Puppies, puppies, puppies

They are all doing well and settling into their new homes. We’ve decided to keep Kishi and find Mica a home.  Bringing up two litter mates is never a good idea.  I would really have preferred to keep a male puppy, but none of the males appealed to us as much as Kishi has.  She’s a delightful little creature.

We’ve got two garden beds planted with hoops and screen to keep the chickens out.  Wild morning glories are trying their best to take over, but I’m winning the battle. I planted green beans, cucumbers, nasturtiums, Teddy Bear and Mexican Sunflowers, basil, oregano, melons, garlic chives and I can’t remember what else.  Most of what I planted was in seed.  Next year, I’ll start most of my vegetables, herbs and flowers in flats so I’ll have a better idea of placement within the beds.  If all goes well, we’ll finish the third bed this weekend.

I’ve decided to put Merlin up for sale; I may regret that decision, but he’s simply too much of a pain in the ass to deal with.  It simply isn’t worth wasting the ten acres that we are slowing fencing in on two horses.  I can’t put goats or the cows back there because he’ll chase them.  I need to make certain that Al Bin will ignore them before I finalize the decision to sell Merlin, but I’m pretty sure he’ll mingle with both the goats and the cows without harassing them.  Merlin is simply a shithead and life is too short to deal with shitheads.

It’s really too hot and humid to do much of anything outside these days.  I finished milking around 8 AM and was dripping wet with sweat.  My sweating didn’t have as much to do with milking as it did chicken wrangling.  We’ve got chickens and ducks sitting everywhere and they don’t stay put where they start out.  It’s a constant game of musical nest boxes and it’s hard to know what nest is occupied by a sitting hen or duck.  This morning I broke an egg into a frying pan and it contained a started chick.  Nasty!  I caught up all the sitting hens and their eggs and put them all into a spare dog run.  I set them up a covered nesting area.  That’s where they’ll have to stay if they are insisting on sitting.  The nesting boxes need to be kept free for egg laying.  Originally I thought letting the hens and ducks raise young was the way to go, but the mortality rate is high.  We recently discovered that the chickens are killing the ducklings!  Last week, a duck hatched out eight ducklings.  Today she’s down to three.

Snakes have become a bit of a problem as well.  Over the weekend, we discovered two black snakes raiding a nest that was originally occupied by a duck and a chicken.  The chicken hatched out one chick and who knows if any of the duck eggs would have hatched out or not.  I relocated both snakes, probably not far enough away.  Last night, Wally mowed the poultry pasture which had become out of hand.  Hopefully the mowed grass will deter snakes.  From what I’ve heard, other farms in the area are having problems with snakes eating eggs.

Gwen is officially dried off and seems to be doing well.  She spends most of her time out in the front or side pastures.  The grass is so tall out there, I often have to go “in search of” to find her.  Apparently the tall grass is the best thing she can be eating now in the last two months of her pregnancy.  The roots of tall grass go deeper where they’ll bring up more minerals.

Unfortunately, we are about to become bombarded with company and Gwen will temporarily loose access to the lush grass.  Not our company, but that of our landlord’s.  They have family coming from out of town and some of them will be staying down at the pond.  The pond will become the meeting/greeting place.  That means the four-legged animals, including Rose will have to be kept up.  We’ll buy a round bale of hay to install in the goat pasture to keep Gwen fed.  I can’t complain, we pretty much have the place to ourselves most of the time.

Can I tell you how much I hate feeding bottle babies?  It’s cute and fun at first, but now it’s nothing more than a pain in the ass.  Hopefully our next beef cow will be raised by Gwen … it will suck if she has a heifer.  We are raising this year’s breeding buck and a companion on the bottle.  I can’t very well wean them or Spot as they are just three months old.  Most people would have weaned them by now, but it is in their best interests, especially the breeding buck, to be fed milk for as long as I can stand it.  We originally were considering trying to find a way to keep this year’s buck into next year, but I don’t think we’ll be able to manage that.

I think next year I am going to buy an Oberhasli buck from a local breeder that leaves the kids on their dams until weaning age. The Oberhasli is a Swiss dairy goat and looks quite like an Alpine. I honestly don’t care about purebred animals and believe that mixing breeds, as long as they are from good dairy lines, is good for hybrid vigor.  Even though I’m feeding this year’s buck well, he’d be fed a whole lot better if he were still on his mother.  The one doe we are keeping back this year is still on her mother and she’s growing amazingly well.  Most dairies and goat breeders take the babies off their mothers as soon as they are born.  This is so that they can limit the amount of milk the babies consume (so there will be more milk for the dairy) and because the bottle fed babies are usually tamer than those that are dam-raised.  That may very well be true, but if the temperament of the dam is solid, then the babies’ should be as well.  We’ve found that to be true about the doe we are keeping.  Her mother has a lovely temperament and she’s passed that on to her baby.

Until later …