The rain is pouring down on Leafhopper Farm and it’s a great time to offer a few updates. The chicks have outgrown their round pen. I’ve taken the roosters out, placing them in with the older hens for now. They flock together and wander the land, as they are small enough to slip through the netted fence. They do not go far from the rest of the flock, and chicken wire keeps them out of the gardens. The young roos avoid the coop, as older hens can be rough on young ones. Our smaller Ayam Cemani rooster keeps an eye on them.
The other young hens are moving to The Sun Chair portable coop in pasture where they will be joined by Big Comb, our largest Aya Cemani rooster who usually lives in the small movable coop. He’s happy to have his own flock of young bids to tend now. His gentle temperament engages the young birds and encourages their activity on open pasture. These little ladies are gleaning on the fresh vegetation and loving the new space to roam. These are pasture raised chickens.
At the pond, there was a menace lurking the she shallows. Bull Frogs are an invasive, and though invasive is relative, dandelions are “invasive”, their impact on other native frogs, reptiles, and even song birds makes them a true threat. Last summer, I spent a lot of time hunting and eating these predatory amphibians to keep them out of the pond. This year, our first nemesis came to the farm early, and dug in at the pond’s edge. The frog foe grew in size overnight, feeding on the young native frogs like Pacific Green Tree Frogs and Red Legged Frogs. Finally, one morning, I had the chance to stalk up on the fat intruder and harvested him with the .22 in one shot. I returned to the house and butchered the fresh meat, marinating the legs in soy sauce before cooking them up later that afternoon to share with some friends. It was delicious, and great to know the pond is free of Bull Frogs, for now.
On a more personal note, Indonesia, my beloved dog friend, is struggling with Lymphoma, an untreatable cancer that is common in mutt breeds. She’s been on a rich diet of meats, like venison and rabbit. Though her protean intake is high, her body cannot keep up with the cancer eating away her muscle. She’s been thinning out and loosing energy. It’s very tough to watch, but the tail wags let me know she’s still very happy to be on the farm and watching the spring come alive. Her body weakens, but the love and devotion from this dog is immeasurable. Every night she comes to lay by the bed, not strong enough to climb up, and unable to get down without struggle. Her bladder is shrinking, and I often get up in the middle of the night to let her out. When the weather warms, I can leave the screen open for her. Indo is so brave, and I am humbled by her strength, even as I watch her shaky legs loosing grip on the floor. Her preferred position is laying down, at rest in her domain. We don’t go far on walks any more, and I’ve stopped driving her around, as the truck is a little rough on her old bones.
I’m learning a lot about elder care, and hope I’m doing the right things to support my old friend. She’s been my longest continued companion after Mom and my brother Jon. This dog is my best friend, and I owe her so much. The loyalty is unbound. This black and white pup lives like a Queen, and has her whole life. From snow play in Vermont, to loping along with horses on a 20 mile ranch ride in Colorado, she’s been there and done that. Short of international travel, Indo has gone with me everywhere. The other day I was on a hike in the woods with a friend. Indonesia was left behind at the farm, a recent need to avoid overtaxing a sick dog’s body.
I was emerging from the forest, back onto the trail, when I suddenly had a bit of a panic attack. I looked around in concern for my dog before realizing she was at home. I’m sure I’ll have many more of these moments, looking for a shadow romping and playing along side. I don’t mean to start writing about Indo as though she was already gone, but she is no longer with me in the wilds and that’s one step closer to loosing my friend. It’s a hard, but a very real lesson to learn about the impermanence of life. I’m so thankful for all the time Indo and I have enjoyed together, and the last few months we still have to lay together in the warm sun here at Leafhopper Farm.