Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of cold and ducks

Animals are amazing, and they continually make me jaw dropping surprised. Beau the Palomino Pony has a new friend, Timmy the Gander. Timmy and the other gander, Sammy, and the three ducks hang out in the horseyard now most of the time, and if anyone (read that Ranger the German Shepherd or Lilly Ann the Huntress) bark at the horses, Timmy is on the alert, long neck out and hissing. We enjoy watching his defense of his new realm, and realize that even when Beau is loose in the pasture, Timmy has formed a new association, and can be found on the alert while Beau grazes, or just the two boys standing together, goose with head under wing, and old pony dozing in the sun. If I can catch them with camera in hand, I'll post proof on this site.

The ducks and geese are chore-laden in the winter, carrying the water needed to keep their bills clean and open, and their feathers groomed, is our hardest chore. Even the big horse trough only requires a few buckets a week, once we fill it... but carrying the duck water daily is a pain. I suggested to husband last night maybe it was time to rethink webbed poultry, and he laughed and said "Winter is almost over"... and he's right! I was more cheerful tonight, out in the dark, talking to the birds as they bedded down with the horses. The trough is full for the wildings, the geese and ducks have plenty of feed, and we'll freshen their water in the morning. The white mare is on her feet (hurrah) and the old pony is dreaming of summer in his little barn.

Someday soon I'll write the saga of Brownie the chicken, who sprained a foot out of kilter and now walks like Chester of Gunsmoke of old. She bobbles her head, and the roosters abuse her terribly, but she has lived for two years now and gives us a beautiful brown egg daily. We have taken to holding a water bowl for her in the evening, and she drinks long and hard, so we suspect that when she gets down for water daily, the others are picking at her. This is the way of chickens, the oddball is persecuted, just like people. Each has his or her own personality, and I see tonight that one of the Little Bunch gray roosters is now protecting one of the two year old little gray hens. As most of our young birds are related, they are probably cousins, but it doesn't matter as we don't breed for show, but for pleasure. There will be no chicks this year, though, so the black snakes will have to find something else to eat this summer.

I'm going to join Beau and go to bed tonight and dream of spring and buds unfolding.

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