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Brown Feathers, Says “Cluck”

I hear them quite often when I’m out on my morning walk. The neighbourhood chickens. You REALLY hear them when they’re laying their eggs; that loud, repetitive squawk.

For a number of years now, the city of Victoria has allowed people to have up to 15 backyard chickens. There are different bylaws in Esquimalt, Saanich and Oak Bay, but for most people, 3 or 4 hens is plenty. Each bird lays one egg a day, so unless you’re selling them, 15 eggs a day would be more than a mouthful.

Roosters are not allowed in most regions for obvious reasons. They would just cause a peck of trouble.

Many people are drawn to those lovely, fresh eggs every day. They buy or build chicken coops and sometimes even create chicken runs so that the hens can get a little exercise. Animal Control encourages people to keep their chickens in the coop until at least 7am, since they can be as noisy as roosters. And apparently raccoons and mink love chicken as much as I do, so the coop gives some protection against predators.

It turns out that you can actually rent hens too. Who-da thunk it? They come complete with a chicken coop, and you can rent them for up to 5 or 6 months. You can even adopt them if you decide you enjoy having chickens around.

Of course, it’s inevitable that a hen will escape every now and then.

One day on my walk a couple of years ago, I came across a piece of paper tacked to a utility post, as you can see here. It made me laugh. Especially the last line: “VERY sneaky!” I kept my eyes out, but never caught sight of the foxy fowl. Hopefully she realized there was better food back at the coop and she eventually flew home.

Right. Chickens don’t fly.

But a couple of weeks back, I noticed a chicken poking around on someone’s front lawn. She was a good size and didn’t look too worse for wear, so she was likely a more recent escapee. The street we were on is relatively quiet, and she seemed savvy enough to stay to the side and just peck around on the ground. I took a picture of her and then, just like that, she disappeared.

A few days ago as I was walking down the same street, I saw a young couple shoo shooing something as a truck came slowly up the road. You guessed it. Probably the same chicken. Brown feathers, says “cluck”.

The couple and I stood on opposite sides of the street and chatted about her as the bird strutted over to them. Definitely a people hen. They seemed to enjoy her attention, and I couldn’t help myself. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” We all laughed.

Eventually, we carried on our separate ways and the chicken got back to her lawn pecking.

I kept thinking about her as I continued my walk. Did she have a fight with one of the other hens? Was she really just a drifter at heart? Maybe she simply found a hole in the coop and decided to make her escape, ready for a new experience.

I mean, I don’t blame her. In fact, I really can relate. I feel that same need to get out, to get away, to have an adventure somewhere different for a change. It’s been so long.

Just like the chicken, we’ve all been feeling pretty cooped up for awhile, haven’t we?

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Goat Fund Them

Moe the cat.

In this picture you’ll see where my cat Moe sometimes waits for me. I work in the basement of my home, so she often lies on the steps leading upstairs, staying there until I am done for the day.

The reason she is wearing a towel is because my daughter put it over her when they were upstairs, and Moe forgot to take it off. Well, I’m making excuses for her. She literally dragged that towel with her to the steps because she didn’t know how to get it off herself.

Cats are weird, aren’t they? Sometimes hilarious. As are dogs and parrots and pot bellied pigs, and, well, pretty much any animal. That’s why we can’t get enough of the YouTube videos chronicling their antics. They are delightfully entertaining, especially lately. For those of us who have pets, thank goodness they’ve been around to help us through. Dogs have been equally as happy to have us home, though I’m not so sure about all cats.

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At different times in my life, I’ve had a dog, three budgies and four cats. I’ve laughed at their antics, and scolded their bad behaviour, and I’ve cried like a baby when they’ve died. I can’t imagine having lived without them all.

There has been a greater demand for pet adoptions in the last couple of months on the island, for obvious reasons. Animals make us happy and we need that right about now. Every time I watch Pet CHEK on CHEK News on Sunday evenings, where they feature different pets every week up for adoption from the Victoria Humane Society, I want all of them. Every one.

A couple of days ago, I got an email update from another animal organization through their Goat Fund Me (not a typo) campaign. The Beacon Hill Children’s Farm has been in existence for 35 years. They opened their barn doors just a couple of years before my children were born, and we visited them often, especially in the spring. My girls even volunteered there when they were in their teens.

It wasn’t until someone posted something in my Facebook news feed recently that it occurred to me that the kids might be suffering too. Goats, I mean.

This year, the farm had only been open less than a week when it was decided that it should close its doors because of the virus. When the story first came to light a couple of months ago, the hope was that sometime soon it would be able to open again. But now they have made the difficult decision to stay closed for the foreseeable future.

The only problem is that they still have a lot of costs: feed for over 100 animals, veterinarian bills, hay and sawdust, even insurance and phone bills (the roosters’ early morning long distance calls really add up).

Peanut Butter, the miniature horse, turns 29 this month. She needs some dental work done and has some health issues, but she’s looking forward to her cake. There are pigs, rabbits, ducks, geese, and alpacas too, all needing food, bedding and attention.

You pay by donation to visit, but that won’t be happening for some time yet. So that’s where we can jump in and goat fund them to help them get through the next few months.

Some day we’ll all be able to hang out at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm again, and watch the kids in boundless joy jumping up and down on the rocks with reckless abandon.

Goats, I mean.