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Sheep, Goats & Others

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Sometimes we hatch our own chicks, as Bitsy was doing in the first picture. More often we buy chicks mailorder from a hatchery. That way we can ask for only girls (pullets). We still get a few boys (cockerels) by mistake, which means that there are more territorial disputes than with just hens. The second picture is last year's batch of 150 chicks during their teen-age stage. We had moved them from our back porch to an enclosure near the adults so they could acclimate.

Let no one say I haven't got my ducks in a row :)

One year we got a couple goslings with our ducklings, but only one survived. She was given the unimaginative name of Goosie. She mothered all of the ducks and used to have long conversations with me. As soon as we got some more geese, she didn't want anything to do with the ducks or humans. Birds can be very clannish.

We have always had a variety of breeds of chickens. They're attractive to look at and come with a surprising amount of personality. Cinderella was a foundling. She showed up one day and joined the flock. I thought at first it was one of our white leghorns who had gotten dirty. She got darker with age and eventually grew the long rooster-style tailfeathers. Pierrot Le Fou was a Mille Fleur, a bantam about half as large as a standard chicken. But he was so sweet that he had his own fan club of a dozen hens and never lacked for companionship even though the bigger roosters pushed him around. Shire is a blue Cochin (standard not bantam). She's huge but gentle and so very cuddly. When a chicken has a distinctive look or personality, they get their own name. If I can't tell them from some others, they get to share a name. For example, all of our Rhode Island Reds are called Rhodie; all of our black and white striped Barred Rocks are called Maggie.