Jackie shares her stories and knowledge of animals in her life. Is it their spirits that live on or simply all the memories of them?
My memory goes back to before I was five and we had a farm.
My grandparents were next door (well their house wasn’t in sight of ours, so probably an acre away) had geese and chickens. I recall we had pigs, so tiny and pink. I wanted one for a pet so bad. Maybe that is why I never liked dolls and Mom and Dad never knew it. I remembered these live warm lovable animals. I could not pretend those hard, cold dolls were alive.
I went by my grandparents big penned in fence and building with so many chicken nests daily when we lived beside them. After all these many years I still remember the warmth of those eggs, taking them from the straw nests. It is such an experience, only people who have done it could understand. There was life in those eggs, warm life, held in your hands.
The love of animals led me on an adventure I would always hold close to my heart. Today I will share that with you.
I cannot remember what came first (this is not a chicken or the egg joke) but I ended up at one time with so many animals! I think it started with a mama and baby goat and a pair of blue-gray Mini Lops. Then I found a pair of snow white Angoras, only one snow white dwarf for some reason. My daughter’s friend gave me a black plain female rabbit. I had guinea pigs and hamsters, long hair, short hair. I just always bought the prettiest I could find with long hair usually and would breed them and they could have babies every couple weeks! They had as many as fifteen sometimes.
I sold the babies and it paid well. I found out much later they needed a large supply because they were fed to snakes for the most part! Glad I didn’t know it then.
I learned my first lesson with the female hamster I bought, she was so cute and I had her in a cage and as I walked by one day I stuck my finger up to her cage, not even in it, just kind of saying hi and she reached out and bit right through the flesh. I mean it hurt! So I found out the boys don’t bite but the girls do. I later found out some of the boys do too!
The prettiest male hamster I ever had was so big and long-haired and beautiful, like calico. He was really mean though and would bite any chance he got. I bred him with this mama and you cannot leave them in too long because they will eat the babies. A tiny newborn fell out of the birdcage I had them in but when I gave it back to her she gobbled it right down. It looked just like a gummy bear and went down her like one.
You don’t touch the babies!
A Goat and its Kid
My brother had given me the goat and her baby. I figure out why pretty quick. You never bend over near a goat, another good lesson, and why is that? I sure don’t know, they have a sense of humor I guess. One I learned at least twice and the mama was going easy on me I am happy to say.
The baby was sweet and though we had to tie the mama or fence her, we had plenty of briers we needed rid of on a huge lot behind our house. Baby never left mama too far or long so it was no problem ever.
For some reason my husband nailed a wide strip of tin over a cage and rather than cut the tin to fit we let it overhang four to five feet in front of the cage for good shade and all of a sudden this baby goat jumped up on top of this and slid down the front on that tin. The tin would bend down as it slid and pop back up. Well, that was so much fun it would do it faster next time. Then it would build up speed going around the house, up the bank behind the house and back down zooming to hit the top with a wham, hit that tin and slide down again! The faster speed it got the faster it slid down the front which would pop right back up. It seemed it would do this fifty times in a row. That baby was having some real fun just like a real kid!
Don't Kid Yourself
You Can Do Anything
I started buying books and learning all I could. I had a pregnant Mini Lop in no time with four babies and you don’t touch them either until they come out of their little private nest you build them where they are born. I knew the rules by now so they were OK. My Angoras never bred, whether it was him or her I never figured out.
I put the Dwarf in with the female Angora giving up and they were such good friends! The Angora was very big, with so much long hair and the Dwarf very small would get up on the Angora’s back and scratch and dig until she made her a good bed and the Angora loved this and the Dwarf always faced the opposite direction, I always wondered about that too. It never faced the same way as the Angora, there had to be a reason.
I bred the plain black female rabbit with the male lop, I may have put the Angora male there too I'm not sure and she had several, I was gone a lot so I didn’t watch to see who did what, but two when she delivered were the most beautiful babies, and of the day I would put them in a big screen cage out in the back yard because the bottom of the cage had really big squares that allowed them to graze the clover all day, and I moved it to a fresh place each day. I had sold the others. I put a huge board over top for shade and when I come home one day, I did as always and checked all my animals and either a dog or something had knocked that board off and the rabbits had taken too much sun, one lived taking it to a cool area and giving it some cool water but the most beautiful one was dead.
I cried of course. That hurt me so bad and I always blamed myself, I should have foreseen something like that happening and made sure it couldn’t. And no, the baby goat was penned up when I was gone always, so it wasn't it. I am so glad I am sure of that too because I would probably have hated it. Nah.
I had one hamster that kept eating her babies a few at a time night after night or mostly just beheading them. I couldn't understand this. I fed all my animals well. It didn't hunger I knew and it was just making me so mad. I couldn't kill her but I just put her outside which meant she probably didn't have a chance to make it but any mother that could do their own that way just didn't deserve any better. I really hoped she would find her a mouse family somewhere and I wouldn't care if she murdered them, but found out later she had a slim to no chance of making it. To this day I am so remorseful having done that.
A few nights later I saw something slithering in that room almost like a snake and got my husband to have a good look but he could find nothing, and then my daughter saw it a few nights later and caught it and was petting the snippy toothed monster. She would pet anything, I don't know how she kept all her limbs, but it just loved her. We knew then what had been killing the baby hamsters, and not even to eat! It was a Ferret.
I hated it and to know it had been coming in my house and finally we had to take out the bathtub, the last place we looked after turning the house upside down looking for a hole, to replace just a tiny place it was getting in! It belonged to a neighbor we finally found out and I told him I had a trap set for it if it ever came back it was dead.
I didn't really but I might have if it did come back again. I didn't want something like that in my house! It finally would have killed everything! Maybe even me. I do not like those things at all! I had misjudged that mama hamster though and now I would always have that on my conscience, another of many.
So raising animals is not all fun and I didn't always make the best judgments. She wasn't acting right which made me suspicious it had to be her and what else could it be, but she was probably just nuts from fear! Theirs was the only open cage I had, an aquarium I think.
I had guinea pigs and when they have babies they are born with their eyes open and hopping around like grown up as soon as they are born! It was so adorable. Guinea pigs were so jumpy though it was hard to really pet them. But they were fun. I discovered all of my little pets liked dandelions for treats and I could pick a basket full in no time just in our big yard.
I had a pair of white pigeons. They hatched two eggs and the male stayed with the babies while the mama went out for food just as she did for him. There is so much love in animals and the way they behave, it is so special it is indescribable. I can still picture and remember their love for one another. To me they were doves. I could spend hours with them and I never got over the thrill of finding out so much about them and their own language to each other that I knew meant "thank you and I love you".
I had a white cat and she didn’t show a lot of interest in these pets although she was an indoor/outdoor cat and she caught mice and rabbits. For whatever reason I had brought my mama lop inside one day in the living room, really possibly just to see if my cat would try to hurt her, but my cat acted a little afraid so I put the female lop down and that rabbit went straight for my cat and started trying to mate with her. She was actually on her acting like a male animal! I swear! She was slightly bigger than my cat but I had seen my cat kill some big rabbits, well, or after the kill anyway. She chased that cat all around that room catching her and pinning her down a time or two and it was all happening so fast I couldn't catch either of them, but then the cat located a doorway to get out! I had never seen or heard of such a thing!
They were both females! What would make a rabbit do such a thing? I never saw her treat Mr. Lop that way. Gee. Life is so mysterious at times, isn't it?
The Party is Over
I formed a bond with all these animals (maybe not the hamsters and mama goat, but the rest) and I could feel their love for me too, even baby goat. Or was it because I fed and took care of them and loved them so much? Just sort of a mother figure but so much more than what you see and feel when you first get them.
After just a few days there is a bond for whatever reason. I probably would never have made a good farmer. I loved and cried too much when bad things happened. I could never have killed anything to eat but even with my mistakes, I had so much fun and so many laughs. It will always be such good memories.
They really were some big adventures for a few years. My older brother who lived beside Mom a couple of streets over really enjoyed visiting them too. I made enough money from the baby hamsters that they didn’t cost me a thing and also covered cage and food expense. Anything else I sold was pure profit. But it was really getting to be a job.
I was running a business, had taken my kids from a drug-infested school where I would teach them myself and protect them as long as I could and we had decided to sell our house for the next big adventure.
I practically gave all my lovable pets to the pet stores although I did get enough but my one request was for them to put the Angora and Dwarf in together, spending all those months together, I knew they would miss each other and I thought if anyone saw them with the Dwarf bedding on top the Angora they would have to have them both, but they wouldn’t do it. I felt like a traitor. Why can’t people just lie to you when you really need them to?
© 2017 Jackie Lynnley