Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No excuses!

Okay, so I've been slacking on posts!  I've not a viable excuse or reason.  Izadora and I have been soaking up couch time and overdosing on milk from Jenny Cow! 

Things on the ranch are much the same.  Chickens have been butchered, goats have been milked, cow has been milked, eggs collected, fence fixed, skunks hunted, etc.  Along the way Shelly has behavior has made me giggle, and sometimes scream.  The kid is progressing through middle school and growing every minute. 

We did adopt two new Great Danes a couple of months ago.  Shelly went to town after I had gotten a phone call about a young male Dane that needed a new home.  When she arrived to pick him up, she found that another needed a home too.  Shelly's not one to blow off a dog in need so home came two gangly pups!  Both are unaltered so unfortunately we had to separate them which was a bit stressful in the beginning.  We put the Denali (female) in Hamlet's yard and now Hamlet thinks he's on the good end of an arranged marriage.  When I take all the dogs out to do chores, Denali snaps at Jersey (male) whenever he gets too close to Hamlet.  Poor guy, he's been dumped and Izadora won't have anything to do with any other dog.  Jersey seems to be doing just fine though.  He gets ample time to practice his lean. 

 Denali getting some sun.

 Hamlet, Jersey and Denali letting Bad Penny get some herding practice in.

In addition to the dogs, Mister Man the Jenny Cow's little bull calf went off to his forever home in Gunnison CO.  He's destined to be a herd sire and so far he's fitting in fine.  His mama Jenny was a real pill for several days, yelling all night long and jumping fence in search for her kiddo.  She's settled down and has been cooperating wonderfully at milking times.  I did scar her for life when the cold from my hands startled her and she abruptly backed out of the milking stand.  I tie up her tail with a piece of bale twine and it must have been sitting just right in the space between her bones as it tightened and snapped off the end of her tail.  Initially I thought it was just the switch of hair but after further inspection my fears were confirmed. 
See....boring old ranch!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Flooding!

Not a water kind of flood.  I've been having a lot of memories flood my banks this past week.  I do wonder why, but not for long.  Instead I've just been enjoying them. 

Of course I've been thinking of Pop a lot.  Memories of him are never few but I do get days when I have floods of them.  If he knew I was putting a picture of his scrawny chest online for the world to see he's scold me but I've always loved this picture of him and Dana Dog.  She would talk to him much like my Hamlet talks to me. 

We also celebrated Jolene's 13th birthday on the 15th.  I really wish he was here to give her a bad time about becoming a teenage hellion.  I wish he were here to teach her how to drive or to tell her stories about milking cows and hunting pheasants.  

Of course the recent news about the SkyWest pilot that stole and crashed the plane in Utah gave me a few more memories.  Pop was working at the SkyWest hanger in Colorado Springs as the facility maintenance  supervisor when he died in 2007.  He was proud of his job and never missed on opportunity to show his grandchildren a plane.  

 I've also been thinking a lot about my Grandma Mac (McDaniel).  I've picked through many of the pictures I have on this computer and can't seem to find any of her.  I did find a bit of her here in this one.  She's on the left side, looking on at my younger brother Dustin's wedding.  The last year or so of her life she lived in a home in Canon City.  I was working for a treatment center there and was able to visit with her almost every day.  I had to run some errands near the nursing home where she lived this week and thought of her several times. 

When I was 16, Grandma Mac gave me her 1965 Chevy Corvair.  My friend Lisa P. and I had much fun in that car.  It was baby blue with an AM radio.  Grandma had dented the fender racing home from work at the courthouse in Saguache one day for lunch.  The dent stayed in the fender.  It didn't have seatbelts and the speedometer didn't work.  I was late for school one morning because I couldn't get the door to shut.  No lie!  I miss that car almost as much as I miss my grandmother.  Owning another Corvair is one of the items on my bucket list.

The horrible events at the theater in Aurora also gave me a flood of memories.  My grandparents owned the Ute Theatre in Saguache CO, when I was a kid.  It looked much different than the picture above.  I learned to count change selling popcorn in that movie house.  Each year Saguache holds a large community event on Memorial Day weekend.  The weekend marks the opening of the museum, and kicks off the summer.  Grandma Mac would decorate the Corvair and dress me and my siblings up like characters from whatever movie she was showing at the time and  enter the whole mess in the parade.  I haven't been back to Saguache in many years.  I have family there still and I should really take the time to visit.  I really want to go to the Ute just to see the old popcorn machine and to see if it still has the same smell.

Along with all the memories of past I've been making a few in the present.  
Jolene is wrapping up her softball season this coming weekend with a league tournament in Pueblo CO.  I can't believe that the days have zipped by so fast.  I'm not ready for the season to be over.  

When she was born I really thought I'd be spending my weekends at swim meets.  Then again I thought she's be wearing make-up and dresses too.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've Been Trying to Keep My Mouth Shut!

Remember last week when I posted this picture? 

This is the little hole that the bear made when he decided to snack on my layer hens and turkeys.  Jolene and I spent the day after, mending the hole and securing other areas of the coop.  This particular hole is about 18 inches above an 8 foot fence.  The next evening all as quiet, or seemingly so.  Those oso aren't stoopid!  Shelly, Bean and Friend Gretchen sat down by the coops armed to the teeth in an attempt to thwart any other plans the bear had for an easy meal.  No sight of the bear. 

And here's the coop a couple of days later.  In the end I lost about 35 birds, including my favorite roo, Russel Crow.  After another call to the Department of Wildlife, a nice young man brought out a trap and some paperwork. 
The remaining  fowl, checked out the trap for a few minutes and then went about their usual pecking and dusting.  We baited the trap with some bacon, cream cheese frosting, cantaloupe and the body of the red rooster.  The red rooster, who never made friends with the humans around here, had been bitten and had to be put down. 
After a few days of early morning checks, we turned the corner to find the door to the trap shut.  Shelly opened up one of the vent doors and quickly shut it.  I made her open up the vent doors and allow me a peek in. 
Inside was this critter.  My first impression was that we had gotten the wrong bear, this one is too small.  Turns out it was the right bear.  The DOW officer called later and told us the bear's history.  He was trapped and tagged in the Westcliffe area last year for killing chickens.  He was then relocated to Huerfano County approximately 80-90 miles from our ranch. 
Although I don't know for sure, this bear was probably humanely put down.  I did fill out the paperwork asking for monetary reimbursement for my chicken losses. 

So here comes the "not keeping my mouth shut" part.  My little blog has 13 public followers.  I know more people read it as I generally send an email announcing my updates as well as posting a link on Facebook.  I also have others frequently comment about not keeping up on posts or the cute pictures of my critters, or of course my exaggeration of Shelly's abilities.  Point being, I don't know who reads it and who doesn't.  In general I try not to make waves.  Life is a whole lot easier if I take a minute and think about what kind of an impact my words may have on others.  I'm going to blow that right out of the water here.  I'm also going to post a picture that some of you may not find pleasing.  Just a warning. 

I live on a mountain, with a lot of wildlife.  I've seen deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, skunks, foxes,coyotes,  picket pens, hawks, and the occasional bald eagle.  We've had the displeasure of watching a mountain lion chew on our ducks from a distance of 6 feet.  I've lost lambs and hogs to bears.  I've had coyotes chase my goats into fences and skunks steal eggs as well as rip the heads off 100 cockerels.  We've trapped at least 6 bears on our ranch in the last 7 years, shot 2 and jumped one with dogs.  For the most part I accept all the wildlife in our area.  They lived here first.  With the exception of this most recent incident, I have never asked for monetary reimbursement for my losses.  I have always accepted it as part of living with such beauty.  The problem here is a neighbor.  We have a couple that lives about a mile up the mountain.  They love animals to the point of harming them.  It's the Lenny Syndrome.   Well maybe not exactly, they don't hug them and squeeze them, and kiss them and call them George.  They do however place feed out for the wildlife.  A large amount of feed.  They have said that they only put out food for the deer but I'm pretty sure a bear isn't going to pass up a free meal if it is offered.  The neighbors have had a bear break into their vehicle after food.  A bear breaking into a vehicle is not a cute thing, damage was done.  In fact I haven't seen that specific auto rumble down the hill since it happened.  The problems with feeding wildlife are numerous.  If I were on a specific diet of raw food consisting of native plants and I suddenly switched it McDonald's burgers I'd probably have a few digestive problems.  In addition to the disruption of their digestion, many animals become dependent upon feed left by humans and will become unpredictable when that food source is taken away.  Large animals like bears will continue to come back to the same food source if food is there on a consistent basis.  Our bear roamed at least 80 miles to our ranch.  He should have been here briefly and then continued his wandering ways. Even though the neighbors feel and truly believe that they are doing a good thing, they are not.  They have been repeatedly told that they are not doing a good thing. They have been told by DOW officers, and other neighbors, not just us.  These same neighbors threatened to kill an officer's dogs if he continued to allow them to chase a bear.  Shelly and I have been scolded by the neighbors for trapping or shooting wildlife that wanders onto our ranch.  I want to be clear, I have never shot or had someone shoot an animal just because I saw it on our property.  I don't hunt.  Not because I'm against hunting, but for several reasons.  I don't have time, and I really don't look good in day-glow orange. I have invited others to hunt on our property.  I only invite those that I feel respect not only my ranch but the animals that they hunt as well.  I have only shot or trapped animals that have become a problem, more than once.  I do harvest turkeys and chickens here and allow others to harvest lambs and goats here as well.  I try to do most things in life with respect and dignity and the raising, harvesting and consumption of the animals we eat are no exception.  Although I have politely told the neighbors that feeding everything is harmful, it has apparently fallen of deaf ears.  I have been waved aside when the neighbors hear about our trials with wildlife, I've been told that we live in a bad area and that I shouldn't blame them for having bad luck.  First, I don't have bad luck and secondly I will continue to blame my neighbors.  I will tell everyone I know what happens on our mountain.  If our neighbors ever put their property up for sale I will make it a point to inform anyone looking at it that wildlife, the big dangerous kind frequents their driveway.  Maybe the death and destruction of my layer chickens would have still occurred if the neighbors didn't feed everything, maybe this once.  However, the fact that I have the DOW on speed dial because we have these problems frequently, is absolutely because the neighbors feed the wildlife.  If this particular bear was put down, it is ABSOLUTELY the neighbors' fault.  It is not my fault for trapping the bear.  I do my best to  provide a safe shelter for my chickens.  I have built and rebuilt coops, placed electric fencing around the perimeter, placed smelly stuff around, made repeated phone calls to our trash removal service for metal lids on our dumpster.  I have done my best to discourage wildlife from checking out my livestock.  It is the neighbors' fault that I have lost livestock which means I have lost money.  Because of the neighbors actions, my ability to put food in front of my family has been handicapped. 

The fact that I had to take the following photo for evidence is horrible.  It is because of my neighbors that you, my readers are being subjected to such a thing. 
The purpose of this blog was not to capture your attention with pictures of a captured bear and then rant about those that live near me.  I'm hoping that anyone that loves animals from hamsters to bears will also respect animals.  If putting out grain for deer were a good thing, then I'm wagering the DOW would have a program encouraging people to do so.  I'm not sure about other states but I know without a shadow of a doubt that Colorado does not have any such program.  In fact I believe we have the opposite here. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sometimes it's Rough Being a Mom!

Hello Campers!  Jenny Cow here, thought I'd tell you about my day.

Today was a BAD day.  To start with, I didn't get special cookies or brushing this morning.  Apparently those two legged, creatures that take care of me, had other things to take care of.  I was getting over it and the day was looking up when one of the two legged things led me into the milking barn.  I LIKE the milking barn, my bowl is always full of cookies, I get a good brushing, and I get a special spray that makes the flies go least for awhile.  They do steal my milk though.  Usually they leave enough for my little Mister but not tonight!
THEY took all of my milk tonight!  Instead of leaving milk for Mister, they took it all.  AND THEN...Mister was put in the stall with Dino the Alpaca and I was led out to the pasture with Jersey Girl and Brownie Cow.  At first I was happy to see the girls as I have been away from them for two weeks.  Then I realized that poor Mister was not going to be cuddling with me.
Even though one of the two legged creatures promised that I would get to see him in the morning, I left her a special gift in the milk stall.  Sometimes it's important for a mother to make an impression.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Multiple Harvests

So today we harvested chicken.  Last night the bear harvested some of our layers too!

The oso, climbed up the fence of the coop and just peeled the wire apart.  So tonight after we fried up our harvest Shelly, Bean and Friend Gretchen set out to rid the mountain of the chicken eating bear. 

Maybe I'll have pictures of bear skin rug to post soon, or I'll have a crazy story. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Baby's First Baby!

If you recall, we had a handsome visitor at the ranch about 285 days ago.  Even though he stayed for a couple of months, he apparently thought his visit was to be short as he took the opportunity to get to know the cows right off the bat.  Just about 9 and 1/2 months ago we had a Mini-Jersey bull by the name of Napoleon visit my cows.  As a result, Jenny Cow (she's officially a cow now!) calved a bouncy baby boy on June 29th at about 430 in the afternoon.
As we were driving through the ranch, Shelly started screeching and pointing.  I knew that something had happened but even after all this time together, I can't decipher the screeching and pointing most days.  I was trying to just nod and smile and still get the truck safely into the driveway.  Shelly kept leaning over and jerking the wheel and the pointing got exponentially worse.  Jolene finally pointed out the new baby in the field.  The poor guy was dropped out in the midst of our heat wave into a dusty dirt lot.  Along with his mother, both "Aunties" were busy helping clean him up too.  Nothing like getting a big, old, girtty, sandpaper feeling tongue upside both the left and right lobes of your face.
After he was cleaned up a bit, Shelly picked him up and lugged him up to the barn while I followed leading Jenny Cow.  She's done a great job for a first time mom.  Her poor udder is full, full, full and I try to relieve some pressure each day by milking some out.  The pigs are thrilled with the milk I am getting now.  I'll give the guy a couple of weeks of getting all he wants then, I'll start stealing some for me!
Jenny Cow is doing great as far as the milking stand goes.  When I lead her in I leave the gate to her run open and the calf goes a wandering.  He's ventured over to the Aunties, introduced himself to the goats, smelled the flowers scattered about the barn area.  He rarely makes noise, although when I was guiding him back to mom yesterday he did have a few choice words for me.
Today when I was milking Jenny, Jolene had to help him out of a tight spot.  I'm hoping someone will purchase him as a herd sire since he's half miniature.  I'll make sure he's handled daily and will start halter training soon.  Jolene wants to name him Bruce, I have no idea where she got that idea.  I'll ponder names for the next day or two.  Everyone needs a name.