Thursday, 31 March 2016

The hills are alive with the sound of Coos

Well it seems like yesterday that I posted the last blog, but actually it’s been over a month!! Time Flies!!!! When you’re playing with coos.

Gosh we love them!

So the great news is!!!!

Loretta and Ruby have had their babies, two girls. Ruby’s baby is a red fuzz ball we have named, Lucy (Mal nicknamed, Bob Bob) and Loretta’s is a pitch black fuzzy wuzzy we named Pango (mal has nicknamed Booboo) both nicknames have kind of stuck. (pango is Maori for Black).

Booboo is a sweet heart; she is our golden egg, as Black highlands look mighty magnificent and not a very common colour, so we intend to breed her to get more black fuzz balls. Bob Bob is 4 weeks older and a real little shit! But very cute! We are attempting to catch her to pop a halter on, but we have realised we may have left it a bit late (something we don’t intend on doing with Booboo). We managed to herd Bob Bob in the stable (Mal wrestling her down yelling at me to get the halter on), I was somewhat distracted by the two screaming, angry cows on the other side of a rickety old gate. Before we knew it Bob Bob wacked Mal in his two golden eggs, popped her head under the gate lifting it off its hinges and escaped, we then had mamma coo and aunty coo to contend with, both not very impressed. Let’s just say I don’t recall jumping the fence! Mal is still a bit bitter with me for leaving him, but hey I haven’t sorted my life insurance yet! Mals injury was nothing a bag of ice couldn’t fix.

Anyhooo…we discovered Ruby had Bob Bob early (very early) I am relieved I did know this as I know I would have panicked. I wasn’t at the farm when it happened, I was guilted (by number 3 child) in spending the week in Nelson house with her, as she said she never sees me (gosh she is good with the guilt trips) (gotta love 16year olds) so Wednesday Mal rang me with the news that Ruby had her baby, I cried…I was so gutted I wasn’t there and couldn’t be there until tomorrow. But as soon as I dropped number 3 child at bus, I was gone!! I arrived at 12noon(ish) I had the biggest and greatest of expectations of calves and their mammas, I guess a romanticized dream. Cause boy was it not so! What I imagined… (Remember the introduction…no farming experience) was how it was for me when I had my children, I was besotted with them, never leaving them and incredibly over protective. Well did I get a rude shock when I arrived to find Ruby…No calf in sight!!
 I walked the entire section three times, by the third I was absolutely beside myself, so bad I ended up ringing mal (who was at work) I couldn’t find bubba anywhere! And I was even more confused to see Ruby couldn’t care less! So little did I realise…Coo’s hide their calves. Ruby knew exactly where her baby was and she was not letting on…so after hours of manically rummaging through some of the roughest terrain, I found her…HA! Ruby!!! You should have seen her face!! Yeah I won that round! So once I found her I got her up to the paddock to her mum and went about the day. I kept a very close eye on baby as I was very aware she hadn’t fed and it was a good 3 to four hours to find her. After another 2 hours I was getting pretty stressed again…I began to get concerned she was going far too long without food and decided to ring around for some advice. After ringing pretty much everyone in the vicinity from the neighbour the animal farm, and the breeders we have purchased our other coos from (future post) all were away from the phone, I decided to ring good old Dr Danny..I left him to last as I tried to avoid ringing him as I knew he would find it rather humorous. Which he did, but I didn’t care by this stage. He reassured me that within the first days babies don’t eat much, and sleep often. He said if baby hadn’t eaten by end of the day to let him know…well pretty much as soon as I hung up the phone the little turd began to fed from her mum. Phew! (If only this happened five minutes prior to my five hundred SOS phone calls…sigh!)

Loretta was next to become a mamma, and again I missed it. I knew she was close so stayed home to avoid missing it…but as soon as I left to go grocery shopping she had her baby. I got back to see the finale…Loretta eating the afterbirth (vomit) I could have sworn Ruby didn’t eat hers as I caught Snoop eating and rolling in it (I almost lost my lunch when I saw that!). Mal reassured me it is a good source of vitamins for her (thank goodness I am not a coo!)
We were pretty thrilled to say the least about having a Black female calf; this little bubba is what we will focus our dream on. Breeding rare coloured highlands, we are curious to see if she grows horns (as dad is a Hummel) (a highland without horns). We were pretty prepared Pango wasn’t going to feed often but what we noticed is mum wasn’t great at washing her baby, especially around the bum (I would have thought if you can stomach eating the after birth a shitty bum is nothing..Right?!) Well not so for Loretta, so it became my job. Every day I have to separate mum and baby (which you can imagine is not a pleasant experience) I removed the hard poop from around her bum and give it a wash. After a couple of days I had mal come with me, as it’s a juggle trying to hold the calf lift its tail and then attempt to wash. This particular day Mal held Booboo which enabled me to have a good look at her bottom (as I had noticed she was trying to scratch her rare constantly) I was horrified with what I saw…Maggots!! Everywhere up her little bottom and up her girl thingy….I panicked! Mal just kept saying to me to get them out, wash the area really well which I did with another bad case of Tourette’s!

As the day went on we noticed she was still scratching her rare, I decided to google cows with maggots and read that it can be extremely dangerous, so I rang the vet (this was good Friday…ouch!) who was awesome and came within the hour and fixed her up. We must thank our wonderful neighbours at HuHa Farmstay for helping us out with some Maggo; we have had to spray her bottom every day for a week. Since I had to do this I figured I might as well begin to halter train her (thanks again to google) I really enjoy my bum spraying time with Booboo she is so beautiful, such a gentle natured coo. I cuddle her, scratch her and talk to her (while mum is on the other side of the fence mooing her head off…if only I understood coo talk I can pretty much guess what she is saying!! But she is getting used to it, and she trusts me...I know she does, she doesn’t have a go at me just very vocal, I am very reassuring to Loretta and she even lets me brush her with Booboo nearby. Bob Bob is going to take some time and that’s fine…our object is to not terrify the crap out of these babies, we are about respecting them and ethically training them, Bob Bob is an anxious calf. Nothing cow nuts and molasses can’t fix…she just needs to be 100% weaned first. And at the end of the day, they are animals; they don’t know our language, our behaviours. We can’t expect them to be like us and understand us without introducing ourselves. Just because they are animals doesn’t mean we don’t offer them respect. 
Loretta with Booboo

Booboo prior to bum wash

Ruby and Bob Bob

Cheeky monkey Bob Bob with mamma Ruby

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Just Kidding around

So much has been happening here at Plum Tree farm. I am finding it hard to stay on track with the order in topics I want to discuss. Let’s just say, we are still waiting for Loretta to drop her bundle…yes...That might mean Ruby had her baby!!! But you will have to wait to hear about that. (Poor Dr Danny)

So about 6 weeks ago a couple of gorgeous pictures were posted on the Nelson SPCA Facebook page (and by all the tags I received from my friends) I had no choice but to checkout this particular post. Two of the most gorgeous goats (images somewhat resembling mugshots) (should have been a warning) dumped on a golf course. Mal and I had been discussing getting goats as they are great at cleaning up the land. So without hesitation we jumped at the opportunity to adopt them. So within 24 hours we were picking up two goats with the warning they are Houdini’s; I reassured the SPCA our land is fully deer fenced. Didn’t breathe a word of ‘The Great Escape’.
So we settled them in and (after a request from my brother) we named them Aaron and Brad (named after my brother and his partner of course). The goats had been neutered but told by SPCA one still had a nut! (Aaron). As the goats began to settle in it became apparent that Aaron’s one nut might actually still be functional, he became very friendly (if you know what I mean). At first Mal and I thought there must have been something wrong with him, we were concerned that he may be in pain; as his willy would become evident and he would urinate and lick it, rather unflattering behaviour to say the least! We soon discovered this was typically 'Billy Goat' behaviour. We promptly decided to change their names as it was too weird to have a very amorous goat named after my brother , so we decided to let Taylor (number 3 child) name them (something we try to avoid for obvious reasons) Aaron became yllib and Brad became taog…yup! Billy Goat backwards, Thank you Taylor!!

Mal being Mal nicknamed them (he does this with everything, for example Snoop is shit lips I guess you can imagine why) So Yllib became ‘One Nut’ and Taog became ‘Toe Rag’ too funny!! Sounds bad but they actually suit it...
Toe Rag and One Nut friended number 33 and 34 the four of them became inseparable (except when number 33 had his unfavourable side effect from the salt lick block) that certainly tested the friendship!!

While this awesome foursome were hanging out doing goat and cow things (pretty much eating and pooing) Mal and I were still moving into the farm. Mal needed to go to the hardware store to collect some ropes to help secure the loads of furniture, simple task right?! Well 2hours later he appears with the rope and a long list of people he bumped into…we have a  nickname for Mal ‘Mr Have a chat’ during his 2 hour gas bagging he managed to source (get this) two goats, two alpacas and a partridge in a pear tree! This is the moment where I just shake my head.
So after much thought we agreed on getting the goats and holding off on the Alpacas (until we get our land sorted) so the delivery of two more goats!! These two were already named, Savannah a 6 year old nanny goat and Bruiser, Savannah’s grandson. These were milking goats, well Savannah was. She had spent her entire life (6 years) on a concrete floor in a milking pen. She never stepped foot on grass let alone graze on it. I don’t judge, clearly the people loved her as we had a long list of all the things she liked etc. But a part of me felt very sad for her and even sadder when we put her in paddock with the awesome foursome and she had no idea what to do. Bruiser adjusted very quickly, but Savannah struggled. I was concerned that she would starve as she has been thrown into an environment she had no idea about. Mal reassured me she will be fine and after a worrisome few weeks she is now embracing her goatness, so wonderful to watch her climb the hills, munch on gorse, and hangout enjoying the freedom of the lower paddocks with her new pals. Makes me all warm and fuzzy!!! Now we were told (because Savannah was a milking goat) one of her teats would fill and might need expressing (I chose not to listen to that…Yuk!)  But we have to keep tabs on her teats.

I am starting to think that this farming thing is all about feeling teats, lifting tails (I made the mistake of googling calving cows), looking at where the poop comes from (near the region where calves come from), getting covered in poop (the result of googling calving cows)…I have come to the conclusion there is no dignity in farming! 

Now..we let a local beekeeper put some of his hives down in the lower paddock under the Manuka trees, in return we get as much honey as we want, yummo!! The cows and goats don’t mind the bees and they LOVE the bee man!! Especially One Nut. I had no idea the poor bee man was getting harassed every time he attended the bees, until he approached me almost begging for me to pen the goats in another paddock (which isn’t really that easy when I am not always here to do that) The bee man is a lovely man with a very strong European accent which makes it even more humorous when he tries to explain what is happening, and who the main culprit is…yup! ‘One Nut’ the bee man said the Goats won’t leave him alone, jumping all over his truck etc. Then he said “they are very friendly, especially the black one” (One Nut) I tried so hard to keep an empathetic expression but the visual image of what ‘One Nut’ was doing to the bee man, in his white bee suit, while attempting to attended the bees, was to much!!!! The laughter roared out of me… I know very immature…you had to be there. So after a very awkward outburst of laughter we came to the agreement he ties the goats up while he attends the bees, and releases them once he is finished. I must make sure I am around to watch him attempt to tie ‘One Nut’ .
So back to the teat watching, a couple of days ago I noticed Savannah’s teat was rather large, so Mal decided to try and express it, which proved to be a bit more complex than originally thought. What didn’t help was ‘One Nut’ and ‘Toe Rag’ kept getting in the way, jumping up and trying to smooch us!! poor Savannah started to get a bit flustered with all the attention, the last straw for her was Mal grabbing her teat and squeezing it while yelling at me to get around her back region and hold her still (don’t know why I can’t hold her head) as we all know what a nervous goat does! Thanks Mal!! So I am presuming you all are wondering how much milk we got?! Zero, nil, zilch, zippo, none! I think we have mentally scared poor Savannah also, and yet again I will have to swallow my pride and make a SOS call…sigh
On a positive!! It won’t be Dr Danny this time!! Ha!

I will let you know how we get on learning to milk Savannah. The thought makes me quite squeamish (as there is a very good reason why I don’t drink milk) and flavour is not one of them.
Me with 'One Nut' (he has a beautiful smile)

Toe Rag

One Nut