A certain level of chaos is inherent with country living, especially if country living means excessive co-habitation with animals. By “excessive” I’m talking about having a view of chickens, goats, cows and dogs from every window, sometimes all together in one place, sometimes on the porch, sometimes peering into the house through a door on the porch. Lately, the only faces I occasionally find pressed against the back door, staring creepily at my every move, are Gus, our LGD (livestock guardian dog) who refuses to be fenced in, or assorted chickens who’ve lost their way (Can I lay an egg in there?). Back when we first moved into this joint, and well before I had proper fencing or shelter for them, I trotted up to a friends farm and gathered an assortment of baby goats to raise on my porch.
During that ill-advised period of animal rearing, I couldn’t go past a window without seeing four sets of little ears flopping by, or the top of a tiny head as one of the babies sprang sideways down the porch. Occasionally we’d be startled by the thud of two hooves landing ON the glass door as they stood on hind legs, resting delicate front hooves on the glass. From this vantage point they got a full view of the living room; would glare inside and scream out an indignant “Bbbaaaaaaaaa!!!!” since I was not presently attending to them. Sometimes we’d hear a crash, followed by a thud, followed by a “ba-baaawwk!” in time to see a chicken scamper past a window, followed by a puppy (Bruce and Betty, raised with the goats, also got their start on the porch), followed by four baby goats alternately spinning, headbutting and jumping sideways behind the puppy.
I sorta miss that. Sniff.
Since those early days we managed to toss up a few more pastures, build a small barn, and establish some general boundaries between creatures. “General” is used loosely here, however, since our chickens are completely free-ranged and all of the LGDs (except for Bruce who is perfect in every way) manage to climb over, dig under or shimmy out of the goat pasture and have established an impressive territory along the perimeter of the entire property. At any given time, I will see an LGD sleeping alongside a cow in the cow pasture, or perhaps snoozing up against the hen house, or sleeping on their back next to a goat.
There is a lot of intermingling around here. I’m thinking about this now as we get more serious about bringing some pigs (!!!!!!) to the farm (pigs!!), a journey that I’m excited to begin the more I learn about these intelligent (delicious) creatures. After chatting with a group of other farmy/homesteader folks, I learned that pigs tend to do just as well with co-habitation as my current crew. This is something that makes them even more appealing since keeping the peace is essential. Living here and raising animals, chasing hawks out of trees, shooting coyote from the porch, battling illness – or the weather – it’s drama enough.
So I’m thankful for all the little moments I catch between the livestock, the friendships forged, and pecking orders established that keeps hierarchies, and the peace, in place.