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Virga at Dawn

April 13th, 2010

The weather has been so nice the past week that it’s hard to keep up with all the changes. Everyday there’s something new around the property, or in the garden. I love walking around outside before the sun comes up, in that peaceful, subdued light of dawn.

Yesterday the air was perfectly calm, and as I walked outside I looked up to see the most beautiful clouds!  I believe these are Virga cloud formations, denoting the fall of moisture or ice crystals from the clouds, drifting downward slowly but evaporating before reaching the ground. I’ve seen it a few times before, but not at dawn as the sun rose.

I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but then realized that the precipitation was very slowly falling in the calm morning air.  It was neat to see… here’s a closer look:

As I turned around to look behind me, the same weather phenomenon was taking place from all around the area.   This cloud line was marked by small lines of moisture in a vertical fashion.    You just never know what you might see when you really take a good look.

Later in the day I saw a bird flash past the eave of the house and realized that the barn swallows have returned!  What a journey they make across two continents. They’re three days earlier than last year, and about a week later than the years previous. 

I went out to say hello :) and it was a solitary bird zooming all around the house.   Later in the day two more swallows had joined the first, chasing each other around as they decide who gets which of three nest sites on the house.    I enjoy watching them fly and really appreciate that they eat insects.

And this morning the little chickies moved to a bigger home.  The little cardboard box was getting too crowded for them, and they were hopping out while trying to explore a little more.   I was going to put together a bigger cardboard box, but then realized that the wire kennel I use for the labrador retriever would make a perfect brooder for these guys for a few more weeks.   I just taped a little carboard around the bottom half to keep their scratchings in.   

They’ve grown about twice their size of a week ago, and run around flapping wings and dive-bomging each other.   Even though they bash each other out of the way for food or water, they seem to get along pretty well so far.  I think there’s two roosters in the mix, but I won’t know for sure for a while yet. 

I keep them on a little glassed in porch area that is naturally heated by the sun during the day.  At night I’ve been using a 250 watt lamp a couple feet away.  Now they’re old enough where it’s not as critical to keep really warm all day and night, but I keep them out of drafts and the temperature from 75-85 degrees.   The new brooder cage has a rock for the birds and the waterer to sit on, and a little log for a mini-roost.  They still like to sleep snuggled up on the floor, and when it gets really warm they sprawl out in every direction.     I’ve got 2-4 weeks to get a coop built before they get really big!



9 Responses to “Virga at Dawn”

  1. sageon 13 Apr 2010 at 1:54 pm

    better get busy on that coop! Beautiful cloud photos. I love the day at dawn.

  2. Edon 13 Apr 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve seen house fast “real” chickens like yours grow and it seems really fast. I can’t even imagine how those chickens for meat processors like Tyson get bred to grow a magnitude faster. Pretty soon they will have chicken growth to something like a morel, one minute they are an egg and the next day they are being sent to slaughter. Yuck. Enjoy the eggs and hopefully “real” chicken in your freezer.

  3. Pabloon 14 Apr 2010 at 6:26 am

    As Sage says, time to get to work on the coop. (Of course you’ll provide photo documentation of it, right?)

  4. R. Shermanon 14 Apr 2010 at 7:33 am

    Great pics. This is the best time of year. Cool mornings and warm days. One can see why that call it “Spring Fever.”

    Cheers.

  5. chookon 14 Apr 2010 at 10:34 am

    it *is* dive bombing, isn’t it, lol.

    long ago, i worked for a weather forecasting company that shall remain nameless. i was fascinated by the weather, but the forecasters were pretty much insane and obsessive. my head is filled with silly wx facts. for instance, Cherrapunji, India, is the wettest place on earth (or was, according to wiki when i checked for spelling) with 450 inches per year. puts portland wx in perspective.

  6. Beauon 14 Apr 2010 at 11:34 am

    Sage- I need to get the lumber and such together… looking for scrap too!
     
    Ed- Good point; I’m amazed at how fast some of the cornish chickens grow. We don’t plan to have our layers to *eat* per se… but if they don’t produce or we end up with more than one rooster, then it’s in the stew pot! ‘Course I say that now… :)
     
    Pablo- Think I need to work a little fast than last time :)
     
    Randall- I so agree… and can’t believe we need more rain already!
     
    Chook- India?! Holy cow I didn’t know that! :) I try to keep weather in perspective too… in Missouri we just say, “Stick around, it’ll change!”

  7. Ronon 14 Apr 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I was surprised at how rude those chicks can be… stepping on each other’s heads and whatnot. They sure are cute all sprawled out taking naps. If you find bugs to drop in there, it gets even more interesting… they make sure everyone can see what they’ve got, then run around madly hoarding it to themselves. :)

    A rooster in the crockpot is fantastic. Being the person to determine how and when isn’t fun, but it’s well worth it to have happier less-abused hens and a great meal.

    Ron

  8. warrenon 15 Apr 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Not sure if you ever see Monty Python but the swallows across two continents statement made me think of their discussion of swallows in Holy Grail…good stuff!

  9. kortneyon 17 Apr 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Hi there! I found your site through Jessica Watson’s blog and I must say, some very interesting photos! Such a beautiful cloud formation! It’s almost like they are steaming clouds! :)

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