Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Red?

We've added a few new faces to our crew. Five hens, a rooster, two rabbits. The crew already consists of 5 cats and a dog. It seems our flock is growing! Oh, don't forget about the five bee hives in the front pasture. I guess I should count them too.

I have always been an animal lover. And I especially love horses. Up until the last few years, I had horses for 23 years. But life was getting a bit complicated and with no more time left to take care of them, I had to find good homes for them and let them go. It wasn't fair to them. I still really miss having horses in my backyard though.

Back in the summer, a feral cat decided she was going to take up residence on our property. She was tiny, skinny, and very hungry. I started leaving food out for her, and she would sneak in a few bites before my other cats would chase her off. But she was a determined little thing, and after about 3 months, she decided I wasn't going to kill her and she became friends with me. She now sleeps in our garage at night, and sometimes comes in the house to sleep for a short time when the other cats are out. They're still not too crazy that we've adopted her. I named her Spice.

Now to the hens. We decided to make use of our horse barn and Bob built a chicken coop inside one of the horse stalls. We bought three hens and a rooster, with intentions of having them to provide us with fresh eggs. I didn't really want a rooster, but we decided to get one because of the predators that live around us (mostly my cats!) with the hopes that he would be able to keep them at bay. We're hoping the rooster gives them something to think about! The hens we brought home were about 3 months old, and need some time to grow, so we decided we are not going to let them out until they are full grown. After the first three days, Bob found one of the hens dead in the coop, after something had gotten inside and had it as a late night snack. Apparently the coop wasn't secure enough. So we spent the whole next day reinforcing it and it's been fine since. So I went and picked up three more hens; two from the same brood as the original ones and one hen who is older and is already laying. I named the hens Molly (for “Good Golly Miss Molly – she is the oldest & biggest one), Lucy (she's a Rhode Island Red), Hannah ( a very sweet, friendly hen), and Laverne & Shirley (they look like twins). The rooster is Roy. Miss Molly bosses everyone around in the coop, even Roy. He's petrified of her. Hopefully he will grow into his rooster-ness and tell her a thing or two!

We also got some rabbits. Rabbit poop makes the best fertilizer for gardening and we would like to start growing some of our own veggies. They also make a delicious stew, according to Bob. So he wanted to have rabbits down in the barn as well. I didn't name the rabbits. It's hard to name something that will end up at your dinner table...and I don't mean as dinner guests! Kind of like the oysters that thought they were invited to dinner with the walrus in Alice in Wonderland. Anyway, the rabbits are Bob's responsibility. I don't want to even look at their fuzzy little faces.

So what does Snow Red have to do with anything? Well, my neighbor says I'm just like Snow White with the way the animals react to me. She said they are just drawn to me. Except I don't look like Snow White. Strawberry blonde hair & freckles? Which is where Snow Red comes in; close enough. Anyway, there might be something to that. One time I heard a bird chirping down at the barn. I opened the back door to see where it was, and saw a parakeet flying around down in the trees by the barn. I stood at the back door and called to it, saying, “Cme'ere little bird, come on in the house”. And guess what? IT DID! It flew straight from the barn all the way up to the house and flew right inside the house through the doors I had open! I almost fell on the floor!! I ended up finding it a home, as my cats would never have let me keep a bird in the house. Then there was the time I was driving in my neighborhood and saw a horse galloping down the middle of the main road towards my car. At the last minute the horse turned down a street and just a few houses down, just stopped. I got out of the car and it let me walk right up to it and hold it. I called Bob and he came down with a halter and lead rope which I put on and proceeded to walk the horse to my house and put it in the pasture. It's owner found it later that day; it seems they had just moved to a new house in the area and somehow it escaped through an open gate. And then there's Roy, the rooster. He likes me. He meets me at the coop door when he hears my voice, jumps up on the box to watch me when I'm milling around the barn, and will stay near me when I go inside the coop. Roy is my friend. Then there's Spice. She made friends with me, mostly only me. She doesn't have much tolerance for anyone else. There's a possum living in the cabbage palm out front. He doesn't run away from me. He should, because if I find him anywhere near the chickens, well, let's just say I might become Annie Oakley instead of Snow Red! And now the turtles. Yesterday, I moseyed on over to check out the canal that's on the side of our house, and while I was standing there, two turtles came to the surface and poked their heads out of the water and just stayed there looking at me. So I went and got some food and fed them, and guess what? They were waiting for me this morning when I went over to the canal. Just knowing I was there to feed them. 

My neighbor says that she expects to see a line of animals just waiting outside my garage some morning. Just knowing Snow White, er, Snow Red, lives there. I'm ok with that; just as long as the seven dwarfs don't show up. I think I'm plum out of space here in our home in the woods!

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