I have had a budgie, a snake, rabbits and mice as pets at various times but I have to say the most unusual pets we acquired was the poultry. We have never lived on a farm but always in a suburb fairly close to town. My daughter at age 14, daring to be different and with a little birthday money to spend, decided to acquire a duckling. It was a cute little fuzzy yellow creature and it lived in a cardboard box in Robynne’s room. Now obviously the hue and cry went up from her brothers who weren’t allowed to touch the little creature and were even banned from ‘copying’ her by getting their own ducks. You can imagine the amount of thought that had gone into where the duckling was going to live as it grew and what it was going to eat! Mommy solved the immediate problem with a quick trip to the local pet shop to adopt another duckling and two chicks. Grampa and uncle were pressed into making a pen which was basically a big wooden box with a wiremesh top in which the livestock could run up and down in safety to their hearts content. I caught many a cat perched on top mesmerized by the proceedings down below but they soon outgrew the pen. The ducklings were both female, one a plain white (Houdini), so named because of her inability to ever find the exit of her new pen as she used to run up and down like a headless whatsit for ages before happening upon the exit by accident, and a black and white beauty with green tail feathers who was called Darkwing Duck. The chicks were a rooster and his mate, both handsome and huge colourful specimens. They would wander the unmowed lawns in a group, unfazed by the cats and dogs, who after a few well-aimed pecks soon learned to keep their distance.
The new fenced off area was fully equipped with a small plastic-lined pond (duck Jacuzzi) where the ducks would dive in and zoom around in an underwater circle before leaping out to shake their feathers. We were concerned that the ducks in their wanderings would stray too close to the front gate and be scooped up by someone viewing them as a potential meal so when they disappeared we expected the worst. Soon though, a child appeared at our front gate “your ducks are in our pool”. They had discovered their wings and landed in duck utopia two doors down where they were soon at home in our neighbours pool. The boys were dispatched to bring them back and their wingtips were carefully clipped. They would lay their eggs in well hidden spots but Robynne would indulge in a little egghunt every day and became quite adept at finding the eggs which would become a generous lunch. One duck egg equals about 2-3 chicken eggs!
The rooster and his mate were my little pet project. Anyone who knows poultry knows that they can see ultraviolet light rays which shows up about an hour before the sun rises. And as soon as they see the light they crow. So as soon as my little pair got their crowing voices, I would have to get up before 4am, sneak out to the end of the garden where the chickens were perched on the fence of the poultry pen, grab the rooster and trudge back to the shed where I would deposit him under a cardboard box under a blanket to muffle his crowing and then repeat the trip for the hen who also crowed quite loudly.
Our poultry phase came to an end when I adopted privately a male dog who turned out to be a bit of a pest, scratching a foam mattress to shreds and stealing items of clothing to chew into holes. Then one day Houdini was insistently trying to get into the kitchen. Eventually I gently but firmly pushed her out and closed the door. Not long after that I looked out the kitchen window and to my horror, new dog had Houdini upside down and was ripping at her breast. Darkwing was found dead and ripped. The dog had killed her in the night. Houdini died at the vet. Dog went to the SPCA to be rehomed. I decided that rooster and his mate deserved a better life and eventually found a lovely animal farm for them to stay.
When I phoned them to see how the chicken were doing they reported that they had been amazed that when rain threatened and the other chickens hightailed it for the barn, my two just perched outside in the rain like the ducks. They were brought up with the ducks and saw nothing unusual with being out in the rain.