Here we are halfway through summer and while I've introduced you to a good many of the beasties, I haven't caught you up on Sim Farm©, the Rainbow's End edition, lately. Animal health is always a paramount concern on a farm, so I'll start with a quick medical rundown then talk about the big renovation project underway.
Usually the beasties here can be categorized simply as alive-and-well or dead. Over the past few months, the current beasts have been remarkably healthy and free from injury. Oh, there was the time back in May when Lucy the goat tried to push her way through a gate I was opening and managed to impale her lower eyelid on a rather wicked piece of tie wire. Trying to extract a piece of wire caught in flesh millimeters from an eye while dealing with a frightened 90-pound goat, a swinging gate, and a group of curious horses was an experience none of us wants to go through twice. Let's just say in the end the goat was freed and Lucy's eye was saved.
This past week, however, there were two rather perplexing injuries. One of the roosters somehow hurt his leg. It didn't seem to be from a fight or an attack, but there he was limping about. He's now in a cage in the sunroom to keep him away from the other roosters and give his leg a chance to heal. He's standing up and eating when he doesn't think I'm looking. Otherwise, he's down and looking as pathetic as possible hoping, I think, that I'll let him stay in where it's cool and he has a food bowl all his own.
The more disturbing injury was to one of the female ducks. She was attacked in broad daylight right next to the barn. By what, I have no idea. But the scattered feathers and deep wounds point to a big coon, dog or coyote. One wing and a leg are in pretty rough shape and she, too, is recovering in the sunroom -- sharing quarters with Fafnir the iguana. I've been reluctant to let the ducks go back out to the pond as the attack happened within sight of the horses in a fairly well secured area in the middle of the day. Short of digging under a gate or scaling a four-foot fence, an animal big enough to do that kind of damage couldn't get in. Even my dogs don't go in that pasture. What surprises me the most, though, is that the duck survived the attack. Did the horses chase off whatever it was? I do like to think they were protecting their little duck friend. How else would she have managed to come through the ordeal alive?
I had also hired this contractor to clear some brush and saplings along a short area where the new fence was going. There were basically three thickets that needed a 15-foot swath cleared through them along a straight line, taking out nothing more than scrub and leaving all big trees alone. I walked the area with the contractor and carefully explained what I needed. He kept assuring me he could clean everything up in this heavily treed area and make it look like a park. I carefully explained I did not want a park, I simply wanted a clear fence line, 15 feet wide and straight. That was all I needed and all I was prepared to pay for. Confident in my communications skills, I returned to the house and my day job work.
I had an inkling something wasn't right when I saw a 20-foot cedar fall. I knew 1) from my desk window I shouldn't be able to see him working along the path I asked to be cleared and 2) there were no mature cedars in that path. I ran down to the worksite. That's when I discovered the man has a vendetta against cedars. He'd been taking out trees that he felt detracted from the landscape, and these big evergreens were in his gunsight. Five of them were already prostrate on the ground. And he'd completely missed the point of needing a straight fence line -- he was clearing an area a good 30 feet from where the fence needed to run. Now, not only were some trees I looked at as a buffer between my property and my neighbor's land uprooted, there was the question of what to do with the corpses, including the huge rootballs. Digging yet another hole and burning then burying the large trees was the only answer.
I ran the guy off as soon as the heavy work had all been done. As I was paying him by the hour rather than by the job, I figured it would be far easier for me to do the cleanup and move all the dead brush out of sight than to have him pile it up somewhere, probably in the middle of the fence line he finally did get cleared satisfactorily (that's the line in the picture above).
This week, the fence contractor will start setting posts for the new fences. Thankfully, I have some existing fence that can be incorporated into the new pastures. In total, it's about 3150 feet of fence to be installed along with 3 gates and will cost $8400. That's going with basic green T-posts (it's beyond me why the manufacturers don't sell metal T-posts in white to compete with the vinyl fence look -- hmm, maybe there's an entrepreneurial opportunity for me there!) and 5 strands of smooth wire. Not even a pretty fence for that price. Sigh.
So that's how I'm spending my summer and my vacation money for the next 6 years. What are YOU doing this summer?