Sunday, March 26, 2017

No More Wednesdays

Wednesday does not seem to be our lucky day.  This past Wednesday one of our new hens, Dottie, was killed by a fox.  The previous Wednesday Francesca died.  I have informed all critters and humans at our home, no more dying.

I knew something was amiss when I went out about 6:00 p.m. to bring the girls in from the donkey pasture.  They had been allowed their usual two hours of freedom within the confines of donkey fencing.  Usually when they see me arrive at the gate they all come running at a little chicken gallop.  Not that day.  They were all clustered together, with even the neighbor guinea hen across the fence from them.  At that point I wasn't terribly concerned, just thought it odd.  Then I called the girls in my chicken tone of voice.  Nothing.  Now was the time to say, "Oh crap, something is really wrong."

Finally after continued calling, five girls came in from the pasture and they got tucked in for the night.  Reluctantly I walked to that spot in the pasture and there was Dottie.  Mauled by a predator.

Even in the short time we had had her, Dottie was clearly turning into an adventurer (as had been Golda, who also died at the hands of a fox last summer).  Always the last to come into the coop; there were too many interesting things to explore in the dirt, as well as rummage around in donkey manure.

The other girls were very subdued for roughly two days.  No one wanted to leave the coop, no one wanted to go into the protected chicken run.

So don't tell me chickens are dumb.  They knew something was wrong and they needed to hunker down to stay safe.
Now, however, things are back to normal and they want to slip through any gate available.

Thank you for adding to the beauty of our little world, if only briefly, Dottie.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Missing Francesca

Over the past week while under the weather, I was mentally planning the new installment for the blog.  I was either going to regale you with a video of Luigi playing with the newest donkey toy, or tell you about the subtle changes in the herd since Alice died.

Part of the second topic involved Franny's enjoyment of her re-found title of "She Who Get's Mom's Immediate Attention" when entering the donkey yard.  If I was able to read the nuances of donkey body language, I'd say she was rightfully back as mom's favorite and loving it.

And now Francesca is gone.  I am heartbroken and the tears come as I write this.

Three days ago, because I was not feeling well, Rick took breakfast feed while I stayed in bed.  Fran was down.  When the vet arrived her body temp had plummeted and heart rate was high.  The vet said she was in shock.  Most probably colic.  And there wasn't much to be done.

Please, not Fran.

Not Fran who'd come to me for hugs before eating.  I'd stand right in front of her head and rub the sides and her neck until she decided that was enough lovin'.  And then she'd get a kiss on the nose.

Please, not Fran.

My little intact family, who'd been together with me for seven years and three years prior to that, is no longer intact.  My three amigos who wooed me across the fence before becoming part of our family are three no longer.

Seeing just two donkeys in the yard feels like something is broken.

Please, not Fran.

There is a huge hole where Fran's presence should be.   Francesca, Franny, Fran Banan.  You were my special girl with whom I shared a bond, deeper than with any other donkey.  Luigi and Gabariella (her daughter) feel your absence too.

You were  only 14, far too young.

As the Buddhist Metta prayer says:
May you be happy, May you be well, May you be peaceful, May you be free.
Goodbye Fran.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Two New Girls Join Our Little Farm

A week ago Monday two new girls joined the little farm flock.  And what beauties they are.

We used the same method as when Buffy joined the hens; putting the newbies in the dog kennel inside the coop allowed everyone to look and smell and talk without any altercations.
Ruby Dee politely inquires, "What the heck?"

Introducing the new girls -- Jo on the left (a Jersey Giant) and Dottie on the right (a Wyandotte), both a year old.  A family not too far from us were rehoming nine hens because of a move.  A perfect situation.  My former egg lady took seven and two came to live with us.

Sweet Pea takes a good long look at the interlopers.

It only took a day and a half before the two new girls had tipped over the water in their enclosure about every 10 minutes and the kennel turned into a lake, so out they came.

Yes, there was a bit of posturing (there still is), but the transition was reasonably smooth.

Dottie discovers there are treats in the doorway 

and Jo tries to figure out how those chickens got on top of the straw and hay.

Aha! Jo clambered up onto the mountain.
What an accomplishment.

Dottie explores a nesting box

And during all this drama, the donkeys are oblivious to anything but their vittles.