Fern, chickens and frogs

It is almost as if Fern was given to me as a gift. She is so easy to live with. At almost seven months old, I can trust her loose in the house essentially unsupervised. She’s not destructive and is completely house trained. She likes to mess with the cats a bit too much, but that’s lessening with age. The chickens are the new obsession and outside I need to keep a closer eye on her to be sure she isn’t attempting to work ducks, sheep or chickens.

I bought four hens and a rooster at the local flea market on Saturday. The plan behind the chickens is to use them as rototillers in the sheep pen. I bought meat hens, who are dumb and slow as boxes of rocks, but they scratch and forage pretty well. The rooster is a Golden Comet. I clipped their wings as soon as I got them home so they couldn’t fly and use Gel to put them up in their pen at night. When I first put them in the sheep pen, the sheep were using them as feathered footballs. Rotten sheep. Sometimes they act more like goats than sheep. Fern hasn’t seen chickens before and is quite fascinated by them. Being meat chickens, the hens don’t move too fast and Fern walks behind them nipping at their tail feathers to try to get them to move faster. It doesn’t work. It is disconcerting to see what specialized breeding (i.e. for meat) has done to animals. These hens are almost not real chickens. Hopefully they’ll survive and live a happy life with me. They don’t move off Gel very well either. He often has to stick his nose under their butts to get them moving. It’s awfully nice that he’ll try almost anything to get stock to move without resorting to biting. All I need to do, however, is tell him to bite and he will.

Gel was grippy early on in his stockdog training. I took that out of him and wish I didn’t. I am not going to take it out of Fern, especially since it appears she’s going to grip appropriately like her mother did. A quick nip at the heel of slow moving stock is not a bad thing as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

Frogs! If those cats bring in any more frogs I’m going to shoot them! Last night Fern discovered the joys of frog chasing. Cat brings in live frog, I try to intercept and grab the frog before said cat brings it deeper into the house and tortures it to death. Frogs are slippery when wet. Twice last night I was racing with a cat and a puppy trying to catch a loose frog to put it back outside. Never a dull moment at my house. Who needs television?