Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sheila the Big Red Cow

I apologize for the lack of recent posts; it's been busy at Skookumchuck Farm!

Our long holiday weekend found us hosting two family BBQs at our place (love our new patio set!), ripping out a huge amount of blackberry vines and other debris from behind the barn (gained about 1000 square feet of extra space and improved the neighbors' view of our property), stringing a hot wire (i.e. electric fencing) around half of our pasture to provide new grazing/exercising space for Sheila and Bridgit, building a new 32 square foot indoor chicken pen (and the start of an attached new 80 square foot run) for the picked on Easter Egger hens, and pulling oodles of weeds from the front bed and raised veggie garden beds. It was a productive weekend!

We've made steady progress with Sheila and Bridgit, too. We've discovered Sheila will RUN toward us at the sight (or perceived sound) of a grain bucket (or any bucket, at this point), and believe me, it's a sight to behold. Her normal saunter is one thing, and even a Sheila trot is pretty goofy. But an 800+ pound red-headed, horned, pregnant cow at top speed headed directly toward you is another thing entirely. It's funny to watch, but does make for some "holy-crap-get-behind-the-gate" moments. She is a P-I-G disguised as a cow. Or a D-O-G. The jury's out. (This all makes me think of Clifford the Big Red Dog. How funny!) Obviously food is her primary motivator. Good to know. She even stuck half her head into the barn after hearing me wrestle with a stubborn bag of pine shavings in the chicken coop (I say half because that's all she can fit through the skinny door...one eye, ear and horn, and maybe her nose, but no pair of any of these.) My fear of her is pretty much gone, although I am still careful.

Bridgit's progress comes in fits and starts. We have been letting them roam the newly secured pasture while we're home, and shutting them in the paddock at night. The first night, Sheila (of course) RAN into the paddock to get to the grain bucket, but Bridgit was much more hesitant. It took Paul and a rope halter to get her in, but that was stressful for her, too, as he accidentally got her ear in the halter. However, this morning she came to me without prompting, and even licked my hand (like a dog!), which was sweet but a bit weird. I still haven't gotten a comb to her hair, which she desperately needs, but I'm hoping to work up to that this week.

Last night we treated both girls with Invermectin, a powerful anti-parasitic that you pour down their spines, to treat them for horn and face flies. We had to guess their weight, as dosage is weight dependent (we dosed at 44o pounds for Bridgit and 880 for Sheila...no idea if that's really accurate). This morning I could see dead flies here and there in their hair...I'm sure they're relieved to be fly-free. We want to have a vet out for checkups, too, so I'll be making that phone call this week. I'm curious, too, if there's a limit to how many little apples they should eat, since apple seeds contain cyanide and the girls are going to town on those apple trees. (The pasture with it's dozen or so apple trees must be like a candy store to them..."which one should I try next?")


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