Last week we had a sad, and scary, day at Pronkin’ Pastures. We lost one of our hens to an eagle. Her name was ‘Fancy Pants’. Fancy was a pretty white Brahma – a breed of chicken that has feathers on their feet. Her feathered feet reminded me of bell bottom pants of the 70’s, thus the name ‘Fancy Pants’.
When we first got our chickens we made them a coop and a small covered run. But it wasn’t long at all before the chickens scratched up all of the grass in the run and were left with a boring bare dirt enclosure.
The chickens began looking longingly at the grass in the small adjacent alpaca paddock, and we felt sorry for them. So we decided to let them go out into the paddock to ‘stretch their wings’ and do a bit of 'free - ranging'.
We hoped that the area was small enough, and close enough to 2 buildings that our chickens would still be safe.
We have been lucky for quite some time, especially as our hens have ventured out further and further from their intended area - happily scooting under fences and between fence posts, scratching and clucking away.
But last week luck ran out.... A bald eagle landed in there! Right in the littlest of our alpaca paddocks! Our little hens ran for their covered area and into their coop, but this eagle was persistent and followed our little hen - on foot - right into the ‘safe’ enclosed area.
The eagle was busy when Ron went out for evening chores. The rest of the girls made it into their coop, and Ron quickly shut and locked the door, but poor Fancy made it only to the covered run. The whole thing was ugly.
Poor Fancy feathers everywhere... And you definitely don't want to see Fancy...
and an unhappy eagle in an extra large 'cage'.
While the eagle entered the chicken pen easily enough, he didn't have a good understanding of how to get back out....
He paced back and forth, but it took him several attempts to find either of the 2 open gates.
Just a tiny turn to the left and he'd be out of there!
Finally, he 'gets' it...
And off he goes....
The alpacas watch the whole ordeal from a distance. The whole incident has an effect on the chickens, the alpacas and us.... This is an experience we hope never to repeat.
Well, here I promised to post on a regular basis and now 3 moths later I am just getting back to it! I am sorry! So many things have happened lately to take me away from writing. Hopefully, I am back on track now!
In regard to alpacas, here's what you missed....
We have added two new girls to our herd! Meet Tess & Damaris.
Tess is pregnant and due to deliver sometime in July. She is dark brown in color and looks unlike any other girl in our herd. In addition to being very cute, Tess has given birth to some lovely, high quality crias. She is bred to a handsome male named Black Ryder, so we expect a dark cria, but you never know!
Damaris is sweet as can be and has also produced several quality crias. When visiting the farm where we purchased Damaris, I was able to see Amazing Grace - Damaris's 2011 cria. Little 'Gracie' really is amazing with beautiful fine silver fiber, soft hand, and exceptional staple length. Damaris will be bred again to Captain Kirk, Gracie's sire, so I'm hoping we'll be lucky enough to get a 'Gracie' of our own.
Both girls have settled in beautifully in their new home. I think they like it here, and we are thrilled to have them. They bring genetic diversity to the herd as well as offering the potential to improve the fiber quality in our herd.
Because alpacas are fiber animals, and we are actively processing and using as much fiber as possible, we we are striving to add animals that produce a good usable fiber throughout the course of their life, not just the first few years.
Our veterinarian paid a visit last week... She performed ultrasounds on several of the girls. Seven ultrasounds, 5 confirmed pregnancies! I can hardly wait to see the babies this year! In addition to Tess, Willow, Maddie, Lily, and Caelia are all expecting with due dates mid-June to mid-July. It will be fun to see the little ones grow up together. I'll be keeping a close eye on all these girls, as I'd hate to miss witnessing the birth.
It looks like warmer weather is finally making an appearance. The alpacas enjoyed soaking up the sun today, and I just couldn't resist including a couple of photos of that too.
As much as I enjoy being outdoors when the weather is so nice, it's time to focus on other business. This week will be dedicated to Fiber Fusion Northwest and the Whidbey Island Fiber Quest. As vendor chairperson and webmaster, I am actively involved with the planning of Fiber Fusion Northwest - and there is lots to do in that regard right now! I am also participating in the Whidbey Island Fiber Quest taking place May 17-20. Based on previous Fiber Quests, we expect many fiber enthusiasts to visit over the course of the weekend.
These are both fun events for any one interested in fiber or fiber arts. Take a look at the websites to learn more about them!
Fiber Fusion Northwest - www.fiberfusion.net
Whidbey Island Fiber Quest - www.whidbeyfiberquest.com
About the author:
Always an animal lover, alpacas entered my life in 2005.
I enjoy all aspects of life with alpacas - from caring for them, to training them, spinning and knitting their wonderful fiber, photographing them, and even writing about them!