Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who is in charge here anyway?

Well it has been a full week since the dog and the goats came home. The barn is not completely done but it is coming together and is pleasantly habitable if you like sleeping in straw and poop. So the animals are OK and their basics needs have been met. I thought today I would share some details (not for the faint of heart!) about having animals. Yes, I am truly an expert, I mean, it HAS been a whole week!

The birds - we have 39 birds in total, 3 are roosters and the rest are hens. They are growing quickly and are probably about half of their full weight now and are 8.5 weeks old. They should start laying here and there at about 20 weeks, and by 24 weeks all the girls should have laid a few eggs. We may get a few more birds sooner that are already laying - a half dozen white leghorns from Glenn - the neighbours and lake people will be very glad as we are constantly asked for eggs and can't seem to get enough in to keep up with the demand. For the most part the chickens have been pretty easy to handle.

The dog, Luki - our Great Pyrenees Mountain dog - fierce protector and cuddly sleeper. No, I haven't slept with him, but he is true to his breed and looks lazy and sleepy when in fact he is saving his energy for his nocturnal heightened awareness to keep everything safe. He definitely likes cuddles, hugs and having his fur brushed. Luki lays in the field or under a tree and casually raises his head to look around. He has not been raised as a pet - although we have fallen in love with him, so being a livestock dog he does not know simple commands like "Come on Luki!" or "sit", etc. Therefore when Len took him on a walk and got home and Luki kept on walking, the only way I could entice him back to the pasture was with a big bowl of food rattling away. It worked... for now.

Luki was a lot thinner when we picked him up than was expected. He is supposed to grow to 150 to 200lbs but I bet he is barely more than 110 at this point. He was skin and bones when we got him. Sad. They say, the breeders, that it was because all of his siblings and the other dogs except for the sire and Alpha male had been sold off. There had also been a heat wave which may have put him off food for a bit, but he seems too thin for me... I think he was suffering from depression. He fits in PERFECTLY! So, we have him on a dog food, dog biscuit for teeth and raw meat diet. Of course I ran out of raw meat and last night when I gave him his dinner he did NOT look too thrilled with me!

Since Luki was a pup compared to the order of the pack in his old home it has taken him about a week to realize that now HE is the Alpha male. For the first 5 or 6 days he was shying away from the goats - we kept telling him - no YOU are in charge! Perhaps counselling to go along with his depression? Do you think that Blue Cross has a plan for dogs? HM? Something to consider! Well, fortunately he has now figured out that HE is the big cheese as they say. He is finally going in the barn with the goats and does not run away when they are near him. He has even growled and pushed a bit to show that he is here to stay and this is HIS barnyard!

You may wonder why I am even worried about him being in charge.... well, let me introduce you to Jack. (This may not be for the little folk or sensitive reader who has never been on a farm!) Jack, is affectionate, he is charming to a degree and he likes to be petted and stroked by ANYONE or anything! When we met Jack and Freya, our Nubian goats, you may recall I mentioned that the dog on that farm had been "helping" Jack with his private parts. I thought, ick, gross and my dog won't be doing that. Well, I am right, my dog does not lick Jack's penis.

Jack however, the incredible bendy goat is able to reach his long neck around and tuck it completely between his legs, while extending his thin (yes long but thin girls!) penis out to it's full length and completely enclose his mouth around it while ... hmmmm... sucking it. YUCK! I thought do I have a DEranged goat? Has he been molested by the other goats? Is he normal??? Sadly, this IS normal male goat behaviour... So... Jack, may not be living on our farm for long. He is pushy, wants to hump anything and everything, he looks sweet and pathetic but when he butts his head up to you and slides his legs along your side, even the nicest, animal lover is going to push him AWAY! 

Of course our goal is for him to reach the goal post with Freya and knock her up with little kids. Freya is smaller, female about a year or so old and ready to breed anytime. Jack is NOT related so he can do the job and clearly has the equipment for it. Of course every time he gets close Freya lets him get excited and when he starts to enter the "gate", she changes her mind and walks away... poor guy he really is frustrated! Apparently he is not aware of making her feel good, a little foreplay, tell her she's pretty and working up to the post rather than just seeing the goal and going for it! (Come on Freya, go INTO heat and let the boy do his job!)

Freya is feisty though, we realized that it was NOT OK for people to feed her over the fence as she escapes looking for more food and then she tries to get Jack to leave with her. Clearly Jack is going wherever Freya wants in hopes of "getting some action". We had to enclose them with a tight door for a couple of nights to make sure they realized they are here to stay and only give them goat feed at night when we got them into the barn. 

Freya's one really bad act, was letting out my precious chickens! She managed to push the lock and open the door on the chicken coop and before we knew it a half dozen were out. Len and I managed to herd and corral all but one that day... This was a matter of us both walking from different sides of the garage, to lead the bird into the building, once she was in, Len would put down the big door and I went through the side door... we then herded her gently to a corner and I picked her up. I gave them all a reassuring cuddle as they must have been scared. It looks like the only ones that went for freedom were the Araucana's and one of my Polish. (I think the Polish was just pushed out in the escape, she was not a willing participant.)

As you may recall, the Polish are my diva's with the hair do's and true to diva nature, they are self-absorbed and not much into self-preservation. We looked all afternoon and I was so upset that my black haired buff coloured girl was gone. It was getting dark, after a rainstorm (chickens can die if too wet) and I saw her in the middle of a field. I had to make sure the goats were away and not following me as I climbed the page wire fence... I was being quiet, trying not to disturb her as I crept toward her. I was afraid she would run or fly away... NOPE. She was so funny and not too bright. She just sat there, in the field, sopping wet with her head tucked in waiting for rescue. She looked up at me with her hair parted in the middle due to the rain and I am sure she was thinking... "Where the hell have you been? This is not in my contract!" ... Well, I dried her off, hugged her and made her feel secure and thought "Next time, you are fox food." Apparently she has no self-preservation instincts.

A week later, well into farming life, our dog has shown his superiority and is now in charge. We have discovered that male goats are gross and should only be used for one purpose. The female goat is good but she wants to let all the other girls out to party and we are great chicken catchers! Photo's to come soon!

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