Friday’s Farm Fotos

December 18, 2009

Time once again for a look at miscellaneous pictures I took around the farm this past week.  This first picture is of Valrhona, one of our Shetland sheep ewes, bedded down in the dry grasses in the main pasture.

Valrhona, one of our Shetland sheep ewes.

The grass is maybe 6-8″ long, and seems to be just perfect for nestling down into it for extra warmth.  All of the 4-legged animals seem to think it’s great!

Once again, the animals are out in the main pasture:

Shetland sheep, Maremma, llama and doe goat.

I took this picture from inside the house, looking out the window in the dining area.  The sheep are in the shorter grass areas, grazing the green stuff tucked underneath.  Our Maremma sheep dog, Neffie, likes to stick close, but keeps to the highest vantage point she can find.

Still looking out the window, I saw one of our Buff Orpington hens.

Buff Orpington Hen

They love to scratch around in the leaves along the fenceline, looking for something tasty to eat.

One of the escapee roosters was doing the same thing around the base of a tree.

White rooster.

I sometimes throw crumbs out there, which they seem to enjoy.

The wild birds like the suet feeders.  Sometimes a Tufted Titmouse comes to visit.

Tufted Titmouse at suet feeder.

And sometimes these little birds show up in bunches.

Wild birds at suet feeder.

I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of birds these are, but can’t find anything that looks *exactly* like them.  The nearest I’ve come up with is an American Tree Sparrow.  But the colors aren’t quite right.

Here’s a couple getting a drink from the birdbath.

Wild birds at birdbath.

And one was sitting on the picket fence.

Wild bird sitting on fence.

So, anybody know what this bird is exactly?

Now, I know exactly what THIS bird is.

Immature Male Cardinal wild bird.

That’s an immature male cardinal with a punky ATTITUDE.

And I do mean, ATTITUDE.

Wild bird - immature male Cardinal.

I think his mohawk “hairdo” looked pretty cool.  Bet he thinks he’s a read macho dude!

Our farm collie, Toby, isn’t so much macho as goofy.  The minute we go outside, he runs around like an idiot trying to find a stick to carry.  It doesn’t matter if it’s toothpick sized or a log.

American Farm Collie, Toby.

Sometimes he gets sticks that are so big he can barely drag them around.

He and Neffie seem to enjoy grooming each other, each though they are both “fixed.”

Maremma sheepdog and American Farm Collie.

Later in the week I saw a Northern Mockingbird getting a drink from the birdbath.

Northern Mockingbird at Southern Birdbath.

Northern Mockingbird at Southern Birdbath.

The cardinals also visit the birdbath.

Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal

Sometimes even the chickens hop up for a drink from the birdbath, like this little Golden Sebright Bantam hen.

Golden Sebright Bantam Hen

Golden Sebright Bantam Hen

Glancing through all these pictures, you might get the idea things are pretty fowl around here.  From the looks of all these guineas following our male llama around, I’d say you’d be right.

Llama and guineas.

We’ve got all kinds of birdbrains outside and inside.   This one on the inside is hanging from the curtain on the back door. . .

Bye, bye!  See ya later!

Bye, bye! See ya later!

And bidding you GOOD-BY!

Friday’s Farm Fotos

October 30, 2009

It’s been a while since I posted some miscellaneous photos.  So here we are, a snapshot in time, pictures from today around the farm.

First I went out and fed the chickens.

Chickens eating.

It’s still kind of drizzly out.  We seem to be having a monsoon season here, and I must say, I’m getting a little tired of it.  The chickens don’t seem to pay much attention, however, nor do the guineas.  Here’s a couple of keets from two different age groups. . .

Two Guinea Keets Of Different Ages

They’re starting to look more like adults, and a whole lot less like babies.

The mutant chimera chick was getting a share of the grain.  It’s still looks strange.

The Chimera Chicken Bird Chick

Noticeable in his absence, however, is the lone white rooster running around in the pastures.  We caught his compatriots a few nights back and put them in a pen by themselves.   He was roosting in a catalpa tree by the sheep shed with some other chickens.  The Farmer got hold of him, but did not KEEP hold of him and the rooster escaped.  I guess the rooster figures he doesn’t want anywhere near us in case we try catching him again!

Out in the main pasture I can see some of the trees in the neighbor’s yard have turned color.

Tree with red leaves.

The colder, rainy weather has brought down a lot of leaves.  Most of which are boring brown, like these in another neighbor’s driveway:

Fallen leaves in neighbor's driveway.

In spite of fall being here, there is still lots of green grass and grazing.  Keira and Cinnamon like to spend a big part of their day in the main pasture, munching up on the grass.  Samson is also out there, but doesn’t seem to worry about being so close by these days.  I’m hoping Keira is already carrying a cria.

Llama And Goat

The dogs were out playing this morning, but as soon as they saw me with the camera they stopped.  They were more interested in what I was doing.

Maremma Neffie and American Working Farmcollie Toby

Neffie is the white dog, our Maremma.  Toby is an American Working Farmcollie, though I think he’d rather play than work.

Walking back to the house I noticed there are still berries on the Tea Viburnum.

Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum) in autumn.

The camellia bush still has a lot of blooms and even buds, along with numerous visiting bees (or hornets or whatever they happen to bee).

Camellia ( Winter's Star Camellia ) and bee.

And now I BEE-lieve that’s enough pictures for today!

Courting Llamas

October 13, 2009

Our llamas have been flirting with each other from a distance for weeks now.  It’s been obvious for some time that they’d like to be back together in the same pen, but we were keeping them apart to give Keira plenty of time to recover from losing her cria.  I also wanted to give them their yearly vaccinations before letting them back together.

Well, it’s been 5 months now since Keira lost her cria, so she ought to be in as good as physical shape as she’s going to get!  They’ve had their vaccinations, and since it’s supposed to be better for crias to be born in the fall and there’s an 11 – 11 1/2 month gestation – – – it’s time!

Accordingly, this weekend we let Samson out of solitary confinement.  He went out through a pasture Keira had been in and left some droppings, so naturally, had to stop and check them out.

Step 1 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

Llama Samson doing his crazy courtship stance called a Flehmen response.

Don’t ask me why he feels it necessary to sniff then bare his teeth and arch his head and neck towards his back.  I guess if you’re a male llama, it’s just the thing to do.

But things really heated up when he got to where he could communicate with Keira directly across the fence.

Step 2 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

In case you can’t tell, the male llama, Samson, is the one on the left with his motor running.

Our Maremma LGD (Livestock Guardian Dog) went crazy over the whole situation.  She sticks close to Keira and Cinnamon (our little doe goat), and she wasn’t happy about Samson making such a racket over Keira.  I think she was wondering if he had honorable intentions, ha, ha!

At first Samson didn’t realize that the gate was open to the pen Keira was in.  When he did. . . well, things got really serious!  Keira was receptive and Samson was raring to go!

Step 3 of the Llama Courtship Ritual:

Neffie, our Maremma Livestock Guardian Dog, barking a warning.

The llamas are in the shadows… hey!  Let’s give them some privacy, okay?  We’ll just say that if we don’t get a cria in 11 or so months, it won’t be because Samson didn’t do his part.

As for Neffie, she remained decidedly unhappy about the whole situation.  She kept looking at the llamas, then looking at me and barking, as if she were saying, “Are you going to let him get away with that???”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

Sorry Neffie, but it’s the only way to get a cute little cria.   Besides, Samson is quite honorable.  He stays close to his woman, even after she gets pregnant and cranky.

Now if Keira will just deliver a healthy little cria next fall. . .

Giving our Maremma, Neffie, A Hair Cut

July 10, 2009

Once a year I have to give our livestock guardian dog, Neffie, a haircut.  This is not a fun event for either of us.  Neffie, for her part, is not a “people dog”.  Maremmas and other LGD breeds have been bred for centuries to be independent.  They are often aloof, and bonded tightly to their charges.  People are not needed for them to do their job.

Neffie carries this to the max.  She does not like to be handled by humans.  In fact, I would say the only real reason she can probably think of to have a human around is to put food in her bowl every night.

Nonetheless, she will tolerate me (and only me!) catching her and handling her.  She really doesn’t want to be petted, so for the most part I let her keep her distance.

When I need to catch her though, sometimes that presents a problem. If she doesn’t want to be caught, it’s just about impossible to corner her.  Fortunately, once she figures out I really want to get hold of her, she usually just sits tight and lets me come on.

Catching Neffie, our Maremma.

Is this really, REALLY, necessary?
As you can see, she could have taken off in the 3-acre field behind her, and there is no way I could have kept up with her.

Once I get a leash on her, I tie the lead to something with a good sturdy knot so she can’t bolt.

Maremma Neffie says, "Is this really neccessary?"

I repeat, is this really necessary?
Of course, you can’t do anything without our nosy goat, Cinnamon, poking around to see what she can get into.

Cinnamon, the goat, being nosy as usual!

So what’s this stuff?
Neffie’s coat doesn’t shed out well, and the chore of cutting it got put off much later than usual, so it was a matted mess.

Starting on Neffie the Maremma's haircut.

For my part, all that squatting and clipping is a killer.
I tried using the clippers, but they wouldn’t cut through the tangle, and no way was I going to try the shearers on her!  As it was, what happened first thing?  I was trying to get a mat and pulled it up to slip the scissors under it, but her skin pulled up too, so I cut her.

Talk about feeling lower than the proverbial snake’s belly!

Here’s this dog that trusts only me, and what do I do when she lets me catch her?  Right off, I cut her.  Oh man…. and she never flinched, growled, or nipped at me.  The only reason I even knew it is because even the tiniest amount of blood shows up real quick against all that white.  You can bet after that I was VERY careful to be sure my fingers were between her and the scissors.  I’d rather cut me than her.

Fortunately, she didn’t seem to be upset, and we kept to the job at hand.  Not that she liked the procedure, mind you, as you can see from this picture.

Neffie, the Maremma's, haircut.

Sitting on a bucket helped me a little, but Neffie still wasn’t thrilled.
I’ll admit I’m not too fond of the procedure myself, as it involves a lot of squatting, kneeling, and bending over.

Bending over to give Maremma Neffie her haircut.

The Cave Geek (a.k.a. Youngest Son) was official photographer for the event.  Of course, rather to my dismay, he also has the unfortunate tendency to like videos.  I was hoping he wouldn’t figure out how to take them with my new camera, but no such luck.


I had trouble getting the mats under Neffie’s ears.  There wasn’t a lot of space between the mat and her skin, and her ear kept flopping down in the way.

Cutting a mat out from under Neffie's ear.

No Van Gogh effects please!
It took over an hour, but I finally got the mats and old coat trimmed off, then gave her a bath with flea and tick shampoo.  She has a flea collar on, but I figured the bath would help tease out any mats left over.

One dripping wet Maremma.

One really, really ragged looking dog.
She was quite happy when I was finally down clipping, shampooing and combing and let her go.

You can see by the aftermath we took a lot of hair off her.

Hair, hair, everywhere!

Hair here, hair there, hair everywhere!
My aftermath was being laid up for a couple of days.  Paybacks are. . . not fun.  But at least positively all the shearing and critter haircuts are done for the year!

. . . Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Neffie is short for “Queen Nephele”.  If you’re not up on your Greek mythology, she was shepherdess for the ram with the Golden Fleece.  It just seemed to fit.

Typical Scene on the Farm

February 26, 2008

It’s a blustery day here on the farm. There’s moisture in the air, sometimes just a light mist, other times it’s wee little balls of stinging sleet. This is not my favorite time to be out and about, but the animals need hay even more on days they don’t go out and graze.

The guineas don’t seem to mind a little rain, running around looking for grain or perched on the fence.
I almost chickened out of my morning walk through the woods, but I figured if the guineas could hack the foul weather, so could I.

The wind was making quite a racket as it roared through the trees, and of course the creek was up a little from the bit of rain we had.

On nice days, when I let all the animals out together, it’s not unusual to see all kinds of combinations of critters, with the chickens, guineas, dogs, sheep and llama.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen poultry perching on sheep. I think that nice thick wool must keep their feet warm, or maybe they just like being on top of things.

It’s a typical scene on the farm.