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?