Saturday, October 10, 2009
Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. -- John Muir
This is our cat, Magic Storm. She is about 10 months old and has been with us for about eight months. Magic Storm, who has big, green eyes and is small for her age, doesn’t meow like other cats – she chirps and squeaks to let us know what she wants.
We also call her Laundry Cat because if there’s a pile of clean laundry anywhere to be found, she’s on it.
Our other cat, Tabitha has been with us for about four years. She apparently knows I want to take her picture because she’s nowhere to be seen. Tabitha is a big, beautiful blue-eyed girl who has a tiny voice like a kitten and almost never misbehaves. However, she’s not crazy about Magic Storm, and she shows her displeasure by peeing in my closet. [Update: I finally have a picture of Tabitha. She doesn’t like the flash so she kept squinting, but you can see see a bit of her blue eyes.]
This is a baby bison. When we start our ranch, we anticipate starting our herd with about a dozen female bison calves. These calves will grow up and become the foundation for our larger, growing herd. Bison are wild animals and cannot be “tamed” in the same way cattle or sheep have become domesticated.
Some experienced bison ranchers advise handling and hand-feeding the calves that are the first members of the herd to establish trust. These female calves will grow up to become the leaders of the herd from which the others will take their cue. If the dominant females trust us, then the rest of the herd will follow suit.
We plan to have six free-ranging chickens on our ranch, just enough to provide eggs for our family. If you’re city-raised like me and you’ve never touched a chicken, you might be surprised at the silky softness of their feathers. Raising chickens should be an easy task, but I wonder whether Tabitha and Magic Storm will want to catch and eat them. Tabitha has brought us many small animals: mice, snakes, lizards, birds, and even a mole. Will she also hunt chickens?
I like goats; they’re cute, funny, and full of personality, which is why one of the first things Page said about our new ranch is that we will have a couple of goats.
Page and I plan to raise our bison with love and respect. We will name each and every one of them, learn about their personalities, and provide the best possible environment for their growth and happiness. Yes, in the end, they will end up as someone’s nourishment, but there are methods for this to happen that are humane and respectful of the bison’s place in the natural world. Page and I have already discussed this and are learning about stress-free and painless techniques for harvesting bison, which I will eventually describe in this blog. These techniques, and every other aspect of our business, will be a reflection of our overall vision for our new venture.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. --Mohandas Gandhi
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