Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is It Too Much To Ask?

You would think that by taking such good care of your animals...
spending countless hours each day providing for them...
keeping their welfare in the forefront of all that you do....

that for the small fraction of time that you ask them to cooperate,
they would be only too happy to oblige.
After all, you love them...
so shouldn't they return a little of that love in the form of cooperation
or possibly obedience??

Is it asking too much?

"HAH!" I say....
"Dream on!"

You'll notice that my dear Sammy is wearing an extra collar.
Yes, that is a shock collar.
I keep one on hand for emergency training....
like "no, we don't chase deer through the woods"
and "no, we don't chase chickens".

And usually, I don't have to use it at all.
And when I do use it, I rarely use the "shock" feature,
but prefer to use the warning "tone"...
that's usually enough to get Sam's attention.

So why is Sam wearing the collar now?
Well, do you see that ridge beyond the arena?

This past Sunday, Sam decided to visit the family that lives over that ridge.
He stayed for 4 hours.
They brought him home by car.
That was after many attempts at calling him to come home.
Monday morning the collar went on.

He hasn't left my side since.

Now for those of you who might think me barbaric in using a shock collar...
I assure you it is a very good collar.
It allows you to use a tone, or just the very mildest "nick" of a shock....
it is quite humane...and best of all, it is quite effective.
And Sammy is one of those boys who needs effective training...
or Sammy runs amok!

Do you see this sweet eye?

You would think that a creature with an eye as kind as this would be an easy ride...
willingly obliging with anything asked of him.
Not this is the eye of a little stinker who tries to get away with 
anything he can possibly get away with....
from bucking to just plain refusing to do what is asked.
"I'm just too tired to do that," he sighs.

I have a confession.
After last week's bucking incident,
I found every excuse in the book for not riding this past week.
Yep, that old evil "fear" crept back into my bones.
That is until yesterday's lesson.
Yesterday we walked, we trotted, we worked on the basics...
and we never got beyond that because Mr. Stubborn decided he wasn't in the mood to work.
I have this one question for you, Moonbeam....
"What if I weren't in the mood to feed you?"
As if that would ever happen.

So really....
is it too much to ask for just an hour's cooperation every couple of days?

Oh, and the pigs decided to run all over the pasture yesterday 
instead of returning home to the barn for dinner.
Yes, they ducked under the fence to the right and ran around like maniacs.

I may have pulled a little of my own hair out yesterday...
it was a long day.

 I guess if we had complete cooperation, life would be dull...
which it never is...
at least not here on the farm.
And today's another day.

PS....3 days and counting....
donkey bliss is getting closer!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's In The Air....

March winds have arrived...
albeit a tiny bit premature,
but nonetheless, there's something new in the air.

You can just feel it...

The gentle stirring of the earth....
a peaceful hum....
an energy...

quiet vibrations of renewed life...
finding their way through the tiny cracks and crevices of the earth...
then ever-so-gently taking flight on the wind.

It's that almost imperceptible feeling that Spring is just around the corner...
and new life is getting ready to burst into the world.

Have you felt it?
The birds have.

The bluebirds are nesting again.
Their songs have filled a once empty spot in the morning chorus of bird songs.

The ducks have begun laying...
leaving their daily offerings on the shores of the pond.

Even Ole Roy has felt the change in the air...

and the sunlight...
he's felt the warmth that has been missing for the past few months.

As for the turkeys...
love is in the air.

That love, however, is a double edged sword...
especially for Chuck who is odd man out at this time of year.

Each spring, the turkeys have a duel to determine who will mate with Edith.
And each spring the results are the same.

Tom gets to be the "puffed-up turkey bird" with all of its fringe benefits,
whereas Chuck all but loses his manhood for a while.

You might notice how each of their faces and snoods have black spots.
These are the bruises and wounds left from an almost lethal fight
over mating rights....
a fight that left Chuck almost asphyxiated.
In the midst of their duel,
Tom had Chuck by the beak and had twisted his head around until there was
a kink in his neck...cutting off his air flow.
Had Hubbs not broken up this fight, Chuck would surely have passed out.

After a few weeks of this dominant/submissive posturing,
Edith will begin laying eggs and nesting,
and the boys will go back to just being boys once again.
For now, though, it looks like Chuck will have to be content playing second fiddle to Tom.

Why is Moonbeam smiling???
Because there are only 4 more days until our mini donkey girls arrive!!  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Fun

This weekend's cold front brought unrelenting winds.
Most everyone sought shelter on Saturday.

However, with Sunday's sunrise came calmer weather and all the animals
ventured back out again.

Hubbs spent a bit of time getting our new garden boxes filled with soil and mulch.

We topped the old boxes with a couple inches of well cured manure mulch,
which I will eventually dig into the soil later this spring.
For now, though, it acts as a great weed barrier and fertilizes the soil.

The pigs were glad to get back outside again...  

and spent a bit of time rooting in the mud, as you can see on Ginger's mouth.

Peace has been restored to the buck pen after last weekend's melee.
Chip and Skip are getting along just fine.

And Smoochie seems much happier in with gentle Fred and our wether, Donald.

I often write about my chickens,
but I have neglected to introduce you to a couple of specific special hens.

Like.... Beatrice who is quite showy...

and Sticky who is my plain Jane hen.

She was born with a foot deformity.

(I fear this is what my hands may look like some day!)

Sticky has managed quite fine these past three years in spite of her poor crooked toes.
She is a silver duck-winged Phoenix....
quite a fancy name for such a plain gal!

Sticky got her name one day as a young hen...
when I walked into the henhouse and found her completely wrapped up in a 
sticky fly tape.  

It took a bit of work to free her, and she held perfectly still while I "unstuck" her.
Since that day, we have a special bond!

While I was out doing afternoon chores,
Sid came over to the pasture fence to say hi.

I love photographing horses!
What a kind eye he has...

And, as usual, he's been rolling in the mud.

PS....T-minus 5 days until we pick up our two little mini donkey gals!!
Oh... the excitement is mounting...
can't you just feel it?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spring Fever

The past few days have gifted us with highs in the 60's.
A major case of Spring fever has invaded every cell in my body.

(Sadly with today's gale force winds, 
the warmth is blowing out and cold air is rushing in 
to remind us that Ole Man Winter has not yet packed his bags.)

Warmer temperatures give the piglets (I use that term loosely) an opportunity
to spend lots of time out of doors.
Getting them to their grazing yard is a slow process 
that requires the use of their harnesses and lead ropes.
Without them, our dear little piggies would surely take off for the chicken coops in search of food!

They spend a little time rooting around their yard,
grazing on grass hay,
and sleeping in the sun.

I took this picture with the telephoto lens, and tried to get close,
but as soon as they heard me sneaking up on them,
they came running.

Getting them back to the barn at the end of the afternoon
is a much easier process,
as long as I bring a reminder of what waits for them in the barn...

A few shakes of the feed cup, and the pigs take off
running toward the barn.

At this point they are focussed 

and on a mission....

not stopping until the barn is reached and their noses are in their dishes!

Generally speaking, managing these gals is a pretty easy job.
They are highly motivated by food,
so getting them to do anything is easiest with treats.
They are willful and strong, but extremely sweet natured.
Even when they throw a "hissy fit", they do so with kindness!

Spring fever had it's way with all of us this week.
Sadie enjoyed a grass bath...

The chickens all had dust baths...

And the horses enjoyed some time in the front pasture...barren as it is right now.

Before we know it, the land will once again be green and lush
and the horses will get fat from grazing!

By the way, we are picking up Daphne and Morning Glory
(our new mini donkeys)
next Saturday, March 3rd,
and bringing them home to the farm.
(Just in time for kidding season!)
March will be an exciting month here on the farm!
Stay tuned.....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Friends and Goats and Goat Friends

Before I share today's "tail" with you, I first have to say....
you guys are all just the best!

You are there every day... encouraging me,
laughing with me,
 and occasionally consoling me.
Your comments are the highlight of every day...truly!

To you, I say:  "Thanks!"
"Thanks for being part of our farm family....
for spending a little time here with us each day!
And thanks for being the cheering section that I really don't deserve!"

on to other items.

Poor Smoochie has been a bit depressed since his castration.
Of course depression is warranted...I am sure,
but we've been a bit worried about him.

So... we moved two friends into his yard with him to cheer him
during his recovery.

Fred and Donald are sweet and gentle and would never think of
bullying him, so hopefully they will cheer him up!

Here's Sissy, standing in the doorway of the delivery room.

Notice how broad she is across the middle.
She is due in the next couple of weeks,
however, she looks as though she could deliver any day now.
Her perineum is swollen and her milk is starting to come it.
It won't be long before we will have bouncing baby goats to share with you!


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