I’d love to introduce you to the current cast of critters on Heart & Bones Hollow.
Let’s start with our faithful dogs. Scamper has been with us the longest. A 3-year-old Cattle dog/hound (?) mix, he has just come into his own and is proving to be a fiercely loyal and obedient dog. Through no good training of my own, he comes immediately when called and will “go home” even when he desperately wants to be by my side. He wants nothing more in life than to rest his head on my knee and accompany me on all my adventures around the farm.
Sirius Black came to us this past summer. She is a 9 month old black lab mix and is every bit a puppy. Loving and eager. Boundless energy. Rambunctious and playful. She is always tugging at Scamper to play. You can tell she wants to be a good dog, but her little body just can’t stop wiggling long enough follow commands. Unfortunately she has killed more than her fair share of chickens. So, we’ve been working with her closely to try to turn her into a good farm dog. Send her all your good, chicken friendly wishes!
Gryffindor is our newest dog addition – a five-year old Anatolian Shepherd. He came to us from some friends who were downsizing their homestead. As their livestock guardian dog, he protected their pigs at night and hung out with them in the house during the day. We have kept this routine for him and sleep more soundly at night knowing Gryffindor is patrolling the woods and keeping us all safe. Gryffindor is different from any dog I have ever owned – smart and able to think for himself. He does not do tricks or come when called, but not because he doesn’t understand what is being asked. He is calm and steady, affectionate but only on his terms. He is always on guard, even when he appears to be sleeping. We all feel more safe with him around.
Fido is our old man cat. He has been with me for 13 years and enjoyed an earlier career as a mouser. These days he spends his time lounging on the deck and begging for attention as we bustle through our day. I expect his days with us our numbered, but we’ll keep loving on him right up to the end.
Two new cats joined us this week – Professor McGonagall and Crookshanks (have you noticed the Harry Potter theme yet?). Young and playful, they are here to help with a little rodent problem. And so far they’ve also been really generous with the snuggles!
Bridging the gap between pet and livestock are our goats. We currently have five and are hoping that number increases with some new kids in February! Four of them are mini lamanchas and one is a full-sized lamancha. We got Chocolate and Caramel as week old, bottle babies. They are incredibly sweet and love to be snuggled. Caramel has even come to church with us for the annual Christmas pageant! Milkway was born on the farm in February. He has grown into a handsome and very eager buck. Hopefully he has done his job well and we’ll have lots of new kids to play with! Moonpie is a wether (a castrated male) who is Milkway’s companion. He’s a sweet boy, but a bit timid. Creme Brulee is our full sized lamancha. She came to us in milk and was a fabulous milker giving almost 3/4 gallons per milking. She is easy to handle and so quiet, an unusual trait for goats. Unfortunately she managed to rip her teat on something a few weeks ago. Despite immediate vet attention and ongoing care, it seems likely she is going to lose that teat and certainly her milking career is over.
At this time we have seven pigs. All Gloucestershire Old Spots a heritage breed know for their docility and great tasting meat. Originally bred in England, they were good homestead and orchard pigs. Legend has it that their black spots developed from the falling fruit hitting them as they rooted around the orchard. We love their easy-going nature and the way their big, floppy ears flap as they run.
Our chicken flock has 13 hens of various breeds. They roam free around the farm helping to control pests and giving us eggs. They love to set up a daily easter egg hunt for us. As soon as we discover their hiding place, they find a new and even more secluded place to lay. We haven’t had much luck with roosters and kids mixing, so we are currently roosterless. The girls don’t seem to mind.
And finally, Piccolo, a lion head rabbit. We’ve had Piccolo about 2 years now. I got him just before our first ever rabbit harvest because I needed one rabbit who would only ever be for snuggling. Turns out he’s kind of a loner. We tried to put his cage near the other rabbits, but he bit off another rabbit’s nose through the cage! He did, accidentally, father two litters of rabbit kits with our American Blue does. One of his offspring now lives with friends of ours; and Sunny Jim, unlike his father, is quite the friendly bunny. This summer we decided to stop raising rabbits, but Piccolo will get to live out his life here with his rabbit palace all to himself, just the way he likes it.
That brings our current critter count to 33. It’s a lot to manage, but they bring us so much joy and all provide such vital functions on the farm.