Friday, August 24, 2012

Not a Good Morning

Yesterday morning was not good. We have not had predation problems since the red-tailed hawk. I was just starting to get over my silent anxiety that all my animals would be okay when I showed up to do chores.

The coyotes got to the chickens in the trampoline pen. It was awful, like entering a battlezone after the war ended. We for sure lost Curly, a New Jersey Giant white hen who had two curved toes, and also our beloved Theresa, the tiny game hen who always wanted to fly up on us and be petted. There may have been others because we have so many chickens that they all don't have names.

There were five wounded. Two who have one wing ripped right off and two who have leg wounds. The fifth has a chest wound similar to what my old rooster had when he was attacked by coyotes. I cleaned up the injured birds and sprayed them with BlueKote.

I think they'll make it. I hope they will.

The mystery was where the coyotes came in from. I thought everything was secure. But when we returned for evening chores, Farmer C found this at the back part of the property:
All the birds have been moved to more secure locations and the hole was filled with wire, dirt and tamped in with an old tire for good measure. But I worry. This coyote is doing something they never did before. It's taking the time to dig under fences. It knows what it's doing.

I spoke to Gucci and told her to step on it if it comes back.

Roof Over Their Horned Heads

Earlier we built the goats a pallet house. We were quite pleased with the ease of construction and were able to assemble it in one day.

The goats laughed. They had their babies in it and promptly went to work ripping apart the corrugated rubber roof. After they dismantled that, they began scratching and rubbing against the walls, compromising the integrity of the building.

We left the skeletal remains up all summer and gave up.

Until today. I scavenged three long beams from a fence panel the bucks had all but destroyed and nailed them atop the panel walls.

The goats chuckled, amused. Big Momma rubbed her head against the beams, testing their strength.

She watched me nail on an old tarp and smirked. It's only a matter of time before they destroy this...again.

Or is it?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hanging out with Cattle

Karma the calf has continued to become friendlier. She needs to be halter trained, but I suppose we'll get around to that out of necessity eventually. She likes face rubs and can usually be bribed by them. Karma's scheduled to get her Brucellosis shot and be dehorned (EEK!) in October. Poor baby.

Baby-Cow the Black Angus steer is continuing to grow into a healthy, chunky if not tall, fellow. I had thought I'd need to get his hooves trimmed but when I started free ranging the cows, he ran so much he broke the overgrown tips right off his hooves. Now they look nice and neat.

Gucci developed an abscess on the bottom of the bad quarter of her udder which I was instructed to treat by the vet. That means no milk for us, all for her baby who gladly has taken up that job. The abscess has mostly cleared up and is starting to close, but I worry over it every day and keep it clean and medicated. Gucci could care less what I'm doing down there as long as she has food.

Cattle Limo

We've been watching the classifieds aka: craigslist for a decent used trailer. Since we likely won't be moving our large animals around a whole lot, we figured a small two horse model would be fine. One came up for sale yesterday and it was still available when I called, so we drove on out to Sahuarita and checked it out. It belonged to a nice family who had several cows, goats, and chickens and children of their own. They had moved up to a much larger livestock trailer and didn't need the little one.

It looked good enough for our needs and needs a little bit of TLC, but nothing too crazy, so we hitched it up and brought it on home. I think it'll fit in just fine and if we need to take Gucci to ger her nails done at a cow salon, now we can.

New Goose Address

The geese have moved to a new spot at the rear of the garden. There were just too many birds in the newish duck pen (which is completely enclosed to prevent red-tailed hawk poaching).

I feel the geese are simply way too big and loud for a hawk to take, especially when they're all together. The way they bite at strangers I bet they could take down a hawk and eat it for breakfast...just saying'.

The section of garden they live in now is away from our regular feeding route, so we are spared the raucous goose alarm each time we walk by with a flake of alfalfa. They have their own pool, doghouse and get fresh weeds every time I'm in the garden working. It's handy.

They seem to like it just fine. We are pretty sure we now have 3 females and one very big male. BB, Silly Goose, and Bruce Goose (a girl) are watched over by a boy goose we named Sue. Why all the gender confusion? I guess we like to keep folks guessing.

August Heat

Mojo with his temporary sheep wives.
He's quarantined from other bucks
until his half a horn heals up.
It hit 110 degrees today. It's too hot.

The buck goats have managed to beat the heck out of everything in their pen. They've ripped the corrugated roof off their brick mansion. They've rammed a hole large enough to walk through in the back of the old Creepy Coop and claimed that building as their man-cave. They've torn through two layers of wire fencing and I had to steal corral panels from Gucci to keep those troublesome stinkers in place. The next thing to go is going to be their gate. It's hangin' by two chains and keeps getting whacked so hard that it turns cock-eyed. Only a matter of time before they tear it off.

Mojo beat the coop so hard he busted off half of one of his very thick horns. It was bloody and gruesome looking but it's dried up. Max the dog stole the busted off piece and has it hidden somewhere on the property.

Do you think it might be breeding season or what?

I guess the point of this post is that goats are super strong. Bucks are even stronger than that when they want to get to the ladies. So, if you want to have goats, invest in heavy duty goat proof panels. It's on my To Do list.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Farmer K and Surprise
Yesterday morning, Farmer K told me there was a lamb in with the sheep. Since I had recently moved our first round of lambs to another pen for easier access and to keep them from interbreeding, I figured I was up for some fence repair. I counted my lambs and all six were there.

"Are you sure?" I called back, wondering if someone had snuck an animal onto our ranch.

"Yes, Mom. A lamb. A tiny one."

Well, that was a whole different story entirely. Mama Sheep had popped out a little baby ewe. We had no idea she was pregnant again. That lady wastes no time. Meet her lamb who we named Surprise.

Soap on the Way

My Mad Scientist Face
 I've been making more goat milk soaps!

August 1st, I made a batch of coconut scented goat milk soap. Today, August 3, I made up a batch of Oatmeal, Milk and Honey scented soap. Both must cure at least 4 weeks before they're ready to use. Oatmeal, Milk and Honey sold out fast last time it was available.

I plan to have the soaps available for sale at the Swan restaurant location and eventually, when our first store reopens, I'd like to have some available there, too. (The Fat Greek on Park and University suffered extensive flood damage from the restaurant above us when a water line burst, and is closed for at least a couple months for renovations and repairs.)
These soaps are very basic, containing Soybean Oil, Goat Milk, Lye and Fragrance.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Plan to Rule the World Foiled...Again

It was a pleasant summer morning when Big Momma said to Gucci, the dairy cow. "Hey. Hey come here." She nodded her dehorned, wizened head to the giant leader of the pen next to hers. "Lookit, Cow. I can get you out. I have this hand." Big Momma stuck out her tongue to show off the Adam's Family like thing she kept hidden. "I got this from Violet. She smuggled it in when she moved to our place. The head goat at her old place had a spare and she figured it was a cool parting gift and all."

Gucci stared at Big Momma, perplexed, but listening with intent.

Big Momma went on. "So, here's the deal. I give you the hand. You get me outta here from the outside of the gate. Cool?"

Gucci flicked a fly from her ear and nodded in slow motion.

Big Momma pushed her mouth through the chain link fence and let the hand fall onto the cow side. It crawled around on its fingers for a while. Gucci retrieved the precious appendage.

But little did Big Momma know that cows are smarter than they look. Their placid demeanor and dazed eyes are all a farce.

Gucci spoke to her minions cow friends and told them of a new plan. They'd mowed the two acres of land their stupid well-meaning owner had allowed them access to. She wanted more. The neighbor's yard was tasty last time she'd been sent there to mow his yard with her second in command, aka: T-Bone-Mr.Sandwich-Texas-Baby-Cow. And her baby, Karma, was totally up for the expansion idea.

Gucci hid the hand in her mouth and carried it to the neighbor gate. There was no chain on the gate like the goats' pen. Gucci had used her hypnotic powers to convince her owner that she was incapable of cleverness and tricks like a goat on the first day she met her.

Far behind Gucci, the goats screamed in violent protest to no avail.

With a single backward glance at the ranch she called home, she opened her mouth, stuck out her tongue, and used the magic hand to open the gate. It was an empowering moment to have the use of the proverbial opposable thumb. Oh, the possibilities! Not only could she mow all the grass on her property, the neighbor's property, and the next property over, she had sniffed the air and figured out there was a swimming pool nearby. And mesquite bean pods. So many bean pods like little, tasty sugar cookies sprinkled all over the place. And they belonged to HER and her MINIONS!

Her entourage of loyal followers mooed as she led them to greener pastures. It was freedom, the ability to come and go as they pleased as long as they possessed the hand!

Then the neighbor man saw her. She ran, hoping he wouldn't notice a thousand pound jersey, a steer, and a wee jersey calf sneaking across his yard. He was a busy man. She knew he probably had better things to do. They hid next door.

They munched. They frolicked. They eyed the unfenced swimming pool with abandon, planning cannonball contests. This was the resort she'd longed for. And the hand had made it all possible!

Sadly, her owner got wind of her betrayal. She pulled up in her silver truck with a wide-eyed look of concern.

Gucci, fearful of being seen as anything but innocent, nodded at T-Bone-Mr.Sandwich-Texas-Baby-Cow. "It was him," she mooed. "All his idea. I tried to stop him! But you know how he doesn't listen and gets all stubborn."

Her owner hugged Gucci, forgiving her because she loved her the most. Because Gucci is awesome and adorable with those big, brown innocent eyes. Then she grabbed Gucci by the ear like a misbehaving child and led her to the corral of time-out shame.

The End.

But not quite.

The goats revolted  and went to reclaim the hand as soon as the owner left. The hand was clearly misused for evil when in the cows' keeping and they were not worthy of such a mystical key.

They bashed their loosely chained gate and escaped. And they took back the hand. And after that, they took the rest of the alfalfa and the whole bin of sweet feed. And for good measure they ate all the bits of hay that had fallen on the floor in the milking area. And they ate and ate until they felt like they would explode.

Then, when their owner returned for the evening chores, they smiled their goatly smiles, and donned their goatly halos. They followed their owner right back into their pen like they little angels they pretended they were. Just to show that the cows were really the evil ones.

The End.