden. Here’s the scene at 6:30 a.m.: the Ameraucana already owns the place. Diego the Catalana is sopping wet from running through tall dewy grass, with his own loose feathers stuck to the blood on his wattles. He has retreated to the deck and is anxiously peering in the windows looking for reinforcements – which I admit I’ve provided several times already, jumping up to chase the Ameraucana off the deck so Diego at least has that bit of territory. Fabulous Fabian has taken up a position as far from the Ameraucana as he can get, up against the deer fence on the wild side of the garden. All three roosters are crowing incessantly, Diego while staring me in the eye.

The reason for this rooster drama is a phone call I received yesterday afternoon. “Your chicks are in the mail.” I knew some of the chicks Lin had ordered earlier hadn’t arrived in Sandhill’s first two batches, but Lin had told them never mind until next year. Never mind that – “how many?” was all I could say. Fifty.

The Ameraucanas have been living in an indoor/outdoor apartment of the chicken house so we’d have fertile eggs to hatch, and not incidentally because their mister is ridiculously aggressive with other roosters. The timid Marans rooster moved in with his hens when we converted the main hen apartment to the chick room – the Marans took over the outdoor portion while the chicks were too young to go outside. Incubation of the resulting Marans eggs revealed Jean-Marie to be shooting blanks, so when the first batch of chicks were feathered enough to go out, the Marans, including Jean-Marie, joined the main flock. At least he doesn’t have to encounter the Ameraucana thug.

Today the Ameraucana hens will join the flock. Fortunately yesterday Lin made a pullet/hen delivery, so some roosting spots are available. I’ll move the oldest chicks, who no longer need a light and begin to go to new homes tomorrow anyway, into the Ameraucana space. The second group, still on the heat lamp but feathered enough to spend days outside, can replace the older chicks on the side of the chick room that opens into the outdoor covered pen, and their place will be available for the 50 chicks who will arrive tomorrow. The youngest chicks here now are the Ameraucanas – 19 of them hatched in the incubator only a few days before the in-the-mail chicks, so we’ll be able to combine them once the new ones recover from shipping. Just a few hours of cleaning, and of course the process of catching and moving 93 fast chicks, and I’ll be ready for tomorrow’s 8 a.m. arrival.

The Ameraucana chick compartment has a surprising feature. I put in a big rock to

hold the divider in place, and the moment we transferred the fuzzballs from their bathroom box to their new quarters they ran to the rock and climbed up. It’s their favorite place.

It’s folly to celebrate nature’s beauty and bounty and wisdom with so little thought to making a buck. Deliberate folly. Necessary folly, as we restructure our world in order to support what truly has value – something to think about as I scrub in the chicken house.