Farm update.

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Farm update.

Post by Bob on Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:49 am

We had a bit of a disaster a couple of weeks ago. Peter, Helen and Daves son, was going to Germany on a work experience project from university and I was taking him over to Liverpool airport to see him off. As I came around towards the farmyard I saw one of the Muscovy ducks trying to get six ducklings under her wing and, as I watched, a magpie flew down, grabbed one of them and flew off with it. Obviously I chased after it but it flew into the trees at the back of the pond and that was the last I saw of it. I assume there was a nest there and it was taking the duckling to feed its young. However Dave and myself managed to round up the remaining ducklings and get them and their mother onto the lagoon at the back of the stables. It is a sheltered area with plenty of brambles growing over the water so we thought the ducklings would be safe. How wrong we were. When I got back from Liverpool there wasn't a single duck ling to be found. We can only assume that not only the magpies, but the local crows have had a really good feed. I now keep an air rifle handy to take pot shots at crows and magpies. Nasty creatures.

I went up into the hay loft the following day to check if there were any more eggs (the Muscovys tend to lay them up there and then they drop down onto the straw on the floor below and head out to the lake. When I got there I couldn't see any more eggs but I just saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it might be a rat but when I looked properly there were two black kittens. One of the farm cats has given birth up there and thats where they still are. I pop up now and again with a tin of cat food. They won't come to me but at least I know they are healthy.

Meanwhile, in the dog room we have a cat with her kitten. That seemed to appear from nowhere. One day nothing next day she's there with her baby. All good stuff.

Heidi, one of the chihuahuas, has had two puppies. They're five weeks old now. Bunty another chi is pregnant I think. We'll know more mid August as she is due to give birth around the 22nd of that month if she is indeed preggers.

Last Tuesday I was getting ready to put the ducks, geese and chickens away from the night when Beryl suddenly shouted. At first I thought I had misheard her but, no, she had actually said, 'My God. There's a badger chasing a chicken'. Now on a list of unlikely phrases that has to be fairly high up.
I raced out of the conservatory, grabbed a stick I keep handy to encourage the geese in of a night, and was just in time to see one of the cockerells race across the paddock with a rather large badger in hot pursuit. I threw the stick but missed by about a foot and folowed them down into the orchard. The ducks and geese were all heading up towards the house. The hens were going hysterical (at least two fainted. Just kidding) and the badger was ignoring all the other critters and just racing after this one chicken. The chicken ran straight past me and I was able to swing the stick at the badger. It veered to one side and my poor stick broke as it hit the ground. Luckily, for the chicken, this was enough to put the badger off and it ran out of the orchard and into one of the fields at the back of the farm.
I can honestly say that there is never a dull moment in the country. lol
ps. I did a cartoon of the chase so I'll try to post that if I can.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by fiffur on Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:34 am

OhMy, you certainly are getting your exercise after moving to the country! Poor ducklings, didn't stand a chance. Poor mama duck........ will she try again for another clutch before summer is over?

I hate crows too, they killed my baby robins two summers ago just before they learned to fly.

I can't wait to see that sketch of the chase! Glad you were able to chase off the badger, for now at least. What on earth will you do to keep him from coming back? And will there be pics of the kittens and puppies? (please say yes)

Are there still horses on the farm?

How's Helen doing?
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Re: Farm update.

Post by jeanebellini on Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:51 pm

gawd i never thought about crows going after ducks and chickens!
it really sounds like Wind in the Willows Gone Wrong around the farm! Can't wait to see the cartoons of it! (I need to put some of my 'head stuff' onto paper.....one is stuck in the front about how i'm going to turn into what i've been eating every day for weeks....part hot dog, part chicken patty....)
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Re: Farm update.

Post by bpaquet on Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:10 pm

Wow! Never a dull moment on a farm, is there?

I know it's nature at work, but still... It's hard to let nature take its course with the farm babies. Crows and magpies are great targets for pot shots. I don't keep a gun, but sometimes I wish I had (and knew how to shoot) one.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Suzzzz on Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:07 pm

Good God, Bob! Shocked Those are some stories! I know Nature is Red in Tooth & Claw and all that, but it seems dreadfully unfair that the wild ones would prey on the the poor domesticated ones so ill-equipped to fight back. But I suppose they are trying to survive as best they can and the line of least reistance must be hard to resist. Not that they would resist. I don't suppose magpies and badgers give a rat's ass for "fair." We sentimental humans tend to forget that in our awwwwwing over the wild ones. God luck, my dear, in protecting your charges!

Wow, life is burgeoning on the farm! Kittens and puppies popping out all over! It's wonderful, isn't it? Smile

Still, and I'm sorry, but I must say this, do you think a little spay/neuter survey might be in order among the cats and dogs? I'm not suggesting any action be taken; they are Helen's animals and she seems to have opinions about it. It is certainly her decision. But I can't help being concerned about the health of the mothers and long term consequenses of unchecked progeny. There are so many stray and unwanted dogs & cats out there... well, you know what I'm talking about, and now I will shut up.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Bob on Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:05 pm

It's a topic which annoys both Beryl and myself and which we have tentatively broached with Helen. But she won't do anything about it. We are worried (as you are) about the health of the mothers. We have actually found three kittens dead at the back of the house. New born and obviously too weak to survive. Portia, a once beautiful cat, has gone to a shadow of her former self. Even as I type this it has occurred to me that I haven't seen her for a couple of weeks. I fear the worst.
Once Helen is on the road to recovery we'll probably bring the subject up again.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by bpaquet on Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:23 pm

It is difficult for farm people sometimes. There are SO many animals, it can be overwhelming. It's better to just start when you get the farm and keep things under control. Once the animals multiply, it's hard to know where and how to begin. But, any effort is worthwhile. Good luck to you and Beryl in your efforts. All you can do is care, right?

Our area, which is full of farms and farmers in similar circumstances, has a spay/neuter clinic. That place will spay/neuter and give shots for about $35 and can do it for free if the person can prove that $35 is too much. (Of course, in that case, I worry about their ability to feed the poor creatures.) Is there a similar place near Helen? It could help your persuasion efforts.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by jeanebellini on Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:27 pm

oh.....i remember the stories about Portia....please let us know if she turns up.
gawd, i remember back home on the farm (and we didn't even have a 'farm farm' just a piece of land with chicken coop etc)with all our kitties etc. kitties would just go and not show up again.
i bet there are low cost spay and neuter clinics or places around you when any decision is made. it seems to me that there are more organizations to help animals in the UK than even here in the US.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by fiffur on Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:46 pm

If Portia was a shadow of her former self, I fear that badger might've gotten her. Please let us know if she turns up..........I remember the stories about her and her kittens.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Bob on Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:56 pm

thanks for your concern about Portia. I think it will be a while before Helen is in a fit condition to approach re the spaying of the cats. We're going to discuss it with her husband and see what he thinks.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by fiffur on Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:07 pm

If somebody had a litter and 3 died at birth something is not right. Probably somebody a bit too young to have her first litter................could've been prevented with spaying. It's very hard on a furkid to have lil ones so young when they're little more than babes themselves. Good argument you can use in favor of spay/neuter if you like Bob.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by ARNIgal on Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:36 pm

Maybe it was a cat that just plain didn't know how or want to take care of her kittens. My Cookie was a mother on her first heat before some kind people rescued her and brought her to me. Also, I've heard that male cats in a feral situation will kill the young ones to eliminate competition.

Bob, I forgot from the first Mutts forum how you know Helen. Is she a relative or friend...?
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Re: Farm update.

Post by jeanebellini on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:02 pm

could have been the mom didn't know how to care for those babies. we had a kitty named Cookie too...Cookie was the smallest grown kitty i ever knew and we think she was a bit 'off'. she would have one kitten a year until the last two batches. And she always had them in the oddest places and left them there til we found them and brought her and the kitten inside to make sure she took care of it! (one kitty was in a tar bucket....an empty tar bucket that is;) ).
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Bob on Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:09 am

ARNIgal wrote:
Bob, I forgot from the first Mutts forum how you know Helen. Is she a relative or friend...?
Helen is Beryl's cousin
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Re: Farm update.

Post by bpaquet on Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:38 pm

How is she doing, Bob? I hope better...
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Suzzzz on Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:53 pm

Yes, we have gotten sidetracked with animal issues. My fault for starting it, I'm afraid. They are important, of course! But now may not be the best time to address them. Please, Bob, when you can, give us an update on Helen's condition, and how you're coping with farm duties? I love you
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Re: Farm update.

Post by fiffur on Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:37 am

Yes, please. I've been praying for Helen for days now. (would like to know if they're working)

Have you seen Portia yet???
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Bob on Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:07 am

Sorry not to have been on for a couple of days but I was laid low with some sort of virus (I suspect I am just tired to the point where the least little thing can get a hold.) Happily things have settled down now and hopefully I am almost back to normal.
Helen is still waiting for the operation on her back. It was put off from last Friday and now may not be done until Thursday.
I was walking through the dog room (the abode of the chihuahuas and cats) and I noticed to adult cats in one of the carry cages at the back of the room. I went to pass the time of day with them, as you do, and I saw a tiny tabby kitten snuggled between them. Now both the adults are black. Surprised On further inspection there were two black kittens snuggled in there as well. When I went to check this morning there are now four black kittens and the tabby. They are at least two to three weeks old so I suspect they have had them somewhere in the garden and have brought them indoors to keep them warm. Needless to say their food dish is put into the cage with them. Both adults can get out at the top o f the cage but the chi's can't get in. lol.
The two kittens in the hayloft are getting very cheeky now and are actually coming within a couple of feet of me as I dish their food onto the plate.
Photos to follow.
Pol and Pippa had a whale of a time in the lake the other day as we cut the grass and strimmed around the edge of the banks. Pippy really loves going in the water. I shouldn't be surprised really given the way her mum behaves near any water.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Bob on Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:23 am

As promised photos of the hayloft kittens.
Please note momma watching in the background.

How cute is this



Here's a link to Pol and Pippa in the lake.
http://illiweb.com/fa/pbucket.gif4
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Re: Farm update.

Post by fiffur on Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:59 am

Loved the update. One lone tabby in a litter of all black kitties, how unusual. Sounds like the hayloft kittens will soon be your best pals Bob. Potential housekitties IMHO. Any sign at all of Portia?

photobucket is blocked for me too...........
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Re: Farm update.

Post by WarriorNY on Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:16 pm

Oh so cute! Hayloft kittens!

What a great video of Pol and Pippa!
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Susan A on Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:34 pm

Um...one of the hayloft "kitties" has feathers and a bill, LOL!

Seriously cute babies. From the eyes and the shape of the ears (that is to say, BIG), I would think these babies are at least a month old.
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Re: Farm update.

Post by ARNIgal on Tue Jul 27, 2010 3:13 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh..., the little blackies are ADORABLE Smile !!
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Re: Farm update.

Post by jeanebellini on Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:47 pm

is that four black kittens and one tabby? sounds like Judy's kids! (and the mama kitty up in the hair while the babies eat...THAT looks like Judy..she's so tiny!!).
oh if only i were in England i think you wouldn't have to worry about those little black kitties:) (but i know..they are good luck!)
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Re: Farm update.

Post by Suzzzz on Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:56 pm

Loved the kitty pics, and LOVED the vid of our girls in the water! They're like seals! Pol seems to want to be in charge, and Pip seems to be letting her for now. Still willing to learn, I hope. But it may not be long before Pippa asserts herself and swims in her own direction. *sigh* What's a mother to do? Rolling Eyes More, please! Very Happy

My college biology is vague, but a cat may carry both dominant and recessive genes. The dom will always show (black), but he'll still carry the rec gene (tabby). Get 2 black parents with the same makeup, and most of their kits will be dom (black) but 1 in 4 will get the recessive gene from each parent and turn out tabby. You have a classic textbook example here, Bob. Alert the British Journal of Hereditary Science!! Or maybe just enjoy the kits. Laughing I love you

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