They’re here!!!!!!

Finally, finally I have my ducklings! One of the feed stores that was still taking my phone calls agreed to put the last ducklings they had on hold for me; apparently I’m not the only one who was disgruntled with the USPS’s utter lack of service, because the ducklings sold in under a day when they finally made their appearance. Gene told me I could get four ducklings, so naturally I came home with five. In my defense, the store had five on hold for me, having heeded my screeching phone request of “OMG hold whatever you have left I’m on my way!!!” The store’s policy states that no one’s left behind, because there’s nothing more depressing than a lone duckling.
Once I got them home, they took a look around at the available housing options, and settled for the new addition to the chick’s brooding box. Gene had built it several weeks ago, and it was all ready for them, complete with wading pool. The ducks absolutely love it. They must spend 23 out of 24 hours in the pool, and protest mightily every time I take it out to replace the water. The chicks haven’t seemed to notice their new neighbors, which is a good thing, because Gene said there’s no way they’re getting a pool too. I got two Pekin ducks (which are the white ones with the bright orange beaks and feet), and three Indian Runners, which are the tall thin ones that always look like they’re facing into a strong wind. 
My friend Abigail brought Jack and Sam, her boy goats, back to our house while her family is on vacation. Now that the herd is six strong, feeding time is even more of a challenge. It’s like a moving obstacle course, with six critters all trying to be the first one to grab the grain scoop away from me. Poor Sam is still obsessed with Princess Fiona – the one goat he doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting with. It’s pretty funny – every time I look over at him, he’s gazing soulfully at Fiona’s rear end, which is waving about five feet above him. Although Princess Buttercup is his size (and his intended date), he has set his sights higher, literally and figuratively. Ironically, Princess Fiona and Jack have forged a bond, probably because Jack is fixed and is more into cuddling. Woolimina and Princess Ariel have adjusted nicely to their new surroundings; Princess Buttercup especially loves bounding around the pasture with Ariel. Despite her diminutive size, Ariel is actually the loudest of all the critters. If I come outside around dusk and don’t feed them right away, she lets loose with these ear-shattering shrieks that sound like she’s being attacked. I’m surprised our neighbors haven’t called Goat Protective Services on us… she’s that loud. Seriously, the noise is unreal. Not even Sean Paul and Marley can match her in terms of sheer volume.
All the chickens were particularly happy today – although it was cold, it was bright and sunny. The six Golden-Sex Link chickens have finally conquered their agoraphobia, and free range all over the yard. They’re actually quite the party chickens, I have to chase them inside the coop every night even though everyone else has gone to bed. They’re like little kids; all they want is five more minutes. They have all started to lay eggs, but unfortunately they lay them in random places, like behind the feed bins and between layers of straw in the bales. Collecting eggs has turned into a daily Easter egg hunt. A few days ago I hit the jackpot – I found a hidden cache of 11! I’m not sure how to convince them to use the nesting boxes…I’m hoping they figure it out eventually.

An open letter to the US Postal Service

Dear Sir(s) and/or Madam(s):

I would like to direct your attention to the picture at right; it is a lovingly constructed brooding box. Of particular note is the bright blue swimming pool, complete with basking rock/swim deck. You’ll notice a heat lamp, and if you’re unusually astute you’ll also notice it’s not illuminated. Perhaps you are wondering why no life-sustaining heat is pouring forth. Perhaps you are also wondering why I’m sending a letter with a picture of an empty brooding box to the US Postal Service. I’m sending you a picture of a dark and lonely brooding box because IT’S YOUR FAULT IT’S EMPTY!!!! I capitalized those letters on purpose, for I wish to indicate that I am, in fact, shouting at you. I would also include a frowny-face emoticon, but I shall keep this letter professional. Allow me to explain the reason for my ire, and the reason for which said ire is directed at you. For the last three weeks, I have been calling numerous feed stores, asking when their shipment of cute, fuzzy ducklings will arrive. In each case, I was promised a specific date, guaranteed by the hatcheries sending the ducks. And by “sending”, I mean utilizing the US Postal Service. Those promised dates, marked in ink on my calendar, have come and gone. Let me re-direct your attention to the photo at right. Notice the lack of ducks happily basking in the glow of the heat lamp, or paddling contentedly in the wading pool. Notice the lack of food and water available, because do you know what nothing eats? That’s right – nothing. Let me pose another question:  how is it possible for the USPS to delay four separate hatchery orders to four separate feed stores in a span of three weeks???? Do you think ducklings enjoy being in a cardboard box for extended periods of time? Do you think I enjoy being responsible for the fact that the four feed stores within fifty miles of my house have changed their phone greetings to “___ Feed Store, no the ducks aren’t available yet”? Since federal law prohibits me from expressing my dissatisfication with your operating procedures to the extent that I would like to do in this letter, I will close by requesting that you pull your collective heads out and deliver me some ducklings already. Fly like an eagle my a$$.


Despite my longing for ducklings being thus far unfulfilled, I actually have acquired four adult ducks. Gene found someone who had ducks she needed to give away, so last weekend my friend Abigail and I went to go pick them up. When we got there, the poor ducks were so mud-covered you couldn’t even tell what color they were. They didn’t have access to anywhere warm and dry, so they weren’t in terribly good shape. Chasing them around proved that I wasn’t in terribly good shape either, and by the time I caught the fourth duck, I was as covered in mud as they were. (And on a slightly related note, if some weird avian duck flu hits Washington state, it’s probably my fault – I think I swallowed about a gallon of gross duck mud). They seemed to perk up when we got them home, probably because they looked around and saw nothing but spoiled and pampered goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and the world’s luckiest sheep. After a week of clean bedding and water, they are doing well, and Gene even went out and bought them some powdered duck vitamins that make their water look like Tang. 

All the other critters are their usual content selves. Princess Ariel and Woolimina are ecstatic with their new surroundings, and Woolimina isn’t skittish anymore. She runs right up to me the moment I walk through the gate, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I always have Wheat Thins, or at the very least, a few Ritz crackers with me. Speaking of Ritz crackers, I made the mistake of assuming that Harvey and Claire, the now-gigantic bunnies, would happily share a cracker while I prepared their evening meal. Have you ever heard a bunny hiss? It’s like hearing a cute fluffy kitten drop an F-bomb — it just ain’t right. Both bunnies take meal times very seriously. Claire, in particular, has graduated from throwing her food bowl at me if I don’t make with the lettuce fast enough to charging at my hand. And hissing. Thank god for distracting Wheat Thins.

Sadly, the bunnies aren’t the only ones who blatantly disrespect my authority. The two Polish Crested roosters, Sean Paul and Marley, have decided that they rule the backyard. Until about two weeks ago, they would wait until your back was turned, and without warning you’d feel a feathered talon ball bouncing of your butt (they can’t jump that high). Lately, though, they don’t wait until you can’t see them coming. They just attack whenever they feel like it. I tried wearing unbuttoned flannel shirts outside, so that when they squared off with me I could take the ends of it and flap my arms, pretending like I have giant wings. I must have ruined the illusion by yelling, “You want a piece of this?” It seems as if they do, indeed, want a piece of that, because their response is usually to hang off my jeans. Chivalry is not dead on the farm, however, because King Julian routinely comes to my rescue. Just this afternoon Marley was having a go at my shins, and King Julian came flying out of nowhere and knocked him over. I’m officially a part of his flock now.

Herd…or hoard?

Princess Ariel

It’s been a wondrous week here on the farm. I started out the week as usual, trolling Craig’s List to see if anyone was selling a critter I couldn’t live with out (specifically a miniature pot-bellied pig, but don’t tell Gene.) I found something even better though – someone nearby was moving, and needed to sell their female pygmy goat. The price was too good to pass up, so naturally I emailed the seller, set up a pick up date and time, then asked Gene if it was okay. He said yes, so today he took me to Port Orchard to get Princess Ariel! When we got there, we saw she was standing by a miniature sheep, which the seller said we could buy for an additional fee. He then said if we didn’t take her, he would have to take her to the butcher because they were moving soon. He added that he would eat her, for dinner, and possibly again for breakfast the next day if there was any left. Despite that gloomy proclamation, Gene held firm to his “no means no” stance regarding sheep, even doomed ones. When Gene put Princess Ariel in the transport crate, she immediately started crying. It was a heart-wrenching sound, full of despair at the prospect of leaving her companion of two years. The sheep was also despondent; she was running back and forth the length of the fence, bleating and crying as she tried desperately to get to her best friend. Naturally I was beyond heart-broken at this point, so with growing horror I asked Gene if we could please, please take the sheep too. He still said no, and since I didn’t want to cry in front of some guy I had just met, I got into the truck and started crying there. Gene got in the driver’s seat, and it was only in retrospect that I realized he didn’t start it. He sat there for minute, then sighed and told me to go find out if the guy would take a check, and we came home with a sheep too!!!!

Woolinda Woolimina,
the world’s luckiest sheep.

We named her Woolinda Woolimina, and she is the happiest sheep on the planet. Catching Woolimina was somewhat challenging, as she is much more skittish than Princess Ariel. Gene and the seller chased her into their pen, which was a somewhat creepy partially walled off area underneath his house. My contribution, since I can’t successfully grab a sheep with either of my broken wrists, was to guard the entrance so she couldn’t run out again. I got the bad job, since one of Woolimina’s horns points straight out, kind of like an ugly unicorn. I didn’t feel as though I was in a position to complain though, since I wanted to catch her and get her in the crate before Gene had a chance to change his mind. It was also kind of fun to watch the seller chase her around using his cell phone as the room’s only source of illumination. He chased her up onto a ledge, and when she jumped off, Gene literally snatched her out of midair by her wool. It was so cool – like something you would see in a rodeo, if bulls had wool and didn’t weigh so much. They got her into the crate with Princess Ariel, and they both immediately stopped crying and started cuddling. Even Gene had to admit we were doing the right thing. At least I assume he thought it, and just didn’t choose to voice it. He did ask me what I intended to actually do with a sheep, and I assured him that if the apocalypse came, I would be able to make socks and sweaters for everyone with our new renewable supply of wool.

Once we got them back to the farm, Gene positioned the crate right inside the pasture gate. At first they were both too afraid to come out, but once they did they immediately started exploring all the climbing toys and the wooded area. Since they didn’t have any toys and lived on a grass lawn before, they seemed as happy as a sheep and goat could appear to be. They both seem to get along with Princesses Fiona and Buttercup, and my friend immediately came down to view our newest acquisitions and said she would bring back Jack and Sam, since Princess Ariel isn’t fixed either. That doubles my odds of getting baby goats!!!! Potentially lots and lots of baby goats.
Party of 12

But these two aren’t the only reason this week has been wondrous. I was getting cabin fever being stuck in the house, since I can’t drive yet, so Gene took me to one of my favorite places, the local feed store. Naturally I dragged him over to the chick display, and asked him if I could replace the one chick who didn’t make it out of the eight we had bought a few days ago. I then pointed out that it seemed strange to have three of one breed, but only one or two of the other breeds. We left with four new chicks! And even better, the feed store bumped up their duck delivery schedule, so now I get ducklings next Friday!

At least they’re eating healthy.

In non-animal news, my seeds have sprouted in the new indoor greenhouse! I know I said that in the last update, but now they’re even bigger! I planted another two flats of seeds yesterday, and will do several more as soon as we get another set of lights. When I checked in on the seedlings this morning, I noticed that upon closer inspection, some of the leaves appeared somewhat chewed. Then I noticed that my prized bean seedling had been reduced from its once-glorious 12 inches to a two-inch ragged stem. It didn’t take me long to realize what had happened – all I had to do was look toward the doorway to see two kitties smashing their faces against the mesh, trying to get in for some more snacking. Apparently I need to make extra-sure the door is zipped all the way shut.