He’s free, you say?

What an amazing week it’s been here on the farm! Abigail learned of an alpaca who needed a new home, so we all piled into a car to go for a visit.  When we met Shiner (named for the black patch of fur surrounding his right eye), he seemed unhappy and lonely. From what I could gather, he had free range of about 5 acres of land, but no one ever paid attention to him. The worst part was he had no herd buddies, and alpacas hate to be alone. The closest I could get to him there was about ten feet away. His owners said he was really antisocial, but we could tell he was just depressed. He was way overgrown, and looked like he hadn’t been shorn in at least three years. Anyone who is at all familiar with me and my inability to say no to rescue animals already knows where this story is headed….right into our backyard.

It took us a day to line up a method of transport for him, after Gene wisely cancelled the U-Haul trailer reservation I had made. Abigail made some calls and was able to borrow a proper horse trailer. Shiner was surprisingly eager to load up, and when Gene led him into the backyard, it was almost magical watching his disposition change as soon as he saw all our critters. We’ve had him for one day, and he’s already eating orchard grass out of my hand. I’m still not used to looking out the window and seeing Shy sitting out in the pasture. He looks, and walks, like a huge woolly mammoth. If we taped a long trunk to his face, he would look exactly like Snuffleupagus. It took a few hours for the goats and sheep to get used to Shy, but they all sleep next to each other now.

But Shy wasn’t the only critter that got rescued this week. Two days ago we transferred Abigail’s 12 chickens from the garage brooding facility to her coop. Early the next morning, one of her goats opened the coop door and chased all the new chickens out. One of them ran under the fencing and disappeared into the woods. She called me for chicken wrangling help, and we ended up tromping through the woods with huge fishing nets, thinking that would be the easiest way to catch a tiny chicken hiding in the brambles. It took us three hours and lots of bush whacking, but Abigail was finally able to yard the chicken out from its hiding spot inside a rotting tree trunk.  Our eight chicks were also evicted from the garage brooding facility and relocated to the big coop. They are quite a bit braver than the last generation of chickens – these guys went exploring on the first day I put them out there. I bet it’s only a matter of a week or two before they start joining the flock at the base of the deck at treat time.

In farm news, we are just about done with the canning season. It’s a good thing we started early, because I’m in another cast now, and canning one handed is quite difficult. On the plus side, Bess Bess is here for a visit so Gene can teach her how to do it. My favorite thing that we’ve canned so far is watermelon jelly. It tastes exactly like a Jolly Rancher, and is amazing on toast. The only thing left to can is another batch of plums, and probably some more apple butter. Then Gene needs to build another few bookcases to store it all!

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