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