How the Hen House Turns: Geese in a Hail Storm

How the Hen House Turns: Geese in a Hail Storm
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned in the way geese respond to weather—or not.

On a bright sunny day, Lucy and the Hen House gang cut loose whenever I appear outside. I am greeted with a cacophony of loud honks and squawks. Their message is quite clear, “Let us out of here.” And I do.

But then, when the wind starts blowing the Ponderosas into a wavering dance, usually after noon, they retreat to the safety of the pen.

If the day is not bright and sunny—or if I need to open the Hen House doors a little too early—they do not holler at me with such insistence.

If it is raining, the chicken and turkey stay indoors. They have many choices of shelter—dog crates and a dog igloo, an apple tree, an old dog house, a roof constructed of landscape panels from the set of “Petra and the Jay,” and the Hen House itself. At least, turkey sticks her naked head in the door. The rest of her is dressed in a thick layer of feathers.

The geese and ducks—whose feathers don’t get pitifully soggy when wet—ignore rain and snow. They go about their business as if nothing is happening, until they slip in the mud. To avoid disaster, I keep all muddy slopes in the Hen House pen laced with straw. In winter, when mud freezes, I stomp the straw into the ice to secure it. That works almost as well as kitty litter on ice.

However, if it starts to hail, the geese and ducks take notice. Lucy takes great offense at being bopped on the head for no apparent reason. She looks around to see who did it, and only if it continues with undeserved violence does she retreat to the Hen House.

I’m wondering what the moral of this story is. Are we humans any smarter than the geese? Or do we stand in the air, bopped on our heads during each proverbial storm, wondering where they’re coming from, again and again?

Maybe I’ve been reading too much of Mark Twain’s “Uncensored” writings. Written when his life was a shambles, he challenges us with some horrendous accusations. The 13 blogs are on http:caryneeper.com. (I’m still working on the imprinting data mentioned in my last column.)

Los Alamos
54°
Fair
7:01am6:47pm MDT
Feels like: 52°F
Wind: 6mph WSW
Humidity: 28%
Pressure: 30.41"Hg
UV index: 0
ThuFriSat
72/48°F
73/52°F
73/46°F
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