Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Douglas Chronicles: The Critters

The ranch is filled with numerous critters of various description and roles. You don't even have to leave the house to start meeting the crew, as MamaK and Roy have three cats that live in the house. Of those, I quickly became friends with this large fellow:

Where most cats are standoffish and suspicious, this one wanted nothing more to jump up on your lap and get some attention, even if he'd never seen you before in his life. Due to his disposition and chunky proportions, I dubbed him Chubby Huggs. Despite his girth and genial disposition, Chubby Huggs is the resident mouse catcher and is quite good at it (we saw him track one down).

Outside the house there are several critters that have the run of the yard. One group consists of the seven border collies that keep the farm critters in line (sort of). They're all a friendly bunch, and likely to nearly knock you over when you try to come out the front door. Especially if you have a treat in your hand:

That's the matriarch of the collie crew (whose name escapes me right now), licking her lips.

There's another working dog on the ranch, in addition to the collies, Abbie:

Abbie is an Akbash, a large (and I do mean large) Turkish dog that's been bred to be the guard dog of a flock of critters. In spite of her job description and fearsome demeanor if you're, perhaps, an interloping coyote, with her people she's an absolute sweetheart. Did I mention she was big? She nearly knocked me over with her enthusiasm one morning. For a sense of scale, compare her to your humble narrator:

In addition to the dogs, there are some "non traditional" (to a city boy, at least) critters who roam the yard. Specifically, a pair of babies, being weened from bottle feeding. A goat, named Sierra, and a black sheep, named Spring (she was born on the first day of spring). One morning, K got a chance to feed 'em:

And, of course, the next morning, it was my turn:

Here's a better shot of Spring.

I'm particularly proud of that shot, as I managed to get it without injuring myself. Spring was following me around one morning, but wouldn't settle down long enough to have her picture taken. "Aha," I thought to myself, "I'll walk backwards while she follows me. That will work!" Assuming, of course, I don't trip over myself, fall over, and break something vital. Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale and Spring cooperated nicely.

Of course, Sierra should get her close up, too:

I have to say, by the end of the week, they'd really taken a shine to us:

Along with the baby critters, another of the goats had free reign around the yard, Persia. Here she is, surveying her domain:

On the other side of the fence is where the more usual "farm" critters could be found. As I said, MamaK and Roy generally are raising these creatures for their wool, to turn into yarn and such. But there are a couple of more typical bits of livestock about. Hey, look, cows:

Well, sort of. The big fluffy horned thing in front there is a Yak. More of them later.

In addition to the critters out roaming the range, there are some who are confined to their pens and have their humans come and feed them on a daily basis. Such as a mama goat, popping up for her photo op:

And a couple of sheep, hanging out in the morning sun. As you can see, they're past due to be sheared (no pictures of that, however. Or of me doing it!):

About mid week, MamaK and Roy operated as go betweens for the sale of some baby sheep. One of MamaK's coworkers wanted some for her children (that's what kids get in Wyoming ranch country!). The whole parcel of little ones therefore took up residence for about a day in a little pen beside the house.

They were many:

And they were vocal:

As noted above, there are yaks on the ranch. Yaks produce an awful lot of wool and, when it comes to making more yaks, are much more long term producers than, say, cows. They are large critters, and it's a bit unsettling to have one wander around in your general vicinity. If you're me, that is.

However, when there's a nice fence between the two of you, a yak can just be a big ham:

Up tomorrow - the sights of Douglas!

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