Category Archives: Farm Tales

A Birth Story!

Emily and Family

Emily watches over her new brood; everyone's tired after the difficult business of being born!

After a week’s worth of partially sleepless nights — waking at midnight, 2 a.m., and 5 a.m. to check on pregnant Emily — we pulled an all-nighter.  There’s nothing like staying awake all night with a laboring goat to make you feel like a true farmer — especially if you trade off with other farmers to steal catnaps on hay bales, wrapped in a sleeping bag, shivering in a half-awake delirium and listening intently to every noise and breath sound the goat makes.

Starting at about 10 o’clock on Friday night, Emily began to show classic impending labor signs.  She started pawing the ground, trying to make a nest.  Amber-colored goo — amniotic fluid — began streaming out of her vagina.  Emily is normally a sedate, quiet goat, but she became very affectionate and vocal, talking to us and to her stomach, and crying loudly when we left the barn.  She flehmened — which is a sexual response found in sheep and goats where they curl back their lips to better smell pheromones.  She sniffed the ground.  She yawned.  She couldn’t get comfortable, standing, lying down, and constantly readjusting herself.  She chewed on her back, hoofs, and stomach, as though everything in the world was irritating her.  She licked her stomach like a cat.  She seemed to experience occasional mild contractions, her back arching ever so  slightly and her tailhead raising.

But she still wasn’t pushing, and she wasn’t in what goat owners call “heavy labor.”  Until 5:41 a.m., when quite suddenly she got serious.  Inbetween contractions (which were happening every minute or two) she stood up.  But when the contractions hit, she lay down, stretched out her legs, stiffened her body, and heaved.  Her breathing was also really heavy, almost to the point of grunting.

I was in the kidding stall with her, bracing her legs and watching her vagina for progress–she was opening up a bit, but no sign of a bubble or kid yet.  I called to Emmett, fast asleep on the hay bales.  He continued to be fast asleep, no matter how loudly I said the word “Emmett.”

After a few pushes I climbed out of the kidding stall and tapped him.  He was very confused by the whole situation, having been deep in dreams, but leapt out of his sleeping bag and came over to watch.  I climbed back in the pen, and could see she was making progress — so I asked Emmett to get Susannah and Austin, our wwoofers who were going to assist with the birth.  No sooner had they arrived (also a little groggy and confused), when a bubble appeared… first pulsing in and out with the pushes, then out to stay.  Emily screamed a couple of times, the labor at its most intense.  And then, just a couple of pushes after the bubble stayed out, a baby jettisoned out into my hands, butt-first.

I immediately started to pull off the mucus and clear off his face with the towel, but he wasn’t moving.  He was limp, and sort of stretchy feeling.  We used the aspirator — that little plastic snot-sucking bulb — to clear out his mouth (grey, lifeless tongue hanging out the side) and nostrils.  I kept rubbing him vigorously, just in case, but Emmett grabbed the stethoscope and confirmed that he had no heartbeat.  We continued trying to resuscitate him for a bit but it was pretty clear he was already long gone by the time he made his entrance in the world.

After so much waiting, our hearts were broken… Would there be any more kids?  Was that it?  I reached around Emily’s belly, about to “bounce” her to see if there were any more babies inside.  But no sooner had I done so when, barely two minutes after the birth of the first one, Susannah shouted, “The next one’s coming!”  Her words were somewhat of a premonition.  (It wasn’t “the other one,” just the next one.)

The next one came out kicking to try and break out of the thick red sac enveloping it.  We were thrilled to see signs of life, and immediately set about trying to get the baby cleaned off.  We grabbed the aspirator again and cleared out the baby’s mouth and nostrils.  That was literally all we had time to do before Susannah announced the birth of the next kid.  We were shocked — she had three in there?!  Austin took care of getting the second kid rubbed down, cleaned and dried off, and showed him to Emily so she could help with the process.  (Emily, sadly, was trying her hardest to wake up the stillborn, who was on a towel on the floor of the kidding stall — so Emmett moved him away.)  Then Emmett, Susannah and I set to work clearing the third baby’s lungs, and getting her cleaned off.  She had a bit more mucus in her mouth than the first and was coughing and sneezing, so I gently but firmly held her by her back legs and swung her upside down to drain all of the fluid out of her longs.

At this point, I should mention why getting the kids cleaned off is so important, and so much of a challenge.  The thing is, babies don’t come out like babies.  They come out like a package wrapped in red plastic wrap, inside which is an ocean of water and goo, beneath which is a tiny scrawny creature that is trying desperately to breathe and doesn’t quite look ready for the world.  It’s amazing that, within half an hour, these fetus-things turn into real goat babies… fluffy, trying for their first steps, and suckling with a bit of human help on mama’s teat.

Emily passed her afterbirth and immediately began chowing down on the large bloody organ-looking thing.  (This seemed to be the one job more important than licking the babies — and licking babies is a job she’s been taking very seriously ever since they were born 36 hours ago.)   We snipped & dipped the kids’ umbilical cords (in iodine), got them started nursing, and lifted their tails to check their genders:  1 boy and 1 girl.  The boy is named “Emilio” since he is a debonair, gregarious mini-Emily. His coat patterns look just like mom.  Middy, aka Midnight Oil for our long night of midwifing, is a fine-boned black doeling with a white cap and possibly a couple of moonspots.  She was a bit weaker at first and took longer to find the teat on her own, but with a bit of patience (and goat Nutridrench) she’s now capering all around the kidding pen.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Once we were sufficiently recovered to have the chance to look more closely at the stillborn, we realized that the stillborn kid was HUGE.  Like nearly twice the size of the other kids.  And overdeveloped — he had a full set of teeth, and his (ahem) “male parts” were unusually large.   I remembered something very odd that Emily’s previous owner had mentioned to me; she’d taken Emily in for an ultrasound to confirm her pregnancy before selling her, and the vet had said that the fetuses weren’t the same size, so he didn’t think the fetuses were the same age.  In other words, Emily had become pregnant but cycled again, and was impregnated a second time since she was in a pen with a buck.  The vet also had written on the ultrasound sheet that Emily had “1+” babies inside her, which I had assumed meant that he confirmed sighting of one baby and thought that there may be others — but in retrospect I think meant that probably 1 would make it, and there may be another underdeveloped one that wouldn’t.

So while we’re sad for the big brother who never made it, we’re grateful that super-mom Emily kept all three babies in her belly until the two littler ones were ready for the world.  Because right now, snuggled together under a heat lamp in the barn, are a handsome buckling who is the spitting image of his mom and a beautiful black doeling:  siblings who are already the best of friends.  Given Emily’s capacious udder and great mothering & birthing ability — to be able to birth a breach baby unassisted is impressive, to be able to birth an oversized lifeless breach baby in time to get the other kids out alive is pretty amazing — we’re thinking of keeping Emilio as a possible herd sire.  (In other words, letting him keep his male parts intact so he can eventually make more babies.)

The stillborn is buried up under the alpaca tree, just behind the barn, where our guardian alpacas sleep and where he’ll be close to his family.  Emily, Emilio, and Middy are happy as can be, snuggling and nursing, sleeping and cavorting, trying to jump up on top of mom and competing for the best teat (which is apparently the right one, much to the chagrin of Emily’s overfull left udder).  And we human farmers are grateful that we can finally get a good night’s sleep — at least until April, when 3 more goats are due!

Middy, sleepy on her feet after a nursing session with Emily's coveted right teat.

Emily smothering Emilio with goat-kisses.

Emilio takes a brief break from his other missions in life, which are to nurse and pester his little sister. He also loves curling up in laps and peeing on people's pants.

Middy, a bit unsteady on her feet and with a milk mustache and sideburn (we were trying to make sure she got enough milk in her and maybe went a little overboard). Today, she's totally straightened out and bouncing around like the nimble goat she was born to be!

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The Waiting Game

Em with Visitor

Emily in her kidding stall with one of her daily visitors.

Did you ever play the Waiting Game as a kid?  It was one of those games generally forced upon children by short-tempered parents, like the Quiet Game or the Use Your Restaurant Voice Game, and in the same class as the Clean Plate Club (a club which typically required your membership only when your plate sported broccoli or spinach). In other words, not very fun.

Unfortunately, it turns out the Waiting Game isn’t just for kids.  It’s also for goat owners awaiting kids.

We moved expecting mama Emily into a comfy, plush kidding stall inside the barn on Friday morning, thinking she was due on Valentine’s Day (Sunday).  We pulled out all the stops for our mother-to-be:  put down soft, fresh straw for her to lie on, rigged up a pen out of hog panels (perfect for goat back-scratching), gave her her own personal alfalfa feeder, grass hay feeder, mineral feeder, water bucket.  We threw open the windows and doors when it was sunny to let in light and fresh air and shut them as soon as it cooled down to keep the barn as warm as possible. I checked on her constantly, waking in the middle of the night and trudging to the barn to check on her, to try and make sure that we’d be there to help her out no matter what time the kids decided to arrive.

Well, it’s Tuesday, I haven’t slept more than a few hours straight in 5 nights, and Emily has shown exactly zero signs of imminent labor.

Her ligaments (the ones that run from her pinbones to her tailhead and disappear before labor) seem to soften and then firm up and then soften again, teasing me.*  Her udder is continuing to fill slowly, but isn’t anywhere near full, and hasn’t shown the sudden 24-hour ballooning that typically precedes labor.  Her teats seem to be starting to swell… but then again, no.  Her hips seem a bit hollowed out, her belly seems to be sitting lower (indicating the kids are moving into place to make their entry into the world)… but then again, maybe that’s just wishful thinking.   She has a very tiny bit of mucus discharge but nothing like the large amounts that indicate the loss of the mucus plug and the onset of labor.

Emily Ligament Test

Feeling for Emily's ligaments. They've softened a bit, and I can reach partway down her spine.

Emily's Udder

Emily's udder is filling up, but isn't yet tight and shiny. Her teats aren't filled with colostrum, either.

In other words, we have no idea when she’s going to kid!  We bought her bred from Brandywine Farms (a wonderful family farm in the foothills of the Sierra), but the breeding date wasn’t known precisely, and when Emily was ultrasounded, the vet wasn’t exactly sure how far along she was.  They gave a window of 15 days, the first possible due date being Valentine’s day.

So for now, back to the waiting game.  And hoping that Emily will let me get some sleep before March!

——-

*FYI, signs that a goat is close to labor are:

  • Loss of ligaments — specifically the ligaments along the back end of her spine, past the pin bones but before the tailhead — to the point where you can almost reach around the spine.
  • “Hollowing out” of hips and a “mushy” hind end as babies drop into place and all other muscles relax to let the birth canal open up and the uterus get to work.
  • Udder is tight and shiny, filled with fresh colostrum.
  • Teats are swollen, taut, and full of colostrum, ready for babies to suckle.
  • Mucus discharge… aka “string of goo” from the goat’s vulva.
  • Goat may start to talk to babies (arching head backwards and nickering to stomach). Goat may paw the ground to try and make a nest for kidding.
  • Some more subtle signs are “going posty,” which is when the doe starts to walk sort of funny and the back legs look stiff and post-like.  Also, the tail will arch in a funny way.
  • And of course, the biggest signs that a goat is going into labor are… contractions!  And then, of course, the appearance of two little hooves, and the kid.

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Peg-Leg Pippi: Part II

Pippi Longstocking

A more flattering picture of Pippi to make up for the unflattering photo posted earlier. It's her wide-eyed wonder and sweet personality that make people gaga over this goat!

This morning, I took Pippi out of the large multipurpose dog crate, put Pippi in a smaller plastic crate (actually a giant tupperware type thing that I drilled breathing holes into and have been using as a kid transport crate ever since), stashed the crate in my Subaru and took off to the vet.

This, perhaps, is the best part of the story.  Dr. Jessica, who has a way with caprines, places Pippi on the table.  She watches her stand, watches her walk, feels the leg up and down.  It’s warm to the touch — which isn’t bad, Dr. Jessica notes, in fact it’s a sign of healing.  She also notices some stiffness in Pippi’s shoulder.

And then she arrives at her diagnosis.  The final word:  Pippi’s a wuss.  Yes, the vet actually diagnoses Pippi as being a wuss.

As in, she freaked out after having her leg stuck in the trough, and overreacted by not wanting to walk on it.  Much the same way that, when I felt a nail slide easily into the flesh of my palm, I refused to do anything but press my other hand tightly against it until Emmett looked at it and determined the extent of the damage.

I still have a sweet scar from ‘getting nailed.’  As for Pippi, her leg was bruised, with probably some damage to the ligament, but absolutely nothing to be worried about.

Except, of course, for the fact that she will be eternally known as Pippi, AKA Peg-Leg, AKA Misfit, AKA The Wuss.

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Peg-Leg Pippi

PegLegPippi

Peg Leg Pippi bemoans her state. I owe her an apology for posting this unflattering photo that makes her look like a bovine or a donkey. (Goats, like women, do not like looking like a cow or an ass.)

Remember how I mentioned that I had quarantined Wildechicken?  Well, she was rather abruptly un-quarantined.  Someone else needed the use of our lone, multi-purpose plastic dog crate that has been used to transport goats and sheep, and has also housed feral cats and a particular Splash Orpington who had hatched out and was mothering a particular Pearl baby guinea keet.  (The crate, by the way, came from Freecycle — which is a really brilliant system if you haven’t used it.)

Judging by the picture above, you might guess that Pippi, the misfit goat, needed the use of our quarantine crate.  And you would be right.

I do not know what to do with this goat.  She is just about the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  And I mean that in the very best, motherly, smother-her-with-love sort of way.

To begin with, she’s a runt.  She was born the biggest of her triplet doe brood, and at birth exhibited the earliest signs of “dairy character” — long body, angular bone structure, with strong straight legs.  But somehow she quickly lost ground  to her sisters.  When I picked her up at 8 weeks, I fretted that she wasn’t big enough to have been weaned from mama’s milk. The breeder assured me that she was eating solid foods and would be fine.

The breeder was right.  I’m no longer fretting about her food intake — this little creature eats like a horse, and frequently eats so much hay so quickly that she looks as though she’s swallowed a basketball — but I do fret about other things.

Like when, yesterday, she cutely got her butt stuck in the water bucket.  How does a goat, known in the animal kingdom as one of the most nimble of creatures, get her entire hind end stuck in a water bucket?  The world may never know, but I can promise that I casually glanced up at the goat yard and did a double-take when I saw misfit Pippi stuck in 5-gallon plastic bucket full of water.  I had to physically walk up to the yard and remove her from the water bucket, and let me tell you that there is nothing cuter in this world than a runt goat who is very wet and irritated, and needs but does not want mama’s help, thank you very much.

Or when, today, I came home in the dark from a long day at work (my “day job” at Sonoma County Farm Trails) and Emmett informed that Pippi had been injured.  My heart skipped a beat.

She’s okay, Emmett assured me.  How was she injured?  She got her foot stuck in the feeding trough.

How did she get her foot stuck in the feeding trough?  Again, how many licks does it take to get to the center of  tootsie pop:  the world may never know.  Luckily Emmett was working outside (just like luckily I happened to glance up at the yard when she was immersed in water), and thought it was odd that one of the goats seemed to be screaming its head off for 5 minutes straight.  He went over to investigate, and poor Pippi had her hoof wedged in the one part of the feeding trough it could possibly get stuck in (a small triangle in the bottom of the catchment).  Nate, our ram lamb who is living (usually peacefully) with the goats while our other ram Teddy makes babies with the ewes, was ramming her.  When Emmett freed Pippi, she wouldn’t put weight on the leg and limped around like a sad three-legged dog.

Emmett called a couple of vets, splinted the leg, released Wildechicken, and stuck Pippi in the multipurpose dog crate.  Good man.  An hour later, he checked on her — she was favoring the leg, but it was much improved.

And then I got home, and of course immediately commenced fretting and flitting around poor little Peg-Leg Pippi.  Emmett had made an appointment with our favorite vet (Dr. Jessica in Healdsburg, who works with locally famous Dr. McCrystal) to see Pippi in the morning to make sure the leg wasn’t broken.  In the meantime, she didn’t seem to be in pain, and we guessed (and hoped) that the splint — a piece of PVC cut in half, lined with an old sock, and wrapped in tape — wasn’t cutting off circulation to her tiny little hoof.  Was the leg broken?  How much money were we going to have to spend on this little error of a goatling?  We’d just have to wait and see.

to be continued…

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fall planting, part I

Quick reminder: don’t forget about the harvest party! (See yesterday’s post for details.)

Today is a foggy, misty morning presaging rain. Emmett’s down at the field, and I’m at the house (by the way, we recently moved closer to the farm, so we’re with the chickens now, our presence a further deterrance against another fox attack! and we’ll save ourselves a 12-mile commute too). I’ve just finished the morning’s chicken duty. New chicks: water, food, a bit of handling to try to indoctrinate them into human friendliness. (These guys seem flightier than the last bunch, which saddens me.) The sassy seven teenagers: a tasty ear of sweet corn, a few photos — my, what big wings you have — and opening up the bottom of the coop where they’re allowed to hang out during the day. (We’re trying to keep them confined to the top level at night, so the foxes can’t even see them, but give them more space during the day to play and stretch their wings.)

In short, sitting here in the gray light, it really feels like fall, which makes it the perfect time to write about fall planting.

A couple of weeks ago — before the proverbial you-know-what hit the proverbial fan — Emmett and I were standing around trying to figure out where to plant our fall/winter crops. Will we have to till new ground? Buy more irrigation tape? Where’s the most easily-accessible place to put it?

Then the epiphany came: the corn’s done. Two wormy ears per plant, and that’s the end of it. And, since we didn’t really believe in intelligent design when it came to planning out our farm, the corn occupied one of the most convenient spots on the field — right next to where we usually pull up my station wagon to harvest. (This, despite the fact that the corn was harvested only once a week for a few weeks and took a really long time to mature. Next time around, corn will be planted further out, and zucchini and tomatoes closer in.)

At any rate, pleased with the brilliance of our new planting scheme, Emmett and I gleefully set about ripping out corn stalks, piling them up in the bed of a big borrowed pick-up truck. Given the size of the plant (as high as an elephant’s eye… between three and eight feet, depending on the variety), the roots are shockingly small:

After the deed was done, we took the stalks to a herd of cows that grazes on Emmett’s parents’ land. Corn stalks seem to be bovine equivalent to our sugar cane: the truck, piled high with corn stalks, triggered a mad cow stampede. I don’t usually find cows intimidating, but this was a straight-up feeding frenzy.

While cows lack the shark’s sharp, endless rows of serrated teeth, bovine hoofs, wrecking-ball heads, and general immensity can be a bit frightening, too. We had to shovel stalks off the pickup, drive a little distance, shovel more stalks off while the cows were distracted with the previous load on the ground, and repeat. (For some reason, the cows would always eventually follow us: the stalks in the bed of the truck were always preferable to the stalks on the ground. I find this true with chickens, too: whatever food I have in my hand is way more exciting than the exact same food in the dish.)

Emmett and the bull.

Cow attack.

Keep shoveling!

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if I had a million dollars

even samples couldn’t sell all our cucumbers today.

Today at the Windsor Market, we had the fine fortune of experiencing an accidental double-booking of musicians. So the market was forced to put one group where they always do, at the far opposite end of the market — and one group in an entirely new location, right next to us. It was one of the few times we’ve actually been able to hear the music, and I ended up dancing or tapping my foot a good deal of the time. (We liked them so much, we tipped them in tomatoes and chard.)

At one point, the band — a father-son shenanigan named “Generation Gap” — played “If I had a million dollars,” by the Barenaked Ladies. It seemed a fitting song, since the day’s sales were extremely s–l–o–w. In the end, we made less than 2/3 of what we did yesterday… and of course, we spent just as much time harvesting, preparing, and selling.

Anyhow, after the band finished playing that particular song, Emmett cracked a joke that I’d never heard before:

Q: What does the farmer, who’s just won a million dollars, do with the money?

A: Keep farming until it’s gone.

On a slow day like today, that joke seems fitting. But despite the slow sales I’m still in a good mood, because when I came home from the market and peeked in the rooster’s infirmary pen, lo and behold, the lame had risen to walk! He stands up and flaps his wings self-importantly; without the boots, his feet are straight, not curled; and he walks, albeit a bit nervously. He’s now in a shipping crate where he can see a light brahma and a silver laced wyandotte through breathing-holes, so he has some company. When I put his lady neighbors in his side of the pen for a visit, he only made one rude lunge, and then graciously permitted them to polish off the rest of his chick feed. (I think that, faced with two hungry females, he knew instinctively that he was toast if he tried to get between the girls and their lunch.)

Updates on our fall planting tomorrow.

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chicken update (again!)

the pudgy rooster, who — when he isn’t eating — is sleeping in his food.

I promise this will be my last consecutive post about chickens.  But the reason I haven’t posted lately is because, well, my life has been taken over by chickens…  so I need to throw at least one more post on the topic out there into cyberspace.

Update:  All seven older chicks have spent two days and nights out in the newly-reinforced coop.  The coop now has a solid, half-inch plywood floor, not to mention newly-reinforced doors and hardware cloth all over every single ventilation space.  There is no way a fox can dig its way into this coop — although Emmett and I have been camping out by the coop for the past couple of nights just in case.  The ladies are loving their new abode, and are especially enjoying the recently-added chick sauna:  a cardboard box (the half-box you get when you buy a dozen Mason jars) full of dirt, perfect for dust-bathing.  This box has finally led to the naming of the lone White Leghorn of the bunch:  the leghorn likes it so much she sullies her pretty white feathers, so we’re calling her “chiminey” after the Mary Poppins chimney sweeps.

Sadly, Eileen/Cassidy/Su/Gimpy passed away.  We think there was something wrong with her besides her leg:  she hadn’t grown a bit, and by the time she passed at a week old, the other chicks were twice her size.  Her wing-feathers kept growing, though, so she looked rather like an angel:  a tiny little body with long, graceful wings.  One day, she simply stopped eating and drinking, and despite our attempts to force-feed her (at that point, the only fight she showed was irritation when we dipped her beak in the water), she was dead the following morning… her little wings extended, like an angel in the pine-shaving snow.  It was sad, but we know we did our best, and sometimes fragile little things just don’t make it.

Speaking of not-so-fragile little things — now it’s on to our story of the evening:  the itty-bitty, roly-poly, meanie-weenie rooster.

A day or so after the little broken-leg one passed away, I went over to the brooder and noticed that another chick had issues.  Not a runt, mind you, but rather the biggest, fattest chick of all — one who was so fat, in fact, that we’d tentatively named him Santa.  But when I saw him, he wasn’t ho-ho-ho-ing:  rather, the rooster was flopping/hobbling in the center of the brooder — and on closer inspection, I realized he was essentially walking on his knuckles, instead of the pads of his feet.  His little claws were all curled up, which pitched him forward (and provided little grip), so he couldn’t properly walk.  Fortunately, I already had a mini-hospital-brooder set up, so I grabbed him and plopped him down in it.

According to folks at BYC, curled toes are a fairly common occurrence in chicks — sometimes resulting from a thiamin deficiency, sometimes from genetics, sometimes from growing too fast and becoming too top-heavy.  Suggested treatment:  give chick vitamins containing thiamin (in water or drops) and access to yogurt (which contains thiamin, along with extra calories).  Oh, and put boots on it.

Boots?  Yes, boots.  So now, not only have I wiped chicks’ bottoms, I’ve also fitted a chick for fashionable, functional footwear:  a cardboard-cut out sole, with tape placed over it so that the chicks’ toes are splayed out and stuck onto the cardboard — which allows them to reform to the “normal” chicken-foot position after a few days of continuous wear.

Note:  aforementioned fashionable footwear is prone to falling off when chick walks through water dish and/or yogurt, and thus the fashion (yellow Cheerios box, plain brown cardboard, blue scrap cardboard left over from something-or-other) changes multiple times a day as we’re forced to make new boots to replace the soaked ones.  Unfortunately, aforementioned rooster does not particularly like aforementioned footwear, and so he seems to seek out the water dish out of pure spite.

This little rooster is really something else.  While most week-old chicks are frightened by the presence of a fly, he snaps at it.  He’s unfazed by loud noises:  shut car doors, trucks driving by, people entering or exiting a room — he doesn’t seem to care, he just kind of fixes the offending object with a steely glare, don’t try that one again, buddy.  When we put a lady visitor in his little infirmary and she tried to peck at a piece of food stuck in his backfeathers, he pecked right back at her — not so much to clean her, mind you, but in a “watch it!” kind of way.

And when he wants attention, he screams for it.  He woke Emmett up in the middle of the night with his ear-piercing cheep (never mind that he’s about three inches tall and behind a shut door).  The way this little guy cries, you’d think he was dying — and sometimes he cheeps if he gets his boot awkwardly stuck behind him, which is understandable — but most of the time, I think, he just wants company.  And, since he’s so prone to getting his booted feet tangled together, he spent most of yesterday in the car while we harvested, weeded, and watered at the farm.  That way, we could check on him and untangle him as needed.  Under the sun, with windows cracked, the station wagon was just about the perfect temperature for a chick.

What to make of this little firecracker?  More importantly, what to name him?  Since, sadly, our last joint naming attempt passed away, maybe you can help me out with suggestions on this one.  My current thoughts are:  Santa (we tentatively began calling him this before he got hurt, since he was always the fat, jolly chick… but he seems to feisty for this one now), Johnny Walker Red (since he’s a Rhode Island Red, and needs a walker, and has some kick), John Wayne (because he’s fat and feisty), Boots (for obvious reasons).  Currently, we just call him Rooster, which has echoes of John Wayne (as in Cogburn), but it seems too obvious.

Enough obsessing over chickens.  My next post is going to be about produce.  I swear

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