Our first predator on the ducks came last night. What we found was a duck pulled through our duck proof fence, and she was eaten right through the fence. This has never happened before, and it is a nightmare. In their new paddock set up, we must have placed them too close to the forest, too far from where the dogs patrol. I think we maybe need a livestock guardian dog in WITH the ducks. This is why people have electric netting, a raccoon won’t reach through that to snag a duck. Previously I have bragged about how smart ducks are, they can see at night and seem to be able to avoid predators much more easily than chickens. It appears a duck was sleeping alongside the shorter fence, and a stealthy raccoon must have climbed the perimeter fence and snuck up and grabbed her through the fence, holding her there and killing her. I guess ducks do sleep at night, and are not immune to being prey. So horrible, so freaky. These birds are our ladies, we love them and we need their eggs too! If we start losing our flock slowly, I’ll just go insane. This is typically what happens, night after night the same animal comes back for more. We’ve got to figure this out.
Andrew got the shotgun out and went to see what he could find in the area by the fence. He did a little research and found this time of year the rouge raccoon children are leaving their parents’ region, striking out on their own to settle their own turf. We decide we must build a safe house to herd the girls into at night. Our first idea is a solid fortress of cattle panels, tiny chicken wire and dogs tied next to it at night. Maybe we look at how people raise pheasants, use the game bird netting on top to make it extra secure? Or what about a cement castle? Ack I am going to lose it.
Why don’t we switch to cattle. They don’t have raccoons eating them. They graze and don’t need pallets of organic grain. They don’t hardly need a shelter, just space and grass. I’m sure there is probably something I’m overlooking. Oh yeah- cattle are huge and can be unruly. They can have all kinds of health problems like goats. If they got out, how would we get them rounded up, as we are lacking in the cowboy and horse department.
Predators are every farm’s worst nightmare. We are attempting to raise domesticated animals in the vicinity of all kinds of wildlife. We just were not prepared one bit for this, and we should have been more ready. We should have been pre-proactive. Until you see the problems though, it can be hard to be ready or set up correctly to handle them.
I kept my writing to myself for the past month. I religiously write in my journal, it is the way to unfold my day in my mind and memory. What of that I choose to share on the blog has left me baffled. I sort of feel responsible to tell all. Trixie died, and it was my fault. I left the goats on their tethers when we went to go visit a friend for a few mid-day hours. A storm came through when we were gone, and Trixie must have strangled herself in her panic as she tried to hide in the brush- goats really hate rain. When we returned and I checked on all the goats, I found her there, dad- I just started bawling. I knew it was my fault. I mean, she did it to herself, but I put her in the position to do so. I felt so responsible, and heartbroken. She was such a dear little goat who had been through so much already. Goddamn it. I can’t hold onto this grief. It is what it is, and I learned a lesson- never leave goats out on tether if we leave, no matter how savvy and smart you think the goats are. Andrew buried her out in the perimeter of the hayfield.
The beans are absolutely bountious this year. It makes me SO happy. I love searching the plants for their well hidden pods, and shrieking with delight that, yes, the dragon langerie beans are loaded again. These tiny plants have been so prolific with some of the most beautiful, tender romano shaped beans ever. Even when they are huge, they are awesome. Striped with lavender on an off-yellow backdrop, they are stunning. And so tasty. Previously they did very well in my garden at my old place, so I was nervous they wouldn’t be as fantastic as I remembered. Dragon Langerie has not let me down. We didn’t give them any compost, just weeded them really well in the beginning to let them get established. I’m so nutty about beans I was weeding them alot, but then I hit the “I Hate Weeding” day, and that was over.
Our peppers are coming in, finally, and the cabbages are fattening. I found two heads that were split, almost as though about to bolt with a seed head. Picking them, I looked in the garden for other kimchi materials. Carrots, tiny tender ones and some mini daikon radishes- miniature means 1 foot long and as fat as a XL carrot. The green beans will go in there, some of them anyhow, and garlic and ginger, which husband is picking up on his run to town to get duck and pig feed.
It’s hot out in the garden, and now I sit with a fan on my back, typing, Daft Punk pumping the bass beats downstairs. Drinking some coffee, getting pumped up for fermenting and pickling and apple wine making.
When I was out in the garden, picking beans, I looked out to see Javier, our big Rottweiler cross, lying in the middle of the road. He is black-coated, it is hot and he is on PAVEMENT. WTF is wrong with him, in the middle of the road of all places. I yelled to him to move it, and he creeped into the ditch guiltily. There’s alot of yelling at dogs out here. I mean well, and I love them, and they do good work for us on the farm. But they do stupid things very often! Like why constantly choose to lie right in the middle of the road, or the walkway to the house, or right in front of where the goats will be walking to go on to the milkstand. Everyday it is the same things we have to go over. No, not there, go lie in that soft grass OVER THERE. Our dogs even have made numerous nice cool spots to lie down in the shade, all over, in the nice landscaping flower beds we inherited. But always they must lie where they are told not to, or where they will be right in the way. Attention hogs?
Tomatoes are simmering down on the stove, adding to the heat in the house. As I sliced open the enormous Hog Heart Paste tomatoes, inhaling the quintessential summer aroma, a piece made it’s way into my mouth. Heavenly, this variety is just sickenly rich with tomatoey-ness. I love pastes cuz there is less “annoying” water in the way of your tomato experience. For canning tomatoes, pastes mean you have a thick sauce faster, and for eating, you have a much more intense tomato on your fried duck egg sandwich.
We’re having our wedding reception tomorrow and serving goat curry, which, after the untimely death of Trixie, may seem odd. The leg and shoulder roasts are goat meat from our bucks I butchered here this spring. Defrosted in the fridge overnight, they will be seared with Indian spices, and then SLOW roasted to fall-off-the-bone stage. This will be essential, as Cedar was 4 years old, and the other buck, Romeo, was just a yearling. Bucks are notoriously stanky, but when we had our first taste, we were extremely surprised at what we found. The texture was firm, the flavor absolutely lovely. Cedar’s meat had steak-like taste, Romeo was milder, but delicious in a different way. The seasoned tender meats will be taken off the bone after the slow roasting, then united with the rich tomato sauce, laced with sauteed onions, a ton of garlic and stewed for hours, maybe even over night.