Spring is in the air, at last. The weather is becoming warmer (perhaps too warm for February, but never mind – it’s nice for riding horses), birds are migrating north, and the days are getting longer. All those things are welcome to everyone who had to deal with the harsh surprises the ice storm brought.
I was happy to see that the cranes are now back in the skies, going the other way, and the killdeer have come back. Meadowlarks are also making themselves very well known.
All the tiny spring flowers are blooming, which you can see if you do “belly botany” like my botanist friend always recommended. It’s so good to see them.
While uploading some of the photos I took to iNaturalist, I took the time to see if one of my theories about what’s growing on our grassy areas was true. Sure enough, chickweed is so named because it’s used as chicken feed. It’s even grown as a crop in some places! Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) is darned interesting for a “weed.”
It is native to Eurasia and naturalized throughout the world. This species is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human and poultry consumption.iNaturalist
Stellaria media is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.
I feel a lot better, because for the past few weeks I’d been feeding it to the chickens along with the henbit I’d read was good for them to eat (and whatever else comes up when I pull it up). They eat it like crazy.
Speaking of the hens, they also know it’s spring. Everyone has grown all their feathers back nicely, even Blondie, who had been bald on her back from the rooster’s attentions. And Betsy, the one who lays blue eggs, has ramped up production again. I think half the chickens are laying now (at least two of them are old enough that I don’t think they’ll lay at all). For a while I was just getting one or two a day, a white and a tan, but now I’m getting three…maybe up to five with the coming of spring.
The other great thing about spring coming is that the days are getting longer. That means I can get rides in on both horses after I finish work, which may help out with the fact that I’m not feeling very confident lately, especially with Drew, who is needing a lot of “firm corrections” as Tarrin calls them (he rushes rather than walking beside me when he sees grass, and just seems irritable). I am glad I can spend more time with my equine buddies, nonetheless.
So, why do I say spring is sickening? It turns out that I made myself sick when I was cleaning out the henhouse last week.
Let this be a lesson to you all: when you are sweeping up bits of hay and straw filled with chicken poop, wear a mask. I did not.
Thanks to that error in judgment, I now seem to have some kind of lung infection. I found myself wheezing and gurgling when lying down a couple of days ago, and since then, my lungs seem to be filled with fluid. At first it was clear, so I wasn’t too worried, but it’s getting worse, so I have an appointment to get my lungs looked at. Since I have NO other symptoms of illness (COVID negative, before you ask), all I can figure is I inhaled things that displeased my bronchial tubes.
Now, I live in Milam County, Texas, land of few medical services. I had an appointment for this morning, but it turns out the Internet is down at the local office. That’s so Cameron. I might be able to get in today in the next town over if my PA goes over there; otherwise, I have to cram an appointment with the other provider in tomorrow (my busiest day of the week), amid getting my spouse to the chiropractor for his messed up back, taking him to his Rotary meeting, and grabbing lunch with my friends. I predict all of that won’t happen.
So, readers: wear a mask when working in a dusty, enclosed environment like a chicken house. Or don’t ever clean it (not a good idea, since it gets stinky).