Pet Chicken


Egg-bound Gluck-Gluck
Egg-bound Gluck-Gluck

Chicken love. I never imagined such a thing, but every so often a chicken picks you to adore. How lovely it is each day to be greeted at the chicken house by an enthusiastic hen! When my chicken love, Gluck-Gluck sickened and died this week after 4 years of true friendship I felt a mix of relief and sadness. She suffered. There was little I could do but hold her in a warm towel after soaks and meds.

Such is life with animals, but if you’re lucky friendship shines on you again and so it is here at Middlemay. While mourning the loss of Gluck-Gluck I couldn’t help smile at Clarissa (Claire) a new Dominique chick with crippled feet waiting to be loved. Most of our new chicks don’t mind me, but they don’t love me.  Claire pushes her way through the crowd like a tough running back to jump into my hands whenever I’m around. She sits and coos and snuggles.

No one friend can replace another but isn’t it nice to be alive with the hope of new friendship?

Clarissa Chicken
Clarissa Chicken

Chicken Mothers

Limpy and her baby duck.

She’s survived a broken leg after getting caught in a hay rack, a month in frigid January trapped with no food or water in an abandoned duck house after a fox massacre (read all about it HERE) and still she thrives on mothering. Limpy is our best layer and almost always broody and happy to sit on eggs–any eggs.

Blended Family
Blended Family
Three little ducklings--wait! and then there were four  + a surprise chick!
Three little ducklings–wait! and then there were four + a surprise chick!
What a good mother!
What a good mother!

BONUS PICTURE: A  Jersey White Chick in the barnyard. Isn’t she pretty?


Goat Math: How Many Smelly Bucks Do We Need?

Matt Saracen, the new wether
Goats live here?
Goats live here?

On a sunny Saturday a few weeks back we decided that after buying our little buck, TIM RIGGINS, we needed a friend for him. I asked my friend and Upstate New York goat guru Dottie Cross if she knew anyone selling a buckling to wether (castrate) and she gave me the name of her friend Lynne who happened to live a half hour away.

We arranged to drive out on Sunday and wondered if we’d made a mistake with the address as we pulled up in front of a brightly adorned old Victorian in the center of town. Surely this was no farm.

My husband who’d been a little grumpy this morning after a long work week brightened at the sight of an old truck in the drive. A red barn down a slope came into view. Lynne waved to us from the barn and jogged up telling us she’d move the old truck so we could bring the minivan down.

003There’s Lynne waving in the truck. It started but stalled. She called out to us. “Oh, it doesn’t matter!” as the truck coasted to the bottom of the hill and she jumped out. We followed her down, parked the car and tried to keep up with our tour host as she showed us through the barn and into the back yard (about 7 acres) where ducks, rabbits, chickens and goats mingled happily on the bright green grass of spring.

A little mocha colored buckling with a broad face and big eyes followed me where ever we went (he was probably following Lynne, but I knew I was in love. My husband spotted another little fellow but then Lynne mentioned that our buckling Tim Riggins probably wouldn’t be old enough to get the job  done with our girls this fall. She’d saved a white Nubian buckling from the previous year after talking to Dottie (the guru) about a nice family who’d wanted to take Dottie’s white buck Finn last summer. It seems the husband was laid off (briefly) and so Finn had gone to another home but just before that Lynne had her doe Nayla bred with him producing the white buckling  (from great bloodlines) so, Lynne thought she’d keep him for a while.

Convincing the white buck (LUKE CAFFERTY) to come with us wasn't easy.
Convincing the white buck (LUKE CAFFERTY) to come with us wasn’t easy.

Turns out WE were that family. It was my husband who lost his job for a few weeks last summer! My husband’s eyes lit up. “Isn’t that funny that our white dog is named Nala, too? I mean only the spelling is different. Maybe we should have TWO bucks instead of one. Obviously this is fate.”

I was hesitant for a second or two. “But we still need a little friend for the baby ram we’re getting next month,” I said.

The mocha baby stood there waiting but not for long.

I do not like minivans
I do not like minivans

Lynne laughed and talked and gave advice as she scooped feed into a huge plastic baggie for us to take home. I sat with the boys in the back trying to decide if I liked white goats while the white goat tried to decide if he liked white minivans.

At home LUKE CAFFERTY (the goat) and MATT SARACEN (the goat) met dear TIM RIGGINS while I admired my husband’s fortress-making skills. He’d dug post holes, hung fences and built a goat house on one long weekend and every night this week before he had to catch a flight to Oregon for work this evening.

The boys have just stopped crying. I’ll go check them before bed. Our chicken hatched a duck yesterday and I didn’t have a second to congratulate her, but there’s always tomorrow.