Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gelding and Guineas, inter alia

Summer's end is quickly drawing nigh, with faculty orientation occurring next week, and so it's time to shift into high gear farm-wise. Today's big project was Tarcy's gelding. Though gelding might seem cruel, it will make Tarcy's life much easier. Stallions are generally temperamental and hard to deal with; that, added to the fact that he's related to Rosemary's filly mare, Stella, meant it had to happen--and soon.  We split the vet's travel charge with the neighbor who had given us the horses, and he had his own horses taken care of at the same time. When the vet finished at his place, she came over to ours.

It was actually a relatively simple process. I led Tarcy out into the front pasture and held the lead rope while the vet gave him two injections. The first calmed him down so that she could lasso him with a rope, and the second put him to sleep. We helped him to fall gently to the ground using the lasso, and then the vet got to work.

Tarcy laid out in the pasture. His leg was tied back just in case he kicked.
It was a messy process, but in the vet's expert hands it went went quickly. I was surprised that there was no need to suture the incision.

The vet said the "crunch" is a sound men don't like!
After the vet finished, we waited for him to awake. Some horses stay under for a half hour or more, but Tarcy was up within ten minutes. He scrambled to his feet right away, looking rather dazed and confused. That said, he followed me into the small enclosure willingly. We will keep him separated from Stella and the goats until tomorrow morning and watch for abnormal dripping or swelling.

I think the swish of the tail means, "Don't mess with my nether-regions anymore!"
In other news, I purchased four two-month old guinea keats the other day. Since they're very vocal, like peachickens, I figure this makes our farm a little more O'Connor-esque. (I'm writing my dissertation on Flannery O'Connor, who had an affinity for peachickens, of which she had a large, noisy flock.) More seriously, guineas are known for their love of ticks and other nasty small bugs. Eventually they will free-range to their hearts' content. Maybe we'll add peachickens too!

The plan for the guineas, since they're the same age as the chickens, was to integrate them immediately. Since chickens are tamer, this would have had the benefit of domesticating the guineas a little more. Oftentimes guineas will fly off to be heard of no more, so it's important to make them feel like they belong. Unfortunately integration didn't go very well. It rained the night we got them, and I found the keats huddled against the outside wall in a crack. Though they were fine when I left for an overnight cross country camp the next day, Rosemary later found a few of the meaner chickens terrorizing them. Three of the four actually flew out of the chicken coop through a small crack. As Rosemary tried to catch them, one intrepid keat darted into the pig pen, where a squealing pig chased it, and then into the meat chicken's pen, where a meat chicken picked it up with its beak before Rosemary managed to rescue it. In any case, they were fine, albeit a little traumatized. Rosemary separated them, putting them in a pet carrier, and when I got home on Saturday, I built them a small tractor of their own. Tomorrow, though, after a friend and I process our meat chickens, we'll put them in the second chicken coop to get a little more comfortable with their surroundings before we attempt to let them free-range.

And finally, the boys are exceedingly happy to have a nice layer of sand in the box under their fort. An internet source suggested soaking the perimeter with vinegar to keep the cats away. We'll see if it works.

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