Friday, January 06, 2006

Fast Calves, Fox Holes, and Great Pumpkins

Spent the entire day at the farm yesterday. When I got to the farm at about 8:30 Doug, Dylan, and Olivia were outside feeding the pigs pellets and squishy veggies. I helped out there for a bit.

After that, Doug asked if I would put Dylan and Olivia back in the barn. I said "sure".

The pair had wandered off in the mean time and it took a few moments to locate them. I saw them walking around investigating over by the cars a short distance away so I somewhat loudly called "Dylan!".

Now, what I was expecting was that Dylan would hear me and either walk over to me, or at least not walk any further away so that I could walk up to him.

Dylan had a different idea though. He turned his head, looked at me, and at full stride for a 400 lb calf with still gangly legs, through the snow and ice, he bolted directly towards me! And here he comes!

So now what!? A funny looking, 400lb, legs-charging, head-bobbing, steam-snorting, sweet, silly calf is running straight at me at 15mph! I know I have about 5 seconds before I'm steamrolled as flat as my shadow!

He stopped....(Whew!)....about five feet in front of me and just looked at me as if to say "Yes, hello."

Olivia showed up a minute or so later. I get the feeling that Olivia doesn't expend too much energy unless food is involved. She slowly walked her way over to Dylan and I and we all walked into the barn. I opened their pens and closed the barn door.

The reason that Dylan and Olivia needed to be put in the barn is that for the next few hours, Morgan and I would be working in several large fox holes on the property where a new barn is going up this coming weekend. Dylan and Olivia might become overly curious at what we'd be doing and possibly fall into a hole.

For the next few hours Morgan and I worked in the 5-foot deep holes with crowbars and shovels knocking out wooden forms from around the recently poured cement footings and also shoveling pathways around the holes through the snow in the area. The sanctuary is expecting a large number of goats from Pennsylvania soon and an extra barn is needed.

After lunch Morgan and I mucked-out Ralphie, Andy, and Elvis' house. We distracted them away from the house, for the most part, by placing huge pumpkins and some hay a hundred feet or so away. Doug and Jen got the pumpkins from a local grower who used to give them to the local Chief of Police's Longhorn Steer. But the Chief died, the Longhorns were sold off, and the pumpkins were offered to the sanctuary.

Owing to the new presence of the pumpkins, and according to Doug the accompanying sugar rush experienced by the Steer, Ralphie felt the need to assert himself with Andy and Elvis and for a time chased them around the field. He also chased Doug, Morgan and I to a small degree. I don't know about Doug and Morgan, but Ralphie did manage to impress his dominance of the cowfield on me!

Funny though, similar to Dylan earlier, whatever Ralphie charges, he always veers off at the last second. It is a "message charge" and not a "malicious charge". Though one can never fully predict such things, Doug said it's standard operating procedure for a Steer to "charge but veer". I understand the role of "bluffing" with other animals so as scary as it is when Ralphie's locked onto you, I agree and still feel as safe as before.

A small aside, later in the day Dylan came out for a bit and was face-smushing through the fence with Ralphie, Andy, and Elvis. It was a cute moment to see how fascinated they are with each other. Dylan's too young to enter their field at this point. He's 1/3 their size and there's three of them. Also, not that Ralphie and company would intentionally hurt Dylan, but the tips of Dylan's horns are only just coming through, so, in all, he needs some more growing time before he joins the gang.

Finishedout the day feeding about a dozen huge pumpkins to the pigs, helping Doug and Morgan fiddle with the tractor, and helping Jen by mistakenly giving pigeon food to Olivia (who accepted without comment!). We also fed the pigs evening pellets before calling it a day.

Some other stuff:

* Morgan seems to be involved with all aspects of the sanctuary, not just in fence building.

* The three dogs are Mio, Mae, and Carly. Mae's the older, Mio's the bolder, and Carly's getting used to farm animals.

* I met a second cat named "Henry". Large, long-haired, orange and white. Managed to get in a quick head smush during lunch.

* Jen told me the story about her coming home one day to find a bear in the kitchen! It was rummaging through some food. Jen shrieked, the bear ran out the door, and now it makes a funny story. There is a nearby town named "Bearsville".

* There are 12 pigs. Not 9. When in a group, they have the uncanny ability to look like 53.

* The second Guinea Hen is named Herschel. So we have "Herschel" and "Orville".

* Stormy has a lady friend somewhere in the rafters of the pig barn. There might be eggs.

* There's one rooster that hangs out in the pig barn instead of the rooster yard. Doug says it's a bit on the ornery side so it's just as well for the other roosters. The pigs don't seem to mind.

* I bought of pair of proper farm boots! Hunter green, all rubber, all waterproof, all warm!

When I got home my outer shirt was covered in hay, pants covered with dirt, boots with mud, and gloves with muck. A good day.

Barn raising this weekend and next.


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