May 2008


Ok, so here’s the thing.  When Stalkermom CK turned up with a little duckling in her big orange truck just over a week ago, (check out her blog to find out why that’s funny), the first thing we did was spend half an hour squeaking and snuggling it and exclaiming over how cute it was.  Then we went online to try and find out what kind of duck it was, what it might eat, and how old it might be.  Because we hadn’t done the “duck thing” before, you know.

Well, after not very long looking at pictures, it seemed to me that what Phil looked like was not a duck, but a goose.  A Canada goose.  This would make a great deal more sense, coming from The Ed’s farm (even if it was in the shop) because although we don’t think we’ve ever seen a duck over there, there are geese all over the bloody place.  The house there is on a little cliff over the lake, and there is a narrow stretch of beach running below the cliff with very few points of human access (one of which is at The Ed’s) so the geese find it a great place to nest.

That’s why I called the wildlife people, because raising an orphaned duck for the pond is one thing, but raising a protected, supposedly migratory (although fewer and fewer of them seem to be leaving nowadays) goose seemed like it might be quite another.   There are a few places around here that provide homes for the geese, or stopping points on their migratory routes, because most people think of them as an annoyance (loud and poopy) but you aren’t allowed to shoot at them.

Well, I called, and described Phil, and the lady I was speaking to said “oh no honey, it’s ok, that is a duck.  Definitely a duck.”  (She wasn’t actually that patronizing, she was very nice and informative, but she did assure me that Phil was a duck.)

A week and a half later, and folks, Phil is Not A Duck.  Phil is so very much a goose.  He’s still cute, he’s still smart, he’s still brave, but he’s a gosling.  So now we have to figure out what in the long term we’re going to do with the little guy.  Geese stay with their families for one year, then typically go off and form their own little adolescent flocks and start looking for dates, or hanging out in front of drugstores, or whatever it is teenage geese get into.  They are used to having two parents, and often few siblings, which explains why Phil is perfectly content to accept Raven and I both as “mommy” and “daddy”.  So possibly he is going to want to stay with us for a year – but we aren’t going to fly off to Minnesota or wherever geese go in the winter, so if he stays here he won’t get the migratory thing going.

Personally, I don’t much care if he just wants to hang out here, as long as he’s not freaking out the hens – but I want him to be happy.  So right now we’re thinking that as soon as he’s old enough this summer, we’re going to try taking him over to play on the beach where he will see other geese, and maybe get the idea in his head that he’d like to be one of those someday.  That way, even if he does stay here, next spring when the geese return he might decide to go his own way and join a flock – and since they don’t all migrate, maybe he won’t even be the only goose that hasn’t got great stories of the parties they attended all winter down in the Warm Places.

Meantime, Phil and Velcro are finding shared interests.

Sometimes he chews on her ears, though.

Spring is still being nifty.

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So I haven’t really been in the house. At all. This is both good and bad – I don’t think I’ve had such a close, comprehensive experience of “spring” since I was a kid, when the coming of warmer weather meant I could put on my blue windbreaker and my rubber boots and run up and down the street yelling “yadda yadda dum Batman!” all afternoon. I haven’t done that this year.

What we’ve been doing is building fences. Not in any negative metaphorical way, we’ve actually been building fences. For sheep. Evil, conniving, sly, and far too intelligent sheep. By whom I mean Blackie, and most recently her beloved Monster who she is, in her motherly caring manner bringing over to the dark side.

So we’re replacing all of our admittedly crap-arsed fencing with board fence, which so far Blackie has not managed to penetrate. This is a long and costly operation (longer because costly, putting up a fence is not a big deal really) and we are down to fifteen feet of unsecure border, which she will jump over at a moment’s notice if we turn our backs on her for a second. Which is the other reason no one has been in the house: We are being shepherds. Hopefully this is the last week of that nonsense. I have this totally unfounded delusion that once the pasture is secure I will be able to relax and get back to doing the things I want to do. This is not true, because I have a couple of big orders people want me to make, and also I’m supposed to be costuming an indie film in Windsor very soon, so actually life will just return to disorganized normality and I still won’t get anything accomplished.

I have been knitting. You can sort of do that while watching evil sheep, as long as you’ve got a place to put it down when you need to run. Here is my sexy model Velcro with the continuing sweater and a couple of pairs of socks:

I’ve also started an afghan, which means that anyone who wants to can shoot me, as I’ve always said I should be shot if I ever knit an afghan. It’s the Lion Brand knit-along thingie, the Tree of Life, and it’s really pretty. That is my excuse. Pathetic, huh?

Oh, and I’m refinishing an old chair from The Ed’s barn, because that is a deck job too (although harder to drop and run.)

Any other news I’ve got is animal related. We’ve had a coup in the coop – Romulus the Rooster was taken out of commission by Crowley. The fight wasn’t that bad, but Crowley always did have a tendency to go for the eyes, and a blind rooster isn’t good for much. We gave Romulus a couple of weeks to try and recover (because my husband is a big softie) but he wasn’t ever going to get his sight back fully, and keeping him when the other chickens would just steal his food would be cruel. So we did the other cruel thing and ate him.

Our new leader:

Crowley is Romulus’ son, so at least his dynasty continues. He is very good at sucking up for corn.

“Can we have some corn?”

“Corn? Yes, we’d like some corn.”

“Did somebody say there was corn?”

“Hey, I heard we were all eating corn! Cool, I like corn!”

We also had some tragedy – there were two wild dogs in the neighborhood, and they killed one of our hens. This was her fault, as she was all alone in the middle of a soy field, but it was sad anyway. Someone, possibly the dogs, also killed the mother of that baby rabbit in my last post. (This has been confirmed. I found what was left of her. Ick.) The rabbits were very young, too young to be away from their mother yet, and so we tried to save them. This is risky with wild rabbits. There were four. Two died, and two lived and were released. I’m happy to say, for those who were involved in the final rabbit-release on the holiday weekend that I saw one of the bunnies yesterday morning out behind the pond, and it’s looking big and healthy.

We were worried about this one, it made friends with the cat. But I think it’ll be fine. Velcro loved the bunnies, and was furious when we took them away from her.

In case there hadn’t been enough to keep us awake at night, last monday The Ed went into his wood shop to do some work and found a baby duck. We did find the nest, but MommaDuck seemed to have moved on – there were no signs of current occupancy, and also no sign of any other ducks. So we adopted the duckling. I had actually called wildlife rescue to find out what the heck to do about a single orphaned duck (because we need this right now?) but Raven fell head over heels in love with Phil (we named it Clean Phil, because it was dumped at The Ed’s house) and wanted to raise him/her.

I mentioned he was a softie?

So for the first few days Phil got to swim in the sink, and everybody spent their shepherding time hunting worms for a duck.

Ducks need a lot of protein, because they grow so amazingly fast it makes White Rocks look normal and healthy. They also need companionship, and don’t have much chance of survival unless they have lots of company and reassurance. Even now, when Phil is much more independent, it wants to have us in sight or it gets upset, and it wants someone to snuggle with at night. So we’re sleeping with a duck. No, I am not kidding. Ever had little duck feet stomping all over your forehead at three in the morning? It is… unique.

That’s not a duck cage, Phil is free range. It’s just a garden with sheep protection. But, Phil apparently likes to eat and sleep in oregano. Go figure. At least he/she smells nice.

Velcro does not consider a duck to be a suitable replacement for her bunnies, although Phil is willing to be friends.

Actually, Phil is so far completely fearless, and will run through the hens, hiss at the cat, step on the dog, and peck sheep on the nose. Apparently Phil was grooming Blackie’s nose yesterday – I missed that, but Raven says Blackie seemed to like it!

Raven and The Ed are plowing an acre over at The Ed’s place for a garden, so he’s got his work cut out for him this summer, while I’ll be over here with the livestock. There’s a lot of work to this “farm” thing, y’know? But, spring really has been pretty, and I love my animals. Even the ones I want to throttle.

I’ve been away forever, I’m sorry. I miss you. Let me distract you with cute animal pictures while I try and get my act together.

And as evidence that I have been trying to get work done, however unsuccessfully:

(There’s actually two months worth of not-finished TIF in there.  One was a cat-related incident, the other I just haven’t had time to get back to.  I should drop out.  But not yet.)

I’ll be back soon.