Animal Adventures

The last few days have brought a lot of animal adventures, and by “adventures” I mean stressful situations.

A few days ago, during the first sheep-wrangling practice session, Buck (our ram) cut his leg on a cinder block in the barn. Joshua and I had some trouble determining how bad the cut was, but it was bleeding non-stop, so we tried to take Buck to the vet. After we got Buck into the truck (another stressful activity all together), our truck died! Great time for the starter to give out! The vet came out to us instead. The cut wasn’t too bad, but the vet treated him for pain, applied some topical stuff, and wrapped the wound up. That was a stressful night all around. Trying to handle the sheep in the first place was kind of stressful, and then we worried about whether Buck would be okay, with a vet bill and a broken truck on top of it all.

You can kind of see Buck’s bandages here on his right front leg:

Yesterday, a storm blew through our area and some really impressive wind was starting to kick up. Joshua was looking out the window and saw the entire coop that houses the baby chicks lift up and blow backwards several feet. He ran out to secure the coop and check on the chicks and found that one had been crushed between the coop and a wooden box inside the coop. He came in with the wounded chick and I started quick-Googling for the right medical treatment – the chicken had a prolapsed vent. We started on a treatment, but the chicken looked to me like it was rapidly dying. Liquid was dripping from its beak and it was losing consciousness. We reasoned that if it was crushed enough to have prolapsed parts, it probably had other internal damage as well. We fed it to the pigs.

Today’s animal adventures started with the doorbell ringing at 8:30am. A lady says, “Do you have pigs?” Yes….. “Little red ones?” Yes….. Our pigs had escaped and were a block away in this lady’s yard. We grabbed the truck, a feed bowl and feed, and headed up to try to recapture our pigs. They happily ran up to get some feed, but they were NOT interested in being grabbed. After trying to snatch one a couple of times, Joshua decided to just try to walk them home, leading them along with the food bowl. Down the road he went, eventually landing the pigs safely back in the approved pig area. Turns out the electric fence had been left off, so at least that means the fence probably still works to keep them in – as long as I remember to turn it on! The only damage we’re aware of is to our own herb garden. I hope there aren’t any angry neighbors with rooted up yards or gardens. The woman who came to fetch us wasn’t mad at all. She’s kept pigs before herself.

Here are the four pigs snuggled into their hay on a cold night. Don’t let them fool you – these are naughty, naughty pigs!

The next adventure started for me when I heard Joshua yell my name from somewhere on our property. I found him in the yard holding a dog down on the ground. Joshua was okay, all our animals were okay, but Joshua had been bitten by the dog. He had reacted well – pushing his arm into the dog bite and pushing the dog to the ground until it submitted before taking his arm out of the bite – so that the dog’s teeth didn’t even break Joshua’s skin. We called animal control to come get the dog and outlined for the officer our continual problems with neighborhood dogs. I hate to get the law involved with my neighbors, but I don’t like the other options, either. Several dogs roam free in our neighborhood, sometimes as a group. For a variety of reasons, it makes me very nervous.

One final adventure had yet to be tackled. It was time to take Buck’s bandages off. Joshua rigged up a catch pen in our barn stall so we could corral the sheep into a manageable area. The corralling went smoothly. Joshua got a grip on Buck and secured his leg, and I removed the bandages and inspected the cut. So far, so good. Since the sheep were so calm in the pen, Joshua decided to try to milk Big Mama. I opened the pen a bit and Joshua corralled Buck out of it so there’d be more room to manage Big Mama. Buck took off out of the pen at a run… found the barn door to the field closed… made a 180 turn and ran for the back of the barn… straight up a ladder of hay bales. I shouted at Joshua who was focused on Big Mama, because now there was a panicked ram kind of hovering over Joshua’s head, stuck in the hay. I got the barn door open, Joshua tumbled Buck out of the hay pile, and Buck ran for the field. Fortunately, Buck did not get re-injured in this little fiasco.

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to care for the animals around here, but the last few days have been full of one thing after another. With all the injured animals, escaped pigs, biting dogs, and a ram who thinks he can fly, I could really use a couple of days with the animals where nothing interesting happens.