Click on the image for more information.

Monday, January 6, 2014

State of the Homestead

It's been a while since we've done a state of the homestead report. It's generally pretty quiet during the winter months, but things have been hopping on the animal front.

Rabbits: Belle is gone. She escaped her habitat right before a hard freeze in early December. She was so tame I doubt she had the good sense to know when something was dangerous. If she was killed, all I can hope for is that it was quick. I still look for her when I roam the woods.

Blue has been lonesome so I'd been searching for a companion for two weeks. I wanted another blue New Zealand rabbit but the breeder who had originally sold me these guys had lost her doe too. 

I opted for a white New Zealand while I wait for another blue to show up. I call her Ruby. She's quite sweet and seems to be acclimating well despite only being with us two days. 

Blue is infatuated and clings to her side of the pen, giving her his best come-hither look, but she's not particularly impressed. She's far more interested in the sunflower seeds I bring to the party.

I'll give them some time to get to know each other before I attempt to breed them.

Goats: Heidi and Lucy are probably pregnant. I say that tentatively because they have not shown any signs of estrus and BBQ hasn't shown his amorous side since October. I'll know for sure in March.

I don't know a thing about pregnant goats so all this could be speculation on my part. The girls look heavier but I don't know when they'll start to really "show". Just to be on the safe side, I'll buy any medical supplies next month in case I need them.

Here's a picture of Lucy from a couple of weeks ago. What do you think? Pregnant or not?


BBQ continues to be a thorn in my side.  Whenever he sees me with food, he charges.

To be fair, it's all my fault. 

When Greg goes into the pen, he postures aggressively and pretends to chase after BBQ if he so much as stamps his foot. In response, BBQ keeps a respectful distance from Greg.

But me, I'm his favorite ramming dummy.

As much as I hate to go through the ritual, I've taken a page from Greg's book and make a big fuss, waving my arms around, trying to make myself look bigger than I am. (I'm pathetically small and nonthreatening.)

The hoopla is helping, but it tacks another 15 minutes to my chores every time I go into their pen. I like being very hands-on and visiting often, so in essence he deprives me of spending time with the girls--who adore me (thank goodness).

BBQ injured me pretty badly in December. I could barely walk and was bedridden for almost two days. So now I do the Greg-bluff and we have detente. Every day is a standoff between us.

I'm torn whether to keep BBQ or not. On the one hand, he's a magnificent specimen and I'm sure he'll produce some beautiful babies. On the other hand, if he ever calls my bluff I'll be toast! ...make that jelly. I'm telling you, the Dallas Cowboys should sign this goat as a linebacker.

We'll see what March brings.

Chickens: We've thinned the flock a lot, but we may sell off all the Marans. Much as I like their gorgeous chocolate-colored eggs, they're not particularly good layers. My other girls have already started laying again, while the Marans eat heartily without earning their keep.

When Greg retires, we might raise some quail. They're tiny birds but as I learned from Shelley Munro's blog, ounce for ounce, their eggs have more iron than chicken eggs.

Da Dogs: I'm happy to report that Tank is maintaining. He's like a little grandfather just tottering along, but an interesting phenomenon has occurred. 

Iko, sensing that Tank is no longer able to function as alpha has moved to the forefront. What makes it unusual is that Iko is NOT an alpha in any way. He's perfectly content to be a minion. I think when the time comes he may even let Nana be alpha when she's old enough. He's simply not interested in the job, but he seems to do it out of loyalty to Tank.

On days when Tank feels stronger, Iko just steps back and lets the old man take charge. When Tank is ill, Iko once again takes over for him.

Maggie too has sensed that Tank is stepping down and she's used that as her chance to move up as head dog. Unfortunately, Iko still sees her as an interloper and will not allow her to take over.

They've gotten into some horrible fights--all of them ending badly for Maggie. She just can't figure out why an old labrador is no match for a rottweiler in his prime. :eye roll:

Worse than that, Nana has decided to back Iko and hurls herself into any fight against Maggie.

Their last altercation may have settled the hierarchy issue though. Maggie has returned to her beta role and has stayed out of Iko's way.

Garden: It's time to start seedlings. I hope this will be a better year for my crops. I'm crossing my fingers that the freeze we had a few weeks ago killed the grasshopper eggs already in the ground. But if it didn't, I plan to be more prepared to fight back. 2013 was a pitiful garden year.

Husband: I'm getting one back in July. :Insert happy dance here:

So whaddya think? Is BBQ worth the trouble or should I invite him to a feast in his honor?


Marian Perera said...

The social dynamics of dogs are fascinating, aren't they? I enjoyed reading about that.

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Maria, sounds like you still have your hands full. And July isn't too far off, so that will be nice to have Greg home.

Mike Keyton said...

Ref BBQ Mutually Assured Destruction kept the peace for decades. If you can hold out until July, great. If not shoot the bugger and have done.

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: I don't like to see dogs fight, but it's part of the way they designate hierarchy. Most of the time it's more noise than teeth.

Fortunately, Maggie backs down quickly.

Maria Zannini said...

Jim: It's been very busy lately, especially with the freezes since there are lots of other things to do to keep everything running.

I'll definitely be glad when I have another pair of hands here.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: The only thing that saved BBQ the last time is that I was too injured to shoot him.

The bad thing is he learns quickly. I have to change my bluffing tactics every 2-3 days before he realizes it's his old practice dummy.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I don't have an answer regarding BBQ. Maybe you should just wear armor when you go in to feed him. You know, like the kind hockey goalies wear! Haha!

Or bring in a chair like the lion tamers of old used to do.

I'm sure you'll find something that works. If not, maybe you can just have fun trying stuff! And if you look a little crazy doing it, maybe BBQ will WANT to avoid YOU! :)

Michelle H. said...

You have a very diverse farm life. We had chickens, pigs, cows, dogs, cats and a rabbit when I was a kid. I don't think I would ever try to raise such animals again.

Raising quail sounds interesting. A family neighbor raises peacocks. The pea hens go on little walk-abouts on the other properties, doing the strangest call as they walk in a line.

Dru said...

You have to do what is best for you, but I would let BBQ go.

Darke Conteur said...

Dog interactions are incredible. I love watching how they get along.

I would keep BBQ. There has to be a way to deal with him. Maybe when Gregg is back for good, he'll realize he's not the big man on campus anymore.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wouldn't know what to do about BBQ. I grew up on a farm but we had cows not goats. My dad never let a bull get over about two years old because they became too aggressive. I have stories about those days.
I hope Tank keeps holding in there.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: What aggravates me is that I don't like going through all these steps. The only reason he does this is because he wants to hog all the food.

This deprives the girls so I'm having to keep him occupied while they eat.

One other option I've considered is putting him in his own pen, only it's a lot of work and money.

Maria Zannini said...

Michelle: Greg asked for peacocks but I'm not fond of the racket they make. I'm not sure the neighbors would appreciate it either.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: I'm going to try to hold out through March and see what the girls have.

There's a chance that if I hand raise a boy baby, he might stay gentle--or he might not. All that testosterone is what makes them so ornery.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: And then there's another option of buying buck semen and dispensing with male goats all together.

This requires more skill to artificially inseminate them though and I'm not sure I'm up to it. But it's something I've considered.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I'd love to hear those stories!

Re: Tank
We just take it one day at a time and keep him as comfortable as we can. He has good days and bad days.

Sarah Ahiers said...

re: BBQ

If it were me, i would spend the next two months working really hard with him, to see if i could break his bad habbits or train him so he expresses good ones. I'd give myself an end date, then re-evaluate at that time.

Because, yeah, if he wasn't such an asshole, you'd rather keep him, right?

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: One of the reasons I chose a young buck was to keep him friendly, but when that testosterone kicked in, it threw that out the window.

Once they become 'men', they forget all about their mothers. :sigh:

Rebekah Loper said...

Aww, Ruby is so pretty! Glad Blue has a companion again, even if she isn't crazy about him yet.

On the goats - it's been about a decade since I was last around pregnant goats, but I think they don't start showing until closer to the end of the gestation period. They won't look fat, really, except maybe right when they're beginning to show. They will have a very defined bulge sticking out on both sides right behind their rib cages. Just punch 'pregnant goat' into Google image search and you'll see. How much they 'bulge' will depend on if there's more than one kid in there.

On the matter of BBQ... it's really going to be a question of how much you're willing to put up with. But if I had a goat that had essentially disabled me for two days, I'd be making a really tasty stew out of it.

Your dogs make me smile and chuckle. Good for Iko, standing up for the old alpha like that!

Jess Schira said...

It's easy to say when it's not one of my animals, but on the BBQ front, I'd ship him. I don't have much experience with goats, but I've been around intact, breeding animals my entire life, there's no need for that kind of behavior; it doesn't matter if it's a bull, stallion, or ram. Not only is there a chance that you could get really hurt the next time he calls your bluff, but he could pass that personality on to his offspring.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if BBQ will pass his aggressive bully nature onto the offspring. You sure don't need more of that nonsense in your life. Are all male goats this bad, or do you have a chance of getting a better-natured fellow next time around?

Can you keep him separate from the other goats so you don't have to deal with him when you go into the cage with the others?

Diane Carlisle said...

My female English bulldog was our first, so she was total alpha. Then we brought home Taz, the male. He was just a puppy so Maggie tolerated him, but when he started to outgrow her, she'd start fights all the time.

One time, Taz bit her ear completely off and it cost us a whopping $700.00. From then on we had to keep them separated. Yep, 8 years of separation until Taz kicked the bucket (heart attack).

Angela Brown said...

LOL!! I'm sorry for the giggles but I'm imagining you putting on the bluff for BBQ and I just fall into laughter. You are a petite darling :) But there's unlimited spirit in you so maybe you should hold off the feast in BBQ's honor, though I'm primed to discovered how tender he can be.

I'm that person who doesn't know someone's pregnant until they're having contractions so I won't even pretend to tell if that underbelly looks like it's holding a new life lol!!

And glad that you're getting hubby back. 2014 is going to be a rousing year for you all :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I seem to find lots of pictures of does nearly ready to pop, but few pictures of the months leading up to delivery. Maybe that's why. There's nothing to see. :)

Re: Iko
He's always been devoted to Tank. Tank raised him from a baby. I think it'll be tough on him when his big brother goes.

Maria Zannini said...

Jess: You bring up an excellent point. I remember very clearly how much of a bully BBQ's sire was. He was a huge beast who wouldn't let anyone else eat before him.

BBQ definitely picked up that trait from his dad.

Maria Zannini said...

Marlene: I had mentioned to Jess above that BBQ definitely inherited his bully trait from his sire.

The friends I've had with goats seem to tell the same tale. The only docile buck is the one that's been neutered.

Compared to some people, BBQ is relatively tame. He usually doesn't bother me if I'm empty-handed.

I have several options open. One is to hand raise a male from his progeny. Another is to keep him separate--though that doesn't help me much with the actual problem of his bossiness.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: Many years ago, we had two males Samoyeds who hated each other. We used to keep them separated. Then one day, they got loose while we were gone.

It must've been a heck of a fight, but they finally settled their pecking order. After that, it was never an issue.

Still, it's hard to let them settle it.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Are you laughing at me! LOL.

You know I won't back down from any old goat even if I do look ridiculous.

Re: pregnant
I hear you. I've made it a rule never to assume someone is pregnant unless they tell me.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm so sorry about the bunny. Like you, I hope it was quick and painless. Or, some nice little girl found her hopping along the road and took her home.

The lady goat looks a little thick around the middle to me. Maybe preggo? I don't know. But she looks good.

As for BBQ, no you can't kill him, but you do need to scare the daylights out of him. What about those New Years Eve noisemakers that clack. (You turn them side to side and they clack against some wood or something.) Or blow a new year's eve horn. Those are nasty too. or maybe put cow poop or some other nasty poop in the feed pail once or twice and that will get him off your back. If he thinks you're not bringing him food anymore, maybe he'll leave you alone.

Hope you feel better. Yay for July.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I love that you have a husband category. I also think a bbq for BBQ is a good idea. Maybe you'll find a kinder, gentler goat. ^_^

I'm glad to hear everything's doing well. We just got a diagnosis of diabetes for our oldest dog, Daisy, but she's adjusting well to the medicine. Polly, as the youngest, is adjusting to the frailty of her older sibling by asking to have her ears washed pretty much constantly.

Jenny Schwartz said...

I think you've been incredibly patient with BBQ. What a shame your rabbit ran off and BBQ stayed home ;)

Fortunately, there are lots of trolls online, and now I know that I can send them all to BBQ. He'll work off his aggro, and the trolls will learn an important life lesson :) (I really hope that Three Billy Goats Gruff is a well known tale over your way, or I sound insane)

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: The problem with BBQ is that he learns very quickly. He'll run off the first day if I bang on the fence or use a noisemaker, but the next day, he wises up and knows it's not going to hurt him.

I've got to keep changing my strategies every day. LOL. He keeps me busy.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your baby. At least it's controllable.

Re: Polly
That's like Iko. He's very sensitive to how Tank feels. As his brother continues to weaken, Iko seems to need more petting. I suppose it reassures him.

Re: husband category
I've often considered making an entire blog about the stuff Greg does--but he probably wouldn't like it. ;-)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: OMG, I hadn't thought about the 3 Billy Goats Gruff in ages. LOL.

It definitely fits. If only I could use him for that. At least he'd be useful.

Anonymous said...

The new bunny is adorable. I hope they make friends soon.

I'm no help with BBQ but I don't think I'd put up with him after him injuring you that badly. A separate pen is probably the way to go if you don't stick him on the barbie. Can't say I've ever eat goat. You'll have to report back.

Glad to hear Tank is holding his own. You description sounds so like the wee beasties vying for "alpha" status I had to laugh.

I'm on the fence about a spring garden. I'm hoping to move sooner rather than later and I'd hate to leave the fruits of my labor behind.

Have fun with the hubby ;)

Ellie Garratt said...

It's fascinating reading about the homestead animals and your relationship with them. I do think the girls could be pregnant - the signs are all there. As for BBQ, I'm the last person to give advice. I couldn't get rid of any of them! I think he should stay just because he's quite a character. On the other hand, I'd hate to see you more severely injured. A tough decision.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: I was in the same boat when I sold my last house. I only had a back yard then so instead of vegetables I planted flowers, just to make the place look nice.

I wouldn't want to break my back planting veggies and have someone else eat them either. LOL.

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: LOL. His character might be the death of me.

We have a tense relationship but as long as he thinks I might be a 'menace', we manage.

Shelley Munro said...

If you have to deal with BBQ every single day then I'd get rid of him, Maria. There could be that one time he catches you unaware and really hurts you badly. There's also the possibility that he hands these grumpy, nasty traits on to his offspring.

Sorry to hear about your rabbit. I'm so glad we don't have the predators you do over there. I think that every time i read your posts.

I look forward to some quail stories. As I said previously we have wild quail that we see while we're walking Bella.

Misha Gericke said...

Mmm... I think you should see if he did the job. If he didn't he's not worth the trouble.

(Sorry if that sounds coarse, but living on a farm does that to me. ;-))

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: We saw some quail for sale at a local trading post and we rather liked them. I think they'd be a good addition.

We would've gotten them there and then but I have enough on my hands right now.

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: This is why we want to wait until March. We'll see what kind of kids he throws.

As the girls get closer to delivering, I'm keeping his hard head in a small pen. I don't want him bothering the does. They have enough on their minds.

Rula Sinara said...

You're updates are always so interesting. And your goat as a Dallas Cowboy linebacker...too funny ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: There's never a dull moment around here--as my bruises often tell. :)

Cate Masters said...

A BBQ'd BBQ? Aw, poor thing. He needs to be shown who's alpha first.
Congrats on getting your hubby back! Lots of new/old things in store - best of luck!

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: His name was Billy before he started mowing me down. LOL.

LD Masterson said...

Just reading about everything you've got going on down there makes me tired. I hope Blue and Ruby hit it off and start making baby bunnies for you. At least Blue doesn't ram you when you get near.

Perhaps you should smack BBQ just once across the head with a strong stick, then carry the stick with you and see if he gets the message.

Keep us posted on sweet Tank.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I've given him a good smack on the nose when he starts to charge me. It usually drives him off. Hitting him on the head does no good whatsoever. Remember, they use their heads to attack. It's like hitting solid rock.

Re: Tank
Tanky send his love. :)