Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lions and tigers and bears - oh my!

My neighbor told me this morning that her bird feeder was badly damaged and 4 or 5 pounds of seed all consumed sometime during last night. We're thinking it must have been a sizable animal, like a bear! I'm only two houses down, and tonight I made sure that my barn was locked up tight against any nocturnal visitors!

My handyman, Rick, has completed a waist-high rack for the rabbit cages to go on in the lower level of the barn, so once I polyurethane it, the bunnies can move to the lower level of the barn with the other critters. They'll be warmer, with 3 sides of the foundation against the ground or the house, and still get sunshine in through the windows on the exposed side. The cages will be easier to clean, since they'll be at an better height for me to reach, plus the droppings will go right through to the ground for raking up. Several of the bunnies are throwing their coats, and I've been plucking off the loose wool for spinning. They all have thick undercoats, so warmth shouldn't be a problem. The bunns are really enjoying the rose hips I've been trimming off the wild roses alongside my driveway!

The chickens are all getting along a little better - the reds (NH Reds) still sleep on the alpaca side and the buffs (Buff Orpingtons) on the other side, but there's been less squawking and bullying going on in general. Rick got the nesting boxes half done today, and the buffs were all piled up on the construction for the night when I checked on them. Guess they like it! I gave the hens some cut-up apples this week and they had great fun pecking and tossing the apple pieces in a little chicken soccer game.

I'll be getting a third alpaca soon to replace the one I lost - it's a matter of transportation at this point, so I'm just waiting to hear when that will be. The other two are doing well, thank Heavens!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Okay, this has got to stop!

Let's see, where to begin. Where did this month go? Do I say that every month?

Well, the first weekend of October, I added some more angora rabbits to my flock. Hutchery. Rabbitry. What the heck. Two females, sisters, and their daddy. Daddy is named Cloud, beautiful, soft, light blue-gray bunny wonderfulness. The two sisters are Button, because of the round white spot centered on her nose, and Delia, a beautiful agouti color.

So the next day I went to buy a BIG bag of rabbit food and there was a swap going on at the local Agway. I totally fell in love with a little female lion-head I named Anya Rose - she's 5 months old and about the size of a guinea pig. She gets along with the two sisters really well, so she's sharing the digs with them, though she might end up eventually being a house rabbit. At this point, I'm spending more time in the barn than in the house, so she has better company out there!

Last weekend, seven new chickens came to live with me - their owner didn't want to winter them over so I invited them in. The more the merrier! Four hens and three young'uns, gender to be determined. They are Buff Orpingtons, a more golden color than my original three reds. The reds are laying two eggs a day pretty consistently, but I haven't had anything from the Buffs yet. The reds are a little bossy around them, so I've been allowing their tendency to roost in the barn as separate flocks.

I also got two new barn cats on Tuesday. My sister and her husband were able to catch two 6-month old feral kittens that were born under their porch, and they are now living in a huge dog kennel in my barn, set up with a litter box and a kitty tower. I'm working on taming them enough to be able to handle them at least a little, then they'll go to the vet for neutering before I set them loose. No pictures yet - they're pretty shy whenever I'm around.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A rough week

I had a hell of a week last week. As I already blogged, on Sunday I got the three alpacas, and my doe rabbit gave birth. On Monday I woke up with a nasty cold, the kind you don't even want to get out of bed for. The little rabbit baby died on Tuesday. On Thursday, I went down to the barn and one of the alpacas was dead! I went back to work that afternoon, my cold having improved, but one of the other nurses came in at 5 so I could get back home to meet the guy with the backhoe for the burial.

Saturday I got three laying hens, and have been getting 1-2 nice big brown eggs every morning! The alpacas and hens are getting along fine, so I am feeling a little less stressed, though this morning one of the hens was acting oddly and favoring one leg. Tonight, I was going to put her in a separate cage so she wouldn't have to compete with the others for food etc but she looked better tonight and was eating and drinking with the others. I'll see how she is in the morning I guess.

The county extension agent came on Monday to check out my operation to see what might have killed the alpaca - they are susceptible to colic or can die from eating a poisonous plant. I didn't pay for an autopsy so I will never really know, I guess. I need some rain so I can burn the brush pile to eliminate the Yew bushes that are poisonous to alpacas. Maybe Saturday, if the forecast is on target. After that, the field can be reopened with careful monitoring.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sad news

Sadly, my baby bunny did not make it through the night. We will try again in the spring.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Baby Bunny

In the middle of the alpacas arrival, my angora bunny Coco decided it was time to give birth! She had one little baby, as smooth as silk, and about the size of a mouse. Baby is about the same color as Momma, a deep gray-brown. Mother and baby are resting comfortably...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

The alpacas are coming! The alpacas are coming! My barn and field are ready, I just need to arrange their transportation! And get hay - must get hay tomorrow...

These are images from the farm's website - will add my own asap!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dog Daze

Kelsey's enjoying her long walks with Khol every morning and seems to be settling in real well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Better Late than Never

Wow, where did the summer go? It seems like it just arrived a couple of weeks ago (literally!)

The bunnies are now 6 months old. Coco is still bigger than Guy Noir, but he had a growth spurt in August and has caught up some, size-wise. They've got an exercise yard, in which they enjoy hanging out and munching fresh green grass.

The alpacas are still residing in Hopkinton. The fence posts finally went in this week, and the rolls of fencing are here. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Today I brought home a livestock guardian dog, a lovely Great Pyrenees from the SPCA.
Sadly, her family couldn't keep her because of their housing situation. Her name will be Kelsey. She's 5 years old, with a lovely, gentle disposition. Isn't she beautiful? I only have to photo from the shelter, but hope to get some of Khol and her soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Woolly Wabbits

Today I attended the Fiber Frolic in Windsor Maine. I was fortunate to be able to stay last night with a friend in the area (all the more money for the event!) I had in mind to check out the angora rabbits and the spinning wheels, so I was able to pass by much of the luscious fiber, yarn, etc to stay focused on my quest.

The picture above is a baby pic of my new buck and his brother. No, I don't know which is which! He's a beautiful silvery black, and I've dubbed him "Guy Noir." I also acquired a gorgeous chocolate female I've named "Coco" - they were both born at the end of March/beginning of April and are French/German cross. I'm hoping to breed them when they're old enough. Updated pics ASAP!

I also spent some time trying out spinning wheels and ended up with a double-treadle HitchHiker from The Merlin Tree in VT . My spinning needs considerable practice, and this portable wheel will give me an opportunity to hang out most anywhere and work on my technique.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Three's Company

I went with Barbie Tilton last Sunday to deliver four young alpacas to Jeff Bishop's Equinox Farm. They all rode quietly in the back of Barbie's van over the back roads to Hopkinton. I was planning to purchase one of two fiber boys Jeff has, Angelus and Millionaire. Angelus is listed as light fawn, and Millionaire is a beautiful white boy with an incredible coat. No surprise, I couldn't chose, and so now they are both mine. Mr T was one of the boys we took over to Hopkinton, and he and the two older guys were mingling well by the time we left.

Barbie has several pregnant girls, and had a new baby that had just been born on Friday. The little one was having trouble getting the knack of suckling, and Barbie was pretty tired from bottle feedings through the nights since. However when we got back to Someday Farm, Dean told us the baby had figured it out while we were gone, and we watched her nurse and then frolic outside with the other Mama Alpacas.

Today I staked out where my fence posts will be, and assessed what needs to be done in my ground level barn area where the three boys will be sheltered. I need to drag some junk out of there, rake out the dirt floor, and construct their pen. I need some electricity and ceiling lights, and a water source for when it gets too cold for the outdoor hose. Looks like I'll be making some phone calls this week!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Beginning

A big week for me. I bought my first alpaca and lost my older dog, a faithful companion for almost 15 years. Smudge and I had been through a lot together, and he was always at my side, or sleeping just inside the door so he couldn't miss my return. I keep watching out that I don't trip over him - it will be hard to get used to him being gone.

The alpaca enterprise has been ruminating (pun intended) for a couple of years, and was fired up again when I ran into Barbie Tilton of Someday Farm (Canterbury NH) at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. With her tutelage, I'll be bringing home my first little guys as soon as I get the fence installed!