Feeding time here at the zoo has become a well-orchestrated task. Since everybody prefers everyone else’s particular type of food, when I open the gate armed with my pink food scoops hilarity ensues. Followed quickly by howling, pecking, and head-butting. I feed the goats first; they get a large scoop of goat chow sprinkled with poultry pellets. The pellets, which the goats love, distract them long enough for me to open the door to the turkey kennel and fill their bowl. Now that the fancy chickens are living in the A-frame, I have to quickly put the metal grate over their door to keep the turkeys out. Sometimes Fiona will abandon her bowl to the ducks and come charging over to try and steal the turkey food, so I have to slam the kennel door, then usher the turkeys in one at a time. Tonight I slammed the door, and Fiona went back to battling the ducks for a spot at the trough. I went back to securing the fancy chickens, and when I turned around Thanksgiving was standing in front of the door, staring at his food dish disconsolately. He looked like a fat kid that got to the candy store five minutes after they closed. I opened the door for him, and of course he waddled to the wrong side, getting himself stuck between the open door and the kennel fence. Because A) he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed and B) he’s so fat moving any way but forward is difficult for him, he was stuck having to make what turned into a 39-point turn. Keep in mind that by now it’s dark, it’s raining, and I have a new cast which makes my right arm totally unusable, so by now mama’s a little on the cranky side. I tried to help Thanksgiving by turning him to face the right direction, and he rewarded me by taking a huge chomp out of my leg. Lucky for him I’m still on pain meds, or a particular holiday might have been celebrated tonight.
It seems like all the animals know I’m not bringing my A-game right now, as it were, because they’ve been respecting my authority even less than usual. I feel like the slow, medicated, sporting-a-cast wildebeest being singled out by hyenas. Even Harvey bit me the other day! I think that’s because he was racing to beat Claire to a carrot though, and not spurred by any viciousness on his part. I hope. Because they’re going to get too big to be all bitey like that.
Speaking of viciousness, I noticed two of the ducks, Paris and Nikki, fighting over some delicious tidbit Paris found. Nikki won, and when she ran past me, I was horrified to see it was a frog. I love frogs. I’ve gone out of my way to make our property frog friendly, and I had no idea ducks ate them. It was like a train wreck though – I watched her swing it around in her bill till she finally crammed it all in, except for one frantically waving webbed hand. It was disconcerting to see one cute thing eat another cute thing, like if a puppy suddenly ate a kitty.
Other than that little bit of horror, things have been peaceful here on the farm. Since I’m off work for a bit and can’t do much, I sit outside on nice days and watch all the critters. When Gene’s home I supervise his work on various projects from my comfy chair. He finished the winter enclosure for the chickens, which has a distinctly red neck vibe to it. It works well, though, and the chickens go in it when it starts to rain. It even has a grow light in it.
The only one who doesn’t use it is Condi – she’s still broody. I had the brilliant idea of giving her two of Christmas’s eggs to hatch, so we can get an early start on next year’s turkeys. I will know in about 28 days if that will work. In other chicken news, Gene got me five new Americauna chickens! They are about a year old, and will lay dark green eggs. I’m very excited. There are four hens and a rooster, whom I’ve named King Julian. So far they are getting along well with our girls. King Julian and the fancy roosters get into the occasional crow off, so between all the roosters and the turkeys our yard is very cheerful sounding.