Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slow week at the farm

This week was a slow one. With temperatures in the 30's during the day and windy, it's just too cold to do too much. But here are the highlights:

Spent a lot of time reading and researching various animals. I corresponded with Cindy Roberts at and also received her book in the mail, Answers to your Mule Questions. The book is great, answered many of the questions I had, and confirmed what I had been reading: mules are super smart. I had emailed her about our mule and donkeys, explaining that we had just gotten them and asking for advice. Here is her very prompt reply (Thanks, Cindy!):


You have an interesting story there - thanks for writing. Yes, you can separate the mule and put him in with the goats, but I would watch him for a while before you leave him with the goat herd. I am assuming the mule is use to the goats since they are near by so I don't think there would be a problem. The donkey is competeing for your attention and that is why there is a dominance issue when you approach the fence. Donkeys are very smart and mules are too. (That is where the mule gets his smarts from.) The mule is very curious about your presence and he will bond with you and become your buddy. You don't know how lucky you are to receive such a gift - because a mule that has been trained or worked with from someone that actually cares about them - well, mules will do amazing things. He is craving your companionship. He doesn't get much respect from the donkeys is my guess.

I hope this helps you and let me know how things work out.

In Cowgirl Spirit,
Cindy K. Roberts

Her book repeatedly points out that the mule needs to know you are the new Sherriff in town. I'm translating that as You Can't Be Scared Of The Mule. Hopefully we can bond a little today and over the next week since it will be a lot warmer. Wish me luck!
I also met a man that lives right around the corner from the farm and has kindly offered to answer any questions we have ( so many!) as well as help out if we need it (when can you start?). More importantly, he generously said he would take the goats if we decide not to keep them. The internet world is so small. We met each other on a chicken website (even I have to laugh looking at that in print!), and I also was lucky enough to meet several other people in my immediate area that have tons of experience with chickens. Whew!
I ordered two rabbit hutches to brood my chicks in when they get here. I'm hoping they will be big enough to house them until they are about 8 weeks old, at which time I should be able to move them out to the coop on the farm if the weather is warm enough. Cole is NOT happy about raising chicks in our house, but since they are already on order, I guess he'll have to adjust. Our basement is being finished right now so hopefully I can keep them down there for a few weeks (yes, Cole, on the new carpet). Still need to get all of the other supplies but that can wait a week or so. At least I have a list of what I need started.
We found this great Amish-looking man that builds barns, cabins, playhouses. I actually found someone online in Pennsylvania that had what I was looking for, stopped into the place here in Greenwood and guess what? These are the people the PA place orders from. Who knew?? He has a ton of stuff I want but Cole says I have to pace myself. :)  On his lot is an adorable 10 x 16 Victorian playhouse with windows, window boxes, a front porch, and a loft. Ron (who states he is not actually Amish but his wife is... but trust me, he could play an Amish man on TV) said he would build and install my nest boxes, a chicken door with a ramp and some roost rods. Now how can I turn that down? Okay, yes, it's a teensy bit pricey but it's so cute! I just know my fuzzy chicks would be so happy in that precious coop. I *almost* have Cole talked into it. Normally I would just go buy it, have it delivered, and then ask for forgiveness (if it's already there, it's pretty difficult to get rid of!), but I'm trying to turn over a new leaf for this decade. He also sells greenhouses and that is a long-term dream of mine. I have so many plans for that thing!!!!
Cole and I headed out to the farm every day to break up the ice on the water troughs and daydream a little. We had 45 geese on our back pond one day. I picked out the perfect spot for my chicken coop. Our two possibly pregnant goats, Grumpy and Dopey, still look pregnant. Our goat shelter is still standing although the goats have eaten some of the hay-bale walls. The goats are becoming much more friendly and come running when we head to the pasture. Most likely it's because they think we have food, but in my mind, it's because they like us. A lady at the feed store said to get animal crackers, sit down and see if they will come up. She said they adore animals crackers. The donkeys and mule continue to spend their time kicking at each other with their ears pinned back. They have a huge pasture yet remain right on top of each other, so we have no choice but to assume that this is their dynamic and they like it that way. Scares us though!
Hmmm... I started this post out thinking it was a slow week, but looking at all the things we did, I guess it wasn't that slow after all! I definitely know a lot more today than I did last week at this time. Now, I need to go get my Sherriff outfit on and head out to the farm to have a talk with that mule.

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