June 24, 2010

Foul Fowl

It started a couple of months ago, this fowls play… one of our older peacocks seemed to think he should have the ewes and lambs feed. He would attempt to chase them from their feeder each morning. I also noticed his occasional jump at the girls, though it was nothing I didn’t think they could handle. Each day he was becoming more aggressive with them trying to get to their food. He would peck at their faces and legs. The girls finally would just back away and let the peacock have at it. Nope, not going to have this behavior from a darn bird! I began standing beside the feeder, shooing the peacock away while the ewes & lambs ate.

You might think that this peafowl was hungry, it is not. The peafowl are fed daily, fed well, they also free range around the farm to their hearts content. They eat bugs and such along side the chickens. Not one of our other 14 peafowl displays this type of behavior.

Shortly after this began we were planning on rotating the ewes and lamb out to pasture from the pen so I didn’t think much more about the foul behavior and just watched over the sheep as they ate each day.

You see the peafowl are territorial; the males of our group have established sections of the farm that they watch over. One wanders the front yard and cul-de-sac, another guards the top paddock, another covers the dairy girls’ pen, another the east pasture and so on. This guy’s place is up by the well house and he hangs out around what we call the back yard. I knew he would not follow the girls to the pasture (and he didn’t).

A couple of days before we were to shear we penned the two Angora bucks where the ewes previously where. The boys were to be sheared first and it was the closest pen to the shearing table. Sundance and Jacob being macho manly bucks are not afraid of anything or anyone. Jacob actually gets a bit overly frisky and bucky at times, has even chased me out of the pen once or twice. I am not afraid of him, just know when he gets “bucky” it’s best to stay away. It is a rule of thumb for me, never to turn my back on any of the boys (rams or bucks) and not to place myself in harms way so I don’t.

I raised both the bucks as bottle babies so they have no fear of me. In their world they rule and know no danger from dogs, humans or other animals on the farm. They have large sets of horns and they do use them. It’s a frequent everyday occurrence for Sundance to drop his head and lock horns with Jacob. Sorry I am rambling… the point I was making is that Sundance and Jacob shouldn’t have any problems protecting themselves from the peacock so I left them in the pen.

No problems until yesterday that is, that darn peafowl was actually flogging the boys’ hind quarters in attempt to run them off from the feeder. I am guessing its previous attempts at running the boys off had not worked so flogging was his next plan of attack. The boys ignored the flogging and continued to eat. I on the other hand would have liked to have plucked every single tail feather from his hide at that moment.

This morning I find the peacock hot footing it after Jacob around the fence line, Sundance standing inside the shelter watching the activities. Getting up close and in the pen I see blood on the peacock leg and specks of blood on Jacobs fleece. Jacob is fine, peacock is breathing rather rapidly. Leg is not broken. Wonder what tomorrow will bring in this fowl story?

I reminded the peafowl of the farm rules - Farm Rule #1 - You make Mom mad, hurt her or another animal you are outta here!

When this foul play began, we began looking for a new home for the fowl. We have found a farm willing to take him; it will just be a few days before the new owners are prepared for his arrival. I hope he lives long enough to see his new home.

June 8, 2010

Fiber U

Want to learn more about fiber and what to do with it?
Fiber "U" - Fun, Fiber & You
July 9-11
Cowan Civic Center, Lebanon, MO
This event is also open to the public.
Registration and class information is on the MOPACA. org website.

June 6, 2010

Shearing Days

We sheared the Angoras herd a couple of weeks ago, well Mothers Day to be exact. Decided to shear Selena as well that day... ran into the dreaded greasy rise. To avoid gumming up the shears I took to scissor- shearing her remaining fleece. Ugh! A chore to say the least, though she is sheared.

Greasy rise is a booger to deal with so we waited until the Sunday before Memorial Day to shear the Shetland flock hoping it would be gone. Perfect timing, greasy rise gone, the shears went through their fleece as if it were a warm knife cutting butter.

It takes both Jim and I to shear. Jim pretty much gets the job of escorting the sheep from where ever they might be penned to the shearing table. Our boys seem to know something is up and resist all efforts of being caught, confined or haltered. I purely am not strong enough to fight the fight it takes to move the boys. I can't hold on to them while they popcorn up and down, twist and turn to avoid being handled.

Once they are on the shearing stand they are quiet and still. I can then shear. After shearing Jim gives their yearly vaccinations, I give de-wormer if needed, we take turns trimming hooves, apply the BOSS down their backline, feed a handful of animal crackers along with a lot of praise and good boys. Off the stand they go, on to the next we go.

Our plan was to shear Jackdaw first, then Kelly so both were in the catch pen. We also thought by putting Kelly in the catch pen with Jackdaw for company it would not stress them so badly. While Jim went to halter Jackdaw, I held the gate closed. Jim brought Jackie to the gate, Kelly stood quietly in the back ... the moment I cracked the gate open Kelly saw freedom and bolted! He actually was out of the pen before Jim and Jackdaw, using Jackdaw as a spring board out the gate. Lesson learned - only one sheep in catch pen to shearing stand.

Poor Kelly was not having anything to do with shearing. He was outta there! He headed straight back to the pasture gate, which was open and went to his shelter. We attempted to catch him later on in the day after everyone else was sheared with no luck. Instead of stressing the poor guy any more, plus we were worn slick from the days work we decided shear him the next morning. Always a simple task to catch at feeding time. While they are busy munching we sneak in for the catch.

We finished shearing in the nick of time. The heat of summer arrived quickly after Memorial Day.

I have began re-skirting the fleeces ( I do some the day of shearing, though go back over them a second time when things are quiet). Will have them bagged, tagged and sorted soon. Sister came to visit for two weeks. The days she felt well enough she sat outside with me, knitting while I sorted through the fleece.