Above all, try something. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Skunk Terror Alert Reduced to Low

Love for the Sandhill Crane
Thought I'd start out with some cool shots of this cool bird, the Sandhill Crane. I have been fascinated by them since I've moved here. There loud calls are very cool to me. Last night I came upon one nesting, and quickly got outta there so I didn't disturb her or him. She seemed to really be hunkering down and hoping I wasn't seeing her.
Here's the beautiful nesting zone, zoomed out. What a spot!!

Skunkers Log
I don't know what it is. The fellow I work for, who owns the property I take care of, and recreates on it frequently, has told me he never saw skunks before I got here. I feel like I'm always running into them. The last few months, we've had numerous run ins with a skunk. Once, he came all the way up on the back deck, while Katie and Andrea made jellies in the kitchen. Another time, he sprayed the driveway area for reasons I don't know. Another time, he ran under my legs as Katie climbed up the ladder to the hay barn. You could only the imagine the screaming that took place as I begged her to go faster up the ladder.

After the ladder incident, I figured it was time to get rid of him. I set up a live trap with a small cup of pig feed in it. After a few failed attempts, this morning I opened up the doors to the barn to this:
 Luckily I tied a long length of bailing twine to the trap before I set it so that I could drag him out of the barn. 
 Here's my first real look at him.
 During his commute to the truck, he passed by the horses, who wanted NO part of this scene! Very upset.
 After only a small release of skunk essence, I realized that he couldn't spray while he was in the trap. I think because he couldn't raise his tail high enough. However, I wasn't totally convinced. I sat here for a few minutes debating how to get the trap into the truck. I wanted to bring him somewhere far away from where I work every morning.

People recommend drowning a skunk so that he doesn't release his essence upon death.  I thought about that, but really had a hard time putting him in the creek. I kind of felt that it wasn't a humane thing to do. I actually contemplated driving far off and dropping him off. I know, he's a skunk, but I am a bit sensitive to living animals. He is stinky, but really kind of cool. And he eats bugs, snakes, small mice.....and chickens. Oh yeah!! He eats chickens. And he ate some of OUR chickens. So I decided to drive him up the road a way, with a .22 in the truck.
 RIP Little Fella.
The animal lover in me got a bit sad from this photo. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Things Were Never Meant to Grow

Life around the Double F has been nothing short of busy as of late.
Let's see here, since my last post we have: welcomed a new baby doeling into our lives, successfully opened a local children's art school, lost the same newborn baby doeling at only five days old, had our first disbudding experience with our two week old doeling kids, received about 20 inches of new snow, and sowed our first seeds into the garden.
Runty ended up giving birth to a single baby doeling the last Friday in April. She had an easy delivery, with Madeline up and standing within minutes of being born. Unfortunately, by the following morning newborn Madeline was showing signs of weakness, and we never saw her feed on her own again.
With several days of attempted bottle feedings, additional heat lamps installed, and forced vitamin drenches already behind us, we lost Madeline on Tuesday evening.
We did all that we could, and she most likely had some sort of internal birth defect that would not allow her to digest properly.
It was a very sad experience, with lots of sleep lost, and stressed foreheads rubbed.
In the end, however, I realize everything happens for a reason, and Runty being only 2 years old, has many more breeding seasons to look forward to.
She was a very good mother while it lasted and still producing about 3 quarts of milk a day for us.
Happy to be let out of the kidding pen in which she was on lock down for the five days Madeline was with us, she has taken to watching after Janet's very busy kids when Janet is in need of a break.
 Here is a shot of Runty with Madeline just seconds after her birth.
 Look at how big our chicks and poults are getting! They recently have started going outside their little coop for some leg and wing stretching. The turkeys are the big ones on the right in the photo above and are quite vocal lately.
 Baby Flo and Pinkie and getting huge. We used our new electric dehorner to brand their incoming horn buds on Tuesday. This activity, called dis budding, will permanently damage the incoming horns at the skull, not allowing them grow at all. While some people allow their goats to grow their horns, they can be a major nuisance if you plan to spend alot of time around your herd. Being aggressive animals, horns can cause serious damage to other animals and humans. As long as you protect your herd adequately from predators, there is no need for them to ever grow. This can be thought of as similar to declawing a cat.
And yes, the branding hurts, for ten seconds. We then spray them down with a burn spray like Solarcaine to prevent infection and cool off the painful burn, and off they go, like nothing even happened. The scab will form in about a day, heal in about a week, and there you go. No horns!
 Above you can see Flo not having too many hard feelings for me even though I burned her head with a hot branding iron. The pink ring around the horn bud is the scab. I know it doesn't bother her at all, as she is CONSTANTLY playing the 'head-butt game' with me, Pinkie, trees, and anything else she finds in front of her.
 You can only imagine how impossible it is to take a picture of these two lately. The only time they are still is when they are asleep. Speaking of, as of Wednesday evening, I have started separating Flo and Pinkie from Janet for 12 hours per night to aid in the weaning process. This also ensures that I will get a good surplus of milk first thing in the AM from Janet, as the kids have not had a chance to nurse since the prior afternoon.
As of today I am getting about 2 quarts of milk in the AM and 1 quart of milk in the PM from the combined does. I can say enough how much we are LOVING it.....long overdue!
 Bok Bok Bok...
You can see above how the little chicks and poults have their own separate area from the adults. This helps with the socialization process, and bullying can really be a problem among birds of different ages.
Janet with Pinkie and Flo. They are getting so big they can barely fit underneath her!
The garden soil is looking great lately. Although I still have a house full of strong green seedlings, and the garden soil is more than ready, I refuse to put them in the ground before June! I did, however plant my peas and beet seeds yesterday, and can't wait to see what happens. Well, I think that's all for now, and I should probably get back to planning my next art lessons.
I hope this spring finds everyone doing well, and I hope to catch up on our blog very soon.
Hugs and muddy boots~ The Jack Creek Coyles