Saturday, April 19, 2014

Close Encounter of the Coon Kind

Yesterday the dogs discovered a raccoon hiding in the shed where I keep my mower.  After putting them in the house, I tried to shoo it out of there, but it wasn't going, so we stayed inside for a while until I saw it leave the yard. 

So this morning when we went out first thing I did a quick scan -- no coon.  I went into the barn to care for the chickens and ducks.  As I opened their hatch door to the outside run I explained that they needed to be alert today, because there is a raccoon around.  I was looking at the birds, not the door, and as they raced away from instead of towards the door I turned to look.  The darned raccoon was right there, as if it had been leaning against the door listening in to what I was saying!

Quick as a bunny I closed the door.  I expected that the animal would either climb up the side of the barn or amble off into the overgrowth at the edge of my property.  I continued caring for the birds.

But then, in the immortal words of Clement Moore, "there arose such a clatter". 

I raced outside and discovered my two dogs brutally attacking that nasty raccoon.  They each had a part in their mouth and they were tugging.  The raccoon was vocalizing.  I grabbed the nearest long implement, a piece of PVC, and tried to startle the dogs into dropping the coon.  But with one of me and two of them it took a while before I had both collars in my hands. 

There was a lot of blood all over the dogs' faces.  When we got to the house I was able to get Ulani in, but Phoebe got away from me and raced back to the see the damage.  It took a couple of tries before I successfully had them both in the house.



Once washed off I realized they were not badly hurt.  Ulani has a couple of dings on her nose.  Phoebe doesn't seem to be injured.  Still, I took them to the vet for closer inspection.

And the raccoon?




It's still trying to get to the chickens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dirty Daphne and the Deck

Phoebe's evil alter-ego, Dirty Daphne, discovered this morning that she can slip under the low deck at the front of our house.  Then she apparently shimmies all the way (about 20 feet) to the other side and back.  What fun!  Cats and other critters use that space for shelter from bad weather -- you can imagine what it's like down there!

I tried to set up a temporary blockade.  Ulani was flummoxed.  "I've lived here nine years and I never knew I could go under there!"  She was about to attempt it when I caught her.  She came out with half-rotted leaves all over her front.  Blech.

Then Dirty Daphne discovered an enticing space still open.  "Over here, Ulani!  I think you could just about make it!  What fun we'll have!"




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Introducing...Phoebe!

In December I accepted a job at our regional humane society.  I resisted bringing home any dogs or cats for over three months, but last week I caved!

This six month old puppy was brought in by people who said they had been caring for her for friends, but the friends no longer wanted her and the people couldn't keep her.  Another staff member immediately noticed her gentle nature, adaptability, and cute face and thought "therapy dog!"  When I met her I felt the same.

So Phoebe joined the crew at Busy Solitude Farm.  In Greek mythology, Phoebe is "radiant, bright, prophetic" and that's what I'm hoping for her. 

It is safe to say that Ulani was underwhelmed at the prospect of a puppy on the team, but by the second day they were racing and chasing happily -- just look at this series of photos!  Ulani turns 11 in a month, so that's saying something!









What is she?  Her coloring is like a Portuguese Water Dog, but she's probably some kind of "doodle" mix.  We think she's around six months old and as you see in the photos, she's maybe 1/2 or 2/3 the size of Ulani, who is 75 pounds.

I'm going to work on getting her obedience rock solid so she can be a therapy dog and represent the shelter when we visit community groups.  Phoebe, you have a big future ahead of you!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow Joke

Here it comes. Forecasters predict 12-18 inches here at Busy Solitude Farm. It just keeps on coming. The saving grace is it's Sunday and we have nowhere to go. 

Tomorrow is a different story. Dangerous windchills with air temperature highs below zero. And I do need to go to work, so here's hoping that my ungaraged car will start!

I've made some effort to keep the winds from blowing through the barn, but I expect they will be pretty unhappy for a couple of days. 

Let's think warm thoughts and look forward to Wednesday!

 


 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Passages: Miss Peep

Miss Peep died overnight.  She had been ailing for a few weeks.  Something attacked her -- other chickens?  Predator?  I found the coop full of black and white feathers, and Miss Peep roosting away from all the others.  After a few days it became necessary to put her in an isolation pen to make sure that Rooster didn't mount her.  I think she may have had internal injuries.  Yesterday I picked her up to nuzzle her and it was clear that something gave her pain.  Then overnight she died.

Miss Peep was the first chick ever to hatch at Busy Solitude Farm.  In fact, her arrival inspired me to begin this blog.  You will remember that first post, in September of 2007.  I was fascinated by the hen and chick relationship, so close, so instinctual.  And as I did not yet know whether she was a girl or a boy, I called her Chick Chuck!

Then the worst possible thing happened.  On October 30, just a few weeks after her chick hatched, Mama Hen was murdered.  Miss Peep was left on her own to find her way.  The first days were difficult.  The rest of the flock decided she was an outsider, and tried to oust her.  I sometimes felt I was the only being she truly trusted.

Gradually her self confidence built.  The others came to accept her.  In time, Miss Peep was at the top of the pecking order, respected by all.  But she never challenged me.  She was the tamest hen I ever had, leaning in when I scratched her ears, allowing me to stroke her feathers and nuzzle her with no hesitation.

She lived six years at Busy Solitude Farm.  I think she was happy.  We'll miss her.