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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shared parenting

My favorite hen (if one can have a favorite) has disappeared.  I wish I had gone looking for her a couple nights ago, but she had always been pretty independent, nesting where she would, and unless she tried to nest in the goats' stall, I let her be.  Alas, I think I found her feathers today, so she's not coming back.  I knew she was gone, though, a couple of days ago, when her lone chick, a mere two weeks old, was cheeping loudly and darting here and there frantically.  She (he?) evaded me quite well, and started following the little Aracauna bantam's last chick, also a single, but almost grown up.  She had been hanging out with her Momma and the new chick, and I guess Cheep recognized her.  The chick crooned softly to her, following her around, and finally I caught the chick and herded the small hen into the middle coop.  The hen didn't seem to mind the chick, but she wasn't doing a whole lot to encourage her, either. Nevertheless, it looked hopeful, so I left them together.

Silkie Rooster sheltering chick--
you can't see her but she's there!
That night, the hen roosted on a perch, and the Silkie rooster took over.  When I looked in, Cheep was snuggled close to him, and the rooster was crooning to her.  Next morning, the little hen took over, and Cheep followed her all over the coop.  Last night when I looked in, the chick was nestled under the hen, who had forsaken her perch for a spot on the ground.  The Silkie was close by, still crooning.

Today, the little hen is starting to make little sounds to the chick.  The Silkie is still close by, still crooning.  Tomorrow, if things have progressed well, I'll let them out for the day.

I miss the little Aracauna bantam.  She was a fierce mother, even chasing off the Guinea cock--who terrorises the Rhode Island Red rooster and every other chicken on the farm.  What is interesting, though, is neither the Guinea cock, nor the bantam hen, ever tried to drive off that Silkie.  The Guinea just ignored him, and the hen--well, she hung out with him.  They must have recognized in him a great soul, chicken-wise.  He takes care of his own.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is a "liberal" anyway?

I was picking up a load of grain a few days ago and had a short conversation with someone that I know from a goat forum about genetically modified corn and soy, which I will not buy.  In fact, I won't buy food for myself that's genetically engineered, so why would I feed my animals that way?  What my livestock produce goes into my body.  The comment was made, "Oh, yeh, I forgot.  You're one of those 'liberal; types."  Oh, really?  I replied, "No, I'm probably one of the most conservative people you'll ever meet.'  A pause, and then "I eat just like my grandmother did, and her mother before her."

Isn't it a strange world where a libertarian is called a "liberal" because she doesn't want adulterated food?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adventures with Zoë

Like all terriers, Zoë is a high energy dog.  About four days after I got her, she led me a merry chase! I was going to my car—actually, first to the shed, and thought, I don’t need a leash for this little bit, and Zoë was off and running, nose to the ground. called her and she didn’t pay one bit of attention. I ran after her with my sandals flopping, finally kicking them off to get more speed. She trotted right past my neighbor's trailer, then, thankfully, was diverted into his work yard, so while she sniffed around there I had time to get a little ahead. She came across just in front of me, and I threw the leash in front of her. That startled her! She stopped dead in her tracks and I was able to catch her. I mused that she might never get off-leash again if she’s that single pointed!
Zoë and her bone
I have a few chickens at my house, and a couple dozen more at the farm.  Zoë took one look at them and said, "Oh, boy!  Chickens!"  I sternly corrected her, in my most authoritarian voice saying, NO CHICKENS!  To no avail, alas.  Since my yard is not enclosed, I had been putting her out on a long rope, with a bone to entertain her, and hoped the chickens would steer clear.  Chickens are not known for their great intelligence, so it was only a few day before one strolled into her path.  POUNCE!  S Q U A W K!  Feathers flying everywhere as she happily grabbed the hen--the same Barred Rock that I nursed back to health from a raccoon attack last year.  This is not a smart chicken.  "NO!  B A D   D O G!"  I hollered, and gave her a swat on her butt.  She dropped the chicken, struggled to get it again, and I carried her into the house. 

It took a few more days, but one day something clicked, and as we walked out to the car, Zoë glanced at the chickens--and turned away.  You can still see her thinking about it, but she has decided that chickens are not on the diversionary menu.  Zoë is a very smart dog.
Zoë and friend

One of Zoë's favorite places is the dog park.  We are graced to have the only dog park for miles around, the people of Belfast being a very creative and pragmatic folk.  It's a wonderful place, and I've watched Zoë relax from a cautious (but not timid) dog, watching from the sidelines, to joyously joining in the chase as dogs went speeding by, romping through the obstacle tube, to happily retrieving squeaky balls.  Zoë is a very happy dog.  And you know, watching dogs is a wonderful pastime.  It has to be one of the most relaxing places I've found.

Ah!  This is the way life ought to be.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Zoë,a 3 year old Smooth Fox Terrier, has become the delight of my life!  I had been missing Joe, my last dog, and Juneau and Samantha, the dogs who came before him, and thinking of Jody, my first dog, and realizing how much I missed having a dog.  Now it's important to understand that I'm a big dog person.  Jody was 55 lbs; Juneau was 75 lbs and Sammi was 55 lbs, and Joe was over 100 lbs.  In today's economy, though, I was reluctant to get a dog, because I don't feed grocery store dog food; I buy the highest quality I can afford, and add raw meat to it, at a minimum.  As my mind wandered back over the dogs in my life, I thought of Shakespeare, a Fox Terrier we had when I was a child.  I remembered how much fun he was, how upset I was when he left our house and went with my grandfather to the farm in Maine, and how I cried when I found that he was gone for good.

I put an ad on Uncle Henry's and Maine Craigslist for a Smooth Fox Terrier.  I never got a reply from Uncle Henry's, but within a week or two I got replies from Wisconsin and California.  What? I thought I had posted only to Maine!  Then I heard from Fox Terrier Rescue and learned of a spayed bitch in New Hampshire.  They sent me a photo, and I thought, "Ho-hum, not really what I'm looking for, but maybe I'll take a look."  A couple of weeks later, I went to Massachusetts for the day, and stopped on the way back to look at the dog.  Instant love!  She was sooo much cuter in person than her picture conveyed!  I asked her to sit.  Nothing.  I took a treat, put it over her head and slowly moved it back, saying "sit".  She sat.  "Okay," I thought, "she's trainable."  Her name was Lulu.  I took her home.

It was a three hour drive, and the whole time she sat in the back seat facing the back, until finally, the last half-hour, she lay down. Not once did she whimper, not once did she bark. Neither did she respond to her name.

Over the next two or three days, it was apparent that she didn't respond to Lulu.  But that had always been her name!  She was a rescue, yes, but was rescued by her breeder, so I knew her history and her name.  I sat down and looked her in the eyes.  "Lulu," I said, "if that's not your name, then you have to let me know what it is."  Then I waited.  Nothing.  I tried thinking of different names. Nothing felt right, but Lulu felt all wrong. She wasn't a Lulu.  A while later, I said to her, "You have to tell me your name, or if you don't know it, then you have to tell me what you want it to be."  Still nothing.   About 1/2 hour later, I went to call her, "Come her, Lulu!"  What came out, though, was "Come here, Zoë!"  Zoë?  Where did that come from?  But as soon as she heard the name, she turned her head, jumped up, and came bounding to me, wiggling all over.

Zoë it is, then, and she never fails to respond to her name.