Critter Conundrum

Now that the garden is under control, it’s time to get back to fencing while the browse is still prime. We actually have enough land behind woven wire for all our ruminants, but from one paddock they can break into the garden, and the sheep must move or die from parasites.

We are also developing bovine issues. Danny is now 20 months old, and weighs something over 800 lbs. We would like to keep him through the summer while food is free, then put him in the freezer before we have to start paying for hay. Unfortunately he is also an obnoxious adolescent, even if he does, as it were, ‘moo soprano’. His fencebusting has become entirely too literal. He can’t get through the middle of a run of fence, but if he finds the post where a piece ends, he can yank it loose even if I’ve done everything right. This is beginning to affect his life expectancy.

Meanwhile, Zippy doesn’t lead the way out, but once she’s out she definitely doesn’t want to come back. Basically we have to follow the cows around through the woods until they are worn out enough to be willing to go back to their shed for some cud chewing time.

There is also an issue with Zippy’s pregnancy. She is supposed to be 8 months pregnant (cows take 11 months to have a baby), but we have seen both Danny (who shouldn’t be interested) and Birch (who is a sheep and obviously thinks very well of himself) mounting her. We keep reminding ourselves that she went into heat three times and then the vet said she was 4 months pregnant. Her wanting to be a free cow could be because of hormones, but it’s been a week now, too long for a regular heat.

I’m running electronet through the area that was cleared in 2008, and the cows are at least somewhat knocking it down. The sheep do a great job anywhere they can see the house. The weed load is so bad out there that every time it rains the fence is shut down and the sheep come back to the house. This is much better than the village, but I’ve bought a more powerful fence charger anyway. Hopefully that will let me keep them where I want them.

The turkey poults are trickling in. The big white dogs are keeping the hens alive, even the ones that go hide in the woods. Randy and Dandy however appear to have been a bit overworked. They certainly looked haggard earlier in the Spring. We’re getting 3-6 poults per hen instead of the normal eight. We’ll cut the hen-tom ratio from 15 to one to ten to one next year.

The mushroom season is starting early. Some friends turned us on to a bunch of Bondarzewia Berkeleyi growing in a cemetery in Keene. We brought several pounds home and froze them for future use in stock. I’m still finding the occasional aspen oyster and so far I’ve found three boletes. They don’t usually start till late July. They were however over on 123 rather than here. Just crossing the ridge seems to advance the season. I seem to have bought the freezer compartment of the Icebox of Cheshire County.

The hive I’d been worried about swarmed on Wednesday. Wednesday just happened to be the first non rainy day for a week. I just hadn’t been able to get back in to see if I needed to split them again, nor have I yet. Must take a look today, even though I fear the new queens will have hatched.

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