Sunday, June 24, 2012

Animal Updates

I may (may meaning definitely) have been negligent in sharing some news about the farm animals around here.  Like the fact that A. sold his purebred Cotswolds.  Including Bonnie, my own particular nemesis.

The reason for selling the Cotswolds was simple: They had become completely unmanageable for A.  The expanded size of the flock this year meant that A. had to find other ways to get them to grass.  Luckily, we have really nice neighbors who don't mind the sheep on their properties. As long as they are contained enough that the sheep don't end up on their porches, eating their flowers.  So A. got some electrified net fence specifically for sheep and used it to set up temporary pastures for the sheep when their regular pastures were getting too eaten down.

The Cotswolds, however, found that they could run right through the netting.  Apparently the shock they experienced in the charging of the fence was temporary enough that they decided it was worth it to break out.  Which they did.  Over and over and over.  A. kept having to retrieve them from the neighbors' lawn at five in the morning. Cotswolds are also very, VERY loud sheep, so the breaking out would always be accompanied by bellowing from them because the rest of the flock wouldn't always follow, leading to much talking of the sheep back and forth.

This was obviously no good for our relationship with our neighbors.  After one particular day when they got out half a dozen times before 9 a.m., A. just put an ad on Craigslist.  Since he was selling only the purebred Cotswolds, which are not that common around here, he got a call and a guy showing up to buy the sheep within 24 hours.  A. was very sad to see them go, as they were his very first sheep and good mothers, but the guy who bought them has quite a lot of acreage and a fairly large flock already that he's trying to move more towards Cotswolds.  So we know they went to a good home.

Know what?  I don't miss them AT ALL.  The sheep flock is now quiet and well-behaved and a significant source of stress has been removed from our lives.  Good riddance, says I.

Not good riddance, however, is the sad disappearance of the surprise chicks.  They were starting to mix more with the flock, but hadn't yet gotten to the point that they were going into the coop at night.  Then one night last week, the MiL heard a late-night cat (and dog) fight and went out in the morning to find a large male feral cat dead on the driveway.  We figure it probably ate the chicks.  And then the dogs killed it.  Not a good situation for anyone.  So we are once again chick-less, though it's possible one of the other hens (or maybe even the hen that just lost her chicks) may decide to set.  We'll see.

Also, we have tons of birds' nests and babies around the house that we're currently monitoring (blue jays, Baltimore orioles, and Carolina wrens) and the dogs may have finally exterminated the baby rabbits that were eating the garden.  Plus A. trapped a large rabbit near the garden fence that had pretty much decimated everything in that corner--including my lovely beets (DAMMIT)-- so maybe my plants will be safe now.  Temporarily, anyway.

I think that's all for the animal updates.  Although stay tuned!  You never do know what animal hijinks may ensue at Blackrock in the future.

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