A week on the ranch (August 10 - August 16, 2009) - Blogs - Frugal Village Forums
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madhen

A week on the ranch (August 10 - August 16, 2009)

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by , 08-17-2009 at 01:16 AM (1327 Views)
Wow, life can certainly be a roller-coaster sometimes, and if I have never mentioned it before, I HATE roller-coasters!

The week started with dead and dying chickens, evidence that my neighbor's dog was still getting onto my property. Then we swept even further down on Tuesday, when I TRAPPED his dog, and he barged onto my property to retrieve it. I have never made a citizen's arrest before, but I basically made two that day: one for trespassing and one for having a dangerous dog at large. The drama continues, and I think I'll be having fall-out from that little incident for months to come.

On Monday evening, I also noticed that my favourite goat, Tank, was not acting well. I called the vet, and she came out on Tuesday. We confirmed that he had a blocked bladder, and she returned on Wednesday to attempt surgery. I watched Tank being born, and named him Tank based on his having little short legs and moving like a little tank around the pasture. I played head-butting games with him, and he would never let me visit the pasture without coming up to say hello, usually either licking my hand or nibbling on my shirt hem. The surgery was unsuccessful, and we had to put him down. He was only two and a half years old. So by the middle of the week, things had sunk about as low as they could. I was depressed and angry, and I felt like I was living in a war zone.

Friday morning brought new problems, when I looked out the window and saw that the goats were in the dogs' run. Normally, dogs + goats = BIG problems, but the goats had broken into a lower part of the run, and I had the gate into that part of the run closed. Turns out that the goats destroyed several sections of fence, and I ended up having to put up an emergency patch. I've also evicted them from that part of the pasture, for the time being, just to make sure they don't make a second attempt.

And to add salt to the proverbial wound, I have had a serious problem with bees around the house. I've had to remove the hummingbird feeders, in the hope that the bees will move on, but as of today, they are still swarming all over my deck.

But the old adage holds true: every cloud does hold a silver lining. When I dropped in at Animal Control on Thursday, as part of the above-mentioned fall-out, I met Angus, the cutest little Angora bunny ever to hop into the El Dorado County animal shelter. Angus went home with me that same visit, and he is doing very well. Tonight, for the first time, he didn't hop away when I came to visit, so I'd say we are slowly making progress toward what I hope will be a long and happy friendship. Polly is suspicious, and I think she occasionally smells him on me, but it will be a few weeks before they meet.

And because the chickens don't want to hang out at their coop anymore (after being slaughtered out there about a half dozen times), they are hanging out by the house, where they feel safer, and where I can keep an eye out for them. I am finding eggs in the most interesting places, most recently finding four or five a day in my laundry room.

I have had to add a few new routines, including locking gates, setting traps, having a loaded shotgun next to my front door, etc, but other than the inconvenience in terms of time and annoyance, I am trying to get things back to normal. About the only significant and permanent change that will still occur is that I'm looking into getting some surveillance cameras.

The addition of the dog trap is also bringing new and exciting things into my life. A few nights ago, when I stumbled out at dusk to set it (if I set it before then, I catch a chicken), I got to the trap, knelt down and reached for the door, only to hear that unmistakable sound of a rattlesnake and to realize that my hand was about three inches from one that had decided to hang out in the trap. I retreated, found a broom, then convinced the snake that he wanted to hang out somewhere else. Then, this morning, I walked out to find a young skunk in the trap! I am currently using a county-loaned trap, but ordered one of my own, and now I'm really glad I didn't order the mountain-lion trap, or who knows WHAT I would find in there!! So far, I've managed not to get bitten or sprayed, but I've had a lot of excitement for the first week!

Other than that, life goes on and the seasons move at their own pace. My peach tree is producing sweet and fragrant fruit, and I harvested my first fig tonight. The summer vegetables are slowing down, reminding me, even as I sit here with the fans running to knock down the summer heat, that I'll soon be hauling up firewood again, cursing the mud and rain and wind.

Right now, however, there is a breeze coming in from the southwest, and the sky is clear, and dark, and spotted with brilliant stars. Everything is quiet, except for the sound of crickets, and I wonder how lucky a person must be to be able to take for granted such a calm and beautiful night and to be so accustomed to such things as to not be struck dumb by the sheer wonder of it all.

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Comments

  1. phoeny_moonstar's Avatar
    Sorry to hear about Tank.

    Glad to hear things are moving along on the ranch. It sounds like a beautiful place to live.
  2. fixer's Avatar
    I am getting back into my chair after thinking of my wife having hens laying in her laundry room. You have a shotgun by the front door yet reach for a broom to deal with a rattlesnake. We are very different people.
  3. madhen's Avatar
    I have always had a respect for life that goes beyond my own species. I understand killing for food and killing to protect your own, but I don't kill just to remove a problem. The snake hasn't come back (they rarely do), and no carcass to deal with, so, in this case anyway, the broom was mightier than the bullet!

    As for the hens, I have not been able to keep them safe in their own home, so it serves me right that they chose to lay their eggs in mine! (It did teach me to keep the door to the laundry room closed!)
  4. Debbie-cat's Avatar
    I am so sorry about Tank madhen and the chickens. I think I would like finding eggs in the laundry.

    Funny sometimes how quickly the days and weeks go by and then if we stop to take a deep breath to enjoy our surroundings we realize how insignificant we and our problems are compared to the big picture. You must have been just as melancholy as I was last night.
  5. fixer's Avatar
    I have a phobia about snakes. I no longer have to kill every one I see. I also rarely scream like a little girl at the sight of one. However, I am not sure how I would react to one who could kill me.
  6. madhen's Avatar
    I have found that most wild animals, when confronted by a human, just want to be rid of me, rather than get into an altercation. If given a passive avenue of escape, they take it. I have always heard that baby rattlesnakes are more aggressive, and it is true that they will strike more readily than an adult, but I believe it is simply because they haven't learned yet that they have other means of self-preservation at their disposal. Most adult rattlesnakes, if you can get over the disconcerting sound, will do little more than give you an annoyed look when you hook them on a broom handle and carry them several yards to a new hunting ground.

    If you believe in God, then he must have had a purpose for rattlesnakes, and who are we to decide that one snake has fulfilled its purpose and can now be dispatched?

    As for me, I believe: a) the snakes were here before me and have more right than I do to occupy the land; b) they keep the rodent population under control; c) they do not pose a real danger as long as one can understand, on a basic level, snake mentality and body language.

    Also, while the bite of SOME snakes can be lethal, typically rattlesnake bites are not, unless you are a mouse.

    Quote from TrailBlazer magazine: Over 8,000 people are bitten by poisonous snakes in the United States each year. On average, fewer than 10 snakebite deaths are reported. In fact more people die from wasp and bee stings than from snakebites.
  7. fixer's Avatar
    I just don't like snakes. I have tried to be a better person about it, but it doesn't work. I was grew up in a shack of a house. One night I found a snake in my bed. It probably was attracted by the rats. Forty years later, I am still paying for that event. I do believe every animal has a purpose. Snakes are here to give my cardiac system a stress test.
  8. madhen's Avatar
    Just think of how mentally messed up that poor snake is!! Here it was, just looking for a nice little rat-snack, and all of a sudden some huge white creature is screaming like a little girl and bouncing up and down on the mattress. Poor little snake....
  9. fixer's Avatar
    Okay, now I am nervous. How do you know how big I was at five years old?
    Updated 08-17-2009 at 05:47 PM by fixer
  10. madhen's Avatar
    I'm with the Government. I have access to all the secret files kept on you in Roswell.

    (And even if you were born to circus dwarves, you'd still be huge to a poor little helpless snake.)