Most of my recent conversations with Mike involve which animals are pregnant, and which animals ought to be pregnant. The ewes are looking like they swallowed a football sideways and the pointy ends are lodged in their midsections. Eudora in particular. (Who else, right?) Their due dates start less than two months from now.
The 'which animals ought to be pregnant' discussion centres around the spaniels. Dulcie, Jazzie, and most especially Podge are in season. Podge is ready N.O.W. When I fed her this morning all she wanted was a cuddle, then she cocked her tail over her back and fixed me with a mad, hormonal stare. Poor thing. She's not made the cut for motherhood, at least not now, because she's our main 'dogging in' dog - chasing young pheasants home every morning and night until they remember where they live. Podge has got a heavy work load until mid-September. We can't afford to have her sidelined.
We have wanted a pup from Dulcie, a dog Mike bred from his own 30 year-old line of springers. She's getting older but after missing last year's shoot season recovering from a ligament repair, I worried it wouldn't be fair for her to miss another season of what she loves best. However, if the dog visits her next week, she could have pups and still be fit for November 1st, and the majority of the winter. It will be Dulcie's first litter, and mine. I've never bred a litter, I've only had secondhand dogs up to now.
Until then I have the orphan lambs still to care for, and a few hens guarding clutches of eggs. I've tried putting quail eggs under a bantam hen, but I'm not sure if they'll hatch. The hen's had some commitment issues and she seems to lose track of the eggs when she gets off the nest, remembering to cover only a few or half when she sits down to brood after a wander over to the feeder.
I came home from work to find this baby in a Tupperware pot, in hay, in my sink-
I think it's a baby bullfinch chick. It's got a worm stuck to it so I think Mike tried unsuccessfully to feed it. My mother taught me the hamburger trick for feeding found fledglings. I must have brought home dozens as a child, though few survived the trauma and my own inept but well-meaning childish love.
I have ground venison in the fridge and the chick eagerly choked down a few good-sized strands. I've put it in a basket with a light for warmth. Its best chance for survival is if I can find a nest with similar sized chicks in it and add it to the brood. Mike claims birds can't count and a gaping mouth is enough of a trigger to get fed, no matter who your real momma is. It works on me too, not just with birds, but with the boys who work with Mike. I can't resist a hungry creature whether it's got feathers or camo trousers.
If I can't find a nest, I'll keep feeding it and hope it survives in spite of my inept but well-meaning childish love.