Goose in a Gunny Sack

gooseEvery Sunday after church they serve coffee and doughnuts. We like to stay for a cup and hear the “news” of the week. It’s the same group at our table; my husband and little boy, my parents, Great Uncle and Aunt- Bill and Liz, Cousin Bill, Cousin Mike and son. Sometimes an extra will join us, but for the most part that’s it.

Uncle Bill is a story teller. There is a town in Montana that I can’t spell but will never forget the name, they lived there for a while and we have heard many stories from that direction. I just love listening to his tales, he gives such detail, you can just picture it. We have discussed our fox problem previous Sunday’s. This week he let me know that one of the guys at his “weekday” coffee said it was a raccoon that ate the fence and the fox that had been stealing the chickens. Good to know. We went on about that dilemma for a bit then on to another story. One that reminded me of Wilma and Thomas.

Years ago Uncle Bill bought a small herd of cows, Holsteins I believe, and the guy he bought them from said “Bill you’ve got to take the Gander too. She’s been with those cows from the beginning and has to stay with the herd.”

So he did. It was winter and even if it weren’t, the goose would get trampled in the trailer. He put the goose in a gunny sack and cut a hole for it’s head to stick out and it rode on the floor of the cab that way. He stopped at a rest stop for the night “one of those places you could rent a bunk, ya’ know… I went out the next morning and wouldn’t ya’ know that goose was still sitt’n there. Just like I left it!” It rode that way all the way to the farm.

When the cows were sent out to pasture and the goose let out of her sack, “she went right to one cow, and never left it.” Now matter where that cow went the gander went too.

Years later the cows were sold and the gander wouldn’t be taken with. He said it wandered, pretty lonely for a while, then someone else asked to take it and that was that.

He also had a fawn pair up with a horse. He said he could take that horse anywhere and the deer would be right there too. When he finally sold the horse, he said he never saw the deer again either. (It was longer when he told it but the basics are there.)

I guess Wilma the chicken and Thomas the turkey weren’t such an odd couple after all.

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Good Bye Thomas

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It is with a heavy heart that we said good bye to Thomas a short while ago. He had learned that he could fly up to the rail of the outside run and jump down to the outside. He never left the side of the run but neither does Diesel. Those two have had a few encounters before and this last one didn’t end well.

I’m glad that I didn’t see what happened. My husband was kind enough to take care of the bird before I saw. The dog however, I love him dearly, but he may not have been with us today either had I caught him in the act. A chicken or guinea is one thing, Wilma’s best friend is another.

Wilma has always hid under or behind something, usually Thomas. The first few days without him I would go out to check on her and find her tucked behind the waterer or under someone under the roost. The poor dear. If I could bring her in the house to wander I would, but that’s one mess I just can’t justify (and even though there are patterns for chicken diapers, I’m not going there).

Hopefully she will find a new friend or decide to buck up and be a part of the flock.

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The Best of Friends

Wildflowerfarm.orgFor a long while, Wilma- the one winged chicken and Thomas Thanksgiving- the turkey, shared a room in the coop. They became the best of friends it seems. When I would go in to get them feed and water or clean the coop, Thomas would always stand in front of Wilma as if to protect her almost.

Wildflowerfarm.orgOne Friday night about a month ago, things got wild on the farm. Ok, not really. I brought my husband out to the chicken coop to hold the flashlight so I could sort the birds I wanted to keep for laying hens and the one to be left for butcher. It was an exciting night for the chickens at least. They were clucking and feathers were flying as they ran from one side of the coop to the other. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have to be done in the dark but for the sake of Thomas and Wilma it did. They were residing in the room for the laying hens.

From what I have heard, if you are adding chickens to a flock it should be done in the dark. If they are added during the day the birds that were there first can kill the outsiders; in this case though, Thomas and Wilma would have been out numbered and I think they would have been the outsiders. If the birds are added in the dark, they all wake up in the morning and don’t notice anyone different. Hmm. I guess. That’s what we did and it worked.

Wildflowerfarm.orgI was curious to see what would become of the pair with addition of 30 birds, or so. In the beginning I had to look for Wilma, now she is pretty easy to pick out. Her and Thomas stay pretty close together yet. Even when they are out munching grass in the yard they are never too far away. He is very curious when you walk up to the run, he comes to the fence and checks you over pretty good before going on his way. If Wilma is near the fence when I walk up it is no time at all before Thomas is standing guard.

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I’m glad to see those two are sticking close, even if they are a bit of an odd pair.

The Story of Wilma and Thomas
The Story of One Winged Wilma
An Update on Wilma
Wilma and the Dog
Wilma and Her New Roommate

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Wilma and Her New Roommate

My husband and dad were able to get the last wall up in the coop. It’s all insulated and ready for birds. Tonight we moved the temporary run outside over. They now have a new batch of fresh orchard grass and alfalfa to snack on. By moving the temporary pen the first round of wire can be put into place  for the permanent run.

Wildflowerfarm.orgWith the move of the pen the chickens needed to be moved to the other side of the coop. That was a very easy job. I open the door in the morning, they all run outside to greet the day and I close the door behind them. I then opened the chicken the door on the other side and in they went. Couldn’t be easier.

Up until now Wilma was penned in the corner of the “new” side and Sir Thomas Thanksgiving was in his kennel healing and hating every minute. With the addition of the rest of the flock to the “new” side both birds needed to be moved out as they are not ready to rejoin the rest yet. The turkey hates the kennel, no roost and he can’t fly in there. Wilma could use some more room to  stretch her legs too. So together they are sharing the “old” side. Neither of which can go outside because of the rest of the flock but this gives them much more space and they get their fresh alfalfa delivered.

Wildflowerfarm.orgI also put together a surprise for Wilma! She has been “nesting” in he food dish no matter what I do so I put together a nesting box for her. A milk crate with a little hay to lay in and a good layer of hay on top in case Thomas decides to sit up there, she won’t get pooped on. Hey, it happens, those birds go any where and every where and on anything! Gross!

You may also notice that Wilma looks much different in the picture above than she has in the rest of her. The one above is really her and Thomas. I just didn’t want to post a picture of her all mangled for those who are a bit squeamish.

Get the full story of Wilma here:
The Story of One Winged Wilma and the Guinea
An Update on Wilma
Wilma and the Dog

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Wilma and the Dog

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As if Wilma hasn’t been through enough already, well, she got it again.

Wilma was moved from her kennel to a corner in the coop. It isn’t super well lit but she does get a little day light. I have been letting her out to munch the grass and get some fresh air while I do chores in the morning. She needs the sun too; I would think she would get depressed with out it. So there I am, hauling my 5 gallon bucket of water from the hose by the stock tank over to the coop, filling water and feed. I toss some scratch grain into the run and Wilma is gone.

I found her under the coop. The little pile of cracked corn did not bait her out and trying to scoot her out with a broom didn’t work either.

“Well crap!” The fox is back and I can’t get this darn chicken back to safety.

I talked with the cows for a while in hopes she would wander out. She didn’t. I gave up and went back to the house. I had plenty of other things to do than coax a chicken back to the nest.

I went out at 11:30 and she was out. I chased her around the coop before she darted underneath again. Again, I went back to the house to work on whatever I was doing.

12:30 I went back out and saw fresh feathers, the boards that are around the run (they look really tacky but the are temporary) were laying down and the hole in the wire was bent open again.

“And that’s the end of Wilma”

Just to be sure I laid back down on the ground to check under the coop and there she was! The fox got someone else and she was still there! This time I went to the barn and got Mike’s fishing net to catch her as she strolled out from under the coop.

This did not work either.

The poor dogs were itching to get outside all day and by 5 I had had enough. I opened the door and out they ran. The little boy and I went to the coop to see if maybe the ruckus of the dogs would scare her out one end.

It was a while later Mike, little boy and I were sitting in the grass that our lab came walking up all happy with Wilma in his mouth! I was furious! After everything she had been through he decided to giver her a chomp too! That was the last straw for me that day! I was in a bad mood until bed time.

In the light of morning, the chomping may have been a blessing in disguise. The sharp bone that was sticking out of her shoulder from the first attack was now gone. Something I didn’t have the confidence to try to remove. The wound this time around was much cleaner and not nearly as deep.

She is still in confinement and gets her peroxide twice a day. There are no maggots this time around and it appears that her skin will be able to heal over the socket. In the long run, this will be a much better heal for her.

She is one tough bird.

 

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