First, while I have made it clear that I believe non-humans can be sentient beings, I don’t really think mushrooms are on the internet. But last Wednesday right after I published the mycelium essay, dozens of mushrooms popped up everywhere. The three photographs here were all of different kinds and there were more, many more! I assume they are on the mycelium network. Which leads to the issue of plowing; whether it is better to break up the mycelium or leave it in tact. I had several lively responses about plowing and about the joys of turning the earth. I rode with my Grandad on his tractor mile after mile under a little canopy with big jugs of cool water to drink when we got hot and thirsty. It was a great pleasure. But Edward Faulkner in his 1943 book, Plowman’s Folly, set off what has been called an agricultural bombshell blaming the plow for the Dustbowl and the destruction of soil in general. My grandfather, in the prime of his life in the 1940’s would have considered Faulkner’s ideas great nonsense. One day something is not only a fact, but part of the fabric of your life. Next day or year or decade we’d best be ready to open our minds. As we had to do with chickens.
In the 1990s, dinosaur fossils were excavated in China with plumage, quills and……… well, feathers! So it turns out that birds of today descended from theropods, two-legged dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptors. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-dinosaurs-shrank-and-became-birds/
I was floored by this idea until I started keeping chickens and their exalted lineage is pretty obvious. They really think this farm is run entirely for their benefit. Not that they don’t work hard all day long, searching out bugs and heaven only knows what else. They are omnivores, and like us, and eat almost anything.
Despite the activity, I am getting very few eggs because we are in the dark days of the Solstice. They will begin laying in earnest again when the days get longer in January. I could rig up auto lighting to trick them into thinking spring was on its way but it sounds like a lot of work and some part of me does not approve even though it is considered a fine idea by many chicken people.
My rooster and his coterie of 7 hens remind me of some colorful 18th century court with their beautiful feathers and chatty ways. They have much to say to each other. There are two hens who are loners and don’t travel with the rest. This is typical of any flock and it is accepted that the best hens are the hens who flock together with the rooster, but I have great sympathy for my two hens who prefer their solitude.
My rooster, The Calico Kid is of course noisy and his romantic demands are seen as somewhat over enthusiastic by some of the hens. Still, he will find a treat, a big worm or something and instead of gobbling it down, he calls his hens over to share. I have a family of hawks in my big trees; there must be half a dozen circling on some days. The Calico Kid has big spurs and if the hawks dive he spreads his wings and stares them down.
He is not really necessary since the hens can find their own bugs and my Great Pyrenees dog loves to chase the hawks. But the Kid is so beautiful. Gertrude Jekyll, a much revered gardening writer in the late 19th century created dazzling gardens and she would agonize over allocating space to one plant or another. She was drawn as we all are to some sturdy plant with a long season of bloom. But, if a plant was supremely beautiful, she gave it space no matter how much care it needed and how short its bloom period. So the Kid gets space on our little farm because he is supremely beautiful.