Country Living Expo & Cattlemen’s Winterschool

Washington State University - World Class Face to FaceHere is a plug for an upcoming event in Stanwood, WA that should be well worth attending. WSU’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is an amazing array of 135 classes on all sorts of topics,a jam-packed day of learning, plus a prime rib lunch. The hardest part is choosing which classes to attend! 😛

Here is a sampling of some of the topics:

Fruit Tree Maintenance, Hands on Hay judging, Frisbee Dog Training, Growing Giant Pumpkins and Vegetables, Building Your Own Greenhouse, Native Plants for Wetland Restoration, Arc Welding- Hands on, Soap Making, Cheese Making, Growing Vegetables Year Around, Wild Game Dressing in the Field, Raising and Processing Pastured Poultry, Palatability Control Points for Direct Marketed beef, pork and lamb, Plethora of Pasture and Forage Classes, Chain Saw Maintenance, Beginning through Advanced Specialty Canning, Frisbee Dog Training, Marketing Small Businesses, Cider Making, Honey Bees, Raising Beef, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Spinning, Weaving, equine classes and more.

How can you resist? Get yourself over to the Skagit County Extension website and register asap, as I understand the classes fill fast.

A Spell Caster’s Christmas-ey Complaint Letter

ChristmasComplaintWe got another anonymous note complaining about our livestock guardian dog’s living conditions again. It’s been a while since the last one. I logged another Sheriff report on it, and will keep the evidence, as usual, as the Sheriff has advised. That way, if anything ever escalates, we’ll have a clear history of harassment with handwriting samples and fingerprints, on which to prosecute.

The envelope said, in scrawling cursive, “To our neighbor” and was sealed with a cheerful Christmas sticker. 😉 Here is what the note said [sic]:

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Broken Coyote Jaw

BrokenJaw

We boiled the skull of the coyote that Kirk shot, and were surprised to have the bottom jaw come out in three pieces. It was broken clean through, with a large, shattering injury to the lower right jaw, under and behind the last tooth. Huh, I thought, did Kirk shoot him there? I didn’t think so. I knew he had gotten a good, lethal shot to the chest.

Looking back at the photos, his face showed no outward signs of injury. [Somewhat graphic pictures below, click for more if you’d like to view them and read the rest of the story.]

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Coyote Skinning

CoyoteAndMaggie I’ve talked several times before about our coyote predation problems, and our attempt to manage coyotes partly by attempting to teach them to stay out of the yard and livestock areas, and using removal as a final option. We’ve had reasonable luck this year with shooting at them and (intentionally) missing, and having that be enough of a deterrent to  keep them at a distance. But, for the ones that do keep returning and not responding to our “training” methods, eventually, we’re not going  to miss! So that is what happened last week, we had one that kept lurking, boldly continuing to snag poultry from the yard, and Kirk finally got him. We don’t like to take them out, but if they are constantly killing livestock and do not respond to training, they have to go.

This was while I was out of town in Pullman, and Kirk called with the news. He ended up putting the coyote in the freezer to wait until I got home. It fit neatly into the empty above-the-fridge freezer that we’d recently replaced with our new French door fridge. So, we had a frozen coyote in the kitchen. 🙂 Before that though, he weighed the coyote and all the dogs. You see, we always get a kick out of people expressing great fear of coyotes, and amazement that we chase them, because they are really little dogs. Littler than our dogs. And they’re pretty chicken; they are no fools, they don’t take on something that might injure them if they don’t have to. And that was the case with this fellow, as you can see from the photo above, he’s a petite little canine, just about the same size as Maggie. Here’s how they weighed in:

Coyote: 33.5 pounds
Maggie: 42 pounds
Gene: 36 pounds
Spanky: 48 pounds

We thawed him out this weekend for processing. This coyote was actually not in good health, and his skin and tail were very mange-ey and he had some bald patches. He may not have made it through the winter on his own, and was probably targeting our poultry out of desperation for something easy enough for his unhealthy body to catch. Despite the patchy appearance, we thought it would be good practice to skin it, and once the hide was off, it looked OK. So for fun we’ll tan it for a wall-hanger, even though it’s not a fancy fur.

I’m not sure how to judge wild dog teeth for age estimation, but if this were a domestic dog, I would estimate 5-7 years old, based on the wear of the “scallops” off of the front incisors. This may be somewhat “elderly” for a coyote? They may wear their teeth faster than dogs though, so maybe he’s not quite that old. But definitely a mature male. It’s interesting to see how much longer and larger their teeth are compared to domestic dogs, definitely still designed for hunting, not kibble eating!

Teeth

Below is how we skinned it. Warning: graphic pictures ensue, so only read on if you’re up for it! This post is in no way meant to disrespect nature or glorify killing, but to acknowledge that sometimes predators have to be killed, when they are making a habit of eating livestock and do not respond to gentler control attempts. When you do have to harvest one, you might as well make good use of the hide, and recycle the rest back to nature, so nothing is wasted. And learn some anatomy too. So, here’s how it’s done, or one way to go about it.

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Livestock Advisor WSU Tour

RadioactiveHorse For the last couple of months, I’ve been taking the Livestock Advisor course that’s sponsored by Washington State University. The concept of the course is to get a broad overview of training about all types of agricultural livestock; and then to give back to the community by sharing this information in a variety of volunteer opportunities. I’m enjoying the courses, though they are a bit more basic than I’d hoped. But, you always pick up something from a class, and I’ve learned a few new things.

Last week, we traveled to WSU to do a whirlwind tour of all of their agricultural facilities.

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More: Sheep Summer Camp Fun and Learning

Sheep

The second stop of the KHSI Expo learning experience was to tour Jo-Le Farms in Scio, Oregon. Jon and Leslie Carter have been raising commercial Coopworth sheep for many  years, and decided to “breed the wool off” their sheep in 1999 when Jon started having back problems and no longer wanted to shear. Jon used mainly Dorper and White Dorper genetics to do this, but recently has been experimenting with Wiltshire Horn terminal sire influence as well. (More history on that endeavor is on their blog.)

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What I Learned At Summer Camp

WiltshireCross Well, not summer camp exactly. But I just got back from a four-day trip to Corvallis, OR to attend the Katahdin Hair Sheep International Expo and Sale. I really enjoyed it, they had great farm tours, speakers, and a sheep sale. I bought a few sheep too! I’ll try to write about the highlights, as best as I can capture all that I absorbed there.

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Sneaky Nesting Duck

CayugaDuck

Around August 1st, I noticed that this Black Cayuga duck was not joining the other ducks in the duck house at night. This means that she is getting “broody” and hiding a nest of eggs somewhere. The fact that I have her was an accident- an order filling mistake by the mail-order poultry company. But, she lays eggs as well as the other breeds, so I’ve kept her. She is different from the other breeds I have (Magpie, Runner and Swedish)- she is more “wiley” I think. She can fly about six feet high for several yards, which none of the other ducks can do- they are all too heavy-bodied or oddly shaped to fly. She is also noisy, which I don’t prefer.

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Ocean Visit

GeneAndMaggie

We went to the ocean last week, for a five-day vacation. We visited Long Beach in Washington, and Cannon Beach in Oregon. The weather forecast was for rain all week- after months and months of pure sun! But, we lucked out, it mostly rained at night, and we got plenty of chances to play on the beach in warm, sunny weather. We stayed in our travel trailer at two different campgrounds.

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The Mice Are Back, Part 2

ChickenCat1

This morning, I witnessed this funny little inter-species drama. The cat had caught a mouse, and was lording over her dead prize. The chicken wanted it. Our chickens can be a bit confrontational, I say, they aren’t “chicken” about anything. Here you can see the chicken is posturing to the cat in a tense and threatening way, and the cat is reacting with annoyance. A few times the chicken pecked at the cat, and the cat swatted back. They were definitely having an argument. Continue reading “The Mice Are Back, Part 2”