When the sun begins to set, it's dinnertime for llamas, chickens, and felines here at the O'K Corral.
The Llamas Dine
Grandma Switzer likes oats and apples mixed in with her daily crumbles.
Lacey does not like oats or apples, but that doesn’t prevent her from trying to push Switzer out of the way to gobble up the last of her old mama's food. A little discouragement from me will usually get her over to munch on some hay instead (which she prefers to eat through the fence, rather from the hay rack).
Pepper doesn't eat llama crumbles yet. So while mom and grandma eat, she investigates and plays, nibbles hay, or looks for other interesting things to sample...
...like bungee cords...
...and cattle panel.
Sometimes she gets bored and just kushes down to wait for mama and grandma to finish eating.
Llannie loves llama crumbles, too. As you can see, hay sticks to his silky fleece as if he were made out of Velcro.
Graty at the hay rack. Look at what a wooly moose he's turned into! Since the girls have arrived, he's become too stand-offish for petting and brushing and fussing from humans. He used to sniff my hat and let me wrap my arms around his neck, but no more. He's too busy leering at the ladies.
Here's a cute wintery picture of Graty (a sweet, baby-faced, pre-hormonal Graty) and Lacey before they came to us, when they were just youngsters. Think the two of them would have a cute cria together? We've been toying with the idea of trying to breed them in the spring.
I'm sure Graty, at least, would love it.
The Chickens Dine
I usually feed the birds twice a day. They like cracked corn in addition to their Layer Crumbles, and extra pumpkins and spaghetti squash from the garden make for an extra-special treat.
They moved into the renovated henhouse earlier in the fall, and it's pretty spiffy. The reward for me has been a steady 18 or so eggs a day.
Odo the Rooster. He's from the 2005 brood, but has his very own living quarters now because last year's girls pulled every single one of his beautiful greenish-black tail feathers out. You can see they're growing back now.
That's hasn't stopped him from somehow winding up with a girl or two in his bedroom on occasion.
The Cats Dine
Isis was smaller when this picture was taken; she's nearly Emma's size now.
And here's where the feeding ritual gets a little odd...
I cook for my cats. I've been doing it since 1997, when I ended up with a stray kitten who turned out to be FIV-positive. (Fortunately she didn't infect Grey Cat; Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is most commonly passed on through inoculation--biting that breaks the skin). But she did get more frequent eye and ear infections, and I decided to try adjusting her diet to see if that would help (it did).
I wound up buying this book, and I've been preparing food for my cats ever since, using fresh meat and poultry, and some canned fish (I like salmon and mackerel, although the salt content can be high).
My little FIV+ female stayed quite healthy for seven years, until she finally succumbed to breast cancer, and, as you know, Grey Cat lived to the ripe old age of 16 with nary a health problem until old age simply got the best of him. Emma, who's been eating this way ever since I adopted her, has yet to return to the vet after the visit described in the previous post (the farm vet vaccinated her for rabies) and she remains in perfect health.
I do feed dry crunchies once a day--Wellness is my favorite, with Nutro being second on my list (and a little less expensive)--but I don't ever "free feed" (i.e. leave food out all the time, which leads to weight problems--look what happens to me if Christmas cookies and M&Ms are out all the time!) The cats get homemade "wet" food in the evenings.
I make the food in large batches and freeze it, thawing out enough for 2-3 days at a time. The cats have never had fleas, shed very little, almost never have hair balls, and no dandruff. Virtually everyone I've ever spoken to whose cat suffered from excessive dander and shedding (especially in the winter, when our houses tend to be particularly dry) fed their pet only dry food. Cats don't drink a lot of water and are mandatory carnivores, so if your cat sheds a lot in the winter or is heaving up hairballs and you feed only dry crunchies, you may want to consider adding some wet food to your cat's diet at this time of the year.
In addition, if your cat (or dog) has allergies, diabetes, frequent eye or ear infections, or other recurring health problems, Dr. Pitcairn's book is really handy and full of boatloads of useful info--even if you're not as crazy as me to actually want to COOK for your pets!
Evidence that I am truly crazy cat lady...
Girls Get "Fixed"
And one last bit of good news...Isis and Morgan finally got spayed today and are both doing well.
At 10 1/2 months, wee Morgan was way overdue (and in her third heat, poor thing, and shame on us bad, procrastinating owners) despite her still dainty 6-pound frame. And at 9 months, Isis (who thankfully never went into heat) weighed in at over 8 pounds, the big moose!
Both have cute little bare bellies (as tempting as it is to make a "shaved" joke here, I don't want the Google hits! lol) and are recuperating nicely.
More to come soon, plus Christmas pics!