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Posts Tagged ‘farm life’

 

Keep the llamas off the streets. Book a llama hike now!!

pete wasted

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Everything is all about balance. Or so it seems when you think about all the ways the word is used in the English language.

“His life hangs in the balance.”
“We have to balance the good against the bad.”
“Don’t worry, things will balance out in the end.”
We balance the books; we get caught off balance; our government is a system of checks and balances; we should eat a balanced diet; …..to name just a few.

But to our peacock, Farina, balance is more physical than figurative.

For a quick summation, Farina escaped his coop 18 months ago, got lost for 6 months and suddenly reappeared last summer. He has become an outdoor bird, but has totally wormed his way into our hearts. We have been struggling with ways to feed him without the squirrels, crows, raccoons, and bears getting to the food first.
thieves

We were actually relieved when Farina learned to eat out of the squirrel proof bird feeder that hangs off our 2nd level deck rail. He comes morning and evening for a snack of nuts and sunflower seeds. The rest of the day he is grazing on grasses and bugs.

Farina at bird feeder

At the time of this photo he had his full 4 foot tail. Don’t be fooled by the idiom “light as a feather”. When you’re dragging around approximately two hundred 48 inch long feathers, it ain’t light. But he has learned very well to compensate for the weight of the ballast and use it to help him balance on narrow perches.

Peacocks shed all of these feathers each year right after the end of mating season. And when the molting starts, it only takes about three days for them to drop every one of those feathers. This happened over the weekend.

Tailless

Apparently, it is going to take a few days to adjust to a new center of gravity. We were entertained for an hour yesterday evening as Farina struggled to keep from falling off the rail everytime he leaned over to get a nibble. Watch his comical antics as he flairs his nubby little tail to try to keep from toppling off.

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Do you attract large birds to your bird feeders?

Farina at bird feeder 1

Our peacock, Farina, has been studying this squirrel proof feeder for a couple of weeks now. He’d sit on the rail and watch the smaller birds have a feast. A few days ago, we saw him pecking at the glass and wondering why no seed would come out. Finally, last evening, Voila!! I expect we’ll be refilling quite a bit more often now.

Farina at bird feeder

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Farina and Cupola

Thankful that the snow is almost gone. (And for good, I might ask)

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Days and days of single digit temperatures can be very taxing on all of us, but especially those of us who have animals and livestock that depend on us for their care, comfort, and wellbeing. We’ve raised llamas for over 13 years now and have never had a winter like this one. We thought we had planned well for the vagaries of a Virginia winter, but Mother Nature is a scamp and likes to keep us on our toes by throwing new challenges our way.

Our first winter with the llamas we had a 36 inch snow. It was up to the llamas’ bellies and they would not venture out of the barn. Well, think about it…..would you? We had a 6 foot snow blower that fit onto the PTO of our tractor, so ‘Road Warrior’ cleared a loop around the pasture so the llamas had a place to walk. It took about a month for that snow to melt, and for weeks, the llamas walked in endless circles around the llama loop.

Llama Loop

Then there was the winter that we had a 30 inch blizzard and lost power for 5 days. Of course, our portable generator went belly up and when you’re on a well, no power means no water. Not to mention, no heat. We had the fireplace and a Kerosun heater that we carried from room to room. For water for the llamas, we melted snow in a stew pot on top of the Kerosun. And this isn’t Murphy’s Law, it is THE LAW OF LIFE. If you wait to buy something until you really need it, it will be sold out. No generators, No portable heaters, No bottled water, No lamp oil, No batteries. It got so chilly in the kitchen that we opened the fridge door to keep the food cold.

Jesse

This year has been COLD. POLAR COLD. We had a burst pipe in the garage, but no major damage. Remember THE LAW OF LIFE? When you really need a plumber, they will be busy. Luckily we have a regular plumber and he squoze in a minute to come put a temporary cap on the pipe so we could have our water back.

It has been so consistently COLD that our freezeless self-draining barn hydrant froze. We went to Lowes to get some electrical heat tape, but there was that old LAW OF LIFE again. They couldn’t get it in and no one had any for miles around. So we took stock of what we had on hand and came up with this ingenious solution.

hydrant heater

Within an hour the pipe was clear and we had water once again.

They are predicting another Arctic blast for the next three days, so today I have been searching for outdoor weatherproof heaters in the hopes of keeping our sweet peacock, Farina, warm. But needless to say……..

Farina on rail

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Torn feeder tray

Between the hours of 6:00 PM, Saturday, November 16th, and 8:00 AM, Sunday, November 17th, an unknown subject approached the Twin Creeks Pea Pod and violently destroyed the outside feeding tray, savagely ripping the wire screen off the wooden frame.

It appears that the subject was in search of food and not the perpetrator of a random act of vandalism. However, the neighboring peafowl have refused to come forward with any information, leading investigators to suspect witness intimidation.

The owners of Twin Creeks Farm, when questioned, admitted to recently seeing a bear in the area. They are concerned with the safety of their free ranging peacock, Farina, whom they feed each morning and evening on the tray.

The surveillance cameras were temporarily out of service on the night in question, so there is no photographic evidence of the incident. However, on several occasions prior to the night of the crime, the cameras detected a raccoon sneaking around the area and stealing food from the tray.

No suspects have been identified at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

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I know people who detest barn swallows and will go to great lengths to discourage them from nesting in their barns. I guess if you have a swarm of them they could be a nuisance because they do, after all, poop. But we had our first nest of barn swallows this summer, and they were absolutely hysterical to watch.

We’ve had phoebes build nests over our light fixtures for many years, but we were surprised this year to discover that one of the nests was inhabited by swallows. When the chicks hatched we could see small heads poking just above the nest and initially thought there were four. But as they matured and were old enough to peek outside the nest, we discovered there were actually five. It’s hard to believe that they all fit in there, especially as they got big enough to fledge.

Barn Swallows 5 in nest

We checked on the nest each day as we were feeding the llamas. As the llamas would exit the barn, they would parade single file under the nest. All five chicks would be perched on the edge of the nest, their little heads swinging from left to right as they watched each llama pass in review.

I did some research on wiki and learned some interesting facts. The pairs mate for life and both are actively involved in the nest building and child care. However, apparently the females have a reputation for having a little fun on the side. Wiki says that “Males guard females actively to avoid being cuckolded. Males may use deceptive alarm calls to disrupt extrapair copulation attempts toward their mates.” Tsk tsk ladies.

Both the male and female defend the nest and hunt for insects. They work incredibly hard, each one dashing out for a bug and returning in less than a minute with the spoils. They are constantly on the go. Each time a parent returns to the nest, the chicks start screaming to compete for the parent’s attention. I have no idea how the parents keep up with who they have already fed, but it seems to all work out. All five appeared healthy and well fed.

The parents not only work from dawn to dusk catching dinner for the kids, but they are meticulous housekeepers as well. We’d see an adult return with a bug, stuff it in the beak of one of the chicks, then reach into the nest, and pick up a glob of poo and spit it out on the barn floor. Once the chicks got a little more mobile, they would stand on the edge of the nest, and turn around so that they were pooping outside the nest.

Watch this short video showing the chicks getting fed. Particularly watch out for the extremely rude chick that stands on the head of its sibling to take a dump and then shoves him out of the way to primp and preen. This one just has to be a girl.

I hate to anthropomorphize, but they behave so much like people that they could almost star in their own sitcom, like “Empty Nest” or “Fowl Play”.

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