Thursday, 22 July 2010

Critter Catch-up

I apologise that my posts have been sparse recently and perhaps not my best work. Gamekeepers (and their dutiful wives) are too tired to see straight by this time of year. We are in the long grass. The pheasant crop is under attack from disease, which we are just managing to get on top of now.
The young birds have also been plagued by sparrowhawks, feral ferrets, buzzards and, by the look of a few in the woods with their throats ripped out this morning, possibly a stoat. We can counter the disease, we can't combat protected predators. We're tired and a bit disheartened, which is normal for this time of year.  I promise I will be more philosophical and witty when I'm not falling asleep in my cereal bowl.

I can at least muster a quick critter update:

Grandma Brown is the proud (and very grouchy) mother of 4 chicks -

We have two Japanese bantams and two Buff Orpingtons. Fingers crossed for a breeding pair of each.

Barbara's chicks are now big enough to range around the garden without being food for crows. Barbara is tidbit-ing them a piece of bread -

There are two more chicks lurking under the hedge. Barbara is a relaxed mother.

Gertie's chicks are now bigger than she is -

Chick (L) and Mom (R)

They still loosely trail around with her, and she hasn't kicked them out of the nest yet. Gertie also raised this silver Silkie chick, who already has a standout personality -

I really hope it's a little hen because she'll be a cracker. She's curious and friendly, and was the first to venture out without mom. Even if she's a boy, she's staying.

I took Spud to puppy agility class last night, just for some new experiences, and she did great. Dakota came along as nursemaid so I stuck her in the next class up for fun. She ran the course, including both tunnels, without any training. I don't think she found it as much fun as looking for deer or chasing rabbits.

We're dogging in now, i.e. pushing wandering pheasants back home with dogs. Sometimes three times a day. Pip wants you to know that she's sustained the first injury of this season -

It was Pip vs. barbed wire fence. Pip lost. She tore a flap of skin from her leg but it appears superficial and she's not lame. I cleaned and reassembled the wound, and dressed it. I've given her some antibiotics just in case. She has taken to her bed to recuperate, which looks suspiciously like my bed. That woeful expression on her face should win her a best actress award.

The best news is that the horses are back in work!

I have found two wonderful ladies in the next village who are always ready to ride around the country lanes on horseback. Kitty and Alan are enjoying the change of scenery. When we get the fence finished at Milkweed, they will be enjoying some fresh grass as well.

The sheep are growing so big I needed to get them a bigger trough -

The orphans are catching up with the in-lamb ewes, size wise. I hang over the fence wasting too much time watching them convert grass to sheep shit. I still can't believe they're mine. But what really makes me feel like a farmer? -

The bureaucracy.


Maria said...

Thanks for the update - is what I feel like saying. I always love to see pictures of your animals. And yes, Pip should get the animal-world Bafta for most woebegone expression. Bless her.

Plus I totally agree, it's much harder to be witty and philosophical when you're falling asleep in your cereal bowl. It's a bit soggy as well....
I'm glad you're philosophical enough to realise that it is normal for you both, with your jobs, to be tired and rundown at this time of year. Best of luck with expletive deletive pests and pest control (where you're allowed).
(I won't even get started on the bureaucracy...)

Paula said...

I am really sorry about your pheasants- I hope you're able to triumph in that department.

Pip looks perfectly pathetic! I've actually seen that pitiful look on certain dogs who shall remain nameless- it's evidently something they all can do. My first dog, who had many, many nicknames, was also called The Grand Dame of the Theater for similar reasons. That, and the fact that she could also affect a very regal, haughty attitude. I miss the bitch.

Give all your pooches a butt scratching for me and tell them it's with love from Auntie Paula.

Kerry said...

I don't know a lot about farm life, but can't you turn that silver Silkie into a hen even if it's a rooster? Or have I been living in San Francisco too long?
Try a little rubber band (like you used to have for your braces) and some female hormone replacement cream for ladies who are going through "the change". Should do the trick.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Like Marie, I'm a sucker for pictures of your animals. Particularly Barbara the Weather Chicken -- I'm glad she's raising her brood successfully. And those lambs -- my how they've grown!

I'm sorry to hear that the Ten Plagues have descended upon your pheasants. When the locusts arrive, you'll know you're almost through.

Jennifer Montero said...

Maria - Thank you for your kind words. And I'm glad you like the animal pictures. I'm happy to report that the pest control efforts are better, at least where legal predators are concerned and we had 3 young foxes last night outside of one pheasant pen.

Paula - Labs have a gift for making those expressions. I'm smiling as I imagine what some of those nicknames for your first dog might have been...I expect there are a few unrepeatable ones among them? Have passed on the butt scratches, each one happily received.

Jennifer Montero said...

Kerry - I've named the silkie Tom, so it's Tom & Barbara as in the BBC show 'The Good Life'. I figure it can be short for Thomas or Tomasina. I'll give her your 'Free to be You and Me' record and let her decide.

Tamar - Locusts?!? There's going to be Locusts?!?!