Some bad news... some good news
First the bad news: our poor little Betty seemed to be improving with all the tender, love and care Kevin was providing her, but it became obvious she wasn't going to recover. Kevin thinks she had a stroke. She kept losing her balance and toppling over. She was eating and drinking, but she couldn't walk. Kevin would pick her up, tip her over and wash her behind (she was sitting in her feces) then would place her in a new, clean spot. Last Tuesday, she took a turn for the worse and Kevin couldn't watch her suffer. Kevin did the deed: a machete was involved. Rest in peace, little one. We're down to 13 Bettys now. They're all doing well, thank goodness.
Now for the good news: we got a call from the dairy farm in Copey to say they had two baby bulls for us (no cost... we like that!). A black Holstein, which we call Jackson (after Samuel L. Jackson) because although he's just a week old, he's going to be a hefty fella. He's already incredibly strong and very demanding. He's always hungry and doesn't like to be kept waiting. The light brown one is a Jersey and we call him Redford (after Robert, for his sandy blond hair and long eyelashes... he's quite the looker). Now Redford hadn't eaten for three days when Kevin picked him up and when Kevin tried to feed him, he wasn't interested. He was spindly thin and survival was in question. Kevin called our friend Danilo (Seidy's husband... my friend from the Copey Learning Center) to see if he had any suggestions. Danilo and Seidy have had cows for several years so Kevin figured Danilo would be able to help. Danilo came by and stuck a tube down the baby's throat and fed him a special electrolyte drink. Since then, Redford has been drinking milk. At first, he would only drink a little bit (half a litre), but today he downed nearly 3 litres... at breakfast and at dinner. Although he's the same age as Jackson, he's considerably smaller. The Jersey breed is smaller, for sure, but his beginnings have had an effect on his growth. Hopefully, he's out of the woods and will get stronger with each passing day.
For now, because they're so small, we keep them in the shelter Kevin and Martin built to keep them safe. They're not ready to eat grass yet anyway, but it won't be long... another week or so and they'll start roaming the pasture for a few hours during the daytime. Martin's bulls (Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Rambo) are all doing well and getting quite big. We hardly see them anymore. They're enjoying the space to roam freely within our 15-acre pasture (no more escaping... which is a very good thing).
Spring has sprung
I know, it's a bit weird for anyone living in the northern hemisphere to think about spring as the leaves are falling and the air gets chillier, but for us, we're getting closer to summer. It's still the rainy season, and to be fair, we only experience two different season.... dry and wet.
These little broccoli/alfalfa seedlings are ready to transplant in the larger containers in our newly built greenhouse. In about a month or so, the rain will have tapered off and the sun will be shining and the days will be nice and hot. We're hoping the greenhouse will retain enough of the day's heat throughout the chilly nights, promoting speedy growth. It would be nice to have a variety of veggies growing all year round.
Well, well, well. Last week was quite a week. For one, the bulls have been doing their best to escape the pasture. Apparently, the 25 acres they have to roam just isn't enough... something on the other side of the fence calls to them. Kevin and Martin have plugged up whatever holes and gaps... we hope.
On Thursday, we had Betty issues. We found a hen who was being bullied by all the other hens. Nature can be so cruel. They have been preventing her from eating or drinking, it seems. They've been attacking her red crown to the point of damaging it and her feet were gnawed (or maybe just pecked at relentlessly). We don't know how long it was going on, we hadn't noticed anything different when we were around.
But on Thursday, this poor Betty was just hiding under the ramp, which seemed a little odd.
She was in rough shape. We didn't realize that she was starving to death and was too weak to walk. We decided to remove her from the gang to nurse her back to health. We placed her in the small greenhouse on the island with food and water. We added eggshells for extra calcium and watercress for extra iron, and vitamins in her water. She gobbled up her food non-stop for over an hour... she couldn't get enough... and then she'd drink her water. She couldn't even stand up. At night, Kevin put some straw in the dog kennel in the garage to keep her safe from preying animals.
Recovery has been slow... but steady. She's doing much better. She's gained some of her strength and is walking a little now. Good sign! Once she's fully back to health, we'll have to introduce her to the other hens, one at a time. They may see her as an intruder now... new kid on the block sort of thing... and they aren't usually very welcoming. If we put her in with the whole gang, they might kill her immediately. To avoid that scenario, we're hoping that by allowing each hen to be with her alone will even the playing field. If they still don't take kindly to her, we might have to give her away to one of our neighbours. I'll keep you posted :)
On the lookout
The osprey has been hanging around all week. It sits atop of a tall tree limb and eyes our big pond. And in turn, Kevin and I eye him. One morning we sat over twenty minutes under cover to see if we could witness the swoop and capture. He wasn't budging. We got bored and went inside. Then, about an hour later, I saw his silhouette from the corner of my eye. We rushed out to see. I couldn't make out if he had anything in his talons, but the pond seemed calm. There were no ripples or splashes to indicate he caught a trout.
Kevin and Martin finished the shelter and Martin brought over his three young bulls this week. We have barbed wire fence that surrounds the pasture area and for large animals, it's perfectly fine; however, these young bulls look for every opportunity to slide under or through gaps in the fence. Martin thought he had secured the fence, but we soon learned these little guys are pretty sly. Every day so far we've found them somewhere on our 'manicured' property... munching away. They have 10 acres of green pastures to roam and eat, but nooo, they are somehow convinced the grass is greener on the other side.
Yesterday, Martin came over to secure the fence once in for all. He was sure we would not longer have any problems. Kevin and I walked up to the entrance gate after lunch and there were the two smaller bulls. The third bull made his way back to Martin's restaurant. He must be a homing bull. Right now it's not a huge problem guiding them back into the pasture (it's a bit of a nuisance, but not a problem per se). They're small and docile. They're very cute, but when they get bigger, they're much harder to manage and not quite so friendly.... pretty aggressive, actually... so we want to make sure this fence issue is resolved because I ain't no matador! Frankie on the other hand, I think she missed her calling as a herding dog. She was barking and nipping at their heels, prodding them to move forward. Then she remained at the gate, marching back and forth like a sentinel. Kevin and I walked back down to the house expecting her to follow, but she didn't. After a while I went back up only to find her still guarding her turf. One good thing, the baby bulls were still in the pasture. Good job, Frankie!
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Dave and Krista are a couple from the Pacific Northwest that led overwhelmingly busy lives.
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