Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Friends and an Old Enemy

A tragedy struck Wrensong about a month ago. One of my favorite ewes, Ellen, my black gulmoget was taken by a mountain lion.
I still find myself looking for her every time I go down to the barn. She loved a good skritch and was such a sweet girl.

I am an admirer, and hold no animosity towards both mountain lions and coyotes, just not when they come after my livestock/pets. I met a mountain lion face to face when I was riding my horse on the mountain behind our house. It was a life altering moment and burned permanently in my brain. He was one of the most gorgeous animals I have ever seen.

I must admit I had become a bit complacent. I had a Jacob lamb taken about 1 1/2 years ago which made me replace all my fencing (it had been mostly NZ for my horses at the time) with no climb and a hotwire run on top. Had no problems until this.

I am fully aware that having other prey animals as guardians is iffy at best, they do seem to work great for the coyote or two that finds their way onto the farm, but a cougar is a completely different story.

That said, I'm hoping if nothing else, total confusion and mayhem (between the braying donkeys, peacocks, guineas, llama and dancing emus...) will help the sheep get the time they need to get to safety.

Introducing Gallo. Shannon of Kenleigh Acres was kind enough to offer him to me. He has plenty of experience being a guard.
I love the way he is so bonded with his girls already. When I was catching and loading up some Jacobs I had sold he was right there, concerned, humming a question at me the whole time. When I open up a pasture he checks the perimeter of the fence, sniffing and looking for any present danger.

Next, is Rosebud (formerly Dolly), a donkey rescued from an auction where the only other bidders were men that wanted to use her for roping practice. Thanks to Pat in Portland for letting me have this sweet girl.

Jasmine initially was unsure about the addition of ANOTHER donkey. After all she IS the QUEEN of the barnyard. She stood, with her ears back, next to my friend, Tara, and I and just looked at Rosebud romping and playing about the pasture. She glared at Rosie every time she came near. A couple of days later, however, and she must have decided it was great to have a friend of her own persuasion.

NEXT, peafowl. I had a lonely male that I absolutely love. I know a lot of people say they are SO noisy, but I'm here to tell you they don't hold a candle to my guineas. I contacted a wonderful lady, Karen, on the Oregon coast. She convinced me that peacocks like guineas need to be in a group for survival. That way one can always be on the lookout for the other while they eat. (And of course, more sets of eyes watching the better). So, the peacock count is now at 9.

I had placed the peas in a dog kennel with netting and a tarp over the top to help them to get acclimated to the area and all the other animals. We had some snow again which did a number on the tarp/netting and some of the peas managed to escape. It actually worked out well, as they wanted to stick close to their friends that were still in the kennel and they were able to meet the single boy and develop a relationship with him. One by one they escaped (I had decided to not repair the netting as this seemed to be a good way to release them), until I only had two left in the pen. I finally let those two out and then they all went walkabout. I e-mailed the neighbors and asked them to watch for the wayward peafowl. I got e-mails and phone calls as they made their way around the mountainside. I tried a couple of times to go herd them up but they were gone by the time I arrived where they were last seen.

Still a bit of confusion as to who they should be trying to impress......

I had just begun to think that we now had a "neighborhood" peafowl flock when they showed back up on our property. They have remained here since (though I have no doubt that they go walkabout during the day when I'm not home). They sleep up in a big fir tree on the property and I can't wait for the day when the boys have those beautiful sweeping tails. As for noise? I think I have heard one or two peacocks do a short call probably 3 times in the last couple of weeks.

The surprise of the month was the addition of a little female quail that showed up on our place. She is so cute and tiny running in and out of the big birds eating what she can. I figure she must think she is a small guinea fowl or that they are really large quail because she has taken to hanging with them.

Another new addition is Thunderhead Jet. A lovely little ewe, a fading black from Flett lines, from Quintin and his Mom, Mylrea. I had a wonderful time visiting with them and their family and seeing their farm and sheep. Unfortunately they recently had a cougar attack and lost a favorite ewe that was getting ready to lamb.

Jet recently was sheared but here is a pic of what she looks like in full fleece:

The rest of the pics are just some I took of some of the ewes down in the pasture, and my latest witchhazel in bloom.





Arnold's Promise Witchhazel



Corinne R. said...

I am so sorry about Ellen, she was a beauty.
It looks like you have quite the protection posse now though, so hopfully everyone will be safe and sound.
Loved the little quail with the have to wonder what she is thinking.

Sharrie said...

Missed you. Love your picture particularly of the bunch of sheep and the llama. Hope your protection animals work for good and for real!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Gosh Tammy!!! I have SOOOOO missed you!
I'm so sorry about the loss of your beautiful Ellen. Cougar attacks are my greatest fear living up here and we've seen them not far from here, too.
I hope the cougars stay away from your farm from now on.

Gallo is the coolest llama ever (even cooler than mine! hehe) He looks as if his face was painted, like a jester. He's gorgeous...especially those white eyelashes. And what a good guardian, too.

Oh! And how fun for Jasmine to have a new friend. They look happy together.
The quail is so cute. I've always had a thing for quail. Funny how that one is all alone, though. They usually travel in flocks. Must be that she thinks the guineas are her flock.

Your newest sheep Jette has lovely fleece. All of yor sheep are looking great. Are you preparing for shearing time soon? I can't remember what you do with the wool? Sell? Process? Spin? Knit?

I want to shear my two so badly, but we can expect more snow over the next two months, so I suppose I should wait a little longer.

Anyway, I'm so glad to see you back to posting again....a month is way too long to stay away my friend!!

What else have you been up to?


Susan said...

Tammy, it's so good to see your post today! I've been wondering about you and hoped everything was okay. I'm so sorry to hear about your great loss. She was a beauty.

Your new animals are wonderful! I love them all, especially that little quail. She looks right at home with those really large quail. :) Welcome back!

Ishtar said...

Tammy! So glad to have you have again! So sorry about Ellen - it's such a loss when we lose our flock members!!! And she was lovely too. Gallo looks super cool! I have no experience with llamas but having him as a guarding must be wonderful! And he seems to have such a cool personality too!
Sheba sends you a big hug! She has been growing so much lately. I am sure she would adore lion hunting as long as we did it together, lol! She's the closest to a personal body guard & assistant I will ever have!!

Warm greetings from us in West Africa and a big, big hug to you!

Ishtar said...

Oh, I forgot to say: peafowls were never my favourite but they are NOTHING compared to guineafowls!!! Those critters makes me wish I had a gun, during the nights (!) when they go off at two, four and six (we sleep outdoors). I keep wonder if I will ever learn to sleep through their racket!

Eve said...

oh!!! This is so sad Tammy. I hope that cougar doesn't come back. It would be nice if you could just pepper him once with buckshot. I love the new gang and that little quail with the guineas is so sweet. Good luck, I really hope you don't have to go through that again. Nice to see you back Tammy!

Tina T-P said...

Glad to see you back - sorry to hear about your loss - the new guard llama has such a distinctive face! T.

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry about the loss of Ellen, it is so hard to lose one. I am glad you are back, I have missed your posts. Your animals are beautiful!

I need orange said...

I'm so sorry for your loss of Ellen.

It's easy to enjoy the wild creatures until they impinge on our lives a bit tooooo closely. I know my feeling about squirrels is different since we had that one in the house! I still don't like to go in the room where it was trapped for three days...................

And that was perfectly harmless, in comparison to a critter that eats your friends............

I love your new critters, and look forward to more stories and pics! GLad Jasmine decided another donkey was ok!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

What a great catch-up post, although so sad to hear about you losing your wonderful gulmoget.... I'm sure you'll get resupplied with that pattern soon, although no one will take her place. :-)

I never would have recognized Bevin, all grown up. The rest look different, too, au naturalle. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to have you back blogging, but so sorry to hear of your loss. If it helps, when I lived in Florida, we had a donkey fight off a cougar. Two donkeys and llama sound like a serious determent. Cougars are gorgeous creatures - hope yours stays on his/her side of the fence from now on.

Karen B. said...

So sorry to hear about the tragic loss of your gulmoget. I'm glad you're back to blogging, once again your pictures are wonderful, and your new critters are pretty neat. I'm especially fond of your donkeys. Hope to see more pictures soon!

the7msn said...

Welcome back, my friend! Figured something big was up, and am so sorry for the loss of your dear Ellen. How busy you've been filling up your barnyard! I'm very much looking forward to Jasmine and Rosebud stories. With a little help from Gallo, I'll bet they can take on any trespassers that come your way.

Kara said...

Oh NO! Tammy I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful Ellen. Sounds like you have fortified things around there. Love your beautiful additions. I hope your big cat troubles are over.

Christy said...

Your sheep are so beautiful! We have coyote here and I'm still trying to decide what we're going to do about them. So far, I'm stalling the animals at night, but I don't think the stall is totally coyote proof. Trying to decide if we want a guard animal and if so what type. Are your donkey's good with the sheep? I've heard a few stories about donkies being really rough with sheep.

shadow mountain jacobs farm said...

So glad to see you back to blogging, I have missed your posts. Sorry about your little Ellen, she was a pretty girl and I also like the cougars but not on my side of the fence. I hope your new guard animals help the cause. Ms. Constance is doing just fine. I will let you know if she is pregnant next month when I have her sheared. I love your little quail visitor, we use to have them when we lived in Calif.

Anonymous said...

So good to have you back in blogland :) It has been great seeing you recently and I am so happy to see Gallo making the rounds. You have added some fun critters recently - I love Rosie and I am glad to see that Jasmine has agreed she is ok to hang out with. I would be scared to dine at your place if I was a coyote or cougar - sounds pretty intimidating!

Ruth said...

Love 'em! Especially the ewes. So sorry about the one you lost.

Your setting makes them all even more beautiful. Lots of work, thanks for sharing.

I'm glad you're back, Tammy.

nessabates said...

I have always wanted a farm! I attempted once with chickens, pigmy goats & Geese. We live near the wild too and I had too many losses and it was heart wrenching for me and the kids. I finally gave up! You have some adorable animals!

goatgirl said...

Yeah, I'm glad you're back! Poor Ellen. It sounds like you have plenty of back-up now though. The llama and donkey should do the trick although I have been having trouble with my neighbor's chihuahua maiming my chickens and the llamas just stand by. I guess they don't see it as a threat or they don't care about my chickens, one or the other.
Welcome back.