“A time to kill, and time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up;”
Farm kids learn some things quickly, if they’re paying any sort of attention at all. One of the things we learn is everything is cyclic. Granted, you don’t have to live on a farm to get that. Nature makes it pretty obvious.
But I’ll say that when your livelihood is at the mercy of the seasons, then you have a much tenderer understanding.
Certain aspects like the four seasons: planting, growing, harvesting, and chopping hole in the ice on water trough, are obvious.
Other cycles within nature take a bit more observing.
Some years are good for growing, others for hunting. Berries can be abundant one year and scarce the next.
Our farm was carved out of the bush. Wild critters loved it. Bears wandered through the yard, coyotes yowled on the edge of the forest, timber wolves loped by. Sometimes a cougar came for a calf, bunnies bounded by in the spring, and owls hooted through the cold February nights for a mate.
Dad hunted prairie chicken in the fall. He and I would go out at dusk and drive along the edge of the grain fields by the trees. Grouse, partridge, and spruce (or fool) hens came out of the trees then to peck for the grain that fell during harvest.
Dad would shoot a few in the head with the old family .22
and I’d go collect them. He tried to teach me to snap their heads off with a quick flick of the wrist. I was never able to do it.
He’d get enough for a meal or two. Chickens are small and tasty and there were four of us. He cleaned them and fried them for us too. Wild chicken and fish we his responsibilities.
When I was about nine or so we had a lot of wild chickens about in October. The following year we had even more.
My mom’s cousin and his wife came up to go hunting every year. The year I was 10, I think, he I were looking for chickens along the east barley fields and there were so many feeding that we could walk right up to them. He reached out and gave one a little nudge so it would fly away. He said he wanted to put some sport in it.
But then they dropped off.
Chicken populations don’t dwindle slowly. They peak one year and are gone the next.
Eventually they build back up. We used to say it was a seven year cycle. I have no way of knowing if that’s accurate, but let’s go with it. I like the sound of a seven- year cycle.
The wild chickens in the oil market peaked at about $140 a bbl earlier. This was the top of cycle. We’ve shot and eaten quite a few already.
Shouldn’t we leave some for breeding so the cycle can come back to the top?