Catholic Inklings

Musings and sharings on my devotion to an ancient religion.

Tag archive: Donna

Chapter Two: The Tale Of Donna Noble

As was mentioned before, Donna was born to be a mother. For the first year that the girls were living on the farm, Donna was the one who kept the girls together. Chickens naturally establish a pecking order, which decides who gets to eat first, who leads the flock around and who gets picked on when the other girls are feeling annoyed. Donna never let anything get too out of hand, and if anyone started picking too much on anyone else, Donna would step in and break it up.

 

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Donna in the nesting box, with another box

This all changed in the early Spring of the second year on the farm. Donna became “broody” which means that she wanted a baby to take care of in the worst way. Taking care of her sisters was nice, but it wasn’t the same as raising a little one. She began spending more and more time sitting in the nesting box and not going on adventures with her sisters. This made Mommy a little concerned, but since she didn’t show any signs of sickness, Mommy let it go.

 

It continued for some weeks, and became more serious. Donna barely ever left the nesting box, and stopped laying eggs. When her sisters laid eggs, she would gather them up and sit on them. Every day Mommy collected the eggs and that upset Donna. She would beg Mommy to leave them there, but of course, if Mommy had, they would simply rot. There were no babies in those eggs.

 

Mommy would tell Donna to get up and go play. Her sisters would come by and tell her to get up and go with them around the yard.

 

Amy went to her and said, “Donna, why are you sitting here waiting for the impossible to happen? You are missing the whole spring! The raspberries are ripe, and Cartoon figured out a way to get them from Mommy. There are delicious plants to nibble. The blueberry bush is just waiting to be picked. And winter knocked down some trees that made more neat places to explore! You’re missing everything!”

 

But, Donna didn’t reply. She just sat and sighed because nobody understood what she was feeling.

 

Months went on and Mommy got nervous. Donna was starting to lose weight, her comb was fading from bright red to a muted pink and she would just sit in her nesting box and make sad sounds. Mommy would pluck her from the box periodically and bring her to her sisters. “This will cure her for sure. Once she gets a taste of what she’s been missing, she’ll forget all about wanting a baby that she can’t have.” Mommy thought.

 

It didn’t work. Donna’s sad behavior continued. Her sisters changed from pleading with her to come out and play to making fun of her for being foolish. They started getting a little rowdy and bullying one another because Donna wasn’t there to break it up. Donna didn’t budge. She whispered to herself, “I believe in miracles. What do they know, anyway?” Her confidence was emboldened when Ben went out to Donna and told her to, “keep believing because miracles can happen.”

 

When it became clear that Donna was not going to just “get over it,” Mommy talked to a friend who had eggs with babies in them and he gave her seven of them so that Donna might hatch a baby.

 

When Mommy first put the eggs under her, instead of taking them out like she normally did, Donna looked surprised. “What’s this?” she said. But, when Mommy stood and watched, and didn’t take them away, Donna got to arranging them into a comfortable clutch and eased her fluffy body onto them to keep them warm.

 

Donna’s sad sounds changed to sweet cooing sounds. She was talking to the babies, and singing to them; dreaming of the joy she would have when they finally came out to meet her. Every day she would turn the eggs, rearrange them, and care for them.

 

Chanticleer, one day old

Chanticleer, one day old

On the twenty-first day of Donna’s egg-sitting, one began to move. It bumped. It bumped some more. It cracked. It made adorable little peeping sounds. After a few hours, a little beak appeared. Then a head, little wings and body, cute little feet and finally a little nub of a tail. Within a short time, the baby was all dried off and fluffy as a new chick could be. He was a dark gray with a little tuft of white on the top of his head and a little yellow around his face, near his beak.

 

Chanticleer peeping out from under Donna

Chanticleer peeping out from under Donna

The baby stayed under Donna, who stroked him with her beak and cooed to him. Whenever visitors came to see the new baby, Donna would puff up and make warning noises—she didn’t want anyone getting too close. The baby was very curious, and though Donna wanted to keep him away from everyone, the baby’s little head would always poke out from under Donna to see what was going on and who was there. She let Mommy pick up the baby, but would make warning sounds if it lasted too long.

 

Donna was a great mother—she was protective and caring and it was clear that that baby was the apple of her eye.

 

It was at this time that Mommy started learning chicken language, because while it’s hard for a human to understand, Donna was speaking the language of motherhood; and all moms know that. Donna had different ways of talking to the baby when he wandered too far from her, when there was a new food she wanted him to try, when there was possible danger, and when it was time for bed. She also spoke differently to her sisters to warn them not to get too close to her baby.

 

Donna and Chanticleer out and about

Donna and Chanticleer out and about

As the baby grew, Donna became more comfortable taking him around the yard with her sisters. The baby’s feathers started changing from the fluffy down of a newborn to the smooth, sleek feathers of a mature bird. And his markings made it apparent that he was part Barred Rock, like Cartoon. His attitude—spunky and bold—was very much like his Aunt Cartoon, too. The only difference was the feathers that began to sprout from his feet—kind of like a Hobbit. So, having a sense of his personality, and when it finally became clear that he was a rooster, it was time to give him a name. He was called Chanticleer.

 

Balance has been restored to the flock. Donna is now back in the daily life of her sisters, keeping everyone on track and taking care of her ever more independent baby. She is happy, and the lives of the whole Blackwater Farm family are enriched for the addition of Chanticleer; Donna’s little miracle.

The Chickens of Blackwater Farm: Chapter One

This is the tale of five (and then a sixth) sweet young chickens who live on a nice little property called Blackwater Farm. They live together in a beautiful blue coop and have a lovely garden and yard to graze through. The girls are taken care of by their human family, Dad, Mommy, Ben and Nathaniel. An Australian Shepherd named Samwise also helps care for and protect them.

 

Young Donna Noble

Young Donna Noble

The first introduction belongs to Donna Noble, a very motherly, kind hen who always looks out for her sisters. Donna is always the one to keep the others in line and behaving nicely to one another. She makes sure that everyone has what they need, and no one is left out. She is a Rhode Island Red, so she has beautiful copper-red feathers and orange eyes.

 

Young Cartoon--always the camera hog

Young Cartoon–always the camera hog

This is Cartoon. She is a seriously curious, bold and intelligent chick. She is a natural leader, and usually directs the activities of the day. She’s always the first to look for new adventures and thinks that she is the General of her small flock. Since she first came to Blackwater Farm, she made a point of sitting on the lap of the human called Mommy to tell her all of her demands and orders. In the beginning, Mommy couldn’t understand chicken, so Cartoon was really wasting her time. Mommy just thought she was being cute and snuggly. Cartoon is a Barred Rock. She has black and white speckled feathers and orange eyes.

 

Amelia Pond

Amelia Pond

Here is Ameila Pond—most often called Amy. She would really like to be in charge, and looks for opportunities to boss her sisters around when Donna and Cartoon aren’t looking. She has a keen eye for danger and makes it her business to alert the others to every potential hazard that comes their way—especially hawks and buzzards. Amy likes the sound of her own voice, and is often heard grumbling about something or other. Like Donna, Amy is a Rhode Island Red.

 

Sweet Martha Jones

Sweet Martha Jones

Martha Jones is the sweetest of the girls. She is a bit timid, a little shy and mostly keeps to herself, but doesn’t like to be alone. Sometimes, when she accidentally gets separated from her sisters because of her daydreaming, she stands and cries until someone comes to get her. Otherwise, she is pretty care-free and she always sings a cheerful song wherever she goes. Martha is a Black Australorp. All of her feathers are dark black and shine a beautiful green in the sun. She has very dark brown eyes and a bright red comb.

 

Little Miss Butterscotch

Little Miss Butterscotch

And then there’s Butterscotch. Ben named her that because she is the color of the candy. A creamy, butterscotchy, fluffy, full-figured gal; Butterscotch is a Buff Orpington. She is also, unfortunately, a little silly. As a result of her silliness (or perhaps  as the result of jealousy) the other girls sometimes pick on her. She is the biggest of the chickens, and could easily defend herself, but she doesn’t. She often gets lost—even just on the other side of the garden fence—and can’t figure out how to get where she needs to be.

 

The chickens have an almost perfectly serene existence. Their coop is a clean, dry and comfortable two-story house with a nesting box attached to a bedroom that they all share. It is nice and roomy with two roosts for sleeping and lots of cozy pine shavings to keep them warm on cold winter nights. A gently sloping plank leads down to the screened-in area beneath. In this area there is plenty of nice sand to scratch around in, an always-full feeder and a water dispenser. Each morning one of their humans opens the sliding door so that the girls can begin their day with a stretch, a little breakfast, and perhaps a dirt bath. Sometimes, the large door to the big, wide world is opened for them and they can head out to look for adventure.

 

Their Cozy Home

Their Cozy Home

 

About five feet from their front door is the gate to Mommy’s garden. There are always very interesting things to snack on in there: bugs, veggies and best of all—the compost pile. Mommy brings scraps from the house to the compost pile almost every day, so the contents of that buffet are always something new to look forward to. The garden also has lots of hiding places for the girls to hang out in—sometimes from the prowling hawks, sometimes for a fun game of hide and seek.

 

Throughout the day, the young hens make their way around the rest of the yard. They check out the forsythia bushes, make their way around the house to the pine and oak tree-lined border, up to the front of the house and on to the porch. Cartoon and Amy each make their way to a strategic point—one to the front door, the other to a window—to see if they can catch a glimpse of Mommy, who will probably offer them some oats if they will get off the porch. They mosey a few feet over to the corner of the house to what the humans call the “chicken bush” which provides plenty of shade and privacy for a nap. When they are refreshed, they make their way around the side of the house to the termite oak, through the fallen pine and back to the coop for more pellets and a little water. And maybe another dirt bath…

 

If you’ve never seen a chicken take a dirt bath, it’s something to behold. She scratches out a slight bowl in some nice, dusty dirt, carefully lowers herself down in it, like a person would into a hot bath, and starts scooping up dirt with her wings.   You can’t believe how much dirt a chicken wing can scoop. She catapults it on to her back and her head and ruffles her feathers so that the dirt can get in between them all and stay wedged in there. The dirt keeps the bugs off and keeps their skin dry in the hot weather. They love it. On the farm the dirt is very clay-like and red, so sometimes they look a little scruffy and stained—particularly Cartoon who has a lot of white in her feathers.

 

Butterscotch and Martha on the concrete table

Butterscotch and Martha on the concrete table

They wander over to the concrete table in the shade near the garden for a cool place to sit and rest again. There are always nice plump bugs there, and the chilly concrete refreshes them after their walk.

Eventually, they make their way again to the back of the house where they can find shade under the deck. There they take naps, hang out and chat…and take more dirt baths. In the early summer, they make sure to take a detour by the blueberry bush near the house, just beyond the deck to grab a few tasty berries. Before bedtime, they would head over to the grapevines to see if they were ripe yet, and then head back to the coop for a final nibble on pellets, a drink of water, and up to the perches for some sleep.

 

If the human called Mommy comes out of the house (and she often does), no matter where the ladies are in their routine, they will break from convention and follow her wherever she goes—except for the meadow—that’s the hawk’s domain and they are not interested in being on his menu. They figure that Mommy is where snacks and treats generally come from, so they have to check out whether she’s carrying anything noteworthy. If they are near to the back door, they jog over to her. If they are far—even on the other side of the yard—they run and flap their wings, almost flying, to get to her and the potential treats as quickly as they can. Mommy will usually sit with the girls for a while and listen to their stories and concerns, and Cartoon usually takes her place on Mommy’s lap to fill her in on all the news.

 

This is pretty much how any given day is spent by the chickens of Blackwater Farm. But, every now and then, something remarkable will happen; and that’s where our stories really begin.