Thursday the 3rd was an entertaining day. Partner left early for some work he had to do around 6:30, leaving me to feed and release the flock on my own. This isn't a problem, and I've done it before many times, however this time Partner accidentally took the keys to the office with him. That meant I couldn't feed the wild flock until somebody brought the keys over. Luckily a friend who also uses the office stopped by around 9 AM and let me in to feed the flock.
While letting everybody out for the day, I noticed a traffin jam in one of the nesting boxes. Dora is really trying to be broody, and Scruff wanted to lay her egg in that specific nesting box. Later on when I went to check on them, Fluffy was staring into the nest like she wanted to add to the chicken pile, too.
Fortunately Scruff laid her egg and Fluff settled for the other nesting box, leaving me to steal Dora's eggs and move her off the nest.
Around lunch time I went out to refill the water containers like I normally do. As I was putting the big water container back, a group of three people rounded the house corner and came up to talk to me. This group was a woman with her daughter and granddaughter who wanted to look at the peacocks. People around the area know they're free to come and look at the peacocks, and evidently the woman's husband has come here before with their grandsons to look at the peacocks.
When the woman mentioned this, I remembered one morning a few months back when a big silver SUV pulled into the driveway while I was feeding the flock. In the SUV was an older man with two young children, and the man explained that he just wanted to show his grandchildren the peacocks. We chitchatted while I fed the flock close enough for the children to look at the peacocks before he thanked me for my time and left with the kids.
Apparently what he went home he didn't tell his wife about all the pretty peacocks and chickens. Instead he told her "I met this lovely American girl over there with curly purple hair like the jacarandas in Grafton and she was so nice! I've always wanted to meet an American!"
So I showed the ladies around and told them about the flock and we chitchatted a bit. Unfortunately, the flock was a bit wary of these strangers, especially the very loud and excited little girl, so they couldn't get as close to the peacocks as they would like. Even when I threw out bread, they stayed hidden in the bushes and trees. I told them that if they come in the mornings around feeding time, they'll be able to get really close to the peacocks if they'd like. They thanked me again and said they would be back some day. :)
I told Partner and my mom about this and now we've all joked about the farm's exotic offerings: pet chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks, and an American. LOL. I don't mind it, as I understand that my accent is a bit of a novelty in this small town and everyone is incredibly nice. Plus, as far as I'm aware, I'm the only person with violently purple hair in the area. It's hard to miss when I'm out and about.
On November 7th I got out a whipper snipper (weed whacker) and put in some work clearing up an area behind the caravan that we've been wanting to clear.
This is going to be a long term project. We need to beat back the overgrowth in between rain showers and unbearably hot days. This area has been overgrown since before we moved here, so it's going to take a lot to cut down the larger clumps of grass that have formed mounds.
On November 9th, one of the named Cheeps, Pepper, died. I began writing this post the day before, but for obvious reasons I ended up too distracted to finish the post or return to polish it. We still don't 100% know what caused it, but given she had seemed to be smaller than the others for a while we suspect she may have just been born with one of those common 'failure to thrive' conditions and it had finally caught up to her.
Part of the problem with caring for prey animals as pets, such as hamsters and chickens, is they really don't like showing us that something is wrong unless it's really, really wrong. That's why I got in the habit of doing health checks on all my pets while I interact with them. Yes, I'm playing with and giving them love, but I'm also using all those opportunities to check them over for anything I should be concerned about.
I was initially torn about my response to her death. Yes, I cried and was devastated, but only for a few moments before I had to pull myself together and jump into action. Since she had died of an unknown cause, I needed to treat her like she was potentially infectious to the rest of the flock. I cleaned and sanitized all of the chickens' coops, bins, food, and water containers while Partner buried her. When we were done we did a quick check of the rest of the flock. From there, it was time to wait and see if anybody else showed signs of illness. I was certain I would sink back into my sadness once I had a quiet moment. Instead I just... felt fine. Does that mean I didn't care for Pepper? Or have I grown in my ability to take these emotional blows? Or does it mean my anhedonia from my depression is so bad I can't healthily release my emotions?
I've since settled on 'I have have grown in my ability to take these emotional blows'. What started as a simple infatuation with how adorable newborn chicks are has turned into a full on passion for caring for our little (sarcastic) flock, and I've come to appreciate everything that entails - including the sad parts.
Yesterday we had a resident come out in the yard to say hi. This is a Red-bellied Black Snake. These guys are relatively docile and antisocial, however they are also venomous and one of the most commonly-encountered snakes in Eastern Australia. It's debatable on whether there are any recorded deaths from a red belly strike, and any of those supposed deaths predate much of modern medicine and our current snake identification standards. They can be a problem to young children and pets, however.
I found this guy because I heard the chickens right outside the door start their "stranger danger" sounds. I didn't think anything of it since I was expecting a friend to possibly stop by. When I went to check the driveway from the window, however, nobody was there. I checked out front, where most of the chickens were making their disturbed sounds, and caught this little fellow slithering around.
Don't worry, I didn't get close. This picture was taken from a fair distance away using my zoom lens on my camera.
Speaking of cameras, the weather is finally good enough for me to put in the time to relearn my 70D and attempt to take better pictures of the flock. Everybody is so comfortable with me, it would be a shame not to use that opportunity to take some gorgeous and close up pictures.
I don't know what else to say without dragging this post out to an even more ridiculous length, so I'm just going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and hope your holiday goes just the way you'd like.