Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dogs, Cats and Chickens Everywhere

So Mr. Wilson is unbearably cute. He is much fun, and it hasn't escaped me that it's been just like having a toddler in the house again. I am forever fishing odd things out of his mouth, he LOVES to be held and carted around, and house training is taking way too long. He does sleep way more (and through the night!) than any of my kids ever did though. Heh.

He has folded nicely into our household however, and the other pets tolerate him quite well. He tries desperately to play with the cats, but they just stare at him like he is deranged. Once in awhile if he pesters them enough, one of them will turn and bat at him with a (declawed) paw, their version of playing and he completely overreacts by yelping and whimpering. I call him a drama queen. My kids correct me and say he is a drama king, since he is a male. They don't understand certain subtleties yet.

Anyway, as you can see in the photo, Mr. Wilson is in dire need of a haircut. There aren't any pet groomers in our town, but a friend of mine was able to get Mr. Wilson in with her dog next week. Some groomers in the area aren't even taking new customers. Good grief, who knew?

Penny is coming around. At first she completely ignored him, but now they interact and I think she enjoys his constant adulation. He follows her everywhere and when we go on our walk Mr. Wilson finally has a good shot at keeping up, because they are both on leashes. Sometimes the constant licking and pawing at her face is too much and Penny very politely stands up, ensuring that there's no chance that Mr. Wilson can continue bothering her. He keeps trying though!

Our new chickens will soon be laying eggs, I think. There are eight-three Buff Orpingtons and five Araucunas, which are the ones that lay blue or green eggs. I have been keeping them in a dog kennel, separate from the other hens until they were big enough to go into the other hen house. Before we left on our vacation I put them in with the other hens and things did not go well. The older hens harassed them so badly that they huddled in the hen house and wouldn't go outside, but we had to leave them there because we needed the kennel for Penny while we were gone. When we got back the new hens had managed to crawl under the screen under the roosts (where the poop falls through) and were all crammed in there, totally terrified. We got them out and put them back into the kennel. A couple of them actually had chunks of skin missing from their backs and one had a terrible gash on the back of her head. I was very disappointed in my older hens and told them so. Now I am trying to figure out another solution. I have a few things that I can try and if all else fails then we will just set up a more permanent, separate hen house. The good thing after all of that is that the new hens like me better now (I saved their lives, after all!) and now approach me and let me hold them. We are patiently waiting to see our first blue eggs.

The older hens clearly have their pecking order established and the new rooster in charge is much nicer than the previous one (Penny killed him) was. He never attacks me, which is a definite plus, and with the exception of rough sex, he is kind yet firm with the ladies. Ok, the rough sex is bad, all of the hens have bare spots on their backs from where he um, holds them down. BUT, I have been recently letting them free range in the late afternoons and I have noticed that many of the hens have feathers growing back in. I guess he has other distractions now. We didn't let them free range before because of Penny, but we spent a few days working with her, making it clear that the chickens are off limits (she is very smart) and now she just sleeps on the front porch while the chickens are just across the road running free. We don't entirely trust her though, everyone knows to keep an eye on Penny and/or the chickens while they are out. I love seeing the chickens wandering around the property though. It seems right.

Oh, and the cats are exactly the same, fat, lazy and shedding everywhere. Once in awhile they get all worked up, chasing each other around the house and knocking things off the tables and shelves. Then they collapse and nap until feeding time. Typical cats.


Anonymous said...

Oh how I love to hear about your animals and see the photos. Great photos I might add!!

KJ said...

Earliest memories of me on my grandmother's farm (my first three years) running barefoot around the bare 'yard' and the feel of chicken poop oozing between my toes... a feeling like nothing else and never forgotten. Knew you'd want to know. Oh, and the corncobs scattered around for the chickens to eat... story goes I learned how to walk by holding on to one end of a bare cob and my uncle holding the other until he let go and I kept on going. All kids need farm experiences, your's are very lucky!

Tracy said...

Hi Shirley, thanks! Although it's easy to take a good picture when the light is so amazing. Late day autumn sunlight....

Yes, Karen, thanks so much for the image of squishy chicken poop underfoot:) I am not so sure the kids appreciate this stuff now (they want to move into town!) but maybe they will when they are older.

Melody said...

Mr. Wilson is absolutely adorable....thanks for filling us in on his antics.

meno said...

I love that you have all those animals. An upside down cat is a happy cat.
Maybe the old hens need to be reminded that there could be chicken soup in their future.

Tracy said...

Thanks Melody, he sure is! It's hard to be mad at him, even when I poops in the house right after we come inside:)

Meno, believe me I have thrown that threat out there a few times! The problems is, and I think they know it:) is that there's no way I could butcher or eat them. We all know too much about each other.

Peter Yesis said...

Great post. It reminded me of our West Virginia farmstead days. The kids the chickens the goats... Best days of our lives.
Thanks for the pic's of your flock. Makes me wonder when the chicken and rooster series of paintings are coming out. (hint hint)

leslyf said...

Great post, Tracy ... I loved reading it. What with all your animals, bees and kids your household must never be still! AND you still find time to be a successful artist .... your are definitely a contender for Wonder Woman!

You and Doug are giving your kids a magical childhood. Good on you.

n warner said...

You are hilarious. What a melangerie
of animals you have, each working their way into a sort of harmonious happy animal-people blissful existance. Too funny 'bout the Blue eggers cramming themselves into safety. I get those blue eggs at the farmers market and while they don't taste much differently than the others, they are great to look at.
All of it is very sweet, so happy,
very Babe-like, by your vivid descriptions. Best, Nina

Tracy said...

Thanks Lesly, well it's true, I sure do have a lot going on here. I get in enough quiet time though, otherwise I'd be totally unhinged:)

Nina, Thank you for thinking I am hilarious, THAT makes my day! And I like the Babe comparison-I have seen that movie a hundred times, it used to be one of my son's favorites. I am slightly more hip than Mrs. Hoggett however:)