So how are the animals, anyway?
As with most matters of life, there is good news and bad news, and the two are intextricably entwined.
Beginning with the bad news: our birds. A couple of weeks ago, one of our hens mysteriously disappeared. We could find no signs of struggle or disease, and assumed she was safely nesting somewhere. A couple of days later, the rooster was gone, and our duck, Pikey. Then we knew. A fox had found our feathered friends.
Pikey was the saddest loss. She was our oldest bird. She had already endured the trauma of losing her partner (after quacking for 12 hours straight), and survived an earlier weasel attack. She could not outfox the fox.
Good news for the fox family.
Several days later, further down the road, someone’s car found the fox. Good news for our remaining birds.
Also in the good news category, our neighbor had an extra rooster. Too many roosters in close quarters and you have a problem, and he did, penned as the birds were to protect them from the fox. So he brought his extra rooster over in a grain bag. When the rooster emerged, a blast of shiny orange, Kyra instantly named him Sunset.
“Don’t you want to name him Sunrise?” I asked. No, she was sure. That orange was the color of sunset. The artist knows. The irony is that of all the roosters we have had, Sunset is the only one who crows when roosters should: first thing in the morning and then only.
We like this rooster, so do our orange-red hens. Good news for us all, though we wonder why. Our hens wanted nothing to do with Brewster, our white rooster. They would scatter as he approached. Sunset seems to have the touch. Or the right color. Or maybe it’s that the hens’ fear of the fox is working in his long-taloned, big-breasted favor. Good news for him.
Other news in the (mostly) good column is that we are expecting again–our cows that is. Precious, our Houdini heifer, is now finally and indeed pregnant! The Vet told us so. She is due in February, around Geoff’s birthday. It will be a great gift for him–a night spent in a cold dark barn, waiting for Precious’s calf to drop.
Daisy, our two year old, is also pregnant and for the second time. Good news, yes. However, in preparation for her approaching September due date, we have dried her up. No more milking. No more milk.
We are going through serious withdrawal. We miss the milk of course–the gallons of life-enabling elixir a day. We miss the butter, cream, ice cream and cheese we made with it. We miss the rhythms of milking that paced our days. And though I am reluctant to admit it, we even miss washing all of those buckets. Remind me in February, when we are milking Precious too.
Meanwhile our youngest human animal is growing like a weed. Seven weeks and a day, he is smiling left and right, up and down, beloved by all. Before we know it he’ll be chasing the chickens, milking the cow, and maybe even washing buckets.