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At my friend Molly’s farm, chickens that no longer produce wind up in the stew pot. Our Cayuga ducks reached that point, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to dispatch them. I offered them up for adoption via Craig’s List and Freecycle, but because I believe in full disclosure, I revealed the fact that the drake (a.k.a. Drake-ula) rapes chickens. That might have something to do with the fact that there were no takers.

With the exception of Adrian’s retired pet chicken Buttercup, I cannot feed farm animals that don’t produce (and the truth is, I’d just as soon get rid of Buttercup). So when we weighed the stew pot vs. freedom option, we eventually came down on the side of freedom and decided to take them to a nearby lake.

The female has never shown any interest whatsoever in brooding and they never made babies, so she’s not going to mess with the natural order of things. But a drake who rapes chickens could easily breed with wild ducks. This is another part of the ethical quandary. Do you risk messing with the local fauna by introducing a different breed?

Which, of course, assumes they figure out how to do what wild ducks do and fend for themselves. It also assumes they don’t get consumed by an eagle or a coyote.

With all these questions going through my head, we wrestled the ducks into a cat carrier, drove to the lake, set the carrier by the shore, opened the door and waited. “Eureka!” they quacked, and immediately waddled into the water. They dived and splashed, paddled about, explored the neighborhood, and were immediately checked out by the local duckizenry. And then we knew we’d done the right thing. These were clearly ducks who thought they’d died and gone to heaven.

“I wish I could be out there with them,” Adrian said.

However long they live in the wild, they will be happy. If they can’t quite figure the fending for themselves part out, there are homes all around the lake where they can ask for a handout. And soon, there will be people fishing, boating, and swimming there. In the end, I’m thinking that life on the lake is a lot better than the stew pot.

The weather is in the teens and the goats are experiencing their first snow and freezing temperatures. Worrying about them in the cold kept me awake at night, so I got out some unused polar fleece scraps and got creative.

Here is a pictures of the does and bucks sporting their new polar fleece blankets.

Goats in polarfleece jackets

The does in polarfleece jackets

As you can see, Pan thinks Calypso looks HOT in his new outfit.

Bucks in polar fleece jackets

The bucks in polar fleece jackets

For months, now, I’ve needed to give the goats a pedicure. But not knowing how, I put it off again and again. Finally, I decided to check YouTube, to see if anyone had posted a movie on trimming goat hooves, and you know what? Someone had!

I don’t know what possesses people to film themselves as they do things like this, but I’m so grateful they do! The goats have now had all their hooves trimmed and I feel much better.

Of course, we didn’t know there were odds to beat.

The other day, I almost stepped on a baby bunny in the grass. It was young, hairless, and far away from anything that could be considered a nest. So, we picked it up, of course.

 

                                                          Photo by Carolyn Gayle

Since there was no way to return it to its mother, we took it in the house and named it “Scooter” because of the way it scooted across the floor. But what do we feed it–and how? It was Adrian’s bedtime, but we ran up to the grocery store and bought some powdered goat milk. I found an eye dropper, and Scooter figured out how to drink from it. All was well.

Scooter lived in the shower, because that’s the only place he was safe from the cats. We put him in a box with towels for bedding, and I got up several times to feed him warm milk that first night. We fed him throughtout the next day, and that evening, Adrian said, “Scooter is so cold.” It was true. Being hairless, we were always able to feel the temperature of Scooter’s skin, and it was unusually cold. I lay with him on my chest until he warmed up, put him on a hot water bottle, and again, fed him throughout the night. Early the following morning, he wouldn’t eat. He was cold again, so I got back in bed and put him on my chest to warm him up. Eventually, he began to spasm, and then died. It’s a strange feeling to have something die while lying on your body.

When Adrian awoke, I had to give him the bad news. He held Scooter’s body for a long time, exploring it, and later buried the bunny on his own in our newly designated animal graveyard under a cedar tree.

What we didn’t know is that wild baby rabbits have only a one percent chance of survival if you rescue them. Leaving Scooter alone would’ve given him a zero chance of survival, so we tried. At least this way, he died gently and loved.

RIP little Scooter.