Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Free Cats for Farmers

Farmers often have no problem getting “free” cats for their barn, but many do not bother to vaccinate their cats, or to spay or neuter them, as a result they often have more kittens than they need, or have sick cats.

On the other side of the coin there are always cats surrendered to animal shelters that are not suitable for adoption in most homes. Cats who are not using their litter box for behavioral reasons rather than treatable medical ones, are normally euthanized as “unadoptable” by most shelters.

Most of these cats would make suitable barn cats, or good shop cats, and as such many shelters are now trying to saves as many of these cats as they can by offering them up in such a way.

The Edmonton Humane Society is one place that has recently started a “Barn Buddies” program to give these cats a second chance. The cats are free (but donations are always welcome) and come vaccinated, chipped and spayed or neutered. They are also friendly. To note, some shelters do adopt out feral (less friendly) cats to farm homes as well. The Edmonton Humane Society requires interested people to apply with them for this program.

Potential adopters are required to have:

  • A barn or building where the cat can find shelter from bad weather.
  • Food for the cat. Note that a well fed cat is a better mouser.
  • The right attitude to make sure the cat is cared for and receives veterinary attention as needed.

If you are bringing home a new cat to the farm or shop, it should be kept in an enclosed space with food and water for several days to help it bond to the area.

If you are a farmer who could benefit from such a program please contact your local animal shelter to see if they have cats available under such a system.

The information for the Edmonton Humane Society's Barn Buddies program is here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Snowy Morning and Bad Llama

A couple of days ago we woke up to snow, the first so far.  Normally, here in Alberta, we would have had more by now, but the fall has been wonderful.  Even the bit that we did get was not enough to shovel. 

The animals can still get grass but in the fall there is very little nutrition in the grass so we feed hay, just once a day for now, they will get fed twice a day later when we really start getting snow, and winter sets in. 

Naughty llama

We do have proper feeders near the barn for feeding hay, but have 2 bales near the house which we are feeding now.  One of the round bales was just a bit too close to the fence and Crystal decided to help herself.  As a result she has bent the fence.  I nailed a board across the top, but she leaned on it so bad it broke off.  Eventually the bale will be out of reach, but it's funny because even when there is plenty in the pasture she insists on eating from the bale.  I think it is because she has it all to herself that way. 

I always try to throw out several piles of hay because the animals tend to move around from pile to pile and push others away, by having extra piles it means everyone gets something to eat.

Patsy and Girlie having breakfast
As we only have 10 acres we do not grow our own hay, rather we buy it and have it delivered.  We do not even have a tractor to move bales around, so must feed by hand.  Certainly small square bales are easier to feed, but they cost more money, and are getting harder to find.  As such we buy the large round bales and have them delivered. 
We put tarps over the bales to protect them, sun can take away nutrition from hay, and if water gets into the bales they will rot!

When we buy the hay it is always hardest to know how much to buy.  In the past we have not bought enough and had to get some in the spring.  This was often because it kept snowing, and snowing, and snowing, so we kept feeding, and feeding, and feeding.  Hopefully this spring we will not have to worry about that and I will not need any more hay.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkins for the Sheep

A few years ago I carved a pumpkin and left it outside over night, when I woke up the next morning it was gone, only the burnt top remained.  I thought somebody stole it, but deer droppings made me realize that the deer had come by and eaten it up.

Sheep like pumpkins too, in fact most animals do.  After Halloween this year I had 3 pumpkins and no plans to make pie so I thought it would be nice to throw them over the fence for the sheep to eat.  I think the action of throwing these massive orange gourds over the fence scared the sheep for a few minutes, but it was not long before the more curious ewes approached.

Diamond sheep (pictured to the right) seemed  enjoy eating these large squash the most, with her sister, Favorite, and niece, Blackie sheep, also enjoying some pumpkin too, while most of the others stayed back.  Blackie (below) was quite comical as she even tried to roll the pumpkins around, pushing them with her forehead.

Pumpkins are loaded with nutritional benefits for pets and people.  They have beta carotene for eye health and are loaded with fiber to keep everyone regular.  The pumpkin seeds are said to help reduce the worm load in some animals, but are also noted for being particularly good to combat depression.

Giving pumpkins to the sheep to eat was also a way to break up the monotony of their day, even zoos often give some of their animals pumpkins at this time of the year, to play with and eat.

Many of our house pets can eat pumpkin too; birds, cats, and dogs, as well as rodents and reptiles.

If your pet has not had pumpkin before be sure to introduce this treat slowly.  As carnivores, cats won't eat too much pumpkin, but it is noted for helping control hairballs.  Rabbits will also enjoy pumpkin too.

If you used your pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns be sure to remove any candle wax and burnt areas from the inside of your pumpkin before you give them to your pets.

Crystal, our llama, usually charges ahead to investigate anything new but even she was concerned about these strange round objects.

Your pets will certainly enjoy this post-Halloween treat.  If you do not have pets, be sure to leave your pumpkins out for deer or birds, who may enjoy the different treat.