Monday, July 14, 2008

The battles continue

If my life were a book right now, I'd stop reading. As the plot unfolds, I hate it more every minute. It's too dark. Every time I think about Princess, my throat tightens, and my eyes start to fill with tears. I start thinking, "You should have ..." But then I remind myself that I've walked the perimeter of the pasture, and I still don't see how the coyotes could have gotten in there -- twice!

Last night, my daughter spent the night in the pasture, and my husband was out there for part of the night. They heard coyotes trying to get through the electric fence and yipping when they got shocked. Later, my daughter thought she heard an animal step on a twig and break it. Then she heard the sound again. And again. She realized it was a coyote eating bones. And later she heard the horrible screams of a cat near the creek. Last year, we never heard anything when we spent the night in the pasture, so this is especially worrisome.

Right now, life out here feels like one battle after another. This morning when I went outside I realized that the Japanese beetles have attacked the peach trees again. This is the worst ever. This morning and this afternoon, I've gone out there with my bucket of soapy water to drown as many as I can knock into the bucket. It's surprisingly easy to knock them off balance from their perch on the peach leaves. I drowned a couple hundred this evening alone.

In the garden, I'm fighting an invisible enemy that's eating the eggplant, and there are these tiny little green balls attaching themselves to the brussel sprout plants. The leaves are being skeletonized, so I'm assuming it is the fault of the little green things. Something is chewing on my jalapeno plants and turning the leaves brown, but the rest of the pepper plants are fine. I've never had anything eat any type of pepper plant before, so I am at a loss for what to do. This evening I sprinkled diatomaceous earth on everything that was being eaten, hoping it will help.

But the battle in the garden seems trivial when compared to the battle with the coyotes. I've decided the guard dog is completely worthless at this point, and I have locked him up in the barn so at least I don't have to worry about him getting out and attacking my herding dog. Last night, I had finally decided to put the horse halter around his body and tie him to a tree in the pasture. Katherine said that as soon as the sun came up, he started fighting the cable and whining. A couple hours later we found him in the barn. I've been emailing a woman with llamas, hoping to get a couple of guardians soon. I'm hoping they will be more reliable.

We finally discovered the identity of the white ewe that was killed. It was Fee, the first ewe my oldest daughter ever bought. The white sheep in our flock are her daughters and her granddaughter. I started to think the sheep were trying to keep her identity a secret as they were always turned the wrong way for me to read their ear tags, and right now, they spook far more easily than they used to. I really don't like going into the pasture with them at all, because even the normally friendly ones are extremely flighty, and I feel guilty for startling them. Fee was Margaret's most special ewe. She's the one that we've milked on occasion, because she has long, easily-milked teats. Unfortunately, her daughters did not inherit that trait. Because of Fee, we were able to keep frozen sheep colostrum in the freezer in case we ever had a lamb that needed it, and we even made sheep milk yogurt one time. It sounds like a cliche to say that Fee will be missed, but she will. She had a special place on our farm.

We're out in the pasture again tonight as the battle plan evolves.

1 comment:

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

It seems to be an especially bad year for predators. A Shetland breeder in MO has lost quite a few to a big cat, and others have lost sheep to coyotes. No comfort there, I know. I think of you and yours often and can only hope that you win the battle.

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