By William Lemons  

Not long after starting at BonusXP, I moved out to a rural area where my partner and I could get a bit of land to have gardens, fruit trees, and raise a few animals. This was a pretty drastic change from my previous life – living in a condo in the middle of downtown. It’s taken some adjusting, but the dark, quiet nights and the scenic drive across a lake to get to work every morning have made the transition a lot more agreeable.

There’s also the animals – LOTS of animals. Growing up, the biggest pet I ever had was a hermit crab, so when we brought a dog into our new home, that was already a big change for me. On top of that, we now have a chicken coop and a wide variety of birds that we are raising in our yard. I’d like to say we have Wild Kingdom going on in our backyard, but it’s not that big, and the animals aren’t all that wild. So, it’s really more like a Domesticated Duchy.

domesticated_duchy001This is Henrietta, one of our first chickens. We got her as an adult, so we could have some hens that were able to lay eggs right away. By the time we got her and a few other hens home, one had already laid an egg in their box.

Henrietta is the only one we have named so far. She is a strange, strange chicken. She has never got along with the other hens and, for some reason, is always a lot dirtier and odd looking. She is a bit of a loner, and if she gets her beak on a big piece of food, she will run off with it right away to eat it by herself.

I’m still not sure if she is the smartest, or the dumbest, hen we have. It’s really hard to tell sometimes.

 
 

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When we got the hens we also got some baby chicks so that our dog, Buddy, could get used to being around chickens and taking care of them. This was the first time Buddy had another animal in the house competing for our attention. Buddy immediately resented the chicks, and when my partner would play with them, Buddy would often come over to start playing with me in order to make him jealous.

domesticated_duchy003This is Skeksis. You may have never heard of or seen a guinea fowl before, but here one is. They are crazy little, dinosaur-looking birds that warn others when predators appear, and they will also kill and eat snakes.

As a chick, our guinea grew up with a bunch of ducklings. So now our guinea thinks it’s a duck. Instead of taking cover he will wander around in the rain with the happy ducks, and be totally wet and miserable.

For the ducks, we have converted a discarded canoe into a small pond with a small bio-filter to cycle the water. The ducks keep a pretty regular routine of coming to play in the water once in the morning and again in the afternoon. We put the canoe by my office window, so I can look out and see them play on days I work from home.

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Like I said, Skeksis thinks he’s a duck – but he learned after a few failed attempts he can’t swim. He will hang out on or around the canoe while the ducks play – like that one guy at the pool party that never, ever gets in the water.

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Our most recent additions are a few Silkie chickens. If you’ve never seen one of these the best way I can describe them is to say they are about a close as you can get to seeing a Muppet in real life. The brown one is kind of my favorite.

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domesticated_duchy008I’m still not much of an animal lover myself, but there is a definite payoff. We eat a lot of eggs for breakfast and there is a very noticeable difference in the color and quality of eggs that are home-grown.

See if you can spot the store-bought egg in this picture.

So what’s next? We got a bunch of hatchlings earlier in the year and they are all starting to grow up. We have a pair of baby geese that are getting big very quickly. We also have a flock of more chickens, guineas, and even a couple of turkeys.

We still haven’t fenced in most of our land, but at work I keep promising that, once we do, we will look into getting some baby goats and producing our own milk. If and when that day comes, I am sure I will be providing an update, full of baby goat pictures to enjoy.

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