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Animal Farm

The animals at Cold Antler Farm are doing well! I thought I'd make this morning's post about how everyone is coming along. As of this morning, everyone is here for the season (with exception to a few possible additions if my luck changes), and I'd thought I'd give a rundown of everyone's purpose, plan, and future on the farm.

Horses: There are still two steeds here, Merlin and Mabel. Merlin is at least 30 years old now, and a bit slower, grayer, and less buff than when I met him - but so am I. He's been enjoying the green grass and better grazing I've managed over the past few years. I still ride him, occasionally. My farrier Dave (the wisest horseman I know) told me that Merlin would let me know when he was done carrying me, and so far he's been allowing myself and others to ride without a problem. We don't do 8 mile summer outings anymore, and our riding is limited to my neighbor's mountain trail system, but we get out there and it's as lovely as ever.

Mabel seems to be in her prime and is boss mare around here. Sometimes she thinks she's the boss of me as well. She's certainly a chestnut mare, but her Belgian draft half keeps her demeanor a little calmer and predictable. Honestly, I talk as if she's this hot horse with an attitude and what she is is just *slightly* more dominant than Merlin. I just let her intimidate me because tall redheads are a force to be reckoned with. She's like the Tree Paine of horses. Working with her every day to get more comfortable with her as the main riding horse around here.

Flock: Right now the flock as 6 sheep and one goat. The three ewes I have raised since right before the pandemic will finally be bred this fall! A service I hope to have performed by the ram lambs in residence I just picked up last week. My three wool ewes will be bred by the hair sheep ram lambs before their harvest date in January. It might be an early lambing, but with three ewes that's okay. I can move them to the barn since the pigs will be butchered in winter as well. I'm still working out the logistics, but it has been way too long since I've had a lambing season and I'm looking forward to it!

The lambs are all sold to customers, but I realized I underpriced them by a lot, since the cost was $150 each and butchering starts at $90, which means if will lose money on the deal. Lesson learned. But at least next year there should be lambs for sale bred here and not $450 I need to spend again.

The goat, Cade, is calm, quiet, and when he gets bored he likes to start shit. Pretty common goat behavior. I had dreams of packing with him, but my broken ankle means even walking a mile isn't possible and I have more realistic dreams of making a pack basket or small cart so he can come along on apple or berry harvests or tote firewood or garden supplies. I can't explain but a working draft goat feels like something this farm should have.

Poultry: Right now there are 14 chickens here, 11 hens and three roosters. I haven't checked, there may be more this morning if more chicks hatched! There are also 4 geese.

Three hens and two geese are currently brooding away and hopefully going to add some more layers and meat birds (sorry gents) to the farm. Any goslings will be sold to local homesteaders. Four geese is enough. And I can't wait for them to get over their territorial nesting attitudes, because living with them right now is like living with a ruthless gang of violent hecklers.

Pigs: There are 5 beautiful piglets here! I have so far paid for two of the five, and hoping to pay for the rest this week. It means putting off my broken tooth repair because I can't get that tended to while owing on these animals the farmer already trusted me to pay for. Not great, but that's reality.

But the pigs themselves are settling in, becoming less nervous when I walk into the barn and check on them. They all seem to be bright-eyed and healthy, which is exactly what I expect from Ceara's lovely farm. They are a cross of Mulefoot and Mangalitsa, which means they might have perms and some have solid feet! I think I covered that before, but happy as hell to have a local breeder of heritage swine that loves pigs as much as I do! I never thought they'd become the saving grace of this farm, but they are.

At this stage in the the sounder-raising process they are in a smaller paddock in the barn until they are large enough for the indoor/outdoor pen. They eat and sleep and poop a lot, like the babies they are. Paying extra attention to them today and moving a box fan in if it reaches 90 degrees like the reports are saying...

Rabbits: No rabbits this year.

Falconry birds: No bird currently on the farm, but I am on the lookout for a kestrel or retail this winter. If I'm single in September and the house hasn't collapsed then BOTH.

Dogs: Gibson is 13 and slower. He has a sore back and legs, and sometimes getting up the stairs is hard. That said, he's still the lovely lad he's always been. Kind and willing, soft but not weak. He helps herd lost lambs just last week and I am grateful for everyday I get to spend with him.

Friday is 8 now, and her hormones and chemistry have changed her body into a small propane tank with legs and I love her. She's got a barrel chest and pot belly, from excessive cortisone coursing through her system, and I relate to all of this. I am also a propane tank on legs. I love this weird, anti-social, dog more than I ever thought I could. She's certainly more dependent and attached to me than Gibson, who seems to have more a sense of self. Every morning she still crawls up into my bed to greet me.

Cats: Bree and Bo are cats. They are perfect.


If you appreciate what you read, I encourage you to contribute towards my writing with a tip. To be clear; no one has to pay anything. I will still write here and it's always available for free. But if anyone wants to volunteer to venmo/paypal at least one dollar, it means I will write a post the next day. If no one does, then I'll update when I feel like it. Might be the next day, might be in a month.

Please understand, that I do not mean a dollar for every post or from every reader! I mean, quite literally, if a single person anywhere in the world sends a single US dollar, and that's all the money I earn that day, I'll write tomorrow.

Venmo: jennawog (preferred)


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