This is part 2 that includes the animal updates on the sheep, goat, pigs, rabbit and dogs. If you’re interested in the poultry and cows see the previous post.
This spring my mom was gushing over lambs. I explained that lambs grow up. And then they were sheep. She argued all the positive attributes she could think of. Cute. Sheep milk. Cute. Fiber. Cute. And cute.
But they grow up, I reminded her again.
And then there was that fateful day when I mentioned this lamb lust to a fellow-farmer when we crossed paths at the local gas station. He said the lamb lust solution was babydolls – sheep that only grow to be 26″ at their max. This could have remained a useful bit of general knowledge and gone no further.
But my mom was in the car.
So she also knew.
Within a week we were on our way in a rented cargo to pick up babydoll southdown sheep 2.5 hours away.
An enjoyable journey where my mom talked of her plans of putting in a vineyard where the babydolls in their short stature could clear the weeds, but not hurt the vines.
Sweet Thing is a yearling and the most friendly out of the bunch. She loves munching on carrots and also getting into the turkey grain. Her camera-shy momma, Sydney (you can see her in Sweet Thing’s picture, above Sweet Thing’s head), spends her time all over their pasture munching on grass and providing warmth to any young turkey or any guinea who chooses to perch on her thick wool.
Zeus is much more nervous and is happy to stomp his hoof to let you know he means business. We were advised early on to NEVER turn our back on a ram and we have taken that advice to heart. Zeus and “the girls” are separated for now, but the fence between their paddocks will be opened up this weekend in anticipation of spring lambing.
With Zeus separated from the girls, he was pretty miserable. After researching a fair amount my mom said that Zeus needed a friend … and the calves wouldn’t count. He needed a goat. So she scoured craigslist and found our new friend (who thinks he’s a dog), Alfalfa. He wags his tail when you pet him, calls out to you when he hears you nearby, and is naturally a proficient escape artist. Zeus quickly showed Alfalfa who was boss and Zeus’s smile became more genuine after he had a friend.
Sometimes Alfalfa is confused and thinks he’s also a turkey. He’s very talented in his animal impressions: this moment a wall-scaling-goat, the next moment a quiet turkey munching down turkey food, and from time to time a sheep who prefers the woodier weedier plants growing in the pasture.
Midsummer we also picked up two rabbits to raise for meat. It was something Josh was more interested in doing than I was, but I tried to be supportive. We have two mommas who had been with a buck … but no babies, no babies, and no babies. I asked everyone I could think of about rabbits, scoured the internet, and bought The Private Life of Rabbits. I learned that rabbits take a break from their prolific rabbity ways from July – October. So now we have two momma rabbits that have opened bottom crates they live in and are moved daily to fresh grass. Over the winter we plan to house them in the barn above the chickens, who will LOVE scratching at their droppings. Then in the spring we’ll find them a suitable buck.
You might remember our tiny one-week-old piglets we bought last spring, Cedar, Aspen, and Poplar? They are growing fat and happy in the woods near the beehive. They are super friendly (a little too friendly, in fact, when it’s feeding time!) and are completely devoted to each other, snuggling up in their nest. They will be ready for processing late in December.
Floppy is one of our two new gilts. Toppy looks very similar to Floppy, just much bigger! They are sisters, but one apparently was more food-centric as a piglet Both are hanging out with Templeton, a borrowed boar. The assumption (on our part) is that there will be spring piglets from Floppy and Toppy who will be ready to be bacon,
and other stuff, *grumble* and other delicious pastured pork goodness next fall as halves and wholes. These three pigs are in another paddock (they chose not to socialize with Aspen, Cedar, and Poplar) in the woods and clearing out all kinds of brush for us … but mostly lounging in the dappled sun that is coming through the trees more and more.
To round out the pig fun we also recently purchased 5 piglets. They are becoming more and more friendly as they realize we are the hand that holds the grain, maybe? They are adorable and once again I’m surprised at how small piglets are! We’re planning to raise these guys over the winter to be ready for a spring processing at a USDA inspected facility so we have them on hand when the summer market starts again next summer! Always planning ahead. They’ve made quick work of a piece we put them in near the sheep. We’re hesitant to move them because we were told that they aren’t very respectful of electric fence … and chasing piglets who are not people-friendly yet is no fun. Ask us how we know.
Throughout the summer we were having predator problems with our meat chickens. Then we found these two farm dogs:
This is Wesley, a 3 year old Great Pyrenees. He is excellent at what he does, making sure the animals are not taken off by a walking or flying predator. As he’s become more comfortable on our farm his range has grown. He is now just as likely to be walking down the middle of the road as he is to be out in the pasture. So we’ve been leashing him with a 50ft line. We don’t have heavy traffic on Chazy Lake Rd, but we do have fast traffic and we’d be devastated to lose Wesley. So he is unable to range so far, but he’s still mighty effective!
Evie came with Wesley and is a
n attention hog love bug. Her job is also to guard the farm animals … she mostly guards our house and her food. She has a certain line that varies little and she will NEVER cross it, no matter what temptation you might offer. Her range is limited, for sure. She is very enthusiastic with visitors (LOUD bark upon arrival, LOTS of requests of pets).
We also of course, have Eden, our inside Great Pyrenees; Molly, our smaller indoor dog; Maggie, our 17 year old indoor cat; Harry and William, and Brynn, our other 3 indoor cats; and Tiger, our outdoor cat who we inherited from the farm’s previous owners and their inherited before us, back several owners of the farm.
And based on interest we’ve had in Eden and Wesley we may have Great Pyr puppies one day … one thing at a time!
Which animal are you coming to the farm to visit?