Saturday, May 12, 2012

Farm worries and new additions

 Let me introduce to you - Gin and Tonic!
Two rather handsome not very pigletty personalities who have moved into the chicken house for a little while.
They are meant to go into the freezer shortly - well, one will be a beautiful pig roast, feeding a whole hoard of hungry humans shortly and the other will be divided into several people's freezers - seeing that we - brilliant ones that we are - did not buy the biggest freezer in the store when our old one died a few years back - surely we wouldn't need that much space anymore, after all the kids have gone and .......
 Gin and Tonic arrived here as rather large pigs from a big pig farm. One was too big to ship and one was too small to ship and so... they were to be put down and wasted - a funny word, but put down for no good reason other than that they did not fit the mold of what was desirable and needed at the butchers. I know, they will be put down in a few weeks, but .... I console myself that at least for now they have some sort of a good life, they eat apples, hog grower, compost, grass, and they snuffle around in their pen and enjoy the sun and the birds, the sounds of life outside everyday until we close up the door in the evening. There are so many things which could be said about this - I guess the thing is, I do like to eat pork, and .... this way, I get to make sure that the pork I do choose to eat comes from a porker whom I have had conversations with and have been able to thank (sounds a bit quirky) but never the less, this is how I make it work for me. And my son and daughter, well they have no qualms at all, they are just happy that their parents have this 'compulsion' to grow their own meat and that at times, they try to grow more than they can actually fit into their freezer.

And then there is the option of keeping creatures who will not necessarily be eaten  - and notice I used who not which in that previous sentence because  ..... I do look at these beautiful birds as companions and hm, friends. Last fall the little black hen who had walked about the house on her daily rounds  with the guinea for many years passed away. She was good and old (8 or more.

The guinea came from a flock of six guinea keets I was given several years ago from a friend in Pictou - they grew up, lived with the hens and the rooster around the place and then one day there was only was guinea cock left (I know he is a cock for he beat up the rooster who then moved elsewhere). The foxes that year were looking especially sleek and fine!  
 We kept an eye on the guinea to see if he should fall apart when his companion was gone - however, he didn't, instead he found a new friend in all things shiny and with a reflective surface, in particular the chimney outlet to our house. He has spent many hours there, talking to his mirror image and just sitting in quiet companion ship. That has saddened me, especially the day it was pouring down and I found him huddled and drenched tucked in close to his 'imaginary' friend.

So a couple of weeks ago we went to visit the friend who was kind enough to give us the guineas in the first place and she offered me a broody hen to take home and console him.

I had looked at the possibility of getting more guineas, but they are flightier than poultry and ..... I just really love hens too. And so the little grey hen moved in, and in a few days she was settled, walking around and talking guinea with the cock, or  whatever language it is that they are using. Then I realized that perhaps the hen was lonesome for another hen - she did after all come from a large flock of beautiful free range ladies - and so..... I had to make a phone call - Kate and Emma have a hen house (built by their very handy dad) and when I spoke to their mom to see if they should have an 'extra' hen that I could have as a companion,  she, hesitantly,  said yes, well, I will talk to the girls. Fortunately for the little grey hen E&K agreed that they would let one of their pet hens move to my farm to be the companion of my hen and the guinea cock. When we picked up the hen I got a better understanding of why their mom had been hesitant.

The girls took us to the hen house with joyous shining eyes and proceeded to pick up, pat, show off and talk about broody hens, layer hens, chickens in various sizes and rather large roosters - none of whom seemed to mind the gentle and confident handling the girls gave them. We now know why Hoppy the Rooster is called Hoppy,  I forget what the big Barred Rock Rooster could do, but I remember Emma putting him on her arm like a parrot and then she brought out Beaver who, well, whom she could pat, scratch, flip over and put down on his back, where he quietly waited and allowed her to scratch his belly! Imagine that, a rooster on his back having his belly scratched.
The hen moved home with us, and .... the photos with the three together were taken the next day - and it was a little bit of a nerve wrecking day - I hadn't planned to let the two hens out out of the chicken house for a couple of days, I wanted them to get acquainted and for the latest arrival to start to feel at home. However.... they found a hole and then were out ..... the new hen was a little intimidated and .... once again, we humans are funny .... I had thought about my hen, my guinea, both accustomed to bigger creatures like sheep and horses .... and this poor new lady ..... had never seen either one, so I found her in the shrubbery in the afternoon. It was with thankfulness that I put my hands around her, having approached slowly and with some grain to sprinkle in front of her. Had the girls not done such a magnificent job of getting their friends 'tamed' I think I would have had to find the insect net to get her back into the hen house.  This is where the two ladies are today, in the hen house, listening to Gin and Tonic snore and snort, the guinea is doing his thing and tomorrow when the two girls come out to play he will welcome them and they will walk about and help my eyes get all crinkly with smiles and pleasure. Ah, and a bonus to having a couple of hens around again is...... the freshest most yellow yoked eggs imaginable. Gotta go check on the girls!


  1. I'm sad to hear your black hen passed away. I am assuming this is the one that strutted around our car when we were there. It's too bad we couldn't meet your pigs. I love their names by the way.

  2. Trish, there will be two smaller ones arriving mid june and so you can come and meet those. And yes, it was the hen that strutted when you visited =-)She had a good long life though, hiding eggs, eating worms, talking to her friend the guinea cock and so we just found her one day on the lawn, no one ate her or attacked her, she was just full of days and ready to rest. Pia