Monday, October 28, 2013

A Visit from the Department of Environmental Quality

Mom at the rear of the Three Sisters Garden
So, this morning Mom and I were moving the remaining Christmas trees closer to the hay sheds when a man pulled up in a huge Ford truck. He had come down our little narrow road rather slowly, stopped in the pull around, come back, and then came up our drive. I figured maybe he was lost. So I went up to the gate and said, "Are you lost?"

He checked the address and said no, that he was in right place. He handed me his card and introduced himself. He was from the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality and they'd had a complaint that I was "spreading manure all over the place" and that it smelled bad. "What do you do with your manure?"

I said "We compost it."

"That's good. We don't want all that in the landfills." He then looked over a ways toward the Three Sisters Garden and pointed out the rows. "I think I see it there," he said.

To which I replied, "Yes, that's a garden. We build raised beds, lay down the manure then cover it with straw and compost it."

He nodded. Then he kindly suggested that the rows be covered by tarps to enable them to compost faster and assured me that I would pleased with the results. I said that sounded like a good idea and that I had plenty of tarps already and would do just that.

He said he usually gets complaints like this about horses. I told him I don't have any horses, only a couple of cows and mostly goats and sheep. He nodded and told me a story about a pygmy goat he used to have and made me laugh.

The guy was very nice and helpful.

I leaned in and asked him if he smelled any bad smells coming from my property. I was concerned that maybe it reeked there and because I came there every day, maybe my sniffer couldn't catch it. He took in a deep sniff and said, "No. You know, goat poop doesn't smell bad. Male goats do, though."

I nodded. It's true. All those rumors about raunchy male goats during rutting season. They have musk glands and pee on themselves to attract the ladies (of their own kind). They smell like the worst possible imaginable body odor during rutting season. And yes, it IS rutting season right now.

He asked me if I knew which neighbor complained. My other neighbor had come over previously to warn me, so I did know. I pointed out the neighbors I knew and how I knew them and pointed to the accused neighbor's lot and said it was probably them since I've never met them. I heard a complaint from another neighbor about the same neighbors complaining that my sheep were too loud in the past.

I felt like I was in big trouble. Maybe they were going to take away all my animals. Maybe I was doing this all wrong. I was a little bit afraid because quite honestly, I love my critters and I love being able to be outdoors in the sunlight and fresh country air.

Then he totally shocked me and said, "If people don't want to be around farm animals, they shouldn't live in the county."

Thank you, Mr. Environmental Investigator. You made my day.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Alpaca House Tenant Improvements on Schedule

The fluffy boys at the front of the property are getting some much awaited improvements to their home. In a past post, you will see that I built them a hideous pallet shelter with three sides and a nice metal roof to keep off the rain.

I've been waiting for some freeish plywood from our restaurant that was used to board up the windows while we were rennovating. And finally, those boards were available!

Mom is visiting from Florida and as pictured is helping spoil and care for the critters. Our projects this year during her stay is to try and finish up as many unfinsihed/mostly finished projects as we can. I'd also like to tidy up the ranch as it tends to get messy after a while. We seem to be starting at the front of the property and maybe we'll just work our way back.

Here are the boards when they were up on the restaurant face. They came off and on often while the workers were busy building up the bricks and planter, framing and stuccoing.

Yesterday my husband called to tell me to come and get the boards because all the new windows were finally in place. Mom and I headed down then and collected the goodies. There were more boards than I expected. Some have odd cuts in them, and we had to remove the old screws.

This morning we brought the old rechargable screwdriver and started to work. I only expected to get one of the big boards on, but we managed to get 5 up. Only one left to do. We're likely going to place a bracer across the front top as well. But that will have to wait until the batteries are charged again.

Here's our progress so far:

Absent Bellow

Doc Mary was scheduled to visit Karma September 25, 2013 because my cow had bellowed 20 days prior. And lo and behold, she was bellowing the morning of the 25th as well. She was apparently NOT pregnant. I had called Doc Mary's receptionist and gave her the message that my cow appeared to be in heat, and if she could get a hold of Doc Mary and ask her to bring her tank of Jersey semen, that would be great. But I had no message back and wondered if it would happen. It was late to be breeding her as I don't like milking in the stifling heat of summer.

I did my morning chores and called a lady we know who also keeps milk cows out in Sahuarita. Doc Mary had told me prior that they had a bull there and maybe if the AI didn't work, I should consider renting a bull to get the job done. They indeed, had a bull on site. A mini Jersey, polled and apparently good at jumping to reach the taller ladies. I acquired the bull owner's information and called her for good measure in case it came to all that.

By afternoon chores Doc Mary was there and she had gotten my message. I apologize for my lack of pictures. I was too busy bribing my affectionate cow to get her into the stanchion. The doc checked inside and confirmed that things were ripe and ready for planting season. I assisted by keeping my cow's hip in position so she didn't sway to one side or the other. Then the straw of Jersey juice was stuck in and the trigger pulled.

Karma's ear tag 'fell out' too while Doc was there. She made sure I cleaned the bad looking area up real good and put betadine on it. It's healed up now, just a little patchy as Karma likes to rub that ear on the trees a lot.

The next bellow date was October 15th. There was silence in the cow pen and it has been decidely quiet since then. So...I think she has a half mini Jersey bun in the oven. I hope it hangs on and stays put. If so, look for a calf June 2014. Cross your fingers for a girl.