Best Buds

a half built rabbit tractor-hutch thing

First, an update on the plans to build a rabbit tractor. I have the frame assembled! Not too shabby, considering how often I stopped, took things apart, re-measured, decided the iteration wasn’t going to work, and started over. This first one will be done in a day or so, then I’ll start the other two. It is now three feet wide and 2.5 feet tall at its tallest point. There will be an enclosed back end for a “burrow.” The others are going to be so much easier!  As for the rabbits, I’ve begun bringing them a good handful of greens every day. So far they’ve turned their noses up at cabbage, but they love mulberry leaves–even the frost-bitten ones, honeysuckle leaves, kale stems, and have begun to develop a taste for comfrey leaves, which I’m excited about. My research into raising rabbits says you can replace about half of their processed foods with comfrey leaves, and comfrey grows like a weed here on the farm.

Now, onto Radha and her best bud in the whole world, Mr. Headbutts. It’s a miracle! Radha is growing up. It’s been like someone flipping a light switch. She’s gone from impulsive overreactions to considered reactions. The other day she startled a chicken and it flew into her face. Not only did her mouth not open in response, her ears didn’t even rise. She just walked on by. She’s done the same with the turkeys, ignoring them rather than chasing. I’ll say it once again. You can train a dog that has killed chickens not to kill chickens. This is my second success doing it, and if I can do it, anyone can.

Her new calm behavior has not quite translated to how she treats the sheep. She’s much better, but given a chance, she just can’t stop herself. She has to run after them. I’ve decided this must be because Anatolian Shepherds are not just a livestock guardian breed, but also shepherds. Hence the name, duh. Clearly, Radha is herding when she puts the ewes and ewe lambs into a corner. Then, she’ll cut out the one she wants to chase, usually Milly because Milly is foolish enough to panic while everyone else holds tight to the herd.

Radha would do the same thing with the ram lambs, except for Mr. Headbutts. The minute she starts to chase the little boys, he breaks from the herd and comes dashing for her. With one swing of his head, he tags her, then turns and races away as fast as he can run. She chases him, often running wild and incredibly fast circles around him, then slows up long enough to give him another chance to headbutt her and run away.

The other day they were playing in the middle pasture. The other ram lambs went to the farthest corner, where they huddled, watching the wild running and chasing in serious disapproval. Bear mistakenly got involved when Mr. Headbutts “tagged” him. It was a PTSD moment for Bear, as he’s had a number of bad experiences with head-butting farm animals. Not only had Cinco, my previous ram, hit him a number of times, so had Dixie, one of my Jersey cows. She took great pleasure in sneaking up on Bear and swinging her massive head into him to send him tumbling. One touch from Mr. Headbutts and Bear yelped then escaped to the front pasture.

a ram lamb and a puppyThat left Radha running in circles around her best bud. Mr. Headbutts broke for the big white chicken coop, which I have adapted into a winter doghouse. He dashed up the ramp and into the big square structure. I could hear his hooves tippy-tapping on the floor.  Radha followed. Now I could hear some serious sliding and wrestling. Mr. Headbutts leapt out of the coop, ignoring the ramp, and started that ecstatic jumping that all lambs do. Radha followed. He gave another swing of his head and –Tag!– she was it again.

I love this! Not only is Radha growing up into a wonderful, well-behaved and very sweet dog, but Mr. Headbutts is making sure she is forever bonded to the very species I expect her to protect. All this because youngsters need to play, no matter their species.

 

Regarding Rabbits

I’m presently in glacier mode–moving very slow and feeling incredibly lazy. Post-book vacation, which thus far has consisted of reading other people’s books. This is something I haven’t done in a really long time. If I had known I’d lose my ability to read fiction upon becoming a fiction writer, I’m not sure I would… Continue Reading

Sheep-tastrophe

This post is late because, although the writing is finished, the rest of the work has now kicked in. I’m formatting the print book now that the digital version is live. Now onto yesterday’s unbelievable craziness. Hey, if cats can have their own word for a situation gone seriously wrong, then sheep certainly deserve a… Continue Reading

A little something

This week’s post is going to be short. This is because 1) I’m tired and 2) the book is almost finished and 3) I’m written out and can’t think of anything really interesting to say. So here’s what I have for today. The ducks that made it through the cull have learned how to come… Continue Reading

Duck Eggs

I’m late this week because yesterday was harvest day. (Non-meat eaters should skip the rest of this paragraph.) Ten ducks, all twenty-four of my full-grown and startlingly heavy Red Ranger chickens, plus six more chickens for a friend. I started around dawn. My ranch manager/farm assistant Christina, bless her, joined me later to learn the… Continue Reading

Farewell to Moosie

Oh, but this is a sad post to write. Even knowing the possibility of losing Moosie loomed didn’t make it any easier when the moment came. Worst of all, the day came much more quickly than I’d hoped for the very best dog in the world. Moosie, as I have mentioned in previous posts, had… Continue Reading

Miracles

I’ve been enjoying a series of tiny miracles lately.  Let’s start with the ducks. Who knew they’d be so easy to manage (so far, knock wood)? The past three evenings the not-so-little-anymore Tractor Supply ducks have appeared at dinner time and followed me to the brooder coop, which they clearly think of as home. We… Continue Reading

Sad Little Lambs

That’s right. It’s weaning time. Yesterday afternoon I locked the seven little lambikins into one of the alleyways, away from their mothers. No more sheep milk for them! For the first few hours their mothers weren’t the least upset about this. After checking on their little guys from the other side of the handy panel,… Continue Reading

Rabbits

The time has come the Walrus said to speak of many things, Of ships and string and sealing wax, of cabbages and Chins… Yes, I’m borrowing from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but that snippet is the only piece of poetry (if that’s poetry) that I know, and I kept repeating it today, “Chins” being… Continue Reading

Dog Food

These days I make a lot of dog food. I guess that’s what happens when you have four dogs and are committed to feeding them unprocessed raw food, otherwise known as the BARF (bones and raw food) diet. Why would I go to all the trouble of such an inconvenience when there are hundreds of… Continue Reading