Thursday, January 31, 2008

Salmon smoking




We finally started smoking the silvers we caught in Valdez AK this summer. It's quite the process and the cold weather made it take longer than usual but it turned out perfect. We used hickory chips, and got enjoy the smell for three days. We managed to stir up the local coyote pack which doesn't take much this time of year, but thankfully the delightful smell didn't attract any hungry and sleepy bears.

Nightly guests



Some of our deer friends in the yard the other evening. Below is our orphan fawn who has been here since late summer. Torn Ear has taken him under his wing, and has been seeing him through the winter. The picture below is him and Rudolph.






Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cliff & Edna update

When our pot bellied pigs, Cliff and Edna arrived the week before Christmas I must admit I was concerned. Rarely have I seen pigs so terrified. Cliff & Edna are 4 1/2 months old. They had never been handled or even touched by humans and associate people with chaos and chasing. They don't know what straw is, and are used to lots of noise, and lots of other pigs. Most pot belly pigs are fairly sociable, and they are usually pretty confident. At least, the pigs I've known have been that way and of the five pot bellies I've cared for, three were abused. These little pigs were horrified when they were caught and loaded into our truck. Once inside they didn't know what to do when they saw the huge mound of fresh dry straw awaiting them. They were covered in muck and pig and bird poo. There were dozens of chickens roosting above where the pigs slept. They quickly cuddled up in the straw and covered themselves up. When we unloaded them from the truck late that evening after getting home and put them into their cozy new house, they screamed and Cliff even showed aggression. They were just so afraid. For a week they didn't come out of their straw nest to talk to me or get their food. Then they realized I couldn't be that awful since I was always offering them tasting treats... and now they get excited for food and treats, happily come out of hiding to visit and get snacks, and don't mind getting their picture taken! They even let me sneak in a little scratch at a time. I know once the discover the joy of belly rubs, I'll have them completely won over. I am so thrilled at their progress and am enjoying them so much. I am so happy to see them get excited about clean and fresh bedding and treats, and show signs of cotentment and happiess. I can't wait to offer them a good mud puddle and some green grass to play in.

Searching for Torn Ears antlers

Since this January has been teasing us with March like weather, almost all of our snow is gone. So we took this as an invitation to go looking again, for Torn Ears antlers. We managed to spot one of Pokeys in the front yard, which I am so glad we did. It's adorable, so small. We have searched on three separate occasions since Torn Ear dropped his antlers on New Years Eve but have been unsuccessful at locating them. We know most of the deer bed down around our pond in the junipers in full view of the house in most places. The pond in front of our house is about 10 acres in size. We walked halfway around and found tons of deer sign and lots of beds, but no antlers. We found some intestine and ribs in one of the deer beds, with Coyote or wolf tracts leading onto the ice. Apparently one of the deer fell pray to a hungry coyote in the area. The coyotes have been acting up more than usual lately and are getting more courageous as their hunger starts to get to them. We spotted one almost in the front yard yesterday, at noon. Further inspection of the recently fallen snow showed that this particular wolf, or very large coyote had been all over the farm. Judging by the distress Manny the llama was in, he had been around their enclosures as well. I was surprised to find out he walked right up to our house. Rarely are they this gutsy.

Late this afternoon we were in the bush hauling in some firewood, when this same animal (he has a VERY distinctive voice) began howling right at our house. In a panic I rushed home since our goats and sheep were still outside since it was only 3PM, and they don't go into the barn until 4:30. Thankfully everyone was O.K. at home, but the coyote was close. He was watching. Although it feels like spring with the warm temperatures and melting snow we are reminded the animals in the forest are still trying to keep themselves alive throughout the long and difficult winter months.

I still hope we will come across Torn Ears antlers so we can have them to remember him by. We will continue to search and hopefully we will stumble across them before they are too destroyed by mice and weather.

Ah, and finally after four years it appears two beavers have moved into the pond in front of our house! Marvin Muskrat and over 100 geese call it home in the spring, summer, and fall months. I spotted the new cleaned sticks on top of one of the muskrat houses on latest hike. The next morning Kevin spotted them with the binoculars working on their house in front of ours. For two years Kevin has been the beaver that keeps the dam filled so the pond doesn't drain, and now it looks like he'll have some help.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

BRRR





It got down to -30C the other night. I was so worried about the chickens, since this sudden drop in temperature was not expected, but everyone was just fine, snuggled up in their straw. The girls even got all lined up and satfor this picture. The critters managed all right, but our tractor and truck did not. And the computer went down to top it all off... thankfully we were quickly back up and running, and then we made a mad dash into town to stock up on supplies and battery chargers! Now it's like spring outside and everything is melting. It's early January and it's winters way of teasing us....



Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Noel


Noel is one of our bunnies. Her mom came in as a rescue with 16 other Mini Rex rabbits that were going to be set loose. She was not planned. She is three and half months, and of course, so adorable. She has the greatest personality going. On Christmas Eve she had what appeared to be, a stroke. Her right side was paralysed. I thought I was going to loose her. At 4 AM on Christmas morning I woke up to crunching noises beside the bed... Noel was in a box with her towels, water, and food, and she was... eating! I couldn't believe it. Christmas day and Boxing Day she continued to eat and drink but could not stand up on her own. Since then, she has continued to improve every day. I am so thankful! She is now a going concern, running around the house, stealing Norman's toys, and teasing the Prairie dogs. I hope she continues to improve, because we are so looking forward to a long life ahead with her. I think maybe she was my Christmas miracle this year.

Antlers


On Christmas morning I walked out in the front yard and noticed an antler lying on the snow. It was in perfect shape, having just been dropped. We know all of our "local" deer by name. Our "local" deer are deer that spend each winter bedded down all around our house, and spend most of their time in our yard looking for food and stealing grain from our horses and sheep. We have identified and named each of them. We have about 15 "locals" this year. Most of them have been sepending their winters with us for several years. In the spring they disapear and late October they start popping up again.


I could tell that the antler was left by who we call our "gate buck." He is a one year old spike that beds down near the second gate on our lane. He's been running around with one antler for weeks and now finally he has lost his other one. After a little more searching it seems that both Pokey and Rudolph have left their antlers for us in the yard as well. Pokey is a spike, and his antlers had fresh blood on the bottoms meaning he just dropped them hours ago. Rudolph has great little antlers, he's about a two year old buck. What great Christmas presents!

Torn Ear showed up two days ago with no antlers. He is our 14 point buck that has been wintering over with us for 5 years. He is incredible. After a 6 hour hike through the bush last February we managed to find one of his antlers. He held them for a long time last year, I imagine because of the warm winter we had. We would love to have his set of antlers from this year, especially not knowing if we will ever see him again or not. It snowed a lot last night, leaving me to search for antlers in thick marsh brush today. It was impossible, and I sunk up to my waist in snow. I hope we find them, but everyday they are out there, they are being destroyed by little critters, like mice. As soon as we can get into the bush again to search we will . Together though! It's dangerous to be hiking alone, so Kevin and I will both go. We would love to have this years set of antlers to remember Torn Ear by. When hunting season was almost through this year, one of the local hunters stopped by to tell us that some guys who hunt down from our land, had shot him. I was devestated. He is my friend, and after making it through at least 4 seasons, and almost this one, I couldn't believe it. About three hours later when I was finishing up my evening chores... Torn Ear walked into the front yard and stood in front of our pond with the sun setting behind him. He hadn't been shot - he had been by the house the entire time, miles away from where anyone was hunting. Regardless of our thoughts on hunting which are not all negative, these deer are our family...
I imagine the antlers will be in clear view somewhere... where we least expect them to be, and where we overlook them at least several times!




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