When people ask me what it was like to grow up on a farm. I quickly answer, “It was an education.” It really was.
Every time I turned around, there was a lesson to be learned. On the land we learned about soil erosion, crop rotation, and the importance of rain - yes, even on the weekends. In the main barn, we learned about lactation, feeding plans and animal care. Next to the barn, a curious little building housed the chickens. We always kept just enough to supply our eggs.
Chickens are odd creatures. They’re not cuddly or playful like cats or dogs. At first glance they don’t seem to have much personality, at least that was my assessment, but Mom would tell you otherwise. Mom loved her hens. Her favourites were the little bantam, or as we called them “banty” hens. They were quite fond of mom. I remember seeing a couple of them follow her around when she went in to feed them. On our farm, the hens’ main purpose was to lay eggs.
Most of us eat eggs on a fairly regular basis. They’re high in protein, quick and easy to prepare, and very tasty. But did you ever wonder about the process? Now I don’t mean in a large poultry operation, but on a smaller scale, like on a family farm. It’s pretty involved. The chickens are kept in a chicken coop. They need a roost: this is a place for chickens to sleep. By instinct chickens want to roost or go to bed in the highest point available and be gathered for protection and warmth while they sleep. Once it starts to get dark, one by one the chickens will go into the coop, get up on the roost and settle down for the night.
Sometimes the chickens would roost during the day. According to Grandma, that didn’t mean they were under the weather, but that they were reacting to the weather. Grandma said, “when the chickens roost during the day, wet weather is on the way.” This little weather gem has some degree of truth behind it. It would appear that the chickens are fooled by the thickening and darkening clouds that move in ahead of the rain. The dimming daylight tricks them into believing that night is approaching, so they go to roost.
The next time you sit down to a delicious plate of scrambled eggs, I hope you share this little story with someone from the breakfast table.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.