During molting season, just finishing now, the poultry garden is full of feathers, sometimes like a soft snow fall over night. Meticulously I gather them, long, strong flight feathers and tail feathers from the geese, pure white ones from the pekin ducks and pretty patterned, spotty ones from Bovril, our guinea.
The gingers, coffee, clotted creams, ebony blacks and buffs come from the hens and cockerels, with the occasional curled cockerel tail feather amongst them.
Almost feels like a duty to collect them, so much hard work goes into growing them, preening them and regrowing when they fall. It’s exhausting and during these times they have extra calcium. The pin feathers as they appear are painful if touched, with a few weeks for the feather to grow upwards and the quills to harden. Till then they can bleed and especially hens, are a tad grumpy with the whole process. For me they are precious, keep-sakes, memories and for my artwork.
I keep them in boxes and tins, safe and dry. The remaining flurry of tiny down feathers I sweep up with the autumn leaves that are now falling and add to the compost. Organic feathers returned to the earth and so the cycle continues.