Monday, June 1, 2015

A fateful string of events

About 10 years ago my father brought home a few white geese. A short while after that he drove hours to southern Virginia to pick up a pair of Chinese geese.These geese live a peaceful, good life with a safe shelter to rest in at night, and eight acres to roam during the day. A little while later my father began raising ducks and after that came the chickens. My father is not a dog or cat guy but apparently he does keep pets. As a pet caretaker this means spending a small fortune on food and many hours weekly improving their habitat (like collecting pine needles for their shelter, building and cleaning a large chicken coop, and feeding the ducks special leafy green treats from the garden). Many evening hours were also spent taking care of predators in a way people in the country need to take care of predators.

After about a decade of keeping these animals, and with it, the intense care and work it requires, he's decided to give it up. Perhaps it was this past harsh winter of endless below 0° days and having to trudge through snow and ice to feed the animals daily that helped him reach this decision. Perhaps it was turning 70 and realizing there are still more than enough chores on his property to keep him busy enough, without the animal care. Either way, he decided that by the end of this year he would give up all the ducks, geese and chickens. 

The next question was, where would they go? He had just started talking to some friends and acquaintances and found some places to bring them, but he suspected that his beloved pets would not be taken to new homes to live the kind of life they had at my father's house. They would be "taken care of" in a different kind of way. My father has had the older generation of geese for a decade. As you can imagine, the thought of this made his heart ache. 

One of the white geese and one of the Chinese geese in the foreground

The other day, a neighbor my parents had never met before came to their house. She told my father she had a four acre farm just a few blocks away with horses, chickens, and a small pond, and that she had a pair of geese for 11 years. The goose pictured below, one of her favorite animals, had recently lost his mate. She'd noticed a change in his behavior and she was concerned that he was lonely. With a heavy heart herself, she explained that she'd remembered driving by in the past and seeing my father's geese happily roaming the yard. She'd come to ask if her goose could live at my father's place and hopefully find some company. He told her of course he would take the goose.

The neighbor's 11 year old goose who recently lost his mate

Neighbor's goose in the water, ducks along the edge

After a day or two my dad saw that the new goose was not eating so he called the neighbor who came over to visit again. He told her he was concerned the goose was not going to do well if he was refusing to eat. They decided that it was a possibility the goose was not transitioning well and might need to be back at his own home. My dad then told her he actually had a plan to get rid of all of his animals by the end of the year. He asked her if she wanted any of them. She was thrilled about the opportunity to adopt ALL of them! This way she would keep her goose and my father's entire flock would move to their new home with him. In about two weeks, they will make the exchange of animals. Before this time, she'll be cutting out a bigger pond and getting ready to increase her animals by about 10 geese, 15 chickens, and about 20 ducks. 

As the neighbor left that day, she said goodbye to my parents, quacked at the ducks and honked at the geese. With that, my dad knew there would be a happy ending to the story!

Growing Chard in My Windowbox

While I've been delighting in watching this chard growing in my windowboxes for the past few weeks, one day recently, my husband said to me, "Those are ugly flowers growing in the windowboxes"!

Well, guess who doesn't get to have any of this beautiful leafy green?

Since I have limited good gardening space, I'm always looking for creative places to plant edibles, and I think this "Rainbow Chard" with its bright colored stems is just perfect where it's planted, don't you?

Where have you found spots to tuck edible plants?
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