Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome to the zoo…er, farm… :)

Our farm is perched atop one of the many bluffs above the Cannon River. The road leading to it is, at times, steep and winding, as befits a dead-end gravel road. The land is open and hilly - you would be hard pressed to find a level area of any great size. The horizon is a patchwork of fields and stands of trees. 
The farm itself is small, but sufficient. The eleven acres are divided between the house and backyard, a small kitchen garden with our roses, raspberries, and a few vegetables, a large lower garden with potatoes, beans, and the like, the buildings, an orchard, the pasture, and a hayfield. 
Our animals are many and varied. Presenting them largest to smallest we have:

Amy, before she was dehorned
Our Jersey milk cow, Amy. She is due to calve in April. Unfortunately, we dried her up this past spring in anticipation for a calve she never had. We all miss her milk terribly, though none so much as my youngest brother, who would probably drink a half gallon of milk a day if we let him. 
Next in the rank of size would be my puppy, Sophie. She is 17 months old, so about full grown. Good thing, because right now she's as tall as I am when she stands on her hind legs, and easily twice the size of my niece. Not bad for a female Newfoundland. :) 

Dutchess and Sophie
We also have a female Golden Retriever, Dutchess. She's my mom's dog, and I think she believes my mother is the only one above her in the pack. And she knows how to use "the force" to open doors.  I'm serious.  She stares at them until they open.  And with so many obliging humans about, they usually do eventually.

Then we have the turkeys. I think we are down to one big Tom strutting around. For a long time we always had three that would travel together. They were known as the godfathers, and were something like the farm mascots.  Our current Tom is a mere nephew. And there are two turkey hens running around. Finally, my second brother has a flock of 10 blue slate/ wild turkey crosses he hatched out this past spring.  Needless to say, we are set for Thanksgiving.

Next (by size) would be Max and Maxine, our two Peking Ducks.  You can see Maxine's story here. Max was picked up at the fair last month, since Maxine seemed a little lonely for one of her own kind.

Not that we don't have more ducks. We also have 2 Muscovies (I love Muscovy ducks) and 4 Runners.  All hens, so those flocks will gradually shrink away to nothing, I suppose.
Dutchess and Hawkeye

Now, I had a bit of a time getting a count on the chickens. One coop has 8 hens and 2 rooster - I think these are our  source of eggs.  Then there are the 19 Easter chickens.  We have incubators, so every year we time a hatch for Easter Sunday, or thereabouts.  It's always fun to have the cute little baby chicks!  

Finally is Hawkeye.  She is my brothers' pet bantam hen.  She flies!  Well, she flies really well for a chicken, anyhow.  She hatched out a nest full of eggs over the summer, too.  The estimate was that she had 20 chicks with her, but I don't know if they are all her own.  (And if you think that is a lot of chickens, you should see the 100 we butcher every summer for the freezers.  More on that here.)

Not quite finished!  We also have guineas.  If you are not familiar with guineas, they are funny looking birds that make a lot of noise and eat a lot of bugs.  I don't know how many of those there are, because we have two or three flocks that roam free.  I would guess 20+, though.  Some were hatched this year and actually survived.  Guineas tend to be very good nesters, but terrible parents.  

And there are 3 rabbits. Can't tell you a thing about them, except that they are very soft and don't like Sophie. 

And then there are the cats.  My brother says there are ten.  Who am I to argue? Actually, most of the above data came from my dear brothers.  

Oh yes, according to the youngest, my brothers also count as part of the menagerie.  
So between Amy and Sophie, add one brother, and between Sophie and Dutchess add three.

And that is the farm. 
Most of our meat is produced here.  
We had 2 pigs, until they became pork in late July.  
Most of our calves grow up to be steak.  Because this reality, we name them accordingly.  So far, we have eaten: 
Sir Loin
Chuck Roast
and T-Bone.  
Rump(elstiltsken) Roast was spared from our freezer - he was sold into the neighbors beef herd.  There may have been others, but I don't remember.  The next one will probably be Flank......or Homeless (1000 bonus points if you know the source of that one!)  

Other animals that have come and gone over the years are geese, mules (borrowed mules,) horses, and two goats that made us certain we would never get goats again.  And I suppose you could also count the fish in the water tanks, and the turtle in the garden, and the hermit crab that boarded with us for a couple of weeks before we gave it as a birthday gift to my niece.  So basically, the only things we haven't tried are sheep, llamas, and alpacas.  Can you eat alpacas?  Alpaca sandwich for lunch... :) Oh, and we've never had ostriches.  Or peacocks.  Hmmm....I guess we have a few more animals to try out.  Homing pigeons always sounded like fun, too….then there are quail and pheasants that could be added….elk….donkeys….monkeys...

***Update 10/4/12***
Sadly, Sophie had to be returned to her breeder last week.  She was having a really hard time bonding with us, and I suspect she may have been abused by her previous owner, judging from some of her very unusual behavior over the past year.  Because I didn't realize this right away, I was not able to gain her trust, and probably did even more damage.  We'll miss her, but hopefully now she'll find a home she will be happy in.  

1 comment:

  1. Love all the pets, especially the kitties! Black and whites are my favorites if it can be said I have a favorite. We have a few turkeys here where I live and deer, foxes and a stray cat or two.