I am speaking of my furry and feathery roommates, of course. They never cease to amaze me and bring me joy. This developing homestead is home to 3 goats, 20 chickens, 3 ducks, 1 cockatiel, 1 Blue Heeler, 6 rabbits and 10 cats so there’s always something going on. And I usually find myself in the midst of deep belly laughs as a result.
Tuesday morning I was sitting in the easy chair in the rabbit room for bunny playtime. Bunny playtime is just what it says. It is a chance for each of the bunnies to have some time outside of their cages to stretch their legs a bit. While they play, I “supervise” while eating breakfast, doing some Bible study, journaling and/or studying one of my herbals; it’s a bit of quiet time for the human. There is a child-safety gate in front of the doorway to keep Max, the Blue Heeler out (dogs and bunnies are typically not a good combination…) but the cats have free run of the room. And, over the last 18 years of raising rabbits, I have witnessed some pretty amazing bonds between my cats and rabbits. However, Tuesday morning, unbeknownst to me, Emmylou was already in the rabbit room hiding under an old crafts’ bench. Blizzard the Lionhead came hopping out of her cage and, after greeting her sire, Rhys, who was also hopping around at the time, she crawled under the crafts’ bench. Suddenly, I heard someone squeaking and squealing, and saw a flash of white and gray paws. Thinking the worst, I stood up to investigate when Emmylou streaked out from under the bench and dove behind one of the feed bins. A moment later, Blizzard hopped out, unscathed, but the squeaking could now be heard from behind the feed bin.
For everyone who has been following my blog, I had some “visitors” last week that Emmylou and Whitney quickly dispatched; last week’s mouse-capades was being revisited. Yes, we’ve had the occasional field mouse get in before; it’s an old house. But not this steady of an invasion. My only guess is the intense humidity is driving them indoors where, thanks to the AC unit, the temps are more agreeable. The aforementioned feed bin is a metal trash bin and the lid is well-sealed so there shouldn’t be anything to attract them otherwise–especially with 10 cats in residence. Anyway, confident that Emmylou had it under control, I went back to my reading.
A little later, Blizzard and Rhys were back in their cages; Alys and Sweet Pea were now hopping around. I heard another squeak from behind the feed bin. This time it was loud enough to attract Alice (named for Alice Cooper) who came running from the kitchen to assist his sister. And, amazingly, Sweet Pea. I’m not sure he was really intent on helping the cats catch a mouse but he followed right along at Alice’s heels and, together, they dove around the other side of the feed bin, trapping our unwanted visitor. I was reminded of the movie, “Babe” where Mrs. Hoggett comments to her daughter and son-in-law that “if it isn’t a duck that thinks its a rooster, its a pig that thinks its a dog”. Incidentally, in keeping with last week’s mouse-capades, one of the cats decided “Grandma” needed a new present. Mom found the remains on the rug beside her bed that afternoon. Somehow I just haven’t been able to convince any of them that mouse remains are not everyone’s idea of a good present…
Yesterday the amusement was in the barnyard. Taffy–short for Taffeta–the Silkie hen, has been broody all week. While all of the other chickens have been seeking the cooler temps under the multi-flora roses or else under the deck, she’s been in the hen house setting on a nest of eggs (which I doubt are going to hatch and will likely wind up in the compost bin before too long). Anyway, Taffy finally decided to leave her nest yesterday morning. But Taffy has to announce it. She went from zero to 60, streaking from one end of the barnyard to the next, cackling and squawking at the top of her lungs. Then, spotting Corporal Denim, she circled back and rubbed up against him much like the resident felines do my ankles when they’re hungry. After all this time, how was I to know these two had a budding romance and the poor boy was finally “getting some”? Corporal Denim has been a bit of the barnyard joke. He is a Cochin rooster, a beautiful boy with fiery-red feathers. But he’s a Cochin and considerably smaller than most of the hens. L’il Peep was also a Cochin but she preferred my big Polish Crested rooster, Sargent Feathers, to Corporal Denim and so she ignored him. Time and again, I’ve watched Corporal Denim try to mount one of the larger hens, only to get thrown off as easily as one would swat at a fly. He would get so excited–excited enough that, once thrown, he would start humping the ground in his frustration–a sort of chicken masturbation, I’m guessing. But not anymore. The poor boy was strutting and preening yesterday to put the proverbial peacocks to shame. I’m not sure where all of this leaves Tank, the third rooster, but he frequently dances around the Polish “twins”, Kiel and Basa; hopefully, he can hold his own with them.
And, if Taffy’s squawks weren’t enough to wake you up around here, they are suddenly being echoed inside the house as Smoky the Cockatiel, the master of mimicry, has learned how to crow like a rooster and cackle like a hen. Mom called me into the kitchen one morning, thinking Smoky was dying or something because he was hunched over in the corner on the floor of his cage, emitting this squeaky sort of screeching. Was he in pain? I wondered the same thing myself but, as I approached the cage, he stopped and hurried over to where I was standing, singing and strutting. He was all proud of himself about something. When I walked away, he went back to the corner making this squeaky, screeching sound again. There seemed to be a pattern to it but it took Mom and I a while to figure it out; Smoky’s voice isn’t quite as bold as the chickens. The amazing thing about it though is that he also has started pecking the floor of his cage while making this screechy chicken cackle and crow. His cage is in the kitchen, which is at the front of the house; the barnyard is in the backyard. He has no visual of the chickens at all yet he’s got a pretty good impersonation of them. And, when he’s mimicking the hens, he seems to be mimicking the high-pitched “ba-gok” that signifies an egg being laid. Who would’ve thought? I guess he’s branching out from the once-endless renditions of the themes to “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Odd Couple”. His previous owner had to go into a nursing home, which is how Smoky came to me, and I’m guessing the gentleman watched a lot of TV Land. He may have also had either a scanner or “Adam 12” and “Emergency” were other favorites; Smoky is rather fond of suddenly squawking out, “Rescue! Rescue!” followed by a perfect rendition of the static created after the dispatcher stops talking.
These are just some of the antics, recent ones that have had Mom and I in stitches. With this menagerie, there’s always something happening at the modern-day homestead. They make me laugh…and that is the sweetest gift of all.
May God bless you & keep you!