HONEY ROCK DAWN

Sad News

I got word from Mike last night that Ricardo was killed.

Ricardo (the goose) was spending the summer in the valley with the Special Project cows where he has spent every summer for the last ten years, with the exception of last summer. In fact, the families who live adjacent to these pastures had re-named the special project cows ‘The Goose Group.’

He was killed by roving dogs, whose owners are new to the neighborhood though not to the town.

Revel In Paradise, Ricardo. You made so many people smile.

The Farmily Tree

The Farmily is getting big.  I’ve had so many requests for a tree, so here is my attempt: in order of appearance, including year of birth + year joining the Farmily.  Click on each name to go to a photo/post on each member.

The Farmily:
Eli
~ Cat ~ born 2006, joined 2006
Charlie ~ Coyote ~ born 2007, joined 2007
Ranger ~ Quarterhorse ~ born 1999, joined 2007
Chloe ~ Border Collie/Mountain Cur Hound ~ born 2008, joined 2008
{mother: Pita, father: John, see extended Farmily}
Daisy ~ Brown Swiss/Jersey Cow ~ born 2006, joined 2009
Sir Baby ~ Black Angus Bull ~ born 2009, joined 2009 {adopted mother: Daisy}
Flicka ~ Quarterhorse ~ born 2006, joined 2009
Frisco ~ Holstein/Brown Swiss Steer ~ born 2009 {mother: Daisy}
Rue ~ Cat ~ born 2003, joined 2010
Mushy ~ Cat ~ born 2010, joined 2010 {mother: Rue, father: presumably Eli}
Kettle ~ Cat ~ born 2010, joined 2010 {mother: Rue, father: presumably Eli}
Fiona ~ Brown Swiss/Angus Calf ~ born 2011 {mother: Daisy, father: Sir Baby}

The Extended Farmily:
Ricardo ~ Goose ~ age unknown ~ RIP 2011
Houdini ~ Quarterhorse ~ 1981-2011
Sunshine ~ Paint Horse ~ born 1985
Rocky ~ Angus Bull ~ born 2004
Ervin ~ Angus Bull ~ born 2006, joined 2009
John ~ Border Collie ~ born 2000
Pita ~ Mountain Cur Hound ~ born 2006
Black ~ Cat ~ born 2010
Blue ~ Cat born 2010

So Here’s The Dealio ~

Admission: when I write posts, I pretend that no one will ever read them; it’s the only way I can do it.  And I guess I half-believe it at this point because I had no idea there would be so many questions about details!

So, to answer:
Re/ EMT ~ I’ll be bringing my pager with me and keeping it charged via solar as well.  I’ll actually be closer than the ambulance to any calls that might occur on the mountain, the mountain highway, and the National Forest.  I won’t make it to any calls that occur in town but will be able to help on anything that takes place on the mountain (and it sounds like the bulk of summer calls are up there, anyway).

Re/ the Farmily ~ Ricardo is not coming to the mountain, his favorite cow is one of the Special Project cows that stay down here all summer.  As for the rest of them, it should go without saying that I would not be doing this if I thought it would traumatize any of them or put them in any greater danger than they are down here.  Duh, right?

I think they’ll love it.  The cows and horses will have knee-high grass and no bothersome flies.  Eli has moved with me three times, Charlie twice, and Chloe once.  They’ve never shown distress with any move and I believe that new experiences are really good for them ~ it allows them to use their brains in a different way.

I will be taking a camp trailer up the mountain and I pulled it right next to my house back in April, so that all the animals could have plenty of time to get used to it and associate it with “home.”  All have spent much time in the trailer over the past months and it’s just an extension of home at this point, and will be a measure of consistency up there.

I will be setting up a fenced area on the mountain for Charlie (and Chloe) though they’ll also be allowed freedom there, too.  The fenced area I have down here is not to keep Charlie from running away, it’s to keep him from getting shot by strangers or the ignorant, and to keep him from hurting anyone (he’s not demonstrated aggression against others, but just to be safe).  He’s a coyote, but he is no more likely to “run away” than Chloe is.  Which is to say, not at all.

Rue, Kettle, and Mushy have never roamed further than 100 yards from the house since they moved in.  They’re homebodies.  I expect that to continue up there, too.  I hope Eli does not get eaten by a bear on the mountain, just as I hope he does not get hit by a car or killed by a pair of raccoons down here.

Mike once said it perfectly ~ their home is where you are.
Can I get an “Awwwww”?!

Re/ the baño ~ Outhouse!

For The Ricardo Lovers

ricardo1

Look how handsome I am.

ricardo2

Are you looking?

ricardo3

Look how handsome I am.

ricardo4

ARE YOU LOOKING?!?

ricardo5

Look how handsome I am.

The Birth Story

fiona's first day

On Thursday afternoon, I knew Daisy was going to have her baby that night or first thing the next morning.  Delicious grass is growing all over the place and usually the cows wander the property, grazing all day long. But on Thursday afternoon, Daisy walked herself down to the corrals and I found her standing in the grassless sheltered section where she had birthed Frisco, looking into the middle distance, in a zone.  Frisco and another heifer were down there, too – they follow Daisy wherever she goes – nosing around the empty hay bunk. They wanted to eat; Daisy was not interested in food.

Frisco also obediently follows the red-handled horse brush – he loves to be brushed – and I used this to lure him and the heifer out of the corrals.  I locked Daisy in, with a huge pile of hay to eat and straw to nest in, and Frisco, for the first time, had to navigate the wide world on his own (with his heifer friend).  He’s been such a mama’s boy his entire life, I wasn’t sure how he would react to the separation, but he’s did a fine job.  Became a man, even, as much as a steer can.  He and Daisy spent three days apart and Frisco was patient and generous, not at all needy or lonely or whiny.  And even now, he spends more time with the heifer and the goose instead of clinging to Daisy.  He adores his little sis but seems to understand the current order of things.

I left Daisy by herself, checked on her that evening, and at that point I really believed her baby would be born just after sunrise on Friday morning. When I woke at dawn, I had my usual morning rituals with Charlie and Chloe and the cats and coffee and did a bit of work. I was in no rush to get to the corrals, even though I knew Daisy was having her baby.  Daisy prefers to do these things on her own – I could sense that last year, with Frisco’s birth, but bugged her anyway – and this year I decided to let her have the birth the way she wanted it, in peace, like a cow, without me.

And then, one moment, everything shifted gears.  I pulled on jeans and boots and was like, “It’s time to go down there!”  Right now!  And I kind of speed-walked down to the corrals, so curious about what I might find.  From afar, I could see Daisy, standing, and then some movement around her legs.  At first, I couldn’t tell if it was a barn cat, but with a few more strides down the trail I could see the staccato movements of gangly calf legs.  Daisy’s calf was standing but still completely wet – Daisy hadn’t, at that point, cleaned off more than the calf’s face – which means the birth occurred literally less than five minutes before I got down there.

Daisy was attentive to the calf and happy to see me, and soon Ricardo showed up, along with a barn cat.

meeting pedro

We all hung out for a timeless spell – an hour? two hours?  Daisy birthed her placenta and ate it up, and the curious calf discovered that those things are very slippery.

slippery placenta

And this time, when the calf was ready to find a teat, Daisy stood patiently and let her suckle without any drama.  I milked Daisy throughout the day, just sitting beside her in the corral as she licked her calf and munched on hay. Frisco came by to say hi, curious and doting, as always, and then wandered off again with his new heifer friend.  I kept Daisy and her calf together in the corrals for a few days, and today, a beautiful sunny day, I opened all the gates to let them roam the place. And the bovine family met up (sans Sir Baby who is off doing bull duties) and spent the day grazing together. Frisco front and center, Frisco’s heifer friend to the left at the edge of the frame, Ricardo, the white form just above Frisco, and Daisy nursing her calf:

cattle fam

Now, in regards to her name.  That first day, the day of the birth, I could feel the calf’s name in my mouth.  I could feel it, but couldn’t figure out what it was.  But MJ knew.  So many great names were left in the comment section of the “Redhead” post, and one was the name for this particular calf.  When I read the name “Fiona,” it fit like a puzzle with what I was feeling in my mouth.  And I went down to the corrals and softly called out ‘Fiona,’ and this sweet, gorgeous calf got up from resting in the sun and walked over to me.

fiona in the green

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