Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When Huey Met Dottie

Hi farm friends, I sure hope you are enjoying this early spring. As many of you know, I have been so busy with my job over the last several weeks it has been hard to find time to visit and e-mail my wonderful blog buddies. I am so hopeful that things will ease up a bit as I get into late April and May. Hope you will hang in there with me and know I miss you and all that is going on in your world. Farmer has been so wonderful in taking care of Verde Farm and I’ve asked him to share some farm happenings directly. Today’s post is one of his. I know you will enjoy it...


Farm life can be brutish. It seems the wolf is always at the door. It seems nature is never finished yet always winding down. It seems, no less, compassion was the intent when I decided to move a little chick named Dottie to the big chicken house next door. This little chick, with the black and white polka dotted feathers—and one crescent moon drawn on her wing—inherited a feisty spirit. She relentlessly pecked her brothers and sisters, making their lives awful. I felt I had no choice. I had to move her next door.

I was happy to see Dottie blending in so well with the other roosters and hens. At bed check I knew I had made the right decision when I saw her sleeping—tiny, next to Edgar. Hooray. 

A good case can be made for allowing nature to sort-out its own problems.

By feeding time, the next morning, the chicken house chickens were already stirring. I found the gang in the run. I didn’t immediately see Dottie. Maybe I did, but I told myself it’s just a black dot in the corner. As I focused, it became clear the black dot in the corner was Dottie. I walked to her.
She was alive. Her head was tucked beneath her wing. I picked her up. Her eyes were mangled and bloodied. The other chickens pecked her eyes out, blinding her.

Oh, my lord.I couldn’t kill Dottie, which would have probably been merciful. I put her in a pen and fed her. I visited her while nature healed her.

Followers of this blog know about a Muscovy named Huey, born this past January. It’s amazing he’s still with us, considering he emerged from his mother’s egg in the deepest, coldest part of winter. I found him and his two brothers, Duey and Louie, walking on the frozen snow across the back yard, about 100 yards from their nest. Unfortunately, Duey and Louie died. However, Huey moved from the box in the bathroom, to a cage in the tool shed to a pen in the barn with a girl named Dottie.

You can read about them by clicking on the picture above
Huey, the lone survivor
Dottie and Huey hit it off. Heck, Dottie even started to lay eggs. As months passed and spring moved closer, I knew I had to release Huey. He was beginning to flap his wings and run in circles around the pen. I vowed on the next pretty day I would set him free. It pained me, though, because I knew Dottie, even though she couldn’t see Huey, felt Huey’s presence and would know he was gone. It’s not as if my animals have human characteristics as much as it’s about a human interpretation of their actions. I think love is love and transcends species. It’s something we have in common.

Huey and Dottie-he is wrapped over her fluffing her feathers
Out for their afternoon sun
Yesterday, I put Huey and Dottie in a cage and took them outside, in front of the barn. I opened the cage. Huey was curious, but cautious, sticking his head in and out of the cage. Dottie simply walked in circles, literally blind to what was getting ready to happen. All at once, Huey was free—running, flapping, testing his wings, tasting freedom, the warm wind, all for the first time. I’m thinking, man what that must be like. I wish I could remember. The other Muscovy’ came by to inspect, giving the thumbs up. At the same time, Dottie began to cluck, well…it sounded like a cry. As Huey ventured farther from the cage, I walked away to tend to the pigs.

Huey flapping his wings in freedom-Dottie in her cage
About 10 minutes later, I came back to the cage. It appeared my intuition had been correct—I only saw Dottie, still walking in circles. As I got closer, however, I saw Huey resting outside behind Dottie. At the end of the day, I gathered the Muscovy and the chicken and took them back to the pen—their home. They walked around in circles—together.

Pretty Dottie-alone for the first time in a while
Dottie stepped out for some freedom too
The weather is supposed to get warmer, this weekend, which means Huey will get another chance to test out his wings. We’ll push him out of the nest, eventually. The important thing is we’ll do it together. 

37 comments:

Ginny said...

A love story at it's best.

Joani said...

Those pictures R precious. Luv that U took them inside & warmed them up. Have a great day.

Lisa Sall - Sall's Country Life said...

Oh Farmer, what a huge heart you have! Dotty and Huey are lucky to have you (and Amy too)! What a great post about their sad but happy lives. Huey is so big and beautiful I hope he has a pond to play in!!

TexWisGirl said...

Oh dear. Nature can be cruel and kind when you least expect it.

Nancy K. said...

oh, poor dottie!
what a heartbreaking ~ and yet touching story...

Jodie said...

What a sad but sweet story. I do think animals have more feelings than we often realize. Thanks for sharing.

The Barn Door said...

Awwww....made me cry!

Michelle said...

So sad and sweet....

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Farm life is hard work and I admire your tenacity! We'll be here when your work load lightens! Enjoy the rest of the week!

Judy said...

I wouldn't have been able to kill Dottie either. I gasped when I read what the others did to her, but it sounds like she'll be just fine.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness Amy. I don't know if my heart can take this part of farm life. Poor little Dottie my heart breaks for her, yet I'm so glad she's at Verde Farm. Very glad.

~Andrea~

Dreaming said...

What a sad story with a sweet ending. Awwww.....

farmer said...

those duckling photos are precious!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

What a sweet story...I hope it has the ending that continues to be 'happily every after' ...

Mary said...

What a cute story. :)

Granny Sue said...

It's the most difficult thing about living in the country--the life and death struggle that is constant, the warfare between species, the need to take life to feed our lives, the loss of animals we grow to love. You have had some tough times lately. And handled them with grace.

RC Reese said...

I just love ducks! They always make me smile. I found a baby duck once, named her Crumbles. Sweet photos!

Maura @ Kisiwa Creek Photography said...

Oh my ...what a wonderful story of love and acceptance and you told it so well! I really loved this post..it even brought a tear to my eye. You just never know what will happen next on a farm. Amy I'm sorry you're having to work away from home so much...I hope things will slow down for you soon so you can enjoy life on the farm again. Good luck with that MM. I hope this week is a good one for you.
Maura X :)

Tami said...

What a sweet story.

farmlady said...

Living with animals is a gift. There are moments that break your heart and then there are many more that bring joy beyond imagination.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thank you for a lovely story.

Larkrise garden girl said...

What a sweet story!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

What a wonderful farm post. This has everything in it a good story should. A little humor, a touch of sadness,a happy ending(fingers crossed).Loved it!!

Windy Meadows Farm said...

You have a heart of gold...to sit with Dottie while she healed. What a caring and heartfelt thing to do. Thank you for being a good example to the rest of us...we invited these sweet animals into our lives and homes, it's our responsibility to take care of them. Thank you for sharing the your story...I have a feeling they'll be good friends, taking care of each other. -Mary

V.L. Locey said...

What a sad but sweettale!

Jill said...

How very sweet. Huey is Dottie's seeing eye duck. I wonder if they will continue to have a relationship.

Ginny said...

Oh how sad, poor Dotty. I am glad she has found a friend. I know that nature has a way of enabling creatures with ways to cope with blindness, I hope she finds hers. Do you think the other birds will gang up on her still. So sad.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I love chickens and I hate chickens. Maybe you could find her a new buddy - maybe a chick from the feed store she could raise :-).

Country Gal said...

A wonderfuly writen post Farmer of a happy ending .
Nature can be very cruel at times. Glad all worked out for poor Dotty, Have a great day !

Farm Girl said...

That is one of the hardest things about animals is that they do that to each other. I am glad though that they odd balls have become friends.

The Little Red Hen said...

what a wonderful tender story. Thanks for sharing.

Autumn said...

I think that is a love story, through and through. It's amazing that Huey didn't run off with the other ducks, he stayed by Dottie.

Bee Lady said...

Hi Amy,

I know what it's like to be too busy to check blogs, so don't worry, we won't forget you. That was a beautiful story and what a wonderful and caring person you are to treat God's creatures so lovingly, human characteristics or not.

Cindy Bee

Pondside said...

I think I just might have to have muscovies again!

Toni aka irishlas said...

What an incredible story. Sad, but, tender. Thanks for sharing the "other" side of farm life.

Niecey said...

This is one of the sweetest stories I have ever read :) Thanks for sharing!!

Janice Grinyer said...

My Sister had a goose whose mate died, and then she took in a duck (she was the neighborhood drop off point for farm fowl with special needs - she would understand your plight totally) Anyhow, darned if that duck didnt fall in love with mother goose. of course she would rebuff him, and make him walk two steps behind her..but gosh he loved her...;p

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow! I love it. I have 5 sick baby chicks that really should be put down but I can't do it. I'm glad your two have each other!