Thursday, December 3, 2015

Laughing in the rain...

My animals are expensive to keep. And they are a lot of bother. But they make my laugh, and that is worth riches.

It's been raining for several days. The world is gray and awash in cold mud.

I took a break from work around noon today to take the horse and goats some fresh hay. I pulled on my tall boots,shrugged on a jacked, and slogged outside. I got a few flakes of hay out and made my way to the shed. I noticed, as I walked, that there was not a chicken to be seen. They were all snuggled up somewhere, hiding from the damp skies. The ducks, however, were waddling from puddle to puddle, commenting loudly, and seemingly having a fine time.

Once inside the dry shed, I hoisted one flake of hay into the horses rack, and she and a few of the goats tucked into it as if they had not been fed for a week. Then I went to the goat room. Luna goat was lying in what I like to think of as "her" corner. She presses in close to the wall, leaning her shoulder and hips against the wood. She is the herd queen, and takes the prime spot of the shed as her own. She looked regal and dry there, snuggled up on the shavings. Goats dislike the rain with a burning passion, and flat refuse to go out in the wet. They look upon it as my duty to serve them food there when the weather in inclement.

The above picture is from a different day, but you can see the corner behind the goats. That is where Luna was today. And let me add here, that my goats are large. A hundred and fifty pounds or so. This is important to the story, as you will see in a moment.

When Luna saw that lunch was served, she rose, regally. First she rocked up onto her knees, then lifted her haunches. Next she straightened her lovely front legs. I watched her admiringly. I just plain like the way she looks, and I spend a lot of time gazing at her fondly. While I was watching, to my total and complete surprise, a hen came flapping out from behind the big goat. The bird was damp from the rain and it looked... curiously flat. And furious. I stood there a moment, trying to comprehend what had happened. Then a thought occurred to me and I looked tight into the corner, where Luna had been pressed just a moment before. This is what I saw:

A little cozy nest, and a fresh egg. The first egg my new pullets have produced. What I surmise is this: the chicken, following some deep, primal urge, made herself a little nest in the cozy shed. Then she settled down on it and went through the process of laying her very first egg. When hens lay they appear to go into a trance. When she was hunkered down there, trying to have a private moment and work out some strange internal forces, Luna chose to take a nap. And she laid right down on bird. When goats lie down to rest, they tend to settle in for a while. They ruminate, digesting the food they have recently ingested, and look for all the world as if they are pondering great things. Sometimes they doze. Chances are, Luna had been there a pretty long time. And the poor chicken had been squished behind or under her, trapped.

The damp, flat bird stalked off, squawking and indignant. As she ran, her feathers resumed their puffiness and she regained her round shape. Once I was assured she was fine I began to laugh. And laugh some more. Those critters? They are worth every cent and moment.

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