THE OFFICIAL BLOG
It always happens when we are incubating eggs. The unhatched eggs are cycled through the incubator on their way to the hatcher for hatching day, but we always have to be careful not to end up with too many batches due to hatch and not enough hatching space. Hatched chicks and goslings are moved to brooders while brooding chicks and goslings need to be moved out to the grow-out pens. When we have the timing just right, it can be a beautiful thing and I feel a great sense of accomplishment. That's not to say the timing is always right. It is not always beautiful and sometimes I feel like a complete doofus - a doofus who has to race to build a make-shift brooder in an hour or less or run out to buy a tabletop incubator that is not on sale and way overpriced to use as an emergency hatcher. Sometimes.
There is extra shuffling here of late with the addition of new animals. That is to be expected. Baby goats are living in our kitchen in a garage to better protect them from the cold and wet weather. They are currently occupying a large dog crate which is usually reserved for the housing of young goslings who are too big for brooders but too small for ranging with the grown geese. Why, yes! We do have more than one large dog crate. However, another of those crates is housing our slightly-older recent goat acquisition, also in the garage. She was supposed to be staying in our outdoor goat nursery area - and she would be safe and happy there... she really would be! But the baby goats are more content with her nearby and...
Wouldn't you know that we happen to have goslings that really could use that crate right about now? We would not normally have young goslings this time of year, but ... I'm not sure why I even bothered to say that. "Normally" happens so rarely here that I don't think it qualifies as 'normally' at all. In any event, the point is that we have goslings which need overnight shelter in the garage. They are using one of our spare rabbit cages as housing at the moment. Shuffling is imminent as goslings grow at an unbelievable rate. This morning I had suggested using one of our metal animal playpens when the time comes to move goslings.
It seemed like a great idea as I know that we have two of those. I had ordered runner ducks a few weeks ago which should be here later this week, and one of our playpens has been set up in the garage to contain baby ducks when they arrive. That leaves one. I confidently shared my plan with Emily, the goose wrangler, who shot me down immediately by reminding me that the second playpen is used for the goslings for their outdoor time. Visions of having to take apart and move the playpen every night and every morning flashed through my mind for a few seconds and then I resolved that we would have to purchase yet another playpen for the garage.
It's a two-car garage. There are no cars in it. Just animals.
All of these things are extraordinary circumstances though. Just some extraordinary shuffling. The daily shuffle is the thing. Let's go through the daily routine for a moment:
Good, morning! Let the dog out into the front yard. Let two inside cats in - do not let the other inside cat out. Feed the inside cats inside cat food in the inside hallway. Bring the front yard dog back into the house so he will not be tempted to eat cat food and feed the outside cats on the front sidewalk - bring extra food to feed the peafowl who will steal the cats' food and also eat the front garden if not satisfied. Warm goat bottles and let the other dog out into the backyard. Feed the other other dog while the backyard dog is in the backyard because the backyard dog is obnoxious and will never let him eat in peace. Run to the barn to check incubators and feed chicks. Feed the barn cat who, no doubt, snuck into the barn office with you while you were feeding chicks. Feed whatever chickens happen to be in the grow-out coop. Wait.. no.. Don't do that yet. First, feed the donkeys so they do not mug you for chicken feed. Okay.. NOW feed whatever chickens happen to be in the grow-out coop today. Return through the barn office and remove the barn cat to the great outdoors on your way so she does not get bored and too interested in brooder chicks.
Back at the house, shoo the other other dog back upstairs (for his sanity) and bring in the backyard dog for his breakfast in his pen because he is far too impolite around little baby goats. Bring in the garage goats for breakfast in the kitchen. Release garage goats to the backyard for play time. Leave someone to supervise garage goats as they can and will squeeze through the chain link gate if they get lonely.
Make sure the older goats get breakfast while the donkeys are still eating theirs. (This may also have to happen before the release of baby goats into the backyard as the sound of bleating baby goats can motivate them to launch an escape attempt. If at all possible, get their feeding done while other goats are still in the kitchen.) Release geese from the (temporary) overnight pen for foraging. Do this while the peacocks are still eating so as to avoid them er.. complicating things. Then get the goslings out of their garage enclosure for breakfast and playtime in the front yard (not the backyard because the baby goats sort of scare them). Make sure the peafowl are otherwise occupied so they will not harass the goslings. This may require light supervision.
That's the daily morning shuffle. And that's the abridged version which does not include the rabbits. Nor the feeding and education of children nor housework nor self-care nor the myriad of maintenance tasks that must happen on a given day. And it all must happen in a very particular order. And that order will yet again change when the new ducks arrive this week and again when another new goat arrives the week after and when 30 brooder chicks move into a grow-out pen the following week and again when the donkeys get their new enclosure and so on. Also, that's just the morning.
They say that those little number-slide puzzles are great for keeping the mind sharp. My mind must be deadly sharp by now. Honestly, I am not sure because I'm too busy figuring out the next thing to test that out. Is that what they really mean by 'never a dull moment'?
In any event, I am off to find a better way to lock the front and back gates now that at least three of the donkeys have figured out how to open them all.