Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Are all my ducks in a row?



One of our ducks decided to hatch her brood three days ago. What a treat. Little ducklings, looking for heat, in November. And to make it worse, they were bedded down in the big barn, with sheep and llama hooves to navigate. It was decided to move them today. One had already died in the nest. They now live in a large cage, with a dog house, fresh straw, and a heat lamp. Momma put up quite the fight, but she, along with her 4 babies, are now eating, drinking, and basking in the sweet infrared light.

After watching them for a few minutes, duckling hopping around carefree, while momma eats, it made me think. They had a pretty complex life in the barn. Other ducks to contend with, larger animals, and a number of fences with openings big enough for babies but not for mother. Now, they live in a roomy cage, with plenty of room to romp. They have a heat lamp, food, and no need to worry about the unexpected intrusions from the random farm animal.

I wonder if momma duck recognizes this. I wonder if she’ll be calmer. I wonder if the babies, who were shivering when they were placed in their new house, can appreciate the heat lamp blaring high temperatures into their house. It’s life made simpler. Easier. But I know she’ll still put up a fuss, she’ll still snap at me when I offer her food, and still try to snap my pinkie finger when she gets fresh water. It’s her way. The way of the Runner Duck. Of the duck, in fact. Even of the bird.

So live your blissful life me ducks. You may not know how well you’ve got it. But that’s what I’m here for. I’ve raised you from a baby momma. And so you’re little ones will receive the same kindness.

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It’s snowing. For reals.

It snowed this morning. The ground was already covered with icy pellets, like a large snow cone was dumped from the sky overnight, when I woke up. I don’t know if I really consider that snow. It’s ice. Which is water. And snow is water. So I guess it’s all the same thing. Kind of. It’s a fine – like the difference between wine and a wine cooler. It doesn’t matter though, as real snow was falling from the sky by the mid-morning.

Never mind the ice/snow debate, as it’s already melted. The bigger problem is the wind. And the cold. The donkeys have been locked up for the entire day – an attempt to keep them from the wind. The alpaca have also been relegated to the barn until the wind dies down. And so the llamas, sheep, and goats are the only animals braving the weather to wander the fields. The llamas and sheep have the fleece to do it; the goats are looking for treats. The pigs? They’re inside, asleep in their straw. No need to lock them in – they aren’t going anywhere.

My feet are currently freezing. I like to wear slippers that are a few sizes too big and I’m not wearing socks. I don’t want to walk into the bedroom and get attacked by three kittens. So it’s freezing outside and my feet are freezing inside. And I’m drinking iced tea and watching a lovely TV show called “Animal Intervention.” Right now, they’re trying to get a woman who owns about 30 lions and tigers to give them up to a proper sanctuary. Oh, and she lives in Lancaster, OH. That’s about 30 minutes from us. Zoinks! It’s that kind of a day – a cuddle up with cold feet and ice tea, and learn about death traps close to your home.

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wind. and all that bad weather.

The weather has changed. It was cold, and then warm, and now it’s cold again. There was an earthquake in Canada and there’s a Frankenstorm attacking the East Coast. I don’t mind the cold. I can deal with it. It’s the wind. The bone-chilling wind that can cut through my comfortable cotton t’s and and loose-fitting designer knits that really bothers me. And apparently I’m not alone.

The animals have scattered for shelter. It’s a time to see the farm hierarchy first hand. Are you sitting at the barn door, outside? You’re probably pretty low on the totem pole. Are you in the back of the barn, near the hay? Wow, what a big shot! Personally, I like rainy days on the farm. Raking is pointless. and the time you spend outside is as minimized as possible. It’s time to enjoy delicious ginny drinks surrounded by clearance sale microfiber blankets.

Oh, and kittens. I find large cats to be too overwhelming when trying to relax. They also get in the way while cruising the Internet. A kitten is the perfect lap-size heating pad that won’t get in the way of your typing but still provides that extra bit of warmth. Today, while the wind and rain knocks at my window, I’m watching the Adams Family while there’s a bridal shower going on in the bed and breakfast.

Tonight, I’ll layer myself in more Target fleece, wrapped in a boiling hot toddy, and read a bit, or write a tad, or watch TV and cruise Pinterest. It’s raining and it’s cold. That’s what you’re allowed to do. I’m the one closest to the hay in my barn.

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Complete Silence.

Two nights ago, for the first time in recent memory, I experienced 5 minutes of complete silence. It was a 2:30 in the morning, and the quite is probably what woke me up! No dog snoring. No Don snoring. No cars on the road. No birds, especially guineas, making insane and unnecessary noises. I hate complete silence. (And I’m sure there are numerous psychiatrists who could dissect that statement for hours.) But for five minutes, it was amazing.

I might be softening up in my old age. Looking for quite moments to reflect on my life. At 2:30 a.m. though, it’s an awkwardly placed time for contemplation. I usually like to fall asleep to The Golden Girls. I’ve seen every episode a million times, and you can check out while still watching. Like The Waltons or Absolutely Fabulous. This is something Don doesn’t understand. If you’ve seen it once, why watch it again? I’m not watching it silly, I’m falling asleep to it.

Last night, for the first night, we banished all the dogs to crates for the night. No more terrier dominance in the bed; sprawled out, they take up about 75% of available sleeping space, relegating us humans to the various corners of our king. They did surprisingly well. All but Bob Evans, who I’m told, made quite the scene. I wouldn’t know as a noise maker made an unexpected appearance last night, waking me up every hour or so with the sound of thunder clouds, lightening and heavy rain. Imagine waking up every hour thinking there’s a humongous rainstorm passing through, only to discover it’s fake. Technology makes no sense sometimes. Last night was not a night of complete silence.


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It’s October already?

I must apologize for my absence. Yesterday, I thought it was August and, today, the calendar confirmed it’s already October. Just today, I have two chickens in sick bay, a thumb that may have been forever damaged by our evil “Baby” ram, scratches consuming my legs as kittens don’t seem to care if you’re wearing shorts or pants, and such a back-order of jam that I need a few interns just to stir the pots. The donkeys just sit at the fence gate braying orders at me like I’m some kind of ranch hand. Everyone needs to calm down and have a cocktail or two.

Kittens are better than puppies. They know to pee in one place almost immediately. They don’t need to be patrolled all the time, and their little nails can dispatch an intruder in quick work; albeit they’ll be taking them down at the ankles. One peculiar habit, however, is they love playing in their litter box. I’ve been impressing upon them the wisdom of Moonstruck (i.e. “Don’t sh*t where you eat”) but they just look at me, meow, and role back into the box with an almost too comfortable ease.

Our little kitten Popsicle has learned to crawl from the ground, up your leg, up your shirt, and land on the shoulder, perched like a parrot. She will be my top minion, learning my every move, constantly at my side. Don had better watch out, she is learning ninja moves that will serve her well in the barn. If she ever makes it there. I have a problem sending kittens that individually weigh one pound each to live in a barn, outside in the big world like little Fievel or baby Simba. A pig could roll over top of them, a llama step on them. The chickens, much larger than our kittens, could use them as pawns in some intra-barnyard war against the ducks.

This Friday we’re picking up two peahens for our boys in the big coop. We’ll see what drama that brings. And then Orchard House will close down our pastures for the winter. No other animals are allowed on site until we have a new pasture. And hay is so expensive. If you can find me a llama that can spin straw into gold or manure into hay, we’ll make the room. And if you can find one that knows how to mix a killer martini, I’ll drive and pick him up myself!

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