Thursday, November 6, 2008

Animal Farm

Well, the chicken population has grown. Not naturally unfortunately but through the purchase of more and different feathered friends. I'm sad to say that with our abundance of roosters we're finally dealing with the pecking order problem. One poor rooster has had his neck feathers almost completely removed and he looks a little worse for the wear. Poor guy. Andrew said the only solution was to thin the male population so there was less competition. So, how do you thin the flock? You have chicken dinner. Frankly I might not feel too bad eating the bully bird but I don't think I could bring myself to partake in the poor underdog. Oh the drama of it all! But one special moment was so touching as I saw a new side of my husband as he cared for the poor picked on rooster. He allowed him to stay up on the high perch, safe from the other aggressive birds, and he held chicken feed up for him, allowing him to eat his fill. If that wasn't enough, he got him his own water dish and held that up for him to drink. This wasn't a fast process either. It was very sweet and the rooster did seem to perk up after that.

We still have no eggs though. The first round of new birds are coming out of molt (losing the old feathers and regrowing new ones) and they should start to lay their beautiful blue/green eggs soon. The newest birds, which Andrew picked up last night, should be laying nice brown eggs once they get over the shock of the move. Our sweet little bantam chickens still aren't laying so we'll see. They've all had a lot of change recently.

In the reptile world of Nordstrom's Animal Farm the lizard is still surviving despite our lack of know how. We went to the Humane Society to get more info and were given a phone number to call. We still need to do that. In the meantime, the kids found a very good size garter snake in the garden. It was big enough that there was some concern for the chickens eggs (if they were laying), especially the bantam chickens as theirs will be pretty small - just the right size for a hungry garter snake. Again, I don't know much about reptiles so I'm not sure if garter snakes eat anything besides garden bugs. But, alas, this conversation is all for naught as the snake got out of his homemade bucket house after only 3 days. Thankfully we had the foresight to keep him outside so I don't have to search the house for him. Although, if he ate mice he might actually be a benefit to the us. Actually, we haven't seen any sign of mice after Andrew caught 3 initially (by caught I mean killed with a mouse trap), no thanks to our lazy, "where's my cat food", indoor cat. Josiah got a rubber mouse while trick or treating this year so he tied it to a string and is trying to get Sadie into the swing of mousing. She has her moments but I think she's more interested in the string than the little mouse. I don't know, think a barn cat or two should be in our future.

Then there is our herd of deer. Unfortunately as I continued to see deer killed on the freeway I also noticed that our little herd of four was dwindling, too. In fact, at last sighting, we were down to only one. Deer are such frustrating creatures. Too timid for their own good. Don't they know I can help them?! They shouldn't run from me. We would let them bed down in our oak grove and they can munch all the apples they can reach. I did shake down some of the apples that were still attached at the top of the tree and have noticed that they're disappearing slowly. We've also seen the deer nibbling some different berried trees in the front field. Today though, while I was inspecting the back 2 (as opposed to the back 40) I saw three deer prancing their way through the wooded area. The back "neighbor", (if that's what you call the next closest person living somewhere out there), has been doing lots of work trimming trees, excavating, and putting up a very sturdy fence. I'm not sure what the plan is but I am sure it's doing a number on the deer's habitat. We plan to do an outdoor Christmas tree this year with treats and goodies for the creatures. I hope this helps the deer survive all this change.

The final animal update is on "our" donkey. We had a great time the other day when he broke through the fence and came wandering onto our property. The kids were beside themselves!! He came through and helped himself to some chicken feed and the old salt lick that was left here. Everything was great until he got a wild hare and started running down front driveway towards the lane which leads to the freeway. Andrew and Josiah bravely hopped on the 4-wheeler and chased after him, chicken feed in hand. Once they got his attention Andrew "pied pipered" him home by shaking the chicken feed in a bucket. I manned the gate so once they were in he had no escape - I'm talking about the donkey. This was unfortunate because it meant I didn't have time to run back up and get the camera. Once again, I was seeing a whole new side of my husband watching him patiently lead the mule back to the neighbors house. Andrew has a stubborn streak, too, so I couldn't help but enjoy the irony!!

Well, there you have it, an update on our little animal farm. It's been fun and it's been educational. Come visit us sometime!

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Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff