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Saturday, February 14, 2015

To the farm-sitter

Hi there; thanks for the generous offer to look after things while the Farmer and I escape to the beach. What follows here is a guidebook of instructions on how to look after the menagerie of animals on the farm.
  1. CODY. Our geriatric (estimated at 15 years old) Gordon Setter is an outdoor dog. He has a heavy winter coat, a hay-lined doghouse and a nice back porch to sit on in the sunshine. He does, however, like to come into the house in the morning for his water and a nap on the blanket in front of the fire. Feed him outside first, then bring him in. Don’t forget to put him back outside, on his leash, before you leave for the day. He won’t remind you. At night, Cody might like another serving of food (if you didn’t give him the full 4 cups in the morning) and another indoor visit before bed. If you have trouble getting him back outside, you can lure him outside with a cookie or cracker or crust of bread. Just don’t give him anything containing chocolate or onions. You might have trouble waking him as he is completely deaf.
  2. CHELSEA. Our middle-aged (estimated at 10 years old) Border Collie is a frustrated, unemployed sheepdog. She doesn’t trust anyone except the Farmer so speak to her in a firm voice, put her food down, refill her water bowl and then move away swiftly. If she threatens you, I would recommend you retrieve and return both bowls to her with the shepherd’s crook. Wear gloves in her presence and don’t linger.
  3. CATS. There are two housecats, Sheila and Sammy. They are the white ones of considerable girth and laziness. The other two tabbies are barn cats that have come in from the cold. The grey one is Junior. He cannot be trusted as he likes to launch himself onto the kitchen table and counters to see if anyone has left the butter unattended. The brown one is Nosey. You won’t see her unless you catch her by surprise. She is a phantom. The cats will likely spend most of their time in the basement when you are home. That is their safe place. Just make sure they have food and water and they will be fine. The litter box is well equipped but if it becomes offensive you can skim some of the lumps out of it and bring outside to the compost heap via the covered bucket I have left next to it. I would recommend you keep the couches covered unless you yourself don’t mind being covered in white cat hair.
  4. MISTY. Since the departure of Donkey, this horse has spent a considerable amount of time asserting her dominance over the rest of the barnyard. When you are attempting to fill the water buckets, she will likely lord it over the rest of the herd, bullying them out of the way. This can be a good thing, as she will keep the cows from fighting over the water and spilling the buckets before you have had a chance to fill them. You can give Misty a small scoop of sweet feed (in freezer in stable) once a day if you are trying to win her over. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about her. She takes care of herself quite effectively.
  5. ASSORTMENT OF CATTLE. Unfortunately, we have timed our vacation to coincide with calving season. And the little bull we thought would have trouble mating with our cows seems to be throwing rather large calves. One got stuck in the birth canal earlier this week and didn’t survive. So if you see a cow going into labour (balloon protruding from hind end), call Anastasia and/or Andrew and ask them to come and help you. Try to lure the pregnant cow into shelter from the wind and cold, and provide hay and water. We don’t pull them out unless they are seriously stuck but if a cow lies down and gives up, she will need your assistance. There are ropes in various places in the barn and stable to assist you. Watch out for any mama cow as she will not want you around after the calf is born, and she will kick. Also, Andrew has been instructed to give the calf a 1ml intra-muscular shot of selenium at birth because we seem to be mineral-deficient in the area and at times our livestock are born without the will to suck, as a result. And a calf that doesn’t suck, really sucks.

Thanks again for your help, and we hope you enjoy your farm-sitting experience!
Cheers, the Farmer and Farmwife.

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