Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hamm and L'eggs

Some animals act just like people. Chip is such a hamm, he always wants to be the center of attention and to have his picture taken.

See how he provides a profile view. Apparently he wanted me to get his good side.

Like any good actor or actress Chip knows how take center stage. Notice in the first three pictures how he drew the attention or completely blocked out Addison, Gidget, and finally Becca Boo.

He's so shameless, he even knows when to show a little leg.........what a hamm!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Girl and Her Gun

When the Commander took Sara out this morning I was surprised when he came back inside and told me about a black fox that was hanging out in the yard. He claimed that the fox was not afraid of him and just would not be chased away. You can see the foxes glowing evil eyes in the picture above.

I know why the fox was here, he wanted to eat my poor chickens or guineas. I wondered if this was the fox that killed my guinea chicks earlier this Summer. When I took my daughter to school the fox was actually blocking the driveway and wouldn't move when I honked the horn....if my daughter wouldn't have been in the car I may have just run it down then and there.

When I got home the fox was still there so I couldn't let the animals out, something had to give. I called the local Department of Natural Resources office and explained to them that a fox was in my yard and it wasn't showing any fear of humans, I was afraid it may have rabies. The DNR officer told me that if the animal was bothering me that I should shoot it. Does the DNR do anything to help folks out?

I tried to call the Commander by got his voice mail, drat. I called my dad and got his answering machine so I left him this message; "Oh Hell, I was hoping there was someone there who could walk me through how to shoot a gun." I could only imagine what thoughts went through his mind when he got that message.

Fortunately the Commander called back and he almost went into shock when I told him I wanted him to talk me through loading the shotgun. I located the gun and he described the various kinds of ammunition that I had to choose from. He suggested some target ammo to scare the fox off but I told him the fox had to go so I grabbed some slugs.

He described the safety, the sliding mechanism, and I figured out how to load....after a bit of trial and error and a few shells laying on the ground.  I was ready to go.  No way I was going to let a rabid fox kill any of my precious animals.

I went out to the woods and there he was, glowing evil eyes and all. I raised the gun to my shoulder, took aim, and wondered how much of a kick this gun had. A few breaths later I fired.......miss! I figured that the fox would run off after my near miss and the loud noise but he didn't, this fox was not acting normal at all.

Mister fox moved off to the left a bit so after I reloaded he was going to be toast. I now had the feel of the weapon, I took steady aim, took a deep breath and fired.....miss! The fox just looked at me, at this point I was sure he had rabies. Nothing scared him.

At this point I figured I needed to get a bit closer, but not too close. I carefully moved through the woods, cleared the field of fire (I didn't want to shoot a passing car, the house, or one of the barns), and reloaded. I had only brought two slugs and they were gone, I now had only two target shells. I figured that a hit from the pellets would drive him off so I took careful aim and fired once more....miss! Was he wearing a bullet proof vest? I reloaded and fired my last shell.....argh.....missssssss!

I hiked back to the house and called the Commander and asked if he had any suggestions. He directed me to the buckshot ammunition, he said that if I used this there was no way I could miss. So once again I hiked out through the woods, was again amazed that the fox hadn't run off, cleared the field of fire, and reloaded.

The fox was now in a tightly treed area, it would be a tough shot but I was confident. I took aim and fired.....miss! How did I miss using buckshot? The sights on this gun must be off. I had one shot left and now began to worry about possibly wounding the poor creature, I didn't have a hatchet like OFG so I worried that I may have to find a different way to finish him off.

I wiped my brow, reloaded, took a deep breath and fired....Mister fox was down! It took only six shots but I had succeeded. I didn't want to kill the fox but he couldn't just hang around here an kill my animals. The fact that he didn't run off when chased by the Commander, was chased by cars, and was shot at multiple times made it obvious that something was wrong with the poor thing, I think it was rabies.

I called the DNR and asked the officer if he wanted to come collect the animal for rabies testing, in case the county may be in the middle of an outbreak. He told me he wasn't interested but that I should bury the body deep, just in case. The fact that the ground is frozen was lost upon him.....

Below is a graphic picture of the foxes' post mortem. He was a beautiful black fox but it was just too dangerous to let him roam around here.

I'm not happy that I had to shoot the poor animal but I'm proud that I was able to get the job done. This was the first time I even fired a shotgun, so I figure that six shots wasn't too bad.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Jealous Ram

Ironwood was selected to breed the girls this year and since he was put in with them he has developed some strange behaviors. We have discovered that he will chase the girls into the barn and then lay on the ramp to prevent them from escaping.

If/When the girls try to escape he stands up and begins snorting and posturing to try and intimidate them.

I don't think the girls are impressed, I know I wouldn't be. Ava has fully recovered from whatever was bothering her and is now healthy enough to run from Ironwood - the big bully!

Note little Alma's left horn, I think it was broken off in a butting match with Ironwood. She has been limping around some and I think she is sore from Ironwoods advances.

Whenever Sara approaches the sheep area Ironwood comes to the gate or fence line in attempts to frighten her away. Ironwood has tried to ram the Commander a few times as he was feeding them or bringing in water. It has gotten to the point where we have to bring a shepherds crook with us whenever we enter the gated area or barn.

It was getting so bad that I finally decided to open the back door to the barn so the girls could escape his bullying.

Now when the girls run out the back Ironwood gets so frustrated that he snorts and paws the ground before he goes to try and round them up again. I don't feel sorry for him at all. Killarney and Alder didn't act anything like this last year, is this normal?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are You Ready?

It was days before Winter
and all through the wood house
not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse

The wood was all stacked
in rows with great care
in hopes that the wood stove
would warm up Winters cold air....

The wood shed is full and I think we are ready to go, are you?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ironwoods' Time

Ironwood was released in with the girls on Sunday 06 November, 2011. He spent the first hour chasing after first one mother daughter pair and then another until everyone was too exhausted to run. At one point he was sniffing up behind Kia when Ava had had enough and stomped her feet at him in frustration - "Leave my mother alone!"

Ironwood was not very courteous, he spent a lot of time showing his teeth, flapping his tongue, sniffing the air. He will have two months to complete his business until Wild Man (Alder) moves in.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The New Guy has a Job to Do!

We have a new goat on the farm and everyone is excited to see who it is! Chip was the first to welcome Romeo to his new home.

Romeo is a shy fellow and looks to be a bit small and youngish to complete his assigned duties.

He is a handsome fellow and he has long thick hair that can be expected of a yearling.

Romeo had the wrong idea initially, thinking that he might be living in the house instead of in the barn. You can get a rough idea of Romeo's size when you compare him to Sara who is standing next to him. You can also see some important goat parts that Chip no longer has......and those are why he is here. Back in August I went in with Karen from Pelican Acres to jointly buy Romeo from a farm in southern Wisconsin. It is now my turn to house him for a while and to reap the fruits of his loins?

Becca Boo wasn't quite sure what to make of her new suitor, so she gave him a few headbutts to make sure he knew his place.

Romeo seemed to be more of a novelty than a member of the herd.

Gidget wanted to know what that horrible (intoxicating?) smell was and where it was coming from. She seemed a bit surprised to find a goat that was actually smaller than her.

No matter his size Romeo sure is a handsome fellow, note the moon spots. The other goats had better get used to him because he has a job (or three) to do and will be hanging around till he gets it done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wounds, Worms, Traps, and Losses

When Sunday rolled around it was time to give everyone a second dose of wormer; fun, fun, fun. I decided to start with the rams and took them in the same order as last time. As the leader ram Killarney was selected to go first as he has a habit of trying to protect his buddies whenever the Commander grabs them. As we were holding him I noticed some scabs and blood on the top of his head and on his nose.

Seems Killarney has been spending some time bashing heads with his so called friends.

I sprayed some antibiotics on his wounds and finished worming him, I couldn't wait to see what battle damage the other boys were sporting. As I was feeling around on the top of his scull I couldn't help but notice how thick the bone on the top of his head is. No wonder it doesn't seem to faze him when he crashes into his fellow rams at full speed!

Alders horns are very wide yet he showed no sign of cuts or abrasions. The Commander had his normal struggle capturing "Wild Man" so I could give him his dose of wormer, these sheep are strong! I don't know how people with larger animals can handle them.

Ironwood and Albion were finished last with no problems. I didn't see any wounds on Ironwood, but his horns are so massive that he must hit with them instead of using the top of his head.

I still haven't figured out how the door to the rams shed has been getting opened but the night vision camera I set up caught this little critter crawling around into Sara's kennel.

I don't think he is the culprit but what a cutie pie!

Listen to him growl!

The girls were wormed next with the usual panic at being touched. It looks like Ava has recovered from her illness completely and will be ready for breeding next week.

Here is a shot of little Alma and her tiny horns - they are almost scurrs really. She is the smallest ewe we have so I am a bit worried for her come lambing time.

Finally one of the guinea nuggets was killed by what I think was an owl Saturday night. The guineas have gone back to sleeping in the coop since that tragic evening, it just isn't safe around here. I wonder how long their fear will keep them inside and safe before the decide to sleep in the trees again.