You know the saying. When you have a few animals, you are inevitably going to lose some. So today’s post is going to be a bit of a tribute to those we have lost in the past 12 months and those who we have recently welcomed to Elcarim Farm.
Probably the biggest shock was the loss of my dear friend Kerrie’s retired horse Megs. Megs was 29.5 years old and had lived his last couple of years here. He went the best way an old horse can, he just lay down in the paddock one day, fell asleep and didn’t wake up. It took me weeks to get used to him not being here, as I was forever changing his rugs and listening to him complain about how long he had to wait for his food. But I was very glad that he went so peacefully.
Another loss that was hard to deal with was that of our beloved bottle-fed kid Venus. Rejected by her mother as the last born of triplets, Venus was a tiny but exquisite Nubian, with unusual colouring and an amazing zest for life. An ‘intestinal accident’ was the diagnosis, and she was euthanased by the vet on a Wednesday afternoon.
I had all of my ducks and chooks wiped out by foxes over two nights, leading to a complete overhaul of poultry pen security. The most notable loss was that of my seven-year-old Silkie rooster, Brewster. Brew was the oldest resident of the farmyard, progenitor of all of the Silkies I bred over seven years. After I gave up breeding Silkies I kept Brew, opening his eyes for him on cold mornings and feeding him treats from my hand in the evenings. He was a tough, proud bird, good to his ladies and numerous offspring.
The foxes were not done, though. More recently they dug into the barn and took all seven of my Khaki Campbell ducklings, who were very kindly hatched out by a complete stranger after the parent birds met an untimely end in the dog yard. This was a terrible blow, definitely not the fairy-tale end we had hoped these miracle babies would have.
Several other animals have gone on to brighter and better things. Trixie the Beagle, my New Forest Pony stallion Diego, and mare Zena have gone to wonderful new homes. Zena and Diego will get a chance at saddle careers and Trixie is with a household who are well-versed in the ways of scenthounds.
The past year has seen some new arrivals settle in. Most notable would have to be the Italian Greyhound Cedarlodge Merlin, aka Leo The Skinny Dog. Having a pup took a bit of getting used to, but now I could not imagine life without my crazy little dog. He is getting over his travel sickness and starting to come on car trips occasionally and go visiting with me. He might not get ten points for brains, but he is always so cheerful and loves everybody.
Gobbles the parrot has staked his claim in the prime position of the lounge room bay window. A Green Cheeked Conure who loves scratches, helping with the cooking and helping with eating. His attitude is bigger than he is, and for a little bird he makes a lot of noise.
In the goat paddocks we welcomed new buck Jazzy Jupiter at the start of 2012. Jupi in turn sired two sets of triplets, consisting of five buck kids and one doe. His only daughter was our little Venus, who we lost at 8 weeks, but two of his sons have become permanent fixtures. Thumper the Therapy Goat has been wethered and was bottle fed as well. He is a sweet little fellow, also unusually coloured, who thinks people are his family and doesn’t understand why the other goats have to be so rough. These days he hangs out with the newly-purchased doe kid Ambika.
Thumper’s brother, Apollo, known as ‘Big Red’, has been kept for breeding. Red hit the ground ready to run, and has grown into an impressive young fellow. Five shows this season netted him four wins in the buck kid classes and four Reserve Champion Buck sashes.
Victoria was our one surviving doe kid born this season, with both her parents carrying the Elcarim prefix. She is a lovely big girl who I am looking forward to growing out, showing some more, and milking in the future.
In the chook pen we have basically started from scratch after losing everything but the geese. Bonnie goose finally hatched me some grey goslings this year, after her previous two clutches were all white. A Rhode Island Red trio, led by big red rooster Russell, has made a home here, along with two lovely black Australorp bantam hens. And today I added a trio of Silver Appleyard ducks who will hopefully break the duck hoodoo and have long and fruitful lives.
I am rather anxiously waiting for my wonderful old New Forest mare Starbelle to have her foal. This will possibly be the last foal born here, now that Diego has gone. I’ve also got a hen sitting on eggs, and soon it will be mating time for the goats. It all begins again.
Some years are better than others. Some years you really feel like you are paying a blood price. But as long as the joys outweigh the sadness and we are for the most part having fun and running healthy animals it is worth it.