New Life, Old Habits

Even with new life on the farm, old habits prevail through the changing seasons.


| September/October 2016



Boykin Spaniel puppy

Here’s Lou, a Boykin Spaniel. Boykins were originally bred by South Carolina hunters, and they are excellent family companions to boot.

Photo by Gwen Regan

As I sit here in the Grit editorial offices, I have a brooder about 3 feet away from me stocked with 20 3-week-old Buff Orpington chicks that are growing more active and loud by the day – certainly by the week. They are right at that age when I start to become a little annoyed at their inability to keep the waterer upright, and if you’ve ever brooded chicks before, you know that spilled water means odor, however mild it may be, which means continuously cleaning out and replacing bedding – in my case pine shavings.

A dozen of these chooks will come home with me either at the end of this week or the next, and it’ll rejuvenate our flock that once consisted of around 18 birds of multiple breeds. Predation coupled with a move meant that for a year or so, we were without birds and the henhouse sat empty. I’ve about got the henhouse and the fencing ready for these little animals that are raising Cain right next to me. We’ve commented multiple times over the course of that year how we missed the chickens.

Back in June, my wife and I drove up into the heart of Nebraska to pick up Lou, our 13-week-old Boykin Spaniel. We can’t keep him out of the water, and hopefully one day he’ll be a solid hunting companion as we chase Central and Mississippi Flyway ducks as well as dove – Gwen’s favorite upland game bird, crack shot that she is.

From the back patio, we look out to the pasture across the driveway and see a new colt which arrived a month or so back, following its momma and grazing on lush green summer grass.

The colt especially reminds me of those seasons long past when we had new colts back on the family farm, and watching my older brothers wrangle and break one colt in particular. If memory serves, I watched as Andy put on a football helmet and rode one of those colts to a standstill. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

Whether it’s watching the chicks every morning as they continually add feathers and learn to use their wings – I have a cover on the brooder these days – or watching Lou sit on command for the first time and then retrieve whatever we throw into the water for him, the abundance of new life feels downright refreshing, fulfilling, and good.





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