|Posted by Fluffy on January 11, 2013 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
The puppies are 5 months old. They were small for their age when they arrived, but it appears that they were not fed well if fed at all. They would eat the grain that I gave the ducks and chickens. I suspect they learned to eat grain from the sheep they were born with, because they were hungry and had no offers of other food. So, they were not as big as Maremmas should have been, but they appeared healthy in all other ways.
They also had no human contact since they were born, but it does appear that if a human did speak to them, they ran away. Finally, yesterday, Jenna, the shy one, no longer ran from me when I called her. Jade has been coming for a month now, but not Jenna. Jenna also barks indiscriminately, so I suspect she is still unsure of herself. She will bark at something she hears even when no other dog is barking, when she should be following the big dog's example. Jade does. She sits and watches Harley. If Harley does not bark, neither does Jade. Last night, Jenna was barking at whatever and would not stop. I told her 'no' and she looked at me, ran the other way and continued to bark. I finally took the broom to her, not to hit her, but to give her the message to stop. I did not even make contact with her bottom, but she did finally quit and went to lay down with the rest of the pack. I would never strike a dog anyhow, but I am glad she thinks I might and that got her attention.
So, with good food, clean, fresh water, and lots of pets and love, the puppies are flourishing. Finally they both come when they are called and they wag their tails non stop. They prefer to sleep outside on the straw instead of inside in their houses. I suppose that thick fur of theirs is adequate to stay warm. They do not even curl up unless the wind is blowing. I tried to pick each one up yesterday and I bet they weigh at least 40 pounds or so each. They sure are growing quickly, but have not yet lost that cuteness of a young pup. So adorable, my little girls. Sweethearts!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 10, 2013 at 1:50 AM||comments (0)|
Ofcharka is a year old as of December 10. Ideally, a livestock guardian dog that is designated to guard a flock should be reared wth the flock in order to bond to them as part of his own, but Ofcharka showed no interest in sheep and was not born or raised with them. He was rather timid, too and I suspected placing him with the sheep might have made a timid dog, not an ideal livestock guardian. Even now, if a sheep lowers her head to him, he runs away. This is good. Submissive behaviour with the sheep allows him to bond more closely to them.
Now, when chores are being done and he can be watched, he is in with the older ewes. Me must stay in the pen the entire time, which can be four hours or so. Initially, he was only required to be ten minutes, but it has progressively increased and he is able to stay with the sheep comfortably. He usually distances himself a little and lays down in the snow watching the sheep and me doing chores and playing with Robbie. When I finally call him out, he is wagging his tail and receives a great deal of praise for being good, calm and watchful. Barking at the sheep is not permitted and has been corrected enough that he hardly does so now. Yet, he will not be trusted with the sheep alone for a long time from now, possibly 6 months, right into summer, which will be perfect timing so he can go with them in the electric fence and guard them. He remains closely bonded to me, his human, but is becoming more aware of his duty as a guardian. One day, he will be magnificent and able to guard all his charges. He is a huge dog, and just starting to run and become agile. I will not teach him to jump the fence and hopefully he won't learn from Harley or Robbie, forcing him to stay inside the boundaries. Ofcharka is a good dog. One day, he will be a great dog!
|Posted by Fluffy on January 5, 2013 at 9:50 PM||comments (0)|
The Fat Ewe Farm now has 5 dogs and 4 cats. 4 of the dogs are young, with Ofcharka and the Maremma puppies being all under a year, Robbie, the border collie at a year and a half and the old dog, at 3 , Harley. The cats are 2 adults and 2 teenagers. Jane, the grey tabby kitten loves the dogs and for some reason, they do not harass her as much as the other cats. Poor Sally is now missing fur in her ruff from the insistent pulling on her or carrying her around, especially by Robbie and Ofcharka. But when nap time comes, the cats cuddle up to the dogs and their thick furry warmth. Jane is still young enough that she kneads the dogs' tummies as she would have her mother's when she was stimulating the milk to drop for her nursing. The dogs barely feel this gentle motion and if they do, they do not seem to mind. Sometimes I feel sorry for the cats on this farm, but Barbie knows when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, and she gets outta Dodge the moment any dog gets a little too rambunctious with her. I think she is the smartest of them all. You have to admit that they do make nice couples though, don't they?and then there is Alex...the fence sitter. He is the new cat on the farm and ain't gonna cuddle up to no dog, no sir.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 30, 2012 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm three Flemish Giant Rabbits. These are peidigreed rabbits wtih the buck being imported from Holland and recently having won the best in show for all rabbits shown. Already huge, they will grow twice as large wtih an average weight of 40 pounds for the buck and 30 for the does. Of course they are meat rabbits, however; their pelts are very beautiful and inquiries have already been made for the tannery prices. But they are not here primarily as slaughter animals. Instead, they are breeding stock. The thing is, not every rabbit is breeding quality and bucks are not as valuable as the does, so there are always extra bucks. The bucks may be sold as breeder to enhance the quality and size of Californian or other meat rabbits though.
Robbie's first reaction to the rabbits was typical, really exactly as expected....gotta chase em, gotta get em, oh they are fast...this is exciting! But that was not my intention so everyday we are going to do rabbit training where he is required to stay still and let the rabbits explore him while he ignores them for the most part. This was not so easy, but being highly intelligent, after the second day, he understood that 'chase 'em' was not permitted. Now would I trust him alone...not for another 5 years or so...maybe.Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm, Piet the buck and Heidi and Helga the girls, big Flemish Giant bunnies.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 29, 2012 at 8:10 PM||comments (1)|
Ofcharka is officially 1 year old and what a beautiful BIG dog he is and I mean big...maybe 130 pounds. I certainly cannot pick him up. He is still very much a puppy though. Oten large breeds take longer to mature. From his shyness and subservient behaviour, it can be determined that he is nowhere near the dog he wil become one day, even though he is large and a year old. Just lately he has begun to challenge Robbie, the border collie, who is a third his size, but when Robbie sticks up for himself, Ofcharka cowers like a baby and rolls over as he did when he was little. I am quite sure he has no idea he is not LITTLE. One good thing, well, in a way, is that people are afraid of him simply because of his size. Currently, if anyone would so much as raise a voice, he would be running away to the house for safety. It is a good thing strangers do not know that. No one enters the gate unless they have been here before. In the spring, once the ground is thawed, that gate situation will have to change so it is easier for the bed and breakfast folks to come and go and not have to worrry about the dogs. I have an idea.
But Ofcharka has started burying his food. Yes, it is the dead of winter and the ground is frozen solid, so he covers it with straw instead, usually using his nose to push the straw away from his body over the food dish. After all the dogs and cats have filled their bellies, if there is food left in the dish, Ofcharka, who is usually the last to eat, covers one or both dishes. Either the cats are not hungry enough or too dumb, but they never uncover the food. Instead they look at me and meow for more. I wonder what people see in cats. They are useful for rodent control, um...that is about it. Sally still sleeps with Ofcharka, though once he has covered the food, it is usually quite invisible and he often lays somewhere near to watch over it, in case it goes away. Silly puppy!
|Posted by Fluffy on December 26, 2012 at 12:45 AM||comments (1)|
Minus 24 today with -28 or lower tonight....and those silly pups still insist on sleeping outside. They all have dog houses, well, they have choices of sleeping arrangements even. The little Maremma puppies were sleeping together in one dog house in the kennel when they first arrived, but now no one uses that house, not sure why. Harley seldom ever uses his house either, but Ofcharka and the puppies sometimes sleep together in his house. Robbie has taken to not using his house either.
So, today, after their warm supper, they curled up on the straw outside and fell asleep. All of them. Outside. Did I mention it was -24 or possibly colder by then? Merry Christmas from the Fat Ewe Doggies.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 24, 2012 at 5:55 PM||comments (0)|
It is a cold day today. The animals are trying their best to stay warm, but when the cold is incessant as it has been for 2 weeks, they run out of energy and some succumb. Harley, my big Maremma, my beautiful beautiful dog, has cold feet. He stood and lifted his paw and cried twice today. I would bring him inside the house if he would come, but he won't set foot in the door. All the dog's and cat's houses have new straw for them to snuggle into, but the dogs seldom sleep in their houses unless it is very windy, raining or snowing. So poor Harley...what to do for him. I gave the dogs and cats a warm supper tonight and a little later they will get their Christmas eve treats, but I will warm those too. When it is so cold, somethiing warm from the inside will help to generate a bit of heat. Ofcharka and the puppies do not seem to be affected, nor do the sheep. The Cotswolds use their shelter, but all the rest stay outside even in the snow. Where they were laying all night melts from their body heat and creates a depression in the snow that has fallen around them. They are well insulated.
The little potbelly pigs stay in their shelter almost all of the time, tucked under a big layer of straw. The goats huddle together in their dog igloo houses. Yesterday there were 4 goats in one house. I was amazed. First Sarah came out and she is a half grown full size goat so I thought there would not be room for anyone else, but then two little girls and their mom also came out of the same house. They have a larger shelter but they prefer the warmth of cuddling together. When they come out it is to eat, but they shiver the whole time. The llamas also shiver so they eat in the kush position, that is with their legs tucked under neath. The horses have even been sleeping in their shelter for the first time this winter. The chickens only come out to eat since their food is outside. The ducks and geese are less affected it seems and still bathe even though the water freezes immediately. They will even bath in slush, silly things. I have been sprinkling fresh straw and hay for them though, so they can get some relief from the cold ground. The big white Embden geese are actually using their shelter for the first time this winter too.
The critters on the Fat Ewe are a wonder, like all life is. They are beautiful to behold and remarkable in their ways, uniquely different even within their species. I am truly blessed to be the steward of this farm, to provide their care and oversee their welfare. I love them all, even the chickens. I have watched them grown from babies for the most part and to me, they are like children in a way. This Christmas I am not sad to be alone. The wood stove is warm and I have the love of all my four legged and two legged friends to keep me happy. I visited my friends and family and celebrated several times with them earlier this month, so this day is only a day, but it is a special day. The reason of the season is to learn to love and be loved. May each of you be as blessed as I feel. May each of you also find peace in your hearts and share the love of the universe and the Creator's magnificent world. May your heart be happy and your spirit filled with joy. Bless you my friends and family. Bless you and have a very Merry Christmas.
|Posted by Fluffy on December 20, 2012 at 12:05 AM||comments (1)|
Robbie is a typical border collie young dog, teenager you could say. He is gregarious and boisterous and boastful as well as bossy. He does not back down easily from the twice his size Maremma, Harley and certainly not from the three times his size, Ofcharka and either one could eat him up and spit him out for a snack. They don't though because Robbie has attitude. Now, those who like docile obedient slow dogs cannot stand dogs like Robbie and would just as soon take him behind the barn as deal with him another day, but I love the energy and even the defiance. Winning Robbie over is a real challenge, but what a reward to have him adoringly look into my face to see what to do next. We have started sheep dog training as of yesterday. So far, it is good. The sheep that used to attack Robbie, stamp their feet and butt him will not do that with me beside him and this has given him great confidence. He is learning to use his eye to make them do what he wants instead of the mighty chase and occasional bite. And because of working with Robbie and playing ball with him the entire time I do chores, I win his respect. He does get tired though. When the other dogs are taking their afternoon lazy naps in the sun, Robbie is still running and fetching as fast as his 4 legs will carry and jumping 6 feet to retrieve his toy or ball and landing on his feet most of the time. HIs coordination and balance are exceptional.
But today, Robbie was tired. When we got home from grocery shopping after chores, he wanted to come in. I tied him outside for another two hours, then brought him in and he finally abandon himself to the sheer joy of sleep. I love ya, Robbie!
|Posted by Fluffy on December 18, 2012 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
Little puppies can be very determined. The Maremma sisters do not much like the goats because Celia and Mamma Theresa rear up on their hind legs and try to butt the pups with their horns. Mamma Theresa also butts their butts, so they stay clear of the goats. Today, Robbie and Ofcharka came into the goat pen along with me and the pups slipped in too. Ofcharka immediately left the area where the goats congregate and the puppies followed. Robbie assumed the down position to await further instructions. If it was in the sheep pen, he would be a little more assertive, but with the goats, he too, is respectful.
I had meant to leave the siblings in the pen to see if they were too large to get out. One puppy is a bit bigger and heavier than the other and I thought they could no longer fit through the wire. I was wrong on one count though, because Jenna was determined to get out on her own speed and even though the wire was hurting her, she managed to get through. Jade, on the other hand, simply could not do it, though she tried every which way. Ofcharka was interested and so was Robbie, who just jumped over, to see how they would do. They are so cute!
|Posted by Fluffy on December 17, 2012 at 1:05 AM||comments (1)|
Upon my return home, I was greeted by 5 happy hounds, tails wagging so hard their entire bodies were in motion. The air was fresh and clean and the sun peeked through the clouds. Even though it was minus 9, it did not feel as cold as the wet coast at 2 degrees. But then, there was sadness.
During my absence the border collie had to be tied all day because he took to chasing the llamas and horses. Well, guess what? So did my livestock guardian dog, Harley, chase the horses and neither dog would respond to come back. This must be immediately corrected or there will be danger of packing and killing livestock, not only mine, but others. I did buy shock collars recently and must resort to using them for training to save some good dogs.
The Muscovy drake was found dead in his pen, likely had been for a few days, but was not noticed. He was so friendly and tame too. There was no evidence of trauma and I have no idea why he died. It was bitterly cold a few nights, but the animals all have shelters. They did not have new straw to help absorb some of the cold from the ground though and their eyes appeared dehydrated somewhat, so perhaps they did not have enough water to dip their heads in or the water froze quickly. I will never know.
When a cord that draped slightly over the edge of the gate was pulled by opening the gate, the heat lamps in the chicken coop were disconnected and the beautiful little Old English Game hen froze in the water bowl. She was left in the pen upside down with the bucket on her so I had to chip her out of the ice and take her body away. Also, the barnyard rooster succumbed somehow...the jury is out on that one, but the dogs were found gnawing on his frozen carcass too. The rest of the Japanese bantams hens are missing, but there is no sign of their bodies.
It seemed the horses prefer to eat over on the llamas side and when I went to get them to go home, the colt turned to give me the boots with two back legs. I whacked his butt with the hammer, and he bolted but he and his mamma would not leave or listen either, so there is work to be done there too. The goat's water was frozen solid to the core as well as the ram lamb's. The ram's bucket is housed under a layer of droppings and hay and does not freeze readily from the bottom, so that is a puzzle.
The hay fed to the animals was the small square bales, even though, round bales were available, but that required forking the hay over. Squares are easier and so much more costly, at $4.00 a bale versus 50 dollars for one round bale which is 1200 pounds. The square bales are about 60-75 pounds, so the cost to equal a round pound for pound is considerably more. One stack is completely diminished, about 75 bales. That makes sense at 6 bales a day for the livestock, for 10 days. Unfortunately, the sheep were not all able to eat the hay because it was only put in the one feeder that the sheep without horns can eat from. Both feeders need to be used so horned and polled sheep can eat. The water and grain were generally just tossed over the fence without going into the pens which could account for the dead duck not being noticed.
The plants were forgotten, too, so 4 died and there is a possibility that two may come back, but 2 were still OK. Tomorrow, I will work on house cleaning, which has not been done since I left. I will tackle the floors first, which seem to be the worst, then the bathroom. The place was left clutterred due to my own lack of organization and I vow to take care of that before Christmas so cleaning is easier.
I shoveled the back stairs which had accumluated over a foot of drifted snow, and shoveled a pathway to the front driveway, which had been done. Tomorrow I will shovel the lower patio pathway and do a little decorating for the B & B guests celebrating their anniversary on Tuesday. I did shed a few tears of sadness for the poor animals, especially those who lives were lost, and the plants as well. I am sad and feel I should not have left the farm. The person looking after the animals is staying with me temporarily, but works full time, so did not have the time to spend with the critters and he is not a farmer, so was not aware of what to do or look for when problems arose. I feel as though I let my farm down and I am sorry. I won't leave again without proper management in place.