Spring is the mischief in her

We have two goats. Sweet Betsy, as her name implies, is a patient, gentle creature who trip-traps tidily to the milking stand and back. While Sweet Betsy is the intelligent one who jailbreaks them periodically from every fastener we put on their gate (she’s currently working on a combination lock), she does sedately allow herself to be returned to her pen when discovered truant.

Not so Hershey. Her flighty mind is not fitted for the painstaking care of opening fences. But once she has escaped, she prances like one possessed. I amble in her general direction with my rope, speaking to her calmly as if we were friends. She watches me intently, and then just before I get close enough to slip the rope over her head, the devilish gleam surfaces in her eye. She feints right, leaps left, and scampers away to safety. Then she makes for the top of the compost heap to crown herself queen of the mountain, lording it over me as I trudge after her. This charade is repeated several times in a row, until I am forced to call out reinforcements. With one small child on either side of me, I am finally able to herd her back into her pen, where she continues to prance, tossing her head rakishly at me. read more


At present, we have five lovely little hens that were gifted to us last month. We’re enjoying them very much, but three of them are too young to lay eggs, and one is suspected of being hermaphrodite. So one lone chicken is shouldering the heavy burden of laying eggs for the Familia family. She does her best, no doubt, but we get around one egg every three days. Split between four people . . . well, you get the picture. We’re still buying eggs.

But last night we were given another wonderful family of chickens. We haven’t brought them home yet, but we’ve named them. Two are the cute, chubby kind with black and white barred feathers. Tony christened those ones Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Axa named the two strikingly dark red hens The Foxy Ladies. And I claimed the privilege of naming the two golden pheasant-type chickens Demeter and Persephone (continuing in the same vein as Venus and Daphne, two of our current chickens). But most wonderful of all is the large black iridescent rooster. Several weeks ago, Axa had said when we got a rooster he would be named High King Peter. But when she saw him, she decided it didn’t fit. Not at all. He is as tall as her waist, and utterly fearless. After some deliberation, she decided he would be called The Great Achilles. Ironic, I thought. Being a rooster, I would say his heel is his very least vulnerable part. read more