Because of the chickens, I am aware of the evening light. There is a certain time in the evening, when the shadows are long and stillness settles over the fields. The chickens appreciate this, and they all go outside to peck their feed or browse through the grass like discriminating customers at an upscale grocery store. Slowly, the light fades, and the some hop inside their coop, then more join them. When the light is so dim that I am certain predators must be out and about, then two or three chickens are typically hanging around outside as if they don’t want the evening to end. On these nights, I endlessly say “Go to bed!” first to my children, and then to my birds. It is like the chorus for the long, lovely summer twilight. At some magic point in the evening, an unseen balance tips, and all the chickens go inside. I’ve been trying to tend to them immediately after this happens, and so I have been watching the light carefully.
I went to a family reunion for three nights in northwestern Minnesota while my husband took care of the birds, and when I came home it seemed as though the ducklings had grown up it turned into ducks. During my absence, they also took the following my husband around in the evening before he gives them food. He strides purposefully through the yard followed at a little distance by waddling ducks, which also have a very purposeful air about them. He says he feels a little bit like a mother duck.