Photo by Carol Ann Sayle
Winter dropped in on the farm with dramatic finality just the other day. The leaves of the pecan trees fell in unison, without the benefit of even the slightest breeze. The event was over in minutes. Apparently, the season's first, hard freeze the night before was the substitute facilitator.
In addition to the sudden denuding of the trees, the prospect of a 20-degree hard freeze instituted "improvements" to the Hen House as well. The 70 young pullets, living in the "nursery" side of the Hen House and mentored by the matronly hen, 7-year-old Aunt Tootie J. Tootums, are the hope for abundant eggs beginning in February. (The most productive season for eggs in Central Texas is from February through June.) Needing those potential eggs for our farm stand customers, we didn't want to lose any youngsters to the sudden cold.
Larry installed a couple of red-light heat lamps over the perches to keep them toasty. Proudly we flicked the lights on as the chilly night grew near. But the pullets were alarmed! Their bedroom looked like it was on fire and they refused to climb the ramp leading to it.
Aunt Tootie, also mystified, checked out the new situation. She climbed up, pecked at a lamp, and proclaimed it odd, but safe. She retired to her corner, as far from the lights as possible, and urged the girls to come to bed.