Sunday, February 14, 2010

Farm Love

Happy Valentines Day! We have lots of love on this farm beginning with of course the good husband and I and our family.  But family on this farm includes all of our furry creatures too. 
Check out Ringo and Patty Pat (I guess Patty Pat is a girl though her antler stubs stumped me...She looks a bit pregnant too.  I had no clue they loved eachother until yesterday.  Bucks and does do not normally hang out until later in the spring and summer.  Patty Pat's name is taken from that silly 'Pat' on Saturday Night Live where we still don't know if the character is male or female.  Look how proud Ringo is of his Patty Pat!
Jessie and Blue can't even be out of sight with one another.  Today they finally got turned out but only rolled and kicked a couple of times.  They love being muddy and they love eating their grass!

Daddy Cat and Callie used to love eachother three years ago, for a day maybe...Cricket is living proof of their brief romance.  Callie is now tolerating Daddy Cat getting close to her.   She wanted him to take her for a ride today (on the Kubota of course!).

Look at Love Rock!  Isn't it cool?  The excavator was going to throw it over a hill but I noticed its unique shape and directed him to position it under the tree by the pond...a very romantic place to sit! 
Big Rocky is totally in love with Baby Bridget!  He constantly tackles her despite her squeals of protest.  After getting back on all fours and shaking herself, her tail stands straight up ending with that cute curve and she rubs on him for more.  What a little flirt!  And more he gives, wrapping his strong arms around her entire little body biting harder and harder until I have to separate them.  Then he hisses at me like a snake which I have to remind him that he is a cat not a reptile.  After that I recieve deep growls and long whiny songs all the way to the bedroom where I plonk him on the bed to give the baby a rest! My big Mountain Lion would have been a great dad...oh well. I wish I had a 'tackle' photo to show you how bad he is...
Just yesterday I discover that Beauty's Boy loves chasing my turkeys!  Bad boy! As hard as I work to get those birds to eat, then this little brat has to ruin it!  Usually the deer ignore the turkeys.  He is so cute and his mother is one of the prettiest does I have seen. I wish I had video yesterday but I couldn't tear myself away from the window to grab the camera.  He was jumping all over the place, backwards, straight up in the air and twisting his entire body loving every minute of his new found dominance.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my Dad's  passing.  Valentine's Day is now a bit rough as the day before takes a toll on my emotional well being.  As hard as I try to smile and keep up a good front and continue to do the daily chores, inside I am worn down and old, emotionally exhausted from the numb disbelief that my Father no longer exists in physical form.  He loved the outdoors.  He used to work on a farm when he and Mom first married and long ago considered moving up to Vermont.  He showed me the farm they picked out but could not afford it.  How different my life would have been had that happened!  But, each day I am reminded of him through myself.  I feel he is with me many times and strangely enough that stupid movie that we watched so many times together when I was a kid came on last night...all I had to do was hear that eerie tune and I knew immediately...see the good husband likes westerns and 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' appeared.  I just laughed and thought to myself that Dad is with me as that movie hasn't come on for years or my husband just didn't tune in at the right time...Love you Dad. There is a lot of love on our farm and I sure haven't and won't forget about my love for you!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Trying to Teach the Turkeys

Is it possible to train totally 'wild' wildlife?  I guess so, for my deer anyways...they have learned to come to the corn yard certain times of the day.  They also know if they show up in the morning, I will faithfully scatter their corn in several piles then go on and do my chores.  Maybe they have trained me! Certain deer, mostly the smart ones which is usually Bossy's crew, will even wait until after dark, hide near the barn and watch for me hoping for a late night snack.  Last week, Buttons touched his nose to my outstretched fingers for a split second!  That was a surprising first since his mother Brownie who has known me for three years won't even do that though she has gotten close.  Don't worry, when other humans are around, they all scatter. The only other deer I have touched was Nub, Brownie's two year old boy though that was not by choice.  Click on this link if you want to read Defying Death.  Getting back to the is a tough winter for these amazing birds.
We saw the turkeys close to the house a month or so ago much to our delight as for years they seemed to have vacated the farm due to our dogs roaming at will.  The electronic collars have worked wonders for the past few years but the turkeys continued to stay away, until last December. 
They are extremely difficult for me to figure out.  They do not behave in a consistant manner.  They do not arrive on a daily basis nor scratch for leftover corn at a certain time of day.  They know the good husband and I are the source of the corn as they must watch while I feed the deer or else how would they know to come so close to the house...
I have learned to just be honest with them... sounds silly, but it works. At first, I thought sneaking behind the barn to avoid them seeing me might be the answer since they used to run like crazy when a human approached.  I would walk up the hill with two full buckets of corn and the turkeys would be out of sight.  Now, I walk in my usual pace down the to the barn and this time, I talk to them.  I know, crazy farm lady talking to turkeys, but their reaction changed!  They didn't scatter.  Granted, they cautiously walked back up the hill but several of them turned around to watch me.  I always say the same words.  The deer know the word 'corn' and many know their names, so at least the turkeys can learn 'corn'.  One can only hope.
The first time when they didn't scatter in fear, they were headed toward the pond.  But, when they heard my voice they turned to look and some lingered, while others walked slowly back in the direction of the corn yard but still on the other side of the road staying close to the brush for safety.  They watched me scatter corn.  I immediately left and went back to the barn hoping (to no avail) that they would come back down and eat.
The second time was just a few days ago.  Did the same thing.  This time they were a bit closer to the house but still going back up towards some brush. I kept talking and they kept looking.  They very slowly made their way up the hill following their leader with a great view of the corn yard dotted with yellow piles of goodies.  Still nothing.  I left, this time walking back towards the house thinking my barn noises might disturb them.  Nope, nada, nothing. 
The third time, the good husband was in the car.  They don't seem as afraid of his quiet engine so he backed towards the house, got me, drove to the barn to get the corn, and while they were only a half way up the hill, I scattered the corn from the car.  Still didn't work. 
I guess it took years for the deer to trust me, so I must be patient for the poor turkeys.  I just don't understand why they won't follow the lead of the deer and save themselves from hunger.  I know there is an alpha female who heads the flock and I think there is another alpha female who is last in line as the others in between seem younger and slightly different in color.  Their behaviors in many ways mirror the deer with  several competing for the corn.   I've read about turkeys following the deer during Winter feedings so maybe with time, these shy birds will do the same.  It is very frustrating trying to teach these turkeys! ;~)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Deer Devotion

It was super cold and snowy a few days ago.  It was not a day for hanging out, nor a day for any outdoor activities.  The wind blew and it was well below freezing.  Looking like a degenerate, I wore my thug hat.   It covers everything but my eyes.  The young bucks were hungry and came out early.  The chickadees chirped loudly wanting more seed.  And of course, Blue always whines about wanting more hay.  Jessie just softly nickers.  The kitties, tired of being in the tack room, meowed impatiently too.  Nobody gets turned out if it is too cold so all they think about is food.  Time to feed! 
Tanner behind Ringo
Patty Pat chasing off Shy One who usually is the alpha!

I really didn't feel like doing it but the snow was too deep to throw the corn on the ground, so I got the large broom and swept away 20 spots for the deer.  Sweeping 4 inches of snow was good exercise!  My feet were so cold that day.  My toes began to hurt when I finished but it is very difficult to go inside despite uncomfortable conditions when my camera sees those beautiful faces.  Enjoy and even in the coldest conditions, all is well on the farm!

(This is Patty Pat, she is so cute and I think she is a 'she' but she has spots growing for antlers.  Her neck is female but she hangs with the boys which is unnatural especially this time of year.  More about Patty Pat later!)