Category Archives: Animal Husbandry

Lady’s Arrival

My husband got it in his head that he wasn’t complete without a horse. Our last horse, Buttercup, had been traded for some of the sheep we currently have. Instead of making this purchase on his own, like he did with Alto, he decided to talk to my son and me about this possibility. The next day, he drove me to Jacales to see the horse he was thinking of buying. She was lovely but too thin for her height, which was considerable. The owner couldn’t say exactly how old she was, but she still had her baby beard, so we are estimating that she is under a year old.IMG_20180522_105910.jpgWe took Zombie girl and a new sheep my husband had traded one of the black boy twins for to the market in Purandaro to sell. We also took Mary but she didn’t weigh enough for her to be worth selling, so we brought her home again.IMG_20180523_093108.jpgMy husband asked two different guys with trucks that have high rails how much they would charge to go and get this horse in Jacales. One said $300 and the other said $400. Both were overpriced for the distance. Our own truck, which would get there and back on $200 pesos of gas, doesn’t have high sides and there was a risk the horse might jump out on the way and get injured.

My husband decided to investigate a road that runs from La Ordena to El Moral as a possible way to bring the horse to our house without being on such a large road since he was considering bringing it home with my son leading her on the motorcycle.

I’m always up for an adventure, so we were off to La Ordena. We asked an elderly lady with her umbrella if we were on the right road. Her eyebrows went sky-high.  Yes, this was the road, but she wouldn’t say if it were passable even by moto.  On we went. Just as we came to a fork in the road, we encountered a small herd of bulls. We pulled to the left crossroad and got out of their way. We had red shirts on and all. Well, my husband had on a red shirt, mine was sorta purple but I’m not sure what sort of color spectrum bulls have and wasn’t taking any chances.IMG_20180524_124722.jpgAfter they passed, we headed down this road that although rough, was still drivable until suddenly it wasn’t. Going just a little further was a mistake and we headed back the way we came in the blistering heat and no floppy hat for me. Halfway back, we ran into another cattle herd, a bit larger this time. My husband turned the moto around and we backtracked until we found some bushes we could hide in. You may laugh, but my husband has a healthy fear of bulls, having grown up in rural areas. While he felt confident that if he were charged, he could climb a mesquite tree, he wasn’t so sure about my mesquite climbing abilities.IMG_20180524_130414.jpgWe hid there for about 10 minutes until we were sure the coast was clear. My husband decided that he would not be bringing his new horse this way after all.

While we were waiting for my check to be deposited since the sheep sale was short of the $8000 asking price, I asked my husband what name he thought he’d give her. We’ve had Black Beauty, Spirit, Shadow, Joey, Alto and Buttercup to date. I suggested Lady. His response was “Black Lady, like Michone” (from the Walking Dead.) Umm, no. That’s not what I had in mind at ALL! I offered a few other suggestions, but Black Lady stuck.

Early Friday morning, he headed to get the guia (permit) to move the horse. Every year, my husband, who has a registered brand, adds an imaginary horse to his patente (registration). This new horse could, therefore, be registered as one of those horses without a problem since she came without papers or brand.

In the end, he decided to pay someone with a properly railed truck to bring Lady home. He cleared out Joey’s old stall and escorted his new pride and joy in. She seems to really like it with us but gets nervy when we out of sight while she is tied outside.IMG_20180527_081452.jpg Since the rainy season is fast approaching, we hope she’ll be able to fill out some on all the lush greenery found in La Yacata for those few months. I’m not sure exactly how my husband plans on feeding her in the dry season, so we’ll see how it goes. For now, he picks up an armful of freshly cut alfalfa every two days from a truck that cruises around town for $120 pesos per week.  He also gets a full back of corn leaves in exchange for a costal (feed bag) and 5 pesos from the guy who sells elotes (corn on the cob) from the back of his truck in town. Then we still have some dried alfalfa bales and a few dried corn bales which should keep Lady and the sheep happy until the heavens open up.IMG_20180523_153455.jpg

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More Lil’uns

Mama Hen wasn’t satisfied with hatching out el ejército this year.  She went for the second esquadron. While she was busy incubating, our other broody hen, that only managed to hatch 1 lone soldier (albeit special forces fuzzy feet) took over command of el ejército.  

 

Our upstairs cat Licky, so named because she prefers to eat her dinner upstairs on the back porch tried to get one of those roaming chicken nuggets one day.  She wasn’t successful however now whenever our downstairs cat Kitty, that looks nearly identical to Licky, is out back, she is subject to hysterical henpecking.  She’s taken refuge in a pile of sticks, sort of like a fort and won’t come out unless I’m down there on the steps.

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Kitty during the Zombie Chicken apocalypse.

Then one day, my son was playing his guitar in his room and suddenly heard some whimpering from outside his window.  It was a scruffy yellow puppy and he looked to us for salvation. After asking the neighbors, we pieced together his story. We think he had been abandoned at the top of La Yacata and spent the day wandering hither and yon through the hostile terrain until he heard signs of civilization and made his way to the shade by my son’s window.  He was full of fleas. It took quite a bit of effort to clear that infestation up. He’s a bit of a scamp.

IMG_20180507_110939.jpgPuppy doesn’t seem to mind Lil’pup but has become a little sullen and maybe even a little depressed.  Any new addition to the family is bound to upset the older brother. We have been trying to pay extra attention to Puppy so that he knows he is still loved.

IMG_20180507_110925.jpgNow, all we need are kittens….

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The Return of the Zombies

To add to the desolate wasteland landscape currently found in La Yacata because of the scorched earth from clearing burns, someone dumped a dead donkey near the house. Being curious, my husband decided to check it out.  According to his forensic examination, the donkey showed signs of having been hit by a car. While he’s not positive, he thinks it might have been the same donkey that was plowing the area where we sometimes sharecrop. His report included the fact that the guys plowing got progressively drunker during the course of the day while plowing so it wouldn’t have been too hard for an improperly tied donkey to wander out into the road.

I’ve already mentioned that the road past La Yacata has become quite deadly.  It’s almost as if there is a game of points going on–10 points for the old guy on his bicycle, 20 for the guy on the donkey, 15 points for loose livestock, etc. Since my last update, there have been 3 more fatalities (not including this donkey).  One guy, heading to La Yacata to work with the borrega guy, was hit by a truck and dismembered. The guy driving the truck tried to bribe his way out of being held accountable, but the witnesses wouldn’t let him go until the police arrived and arrested him. Doesn’t change the fact that a man is dead though.

Anyway, back to the dead donkey.  It wasn’t there 12 hours before large wild dogs and coyotes found the carcass.  Every night, the two factions snarled and barked and yipped over their meal. Puppy was terrified.  Nary a sound did he make in response, which isn’t like him at all. Even on our daily walks, he didn’t linger but stayed right next to me, especially as we passed the inflated corpse.

Sure enough, all this commotion attracted the attention of zombies. Segue creepy music….The zombie babies have returned. Remember how the three zombie babies were sent to live with the neighbor who had a cow that could provide them with milk since our goats and sheep weren’t able to keep up with their voracious appetites?  Well, the neighbor decided it was high time they started foraging for themselves and brought them to the barn that borders our property. My husband saw them and negotiated for one of the zombie girls. She came back to live with us during some video filming and caused me some anxious moments. Puppy wasn’t happy at all.  It seems that zombie girl thinks she’s a pet and just won’t stay in the animal area. Twice now, she’s tried to eat Puppy’s food and he’s bitten her nose. My husband was furious but I pointed out that it was only natural that Puppy would defend his food dish from zombie invasion.

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A bit bigger, much healthier, but still UGLY!

The next to return was zombie boy.  He and Oreo bump heads for the honor of being head sheep boy, but I’m pretty sure Oreo is going to come out on top in the end.  The third of the zombie trio didn’t return, but I’m fine with just two zombies. 

 

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Selling Some Sheep

Since someone has decided to turn La Yacata into a post-apocalyptic wasteland by burning every single lot whether or not the owners gave permission, food for our herd/flock has been harder to find.  The goats are getting by because they eat quite a variety of plant stuff and are agile in their foraging abilities. The sheep, on the other hand, are finding good eats more difficult.

As rainy season doesn’t begin for another few months, my husband decided that some of the sheep needed to go in order to buy some food for the rest.  He went back and forth which should be sold, not really wanting to part with any of them. Finally, he decided the two newest additions would be sacrificed for the greater good.  Neither had names yet so we hadn’t gotten too attached.

The neighbor, who I call Best Buddy because he wants to do everything my husband does, also decided he was going to sell some sheep to buy some feed.  He wanted to sell 4.  So since my husband wanted to take them to Puruándiro, Michoacan to sell, he needed to get a “guia”, which is a permit for transporting animals.  He picked it up at the same place he registered the animals in January, the Asociacion Ganadera Local in Moroleon.  It cost 25 pesos.

 

Since Best Buddy couldn’t leave any earlier than 8 am, I had plenty of time to take my walk with Puppy and feed the cats.  Then we were off.

Just as we passed La Calera, a truck with some goats pulled alongside us and motioned for us to pull over.  Curious, we did. They wanted to know if we were off to sell the animals in Puruándiro. We were. They offered to buy them for 33 pesos a kilo right then and save us the trip. Best Buddy wasn’t too happy with the price.  He had been told that in Puruándiro he could get 36 pesos per kilo. I signaled to my husband that we should take the deal.  After all, we weren’t experienced in the whole buying and selling done in Puruándiro and odds were we’d actually get a smaller price without knowing the ins and outs of it all.

Finally, my husband suggested we go and weigh the animals in Cerano, the next town, and then decide.  There is a bascula (weighing machine) there. This bascula is the type you drive upon with the animals and get weighed.  Then you take the animals off and weigh the vehicle again. The difference is the weight of the animals. So we pulled in there and said hi to my husband’s cousin who runs it. However, Best Buddy wanted the animals to be weighed separately since they had two owners.

La bascula in Cerano

No problem.  We followed them into town and stopped next to a telephone post.  The guys pulled out a scale and hung the animals from it, one by one. One sheep weighted 52 kilos and the other was 20 kilos. 72 kilos at 33 pesos a kilo was enough to buy food that should last until the rainy season starts.  Interestingly enough,  macho sheep are sold for 40 pesos per kilo, 7 pesos more than females. Since we have more machos than we need at the moment, this little tidbit will be useful in the future.

With the prices agreed upon and the animals loaded into the other guys’ truck, we followed them up the road to the bank so they could make a withdrawal.  Of course, there was the chance that the truck would take off with the animals and we’d be left whistling Dixie, but that didn’t happen. It turns out that the guys were from Cerano and knew my husband’s family.  I have no doubt that they took their new acquisitions to Puruándiro and sold them for 36 pesos per kilo.

Since cash runs like water through my husband’s fingers, we went in search of pacas (bales) of alfalfa immediately. We drove towards Yuriria and came across some pacas in lines waiting for transport.  We stopped and my husband hopped out to ask the guy if they were for sale. He wasn’t in charge, but the owner was just up the road on the tractor. So that’s where we went. After some negotiation, the owner agreed to 100 pesos per paca (bale). For comparison, most pacas in Moroleon are running 120 pesos right now and increase the further into the dry season it is.  My husband and Best Buddy loaded the truck up.

 

But we weren’t done yet.  We headed to this little town called Monte de Los Juarez (the hill belonging to the Juarez family). There, Best Buddy did some heavy negotiation with the lady who runs the store for 2 turkeys for 500 pesos. So with a full truckload of pacas, 3 adults and 2 turkeys in the cab, we headed home.

Negotiation in process.

The next day, Best Buddy sold the turkeys he bought and our two that had stripped all our saplings bare in the course of an afternoon.  With more money in his hot little (or not so little) hands, my husband wanted to get some more pacas–this time rastrojo (corn stalk). We headed to the same area as yesterday but traveled further down the road.  Just past the town Juan Lucas, we saw a huge towering mound of pacas. We stopped and asked some guy walking down the road if he knew if those pacas were for sale. He said they were and hopped in the back of the truck to head to see the owner. After several whistles and shouts, the owner came to the door.  It’s not polite here to approach a door and knock. Whistling is proper protocol. Drives me nuts though. The owner hollered out that he’d be there in a moment.  He needed to put a shirt on.

Eventually, he came out and the men conferred and pulled at their chins a bit before the price was agreed upon–13 pesos per paca.  In Moroleon, the average rastrojo paca is 16 pesos. The hitchhiker and my husband loaded the truck up. My husband gave him algo pa’la soda (a tip) and we dropped him off at his house.

On the way home, we stopped at a roadside stand in Ozumbilla.  DELICIOUS! While we were eating, a man with an ice cream tricycle began to hoot and holler.  We looked over and he was gesturing down the road and at our truck. It seemed the man wasn’t able to talk, but he wanted us to be aware that the Federales were heading down the road.  There’s a great deal of suspicion against the police in small towns and not without reason. We didn’t have anywhere else to park the truck, so decided to wait it out. Sure enough, a convoy passed not 5 minutes later with the entire town along the side of the road to bear witness to their passing.

Lunch finished, we headed home. We now have enough feed to last us close enough to the rainy season.  Hooray!

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