Growing up as a farm kid meant having a variety of animals. In the city it is normal for people to have a cat and dog, maybe even a few cats or dogs, but in the country the pet business is on a whole different level.
The majority of animals we have are cows, but they are the money makers and terrible as pets. We occasionally would name a few. For instance, I named a calf Chubby, because well, he was a little on the hefty side. Chubby grew out of his cuteness and into a 1500-pound animal, who was eventually sold in an auction.
The pets that were fun and useful on a farm were obviously our cats and dogs, but we also had rabbits, hamsters, chickens, pigs, and even a baby duck, and yes those were our actual pets.
A lot of our accumulated animals were from people giving them to us. I don’t know what it is about farms, but non-farm people seem to think it is OK to leave their unwanted animals with us.
My siblings and I were also just as guilty when it came to adopting animals. Whenever there were kittens at the farmers’ market, we would always bring one home. I once brought home a puppy in my backpack and tried to hide it in my room (from my dad). That barely lasted a day.
Pets were also great gifts. Once, a family friend gave us baby chickens for Easter. Chicks are the cutest things in the whole world… until they grow up. Ours became really mean and would bite us when we tried to feed them.
One of the more memorable gifts was my potbelly pig Babe, mostly because who gets a pig as a birthday present? No one. I’m pretty sure I asked for anything besides a pig for my birthday, but there he was in a Kellogg’s cereal box. He was so small and so cute, and he peed on my step-mom which made Babe the coolest pig in my twelve-year-old eyes.
Another great animal was our duck Ferdinand (I really loved the movie Babe). His egg was the only one to survive a tractor accident. We put the egg in our medicine cabinet, close to the bathroom lights to keep him warm. Baby duck’s instincts will help them know who their caretakers are, so when the egg was about to hatch my sister made it very clear that “no one is allowed to look the duck in the eye. I want to be his mom!”
One morning while I was getting a ready I could hear some muffled chirps. I opened the cabinet to see the egg slightly cracked and shaking. Eight hours later Ferdinand hatched. He lived in our house while he was small. He would cuddle with us, follow us around, and go on duck walks with us, which were just walks to puddles so he could swim. I even once brought him to other ducks to try and free him, but he was not having any of that.
The one thing that made these animals so great is because our time with them was so short. It is the unfortunate reality of farm life but animals might run away, get ran over, attacked by other animals, accidentally given away, purposely given away, or simply live a long life and die naturally. It is sad and we mourn, but a pet coming and going is just another part of the country life.
What about your experiences? Did you have any rare or awesome pets growing up?