Summer on the Farm

Tales From Tanglewood Farm

Finally – FINALLY – summer has arrived on the farm. Despite the refusal of springtime’s mud to dry up and give way to solid, dry land, the animals have slipped into their summer routines.

All except for the geese. Emily and Henry have been atypically polite this past month.

Instead of Henry hissing at me whenever I got too close, or Emily trying to sneak up behind me to deliver a quick bite or smack me a good one with a wing, the two seem almost deferential now when our paths cross.

Rather than hurl themselves at me when I have the audacity to offer them food, they now scurry away as if to say, “Oh, no-no! Don’t bother about us. We’re fine, thank you.”

I suspect this attitude adjustment is due to the culling of two over-fat Cornish hens a few weeks ago, an unusual event on the farm. All those years of my singing to Emily “Christmas is Coming (The Goose is Getting Fat)” failed to accomplish what witnessing the end of a couple of hens did.

I guess it finally dawned on Emily that the song may not have been an empty threat after all.

Despite the cool and wet spring and early summer, the peacocks have settled into their summer mating ritual. The males’ determined cries continue to echo through the trees as they compete with each other to catch the eye of somebody, anybody, male, female, whatever.

They continue to fan for goats, geese, wild turkeys and me, trying to outdo each other with dramatic displays of their beautiful tail feathers, even refusing to shut down the show when I drove the Subaru up the driveway right behind one the other day.

Instead of moving out of the way, the peacock shook his feathers even harder, giving way barely an inch at a time as I nudged the car up behind him. Finally, he turned to give me (and the car) a look and stepped aside, tail feathers still in full flume, with an air of injured dignity.

He — and I — know that his displays will eventually result in a flurry of peachicks trotting behind peahens sometime in August.

Satchemu and Dolly continue to be prickly. Despite that, I recently had to pen the two emus together in the small yard because I was starting to worry about Satch’s safety.

Three times now I’ve had to rescue the big bird when I found him helpless on his back, long, powerful legs pumping the air as if trying to run away. Each time I would slog through boot-sucking mud and wrestle the 100-plus-pound bird onto his chest, all the while trying to stay clear of those frantic legs.

What was going on? Did a horse kick him? Were the horses harassing him, sending him fleeing in blind panic until he rammed into the wooden fence and flipped over? I still don’t know. But, thankfully, he appears uninjured and well.

And — a bonus — the enforced togetherness seems to have eased the bird couple’s antagonism. Perhaps confining them in a smaller space has forcing the battling birds to try and work things out.

They’re still not exactly love birds, but at least they haven’t tried to kill one another. I’ll take that as progress.

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