Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Farm Animals Gone Wild

We manage our livestock best when we understand their natural behavioral patterns. If we can harness and work with those patterns and tendencies, we can make our jobs easier and their lives less stressful. But sometimes, their natural behavior can cause problems, and sometimes, they lose their minds altogether, and in those cases, all bets are off.

Take today, for instance.

Chickens naturally return to wherever they consider "home" to sleep as the sun is setting and the darkness is falling. All four of my chicken groups know where their particular homes are, and have been quite faithful in returning home and settling in for the night, leaving me to simply shut the doors behind them and be done. But our week of rain and the accumulated mud have inclined my "tractor" chickens to blow off the walk out to the pasture and rather, to roost on the boards that separate the alpaca stalls. That's all well and good, except for the fact that they are completely exposed and vulnerable to raccoon predation. (Alpacas are useless as protection; something in their contract...) So for the last four nights, I have had to relocate these chickens, an armload at a time, to their rightful sleeping quarters. This is getting old.

(Dramatization - imagine these chickens up on the boards.)

The front yard chickens, during one of our rain showers late today, decided that it was much nicer to collect on my front doorstep rather than retire to their own coop, and had to be herded with a rake back to their appropriate quarters. Have you ever tried to herd ten chickens with a rake?

But the highlight of the day came when DD and I were having a discussion between rooms, and she suddenly exclaimed mid-sentence: "COW!" Sure enough, I looked up to see a small brown and white steer meander under the kitchen window and out to the yard. I recognized him immediately. He and his black and white companion had escaped from their pasture across the creek and had spent the last day or two in my neighbor's fenced front yard. I kept thinking either my neighbor or the cows' owner would notice that they had wandered off and set things right. I intended to call the police if they were there tomorrow. Apparently, they found a way out of my neighbor's yard and mosied down the creek into my yard. I grabbed the camera and was only able to document their trip around my front garden and their exit down the road toward the end of my dead-end street. There, they struck up a friendship with my neighbor Lucy's horses, and camped out for a while. I called the Sheriff, who sent the Parker police, who, after locating the cows, came to visit with me about my limited knowledge of the cows' ownership. (Interesting aside: the police officer looked past me into the house and said, "wow, this place looks different!" We asked if he'd been here in previous years. He said with a wry smile, "oh, yeah." Heh. If these walls could talk... we'd have to wash out their mouths with soap.)





I found evidence in the yard that the cows had visited with the sheep before coming back around by the kitchen. I guess they'd given themselves a tour of the place, found it lacking, and headed down the road. Fair enough.

Were they driven mad by the incessant rain, swollen creeks, and squishy clay between their toes--driven to blindly wander the countryside in search of a dry place to lay their heads? We may never know.


Have I mentioned that I'm looking forward to the end of the monsoon season?

5 comments:

  1. They probably heard the rumour of Esther's mad dash for the promised land of your farm and decided to check it out for themselves. You know, they might be tempted to stay and you could add milking duties to the egg hunting and chicken herding...and sheep shearing....and alpaca shearing...and sheep doctoring....and....wait, I'm tired already.

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  2. The good news is, Carol, that I confirmed that these cows are boys. No milking to be done, fortunately.

    I'm assuming they were transported back home somehow. I gave up my Mrs. Kravitz duties and sat down to dinner. :-)

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  3. Terri8:21 AM

    Boy cows.... hmmm. things are crazy at your place!

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  4. I bet your walls and my walls know each other...the stories my neighbors have told me about the former occupants! And yes, the police have been here too. I won't gross out the readers of the comments with more details but I will say I'm quite happy an investor completely gutted the inside and put up new sheetrock and put down new flooring!

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  5. LOL Anna! We had a couple of guys out here every day for a year gutting our house and virtually starting over. I think we got rid of most of the icky feelings. I sometimes look back at the "before" pictures and really appreciate how far we've come. Ahhhhhhhh.

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