Monday, December 26, 2011

The King is with his Ladies

Billy Bob Mojo Frank is a happy buck. He's been living with the ladies since Max the dog moved in and took over Mojo's pen. Mojo is the one in charge. Lil G gets knocked around a bit, but he's a happy buck too since he also gets to live with the ladies.

We are fairly certain all the ladies are pregnant and due sometime in spring. We're looking forward to little goat babies to hold and play with. We have four purebred Nigerian Dwarf ladies who should be bearing Mojo's kids. Pepper is pregnant from Mojo so that means Mini-Alpines. Tsica and Cow could be pregnant from either Mojo or Jorge. No telling until the kids come and we can see who they look like most.

Extreme Closeups by Farmer G

Farmer G likes to take pictures a lot. I've often wondered why he tends to make them so close...


Ms. Cow

Lil G



Obscene Radishes

This is what happens when you let radishes grow too long...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Radishes in December

Today, Farmer C and Farmer K harvested radishes they grew
all by themselves. They ate them all by themselves, too!


After much deliberation, talk of mules, llamas, and livestock guardians, and the husband's long, cold night on coyote watch, we adopted Max from the local Humane Society. He was not the prettiest. He was not the biggest. He was not the most intimidating. We chose him because he has experience living with livestock according to notes left by his previous owner. Max was surrendered to the Humane Society because he was too energetic for the older dog in their household. He is only one year old.

My aversion to getting a dog for the ranch was that I figured a dog could just as well eat the farmy animals as much as a coyote could. We met Max on Friday. His reaction to us was to immediately bound up to my husband and hug him. Not good dog manners, but pretty darn to the point. He hugged me too.

We spent a little time walking and playing with him and asked to place him on hold until the following day to think on it. He's not any kind of purebred livestock guardian. He was listed as a Sable Red German Shepherd mix. Judging by the spots on his tongue, he's part Chow as well. And probably part other things. It was a risk to expect him to be a guardian. I read up on German Shepherds and found mixed opinions on whether they are suitable livestock guardians. But then again, my plan isn't to have Max live in the goat or sheep pens or to hang out directly with the hens.

So I slept on the decision and decided it didn't feel wrong to go get him.

The kids and I picked Max up on Saturday and took him to his new home: Mojo's old cage where the first known chicken murder by coyotes occured. Now, Max is guarding. Eventually, when we know we can totally trust him (he's proven pretty livestock friendly so far) he'll have the run of the place.

Monday, December 12, 2011

and More Rain...

It rained most of the day.
Goats do not like rain or getting wet
in any way shape or form. Tsica and
Jorge stayed under their porch.

Even most of the sheep huddled together in their house.

The hens had a meeting in the single unit goat house.
The rooster wasn't invited.

The cows really don't care if it rains.
They just want more food.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Goat and Sheep Houses

The Studio
The single room or studio goat apartment. This luxurious yet rustic
getaway features concrete block walls, a beam roof complete with
corrugated metal roofing, and an all natural earthen floor.
The Sheep Model
A two until model with all the same features of the Studio times two!
Curl up in style with your favorite wooly friend for a cozy night of
bah-bahs and cracked corn, maybe even a hooficure, or the elusive sheep smile.

Frufru, Oreo2, and Lacey

Frufru, Lacey, and Oreo2
(A Polish Crested, Brown Lace Wyandote, and Silver Lace Wyandote)
These three hens are staying at home until they're older and it's safer for them at the ranch.
I held onto my "Ricardo" money and used it to purchase these hens.


We suffered some predation by coyotes the other night. Suffice to say it was gruesome and we are short some hens. So, I have made some changes to protect the birds. They go (unwillingly) into a coop every night to keep them from nesting by the fencelines or in trees. One of the ducks survived but has a nasty bite on its neck. Looks like he will make it, but he needs to heal. For now he keeps his head tucked in to hide the scabs. I'm pretty sure it was coyotes as they left behind some poo as if to add insult to injury. For the record, all the birds were in pens. But when they sleep close to the fence, they can be grabbed and literally pulled through it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This morning when I showed up, Winter had been to the land. Not only were there little bitty snowflakes fluttering to the ground, but there was this:

Frost on the wood pile.
Ice in the muddy road.
And frozen hoses.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Chicks

A few days ago, a couple of the workers stopped by from next door wanting to know if I had any jobs for them. Although I didn't, I figured I'd take down their information in case I did in the future. The man who gave me his phone number said his name was Ricardo. At which point I began to get upset. I told them what had happened to my little rooster and pointed out his grave.

We talked some more and I offered them the huge pile of wood at the front of the property. Ricardo was grateful and said he would come by Saturday and not only take away all that dead wood (which I have been trying to get rid of for some time) but bring me a hen as well to replace my Ricardo.

Instead, he brought me two hens! He said he has about 200 chickens and has too many. I figured I had too much wood so this was a good deal for the both of us. I'm not exactly sure what breed these hens are. I asked him and he said they were a black Mc-something or other. I'll have to do some research to see. They're shaped like a Dark Cornish, long and lean. Nothing like the hens I have.

The buff hen is very friendly and tolerates being held. The black one has to be captured in order to be petted. I never know where they'll be when I show up as both can fly and sneak from pen to pen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Giant Concrete E

There's a giant E in the goat pen. Are you wondering why? Could it be that I want to write a concrete message visible from the sky? Possibly. I've done odder things.

Going back to my list a few days ago, this is the beginning of concrete goathouses. Concrete that horns, bodies, and hooves can't knock down. This one is in the main pen and consists of two large rooms. There is a one room unit going in behind the chicken area which will likely become the buck yard. And the sheep are getting a two room unit in their area though I'm not sure sheep care if they get wet or not.

They will also get roofs made of something virtually indestructible, like metal. Now, if only I had a little house out there...


It's been drizzling and raining off and on all last night and today, so I didn't stay very long at the ranch this morning. Too much mud and too chilly. The recent fence repair has caused me some finger cuts that hurt if I try to do more. Good excuse not to, right?

Anyway, here is what the steer looked like this morning... He eats beneath Gucci. She likes to rip the alfalfa out of the feeder and shake it around until it's um, dead.

The Moral: Don't stand under the bigger cow when she's eating.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to Make a Calf Crate

Three pallets tied together in the back of my truck.
Alfalfa is strategically located in the corner to give
the calf something to munch on during the trip home.
Today, we drove to Marana to see about a steer calf. He's mostly, if not all, Black Angus, a breed that originated in Scotland. Angus cattle are naturally polled, or hornless. I'm thankful for that after having been bumped by Gucci when I didn't let her out for her walk soon enough for her time standards. I can only imagine what that would have felt like with horns. Ouch.

Back to the calf. He's six months old and weighs close to three hundred pounds. He was a feedlot calf that was bottle raised by the woman who owned him. What this means for me is that he isn't terrified of me when I go into the corral to tend to him.

For anyone interested in transporting a calf in the back of a truck, this post may be helpful. We do not yet own a livestock trailer. We have a friend who does, but this was one of those situations where I felt like we could handle it ourselves. I was originally going to use an extra-large dog crate. And in this case, it probably would have worked being that this calf is very docile. But my friend Angelica was worried about my general safety. She knows I have very little experience with BIG farm animals. She also knows that I do crazy things that I might not have done if I knew better.

Old neighbor gate added and simply fastened with knotted
hay bale twine to serve as a door. Worked like a charm!
So I erred on the side of caution and built a proper crate for the calf using what I had onhand. Pallets. Baling twine, some nails, spare pieces of wood, and a recently taken down chain link gate. In the back of my truck I assembled three heavy wood pallets in a C shape, lashing them together at the junctions with the twine. I nailed on a few braces (salvage bits from another pallet) across the top to keep the pallets stable. Then I placed a large 'roof' atop the pallets which was scrap wood a friend had given me. After affixing that, I had the base structure completed and it was sturdy.

All I needed was a door. The new wall construction meant my neighbor gate had come down. It was exactly the right size for the pallet crate. I lashed it on with more bale twine and we were ready to get a calf. To keep the little guy happy on his journey, I wedged a leaf of alfalfa inside and brought along a container of sweet feed.

I also taught myself how to make a calf halter from rope, but that's another post for another day...