We started out with 12 baby chicks last March. I had no clue what to do with the little girls and we had fun learning all about brooder boxes and plugged up chicken butts. One chick didn’t make it long. Then we had some chicken murders, thanks to the hawks that hang around our property. We just recently had to cull (AKA kill) “Sassy” our most famous meat chicken. She’ll get her own separate post soon! So we’re at 8 hens for now, we hope to be adding more soon! They are a lot of fun, easy-ish and create delicious eggs!
PAINTED DESERT SHEEP
When we moved to the property in March we were immediately overwhelmed by how quickly the grass (AKA weeds) grew. We were spending hours weed eating and mowing empty animal pens and quickly realized we needed some living lawnmowers. I started researching goats, sheep, etc. and turned to a variety of helpful farm-related Facebook groups for advice. Luckily, someone pointed me in the direction of Irish Oak Farms and painted desert sheep. They are hair sheep which means they don’t require any shearing and are very low maintenance. We started with two wethers (boys who have been “banded” or prevented from reproducing) and just recently added a ewe lamb (young female).
They have been very easy except for the time that Ace got a foxtail stuck in his upper eyelid. Connor and I had to corner him in the “barn” and while Connor held onto Ace, I pried open his eye and pulled out the foxtail that was lodged into his inside eyelid tissue. I’ll admit, I didn’t think we could do it. When we had released Ace and I realized we had fixed the issue I was literally jumping up and down cheering and rejoicing that we had solved our first animal issue!
Shortly after getting the lambs we started realizing the possible predators in our area that may consider the lambs to be a tasty meal. Concerned, I started researching types of animals that could serve as guardians for our beloved painted dessert sheep. All along we hoped it would work out to have a donkey since Smith Farms in South Carolina has a donkey “Clarence” that we have all enjoyed. I read up about donkeys as guardian animals and before fully realizing the possible dangers of including a donkey with the sheep, voila, we were lucky enough to get Cappuccino delivered to us! She is around 3 years old and is a smaller size standard donkey. She’s got a lot of spunk and personality. She’s quite the character and plays all types of tricks when given the chance. Such as: closing the lid to the manure can right when I’m about to dump a full shovel, pulling on the elastic strap of my dad’s sandals and letting it snap, and opening a D-ring on a chain that kept a gate closed. I’d say we’re never sure what she’ll do next, but I do know she’ll be braying (hee-haw) at me the next time I head out to feed the lambs in hopes that I’ll give her something . . . anything!
Speaking of braying, Cappuccino was doing a lot of it and we had a feeling it was a result of being lonely. I had read that donkeys should always live with at least one other donkey or horse, but was hoping the lambs would suffice for company. No such luck, so we started the search for a friend for Cappuccino. We didn’t have to look long because the same wonderful donkey rescuers that brought us Cappy came through with a connection to a fellow-donkey lover in Lincoln who had a donkey for sale, Kiwi! Kiwi just joined the farm in December and has been getting to know Cappuccino and the rest of the crew. She seems to love it here and we love having her. She’s older, possibly 20 and has struggles with being overweight (haven’t we all), although she was once even more heavy-set. So, she loves to eat, but also loves her hindquarters scratched.
We adopted Riley from the pound while we still lived in the city. She’s a very well-behaved and loyal shepherd mix (AKA mutt). While she’s super smart, she’s also super protective. She will fiercely guard her people, but once she knows the visitor is friend or family she will be polite. She is adjusting well to farm life and really enjoys all of the room to run, fast! She loves barking at the sheep and donkeys through the fence, but doesn’t really enjoy the sound of gunshots in the distance while neighbors are hunting.
Henry was a recent mistake, oops – I mean addition to the family. He’s an example of what can happen when I’ve been on summer break feeling like I have a lot of time on my hands and possibly enjoyed a little too much vodka and sparkling water one warm evening. So, he was posted on a Facebook group for sale (adoption really since he was so cheap – should’ve been our first clue) and without sleeping on it, we drove hours away to go get him. He’s cute and a sweet cuddle bug; both of those things are keeping him around. Honestly, we (I mean Jeremy) have gotten close to giving up and admitting that we aren’t tough enough for a coon hound, but we keep trying after a few sweet faces and cuddles. More details to come, but he hunts gophers and swallows them whole. As you can imagine, this involves a lot of digging. And yes, as you can see from Riley’s photo above; we let our dogs inside to lounge and be spoiled. This is one aspect of city life we can’t give up. However, I’m finding it very difficult to keep a clean house because of it!