Tag Archives: homesteading in Mexico

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!

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Animal Husbandry, Homesteading

Baby the Sheep

So my husband got it in his head that borregos (sheep) are more profitable than goats.  It is true that borregos sold by the kilo are more expensive BUT they are a smaller animal, so overall there are fewer kilos to be had.  Disregarding my logic, he went ahead and traded our macho goat for a young borrega and her borregita.

I continued my naysaying despite the now physical presence of more borregos.  Borregos carry on something awful whether or not they are hungry. (See Separating the Sheep from the Goats They are more delicate healthwise.  (See Birth and Death)  They need more care than goats.  They don’t eat as varied a diet as goats so food during the dry season will be harder to find.  All to no avail.

The young borrega managed to come down with a BAD case of chorro (diarrhea) probably from the change of diet from her previous home to ours.  This affected little borregita because the mama’s milk all but dried up during her illness.  So three days after purchase, it was looking like borregita wasn’t going to make it.  She was listless.  She became weaker and weaker until she could no longer stand.  It was pitiful.  My husband debated whether it would be kinder to just kill her.

I objected.  Surely there was another option.  We’ve had orphaned babies before on our mini-rancho.  I convinced him to try and nurse her back to health.  We bought a bottle and some milk, mixed with suero (electrolytes) to feed her.

The difference was marked almost immediately.  The second day of bottle feeding she could lift her head and bleated to let my husband (now named Papa Chivo–yes she’s a borrego but Papa Borrego doesn’t roll off the tongue as well) she was ready for more milk.

IMG_20171017_120054

My husband and son alternated bottle feedings and the borreguita was christened Baby so that when she hollered in the middle of the night I could shake my husband awake and say “Go feed Baby.”  After about a week of milk, she started to show an interest in the paca (alfalfa bales).  So feedings were supplemented with a bit of alfalfa and some ground maiz sorgo mixed with milk like a cereal.

It took about a week for her to try and stand but as soon as she could wobble about she demanded to be taken out with the rest of the herd.  She couldn’t keep up, so my husband had to carry her.  She was content as could be munching on the grass she could reach while resting and watching the gang graze.  Mama borrega was happy as well.  She was a nervous Nelly when she had to leave Baby behind.  Maybe that’s what we’ll call her–Nelly.

We had every hope that Baby would make a full recovery.  However, one morning she was again laying on the ground bleating piteously.  She didn’t suffer long.  She died just a few hours later.

IMG_20171026_184359_371.jpg

***********

 Herbal Academy Courses

disclosure

2 Comments

Filed under Animal Husbandry

Horse Trader

One evening I got home and was going about my business when I heard a whiny from the animal area.  Now we haven’t had a horse since my husband sold them (See A dismantling of sorts) and the whiny perplexed me.  So I headed out to find that in place of our 6 goats, there was a tallish red young stallion with a black mane.  

He was friendly, but a bit on the thin side.  Probably not well cared for by his previous owner.  Of course, that doesn’t explain how he got into our animal area and the location of the goats.  I waited around for my husband to get home and demand an explanation.  He was a bit worse for wear, so the explanation had to wait until morning.

It seems that in addition to his poor choice of activities the night before, he had made a deal for a horse that he didn’t have any intention of buying. However, as soon as the neighbor down the road expressed some interest in this horse, my husband had to have him.  He traded our 6 goats and $1000 pesos for Alto (Tall boy).

Along with the subsequent hangover, he had a huge case of buyer’s remorse.  We had already determined that a horse is not profitable.  If my husband isn’t sharecropping, the horse has no way to earn its keep.  A horse provides no milk or eggs.  This particular horse couldn’t even be ridden as it was in such a malnourished state.  Plus, we no longer had any horse gear (saddles, bridles, reins, etc). Well, if he wanted a horse so bad, he’d have to figure out how to maintain it.

My husband went hither and yon looking for a new owner for Alto.  Alto didn’t mind. There was plenty of grass and over the month he spent with us, he plumped out considerably.  Finally, a new deal was struck.  In exchange for Alto, my husband would receive 2 boy chivitos (young goats) which were part of a triplet birth, always a good thing (See Goat Genetics) and a young yeguita (mare) plus $3500 pesos.  Immediately upon the transfer, my husband took one of the chivitos (because you only ever need one macho per herd) and traded it for one of Jirafa’s twins. (See Assassin Goat )

With some of the money from this deal, my husband bought La Flaca (Skinny) and La Chica (Small one), both white goats.  There was some talk about selling the new mare for $5000 pesos, but that deal fell through.  Meanwhile, the rest of the $3500 went to buy Jirafa and her other twin back.  

Another deal that didn’t happen was the sale of La Flaca. Jirafa had been trained to return to the corral once full.  La Flaca was not. My husband was not happy with her as she liked to travel hither and yon instead of staying put.  She also divided the herd.  Half would follow Jirafa, half La Flaca.  As the potential buyer didn’t have the cash, my husband wasn’t about to just let her go for free and fiado (with a promise to pay later).  So La Flaca became part of the herd with the provision of being tied should her nomadic nature caused her to roam.  

The herd was back up to 6 again and we still had a horse.  She was a pleasant horse and there really was no reason not to embrace her into the family.  However, our hearts had been broken with the sale of Shadow and it took some time for my son and me to accept Buttercup.  She was fattening up nicely now that she had proper care.  My husband thought she was a bit older than the previous owner stated because of the length of her tail, but malnourishment kept her from growing properly.  She will probably be smallish, but that’s ok.  Our rancho is smallish.  She isn’t large enough to be ridden or bred.  We’ll have to see how things go during the dry season when food is not as plentiful.  I would say she is on provisional permanence.

My husband still had it in mind to add to the animal holdings.  Suddenly there were two borregas (sheep).  I have been opposed to sheep because they bleat all the time, but these two have been bearable.  The previous owner assured my husband that they both were pregnant, but that remains to be seen. They know they are sheep and not goats and have nothing to do with the goats.  They refuse to share their corral and only just barely tolerate their presence while grazing.  I think Puppy thinks they are largish dogs.  (See Separating the Sheep and the Goats

Oh yes, we have a new puppy.  Again, we were reluctant to open our hearts to another dog after Chokis was poisoned, but Puppy appeared and we are smitten.  He is friendly, obedient and so wants to be a house dog.  Of course, my husband is opposed to that, so he’s only a house dog when he isn’t around.  Puppy and I take a walk every morning and most afternoons now that my schedule has freed up (See Transition year).  He and Devil, our macho cat, are buddies. The only problem is he refuses to be inside during the day and chases motorcycles, so we are concerned someone will either run him over or poison him. (See 101 Perritos) People here have an irrational fear of dogs.  He does like to jump on people to have his head rubbed so we’ve been working on retraining him not to do that or chase motorcycles.  As for his name, well it was supposed to be Rascal, but he responds to Puppy, so Puppy it is.  My husband keeps threatening to give him away, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Puppy goes with him and the goats and the moment my husband sits down, there’s Puppy ready for a head scratch practically climbing in his lap.

************************Enroll now in the Materia Medica Course!

2 Comments

Filed under Animal Husbandry, Homesteading

Assassin goat

2016 was a low birth year for us on the Flores mini-ranch overall. We had no horses, puppies, kittens or chicks born. Our goat duplication was also minimal. Instead of everyone having twins, there were only singletons or none at all in the summer. Well, except for Queenie. She’s been a consistent twinner all along.

So in 2017, we weren’t surprised when Whitey was yet another singleton. He wasn’t too happy about being the only kid. There was no one to play with when the mommies went out to graze. He was very vocal in his displeasure. He also didn’t have anyone to huddle with under the trough. He took to waiting until everyone was settled down and then climbing on top of one of the goats, usually his mom, to sleep.

About a month later, the big white nanny goat, a recent acquisition and thus still nameless, decided it was high time to have her baby. She waited until the middle of the night to ensure privacy. I heard the wailing of an unhappy baby goat sometime around 2 am. As my husband was not home, I went out to check it out.

Sure enough, there was a little white kid expressing its dislike of its new condition. But where was the mother? Oh, there on the other side of the corral. It looked as if she wasn’t finished kidding yet as she was still pawing the ground. Whitey wasn’t pleased with this new addition and added his own bleats to that of the new baby.

triplets

I waited outside for about 15 minutes, sure that any second she would give birth. As the minutes ticked by, I could see that she was having difficulty. She lay down yet again and stretched her legs into the air. I had never seen a goat in such distress. I decided that emergency measures needed to be taken.

I woke my son from a sound sleep and sent him up the road to my father-in-law. I was concerned that the nanny goat wasn’t going to make it. In the 10 minutes or so that it took for my son to return with my father-in-law (much more skilled in goat husbandry than myself) she popped out another baby goat. However, she was still carrying on.

It turned out that there was yet another baby goat. At this point, she was exhausted and the kid was presenting feet first, which was delaying things a bit. My father-in-law helped out a little, and voila, baby 3. Triplets! There were 2 boys and a girl which we tentatively christened Curly, Moe and Larry.

The next day, mama goat was still exhausted, as were we. The triplets weren’t too fussed if she was out of sight, but move one of their siblings and they became hysterical. Mama goat needed a little extra time to recuperate, but soon enough was back on her feet.

As mama goat had only two teats, feeding time became quite a hassle. One of the triplets decided that he and Whitey would be brothers and hunkered down with his new family. This worked out until Whitey’s mom was sold. The first night she was gone, something happened to the adopted triplet. We found him dead in the morning.

The deaths didn’t stop there. Later that afternoon, Pinta birthed a stillborn kid. We ended up on the plus side by the end of the day, though. Bunnie gave birth to itty bitty Brownie. Just a few hours later, Venada had twins–a boy and a girl, twice the size of Brownie.

Venada's boy/girl twins are a day younger than little Brownie, but look at the size difference.

Venada’s boy/girl twins are a day younger than little Brownie but look at the size difference.

Brownie gave us quite a scare about 2 weeks later. We had left the goats unattended for about 30 minutes while we went in for lunch. When my husband came out to check on the goats, he gave a holler. Brownie was in the water bucket up to his neck in water and unmoving, although still alive.

My husband wrapped him in a towel and sat with him in the sun. As he still didn’t show any inclination to move about, he brought one of the triplets that had befriended Brownie to nudge him a bit. About 45 minutes later, Brownie tried to get up. Whew!

It was about 2 hours before he could wobble around any. Now that the danger had passed, we puzzled about how this could have happened.

brownie

We think we have an assassin mama goat. The triplet that died, might have been killed. The stillbirth might have been caused by repeated stomach butting. Another triplet has a torn ear. And it just wasn’t possible that Brownie fell into the bucket. He would have fallen head first and that would have been the end of him. We think he was tossed through the air and landed in the bucket. And our probable suspect was Venada.

I’m all for ousting the murderer, but she does give healthy twins even though she goes overboard in her need for world domination. My husband agreed to keep an eye on her and since the bucket incident, there’ve been no new attempts on anyone’s life.

vaquita and skunk

Finally, a month after we thought all the kids for the season had been born, Vaquita presented us with Skunk. He’s long legged, long-eared and oh so cute. She too waited till dark to give birth and had a bit of difficulty. The kid was big and this was her first baby. She’s also pretty skittish compared to our other goats, so didn’t like anyone close enough to give assistance and once delivered, didn’t want anyone near her baby. Of course, the dark coloring make Skunk hard to see and has been causing no end of grief for his nervous nellie mom. My husband separated Vaquita and Skunk in hopes that the assassin goat doesn’t have an opportunity to strike again.

skunk

 

When we did some additional paring down of the goats, Venada and her babies went up on the auction block.  We just couldn’t have murdering goats around, even if there was a good probability of twins every season.  Instead, my husband purchased Jirafa (Giraffe) and much to our delight, she presented us with twins.

Jirafa and one of the twin daughters. She takes after her dad I guess.

The other daughter–just like mom!

 

************************

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

3 Comments

Filed under Animal Husbandry, Death and all its trappings, Homesteading