After years of dreaming about raising my own quail, I finally welcomed three dozen hatchlings into my backyard on September 18, 2019. I drove an hour north of Tampa to pick them up, and their nervous chirping from the backseat became the only impetus for me to slow down and not drive with my usual reckless abandon.
They all made it home in one piece and I settled them into their coop and run right away. I placed about half of the birds in the coop itself and the other half on the ground to see how they would react in each place. Overnight, all of the birds in the coop had migrated onto the ground – but at only a little over a week old, they were too small to climb back up again.
As I stood by the coop, enjoying the afternoon sunshine (and, gratefully, the accompanying cooling breeze), I realized how calm and peaceful I felt just watching the birds hop around, listening to them chirp. I felt grateful to be able to take care of these small creatures who will one day present me with eggs in return. It may sound strange, but I felt a deep, satisfying happiness that has been missing from my life for a long time.
That’s why I didn’t appreciate the swooping hawk and stalking neighborhood cat which have both been prowling about, peeking into the coop. Unfortunately, we live next door to an elementary school – otherwise said predators would heretofore have been shot with a BB gun or worse. But rest assured, I’ll be keeping my eye on those quail. I’d hate to wake up and find that a gator managed to open the latch and have a midnight snack. This is Florida, after all…