Even before we moved to the Farm, when we talked with our country neighbors about wanting to raise animals, in the course of conversation, someone always eventually said, "… make sure you don't name them!"

Now I completely understood this for animals being raised for consumption. Who wants to sit down at the dinner table only to discover that the main course is Henrietta stuffed with apples, raisins and sausage. But we were pretty sure that the first generation of animals on our farm would be more like pets than a source of food. 

As those who have followed us from the beginning know, when we got our first hens and rooster, what'd we do almost immediately? We named them!

Over the first six months of (our) life on the Farm, we've lost:

  • 1 Zulu rooster named Boris.
  • 3 white layers — the first went so soon after arrival that she died without a name, one was named Lucy, the last was named Posh.
  • 1 Zulu hen named Natasha.
  • 7 no-named chicks, 1 chick named Groucho (I couldn't resist, he had the eyebrows!).

Most died at the hand (sic: mouth) of our "loving" Australian Cattle Dog named Solo. (Clever dog that he is, he quickly figured out how to get into the chicken yard; more recently, he learned how to jump a four-foot fence. In his defense, however, some of these fowl deaths occurred when the birdbrains ventured into dog territory) A few of the babies died "just 'cause" — they weren't strong enough to make it through infancy, Still others were killed and devoured by a raptor — we're guessing a falcon or a hawk, in another instance, perhaps a mongoose or a rat. 

All very sad.

But, without a doubt, the losses that were the hardest for me were those animals that had names. In my mind and heart, the choosing and giving of a name (contrary to what Shakespeare's Juliet suggested when she said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.") allows personalities to blossom, and, of course, creates a connection. 

I've learned there is some value to "make sure you don't name them!"

You may have noticed that seven of our chicks went un-named. Perhaps you believe that I've come to agree about not naming? With the death of a few chicks early on, we, indeed, wanted to see how many would survive before committing. But, it really has been only a waiting game. 

If you saw our holiday greeting on Facebook, you know that we have added a goose and a gander, a drake and two ducks (or hens), and five guinea fowl to our brood. Whether by way of domestic or wild animal attack, accident, or otherwise, it's likely one or some of these may not die of old age. Each loss will impact me. But, I don't want these animals to go through their lives as "goose", "gander", "duck 1" and "duck 2." I'll likely feel differently if/when we start raising for food (see above reference to Henrietta on your plate), but these animals have gone long enough without names. 

And, I'd like to invite you to help us name them?

Gander and Goose 

The gander (with gray feathers, left of both photos) is quite vocal and a little cheeky. If I'm late for feedings he will hiss up at me as a reprimand. The goose (right of both photos) is quieter, stands back, and usually lets the gander do the talking. Contrary to the rep, they are not at all aggressive. Admittedly, they haven't yet been tested with strangers. They make a very nice couple.


We've already named our drake (sorry).  We're not sure if one of the geese picked on him, if he got caught in the fencing, or if unbenownst to us, Solo got a hold of him, but, he has a lame foot. For the past two weeks, we've had him isolated in a cat box (without the cat), and I've been hand-feeding him, and cleaning his (very, very, very smelly) box twice a day; Nils has been handling him a lot to spray his leg with antibiotics. He's now back on his feet (with a little limp) and is most definitely a pet … when he sees me coming, he comes hopping over with his tail wagging. Somewhere along the way, Nils and I decided that he was a Horace (Actually, I wanted Francis, Nils wanted Carlos, we compromised on Horace. Don't ask.).

Duck, Duck

But, Horace's two female companions still need names. By nature — they're Muscovy ducks — they're both rather "demure" and not very talkative. They are, however, very friendly and are happy just hanging out together. If they were human, I'd assume they were BFFs. 

The guinea fowl, who have by now gotten very big, will have to wait. Call me a "fowl-ist", but frankly, aside from varying sizes, they all look alike to me.

We're open to any and all (preferably adorable) suggestions for our 2 geese and 2 ducks … the more animals we have, the harder it gets to find nice names. Help!


17 Responses to What’s in a name?

  • Ray Cahill says:

    How about Stiller and Meara for the comedy duo of Jerry Stiller (a pretty vocal and cheeky guy) and Ann Meara his loving and much quieter but very funny wife.

    • Corinne says:

      Hey Ray, Ooooh, gotta add this to the “top” list. The personalities could be a good match. We’re hot to make a decision soon … probably at the weekend. Thanks for this!

  • Corinne says:

    Francois is actually a very nice name for a gander … on the table or not. If we choose the name and you make it to our table, I'm make sure you're something respectable like a Francois a l'orange. :-)

  • Francois says:

    May I suggest "francois" for the gander (as a french, I hate to be late for food …..) ? I know that considering the death rate of your animals, I take a major risk. Are you in the SA top 10 regarding this rate or in the mifddle of the board ?
    If I have to finish in the middle of your table, I would appreciate to be advised about the way I'll be cooked. I may be reluctant to share the company of an exotic combination.
    I hope that you will keep ll your articles and publish them one of these days.

  • Debbie says:

    I like Nick and Nora, too. These are Michael's suggestions: Henrik and Matilda and Molly and Dolly. I'm still mulling, although Michael's suggestion of Molly and Dolly gives me an idea for the guinea fowl – remember the sisters from "Who's a Pest?" Molly, Lolly, etc. And they all looked alike.
    Perhaps Pigpen and Marcie?

    • truffles says:

      Hm. How many guinea fowl? Molly, Dolly, Folly ,Golly, Holly Jolly, …Polly, Solly, Trolly, Volley, Zolly. Deb I think you've got something there! C — You'll need to brred more  guinea fowl to keep up w/ the theme!

      • Corinne says:

        Deb, Like Michael's suggestion of Molly and Dolly … and your "Who's a Pest" idea takes it to the next level. Then I won't have to worry about figuring out who's who! And if we take Truffles idea, then we could have up to 26 guinea fowl … and if we include consonant digraphs, even more! :-) Henrik and Matilda? Ibsen? Matilda??? Oh, Oh Pigpen and Marcie may have to wait til we have our first pigs :-)

  • Shannon says:

    That's funny…the first thing I thought of for the ladies was Lucy and Ethel.  And now I'm sorry I didn't think of Nick and Nora.  I like it better than my suggestion of Bogie and Bacall.  ;)

    • Corinne says:

      Bogie and Bacall definitely are going on the LIKE list! Or perhaps as Humphrey and Lauren … hm. Nah, don't like Lauren as a goose name, Bacall is better. Then again, Humphrey could be a good donkey name … donkey coming shortly … Oh, I'm so confused!

  • Truffles says:

    Love your posts as well. Just have to say that Horace is a really nice looking drake. His colors are outstanding! As for the geese Nick and Nora come to mind.

  • Vera says:

    Not knowing them 'personally' it's difficult to capture their personalities, but I'm thinking Gilligan and Glenda for the gander and goose (or Ginger for her, if you don't care about hard "g" alliteration); and maybe Daisy and Daphne for the ducks?

    • Corinne says:

      Hm, Gilligan and Ginger. Like … or now you've got me started: Thurston and Lovey!!! Or the Professor and Mary and … "Here on Gilligan's Ilse!" :-)  

  • Patricia says:

    Oh Corinne, how I love reading your posts ~ you always make me smile!  How could you not name your animals, even if you're eating them … they're part of the family.  When I lived in Florida across from a lake, we had lots of geese and ducks hanging around.  The geese became quite protective and would run at someone visiting us they were unfamiliar with.  I found it endearing ~ the person being chased, not so much.  As for names … for the ducks ~ Lucy and Ethel or Laverne and Shirley.  For the geese ~ Darla and Alfalfa.

    • Corinne says:

      Yes, we're waiting for close friends to come visiting to "test' out the geese, figuring close friends will be more forgiving if they're chased off the property. :-) Lucy died in one of the massacrres, Ethel was our one remaining chicken (she's a tough bird!), Laverne and Shirley definitely under consideration! Love the suggestion fo Darla and Alfalfa … but am wondering about using those for our "gang" of guinea fowl — the others could be Spanky, Buckwheat, Porky, Stymie … :-) … Hm, we'll have to get more guinea fowl to go with the names.

  • I think the female gander and goose should be named Amelia and Abigail :)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Aristocats

    • Corinne says:

      Amelia and Abigail cound certainly work for our two girl ducks … though I admit, I'm tempted to save these for when we get our kitties. :-)

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Hi! I'm Corinne.
After many years of meeting challenges of the corporate world as a (moderately) Type-A city gal, I embark with my DH, Nils, on a completely different adventure in living.

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