After two days of working hard to separate Dimsworth and Hawthorne, and making sure each had access to non-goat-raided food and water, I decided I was doing way too much extra work. I let both turkeys out into the main yard, and told them to settle it, fight club style. Then I walked away as the feathers started flying. It only took a few minutes, and now they are back to being the best of buds. They even sleep next to each other again! I know this because last night it started raining about eleven o’clock at night so I went outside to herd them into the shed to stay dry. They’re so big now I have to shepherd them in one at a time by bending over and lightly touching each wing and guiding them forward, all while holding a flashlight to illuminate their path. I call it the Turkey Trundle, and it takes about 30 minutes.
The ducks are causing me similar extra work; the mamas are all about to go broody, so they take great delight in hiding their nests from me. Since I’m now selling my duck eggs in town, this means I have to sheepishly show up with only one dozen a week to sell. I keep promising that come summer, they’ll have more eggs than they have shelf space in the refrigerator! But for now, I have to go out several times a day and stalk them, hoping to pounce on a freshly laid egg. If I have any doubt as to how long it’s been there, I can’t sell it, so I go on my easter egg hunt every few hours. There are nests with ten or so eggs scattered all over the yard, so I’m hoping for a lot of peeping ducklings!
I decided that since the turkeys are choosing mates, and the drakes have all taken girlfriends, I might as well let Cinnabun get in on some loving too. She and Harvey have been cuddling and cavorting non stop for the last few days, and couldn’t be happier. I also have four new quails hopping happily in the brooding box. They are joined by their older brother, who for some reason wasn’t thriving when I put him down in the main Sanctuary with the older quails. He’s a great big brother, he lets all the tiny ones crawl all over him and nap underneath him.
Raphael, on the other hand, is not such a respectful sibling. I let him out the other day into the guest bedroom (usually referred to as Raphael’s playroom), which I do several times a day. This time, though, I decided to open the window since it was nice out. After about thirty minutes, I heard a general kerfluffle from the deck, and stepped out to see agitated chickens shaking off the remains of their deck-side dusts baths. (I can’t keep potted plants on the deck anymore, since all the pots of dirt been taken over for bathing purposes). I had to laugh as I saw Raphael gleefully clinging to the screen, then hopping down and springing forward again and again.
In garden news, I really REALLY need it to be spring. I have at least five tiny pumpkins started, and one tomato plant is so large I have to start pruning it. Watering everything is a nightmare because every time I turn around my butt knocks a pot off its perch. I’m quite happy to announce I have a little baby Willard! I found him while I was watering my pomegranate bush and accidentally sprayed him with the hose. He’s about the size of my thumbnail, although it’s difficult to tell that from the picture. Thompson is shy, so I couldn’t get a face shot, as hard as I tried.
Having a packed greenhouse of course means I’ve been potting and re-potting tons of plants, usually using the tailgate of the pickup as a potting station. Apparently Gene got tired of the mess I was making, so he built me a custom potting bench! It’s just over waist high, and is customized with both a cup holder and gravity-fed soil dispenser, since it’s hard for me to scoop soil up. I couldn’t be happier, particularly with the cup holding feature.
Gene and I came home from running errands in town to find a full on prison break going on in the back yard. Even Fat Ursula was out, so you know the eating had to be good. As soon as the goats saw me watching through the fence, they immediately stampeded back toward the pasture gate, which of course was closed since they’d trampled the fence to get out. Unfortunately for Fiona, she made the mistake of getting between Dimsworth and Temperance, who were trying to share a moment. The two male turkeys immediately turned to defending their women, and treed Fiona up on the milking stanchion. Once I got the goats secured, I noticed that Temperance, who up until that moment had been Dimsworth’s loyal girlfriend, was now enamored with Hawthorne. Apparently he did a better job of defending her from the fearsome goat herd, and now poor Dimsworth is yesterday’s news. For his part, Hawthorne didn’t make the transition gracefully, he totally shoved it in Dimsworth’s face with his incessant gloating, igniting a territory war that is going on even as I type this. I had to separate the two of them, one in the pasture, on outside, and they’re currently hurling insults at each other through the fence. Even though it’s pitch dark and they can’t possibly see each other. I feel sorry for Prudence, Constance, and Hester, who apparently just don’t measure up.
But Dimsworth isn’t the only one getting shot down around here. Now that the weather has improved, Gene is honing is ratting skills with an improvised target. He’s pretty pumped up about it, fresh off of two confirmed Ratzilla kills in the garage. He’s out there now, hopefully peering through his night-vision scope, but I think the two tom turkeys are making so much racket they’ve scared off every rat for miles.
You’d think after missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy an alligator for $200 that I would start grabbing screen shots of amazing craigslist ads. But no, I totally let the opportunity to buy a “Deathstalker” scorpion (‘the most poisonous scorpion in the world!” promised the seller) for a mere $85 slip through my fingers yet again. It even came with a cage! All because I did the responsible thing and waited about thirty minutes to ask Gene before hitting up an ATM. Seriously, apparently it’s someone’s full time job to monitor craigslist and immediately yank down ads for anything that could maim, poison, eat, maul or otherwise kill someone before I get a chance to contact them. I want that job. Mostly because I could delete the ads, then call the seller with no worries of competing bids and come home with all sorts of crazy, yet useful, critters. I would already be the proud owner of an alligator, the third most venomous scorpion in the world (I googled it, the seller exaggerated), and a helper monkey.
But today wasn’t a total loss. The grocery store had those tiny watermelons on sale for $2, which is the first sign of spring as far as I’m concerned. I brought one home, waited for a break in the lovely, lovely rain we’ve been having for two days, then dispensed a little taste of summer. It was Jimmy’s first watermelon treat, and he was all over it. Then Dimsworth decided he wanted Jimmy’s piece, and steamrolled right over Jimmy to get it. Fifty pound turkeys get whatever fifty pound turkeys want. The ducks, on the other hand, turn to the prison eating method of treat retention – they grab a rind, then run off to an unoccupied corner where they hunch over it and chow down. Most of the time it works out fairly well for them.
In planting news, I’m already at the point where I’m triple stacking pots of plant starts in the greenhouse. I’ve got pumpkin blossoms, gourd blossoms, and an actual green bean already. Unfortunately, I only have five decent tomato starts, so I planted a flat of them that is currently residing on the kitchen counter. Hopefully those will sprout soon, not that I know where to put them. Yesterday, I dragged Gene into the greenhouse to show off all the beautiful veggies, only to embarrass myself by screaming like a girl (his description) when I walked straight into an occupied spider web. You wouldn’t think from looking inside the greenhouse that there’s room to jump around while waving your arms and batting furiously at your head, but you’d be wrong. There’s plenty of room for that, and I didn’t even knock anything over.
Jimmy the Guinea could not be happier in his new home. Before we got him, he was a barn guinea who didn’t get to free range at all, and he had the scruffy caged look that goes along with that lifestyle. Now that he’s free to wander, his feathers have smoothed out and he looks much more content. I love watching him run over to investigate a patch of grass, then get distracted by a juicy bug, then make a beeline for Luigi. Jimmy doesn’t have a “slow” speed – it’s like he’s so excited to be free that he wants to cram as much experience as possible into every moment. He particularly loves treats, and since he’s the fastest bird we own, he is usually the first to come bounding up to me if he sees anything in my hands. He’s also very much in love with Luigi, and follows her all over the place, making sweet cooing and whistling noises.
But Jimmy’s not the only lovesick fowl in the pasture – Dimsworth and Hawthorne are falling all over themselves trying to impress the ladies. It’s rare to see them in unpuffed form – they’re always showing off. I found our first turkey egg yesterday, so it’s just a matter of time until one of them goes broody. I’m quite surprised one of the ducks hasn’t started a nest yet – by this time last year we already had a clutch of chirping ducklings waddling around the yard.
I spent quite a bit of time in the front yard in the last few days, mostly because I needed a break from the non-stop avian adult movie action in the back yard. Gene and I got four new fruit trees with my recent lottery winnings (and some of my own money, too, $100 only goes so far at the greenhouse and I can’t stick to a budget to save my life), so the front is looking quite springy and festive. We had to pot the trees and put them in the driveway, because our last attempt at an orchard got devastated, Godzilla style, by Shy and the goats. I’m hoping that summer temperatures get here soon so I can move the fig, banana, and avocados trees outside as well. It’s a good thing we have a big driveway.