Monday, December 2, 2013
Miss Peep was the first chick ever to hatch at Busy Solitude Farm. In fact, her arrival inspired me to begin this blog. You will remember that first post, in September of 2007. I was fascinated by the hen and chick relationship, so close, so instinctual. And as I did not yet know whether she was a girl or a boy, I called her Chick Chuck!
Then the worst possible thing happened. On October 30, just a few weeks after her chick hatched, Mama Hen was murdered. Miss Peep was left on her own to find her way. The first days were difficult. The rest of the flock decided she was an outsider, and tried to oust her. I sometimes felt I was the only being she truly trusted.
Gradually her self confidence built. The others came to accept her. In time, Miss Peep was at the top of the pecking order, respected by all. But she never challenged me. She was the tamest hen I ever had, leaning in when I scratched her ears, allowing me to stroke her feathers and nuzzle her with no hesitation.
She lived six years at Busy Solitude Farm. I think she was happy. We'll miss her.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Things have gotten a little crowded in the barn. Mama Hen has moved to the "penthouse suite" of the nest boxes.
The "chicks" now create a huge downy pillow for Mama to sleep on.
I hope they don't think they're hiding, because they're not fooling anyone!
Seriously, this doesn't even look warm! Only two weeks ago everyone still fit in the nest, but those days are long gone.
And the funny thing? Maria hasn't offered to help!
Monday, November 4, 2013
The boss is gone.
Today was Luke's last day. At 16, he had been showing many signs of aging. He was occasionally disoriented. Aching bones made getting up and down more difficult. And most worrisome, he had been losing weight with no clear cause.
But over the weekend he became incontinent, and he had fits of crying. So today I took him to our vet to have his life gently ended.
I found Luke, along with his brothers Abe and Bodhi, on Good Friday of 1998. My cat Camille had died the week before, and I wanted two cats who were siblings in hopes that they would not fight the way that Camille and Coriander occasionally had.
Luke extended his arm through the shelter cage to pull me over to look at them. He was always in charge. But three? As fate would have it, the pairs of cats available that day were all long-haired cats, and I wasn't having any of that! So I told the adoption counselor I'd take them. She told me there was a two cat limit and I should choose. Ridiculous, I told her. They came in together, I would take them home together. After a thorough vetting the shelter agreed. That is how Abe, Luke and Bodhi became part of my family.
Luke quickly got Buster in line, and later that year when Buster died and puppy Oskar joined us, Luke again proved to be the boss. Over the years he's been my steady Freddy, my right hand man.
When we moved to Busy Solitude Farm, the cats got the opportunity to go outside. Luke basked in the sun, caught mice and voles, relaxed with me on a lawn chair. Ulani might chase Abe or Bodhi outside, or more recently Barnard, but Luke did not play that game. He held his ground. Living up to his make love, not war philosophy, Luke would even snuggle up to Ulani outside.
Despite the quick decline in his health this weekend, Luke stepped outside to sit in the sun for a few minutes, seeming to enjoy hearing the birds and smelling the air. We sat on the steps, Luke in my lap, and just took in the scene for a while.
But recovery was not in the cards, and now he's gone. Luke, the boss, was a great cat.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Have you seen the studies that claim sheep can distinguish between each other? So it is with a farmer and her chickens. As soon as I saw this gathering this morning, I knew that was not Mama Hen, but Maria.
Of course, I've had the advantage of observing this relationship develop over the past few weeks. Maria seems to feel like the dear auntie of the chicks. She's even taken up residence next door, just in case Mama Hen needs help overnight!
What does this mean for Mama Hen? For the most part, she seems to enjoy a little me-time for preening and scratching, knowing that Maria will keep an eye out for the wee ones.
But she never goes far!
Monday, October 14, 2013
These are vicious terrorists.
"What?" you say. "Ducken Hines and The Wacky Quaker?"
Yes, indeed. They obsess over the hens. Given access, they are thugs and rapists.
And so a while back I separated them. But given the layout of the barn, the divider gave the ducks control of the door to the outside. The hens had technical access, but were forced to run the gauntlet of ducks to get out.
Finally today I fitted out a temporary pen so the ducks could relocate. They were less than thrilled. The chickens, however, were delighted to regain control of the access ramp. Soon I hope to catch photos of the babies outside in the sunshine!
Posted by Johanna at 6:54 PM