Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
January 2013

Yesterday was a bad day.

We’ve had an alpaca die. From illness to death, it all took about 24 hours. She ate some bad spores…and they floated to her brain. She couldn’t walk or hold up her head. The last thing she did before she died, sometime during the night, was turn her body 90 degrees to look at her baby in the pen next to her. It’s all very tragic. Her baby, Snickers, is still calling for her. If for no other reason, she’s being weaned at this very moment – from necessity, of course.

Yesterday I also heard one of my guineas being killed by a mink at 3 in the morning. There was nothing I could do once I heard it. So he (or she) fell to the mink. In related news, we had placed a mink trap next to what we believed was his (or her) liar entrance, and the the snow covered it. Yesterday, the rain melted that snow, and a sheep walked into the trap.

Oh, he’s alright. He’s running around. Apparently, the trap snapped on him in a lucky way. The mink still lives.

So, to recap, we have a murdered guinea, a dead alpaca, and a sheep in a mink trap. It’s one of those days where looking at a 2-hour commute and a broken-down subway train seems good. I understand the whole “living on the farm and animals die” mentality. But they die because you send them to slaughter. They don’t die because a hateful mold had worked its way into an animals brain. Many food producers don’t hold an animals head in their lap as they’re dying. I’ve done it twice now. Immediate illness is horrible.  For the animal, it’s probably good. For the caretaker it’s sudden and terrible.

And so we trudge forward at Orchard House. And every experience, even those of the most tragic persuasion, teach us a new lesson. While it seems cheesy to broaden yesterdays experiences to a larger context, I will. Life is fleeting. What was a vibrant, attentive mother alpaca is now in my pick-up waiting to be cremated. And it all happened in less than 24 hours. Her legacy adds to my collective knowledge as a farmer, but I’d much rather have her alive. And her 5-month old baby, screaming for her to return, running back into the stall she shared with her mother – only to learn it’s empty, would like yesterday to have never happened.

 

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Kittens

These kittens are driving me crazy. They keep hours like they work the third shift. They climb on places the other cats never did. They break things. They leap from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, sometimes using us as a trampoline in the middle. They have sharp little nails. And they eat anything they can get their grubby little paws on.

Two brothers and a sister, they move together in a pack. Looking for trouble. At  four months old, they’ve become comfortable. They know how to successfully interact with the other animals in the house and grow braver everyday. They know if they push all the papers off the desk in the morning, the papers will be piled up again by the afternoon. So, after their siesta, they can hit the papers over again. Wait, have they trained me?

In the end, however, they’re super cute. And use those powers to their advantage. They all make little trilling noises when they run around, announcing their presence like little robots. And they love to cuddle in your lap. They playfully bite your finger and then lick it with their sandpapered tongue. They’re toddlers. They can get into crazy amounts of trouble, but they don’t know any better, and they’re cute little eyes help them get away with almost anything. In a few more months, they’ll completely own this household and, because we’re so well trained, we’ll be oblivious to it all.

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