Monday, November 3, 2014

Cycle of Life

This morning I was distracted and let the turkeys out while the House Ding Bat was out. 
He attacked 2  the turkeys and it looked like so much fun Oakley joined the chase and the dogs killed 2 Red Bourbon Turkeys.  
So my stupidity has killed a bird AND undone weeks of training on Oakley. 
To show that the cycle of life is never ending on the ranch this morning we had twins.
  I have been saying for weeks we could have lambs any day and that day finally came. 
Shelby had twins this morning.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hot Rod

When we bought our Pelibuey Sheep they were a price I was willing to pay and the right size to help the other sheep keep the weeds down.  I sent Darling Husband and the 2 oldest girls to pick out the lambs.  I wasn’t ready for a ram and repeatedly told Darling Husband and the girls NO BOY SHEEP.  They brought home Dragster, Dodger, Shelby, and Hot Rod.  Hot Rod was a sweet girl until after a few days of owning her I flipped her over and discovered Darling Husband had bought a boy!  Hot Rod was the sweetest little ram lamb you ever saw!  He quickly learned to walk on a halter, would walk beside me while I scratched under his ears. 
  The problem is rams are dangerous. 
  Rams ram things.
I kept reading about how to raise a ram.  We free range our sheep and that makes life with a ram complicated.  Experts have to schools of thought:  your ram should be afraid of all people – it’s too late for this, or work with it regularly keep the ram in a pen and when you want it to go somewhere walk it on lead. Ranches with a lot of sheep will keep a ram in a separate pen with withers (neutered male sheep) so they have company, and always ALWAYS watch your ram. 
Hot Rod is almost 2, his second batch of babies will be born soon, BUT all of a sudden his ramming has increased.  The cows all move out of his way if he wants their food, they do not want to experience another of his head butts.  This weekend I was working on sprinklers and he kept circling me.  I scratched behind his ear and he wanted more when I turned back to work he rammed my hand.  I grabbed a piece of firewood and the next time he ran at me I hit him on the side of the head with firewood.  He looked like I had hurt his feelings but Hot Rod has to learn not to hit anyone.

I am worried we will soon be having a BBQ with Hot Rod as our guest of honor.   For now we are watching his behavior and I hope the firewood has stopped him from ramming anyone soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Feeding Cat Tails?

When we had our bull, he and April would squeeze out of the fence and go down into the pond and eat the cat tails.  
Since he went to Freezer Camp I have been amazed at how fast the cat tails have grown back.  SO I had the brilliant idea that I would let the cows out and encourage them to eat around the pond. We let the pond get 3 feet lower than normal the cows would only have to go over 6 inches of water to eat most of the cat tails.  I wouldn’t feed them in the morning until they went back into the pasture so getting them back in would be easy.    Little did I know that would be the only easy part!
I opened the gate wide enough for the girls to walk through and they just stared at me like what is this crazy lady doing.  Then I herded them out I got 2 out of the gate the other two ran around me like I was trying to spray them with fly spray.  Then the two I got out ran back into the pasture almost knocking me over. 
I decided to grab a handful of hay so the cows would follow me.  The cows followed me nibbling on the hay so I tossed what was left down by the water’s edge and went to let the sheep out.  The cows, seeing I had run out of hay and had stopped paying attention to them, decided to go back into the pasture.
This time I grabbed more hay, kicking the sheep out of the way I coaxed the cows back out of the pasture and left a trail of hay for the girls to follow to the cat tails then I decoratively hung the remaining hay on the cat tails so the cows would see the delicious hay and take a bite out of the cat tails and hay.  Rolo and April followed me to the water’s edge and I knew I was going to be successful.  I knew Onyx and Ruby would soon be jealous and soon start munching on delicious cat tails.  Then Rolo realized she had to stretch her head over 6 inches of water to eat the hay decorated cat tails and she bolted running as fast as she could back to the pasture!  The rest of the girls followed her.  Soon we will have to dig out the cat tails out of the pond because I am smart enough not to try this again.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Growing Turkeys

The turkeys are growing so fast sometimes I think they look bigger every morning. 
We started with getting Luca used to the turkeys.  
Every morning and evening they go out so they can stretch their wings, run, and forage for food. 
When we got Oakley we started working with her right away to train her to not chase the turkeys. 
Unfortunately we had two wild chickens that I didn’t train Oakley with.  I thought I had trained her to turkeys she would accept the chickens…. 
1) Livestock Guardian Dogs are not supposed to be considered trustworthy until they are 2 years old 
2) I didn’t think about how Oakley would respond when the chicken started stealing the turkey’s food 
3) Livestock Guardian’s are supposed to be introduced to animals that are accepted on the property.  
We no longer have wild chickens.  Totally my fault! 
 Oakley is amazing with the turkeys. 
She will watch the turkeys run, flap wings, even chase her and she has not acted aggressive at all.
Teen Son will be selling 5 of the turkeys for Thanksgiving.  That will be a whole new adventure.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing Oakley

We had been looking for a new dog.  I was hoping to find a Livestock Guardian Dog that was needing to be rehomed.  I still am not a puppy person and we have had luck adopting rescue dogs.  There are several wonderful rescue organizations that deal with Livestock Guardian Dogs.  I contacted them but unfortunately our situation is complicated (cats, poultry, other dogs, lots of company, kids) and the only dogs that fit our situation were a pair of adolescent male boys and I was afraid they would overwhelm Luca. 
Luca was being overworked on his own all night long.  I was tired of getting up with a high powered flashlight to help Luca convince the coyotes and stray dogs to stay further away from the fence.  I needed to get Luca help!  And just as I came to this realization I found a breeder of Anatolian Sheppard’s with puppies that were 4 months old. 

Tiffany at and I chose the new dog for us.  One Sunday afternoon Oakley arrived a sweet happy puppy! Oakley had spent 10 days in a truck transport and arrived with problems with her front legs.  
I called Tiffany and we spent hours contacting other breeders and looking up information on what had happened and the best way to treat her.  We decided to give it a few days then take her to our vet and see how things were healing if we needed to do anything else.  It took about 2 weeks for her legs to return to normal.  

Friday, September 5, 2014


I can't figure out why Onyx buried her face in the mulch pile.
Mechanical Cows

We have been trimming trees to supplement the food we are giving the cattle and sheep.  
The cow hear the forklift start up and come running.  The sheep have learned to run towards the sound of the chain saw. 

The branches are multi-purpose: food, back scratcher, and jungle gym.
Helpful cows
Happy Cows

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Teen Son bought some Broad Breasted White Turkeys and we bought 6 Red Bourbon Turkeys.  So far 3 of the Red Bourbon’s have died.
  We have been working on getting Luca used to the turkeys so they will be protected instead of chased by our dog.  Luca isn’t real happy with the playful turkeys 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Thank You Brooks and Dunn

Stick Boy's first day with us.
When you have an adopted child the questions about how they were born isn't always easy.  Our family is complicated.  My oldest daughter’s birth mom’s grandparents are wonderful grandparents for all of my kids and I hugely appreciate that, we have been able to have a wonderful relationship with all the family.  At family gatherings with Oldest Daughters birth mom we just refer to her as an aunt for the rest of the kids.  We have a Facebook relationship with Stick Boy’s siblings that all live in different states. 

Today Stick Boy was very insistent asking me about his birth father.  This is hard.  His birth mother was a failure of the foster care system and after being bounced like a yo-yo between foster homes and her mother she ran away as a young teen to live off of the streets.  Stick Boy is the youngest of her children all were born drug exposed.  Stick Boys birth mom is blond, and so by looking at Stick Boy we know his birth father is of African ancestry.  When we got Stick Boy we didn't even know that much, we would play guessing games on his race; Mexican, Filipino, African American, Pacific Islander, and Native American, and seal were all regularly discussed. 
Stick Boy's adoption day.

Today Stick Boy didn't ask me generally about “dads” or his birth mom or meeting his birth siblings. Today his question was about HIS birth father - why did he leave his birth mom, why don’t we know who he is? Today I had to let my son know that all babies don’t come into the world after a mom and dad meet and fall in love and get married and then have a baby.  Today I let him know that sometimes people have sex and babies without being in love.  I could see his mind working.

Then Brooks and Dunn’s song, “She Used to be Mine” came on the radio.  Stick Boy looked at me and said “That’s the opposite of this song.”  Yes!  “I feel sorry for my mom then” and it was over.  For now with Brooks and Dunn’s help I have answered his questions.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Butching Turkeys

don't scroll down unless you want to see dead birds.
When we were at the fair Teen Son’s Ag teacher mentioned the person who had butchered the turkeys in the past was no longer available.  Teen Son found out it was $25  a bird to do the butchering and volunteered.  The problem is we are not real confident of the job we are doing!  So he gathered three friends, borrowed the pot a wonderful friend of ours uses to cook crawfish and got to work.  Well the kids got to work – I took pictures. 
The boys put the birds in a cut down traffic cone then cut the veins so the bird would bleed out.
One of the FFA girls older sisters knew what she was doing and gave lessons. 
 She sure did make the day so much easier!
They started doing the plucking with a plucker attached to a drill.  
These birds were 25 to 40 lbs and holding them in the air got old really fast.
The kids switched over to plucking by hand.
Not to be out done by his big brother.

The first bird gook over 40 minutes and by the time we got down to the fourth turkey the kids had it down to 25 minutes.  4 kids working 25 minutes to earn $25.00 is not a great profit.  Teen son enjoyed doing the work and plans to raise a few turkeys to sell for Thanksgiving.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Missing Tessa

Tessa was a wonderful dog.  
She was Luca’s leader, the two dogs worked together with her seeming to tell Luca what to do. 
Tessa had the energy to play with Dakota long enough to get him good and tired every morning and afternoon. 
She was the sheep’s alarm, if Tessa barked the sheep paid attention often moving closer to her for protection.  The cat’s enjoyed teasing her to the point that I warned the kids if one of our cats ended up dead I wouldn’t be mad at Tessa. 
 Tessa rarely let a human hand rest without her putting her head under it for a scratch.  She was the perfect loving watchful protective dog.  After Tessa died Stick Boy came to me in tears, “Now the only one I have to tell my secrets to is God”.  Tessa will always be missed.