Wow, summer is here already! Yesterday marked the very first day we broke 100 degrees here in the Sonoran desert. Good thing the camels and mouflon don’t mind! I always try and keep in mind Arizona’s hot summer when deciding what animals to add to my farm. African and middle-eastern animals do great here and are much more adapted to the higher temperatures. That not to say the camels don’t become lazy during hot mid-day and they are at their most active in the early morning and at dusk. The rest of time is reserved for laying around and digesting food. I enjoy the summer myself here, but it can be hard to handle working a lot outside during the peak hours of the day.
But what’s really special about this part of Arizona is just as it is begins to really heat up, a period of monsoon is just around the corner. Every year starting typically around July 4th weekend begins our rainy season. In fact, most of the rain we see here all year comes between July and early September. During most of this time it’s raining practically every day. It really is a magical experience and brings lots of fresh plants for the sheep and camels to graze on.
Since I haven’t been updating much on here, I’ll do a quick run-down on how some of the animals are doing…
- The sheep are just wonderful. This was my first breeding season and in fact the first time I’ve bred any animal on my farm. I’m very proud of the lambs I produced this spring and I already can’t wait for the 2014 spring lambs. This year, I had three babies. Two purebred European Mouflon ewes from Trivia and Livia (the sire lives on a ranch in Texas) and a 50% Mouflon hybrid from Dasher, who was bred by my Mouflon ram, Octavian. I kept the two purebred Mouflon ewes, since they are unrelated to my ram.
I was especially proud of the Mouflon hybrid that Dasher produced. She’s a strong healthy plump baby with typical Mouflon appearance, a nice solid build, a very soft deep coat and a wonderful disposition. I consider her the best of both worlds. The wild-looks and healthy genes of the Mouflon and the hand-ability and personality of her domesticated mother. However, I chose not to keep this lamb for two reasons. One, I’d prefer not to breed her back to her sire Octavian and as of right now I only have one ram, and secondly- well- I have to sell some of the lambs! In the future, I may cross again, but for now I only wanted to produce 50/50 crosses. I’m also very proud to have sold her to a loving wonderful home that plans to breed her next season to a ram they already have reserve with someone else- which is exactly what I wanted. I’m so happy to be doing what I love and being able to provide quality sheep to Arizona animal lovers. In fact, I already have interested parties who want some of my lambs in 2014 already.
- The camels are also well. I’m still hopeful that I can have Nessie bred in the future. It’s just been difficult locating a stud camel anywhere near me and paired with the fact that I don’t own a trailer makes everything slightly harder. It would be so wonderful to experience the birthing process with Nessie and I know she would make a wonderful mother. I’ve already thought a lot about whether I would keep the baby camel or not and it would be so difficult not to. I think realistically I would keep the baby if she were a female and find him a new home if he were a male.
- Miskatonic isn’t doing so well. I’m starting to question at what point I should put her to sleep. It’s just extremely hard for me and I’m afraid of being selfish and hanging onto her too long. Misky will be thirteen years old next week and is my first dog. I grew up with her and it’s never going to feel the same anymore when she does pass. Right now, I have her on medication and it does seem to be improving the quality of life. I’ve been spoiling her with lots of treats, but the time she gets up seems to lessen with every passing week. I don’t know what else to say about it now, it’s hard for me to even write about. She’s such a wonderful dog and has been such a positive force in my life for so long. She’s a wonderful mother to all animals and loves life.
Since Misky used to be let outside at night and put back in the morning to act as night-time protection for the animals outside, last October knowing she was already too old to do it anymore (she sleeps inside on a posturepedic dog bed now) I sought out and purchaed an Anatolian puppy to raise as her replacement. I named her Chomby and wow she’s an impressive animal. I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with her if I were a predator! I didn’t necessarily buy her to keep human intruders away, but I can’t imagine anyone would get by with sneaking into the yard with bad intent with her around.
Chomby is absolutely perfect at her job of guarding the sheep. I went outside in the middle of the night last night to observe how she worked and I could see her mind working and calculating where to watch, what to listen to, and basically assessing every little sound and deciding what was a threat. She actively knew to take high ground to be able to see more of the field and struck a good balance between staying with the sheep and running into the field at the first sign of trouble. Chomby just turned eleven months now and is a balanced very happy go-lucky dog. I was a little hesitant at first about having a full-time outside dog, I’ve never in my life done that before, but after experiencing it this past eight months I see how content and stimulated she is.
Wow, this has gotten much longer than I ever expected! I think I’ll end it here. I’m sure I can think of more to write, but I’ll save that for another post. I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about what’s going on here at the farm. I love more than anything making videos and showing to everyone these beautiful animals, but I know sometimes it’s nice to have some written word to go along with the videos.
Have a great June!