Well, there are some new additions to the family.
I haven’t really thought of myself as a cat person, but now I have bee hive, two cats, a dog, six baby ducklings, five grown chickens, and two tiny baby chicks. One more animal in the mix seems to tip the scale from a “perfectly reasonable cottagestead working farm” to a “ridiculous menagerie”.
It all started two weeks ag when my friend, Liz from Mother Spruce Farms, gave me a herd of baby ducklings. She knew I’d tried to hard to get ducks and keep them alive last year, and her ducks had hatched a passel of more than a dozen little quackers. I can’t even tell you how delighted I was to pick up baby ducks. SO EXCITED!
Turns out, they don’t like to be picked up as much as I like picking them up. Though they’re little fluffy balls with feet, they are not huge fans of public displays of affection. So sad. Nor do they like to stand still for portraits. As soon as I pull the phone or camera out, they’re running for cover.
Since I knew I was going to have to go through brood stage again, the stinky, messy brooding of tiny fowl—I went and picked up two more baby chickens at the feed store. Andalusian baby blues. I’m pretty sure one will turn out to be a rooster, and that’s okay with me. Anywhoo, since I knew I’d be brooding ducks, it seemed a good time to add two more chickens and just get the brooding all over with at the same time.
Meet the Mod Squad
A week ago, I looked at six ducks and two chickens brooding in my guest bathroom and thought, “Oh, my god, Athena. No more animals. Stop.” I sighed, “I already give away eggs, and the chicken coop needs to be re-built. Stop. Just stop.”
Then this week, a car threw a bag of kittens out the window down the road. What the fuck? I didn’t know that was an actual thing. There’s a special place in hell for people who are that cruel.
Some of the kittens didn’t survive. It happened in front of my co-worker’s house. She rescued Pandora, and put the call out on social media for a re-homing emergency. Suddenly, I found myself with a new kitten.
She’s underweight, but healthy. She’s a snuggly little purring machine, but she still has trauma responses. When she wakes up and has forgotten where she is, she screeches and runs under the couch, shivering. Then slowly, she recalls she safe and creeps back out for food and cuddles. She runs and hides when the refrigerator kicks on, or the dishwasher runs. Anything that sounds like a motor is terrifying—understandably. She is just barely able to eat solid food, so she’s eating a mix of kitten kibble and soft mush. She figured out the litter box in just a couple of days. She’s gaining weight and is becoming a curious, happy little minx.
Buttercup is not amused. My chihuahua is thirteen years old, and has played surrogate mom to many animals. She’s not a fan of the cats. Though she tolerates Pandora rubbing against her, and crawling in her bed to sleep on Buttercup’s legs, she’s not enjoying it. Every time I look over to see if they’re surviving the transition, Buttercup has a kitten stretched out over her favorite blanket. Buttercups sighs and yawns speak volumes. If she could roll her eyes at me, she would.
Yes, what have I done. One more animal seemed to throw the whole system off tilt for a bit. We will adjust. Pandora is a little ball of love. We will make it work.
I hope to have a builder come help me re-do the coop in July. We’ll be expanding the fencing to allow for a significantly larger space, and a second nesting shed as well as a tub for the ducks that will drain into the garden.
So begins another season of garden and farming. My little cottagestead is patchworked, but full of love. Between a new book project, the budding fruits on the apple trees, and the small zoo in the works—The Elder Glade is turning into a little summer paradise.