Addie and I spend a lot of time with the animals here on the farm, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. In fact, thanks to the amount of time we spend out there, my not-quite-2-year-old baby is now capable of refilling the bunny waterer and feeding the bunnies a bowl of pellets. She also knows how to scoop goat poop with the goat poop scooper. She’s amazing. Every day I am in awe of how much she learns.
The goats are the delights of my heart. They have become very near and dear to me. I’m hatching ways to convince people that we should take them with us when we leave, whenever we leave, in however many years that is. That’s how much I love the goats. We spend several hours per week together, usually me walking them around the property while they nibble. It’s fun — I try to keep them from nibbling the seedlings, they do whatever the heck they want. Addie runs off and the goats follow her. Actually, the goats follow pretty much any human who walks in their peripheral vision. Herd instinct, I guess.
We have a few volunteer popcorn plants growing off our back deck that the goats love to munch. Seth does not love the goats munching on the plants, and so I hustle to keep the goats from mowing them down. Cinnamon and Nibbles give it a halfhearted attempt and back off after I push them away. But Sunny, who is the herd queen, goes after those popcorn plants with a vengeance. She does it just to annoy me. She thinks it’s funny. I know this because I push her away several times and she walks away, pretending to be interested in something 10 feet on. Then I turn my back and she’s right there again. I push her away again and she jumps down from the back deck and does the goat equivalent of kicking her feet in the air. She’s frolicking. At me! Then she runs for the goat yard and impatiently waits for the handful of grain I toss in their bowl to distract them as I close the gate.
I could love the hens as much, if that darn rooster would let me. Spirit the rooster is a big, angry dude. He doesn’t like me. Well, he doesn’t like anyone, so I try not to take it personally. But it’s hard. He stares me down with one of his beady little eyes anytime I walk by the chicken yard. I stare back at him, and lately I can be found waving my arms in the air and crowing at him. The baby thinks this is great, and now she crows at the rooster too. “Er-erer-erROOOO!” Thankfully, the baby has not also begun to trash talk Spirit the rooster the way I have. I put on my best tough-gal voice and say things like, “That’s RIGHT I’m talking about you.” And “You better shape up because I can cook you.”
It’s ok if you’re laughing. I feel ridiculous every time I do it… right up until the moment he flies at me with his talons out and tries to claw my legs. Then I get super angry. If you’re curious, Spirit started it first. I was minding my own business feeding the chickens when he attacked me from behind. And when I turned, he kept coming. He’s persistent. He also attacked the baby one day when she snuck in the yard. This is why I’m looking for a new home for him, and despite my misgivings, one that does not end with him headless in the freezer. I promised him I’d keep him alive way back when we first found out he was a rooster and debated keeping him.
One of the animal sanctuaries near me said they couldn’t take him, and to try and clip his wings because it’s mating season and maybe he’ll settle down afterwards. I feel a bit iffy about that. Isn’t every day mating season for a rooster? Whatever. Spirit the rooster will live here until I find a home that is satisfactory. The little booger.
The rest of the chickens are all terrified of Spirit because he leaps on them every chance he can get. (He also doesn’t share his food, which is supposed to be one of his main jobs). So I don’t know the other chickens too well. I don’t get a chance to do anything in the chicken pen, aside from fighting with Spirit or occasionally holding him and trying to embarrass him in front of the hens. This is a chicken psychology thing, you can look it up.
Anyhow, one of the hens has been laying down for the last two days or so. I was concerned she might be egg-bound, which means having an egg stuck in her vent. And since chickens only have one hole for peeing, pooping, and egg-laying, this is kind of a big deal. The internet says to give her an epsom salt bath, which I did, and to feed her some calcium and see if she can pass the egg. One lady said it took three days. But there are other chicken issues, and they all sound not great: bumblefoot, marek’s disease, prolapsed vent, or just plain old broken leg. Don’t worry, I’m texting with the vet and the hen is in her own pen for now. We’ll see how she looks in the morning.
I don’t have much to say about the rabbits who are big and fluffy and quiet. I began making the chicken yard rabbit-proof so I could let them run around in there, but then Spirit started attacking, and it’s just not my idea of fun digging a fence 4-6″ down while fending off rooster attacks from behind. So the bunnies will have to wait. They’re pretty patient, and as long as we toss them some greens every day they’re happy.
It’s evening now, time for one last look at the animals before night falls. Maybe there’ll be a few eggs. I’ll give the goats a good rub and check everyone’s water, and then come back inside to enjoy the crisp air blowing in our windows. Autumn is just around the corner. Amazing, isn’t it? This world is just so full.