A Renewal

As the snow releases its grip on the fields, the laying hens are ranging farther afield each day. There are tantalizing little hints of green among the brown thatch of grass. It is instructive to watch the hens forage at this time of year. Surprisingly, their first objective isn’t to eat all the tiny green shoots. They actually are eating a lot of the old dead grass. But their favorite thing is to scratch through matted leaves and sticks that have been plastered to the ground all winter. Under the leaves they find the first insects and worms of the season. It looks to me like they are eating wispy fungal strands, although it is hard to be sure because they go after everything so quickly. That all makes sense as something deep inside their bird brain reaches back to their jungle fowl ancestry.

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