{menagerie madness}

Part of the fun of having some land, is dreaming of all the critters we will fill it with. Both Mr Barefoot & I grew up around a heap of animals, and our children are all creature-mad as well. The two smaller boys in particular, but the other two are quite partial to a feathered or furry friend also.

Since I last shared about the beginnings of our little menagerie, we’ve grown in some unexpected ways, and after a busy few weeks, I thought it might be time to update again!

The first addition? Piglets! Oh man, these little ladies are such fun! Just after Boxing Day, a friend posted about a litter of British Black piglets she had that needed new homes. We’ve talked about pigs for a while now, but never got around to doing anything about it – mainly thanks to me dragging the chain. When I was growing up, my grandparents had a small piggery as a sideline to their main sheep farming operations, and even now I can conjure up the smell of the pig sheds. Clearly I’m not the only one scarred for life, since my Nan was horrified when I told her we were getting pigs! She is convinced I need my head read, which, fair, to be honest.

Betsy and Porky, however, are rather spoilt, and are more pet than future breakfast. As well as a pen with a cozy little straw bedded hut, and plenty of mud to wallow in, they spend their days free ranging in the paddock next to our back yard. Generally, this free-ranging is less about exploring the paddock and more about standing at the fence, yelling at the children in the hope they will throw over a pear for a little snacksies. Or racing the dog along the fenceline. They really are a lot of fun, and so full of character. They will remain as pets, possibly we may breed them, but there will not be any Betsy Bacon For Breakfast.

Then, of course, there are the chooks, and plenty of changes there. We dropped our numbers by three, thanks to an overload of roosters, but at the same time, Cluck went on the brood, and we were very excited to welcome four new babies to the mix. No sooner had she kicked her babies out of the brood box and into the general population, then Indo went clucky. For weeks we patiently waited…and then she walked off the nest and let the eggs go cold. At bedtime, we shoved her back on her clutch when we locked the chooks in the hen house for the night, but the next day, as soon as we let them out, she was off.

A lost cause, we thought. Then, Miss10 went to collect some eggs to make pikelets for morning tea, and cheep cheep cheep – there was a surprise waiting for her! One of the eggs had hatched, and another two had cracks. Out came the incubator, and slowly we moved all the eggs, plus baby, into the house, to watch and wait. One of the cracked eggs had been crushed by Grumpy Mama Hen, so we thought we had lost the chick. On day two, however, Mr7 spotted it’s little beak poking out and moving around, so I helped it out of it’s shell. Omelette, I named it, because why not? Aside from a small injury to her beak, she was fine and survived the extended hatching. We ended up with 6 little bonus hatchlings, though we lost the youngest on day two. There seemed to be no real reason, so we presume it was simply too weak after being late hatching.

As I type, the chook situation is changing once more. Eggsplorer’s clutch was due any day, and Boy2, our Chook Herder In Chief, has just raced in to announce we have grandchickens once more! A tiny little yellow chick has hatched overnight, so I’m thinking there won’t be a lot of school done today, but rather, a lot of back and forth between the house and the chook yard.

The third and final change is probably the most surprising to those who know us. We are, and always have been, Dog People. In particular, Outside Dog People. We both grew up with outside dogs, we’ve always had outside dogs, but last week…we adopted a kitten. It has been quite the adjustment, going from Outside Dog People, to People Who Own An Inside Cat. Scarlett is a 10 week old domestic shorthair, and is quite cute. Surprisingly, while we have discussed in the past a kitten for Boy2 as a support critter, it is actually Mr14 who has taken to the cat the most – and the cat to him. She sleeps a whole lot, and when she’s not sleeping, she particularly enjoys hunting flies, as one does, I guess.

So, lots of changes! There are more additions and changes in discussion – notably cattle, and Miss10 is campaigning hard for a pony. Whilst the cattle are probably the more logical and productive addition, I have a feeling the pony will win out in the end…

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