Thanksgiving Llama Drama

Where do I even begin with this story? A little background info might be helpful, I suppose.
Our Llama, Louanne, was bought from an auction 10 or more years ago by my MIL who had a penchant for collecting odd or unusual critters.
Now, as I have come to learn through my own adventures, animals tend to go to auction for a reason. Either they’re not sound, not productive, have deformities, whatever. Louanne’s problem was that she was a bit crazy. Not by any fault of her own of course, clearly she was either mishandled, or not handled at all in her early years. Either way, in the 10 or so years on this farm, she never really improved. She coexisted peacefully with the other animals and especially loved guarding the sheep (although I lost one on her watch, I never held it against her).
Life was good- until she got out. Another point I’ve learned, is that animals always get out at some point in their lives. Last time she escaped it took my MIL 3 days to get her back. She goes even more wild when she’s loose than she is on any normal day.
But Louanne’s arch nemesis is the pig.
Don’t ask me why. But for one reason or another Louanne and pigs do not get along.
This is where the trouble started. The pig pasture is adjacent to the horse pasture, with 3 sides electrified and the adjoining side made of hog panels so we can expand the pig pasture as needed. Evidently, the hog panels are no longer strong enough to hold up to 4 pushing piggies. They went in to the horse pasture, and Louanne promptly went out. Llama’s are excellent jumpers.
So, on Sunday night, after a long weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations I was getting ready to put our FIT to bed when someone knocked on my door, asking if I owned a llama. (Believe me, I knew there could only be one reason why he was asking, and almost said no). Instead I did the responsible thing and ran out to the road, only to see her galloping down the centre line away from our house. And where was Farmer B? At hockey. My faithful brother-in-law? Hockey. Father-in-law? You guessed it.
So that left me with a pants-less toddler and a handful of helpful- albeit inexperienced- strangers, and dwindling daylight.
We all ran around like chickens with our heads cut off herding the llama from the road to the pasture, only to get her to the gate and have her turn instead, run us over, and go back to the road. This happened three times. At one point I actually grabbed her and semi-rode her bareback down the side of the corn field. I hope my midwife doesn’t read this because I’m positive she wouldn’t approve.
In the end Louanne disappeared in to the corn field and the daylight failed us. How do you locate a llama in a 50 acre corn field at night, you ask? You don’t. You go have a cup of tea, and pray she somehow jumps back over the fence and is grazing peacefully in the pasture when you wake up.
Did I mention that we were hosting a barn dance and lunch for 15+ people the following day? And i had nothing prepared? No stress.
So the second chapter began this morning when a kind lady knocked on my door. My heart drops every time I hear a knock now. She proceeded to tell me the llama was, once again, running down the road, only this time the OPP were called because the situation was clearly becoming a hazard to the public.
Another hour or so of trying to control the beast, and we were no closer to getting her home. In fact, she was becoming more wild and unpredictable. We all had high hopes that the story would have a happy ending, but sometimes decisions must be made, and they aren’t always easy. I’m sad to report that Louanne had to be dispatched this morning. I wasn’t there to witness but I’m told the OPP officer had good aim, and it was a quick and clean end.

But the story doesn’t end there friends. Oh no, the llama drama continues.

As I mentioned, the llama loved protecting our one Shetland ewe, Bo. Bo stuck to her like glue. When the glue was gone though, Bo was lost. The poor creature stood looking for her friend for ages. I felt so bad for her, but our guests were about to arrive so I needed to pull things together and get on with the show.
The barn dance was a great success, lunch was great, and everyone had a wonderful time. Until….
Someone drove in our driveway asking if we owned a black sheep.
Bo had taken it upon herself to go looking for Louanne and had ended up in neighbors horse pasture, with 3 big draft horses. Bo loves horses, but if you recall the story about the elephant and the mouse you’ll get an idea of how those draft horses felt about Bo. The love was not mutual.
Poor Bo chased the horses around trying to join their herd until the tables turned and the horses started chasing her with very different intentions.
The biggest obstacle was that this was a 3 strand semi-electrified fence that Bo could pop through like thin air. There was nowhere to corral her in the pasture to bring her home, and a lone sheep is a skittish thing, especially when it knows something is trying to catch it.
Farmer B prepared me for the worst, saying that if we couldn’t come up with something fast, Bo was going to have to join Louanne. She was scaring our neighbors horses, and left alone without protection over night she would have been a quick meal for a coyote in no time. Shooting her may be the kindest thing to do.
To put it shortly, I bawled. That was the last straw for me. I had to think of something, anything to at least try to get her home. My roping skills are pitiful, so that wasn’t an option. But maybe, just maybe, if we brought my horse to her, she would give up on the drafts and follow D instead. It was a long shot, but Farmer B thought it was worth a go, so off he went, horse in tow.

Time for some good news. This story ends well. Bo took one look at D and ran to him. Without a second thought, other than going home, Bo followed Farmer B and D up the road and across the field back to her pasture like a puppy. I was one happy lady!!
I officially have the greatest husband and horse in the world.

At this point, now that everyone is safely confined, I am going to make a big ‘ol cup of tea, and put my feet up.

This is exactly why I’m over keeping animals just because I can.

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Linking to The Homestead Barn Hop #82

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No More Feed Bags!

Well, the mad rush is finally over! For now anyway. Farmer B has finished all his planting, and sooner than he ever has before. This makes me one happy lady, because now we can spend some more time around our home doing things that we want to do. Aside from a couple of hours here and there to make sure everything is growing well, Farmer B is all mine until the wheat harvest..Muah ha ha ha. I can see the “honey do” list growing 🙂

One thing we’ve wanted to do for a looong time is pull out our old feed mix mill. It’s been one under-utilized piece of equipment just shoved in the back of the machine-shed for probably a decade now. For some ridiculous reason (like a lack of time, perhaps?) we’ve been buying bag after bag of feed from our local feed store, when we could have been grinding up our very own!

The Ol’ Feed Mill

I’m so excited that now, instead of paying someone else to grind it and bag it, we can do it ourselves and forget the bags! (I hate having those bags lying around. It kills me to throw them in the garbage, and they’re not recyclable). It’s been a couple of years since we’ve grown feed corn, but this year we got around to planting some. That’s one more thing I can check off my “Do It Ourselves” list. Next year, I’d like to take it one step further and grow non-GM feed grains.

The only down side is that since the corn was only planted a week ago, we still had to buy a ton of corn from the feed mill. On the bright side it’s local, and all the corn they sell is from local farmers. I enlisted our Farmer-In-Training to be a hand model so I could show you what we were grinding up.

Whole Corn

Whole Corn

All our animals (chickens, pigs, and turkeys) eat the same basic feed. The only difference is the protein content, which I can adjust by adding more or less protein to each bin of food. Corn makes up a good percentage of the finished product. So in goes the corn….

and it comes out looking like this…

Ground Corn

Most commercial feeds contain 2 main ingredients: corn, and soybean meal. It works just fine, but I like a little more variety in the diet of my animals (and I don’t like relying on corn alone) so we add some barley. Now, they say barley in poultry feed causes”unhygenic sticky droppings” that stick to the cage floors, BUT since none of my birds are caged I don’t see that as a problem. If my girls can find some spilled barley, you better believe they’re gonna eat it, and I think the nutritional benefits of a varied diet out-weigh the potential negatives of sticky poop. So in goes the barley…

Whole Barley

We also added some soybean meal for protein, and a pre-mixed vitamin/mineral supplement but I got distracted by F.I.T. and didn’t get a picture. But nonetheless, here’s what it all looks like when it’s done…

The Finished Product

Now, I said we added some soybean meal. Soy is another ingredient I didn’t want to rely heavily on (and may drop all together one day), but it is an excellent source of protein. We designed the rations to have a lower base protein level so we could increase or reduce it based on who we were feeding it to. I really wanted this extra protein to be something with supplemental benefits. Something with some good nutritional value. I did a little looking and decided that Hemp would be a great addition. Not only is there a Hemp farm less than 20 minutes from our place, but it’s also high in protein, contains prebiotic to nourish good intestinal flora, and omega-3 fatty acids for good skin/feather condition.

I’m super excited to be on the road to having full control of my animals diets. I’m certainly no livestock nutritional expert, but I know what good food is, and I’m glad to be able to decide what does, and maybe more importantly, doesn’t go in to my animals feed!

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On a side note, our cat had kittens! Aren’t they so stinkin’ cute??