Early spring

Spring came early within the four thick stone walls that are part and parcel of the urban  hacienda  into which the Little Lady and I moved, about eight or ten years ago. I know when you read that first statement you are going to think that living alone has cost this man his sanity. But that could not be further from the truth. I have so many fond memories, of life in the past, that I could go on living, on memories alone, for nigh onto eternity. Perhaps I will. In the meantime let me hassle you with an explanation.
As most of you readers know, I raise canaries. They have shed feathers in the soft spots of my heart ever since my Dad bought me my first pair when I was only seven. Believe me when I say they have been a great teacher. They have taught me much in the ways of how to get along with all things in Nature’s world, which seems to have wrongly escaped the majority of our population; including all those in all levels of government administration, who feel they must struggle against, instead of working with, Mother Nature, and the natural scheme of things.
Every single home, where children are raised, or  where seniors are alone, should have within their care one pair of canaries. From them a senior can enjoy the company of happy song, and a child can learn the whole nine yards of, father to son, mother to daughter, talks. Nature is a good teacher of the God-given gift of responsible humanity.
Domesticated canaries, the ones of which I have, are longtime descendent of canaries originally brought from the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa. Being such, their biological clocks  are  synchronized to the seasons of that area. As a result their natural cycle of reproduction takes place during our mid-winter, and ends during our early spring. In order to be reasonably successful in their reproduction one must simulate, as close as possible, the conditions to which Mother Nature has tuned their biological clock. This is not really difficult to do, so bend an ear and listen up, ’cause I’m going to tell you how, whether you want to know or not.
My canaries are kept in a well insulated, but unheated, outdoor aviary, with an attached  flight enclosure to which they have continual, day and night, all seasons access, through a tiny opening. Though canaries are gregarious, enjoying each other’s company, they are not what is known as colony breeders. During their breeding season, in protection of their immediate food source, they become very territorial, they like their privacy.
I jumped the gun a little early this year and moved a bunch of them in from the outdoor aviary during the week between Christmas and New Years. The day after being introduced to the warmer temperature, their biological clocks kicked in and the males began to sing as they selected their chosen mates. It was then that I caged each pair separately. Placing within each a wire basket nest, nesting material, and increased the hours of light, with timers, to a 14-hour day.
At this time, too, their diet must be increased quite considerably. Just remember that the little hen is going to lay, in consecutive days, up to five large eggs, in comparison to her body size, weighing in total almost as much as, or greater than, she herself. In addition to a tiny sprinkle of gravel, and a dish of clean water, I feed, fresh daily, each pair, an eight seeded mixture, one half of a hard boiled egg, and a large piece of romaine lettuce. Over the years this has worked well with little variation, other than dandelion leaves replacing lettuce when in season, and this year was no exception.
I caged separately six pairs, and within the first week all six had started nests. Now, one week later, as I type this, four pair have five speckled blue eggs each, and two pair have three eggs each. By the time this article rolls from the presses, the 14 days of incubation will have elapsed and I could well be watching 26  gaping mouths, stretching high on wobbly necks, demanding an endless supply of food from both mommy and daddy canaries. Busy fun times are ahead.
Yep. Spring has come early to our home.
Take care, ’cause we care.

Barrie Hopkins