Bang, a generally worthless cat, presented us with a kitten in the goat area. It is mostly white with black ears and Dalmatian spots. Bang had it somewhere else and then brought it out to stay with the goats just as it's eyes were opening.
At first Spot was very ferocious and quite intimidated by the goats. It didn't take long, though, before he (I think it's a he) became foolishly brave and, tail in the air, began exploring.
We need to think about a policy on domestic animals. How many cats do we want on the place? How many dogs? What about horses?
Here is an area where 'traditional' and 'natural' have trouble fitting together. If 'natural' means an area populated by hunter-gatherers, and 'traditional' means an area populated by self-sufficient agrarians then The Farm is definitely aimed at the traditional.
'Traditional' means that we won't be stocking the place with Grey Wolves. It also means that we will have domestic animals, some of which will severely impact some of the wildlife populations. Our three favorites, cats, dogs, and horses, are all very destructive of the 'natural' environment.
For instance, in Jefferson County, 80 acres will (I think) support two or three mature breeding female deer. One large active dog can easily patrol 80 acres and effectively stop any deer from rearing young on the place. Do we want Bambi or Rover?
Why do so many people keep beautiful horses in ugly, weedy, over-grazed pastures littered with junk?
Didn't goats, with some help from the Romans, turn the forests of the Middle East into desert?
In case anyone doesn't know my position on matters environmental: I do not believe in 'letting nature take it's course' because this area hasn't been 'natural' for hundreds of years. For example, although the natural climax timber stand here is a oak and hickory, there were no acorns or hickory nuts left in the ground when I first came to this area. I have planted hundreds of acorns, and now there are oak trees bearing acorns on the place. It might be possible to let 10,000 acres go 'natural', but 80 acres needs to be carefully managed.
All of that, just because there are too many cats in the barn.
The Astrophysical Ducks, a group known for their far out ideas, held a rally the other day at which they announced their intention to move to St. Louis. The rally was being held to object to the changes being made in the fence around the main barn lot; a needless disturbance, in their opinion, which upset their normal daily routine.
The Management explained that the changes would allow the Wisteria vine to cover a greater area, thus providing additional shady, vine-covered space where the ducks can lounge and discuss astrophysics. The ducks were unimpressed by this argument, insisting that management must refrain from actions which disturb their daily routine.
Management pointed out that the ducks do not know anyone in St. Louis, and, very politely, inquired as to what the ducks intended to do to find food and shelter there. They claimed to be blues musicians, daytime blues musicians, because ducks don't stay up after dark.
After two days of repeated grumbling and complaining, interspersed with much talk of St. Louis, the ducks seem to have settled down again and, after enjoying a much needed rain, are directing their discussions to astrophysics instead of insulting the Management.
This spring we bought 20 Golden Sex Link pullets. A pullet is a young female chicken and, yes, 'Golden Sex Link' really is a breed of chicken. In August the pullets started showing definite signs of puberty. Their combs and wattles, which had been very small and pale yellow colored, suddenly grew and turned bright red. The prettiest part is their hackles, which they are also starting to grow. Hackles are long feathers that grow on their necks and spread out slightly where their necks join their bodies to form a sort of small cape. Golden Sex Links have what are called Gold Laced hackles, a pattern where each feather is gold with a white lace pattern on it. For egg production chickens, they're quite pretty.
Gold Sex Links are very docile birds, with quiet dispositions and little tendency to believe stories about the sky falling. Some of them are tame enough that you can simply walk up to them and pick them up, though they may make some complaint. With puberty starting in August, they will probably start laying in September or October. Then our pretty little pullets will become hens.
The first eggs they lay will be 'pullet eggs', very small eggs, some not much larger than a pigeon egg, and frequently yolkless. After laying one or two pullet eggs, they generally start laying ordinary big brown eggs.
They're called Sex Links because their color is sex linked. The pullets are gold and the cockerels are silver. When they hatch the chicks be readily sorted by sex by anyone who isn't color blind.
There are a lot of butterflies this year, including three species (Tiger, Black, and Anise) of large Swallowtails. The Anise Swallowtail population jumped when I planted some Fennel. Three of the caterpillars can strip a healthy Fennel plant, so I plan to greatly increase my planting next year. Last year I set out one plant. This year I set out four, and one is already stripped and dead, but there is a noticeable increase in the number of Anise Swallowtails fluttering about.
The caterpillars are interesting. They grow at an incredible rate. You can watch the same caterpillar on a plant and see it grow larger each day. When you touch one of them it sticks out a bright orange forked thing like a snake's tongue that comes out of the back of it's head.
There are two kinds of Fennel. The kind the Anise Swallowtail likes is Foeniculum vulgare, sometimes called Bronze Fennel. It looks something like Asparagus, but has an unusual color mix of blue-green and bronze. I'm growing it in full sun and keeping it watered. They say that Fennel likes to be by itself. It would probably be good to plant along a back fence line. I have plenty of Fennel seed if anyone would like some.
Two of the three goldfish in the rain barrel have died of unknown causes, although cat attacks have been suggested as a possibility. They were fine, healthy looking, plump fish and showed no obvious signs of injury. "The investigation will continue," declared the Forensic Ichthyologist in charge of the inquiry.
LATE NEWS: The last goldfish has died. Our Forensic Ichthyologist will present his report soon with recommendations to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.Return to Farm News First Page