Tag Archives: homesteading

Counting Sheep

These days I have no idea what my husband wants to raise, sheep or goats because we certainly do not have the space to raise both species. Nor the patience. When the herd/flock are taken out to graze, they segregate themselves and the work to keep them safe from roving wild dogs, snakes, and poisonous plants is doubled.

So one Sunday my husband comes back from the grazing and says he’s sold the sheep to the neighbor. Zombie, Fuzzy and the others are gone in a few minutes, leaving us with just the Borrega boys and Zombeta.

With the cash in his hot sweaty hands, we head to Cerano that very afternoon to find a macho for our goat herd. We have lots of boys, but nothing close enough in maturity to fulfill any husbandly duties when the next heat cycle comes around later this month.

We happen across two herds of about 200 goats grazing in a recently harvested corn field. My husband does some tough negotiation and buys this young buck, quite a looker, for our fair ladies back home.

Having some extra cash, he haggles for yet another pregnant goat. He wanted a third, but just didn’t have the cash to complete the deal, so home again, home again jiggidy, jig we went with Macho and Prego.img_20190123_142958 (2)The three little sheep, Borega Boys and Zombeta, were allowed free run of the patio area, even had their own little feed box, so that they could grow up healthy and fat. Of course, this meant that the patio was full of sheep pellets as a result of their ample diet. Fun right?

I thought we were done with sheep acquisition, but NO! Since my motorcycle has been on the fritz and there hasn’t been any gas anyway to fill to the tank,  my husband found a buyer willing to trade sheep for it. So in addition to the three little sheep, we now have one pregnant ewe, and one who had recently given birth to twins, so 4 sheep with one on the way, making our grand total 7 sheep (and a half).img_20190115_120457 (2) The poop pellets on the patio were getting out of hand, so my husband went to work at revamping Miss Piggy’s bungalow in the back. The first attempt failed utterly. These are Mexican sheep after all and no little wall was going to keep them from the promised land (in this case, my backyard full of tasty plants). So he had to install barbed wire around the perimeter and that seems to have done the trick.

To keep them shaded, he rigged a wire/branch roof which in a few weeks will be covered in chayote leaves, making a nice little palapa for everyone in the sheep compound. Of course, I’m hoping in a few weeks, we won’t have any more sheep, but you can see how this sheep thing keeps going and going.img_20190118_110133 The mama sheep with the twins has been sickly since we’ve gotten her. Malnourishment and a rough delivery are the probable causes. My husband, Papa Chivo, has been bottle feeding the twins goat milk to supplement their diet and they are more lively. The mama gave us quite a scare when she stopped eating for a few days, but some tempting greens and some olive oil brought back her appetite and she seems to be getting stronger as well.img_20190123_142837So here we are being overwhelmed with goats and sheep. I actually had to go out and count again how many we have. 2 eves, 3 baby lambs, 8 baby kids, one goat macho, 5 nanny goats and 2 (one sheep/one goat) still on the way. Good grief!

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Oh Boy! More Boys!

I haven’t been able to share many animal antics lately because not much has been going on the Flores Ranchito. That all changed towards the end of November with the arrival of Zombie’s first offsprings, the Borrego Boys, white, fuzzy twins, who are healthy and fit with the exception of some sort of weird second set of eyes (but what can you expect from a zombie/sheep hybrid).

With their birth, my husband went a little crazy and started buying up pregnant goats hither and yon. Before we knew it, we had another set of white twins, the Chivo boys.

Then La Gritona (Miss Shouter so named because of all her carrying on) gave birth very vocally one Sunday in the middle of one of my online classes. (Noise? What noise? Now, back to the difference between in, at and on.)  Her little chivito is called Payaso (clown), since he’s often up to no good, knocking off the lamp, climbing the woodpile and so on.

The next set of twins were born before my husband could seal the deal of the borrega/chiva exchange with the owner. So mama and twin boys, Salt and Pepper came to live with us in December.

Fuzzy the sheep gave birth the next day to Zombeta, the first female offspring of the bunch. Fuzzy, a first-time mom, is quite the nervous Nellie. She doesn’t want to leave the corral without Zombeta, who really is too small to keep up with the herd/flock just yet, leading my husband on fun-filled romps around La Yacata in her efforts to get back to her little one. She also hollers throughout the day when Zombeta is out of sight, curled up with one of the other kids or lambs or just jumping about on the other side of the food trough.

Zombeta’s birth brought our baby population up to 8 running, frisky little fellas in under 2 weeks. But the population explosion wasn’t done yet!

The following week another little kid was born, Chiveta. Of course, this was the only goat that my husband wanted a boy birth since the mama was a Boer goat, but alas, a girl.

One sheep is still preggers but it will be a few months until she’s ready to give birth. I’d say we have our hands full as it is though, don’t you think?

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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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Zombie babies

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Zombie baby feeding frenzy!

So the triplets made it through the first few days of life, which is saying something about the superhuman efforts Papa Chivo put into them. Bottle feeding didn’t seem to give them enough nutrients, so my husband borrowed a wet-nurse goat.  Unfortunately, the zombies had voracious appetites and the wet-nurse goat could not keep up with the demand.

Big Mama was forced to supplement a bit but didn’t have so much milk since Fuzzy was quite a big girl.  Our 3 goats were pregnant but not lactating.  Caramela the sheep was also pregnant but she’s been pregnant since we bought her.  I wonder if she’ll ever give birth.

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Brown Mama and her lambs, Oreo and Cookie.

Drastic times call for drastic measures. In hopes of getting more milk, my husband traded Cottonball, the zombies’ mother, and Baby’s Mama for this big brown ball of fur which promptly spewed out Oreo and Cookie, the lastest sheep to grace our pastures.  Although delighted with these little black boys, the arrival of twins didn’t help the zombie feeding situation.

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Oreo on the left, Cookie on the right.

But with a little bit of milk here, and a little bit of milk there, and some 2 am bottle feedings, they made it to their second week birthday.  They followed my husband hither and yon, bleating like, well, like little lambs do.

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Skunkette next to Skunk, the macho sheep, and in from of Mary with fleece not quite as white as snow. Brown Mama is lying down with Cookie in the back.

Then in the blink of an eye, my husband traded the zombie babies for this striped skunk sheep.  The zombies went to live with a guy with grandkids to bottle feed them and a milk cow to provide milk.  So it seems we have again averted the apocalypse in La Yacata.

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