I’m not beginning this blog again, not now anyway, but there is a new beginning with the animals on the farm. I hated that my blog ended on such a low note so I’m fixing that by introducing my new and already-beloved pets.
After the disaster with Patchy and our sweet chooks, I not only gave up blogging, I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted chickens again. They are sooo vulnerable to attack from birds of prey, snakes, foxes and even family pets! Could I do better if I got more chickens? Was I worthy? And did I want the responsibility of an animal that needed daily care but couldn’t be moved to a babysitter’s house if I ever went away?
Frank was pretty convinced we’d get more chickens eventually (whatever that means). We agreed that, whatever we decided, we should wait until next year. Another plan bites the dust! This I blame on Linda. She bought a new house and the old owners couldn’t take their chickens when they moved. Linda texted me about the plight of the homeless chooks with no knowledge beyond “2 eggs a day and 1 year old”. Frank and I said yes (of course we did) before we even knew how many chickens we were talking about.
With chickens in the pipeline, there wasn’t much point in putting off getting another dog now was there? This time we were determined to get a dog that was suited for our rural life. I discovered Andrea at Companions for Life online and decided it was worth a 2 hour drive (each way) to find the right dog. After a phone call and a visit, we settled on Rusty, a 5 month old Staffordshire Terrier crossed with an Australian Cattle Dog. Andrea confirmed he was a real sweetie with no interest in cats or poultry and she was happy for us to take him around all the animals on her farm so we could see for ourselves. She was right, he was afraid of the cats and ignored the poultry. We brought him home a week later and he’s now busy slipping in to his role as most adorable creature on the farm.
2 weeks after Rusty arrived, so did the chooks (to a new, reinforced chook run). By that time we were pretty confident that Rusty was controllable and we didn’t want too much time to pass before he was reintroduced to chickens in case they became novel new toys.
Enter 3 Rhode Island Red chickens: Lenny (yes, a rooster *gasp*) a cocksure and totally beautiful creature; Penny a rather aloof (at this point) girl who is very quiet and; Henny, the smallest chook and the apple of Lenny’s eye – you can tell because she has no feathers on her back. They all seem reasonably comfortable around the big, scary new humans and I’m sure we’ll settle in quickly together.
The chickens did come with a couple of problems. Firstly, that amorous Lenny is really doing a number on Henny’s back. I’ve made her a chicken saddle thanks to some great tips from Lil at mygardenmychickens. My initial effort (made from an old pair of jeans) fell off within 5 minutes but I’m not giving up, I don’t want Lenny damaging Henny. I’ve shortened the straps and I think I’ll have to actually reduce the overall size but I’ll get there.
They also suffer from scaly leg mites. All 3 have pretty bad legs. When I first saw them I assumed they’d been in some heavy mud that was stuck to their legs. When I got them to the farm I realised the lumps were actually their scales. So, on their first day here, we caught the poor birds, one at a time, scrubbed their legs in warm, soapy water and smeared them with veggie oil. We’ve been dunking their legs in more veggie oil every other day and will keep it up until their legs heal.
That’s the new animals, we still have Adler, our loner of a stray cat. He’s softening up around us (though no where near being a lap cat), he ignores the chooks and – shock horror – he just might like Rusty. He certainly tolerates sniffing and even a little licking. Will wonders never cease?
Of course there are also those 23 bee hives. Well, bees tend to take care of themselves (especially in Australia) and it’s pretty hard to get too attached to the hundreds of thousands of them, so, though I like my bees, I don’t feel overly emotional about them and therefore don’t really count them as part of my animals. That said, they do deserve a mention if for no other reason than because they work so darned hard all day every day!
Life is getting back to our new normal here on the farm. The animals rule the roost, Frank and I run hither and yon tossing balls, fetching food & water and somehow squeeze in a bit of time to actually do some work on the land as well. Who wants to sit back and relax all day anyway?