Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Short and Tragic Life of Sophia S. Mouse

I have done stupid things in the name of helping an animal in the past.  Most of my mistakes have a happy ending.  Once, when I was working for a cat clinic in San Diego someone dropped a kitten off in a box on the clinic's front porch.  I opened the box and found a tiny kitten with deformed eyelids.  The veterinarian I worked for told me the kitten had probably been burned by a horrible person.  I called the news and ended up telling the kitten's sad tale that night during the six o'clock news hour.  The news segment had people outraged at such cruelty.  Phone calls came pouring in the clinic the next day.  One phone call was from a very annoyed veterinary ophthalmologist who informed me the kitten had a fairly common birth defect of the eyelid.  After people were done being angry with me, the kitten (Mr. Magoo) received free eye surgery and a wonderful new home.

I have yet to find the silver lining in the sad tale I am about to tell.  Glenn stepped on a nest of three mice last Saturday while building an enclosure for the goats.  A mother mouse and one of her babies scurried away.  One baby received the brunt of Glenn's boot and lay in the dirt, too injured to move.  Glenn called me and Oliver up to the wood pile to check on the mouse.  There we found Sophia and decided to take her inside.
Sophia's mouth was filled with sand and her nose was bloody.  I told Oliver I didn't know what to feed a baby mouse.  He suggested, "Your milk and cheese!"  I cleaned out the mouse's mouth and read online that human formula is often used to supplement abandoned mice.  I took Oliver's suggestion and pumped some milk into a syringe.  To my surprise, Sophia drank my milk and seemed to perk up.  We fed her every couple of hours and kept her warm.  We didn't expect her to make it over night, but she seemed even healthier in the morning.  I guess because I was keeping her alive with my own milk, I started to become very attached to dear Sophia.

I did more research and read that a nursing mother mouse will often nurse abandoned pups.  I wanted so much to see Sophia curled up against a mother mouse, rather than curled up alone in Oliver's sock.  Oliver, Pearl and I went to a local pet store on Sunday to try and find a mother for Sophia.  On the way we saw a double rainbow and thought it was a good omen.  We found several mice working as wet nurses at the pet store.  We took home a pretty mouse we named Rainbow.  
I cautiously introduced Rainbow to Sophia.  All seemed well and Rainbow even let Sophia nurse.  My heart was full as I went to bed because Sophia was being cared for by an experienced mother.

Throughout the night, Rainbow was a caring, nurturing mother.  Glenn checked on the pair at 6:30 in the morning and found Rainbow grooming Sophia.  Then at 7:30, I walked in to the bathroom to find a scene so horrific, it made the face removal scene in The Silence of the Lambs seem like a comedy.  I found Rainbow cleaning her bloody whiskers, standing over the back half of Sophia's body.  SHE ATE MY BABY.  

I kept thinking, a good person would keep Rainbow and give her a good home.  Then I would walk over and look at Rainbow and relive the terrible scene.  I knew I couldn't keep her and accept the fact that she had eaten my adoptive child.  I drove back to the pet store with a pit in my stomach and returned her to the life of a wet nurse.  

I guess not all stories have a happy ending.  As my husband says, "You save a cat, it eats a lot of mice; you save a mouse it gets eaten by a mouse."  So true and so wise.  There are lessons to be learned at every turn.   

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Goat Babies Coming in April!

Leche started crying last night like she was ill.  My mom kept going out to the pasture to check on her, thinking something was seriously wrong.  This morning we saw her out in the middle of the pasture shaking her tail with vigor.  Banjo's stench was floating all the way down to the front pasture and it was driving Leche to the brink.  We debated for a few hours this morning and then decided to let Banjo and Leche have an afternoon together.

Leche was not shy about her desire for Banjo.  She threw herself at him.

Banjo in turn sprayed his face with urine.  Leche watched and found it strangely erotic.

After a few minutes of courting, copulation began with a bang.  Pearl was quite concerned about Leche.  She has a healthy fear of Banjo.

Thirty minutes later, the mating extravaganza was over.  The happy couple nuzzled each other as Pearl feed the other goats.  

The due date is April 18!  We are hoping for some girls this year.  Job well done Leche and Banjo!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heritage Turkey, Anyone?

As Thanksgiving approaches, many people are thinking about what to make for dinner.  Many of our friends will go to the grocery store to buy a Butterball turkey from one of the factory farms.  The big-breasted, fatty turkeys are cheap.  If one takes a moment to imagine the lives of those turkeys, he or she would reconsider having a Butterball as the centerpiece of a very special meal.  This year, we will be eating one of our own heritage chickens raised in our backyard instead.

Next year, we have decided we want to raise our own turkey dinner and we want to extend that opportunity to our family, friends and neighbors as well.  Glenn will be placing an order with Porter's Rare Heritage Turkeys this week.  The poults will arrive on our farm in late May, and will be ready to eat during the holiday season.  We will raise the turkeys with kindness and respect.  They will be free to eat a normal turkey diet (bugs, mice, plants and anything else they forage) and will be supplemented with local feed.

How can you get involved?

1.  Email us at to let us know if you would like to purchase a turkey (please let us know ASAP!).  We are ordering:

Tiger Bronze

and Sweetgrass.
2.  If you give us a ten dollar deposit on your turkey, we will sell you a turkey for $6/pound in November.  The turkeys will be between 15 to 30 pounds.  Your turkey will arrive ready to put in the oven.

3.  Please visit your turkey!  We think this is a great opportunity for children (and adults) to learn about where their food comes from.  Turkeys are really friendly and children (and adults) love to hear their gobbling sounds.  Oh, and pony rides are free, too.

4.  Any turkeys not claimed will be sold at $7-8/pound in November and December.

Next year, consider helping out a local, family-owned farm, keeping rare turkey breeds from going extinct and sticking it to the "man."  Or buy a store turkey....
Thank you to PETA for the image.  I decided not to show the video.  I think you all get the point.