Monday, March 28, 2011

A Drive in the Country

What a busy week is coming up!  I have classes to teach Cub Scouts to Leave No Trace, a raptor program, and another for 200 school children about nature.  I will man a station at a Great Blue Heron rookery on a farm in Oldham County.  The directions to the farm seemed a little unclear, so I decided to drive on out there today, and make sure I knew how to find the place. Since I eventually had to call someone else to verify the location, this was a wise move on my part!
I usually don't drive any farther out into Oldham County than Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, but there is a lot of beautiful countryside if you go on out US 42.  It changes from subdivisions of large expensive houses to horse farms on both sides of the road.  I wanted to go slowly and rubber-neck, but cars behind me wanted to go fast.  I spotted a Kestrel on one phone line, then a Redtailed Hawk on another.  This time I found a driveway to park in temporarily while I dashed back for a photo. The birds are unconcerned about cars that keep moving, but they get anxious when I walk in their direction, even though I'm on the ground and they are up on a phone line.
I have no idea how large Ashbourne Farm actually is, but it looked pretty big as I pulled in.  The view of hills and valleys is breathtaking.  It's an actual working farm, with people planting a large garden, burros and cattle in the field, and a collection of chickens where I parked my car.  In fact, these hens seemed quite attracted to my Prius.  I don't know if they'd never seen a Japanese hybrid before, or if they thought I might have stirred up some bugs to eat, but about eight of them rushed over to walk around it as soon as I got out.  I didn't see them kicking the tires, but couldn't really understand any of their quiet clucking comments.
One little red hen in particular gave me the once over. When I was a little girl, my grandparents had chickens, and I was supposed to collect the eggs when I visited their farm.  I must have been about six years old at the time, and those hens absolutely terrified me!  I wasn't about to go into the coop by myself and put my hands under those birds sitting on a nest.  No Way! So look what I do now...I pick up hawks and owl to hold and think it's fun.  There's no predicting, is there...
These looked by Guinea Fowl to me, and they all ran around the yard in groups, chirping and singing, and making whatever noise Guinea Fowl make.
 I've gone to the Kentucky State Fair for years, and we always like to see the cattle, so I know their breeds pretty well, but we just stroll through the chicken exhibits and I don't really know many of their names.  It's amazing what the breeders have done with them.

We are all familiar with the phrase about "ruling the roost," and this guy is pretty confident of his role in farmyard life.  After giving me the evil eye, he took a big breath,...

 ...threw his head back and let go with a loud series of crows, just to let me know who is the boss around there!  Early morning has nothing to do with crowing, because this was at 3 in the afternoon.  I think it's a territorial thing.
This poor little hen must listen to him all the time, and she doesn't look happy about it.  When he finally stopped, she pulled her head out of the straw, and looked at me as if to say, "See what I have to put up with every day?"

1 comment:

Wren Smith said...

Kathy, I love your work! You are capturing in words and in photos so much of the exquisite beauty of this planet. Keep up the GREAT work! naturally yours, Wren