This fall, once the pastures fell asleep, we moved the sheep to the paddock closest to the house. Their frankly adorable mini-barn is right out the back door, and they come out in the morning to peer at us eating breakfast. Winter has made everyone cozy up, and it’s been fun to watch the animals at closer range. Dusk and Dana often seem to whisper in each others’ ears.
But by far the sweetest relationship is the friendship between Dusk and Nuggets, our eccentric Golden Polish Hen.
Nuggets has always been the hen that didn’t fit in. She was always the gawkiest chick, a bit taller than the others, with her crest, then a weird little puffball. The other chicks would flock, while she would run straight at us. As the hens aged, she never followed them. They would range together, while she’d go her own way. And eventually she gave up roosting in the hen house all together, and moved first into a Japanese maple, which she’d mount by flying first to the mudroom roof, then high up into the tree. Later, she moved into a wild cherry, which she ascended by hopping on the hood and then roof of our car. Being a loner served her well– she survived the ferret and raccoon attacks on the hen house. When winter became bitter cold, she roosted in the sheep’s smaller barn, staying warm in the updraft of the heat. Then, she discovered that cold chicken feet stay much warmer buried in wool. And for the first time, she also seems to have found a friend.
Nuggets found Dusk, and now she rides on her and clucks in her ear. It’s lovely when someone finally figures out where they belong.