After a trying few weeks, the peacock coop is now inhabited by, yes, peacocks. And some guineas. This was no small undertaking. Started a few weeks ago, it was to be finished quickly. The storm had another idea. Nine days without power doesn’t allow for building. So we waited, the peacocks, guineas, and me.
It’s been a few days of tough work – all by myself mind you. It was definitely a 3-person job. And it’s a total Monet in that way. Don’t look too close, there are some, er, upgrades that need to happen. But the guineas were introduced to their new home this morning with little complaining. Their biggest issue was water, and with 4 waterers around the area, they really are dumb birds, panting until a fifth waterer was placed inside. This evening the peacocks joined them. It’s now one big happy family!
Some of the new chicks moved in with the older ladies tonight as well – in the chicken coop. It’s like one of those episodes where The Golden Girls welcome some kids into their house, with obvious and completely hilarious situations to follow. Right now, the chicks are scrunched up in a corner. The elders haven’t attempted to peck them to death. I consider the introduction a success. Nine chicks still remain isolated. They need to put a little meat on their bones before they get to frolic in the barn yard.
Now, the search begins for a few lady peahens. The two boys, yet to be named because of their similarity (but not for too much longer), need a few ladies to keep them company. Apparently they won’t “settle” until that happens. Peacocks are so heteronormative! Thank goodness my stance in the photo is far from it!
Today marks our eighth day without power. Granted, our bed and breakfast is running on a generator that is, at least, keeping both the downstairs air conditioner running as well as the pump for the well. But in the carriage house, where we live, there is no air conditioning. There is no light. There is no comfort. Right now, it’s only used for sleeping. Uncomfortable sleeping.
All expectations are that electricity should be restored by Sunday, July 8th. That will be 10 days without power. There’s something unacceptable about that number. And yes, I’ve already heard from everyone who says there are millions of people who live every day without power. I get it (so give it a rest). But I don’t live with them. My life revolves around activities that require power. I don’t go to sleep when the sun sets; I try and avoid waking up when it rises. I can live without TV, although I really want to know what’s going on with my So You Think You Dance friends.
For a few days, our generator wasn’t even working effectively. Those were desperate days because, with 60+ animals, in 100 degree heat, water is a valuable commodity. And yes, I’ve already heard from everyone who says there are millions of people who live every day without water. I get it (so give it a rest). With no pump working, the water stopped flowing. Luckily, we were never in a dire situation, but the llamas sure would like their fans to start working again. I grew up without air conditioning, but we did have fans.We also had a refrigerator with lots of cold delicious things inside it. There is a silver-lining to an empty fridge though – think of all the new condiments that can be purchased, used once, and then take up valuable space well into the future!
The next fews day should be interesting. Should power come on by Sunday, all will be forgiven – both to Mother Nature and AEP. If not, with nerves already in a frayed pattern, I may quickly turn bucking bronco. And this ain’t my first time at the rodeo!
Grandma Llama died this morning in the barn. She was around 20 years old and anemic. To spare you the gruesome details, she somehow received a cut on her stomach that was over an arterial vein. In the end, she basically bleed for too long. This may have been the first time an animal has ever died in front of me. Except the one time I rode over a chipmunk on a bicycle, but that was such a freak accident, I still don’t understand it fully.
We were never meant to welcome Grandma on the farm. While we were picking up Patsy and Edina, there she was, with baby Saffy, unwanted and sure to meet an untimely end. So the next day, I returned to the farm and loaded them both into the trailer. That was almost one year ago. Since then, we learned Grandma was considered a Level 5 starvation case – the worst of the worse. With lots of hay and fancy grain, her hair grew back where it had fallen out. She sat mostly in the barn, hanging out with the other old-timers, Hyacinth and Richard.
She was the first to the grain every morning. In fact, I knew something was wrong when she didn’t come to eat this morning. I’ve never really tried to describe llama characteristics, but she was friendly, inquisitive, and tolerant. Whatever happened to her early this morning, I know she certainly didn’t instigate it. I can’t describe the feeling as I was applying pressure to her wound, waiting for the vet to arrive, and having her collapse to the ground. At that point, we knew to brace ourselves for the worst.
Farm life is very real. And it smacked me the face this morning. Not only facing the death of an animal you’ve become accustomed to seeing, and caring for, every day, but also the logistics of handling death on the farm. Llamas are large animals, and cremation can be expensive. But whatever the end result, we have respected Grandma as she lay covered with an old, but very loved sheet. Her lifeless body was always lifted, never dragged.
My final memory of Grandma won’t be the final moments, but instead will be seeing her face every morning. I’ll also remember how kind the other llamas were today; how Hyacinth let Grandma rest her head on her back as she wavered standing this morning. How Saffy kept trying to peer inside the barn, checking on her Grandma, who she had known since birth. Farm life an be an emotional occupation. I’ll never be the guy who raises pigs for food. I’m too much of a blubbering idiot. So when someone at Orchard House dies, it’s a sad day. But we move on, because there are still hungry mouths to feed and young animals to carry on the legacy of those who have come before.
Good night Grandma, you may be gone, but you are surely not forgotten.
Ma Snow has been escaping from our pasture for the past day. I had no clue how. And then, I saw it, with my eyes. Through a gate. How tricky Ma Snow. And now, the gate is closed, with a firm barn door in front of it. Silly goat, you can’t get nothing by me.
Goats are sneaky. The best part though, any time I found her outside, she’d come running to me to be let back into the pasture. Girl, if you hate it so much outside, then don’t leave. After some careful construction tomorrow, hopefully we’ll have no more escapes. Last night, in the dark, I went looking for the goats, who were not in the barn. I heard the “mwahahahahah” goat sounds and all were in the large field. Trouble. And then Ma Snow came running to the fence from outside. Darn her!
Oye, the rain is coming…gotta go feed some animals…
Today Louis was taken to his new home. I view this as a farmer milestone. Like planting your first crop, or breaking your first tractor. Louis is the first animal ever sold by us. And I felt dirty doing it. I walked into the pasture this afternoon, and Louis was sitting with his mother. I picked him up and carried him away. They were both “bahhhing” – it was kind of gross. But then again, they’re sheep and this is a farm.
If I had a therapist I would discuss today with him (or her). I had to go deliver him to see where he would be living. It was a sense of closure. And his home is amazing. There is tons of pasture, with an actual pond inside. There are goats…a lot of them! And sheep! I even saw his betrothed – a cute little hair sheep, with all the color to make her worthy of little Louis. Oh, and the miniature pot-bellied pigs – they were everywhere. It was like a screenshot from Babe. Louis even has a guard llama to protect him from ne’er doers and to remind him of home.
So we have one ram in need of a new home. If you know anyone….I’ll just need fingerprints and background check.