Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Go(a)t Sheep?

Well, they're here! 16 new goats, 6-7 new sheep, and one scene stealing rooster! I wasn't aware that the new animals were coming this past Saturday and it was a major surprise to see them out in the field as I approached the farm Sunday morning. The barn is finished enough so that the new tenants have their own separate areas inside the barn where they'll be warm and dry until the barn is completely finished.

These guys are great!

They're all in "new environment mode" so they're all a bit wary and trying to figure it all out, but at the same time the goats are choosing their favorite humans to rub up against and all is clicking along. Their collars do a light jingle when they move so between their little goat calls and the jingles there's always a pleasant sound to the movement of the goats. The sheep were more timid about the newness and spent the day in the field away from the activity. There's one ram and 5-6 ewes. So far at least, the ewes all follow the ram wherever it goes. The last ewe in line behind the ram has a slight "hitch" in one of it's back legs and when you see them all walking it's a really cute sight!

Our human cast for the day: Jen, Doug, Dawn, Robin, Morgan, Kyle, and Anthony.

"Jason", the owner of the animal sanctuary in Pennsylvania where the animals came from, was there when I arrived. One could see the separation anxiety that he was feeling by his widened eyes, animated body language, and rapid-fire speech as he poured out all sorts of animal information to Jen as she punched it into the computer. Jason and his wife have to give up the sanctuary in PA but I'm sure he knows that the animals have a good new home with many eager attenders.

So, here's a quick goat story:

The goats had followed Doug, Morgan, and I from the barn to one of the gates located slightly across the field. At the gate the goats milled around, we dealt with the gate, and then it was time to walk back to the barn.

After walking some ways I was curious to see what might happen if I started running, so I did. Sure enough, all the goats ran with me! They stayed behind me in a fanned-out formation and I felt like a cross between a football kicker at kickoff and "Tuco" from "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" running through the graves! But instead of running and whirling around to check names on graves, I was running and whirling around to watch the goats running after me! Our run only lasted about 15 seconds but was really neat!

"What's the name on the grave? Does it have a name? Does it have a number?" (Umm, pardon. That only made sense if you've seen the film!)

New rooster.

I think the new rooster's name is "Brandy". (With all the excitement I'm not 100% sure.) He's large, deep black with a red comb. Jason was saying he was the hit of their farm and so far he's a hit with this one. Everyone picked him up at least once during the day and he never balked or squawked with anyone. Not common for a rooster. After lunch, as I was walking to the barn from the house, I was approaching the empty trench which will house the water lines and I noticed several black feathers sticking out of the trench. And sure enough, someone was having a stroll inside the trench.

Lunch: Jen made minstrone soup that might have had some things in it that I wouldn't have eaten individually but in the soup it was all very good and I could have eaten far more if there weren't others to feed.

Side note- Though being Italian on both sides, I've always refused minestrone soup whenever it was offered. I really don't think I have ever eaten minestrone soup. "Nope. Too many vegetables. Pass the mashed potatos please." At the farm though, I eat it and all's well. I'm sure much of it has to do with the whole spirit of the farm and "newness" in general for me. Not to over-yack it, but I'm glad that I'm liking so many new things food-wise at the farm.

Speaking of soup, with the soup was served a "souped-up kale dish". Kale, sweet chard, spinach, and chic peas from the pan with oil and garlic. Spinach is another veggie that I wrestle with but can take in very low doses. I had to give the chic peas a taste first to see how I'd do with them and I indeed survived. I remembered eating them somewhere in the past and also remembered that they don't have an overpowering taste one way or the other. At the end of lunch though, I noticed that there were about a dozen chic peas left on their own on my plate. By habit I probably had been eating "around" them! Being slightly shocked to see them sitting there all by their lonesome, I couldn't bring myself to finish them! I just looked at them and whimped out! Next time though I'll give it a shot!

Task list for the day:

* Helped Robin with morning feeding and cleaning routine.
* Helped Dawn with a barn door.
* "Pig field detail".
* Added wire fencing to some penrails inside the barn.
* Trucked some posts from one area to another.
* Evening routine with Anthony.

For all of us, this was a day of lots of little chores. Dawn spent a lot of time on the barn doors. Morgan, Kyle, and Anthony worked around the barn as well, but everyone also did lots of little things outside of barn work. Moving stuff, small fixes, etc.

Aside from the new animals, a definite highlight from the day involved Doug, Dylan, Olivia, nine pigs, three steer, and a bag of carrots.

I spent much of the morning in the pig field with the wheelbarrow, rake, and pitchfork picking up all that, umm, remains from pig meals. The pigs were all outside lying in the sun and Dylan and Olivia were in the pig field as well. After a bit Doug showed up holding a bag of carrots and asked if I wanted to play hero for a while.

Oh yes indeed!

I grabbed the bag from Doug and spent the next two to three minutes handing out carrots to all comers. And everyone most definitely came! Running from pig to pig (while running away from the pigs that were running after me!) I popped carrots into everybody's mouth while keeping an eye out for the less forceful pigs making sure everybody received the same amount.

I did make a mistake by giving one of the first carrots to Dylan who then proceeded to not only chase me for the entire feeding, but to also throw bodyblocks in front of me trying to corral me and the carrots! I'd run a few steps and "Zzzzoom!" he'd be in front me slowing me down using his head and his bottom! End result, Dylan probably did get a few more extra carrots by being a "bandit noodge"!

Olivia got her share too.

The three steer were standing at the fence wondering what all the fuss was about and Doug reminded me not to forget them. Ralphie always goes first when it comes to food but he wasn't very interested in the carrots. Andy and Elvis got theirs though Ralphie did try half-heartedly to prevent them from eating the carrots. He knew he didn't want the carrots but he wasn't sure if the others should have them either. Though as a benevolent king, they got them.

I had brought about two-dozen eggs to the farm that I picked up from the "Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary" on Friday and fed them to the pigs later in the day. It's a very unusual sound to hear the pigs mouths break the shell then slurp up the insides while still crackling the shell.

Speaking of the Catskill farm Animal Sanctuary, I had some time last Friday, not enough to be able to travel to Woodstock, so I called the Catskill people and offered a few hours for evening routine. They're just north of Kingston and near the river so it was a very windy day as well as a cold one. I spent about 3 1/2 hours working with Lorraine, Betsy, and Alex mucking out the horses, cows, ducks, geese, and chickens. Helped feed the cows and horses as well.

Some new animals:

"Rosie" is a cow that suffers from something called "Bulldog Syndrome". Her face is "Pugged" or "Bulldogged" meaning it's pushed in as opposed to having a gradual slope. Part of the syndrome includes "flattened teeth" that make it impossible for her to eat hay. Her teeth do not have the necessary edges to grind hay so she has to be fed a special diet of water-mushed pellets/feed.

"Policeman" and "Bell" are two enormous pigs!

"Claude" is no slouch of a pig himself and bangs on his door so as not to be forgotten at dinner time!

"Noel" is a goat that was rescued from some NYC horror scene. Nobody knew that she was pregnant until a lamb was discovered one morning and now the two share a quiet stall with plastic sheeting put up on the open wall of the pen so they can have some extra solitude. Noel's been through much so she isn't comfortable yet with people but the lamb is and will greet you at the door.

"Zoey" is a pot-bellied pig that will walk up to you, no matter who you are, and just stand there. Why? Because it's your turn to mush his/her head!

"Rambo" is a ram with a large set of horns that oversees all barn activity. Rambo stands and watches. That's his job. He then walks a little. He then stands and watches some more. Rambo wastes no extra movement be it walking or standing. You can see Rambo's energy in his eyes. If you can see Rambo, you can be sure that Rambo sees you.

There is also a male horse that is blind. Perhaps because I was so fascinated with this horse I cannot remember it's name. It's eyes had to be removed recently to prevent infection and it has prosthetic eyes implanted. The prosthetics are not for appearance. They are there only to help with facial musculature. It's eyelids are sewn closed.

As would be expected, smell is important to this horse and he'll leave his snout to be petted for a long time without pulling away. He's taking you in as you are taking him in. His stall is the same size as the other horse stalls but he seems to favor one particular corner of the stall. (The right rear.) One would guess it's his "safest" corner. I forgot to ask if he ever gets the chance to come out of the stall. It's at least possible that he might not be able to but I will ask next time I'm there.

Lunch: 8 Chips Ahoy cookies! My sugar level was crazy that afternoon and I'm glad they were there!

I have the day off today and am going to scramble up to Woodstock for a few hours.

More next week on the new barn and the new animals.


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