Saturday, October 31, 2009

Red Clay Stains on Goats

I've noticed that our white Boer goats have red clay stains on their coats, but I never thought about how that happened. Today I caught Arlene applying the red clay. She found a little clay hill and first dug in it to loosen it up.

Then she started applying it to her body.

She looked a little ungainly, but it was clearly a deliberate action.

After she finished, she moved away and bit at some itchy spots.

How'd you like to be this flexible?

This is obviously something we need to look into, since she's most likely self-medicating for a skin condition that's causing itchiness, but I just hadn't realized she was applying the red clay on purpose. Gus the horse rolls in the sand but I haven't seen the goats doing anything like that.

I tried to research itchy skin in goats on the Internet, but most of the information was about using goat milk soap for itchy skin in humans. I can certainly understand why we'd rather use that than the red clay...

Posted by Picasa

Ladybug Invasion

The ladybugs have started to swarm. They're all over the outside of the house, especially on the areas painted white. The dots you see in the picture below are ladybugs.

Want to know something embarrassing? I never knew ladybugs did this in the fall. I never knew that these ladybugs I've seen all my life aren't actually native insects. Instead they're Asian lady beetles. (There apparently are native ladybugs but they're not spotted like these.)

According to my Internet research, they're moving from their summer feeding grounds to warm spots where they can spend the winter, and our house looks like Nirvana here in the woods. We never had these large numbers of them in the fall in either our old suburban neighborhood in Georgia or our suburban neighborhood in Maryland.

I'm just going to speculate that's either because of the amount of pesticides used in those neighborhoods (by other people), or because now we live near agricultural fields where mass quantities of them may have been let loose to kill pests.

I also never knew that people consider them pests themselves. I've always thought of them as beneficial insects. They are, but apparently during the fall they can infest people's homes to an annoying degree. One of the articles recommended just vaccuuming them up if that happens. That's something I never thought I'd be adding to the winter checklist! (Put away summer clothes. Bring out winter clothes. Vaccuum up the ladybugs.)
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sheer Brilliance...and Hay

Gus the horse has been having problems with hay lately. He kicks over the buckets and wants to eat it off the ground...if he'll eat it at all. We've been racking our brains to figure out the problem, and finally decided that it has something to do with him not liking to put his head in the bucket.

Once he's put the hay on the ground, he'll eat it, but it gets soiled quickly and then he stops. So we've been trying to figure out a better hay delivery system (HDS). It has to allow us to put a rectangular bale of hay in at once, so my husband isn't having to bring hay out every few hours, and it has to have ventilation from all sides so that when it rains, the hay doesn't spoil. It also has to allow access for the horse and the goats at the same time.

Isn't the solution obvious? An antique baby crib, of course!

We were taking a country drive today and passed an antique store that was advertising goats for sale. (Yes, I know that's a little odd. They own an antique store, and also raise goats.) As we went in to inquire about the goats, my husband saw the baby crib, and knew instantly that it was the answer.

We're also going to enjoy the double-takes as people drive down the road and see it...
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On the Road to Riding

I had a really fun day yesterday. I finally bought my own saddle! We've only 'owned' Gus the horse for about seven months, so it seemed like it was time. Isn't it pretty?

We went to a local tack shop where they sell both new and used horse gear. The sales people were wonderful -- so helpful and kind about my being a complete and total newbie. There was a woman about my age and a young man, and it was fun listening to them argue over what I should get. It turns out that there are a lot of choices to make. Leather or synthetic saddle? The synthetic ones are lighter and don't need much care, but this used leather one fit my behind better and it was...well...pretty. I know I'm not supposed to care about that, but there it is. Who wouldn't wanted a pretty tooled leather saddle over an ugly black synthetic one? And it was lighter than most of the leather ones anyway. So there -- the choice was obvious.

Then you have to decide what kind of bit to get in the bridle. I finally had to call Gus's real owner and ask her what to get. They can put together a bridle for you, or you can buy one already assembled. It's all very confusing, but they were so helpful.

We chatted with them both quite a bit, and spent a long time trying various saddles and getting advice, and finally my husband asked the young man how long he had worked in the store. He looked surprised, and said, 'Oh, I don't work here.' He was just a friend of the sales lady who had stopped by and got interested in helping us!

I was thinking that was a Southern thing, but maybe horse people are like that everywhere....
Posted by Picasa

Good Hay, Bad Hay...With Pictures

The pictures didn't come through last time I tried posting this, so here goes again:

The grass is no longer growing in the pasture, so the goats and Gus the horse are eating mostly hay now. We buy our hay in rectangular bales, one at a time, from a feed store not far away. We buy it one bale at a time because that's all that will fit in the trunk of our car.But there's another reason too. One time in the past, and this week, we've bought a bale of hay that Gus will not eat. Both times it's taken us a while to realize why he's being so cranky. He kicks the fence, stares longingly into the other pasture, and just generally is a pill.Here's a batch of bad hay. When we put this hay in the bucket, Gus put his head in and threw as much of the hay as he could on to the ground, then stalked away.

Okay, we're pretty slow, but we finally got the message. We had picked up another bale today, so my husband put some out for him to see if he liked it.Here's a contented horse eating hay. This is what he's supposed to look like. (And of course, the obligatory small white cat watching him eat. Because farm animals are her life.)

Here's a contented goat eating the new hay, with, of course, a small white cat sitting in the hay watching him eat.

It's nice to have the 'why is Gus so cranky' mystery solved. Now we just wonder what was wrong with the other hay? We've talked about having 15-20 bales delivered so that we don't have to pick it up every few days, but what if we get an entire bad batch? A fellow we know told us a horrible story about renting some land to use for hay to feed his cattle. They baled it up into the large round bales, and the cattle wouldn't eat it. Any of it. That is a bad day.Here's a gratuitous picture of Arlene, just because she's such a pretty girl. I love how her ear is curling through the fence. I'm just glad it isn't her head. She got her head stuck in the fence the other day, and my husband had to cut the fence to get her out.

Hey, I said she was pretty...not smart.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Duck Integration

We had frost on the ground today for the first time this year. The red in the picture below is the red clay peeking through as the common bermuda grass starts to die back. I could talk for hours about the problems we've had covering the bare earth, but instead I'll talk today about ducks and their social life.

Of course, we bought three new young ducks a couple of weeks ago. It took about two days for them to integrate with the three older ducks, and now they're a group...a group comprised of the young whippersnappers and the more mature, wiser group. (Can you tell which group I fall into these days?)

This morning, the younger group ran for the cracked corn, which they reach by passing under the gate. You can see the older group in hot pursuit as the young dudes go under the gate. And see that little white blob in the upper part of the picture? That's Halley the cat, just watching. She helps my husband with the chores in the morning, so has to watch everything.

Here's the older group passing under the fence. I'm not as svelte as I was once myself, so I shouldn't laugh as Gilligan, the big white duck, tries to stuff himself through, but I have to admit to a snicker. See Halley in the upper right corner watching patiently?

All six met up at the food tray. I was taking pictures from the deck so the tray was blocked from me by the wall, but I could hear that it wasn't a pleasant encounter. Ever watched the scene at one of those 'all-you-can-eat' buffets?

I can't figure out why these two groups integrated so easily, and yet at our other pond, we had so much trouble integrating new ducks. I think it's probably because this new group had two males and a female, and so did the older group, while before we were always trying to introduce a female to a group of males. (The females kept getting eaten by hawks so we went through this several times.) Sometimes it was as if we had told four crusty old bachelors that they had to take care of a Goth teenage girl, and sometimes it was as if we had walked into the local prison and said, "Anyone want to take care of this pretty girl?" You can imagine that there were problems with both scenarios. (Let's just say that ducks are not romantic and leave it at that.) It seems to be working out much better this time, though.

Halley eventually moved on to observe Emma the goat eating. She sat on the fence post and calmly watched her. Emma didn't care -- they're all used to Halley now. (My husband found Halley sleeping under the horse's feet the other day, which terrifies me.) Finally, she'd finished her round of chores and took off for breakfast.

Breakfast is, of course, the most important meal of the day, along with lunch, second lunch, dinner, and assorted snacks.

Again, not that I have any room to talk. Literally.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lovely Day...

We were a little surprised this morning by the new occupant of our pond...

Just fooling! We took a trip today to the Columbia Zoo and Botanical Gardens, where this fine fellow lives. We amused ourselves imagining the animals' reactions to finding him sunning himself on the banks of the pond, though. Okay, I guess we would have been a little surprised too.

It's a very nice zoo, but the botanical gardens are really special. It's inspirational to see the way they put plants together, and I get ideas for plants I'd like to have.

Here's one I plan to have a lot of at some point. It's called Muhly grass or sweet grass. Most of the year it's a little nondescript, and then for a relatively short period in the fall, it takes on this pink hue that makes it spectacular.

There is a much smaller version growing wild along the roadways in our area. I want masses of it someday.

This was a beautiful little water feature. The palms make it look more southwest than southeast to me, but it was still lovely.

The park runs beside the Saluda river. You can see here what a pretty day it was. It was only in the 50's by mid-day but warm in the sun and so bright and clear. It was one of the days when you're just happy to be alive to see it.

Posted by Picasa

Foggy Morning...

Looks like it's going to be a pretty day here in South Carolina, but the early morning fog over the pond was beautiful. See the beginnings of fall color...

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Irving Update II

It's a lazy Sunday here. Clear and bright, but quite cold for us (43 degrees this morning).

Most of the animals are taking it easy this morning. Halley has taken up her normal morning nap position in front of my husband's computer monitor. She appears to be relaxed. The goats are asleep in the pasture, and Gus the horse is just hanging out.

On the other end of the scale, we have new-cat Irving, who is recovering from a cold, and starting to feel like himself again. He's been shut up in my sewing room for a week, where he's been content mostly to sleep. It's warm and safe, but now that he's on the mend, it's small and boooooring. He's played with everything that can be played with (and everything that shouldn't be played with is shut up in a cabinet).

It's starting to get scary to go in there. He jumps up and searches you for anything that can be played with.

The blurry thing in front of his face is a piece of string. String is huge on Irving's list of 'things that need to be killed.' String is very serious business.

Isn't it nice to see him starting to feel better?

But how are we going to keep him entertained?

Note to self: Put cat toys -- lots of cat toys -- on the shopping list...
Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goats Like To Be Towel-Dried

It poured here in South Carolina today. Poured. We probably got three inches of rain before it finally let up around 5:00 p.m.

Gus the horse and the two goats stayed in the shelter all day. The goats hate rain. Gus doesn't mind a shower, but he doesn't like to get poured on. We took them hay throughout the day while they sulked.

When it finally stopped, Gus came out for some more hay. First he kindly stopped and rolled in the mud for me. He looked so funny with his mane all wet, covered in mud, and a deeply disgruntled look on his face.

Actually, they were all disgruntled. And the towel-drying? I did towel-dry them. Goats aren't supposed to be wet for long, and they were soaked. How did I get them to stand still, you ask? It turns out that goats ADORE being towel-dried. Who knew? I could have done it all day, and they would have just stood there. Their coats fluff right up too. It was oddly satisfying. I'm not sure what that says about me, but at least I do get to add the coveted 'have towel-dried a goat' to my resume.

There was another disgruntled animal out there too.

For the record, Halley ("the cat who did not pee on a bed") can come in anytime she pleases. I personally think the whole 'look how wet I got in the rain' thing is just a ploy for sympathy. And food. It's all about food. Always.
Posted by Picasa

Irving Update

Last time we checked in with Irving, the young cat someone dumped on our property a couple of weeks ago, he was living in the garage in disgrace after having peed on a guest bed.

Well, the mattress is still out in the garage, but Irving isn't. It turned colder and rainy here recently, and he still hasn't gotten over his cold, so now he's living in my sewing room, where he's warm and resting. He went back to the vet today because the cold isn't getting better, and he has a new antibiotic we're supposed to give him twice a day.

I've posted before about wondering what the animals think of the things we do for them. Irving the stray gets his own room, food brought to him, and his poop scooped. We go in and love him up regularly, and have spent more than a bit on vet bills. This is for a cat we didn't even know a little over two weeks ago.

Funny how it doesn't take long for an animal to steal your heart, isn't it?
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Teeming With Ducks

My last post was about the three new young ducks we bought today. When last we saw them, they were hiding in the brush. A little while later, my husband went out and threw them a handful of grain...and all of a sudden, they're out in the open. They've teamed up with the other three ducks, who are wary and disgruntled, but not entirely unwelcoming.

They're staying in a tight group, and every so often one of the older ducks reminds them who was here first. Miss Penny, our older female duck, attacked them by pushing at them with her breast, rather than pecking at them the way the others did.

We have a bowl of corn for the ducks just outside the fence to the pasture, reached by crawling under the gate. (That's so the goats can't get to it. They luuuuve corn.). The older three ducks went to it like usual, but were met by our cat Boot. A brief face-off, and then Boot continued on his way to dinner. (In case anyone is worrying, Boot is 18 years old, and has few teeth left. Most days he's lucky to know where he is, much less hurt ducks.)

The new ducks followed the older ones under the gate, and fed excitedly for a while, then apparently got disoriented, and started squawking loudly. My husband had to come down from the porch to help, and we herded them back into the pasture.

The goats have serious doubts about our sanity. They had concerns before, but they're pretty sure there's an issue now. We're just happy they have no way of contacting the authorities...
Posted by Picasa

Duck Crazy

We bought three more ducks today. My husband found out that a flea market about an hour away often has ducks for sale, so we went and bought these little guys from Miss Joan the Chicken Lady, as she calls herself.

It's surprising hard to find ducks that are mature enough to release in a pond. If you buy them too small, the hawks and other predators will just eat them. We've been looking for a while for more ducks to add to the three we have already, so we were really happy to find these two males and a female. We hope they'll eventually get along with the others but right now they're huddled together as if we just brought them to Leavenworth Prison. I feel like I should be ordering them to line up for their mug shots.

This doesn't look like such a bad spot for a duck to live, does it? Unfortunately, they ran directly from the cage into the bushes around the pond, and I don't think they even know there's water out there!

Gus the horse was really interested in them. We had to lead him away to make sure he didn't accidentally step on them when they finally decide to leave the brush. The goats came to look at them too. I guess if you're a goat or a horse, life can be a little on the slow side, and any amusement is welcome.

I'm sure a good photographer would probably not have her own silhouette in the picture. Sigh.
Posted by Picasa

You Might Also Like

Blog Widget by LinkWithin