July is summer in Maine with a lot of hot days. It is time to slip away to the favorite swimming hole in the afternoon. Most of the new hatched birds have fledged and are flying and learning to find food on their own. Wild and domestic critters seek cool shelter and lay still in the afternoon and more of their movement takes place at night. The chickens chase bugs and scratch and roll in dusty but shady places.
Speaking of chickens; Pat received a new shipment of 25 Silver-laced Wyandotte chicks with one odd yellow bird we can’t identify yet. They arrived during the first week of July and are growing faster than any breed we have had. The Partridge Rocks that are our laying hens will be phased out since they stop laying entirely in December. Other breeds we have had will slow production but not shut down entirely.
July is a busy time for predators since they are feeding young that are almost adult size and ravenous. July is the month when we are most likely to have a visit from a fox, raccoon, weasel or hawk. I was getting ready to go to a Resq shift one afternoon and heard a chicken squawk as if being attacked. When I went out to investigate there were chickens scattered around the yard feeding, scratching and rolling in dust. No one seemed to be stressed and usually when a predator comes around they all run to the house in a panic. I assumed all was well and went back in the house.
Anna arrived home 20 minutes later to tell me the rooster was lying dead in the back yard. There was a trail of feathers with bunches every few yards right between the house and the lodge where I had earlier seen a couple of hens scratching calmly. The rooster looked dead but when I stood over him he blinked and when I bent to lift him he jumped up in a panic and staggered running and falling all the way to the chicken house. When I caught up he was lying on the floor gasping with his tail feathers pulled out. He was unable to stand but strangely, I could see no visible trauma like bites or claw marks. I picked him up and felt for broken bones and found none.
That evening he was on the roost with his head hanging below his feet. The fact that he was able to hop up onto the roost was hopeful at least. The next morning he was still staggering and falling so I put him in a box by himself with food and water thinking he might actually recover if he rested enough. I noticed that he was eating and drinking and after 3 days I let him out and though unsteady he could get around. A day or two later he began to crow again but it was a pitiful sound. Since then he has fully recovered except for the tail feathers.
I can’t imagine what could have dragged him around with so much violence and not put a mark on him anywhere. The spaces between bunches of feathers suggests he was lifted and dropped so maybe a raptor of some sort tried to carry him off. Still, there should have been talon marks. The only theory I can come up with is that a hawk grabbed him by his wings from above and the talons wrapped around at an angle that prevented them from reaching flesh. His injuries may have been from being dropped several times. Whatever happened, he is now back to normal.
Not long after one of our hens disappeared with no ruckus at all. I did the evening head count, we were one short and she never returned. Losing only one by this time is better than usual. We didn’t have a lot of guests in July but Norma Friedman made her usual summer excursion with friends, and they paddled on Flagstaff and hiked into Maine Huts and Trails Flagstaff hut. The lake has remained full this summer with all the rain and the beach areas were mostly submerged.
Tom Roulliard paid us a long awaited visit in July to do his usual fishing at Pierce Pond. He has missed the past couple of years, so it was great to see him and get caught up. Usually Tom uses a boat that I place for him and this year he was the first to try a new Yamaha outboard that I bought. It is a 4 cycle and heavy but so quiet. I find it inconvenient that it has to be upright or laid on one side or the oil will leak out and into the cylinders and even the carburetor. I will need to build a rack to hang it on in the truck. If I get any more feeble with age, I won’t have strength to lift into the truck. Tom usually doesn’t have a lot of luck fishing, but this year he had some fast action in a particular place and caught several salmon and a 19” Brook Trout. Matt and Maggie moved into a new house in Portland where Matt got a position with Maine Health. We loved the house in Bath, and they did so much work it was sad to see it go. Pat and I tried to see a Sea Dogs game and spent a night in the new house, but the game got rained out, so we had a bit more time to visit Maggie and Matt. Flynn is growing like a weed, talking, and running like a wild man all over the house. The last week in July was our annual vacation at Pemaquid, and we found a house that was big enough to hold the entire family, babies and all. It was a beautiful house right on the water with a great restaurant within walking distance. We were a boisterous crowd. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the neighbors complained, but what a time we had. With both boys able to run and play, the beach time was great. My raspberry patch has exploded with the best crop ever. We have had some good years before, but nothing that compares to this. I got a quart on the first picking, two the next day, and ten or twelve quarts for several days in a row after that. Pat has made dozens of jars of raspberry jam and there are at least 70 quarts in the freezer. Our friends Nancy and Fred house sat during vacation, and Fred not only kept up picking raspberries, he kept the rest of the garden weeded also. Looking around the woods I don’t see much for nut crops, but every apple tree, wild or domestic, is loaded with apples. We can expect deer to be feeding anywhere there are apple trees. It is time for anyone planning to come for deer hunting to start getting ready. This is a good time to give us a call and make a reservation.
Greg and Pat