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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Animals and kids

I was reminiscing with my son tonight about the animals we had while the kids were growing up.  For some reason, I thought animals would help teach children responsibility and with eight kids and four acres, you can have a LOT of animals  :)

We had the usual motley collections of dogs and cats.  The cats earned their keep by keeping small rodents away...although they'd usually present us with a severed head or liver as proof of their prowess.  We were so bad at training the dogs that it wasn't uncommon to see the dog dragging the boy rather than the boy walking the dog.  Not bad for a beagle  :)  Then the dalmatian...beautiful dog but got a little too protective when runners went by the house.  Bye bye doggie.

Living on a small farm, we just had to get farm animals so we started with Nubian goats and the grand dream of milking them and providing fresh milk for the family.  Have you ever tried goat milk?  I don't recommend it :) And although the stereotype of goats is that they will eat anything, it isn't true.  They are fairly picky, although we learned it was best not to let long hair get too close.  OUCH!  But one thing they CAN do is escape whatever enclosure you make for them.  And when they're mad, they will butt you with their heads.

The chickens were a little more successful and the kids loved gathering eggs every day.  We kept about 10-12 hens for several years. They were gentle and small so easily handled by even the youngest kids.  The rooster however had a real problem with attitude.  When he tried to assert his domination over my husband, well, that was the last of dear Cocky Boy.  :)

The rabbits wouldn't reproduce.  How can that be?  Well, to be fair, we did have one batch of babies but the mom ate them.  Gross.  They didn't last long.

The ducks lasted an even shorter length of time.  They were so cute, the mom, dad and six babies, waddling around and playing in the stream.  We called the parents Millard and Helen Mallard (named for my parents, Millard and Helen).  Unfortunately, living in the country meant we shared our property with various species of wildlife and one day an apparently hungry bald eagle had a duck dinner.  No more ducks  :(

Last of all was Goosie, the Toulouse Goose.  We called her a watch goose because she was very predictable at honking whenever anyone came near the house.  She especially loved greeting my husband when he came home from work and they would both carry on a honking conversation.  I can't remember what happened to Goosie.

When we left the farm, we found homes for the goats, chickens and the other animals we had accumulated...all except one cat which we brought with us to our new home in another state.  I can't say I miss them.  However, last week I was at a farm store and saw the baby chicks and ... who knows?


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