It’s been a busy week on the farm. The number and variety of new animals we have brings to mind the Christmas standard, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Instead of maids milking and lords leaping, though, we have sheep baaing and glampers oohing and aahing.
We went from 17 animals on our farm on Monday to 53 on Thursday. Who does that? Apparently we do.
It all started on Sunday, when we went to meet a female donkey and ended up buying both her and her six month old colt from two lifelong Navarro county residents. As we were looking on social media for a donkey, we also came across a rescue organization that was looking to rehome some of their animals. Of course we had to go check them out. After looking at our budget and considering our vision for our land, it made sense to get most of the available birds, as well as a couple of lambs.
If you haven’t already guessed, there’s a lot that goes into welcoming this many new creatures onto a farm. Shelters have to be created. Pens have to be built. Fencing has to be secured. We also have to keep an eye on the dynamics between the various breeds.
Mama donkey and her colt arrived Tuesday morning. We wondered how our donkey Daphne would react. She had a LOT to say. As soon as they leapt out of the trailer and into the paddock, she began braying loudly nearby. But what surprised us was Samson’s response. Sure, we knew he’d be curious. What we witnessed, though, was his livestock guardian instinct kicking in. Anytime Daphne got near the paddock, he began barking and running between the fence and Daphne.
Most of the birds, as well as two adorable black lambs arrived Tuesday afternoon. Samson immediately began looking out for the lambs and wouldn’t leave his post outside of their pen. The next morning when the little ones jumped on a food trough and escaped their enclosure, they followed him around like the mother they’d left a day earlier until they were recaptured with the help of some glampers.
It’s important that all of the animals understand this is their new home. We don’t want them flying or running away. A case in point is Tom, our new male turkey. In order to make Tom feel comfortable in his new place, we have to keep him penned up for a handful of days. He’s in a clean pen, gets fed two to three times a day and still has animal and human interaction. Within three days or so, we can let him out of his large cage and he will return to the area during feeding time each day.
We’re doing the same thing with the new chickens. They’ll spend several days in the chicken coop and then be let out to range a bit, with their trusty roosters keeping watch over them.
The presence of so many new animals is honestly a bit overwhelming to me, but the response we’ve already gotten from guests has been great. They’re scheduling farm tours, with their fees going directly to buying feed and caring for all the animals.
This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the January 1, 2022 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.