Thursday, July 01, 2010

Farm Update, etc.

It's been a little while since I posted about our little farm.

Our calves are doing well! We fenced the front and back pasture areas well enough that the boys are always out grazing. That's what they do all day, every day. Pretty much. We de-horned* them and castrated them, and after that they had the worst 6 hours of their lives, but they're fine now, and they've forgotten all about it.

The calves are suuuuper cuddly. They are the friendliest guys in the world. They both love to be scratched. When I go out into the backyard, often one (or both!) of the calves will come up to me to be scratched. They stick their necks out, so that I can reach to scratch their chins, and their necks, and I'll scratch behind their ears, and their little bangs, and their foreheads, and they just soak it up. If I'm busy, or stop scratching, they'll rub their neck against me, so that I know what they want.

The calves usually come when I call them. I'll call, "C'mere boys!" and they come running. This is helpful if they have gotten somewhere they're not supposed to be.**

When we brought the calves home, they had ropes around their necks. We left them on, and it helped us tell the calves apart. I think we could probably tell them apart without the ropes, but eh, just to be sure, we've left them on. They are also helpful for directing them to particular places. The calves are getting BIG, though, and the ropes have been getting tight. So about a week ago, I got them collars. IFA was having a sidewalk sale, so I bought cheap collars in basically the same colors as their ropes were. I feel like they need bells, because don't calves wear bells around their necks? J tells me he can't think of any useful reason to put bells on them, and it's true--I can't think of any reason to bell the calves either. Oh well.

I have the funniest video of the calves with Paley. I need to figure out how to post it, I guess. See, [months ago] I used to come home, and sometimes Paley would be all wet. Half of her head would be wet, or she'd have a big wet blotch for a couple inches on her tail... and I started to wonder whether the calves were licking her.

They were!

Paley would go up to the calves, and rub against them, and the calves would lick her! Except, their mouths are so big (and they're so slobbery) that they soak her.

One time J and I were out with the calves and we saw it happen. Too funny! We laughed and laughed. We were like, that's so weird! But then I told J, cats lick each other.*** And J was like, "Oh, yeah! They speak her love language!" and that made me laugh too, because it was like, "of course!"

The calves are great. We like them. The very best thing, I think, is when I go outside and Stew first sees me. He looks up at me, kind of like the dramatic chipmunk YouTube video. I feel like he's thinking: "*GASP!* SHE'S HERE! You're here, finally!" Often he'll start walking out towards me, to say hello.

The chickens are mostly doing well.

We moved them to a different area (because the calves were EATING the chicken coop. Hey!) so they have plenty of space to dig around and eat bugs. When we put them in their area, it was grassy, but now it is just dirt, because they tear up the grass so effectively.

When we had moved them before, one of our chickens went missing. It was Gertie, from the chicks that we actually raised. I mentioned to J that I wondered whether she might have gotten out and ended up across the street with the flock across the street. She did! Our neighbor came over one time, and we were talking about chickens and she asked if we had lost one of our birds a few months ago. Actually, yes!

She said a new bird had shown up at their house, and the bird kind of stayed to herself. Our neighbor had wondered if the bird might be ours, since she thought we had birds too. J went over later and picked her up. Gertie was so skinny! And! Our birds didn't remember her. It was pretty sad. They all pecked at her, and chased her. So she started spending a lot of time on top of our chicken coop. Poor girl! She spent every night on the roof of the chicken coop.

Gradually she has integrated back into our flock. She's fattened up again, too. Now, several of our birds spend some time on the roof of the coop. It's kind of a pain, because they poop all over it, so I hose it off but it often looks dirty.

We started irrigating this year. When we water, snails come out! They slide all over our ag water pipes, and they climb all over our water access places. I pick them up by their shells and toss them to the chickens. What a treat! The girls love snails. They all cluster together and it's like watching a game of football--one bird will grab the snail, and start running, and everyone will follow, and try to get the snail. Awesome.

Yesterday morning when I went out to take care of the birds, I found that our white bird with more black was dead. I think she died of natural causes. She was one of the older ones, and it didn't look like anything interesting had happened.

We also recently picked up our final addition to our farm: a goat! She is a Nubian doeling. Nubians are the best milk goats, so J really wanted that kind. They are also the least pleasant, supposedly. Their bleat is kind of annoying. We named our girl "Feta" and she is about 4 months old, so we plan to start milking her probably next March.

She was very nervous about coming to our house, but she fits in very nicely. She feels like she is part of a herd with the calves. She just follows them around. Feta is very friendly! Especially for a Nubian. The family we bought her from had 4 young children, so the goat definitely got her share of love from them, and I think it made her a very patient goat. She lets people touch her and she is not aggressive at all**** (except with Chalcy! Poor Chalce!), so she's pretty nice.

It's very funny because the kids next door are SUPER interested in our animals. They love to come up along their side of the fence, and watch our calves. They like the goat even better, though. Yesterday I saw them outside bleating at her. It was the funniest thing! The calves are mostly quiet. (They only 'moooo' once in awhile, when they're really hungry and they think we've forgotten them.) The goat bleats fairly often, though. Not all day, or anything, but quite a bit, and a few times a day. So the boys 'bleh, bleh, bleh'-ed at her from the fence, and she would turn around and look at them, and sometimes 'bleh' back to them.

Well, Chalcy is crying because she is Not Allowed to play inside today (because of the work I'm doing), and she does not like to play outside Without Me. I think it's nap time, and time for me to get back to work. I do feel like I have so, so much to blog about, but this is a good start, eh?*****

* (Not for the weak of stomach:) For dehorning, we used a paste to burn the root of the horns. I think it hurt them a lot and they hated it. For castration, we used a band castrator, which is basically a contraption that stretches a really really tight rubber band, and then you stick the whole thing over their parts, and then let the handles close, and roll the rubber band off. I think this actually didn't hurt them much.
** A couple weeks ago, J moved the calves into the back pasture and forgot that he hadn't closed the fencing on the other side of the house. In the morning he was leaving for work and as he drove out of the driveway, he stopped and came running back towards me-- "Em! The calves are out! Come help me bring them back!" So I put Chalcy in her crate, and went to help him bring the calves back. He was trying to tug on the ropes around their necks, and they weren't too interested. They were hanging out in the middle of the road, in front of our house. (And I thought ducks in the road was funny...) So, not a good place for them. "C'mere! Chuck! Stew! C'mere boys!" I got them excited and started jogging in front of them, toward their other pasture. So they started trotting and followed me. Of course.
*** I remember at the Humane Society, when I adopted Paley they told me she was a really sweet kitten and she had gone around grooming all of the other kitties that were in the same cage as her. If cats lick each other, it means they're being sweet.
**** Except with Chalcy. Poor dog!
***** Happy Canada Day!


Jessica said...

I love calves!!! You should bring those to Canada Day. (But probably not really.

Ashley and Garrett said...

Do you remember Greg (He was from PA)...his name was "Italianstud" or "rugmuncher" or something..

Anyway (He's on facebook), but for real, anyway..he told me a story a really long time ago about how his family bought a calf and they let his little sister name it, and she named it Norman, and she thought it was her pet..and then they ate it..and Greg was like, "How do you like Norman?!?"

I always think of that story and laugh...although,'s not FUNNY....but..alas.