We are learning that in the world of small homestead livestock… forever homes are not always the case with hoof stock! Farm animals don’t always fit into nice tidy little plans. Sometimes, they just don’t mesh with the other animals. Sometimes, their mate dies and they are lonely. Sometimes, they are bullies to other stock. Sometimes, a farmer is changing stock direction and needs a home for the last couple critters! Sometimes… there are just too many! So many things can come up!
We have experienced this a couple different ways! We’ve had lovely elderly hens come to live out their retirement here. We’ve had wonderful luck with a pair of ponies that just needed to be in pony loving families! We had to rehome Gideon, the ram because of his strong behavior.
Well, today, we welcomed two new critters to the Windhaven gang… Bonnie the sheep and Howdy the goat.
Bonnie’s story is a sad one with a happy ending! My friend and weaving mentor, Jessica, was called by her local humane society last year to see if she would take in a sheep and a goat from a abuse case. And she said yes! She primarily raises Angora goats. Well, Bonnie came with her friend, a big Kiko goat and they were skittish and a bit weird… Poor Bonnie had many year’s fleece on her and it was tangled with wire and all kinds of terrible things in her coat. She had to be sheared down and it just about killed her, because she was so timid and fearful. It was almost impossible to catch her, and once you did, Jessica said her heart beat so fast and she was so scared it was like torture to her!
Well, through Jessica’s love and patience, Bonnie adjusted and calmed down some, even coming to the fence to take treats, but always timid, always a little weird. Always with her abuse buddy, the Kiko goat. When the goat passed away a few months ago, poor Bonnie was broken hearted. She tried to sort of bond with the littler Angora goats, but it wasn’t the same. She was kind of on her own. And sheep, they just are not that happy being a herd of one.
We talked about it and I offered Bonnie a chance to have a sheep herd family of her own. We’ve got a bit more fenced pasture than Jessica at this time and of course, a nice little spinner’s flock of sheepies! And it just so happened that Jessica was trading a huge loom for a pair of donkeys from our friend Justin as well as selling 50 chickens… and there would be a place for Bonnie to ride back to this neck of the woods!!! Perfect! So, Justin brought over Bonnie this Sunday afternoon.
As you can see above… my flock just adores Bonnie. They sucked her right in for a huge snif-a-thon and ovine questioning. She’s a bit bigger than they are, we believe she is a mixed bred perhaps a blackface and a hair sheep. She was shorn over at Jessica’s farm by our friend Emily! At first Bonnie was not so sure about the whole situation, and all the way to the back paddock she did her best sheep diva imitations! I call the walk of shame of a sheep on a halter… sheep drama. Every sheep we’ve had that is not halter trained… when you do halter them, they just can not handle it. They will stand there like a mule, and then flop over like they are dead, then leap up and run 10 feet to flop over and act like they are going to die. It’s almost as bad as trying to walk a cat on a leash. Only this beast weighs 60 to 100 pounds and is strong as an ox!!! I was so thankful that Justin was there to hold on tight!
She fought us the whole walk there until about 10 feet from the paddock as she was laying on the ground awaiting her death.. (drama time) and then she heard a sheep call her. She lifted her head for a moment as if to say, “Was that a sheep???” And then another call and she lept to her feet and dragged Justin through the snow to stand at the fence and start calling and sniffing the other sheep!!! It was awesome… she had found her flock!!!
Within minutes she was sucked into the flock. I swear if you could have heard a sheep sigh, it was Bonnie. She just looked like a huge weight fell from her shoulders! She drooped a bit, was nose to nose with everyone and it was just like a big happy sheep family reunion! They all baaed and sniffed and baaaed some more. She walked around a wee bit, but mostly stayed right in the pack. Safer there, in this new place. The two ram boys were immediately over to give her a good sniff and a little ram licking and flirting… this tall drink of water was new game! haha… She didn’t seem to mind, just walking about with them and enjoying the new feeling of belonging to a flock. I really think she will do wonderfully here!!! We’re so happy to give her a family!
Well, what was not exactly planned, was the arrived of a two for one deal!!! Jessica had called me when Justin had arrived with the donkeys at her place and asked if I had room for Howdy, her half buck. She explained, he was just being too much to handle… acting like a whole buck, and bullying her littler goats, and finally, in a very bad boy buck move, he had thrown a fit, and head butting a fence, had tossed a gate into Jessica’s shoulder and body, nearly knocking her down and causing bruising. He was just proving to be too much of a rowdy Howdy!!! She and Justin had discussed that maybe, he would do well with my two ram boys in their pasture of solitude! I thought about it and said, sure. I thought he would. So he was loaded on the trailer with the loom and Bonnie for the ride out here.
Of course, my gang of goats were VERY interesting in this newcomer. I knew that my two Angoras were larger than her gang, and would probably put Howdy in his place. At least for a week or two, before we move the rams back to the front pasture. (We can’t have them up there yet because it’s too cold for them.. and a small tree fell on the fence and we have to get it cut off… AND, there is too much snow in that pasture as well… it’s over two feet drifted and that is taller than the livestock!!! Once we get a little warmer weather, it will melt down the snow, be warmer for them all in the three sided shed and we can get that fence repaired… )
But, I digress…. I knew that Rafeka and Dreamy would put this newcomer in his place, at least for a bit, because all new single animals into a flock have to work their way up through the hierarchy to become the boss bully. And sure enough, Rafeka gave Howdy a good head crack and backed him into the corner with little Dreamy at his side like some tough gang lieutenant. Howdy, being a little bit discombobulated over the sudden change of address, pretty much just cowered until the initiation was over and then stayed to himself for a bit… Of course, all the while, winking at the girls who were all standing there watching this masculine show and getting ready to flirt with the handsome new stranger!
Sure enough, my girls were all over to console him, and whisper their phone numbers in his ear. He of course responding in kind by peeing on his beard. Yes, goat love is a messy thing! haha… I don’t believe anyone was in heat, because I’m pretty sure that at least Buttercup and Daisy are bred and expecting, but we’re not sure about Rana. She was the worst one, with the flicky tail and the nuzzling and all. We just might find out if Howdy is actually a REAL buck and capable of being a baby daddy! He’s got about three weeks to make the magic happen!
When we call Howdy a half buck, it means that his banding for castration was not completely successful. He only has one testicle. However, he’s exhibiting all the signs of being a full buck, with the peeing and the hormones and was even trying to mount her smaller does back at his other farm. However, no one was coming up pregnant. The vet had said he might not be able to breed. Emily had said the same. Like I said, we’ll see… if Rana is not bred by Dreamy, which we suspect is the case.. (they are just not quite the same size and such…although, when there is a will, there is a way…. just not sure!) then perhaps Howdy might be able to take on the job. Goats cycle in about 21 days, so we will see. However, Angoras can be seasonal breeders so the time might be past. Just won’t know! SInce I’m not really in the mood to start raising angora goats other than the ones we have… we’ll just take things as they come. If pregnant, great! If not, great! The nice thing is that Howdy can hang out with Harley and Otis just fine, and he’ll give a beautiful brown fleece in exchange for his room and board. Pretty good deal. And he will give the littler goats at Jessica’s a chance to get fat and happy without a rowdy Howdy to shove them around and eat all their food! She reports that already, calm and contentment has ben restored to her flock and that is awesome!!!
So, all ends well in this livestock swap-a-thon! It’s great to have like minded folks in our homesteading clan… so we can do things like this without worrying about selling off stock to the knackers or some unknown place to loose touch with. Jessica knows her babies will be great here and she can visit. She has a new pair of donkeys for her single donkey boy! And Justin has a new loom and 50 chickens! Everyone is happy!!! And we know how they will all be treated and live out happy lives! It’s a win win for everyone and not a single dime was needed. It’s wonderful.
And of course, Angus loves him a new lady for his flock!!! Hubba hubba… haha…. Uncle Angus is the leader of the girls when the rams go back to their fortress of solitude. He is my only whether and such a good boy… he’s a sweetheart and he loves his ewe girlfriends and protects them and help teach their babies to behave around a male sheep. He’s gentle but firm. They will head butt him and such, but he will tolerate it for a bit and then gently knock them on their butts and explain that HE is the big dog. And then he will play with them like a big goof and frolic with their little goofy antics… He’s my favorite sheepie!!! What a sweetheart!
So, that is the story of the sheep and goat delivery. And Justin took his four sheep back home with him… rounding out the whole circle of livestock! Ivy, Molly, Travis and Fergus now live with him in his own little spinner’s flock. It was old home week here as he brought them back to be sheared in a group. It was fun having them all here, but now it’s nice to have just our little flock, waiting for our spring babies in another 6 weeks or so!!!! Iris is definitely expecting and we’re pretty sure Bridget and Noel are as well. Emily could tell when she sheared them, just out of experience and seeing how their bellies looked after they were sheared and in their weird positions on their butts! We’re not so sure about Emma and Beulah, as maiden yearlings, it’s harder to tell. They still have up to two months available and sheep hide their pregnancies very well. Ivy and Molly are due earlier, probably within the month and both of those ladies are very heavy set as well!!! I believe both Harley and Otis did their jobs well!!! Time will tell!!!