Spelling It Like It Is
stumbled across silkie bearded chickens. They have lots of extra-soft fur like poodles and a reputation for being great, sweet pets. And here’s another perk of doing a reality show. If you tell them something interests you, the show’s staff does all the research. Chris, one of our producers, found adorable silkies at a farm in Norco, California. On Liam’s third birthday, we packed up the kids and the crew and went to get chickens. We came home with three. I named one Coco (after Coco Chanel, of course). Liam chose the ultrasophisticated sobriquet Turkey Breast for the second. And Dean, taking a cue in sophistication from his son, named the third Chicken Nugget (but that one turned out to be a rooster, so we returned him).
    While on our chicken splurge, we also signed up for a pygmy goat. She would be ours as soon as she was weaned. I initially named her Donna Martin, but by the time she arrived, the joke had worn off and Dean named her Totes McGoats after the movie I Love You, Man .
    One day we went to the pet store Kahoots to get food for the animals, and they had a bunch of newly hatched chicks. They were irresistible. We brought home five. These we couldn’t sex, but only one of them turned out to be a rooster. We kept him and named him Jackson.
    For Stella’s second birthday that June we got two rabbits. They immediately had twelve babies, ten of whom we gave away. (I identified with the mother rabbit, but I would never give my own away.) And at some point around that time I went to Petco for supplies and brought home a bearded dragon named Princess and a snake. (The snake didn’t last long. It became anorexic and wouldn’t eat. Apparently this sometimes happens with snakes. The poor thing died of starvation. I was surprised that Star didn’t pick up on the story for a “pets look like their owners” piece.) Then there was another goat. And, around Father’s Day, two rescue guinea pigs.
    Coco the chicken lived in the house with the dogs. She was trained. Ish. The rest of the chickens were in a chicken coop (not the chic mobile one that had launched the madness). Totes McGoats was smart. She learned to use the doggie door in one day. But it can be hard to house-train goats because they don’t really know when they’re pooping. But since they only eat oats and hay, goat poop is sweet smelling, and to dogs it’s like candy. So the dogs followed the goat around and cleaned up after her. Life on the farm.
    Something was clearly going on with me. All this animal expansion happened toward the end of the fifth season of Tori & Dean , right when Dean and I were going through relationship strife. My beef was that Dean spent too much time biking or sitting at the computer looking at racing events and gear. Maybe I should have been grateful. At least his concept of porn was racing helmets and riding gloves. He wasn’t doing horrible shit, but he was disconnected and quick to anger. There is no doubt that, although we never said it out loud, the animals created chaos and distraction. Instead of focusing on our relationship, there was an ongoing stream of new creatures to take care of. It would take me a while to realize that part of the reason our farm kept expanding was so I could postpone dealing with the issues in our relationship.
    THERE WAS ONE more animal occupying a small but rapidly growing space in our backyard farm: the pig. When I heard that there was something called a micro-mini pig, which only grew to be twenty pounds, I envisioned a whole farm of minis right there in the backyard. Dean was on board. New animals were something we usually agreed on. He was always game—at least in the moment; he only got angry later when he had to clean up after them. (I’m really good at cuddling and playing with and loving the animals, but poop scooping isn’t exactly my forte.)
    Soon after I first read about micro-mini pigs, a friend sent me a link to a listing on Craigslist. It described a little pig named Hank,

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