Our llama. Our best guard guy. Died yesterday morning, due to what, I am not sure. Possibly old age. He was 16 and was slowing down a bit, but we didn’t see any symptoms in him.
I went out yesterday morning to do chores and found Jingle the Donkey on the other side of the fence, bent over with her muzzle to the fence line right where Zorro had fallen over. And there he was. So my husband got him buried, and we are now without our sweet Zorro the Llama.
RIP Zorro, we will surely and definitely miss you and your sweet ways with the kids, the lambs, and with all of us humans. As well as your awesome skills in keeping the coyotes away.
Over the weekend I worked on fencing and changing the paddocks around a little bit. I have areas that I like to keep the animals out of at certain times, and areas that they have access to almost all the time.
For a variety of reasons, I had put Zorro the llama in with the boys early in the spring, so they not only have the donkey guarding them, but also our wonderful Zorro. I have been meaning to get him back into the girl’s area for awhile. He has always followed me around, and I have never had a problem standing nonchalantly by a gate and getting him, and only him, through.
But, he is getting older and is not as curious about what I am doing, so I had been unsuccessful up to now. But Sunday, John helped me put some panels in there right around the gate to the neighboring paddock, and that was just enough to pique his curiosity. He waltzed right through!
The goats do not love clover (!) and there is a lot of it all through their paddocks, so I have wanted to get Zorro in there to help eat all that goodness up. And I also need to have a guard animal in with the does and doelings.
He is in heaven right now! Everytime I look for him, he is seated in a patch of clover, like a big old fuzzy llama king.
I adore Daylight Savings. It offers so much more light on the end of the day when I can actually get something accomplished. Of course, it comes with a challenge as well. Crazed catching up on the Sunday of the big changeup!
Already feeling like I can’t get out of my own way this week, today is another gorgeous day and it’s slipping by too fast! Yesterday was in the mid 40s, today a little cooler, but just as bright and blue sky sunny. It must be a good day to go for a walk down the woods trail. And, get a little more work done out in the paddocks.
It’s getting much closer to kidding time and I moved Jingle the donkey out of the paddock with the ewes and the pregnant does. I am beginning to feed the girls some medicated pellets, so by the time the babies are born everyone will have some protection (we hope) against some of the bugs that cause terrible scours (diarrhea) in lambs and goat kids. The pellets also have higher protein which the does need at the end of their gestation. I try not to use much medicated feed, but in our muddy paddock conditions, it’s probably the wiser course, and I do get the higher protein levels as well. Moving the donkey at this point is crucial, because any access to the medicated pellets would be toxic to her. The other reason I don’t like having her in with the pregnant girls is that she kicks when she gets annoyed. Always a little bit of a hazard as the girls begin to have those big baby bellies. Now if I can get the gate open between the two paddocks, maybe I can lure Zorro the llama into the paddock with the girls. Then both groups will have a guard with them. Coyotes can’t be trusted at this time of the year when it’s been so brutally cold. Hope all of them are still finding enough food out in the woods!
Today feels like it is racing by, but we are spending time with our grandboy which is always a lot of fun. We made blueberry pancakes this morning, and I almost forgot to get my pot roast into the crockpot! Time to get moving. I hope the ‘plowable’ snow they are predicting for Thursday does not get to us. Groan.
I feel like vacation is over :*( We still have the weekend, but the rain is coming, and as much as I know that we need it desperately, it is a Force to Be Reckoned With. In terms of doing chores, that is. Today was warm and breezy, but when the breeze let up the black fly babies just cruised right in and bit up my face and my ears. I can’t complain too much, but it is a pain.
This morning we had a little bit of excitement: the ewes and lambs pushed through one of the cattle panels and were wandering around up near the garden. I was running late for chores and as I headed up the driveway I realized that the sheep were out and I ran back to alert my husband to the news. I got a temporary fence up around them and then we set to grabbing lambs and putting them back into the paddock. We really did quite well except for Esther the Enigma and Zorro the Llama. I ended up leaving them in the temporary area as I did not want to chase pregnant Esther around too much, and we don’t really worry a lot about Zorro as he can hold his own even without a fence. As the morning wore on and the black flies got really busy, I went up to the paddock and invited Esther back into the “real” area and she came without batting an eyelash (her favorite spot when the bugs get bad is up in the lambing greenhouse). Zorro followed me in without a backward glance this evening when I was putting out the grain for everyone. I can always count on him to come for that!
I have to give those goatie girls a lot of credit… they made short work of our friend’s Christmas tree. I went out bright and early to get the girls fed this morning, and this is what I found. Not much left, and they were hard at work on it even then. And when Zorro the llama got up close and personal to get first dibs on breakfast, it was actually a very pleasant experience: instead of his usual llama breath, he was breathing lovely, piney scent at me! So I guess we now know how to make camelid breath mints :*)
(Zorro’s breath usually smells like a cross between cudded grass or hay with a hint of eau de stale corn chips. Not bad at all, but the contrast was amazing!)
Another crazy 24 hours here at the Ruit Farm. Yeesh! It hasn’t stopped since 3 a.m. Yesterday I separated the last buckling from his mother, so when I went to bed at 10:30, there was some calling and baabaa-ing and maa-maaing, but I ignored and went to sleep. Around 2:30 a.m. I began to come to consciousness and realized that something was not going well outside. All the mama ewes were bellowing and sounding frightened, and the goaties were chiming in with their chorus of noises as well. By the time 3 a.m. came around I was really alarmed and got my husband up (I am sure he appreciated that!) and we debated who should go out and check on what was happening while he diligently got dressed and picked up the big flashlight. I watched from the bedroom window as he walked the 100 feet up the driveway to the turn-off into the paddock area. When he immediately turned around and started back down to the house, coming along pretty fast, I knew something was up. All the ewes were out and Zorro the llama was very agitated and on patrol. I initially thought it was just a chance breakout, but we have since found out that the coyotes have been very active on this section of the road in the past few nights. We now think that Zorro pushed his way through a cattle panel that probably had some less than new baling twine holding it together, in order to go after a coyote. He left a lot of his fiber on the fence so we know that he went over and/or through it. The ewes were initially happy to have gotten into a section of grass that I was saving, but then began to be afraid, I guess. They met John as he walked up the driveway, and he said that the field of weirdly fluorescent eyes were a little scary! As soon as I went up the majority of them followed me right into the paddock, back in with their lambs. Only a couple needed to be seriously baited and rounded up. Zorro refused entry and spent the night on patrol. He wouldn’t even come in this morning, he kept patrolling the perimeter fence all day. Around 4 he finally walked into the paddock area and went very sweetly into the fenced section. It was exhausting. Wish I had some photos… the moon gave us some light, but otherwise I basically stumbled around with a grain bucket in my hand, trying to lure the ewes back. Raven was the only one I had to catch by the leg and put a halter on. Pretty scary, but thanks to Zorro, not one ewe or goat was sacrificed. It sometimes feels like he is a superfluous presence here (and a crazy eating machine as well!), but I really do appreciate him! He needs a llama treat :*)
As for the rest of the day, I worked on getting our roaster chickens into the section of grass that the ewes cut down during the night, and then my son helped me get the majority of the ewes into the pasture, a half mile down the road. Then I walked the donkey down to join them. I am absolutely all done in! It is way too hot and humid for me. I guess I have to put up with it for the rest of the week, so I hope things let up a little bit! We missed the Round Pond 4th of July parade again, but with the heat and humidity, I am not sure that I would have enjoyed it anyway. Sigh! After all the water and electrolytes I drank today, I think I may have a glass of wine. The chicken that I had intended to barbecue is still in the oven, my husband is in bed, and I suspect that I am soon to follow. Tomorrow is another day.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!