Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pa-Pa the Peacock

Last month my grandparents moved and were unable to bring their feathered friends with them so we adopted their 13 laying hens and a peacock. I have very fond memories of peafowl from my childhood. Growing up, there was a farm behind my grandparent's home with many peacocks (and peahens) and I can remember watching them perched on the barn roof: their long tails draped behind like a regal cloak as they made their haunting calls - Yeee-ow! Yeee-ow!

I am a bit fuzzy on details since there are many grapevines to get news and gossip all the way out to the ranch, but apparently when the farmer passed away, he left the farm to my grandparents which is how they ended up with peacocks in the first place. As I've heard, there were more peacocks at one point and they went to live with another farmer but the fowl roosted on the neighbor's garage and the neighbor shot them. The friend who took the peacocks called my grandpa to let him know that the others were gone and there was only one left and he didn't look so good so maybe my grandpa should come take a look. Apparently "take a look" meant "take it home" because the friend loaded the bird up in my grandpa's truck.

Once Grandpa got him home it was clear why the peacock was not doing so well - a giant tangle of fishing line was wrapped around his leg so tight it had rubbed his leg raw and cut into the skin. After tedious hours with the scissors and much tender care, Pa-pa the peacock seemed to be doing better. His one leg is so covered with scar tissue now,  it is twice the diameter of the other leg but he gets around just fine. After such a traumatic experience, Pa-pa deserves a forever home and he's found that in the ranch.


Papa and I are about the same age (peacocks can live up to 30 years in captivity but average 18-20 in the wild). He may very well be one of the same lovely birds I remember watching as a child as I strained my slender arms through the fence to collect cast off iridescent feathers.

I adore Pa-pa and I'm fiercely protective of him. He's not just a pretty yard ornament; he was a special gift to me and it is up to me to honor him and give him a good life. So here's a friendly warning to visitors to the ranch: The ranch is my home and home to animals that are not only my livelihood but also my friends. Letting your dogs roam unsupervised to chase or harass (or worse, maim or kill) my stock in the name of letting them run free because "it is the country" is very disrespectful and I do not forget these things. Woe to he (or she) who leaves his/her dog unattended to harass the lame, geriatric peacock that symbolizes my childhood...

Well now. Let's close on a lighter note! Here are a few interesting things about Pa-pa:

- He keeps to a very similar routine each day. He has a very specific pattern he walks around the barnyard and house so depending on the time of day, I usually know where to find him.

- He doesn't like stairs much. I think this is because his leg still bothers him. He also doesn't do much flying which is fine by me since I don't much want him roosting in the trees.

- He is almost completely silent. Now the mating season is in the spring, so maybe this ole fella has a few calls left in him but I've only heard him make a noise a few times and it was a scolding call when I got too close. It sounded like a kazoo and scared the bejeebus out of me the first time I heard it.

- Apparently last spring, a neighbor boy lost interest in his pet chicken and the hen came to live with my grandparents. All the other hens were so mean to her that Pa-pa took "Baby" under his wing and they became good buddies, even snuggling up together at night. Now that Baby is grown, the friendship is not as strong but I do see them together occasionally

- He has developed a taste for dog food. In general, I don't feed pet food to the chickens but Pa-pa does not provide meat or eggs for me so if eating dog food makes him happy, so be it.

- This may sounds strange but sometimes I get the feeling that Pa-pa is clairvoyant. There have been several occasions where I have been working and "had a case of the sads" or felt depressed or lonely and I've looked up and there is Pa-pa watching me. At first I thought this might have been related to his new-found appreciation for dog food (see above) but the ways he looks at me is very different. He's startled me a few times questing for a handout, but when I am feeling down and peer over my shoulder to see him right there staring at me, I am never spooked, there is just this wave of calm that washes over me and I feel better.

Well that turned into an interesting post. Now you can think I am both a mama grizzly and a crazy person! It's a two-for-one kind of day today. At least I have an awesome peacock friend though :)



Jarom said...

I wouldn't want you to be any other kind of a person Katia!

Anonymous said...

I think it is wonderful that you have another animal friend. I know what it is like to feel a bond with an animal and how they can help elevate a mood. I also know your grandfather is the same way and will be very happy to know that papa is in good hands. Your mom. :)

Anonymous said...

Tia, I really love reading your blog! I am so envious of your life on the farm surrounded by friends & family, nature and animals. You bring back fond childhood memories for me as well with your warm and funny stories. We are all so proud of you and Nathan, and I know that Pa-Pa, Baby and all their feathery friends have found the perfect forever home! Love Shelly, John, Tris and Emi

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