One the neatest things about raising animals for the first time (and in small numbers) is that you get to know the character of the animal in general – you know, what makes duck a duck – as well as the character of the individual animals themselves. Also, you get to name them whatever you want!
For example, we are now the proud caretakers of a rather morose animal named The-duck-formerly-known-as-Greg. He seems to have been cast out of the tribe of ducks we’ve been cultivating and spends most of his days pacing back and forth along a fence line that now separates him from his former companions. His countenance is that of a broken-hearted lover staring listlessly across at what had once been his. Its all very sad, but that’s nature for you. There are certainly plenty of people out there right now who feel the same way, so don’t feel too bad about the duck. He’ll get over it.
We seem also to be the caretakers of a withdrawn laying hen named Gertrude. She’s always bucked the chicken trends. Never roosting with the others, she’s always perched alone and across the coop from the other five. She never accompanies them on their daily journeys down to the house and on along to the pig pen. She just seems to like to wander about with her own thoughts, pensive and introspective. Either that, or she’s a real bitch and the other hens just can’t stand her.
And then of course there is Wendy the Cat. And while she has most certainly been warming to us over the past few months and will now, on occasion, come lick my fingers if I hold them very still, Wendy is still a rather shy character. Rarely even seen in those heady early days of life here on the farm, she has always chosen the silent, withdrawn route in her short life. Can’t say I blame her really. Humans are a rather too strange and unpredictable bunch to be joining up with before making a thorough survey of their habits.
So it seems even the lowly animals that scurry around underneath us can be seen as individuals with individual personalities, with individual hopes and dreams, and the need to express themselves as individuals. Or, maybe (just maybe) I’m projecting too much onto them and they are just ducks and chickens and cats. No more, no less. Just like people. Just people.