Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Coyotes Attack

Brandon saved the day with his heroics! He and his friends were sitting around the burn pit burning some lumber and talking, when they heard coyotes in the pasture. Off they went with a flashlight and some big branches, chasing the wild canines down the slope and out of the pasture. They were twenty feet from the pond and my scared waterfowl, who are not safe there because the pond is so small and shallow. Tonight I sit on the computer, window open, listening to be sure that nothing is happening in the pasture. I count on the coyotes to announce their coming with a chorus of yips to keep contact with each other, but also to give themselves away. I am prepared to rush to our pet's defense again!

Over the holiday weekend, a friend brought a newly nursing mother and her one month old filly foal to stay with us for the summer, on the lush green grass at Calamity Acres. The Old Gentleman has a friend again, though they are on opposite sides of the fence for safety's sake. Sierra, the half mustang/quarterhorse and her filly Josie, are on the pasture side, while Beau stands near them in the yard, hesitant to come to his feeding bowl for his daily food. He grazes a little (it falls out of his mouth) but mostly just stands where he can breathe in Her presense. We have laughed about it these last three days, but he is quite stalwart in his admiration. He looks like a tiny ragamuffin next to the big white mare that is his Roxanne.

Our yard is shaping up to be very good looking for this summer season, and we have begun making plans for a picnic in late summer, after baseball camps and some building have been done. It will be a pleasure to have family and friends over for fun, games and good food.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Long Live the King

The King is Dead...long live the King!

The Mighty Rambo may be gone, but his progeny live on... Birdy, Big and Little Brownie, and several other birds are all reminders of the big golden rooster. And lo and behold, one of Rosewitha's babies is shaping up to be a BIG YELLOW COCKEREL. Though I swore we would keep no cockerels this summer, if this is a boy, he's Rambo's for sure. He will have a place of honor in the henyard, no matter what.

Too Much Death for Springtime

The Mighty Rambo is gone.

Tuesday morning, after a week of his being beaten by Curley the Rumpless, we found our Rammy dead under the roost in the Big Chickenhouse. Husband left to get dressed for work, and I picked up our golden boy, to find that he was still warm to the touch, and had just died. I realized none of the other birds had pooped on him, and that he had just fallen off his roost and into the dirt of the chickenhouse litter. I cried bitter tears then, cradling our big boy in my arms like a baby, and wishing I could have seen him alive one more time. Spring is supposed to be a time of life, and it just doesn't seem fair that we have lost Lacey, Isis, and now Rammy.

That night after work, I dug a place for him at the edge of the pond, where he loved to lead his big girl harem looking for bugs and worms. I dug it as deeply as I could, and laid him in a pillowcase in the bottom, making sure I dumped enough dirt back on him that no animal could find him and dig him up. There he will stay, near where I will be seating on my Mother's Day bench and watching the frogs,and where I can talk to him about things going on at the farm.

Rest in Peace, our dear boy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last, but Definitely Not Least....

Samantha, our African goose, former mate of Timmy the Gander, has decided finally to set her eggs. An estimated thirty are under her, but some are more than a month old, and were laid before Tim was killed by the coyotes. Will they hatch? Were they fertile? I have never been sure, never having seen Tim breed her.... but have seen the Ship the Toulouse breeding the Toulouse geese. I'll let her set the next three weeks and we will see what happens in the pasture... will we get a gaggle of goslings? Some would be sure to be Tim's, making our big gander live on. We shall see... but for right now, she is tucked into the high grass, covering her eggs as best as she can. Not even Beau's presence in the pasture got her up... so I know she is serious about her job.

And Baby Makes ONE

Only two days after we nearly threw Dovey's eggs out as not viable, look who was peeking out from Mama's side today! Very obviously either Studly's, Three's or Four's, (all black/grey roosters) he is definitely out of one of the gray hens, and maybe even Dovey herself. I say he... it will be months before we can tell what it is. Will her other eggs hatch? We were ready to give up on them, and the smell from her cage is not good. If there are no other babies within four days, out will go the eggs and she can raise her one lone child, lavishing her love on it. She successfully raised a clutch last summer, so we know she can do it. She will stay in the cage like her sister Rosewitha until the chick (s) are big enough that they can get away from our resident Black Rat snakes. What happened to Missy, the third of our little gray hens? She disappeared some weeks ago, and I have been hoping she would reappear, a clutch of chicks in tow. That has not happened yet, but I have learned that stranger things have happened in the henyard.

I want some too, Mama!

Rosewitha's three chicks (yes, there is one in the middle) are two weeks old and healthy as can be, with their mama taking good care of them in the old rabbit hutch. One survived being snatched through the bars by Lilly Ann, who surrendered it to me two minutes later before the Fatal Bite! They are hearty eaters, and love to surf on the back of their mama. It will still be some weeks before they are ready to go outdoors, as the bantam chick (in the middle) is very tiny, maybe 3 inches high. Snake bait!

The Mighty Has Fallen

Rambo, our big Buff Orpington rooster, was adopted from the Olathe Animal Control four summers ago. Already mature, he was scaring the ACOs in the shelter. Husband went to get him after he was seen on Petfinder, and walked into the cage where he was kept, gently picking him up from his roost, and holding him close to his chest. "We'll take him," he told the ACOs, and for the ridiculously cheap adoption fee of $5.00, the best rooster came home with him. Despite spurs so long that our vet finally sawed them off for us (without a complaint from Rammy) he has been the Cock of the Walk at Calamity Acres. Spurs never used against us, they kept peace in the henyard, discipling the young roosters and the hens. The eggs hatched the last four summers featured many of his daughters, some of whom have passed on for various reasons, but his get can be picked out by their golden color. Twice he has survived savage dog attacks, including one which killed six other birds and our huge tom turkey. Even though he was greviously wounded, a stay in the nursing cage under warm light, antibiotics, and electrolytes brought him through, even when I despaired. The second attack left him blind on the right side, but for the last year he has guided his flock through thick and thin with his one good eye, his golden tail leading the way every morning. A bump of the chest could settle an unruly youngster. Today, when I came home, his head which lost it's crest in the cold of last winter, was bloody and bowed. He had been vanquished by one of the younger roosters, none of whom are his get. Fred, our Japanese bantam, fathered numerous cockerels by the small hens, and those cockerels live on now as roosters in the barnyard. One drubbed the big golden boy today, and it was heartbreaking to see Rambo afraid to go in the henhouse with his harem. I watched him all evening, putting him in once only to have him run back out and follow me to the pasture, long after he should have been on the roost with his girls. A second time he went in, and I could see his golden tail feathes in the doorway. When I crept closer to see what was happening in the darkened henhouse, I saw the Mighty One bent in a supplication position, afraid to go up to the roost. I had had enough... the other roosters were asleep.... I lifted him up next to his girls and set him on the roost, where he bent his head to sleep. In the morning I'll go out as early as possible to let them out, so he can keep out of the way of whomever has assumed the lead position now, because in the way of all pecking order, the sceptor has been passed to one of the younger roosters. Is it Studly, Fred's grandson, and father of One, Two, Three and Four? Or Butch, also Fred's grandson, but white as can be and beautiful. Only tomorrow will tell. Rambo will still have a place of honor though, for his hard work and resilience of these last four years, even if I have to make a special place for him to live.

And the Lion Shall Lay down with the Lamb

Our old boy and his friend, Gwen

Saturday, May 9, 2009

And Baby Reindeer Makes Four

A Visit from a Ship of the Desert

Thursday your blogger had a half day at work, and was visited by the erstwhile owners of the borrowed Llamas, Big Mama and Tony. Our friends had come to shear the llama wool for the summer's coming heat, give shots, and trim toes. Along with their shears and selves, they brought some more of their pets to visit. Clarabelle and Charlie the camels, Ali Baa Baa and Jasmine the baby sheep, Buddy the baby reindeer, and Frisbee the zebu calf all hopped out of the trailer when it pulled up. Didn't we have some fun!

Mama and Tony were shorn of their hot wool, and just in time for warmer temps. We expect Mama to be dropping her new calf (cria) anytime now, and are eagerly searching for them each morning in the pasture to see if there are twelve legs instead of eight.

I had fun bottle-feeding the baby reindeer ("buk buk buk") is the noise he makes, and the calf. Both had fun head-butting me, but all four babies believe Michael is their Maa Maa.

Here we are at the end of another week, and I have to admit we are worn out and tired. The events of last weekend (family wedding) and just keeping up daily chores is taxing, and throw in some viral complaints and it was good to see the work week over.

I'll post some pictures of the little critters.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Swallows are Back

The swallows have returned to the porch for the summer, and we're looking forward to watching them feed their babies again. 

Tony Llama, our new critter at Calamity Acres, is inquisitive and likes to follow us around to see what we are doing.

No, He isn't Dead --- He's Napping!

Gathered by the Porch

Spring is in the Air

Life in the Big Henhouse has been more exciting lately. Three hens were setting at once, sisters Dovey and Rosewitha, from the summer hatch two years ago, and black Lady, the frizzle cochin with straight feathers. Rosewitha chose to set on the roof of the closet in the henhouse, but after ten days, Husband and I got her down and put her in the old rabbit hutch. Lady was on the floor of the closet where the big hens bothered her constantly, and Three the Rooster tried to guard her. Every day I lifted her to take out the newly-laid eggs after marking her setting eggs with an "X" to identify them. Her sister Dovey the Fierce was in the nursing cage, gamely setting 11 bantam eggs. 28 days in, Rosewitha hatched a tiny bantam chick, no bigger than an inch and a half, but yellow like all of Rambo's get. Over the next few days, Lady hatched three chicks in the closet, all standards, all yellow. One died, pecked by the big hens, and I pulled the other two and put them under Rosewitha, where they would be safe. Sure enough, Lady's remaining four eggs disappeared one by one, as Mr. T. has made his spring appearance in the henhouse. The large black rat snake is hungry after his winter sleep, and this morning, Lady's last egg had disappeared and Lady was back out with the other birds.

Nothing is hatching under Dovey, and we are beginning to think that her eggs will not. Tomorrow we will lift her - no, HUSBAND will lift her and endure her wicked bites while I check each egg and see if they feel viable. Any light eggs will be pulled as unlikely to have a chance. You would think after 15 years I would buy an egg candler!

Out in the Little Henhouse, there are two silkies on eggs. One has six under her, and her sister is too far away to reach and check. If we open the hatch door on that side, a chorus of squeals comes forth, warning us to keep away. Living with them (and staying near them) is the little red hen that has suffered an injury and is now crippled. She has stopped coming outside, very wise on her part, as she was unable to get up and down the ramp. She is living happily in the little henhouse, and has plenty of clean food and water and will soon have some surrogate babies to keep her company.

After the brouhaha of a family wedding over the weekend, last night was spent quietly catching up on chores. We finally ended up in the adirondacks by the porch, joined by the four dogs, the outside cat, and finally, Beau the Pony. It was so nice to slow down and visit, and watch the animals with each other. We are constantly stunned by the relationships between the animals here at Calamity Acres, and the way pony and dog and cat and llama and goose and chicken can get along. Maybe not all with each other, but enough that we know that kindness to the animals produces kindness back.