Friday, October 24, 2008

Wild Chickens

“A time to kill, and time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up;”
(Ecclesiastes 3:3)

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?


the Bag Lady said...

Good point, dfLeah.

There is still a diesel fuel shortage around here. Talk about an annoyance.

And wild chicken? Love it.

Did you and Dawn talk before you wrote your blog posts? Funny they are both chicken-related.....

Leah J. Utas said...

Total coincidence. Unless the chickens, wild and tame, know something...
I haven't had wild chicken in ages.
Or wild game of any kind for that matter.
The diesel fuel shortage is really getting annoying. I have to wonder how much random factor really plays in it. Not to sound paranoid, but I really wonder.

Crabby McSlacker said...

We're a shoot-all-your chickens society, that's for sure!

Wish we'd learn some common sense before it's too late.

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh, Crabby, I wish that, too. But we seem hell-bent on not learning from our mistakes.

the Bag Lady said...

You don't sound the least bit paranoid to me! Just smart.....
It all seems too much of a coincidence that the price of oil has dropped so dramatically at the same time that it is suddenly unavailable.

Missicat said...

No, you are not paranoid, I wonder about "shortages" myself. Of course we could both be paranoid...I guess growing up in and around Washington D.C. has left me just a tiny bit skeptical..

Leah J. Utas said...

df Bag Lady, it's difficult to not be suspicious.

Thanks, Missicat. Perhaps a bit of paranoia is healthy.

Hilary said...

I don't share your paranoia. I just wish you'd all stop talking about me...

Leah J. Utas said...

LOL! Thanks, Hilary.

Reb said...

Love your photo Leah, the detail is amazing.

Unfortunately common sense cannot be taught, nor is it all that common these days.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Reb. I am more than pleased with the lens.
Common sense? No place for it in our world.

Frank Baron said...

You paint a great picture Leah. Thanks for letting us look over your shoulder.

When it comes to prices and shortages and whatnot, I have no idea. I just wince when I pull up to the pumps and dig a little deeper into the wallet.

(And common sense is becoming distinctly uncommon.)

Leah J. Utas said...

Frank, thanks so much for the kind words.
We're not wincing as much at the pump this week, but it's still not pleasant.