Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Jean-Luc, collecting eggs for the Hovabator and a critter update

Jean-Luc, our tossed away kitten, has become living proof that one person's trash is another person's treasure. This little guy is an absolute joy. He is the most relaxed, friendly, affection kitten I have ever had. He completely defies the idea that cats are not social creatures. After a week alone, cold and hungry, he makes sure now that he is never far from his people. All catnaps are taken in a lap, draped across shoulders or tucked under a chin. He basically slept and ate for 2 days, and now when he is not napping, he is playing.

The Farty Boys, Sheldon and Sawyer, greeted JL with mild interest. They are now large, strapping toms. Sheldon is close to 15 lbs of muscle and fur, while Sawyer is a lithe, pretty boy. They spend their nights outside, scrapping (often w/each other) and hunting. Days are spent curled up under beds or on top of shoe piles, asleep. JL is a puzzled to them. Sheldon is the more serenely affectionate one, so he has met JL's innocent curiosity with patience. Sawyer just rolls his eyes and walks away. As if he doesn't have enough to deal with.

When it comes to the dogs, JL is very brave. Remember, the day he was rescued, the dogs tormented him for hours, growling and barking while trying to dig him out from under the baler. At first, whenever JL saw them, he growled like a small boy shaking his fists and uttering threats in a high voice at schoolyard bullies. He's settling down now, as nobody has shown any real intention of actually eating him or anything.

Still, while neither one of the dogs could be called aggressive, that isn't much comfort to a small kitten who facing being played with to death by Toby, or mothered to death by Mini. Toby is desperate to have JL as a friend, and in a few weeks I have no doubt they will be the best of buddies. For now, though, JL is just too small, and while Toby tries to be gentle, he's too much for the little guy.

As for the chickens, JL hasn't met them yet. We still have most of our flock from last year's Hovabator experience. There was the one rooster that we ate. That incident will be a post all it's own. We've lost a few hens to illness and coyotes. I nursed one hen through a broken back to complete health, yet lost another to a sinus infection after days of care. We also lost one hen to the realization that she was really a he who developed later than the other roosters. Beauty, the Americauna that we hatched, turned out to be a roo. Big surprise.

We still have seven roosters cooped up in the shed. As I said, we ate one. Yeah. I'm collecting eggs for the Hovabator, as a neighbour has paid us to incubate some of our eggs for him. We're going to do a batch for ourselves, too, and our neighbour said that he would take the roos. This means I am going to have to figure out how to sex chicks. I know there is lots of info on the net. I'm hoping for videos, too, as I am thinking I may not be very good at it.

I'm looking forward to hatching out chicks. It was a great experience last year. I know that the roos I give to my neighbour will end up in his freezer. It's interesting - the farmers reading this will wonder why we don't put our roos in our own freezer. The pet owners will wonder how we can fathom the thought of sending sweet, fluffy chicks down a road that leads to Sunday supper. I guess we are lingering in the middle. I am able to eat my own roos, but I don't enjoy it. I understand that for us to have more hens, we have to do something with the roos that will hatch. We can't afford to feed them and keep them for pets, nor do we want to keep them stuck inside all the time. And we need more hens. We have 7 hens to 3 roosters, and while there isn't a lot of fighting amongst the roos, there is confusion as to which hen belongs to whom and it makes it difficult for the roos to do the job of keeping the hens safe and cared for.

Call it the circle of life, or just the way things are. With the joy of having chickens comes the difficulty of tough decisions.

Speaking of the circle of life, Pippin, our rabbit, didn't make it through the winter. We miss him. He deserves a blog post all to himself, though.

All in all, it has been a good year. The winter was hard, but Spring has properly arrived in all her fragrant glory. She's bringing an inordinate amount of rain with her, but given the tornadoes going on in parts of the States, I'm trying really hard not to complain.

Peace out.

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