Monday, October 14, 2013

Look What Joe Has!

Joe got donkeys!  I'm so jealous.  On Sunday, we took a break from our plumbing project to visit Joe's farm and see his new arrivals.  He recently added this mama and baby donkey to his farm to be guard animals.  They look ferocious, huh?   Supposedly, donkeys can be used to guard a flock against predators, like coyotes.  These donkeys seem very small, but Joe is adamant that they are not miniatures, but standard sized, and the mama is reported to have killed a invading dog and a possum at her former farm.  Not that I doubt the defensive skills of a small donkey, particularly one that is protecting her baby, but Joe didn't say how big the dog was.  I don't know if a poodle is the same thing as a coyote pack!  

The best thing about Joe getting donkeys is that the mama is already pregnant, which means there will be a spare baby donkey in the near future.  I think Helen and Mrs. Hall will need someone to watch over them at the new farm, don't you?  I see donkeys on my horizon!

Joe's donkeys have been given the task of guarding his brand new flock of sheep.  Just this week, he added these eight young ewes to his farm.  These are hair sheep, so they don't have to be sheared, and they are supposed to be quite tasty.  Look at those long tails.  I didn't realize that most sheep get their tails cut off when they are babies.  Because Joe's sheep don't have long wool, they get to keep their tails and Joe doesn't have to cut off tails of new born lambs.    

They were still skittish when we visited, but they were curious, so Joe will likely tame them in no time.  They were already eating thistles and other weeds that the cows won't eat from the pasture, so they will be great for his rotational grazing.  

While the lambs are being guarded by little donkeys, chicken guard duty has been assigned to Joe's new puppy.   I can't remember the breed, but this puppy is a breed of livestock guardian dog, and is already being trained to bond with the chickens.  Joe's been doing his research, and is trying not to make a pet of him.  He's so adorable I don't know how he makes him sleep in his dog house in the chicken pasture instead of at the foot of his bed, but I know in the long run he will be a happier dog if he gets to do a job instead of becoming a couch potato.  Coyotes beware, because this is a big puppy already and he's only a few months old.  

Notice anything different about these calves?  The green and, I must say, quite stylish nose rings are an alternative way to wean big calves from their mothers without separating them.  If you have ever been on a farm when they take the calves from the mothers, you will know how traumatic it is for baby, mom, and farmer.  Brandon and I once spent a few nights catching bats on a farmers land the night after the babies were locked in the barn away from the mothers.  It was terrible to hear.  Constant mooing from the entire herd.  Not just regular mooing, but sad lost baby mooing and desperate, where's my baby, mother mooing.  We were there for two nights and it never stopped.  I asked the farmer about it and he said it takes four or five days for them to "settle down," so in four or five days their hearts are broken and they give up.    

In order to avoid that stressful situation for everyone, Joe is trying these clamp on nose rings.  So far they are working great.  The calves don't like to nurse because the nose ring is in the way, and the stubby projections on the nose ring poke the mother so she doesn't like them to nurse either.  But everyone gets to stay together, and there is no desperate days of mooing, and everyone has less stress.  Less stress means fatter cows, which means more money in the long run too.  Plus, the only thing more adorable than cows that look like panda bears has to be panda cows with nose rings!  


MA said...

Why do they have to be weaned? Wont they quit nursing on their own when they are ready?

rain said...

If I remember Joe's explanation correctly, I think the mothers need to get in shape for the next baby and having such a big calf nursing while they are pregnant doesn't keep them in top health. The idea being that he's going to keep his good cows for many years and get as many quality calves as he can. So when the calves are eating mostly grass, but still nursing some, they get weaned for the mothers sake.

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