Posts Tagged ‘Tractor Supply’

Trapping cats is tricky. For weeks, we’ve been trying to capture the handful of barn cats that have been sighted about the place. We believe there are at least four – maybe six: grey male  (aka Louie — formerly Lulu), black & white female (aka Skunk), calico (aka California/Cali), long-haired grey (aka Gandalf), pure white (aka Snowy), orange and white (aka Garfield), and a long-haired blackie with big green eyes (aka Mephistopheles).  I say maybe six because Gandalf and Snowy have not been seen in awhile.

A trip to Tractor Supply yielded a small animal trap for about $35. This worked like a charm – set with a can of cheap tuna. We nabbed Lulu on the first night. Tammi connected with CPAA (Central PA Animal Alliance) affiliated with an animal hospital in York – about 30 miles away – to do the necessary procedure. We drove there in the dark of the night – with an angry Lulu trapped in the cage. Lulu was obviously feral, responding with nasty snarls and hisses anytime one would approach.

The next day, we learned Lulu was actually Louie! However, he was a little less Louie on the way back than he was on the way there! One down — five to go!

The next night, we boldly set our trap again. Tammi strategically set the device in the barn near the cat food. Again, a can of cheap tuna was used as bait. In the morning, the trap was occupied by another feral beast — but this one was no cat! We had nabbed a raccoon! Talk about nasty — this critter wanted nothing to do with the cage and people and being in the barn.  Tammi called around to shelters to see what to do with the beast. It was recommended – as long as it was not rabid – to let it go or to drive it to state game lands and release it. Later that day, Tammi carried the laden cage out into the corral and set it on a cinder block – with the opening facing away from her. She opened the cage and the coon backed out — fell onto the ground — and bolted into the woods beyond the pasture. Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call that the cage was destroyed. Apparently an angry raccoon can do a number on a cheap Chinese-made animal trap.

Undeterred, I was off to Tractor Supply again — and was very pleased to see they had conveniently restocked their supply of cages. It seems I was not the only local buying these things. I imagined our raccoon friend going from property to property — trap to destroyed trap — and the owners subsequently returning to Tractor Supply to restock on the things. It seems the only ones making out in this deal are the raccoon and Tractor Supply!

Anyway, they had a deal — a small cage within the big cage — for free!  I bought two traps and now had four, although the small ones were only useful for squirrel-sized critters. That evening we set both of the big traps. In the morning, we trapped two more cats — Skunk and Cali!  Tammi hauled them off to York for their procedures. As of this moment, we are at least 50% complete on our cat control project.  As for the kittens born a few weeks back, we have seen or heard nothing. We fear the worst. But, nature might be doing us a favor since we wish to limit the number of feline friends on the property, lest they take over!

While all of this trapping was going on, the garden we had planted a few weeks back became an afternoon snack for our goats. Apparently Nellie and Twinx decided the three acres of grass and weeds and assorted flora was not enough for their appetites. No — ! They had to push through the wire fence between the corral and the garden and nibble on the shoots that were popping up. It was a total loss — no more peppers, tomatoes, strawberries —- gone!  Even the sheep (led by the ram) followed them in to have a look. The whole affair was one big loss — $160 for the tilling job — $200 for the plants and seeds — plus all of the labor (mostly Tammi’s).  Tammi was so mad, like an edict from Exodus, she declared that any of the lambs born of that ram would be sent to the butcher! (This is a side of my wife I had yet to see — only being married two years. I took note!)  In summary, we decided to shelve the garden for the year and stick to the berries and grapes already underway — outside the fence!

While on the subject of spaying and neutering, it is often desirable to turn a young ram into a wether (sans testicles).  Tammi was dead set on converting our ram into such a creature after the garden incident, but I could not be so motivated. The mere thought of castration seemed so painful, I could not wish it upon our ram.

During our recent heat wave, we decided to shear the two lambs that had not been shorn when we purchased them. This required another trip to Tractor Supply to purchase an electric shearer. Of course, the only device usable on sheep was their most expensive one — and the blade was sold separately. After a $260 investment, I rode home tabulating just how many sheep would need to be sheared to provide enough wool to pay for this thing.

A couple days later, we decided we could wait no longer. The young sheep were full of wool and it was getting hot. Brandon and I went into the pasture and chased them down to the barn. With a little effort, we grabbed the Scottish black face mix — it was easier since it had horns — and led it out to Tammi and the shearers. We decided to leave the young Hampshire for the next attempt.  Tammi set about her work, taking nearly 20 minutes to finish the deed while I held onto the beast’s horns, holding it steady. When Tammi was doing the belly, near the lower extremities, she made an interesting discovery under the wool.

“My goodness, it’s a boy!” she cried — a look of excitement on her face, razor in hand. This was an expression I had not seen in our two years of marriage. Suffice to say, I was not the beneficiary of an equal amount of excitement on our wedding night, though that could be due to the fact she was already well-aware of my masculinity.

“Be careful with that razor!” said I.

We realized our little lamb was actually a young ram, now a wether.



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First it was Brandon, Tammi’s 9-year-old son, who ran to the bathroom in the middle of the night to lose his dinner into the watery bowl.  Hoping this an isolated incident, Tammi and I planned our wedding anniversary at the Hotel Hershey — dinner with her cousin Zach and his friend — and then the new Johnny Depp movie.  It was a wonderful meal, but Tammi was unable to partake, the next victim of the stomach plague.  We never got to the theater, as I drove Tammi home, curled up on the front seat in agony. When you realize you are the only one in the house who wasn’t sick yet, you know your time is coming — like a dead man walking!  And, sure enough, I received my due on Mother’s Day evening – a nasty bug that lasted  two days.

We had planned to be out quite late on our anniversary night, and were willing to take a chance on the chickens.  To date, we have had to coax a few of them back into the coop at the end of the day.  When we arrived home that evening, well after dark, as soon as Tammi was comfortably inside, I checked on the little lady leghorns and was pleasantly surprised to find all 25 back in the coop — all by themselves.  I realized, had I just been a little more patient the last couple weeks, the birds may have done this sooner — on their own. I filled their feed and water and closed up for the night.

The next day, we were scheduled to photograph a wedding (we are the owners of West Shore Gallery, a local photography studio).  Realizing later how I felt the day after the bug hit, I do not know how Tammi managed to pull this off. It makes me think she has a much stronger constitution than I!  The young couple never knew anything different as we carried out our duties at what was a wonderful affair. We came home that evening to find the birds back in the coop again – all by themselves. All seemed well in the world.  I was beginning to think I was going to dodge this bullet.

The morning of the wedding, a hired hand stopped by to till our garden.  The job turned out to be quite a bit more than he expected — the plot was bigger than I had remembered — and it was covered in grass.  I paid the gentleman twice as much, and he went at it.  When I checked in the morning, he had done a fantastic job.

So, it was Mother’s Day. Tammi and I headed off to Tractor Supply to pick up some gloves and seeds for the garden. Along the way, I called my mother and wished her a happy Mother’s Day.  After returning, we took Gertie along to Lowe’s to buy some live plants – tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.  We then began planting the live plants.  About half way through, I could no longer help – feeling very washed out and queasy.  I went in to take a shower and lay down.  Within a couple hours, I was the bug’s final victim.

I was in and out of consciousness into the morning — visiting the bathroom a number of times.  At some point, late in the morning, I heard the dog yelp in pain and Tammi cry out for me.  Barely able to sit up, I wondered if it was a dream. Tammi called again, and this time I could make out what she was saying — “Baron! The ram is out!”

I pulled on a shirt and hobbled downstairs — pulled on some boots and headed out with my shepherd’s crook. Gertie was laying by the backdoor, completely uninterested in following me. I looked up from our puppie to see my bride chasing our ram in the yard.  I started to make an end-around to help her out.  Just then “Rambo” jumped back over the fence, into the corral.

Apparently Gertie had been teasing the ram and had run from it.  The ram chased her to the gate.  As Gertie has grown, she has been less and less able to slip under the gate.  This time she got stuck, and the ram pounded her – and the gate – with his horns, sending her sprawling and the gate bursting open.

The rest of the day, Gertie and I laid around in the house while Tammi cared for the both of us.

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This past week, things were going very well. While I was in Canton, MA on business, our wood stove was delivered.  Tammi actually started a fire in it the first night and found it to be rather comforting.

On Friday, the 4th, we let our little hens outside the coop for about an hour before dusk. The plan was to do this each day — increasing the amount of time incrementally.  We had no idea if all of the birds would just run away and scatter – or if they would stick together.  Fortunately, it was the latter.  It was very entertaining to see our little leghorns scratching in the dirt and eating bugs.  After a little while, we gently chased them back into the coop and sealed them up.  Only one of them decided to go in a different direction and had to be redirected.  I wondered if this wasn’t the same one who screwed up last week during the transfer…

Meanwhile, the grass in the pasture was nearly knee-high.  The two goats certainly weren’t capable of keeping it down.  So, I told Tammi I wanted sheep for my birthday — the sheep I had paid for nearly two months prior that had yet to arrive!  Tammi was working with Molly to have the sheep delivered, but Molly could not find a trailer anywhere.  Fortunately, Gary was able to come to the rescue.  He and I visited Tractor Supply on Friday and I purchased a tarp and a bunch of bungee cords for him. I was expecting Gary to improve his trailer with them and meet us at Molly’s around 2 PM.

On my birthday, Saturday, Tammi, Brandon & I drove to Tractor Supply in the F150 and picked up two shepherds crooks – more for show than anything.  We then headed to Mollys.  Gary and Kim showed up a few minutes later with Gary’s old dump truck rigged with a Jed Clampett-like enclosure in the back.  Gary backed his truck up close to the barn. Molly was very nervous about all of the openings, so Gary set about to seal them all up, including nailing an additional board across the back.

Then came time to transfer the sheep.  The two ladies managed a piece of plywood that would act as a door on the back of the dump truck.  Brandon stood watch with his junior shepherds crook while Gary managed the gate to the holding pen in the barn – ready to jump in and help, if necessary.  Molly and I went into the pen to catch the sheep.  The plan was for Molly to grab them first, since she knew which 5 of the 20 were to be ours.  As soon as she had a hold, I would grab the sheep too, Gary would open the pen, and we would carry it out and onto to the truck — the ladies sliding the plywood and allowing the beast into the makeshift “trailer.”

We started with the two ewes – and all went rather easily.  Next, we grabbed the two lambs — also rather easy.  Lastly, we grabbed the ram.  Molly had one of his horns and was being led around the pen by him, unable to gain control.  I quickly grabbed the other horn and managed to steer him towards the door of the pen.  The young ram writhed and struggled to break free, but Molly and I held our grip.  As we passed through the pen door and went outside, Gary closed the door and followed us.  As we reached the truck, we had difficulty raising the big boy up.  Gary then took his hind legs and gave him a boost.  Quickly, the plywood was slid open and shut — all 5 were inside.  Gary then closed the gate in the back of truck, and we were ready to go.

The rest of the trip was very peaceful as we led Gary and Kim to our farm, following 174 from 233 all the way through Boiling Springs.  At the farm, Gary backed into the pasture.  We opened the back and nothing happened!  Everyone encouraged the sheep to leave, but they would not!  Then, all of a sudden, the ram decided to jump and make a run for it.  Within seconds, his little flock followed.  Within a few minutes, they were already eating the high grass.  What a sight!

Happy Birthday!

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I could not imagine us trying to survive on our farm with my company car — a Ford Taurus and Tammi’s Kia Sorento.  Which one could carry sheep or haul a trailer?  How would we haul wood or furniture or….?  It was clear that rural living requires the right tools and vehicles.  Thus, I began my search for a used pick-up.

“Get a Ford F150,” advised my father.

“Get a Ford F150,” advised my friend Gary.

“Built Ford Tough…,” advised the TV commercial, “the new Ford F150…”

My initial inclination was to just find a beater truck — something 10 years old or so — just for times when we needed to carry something.  After searching the web, making some phone calls and test driving a couple such high-mileage vehicles — all with lots of problems, I settled onto another idea:

Let’s trade the Kia and replace that payment with a truck payment!  I had $3500 in the budget for the beater and could use this as down payment money to exit the Kia lease and get into the truck.  I also received a timely email from PSECU enticing me with a 3.9% interest rate for used vehicle loans.

The folks at McCafferty Ford were very fair.  I was able to get into a 2010 Ford F150 with only 10,000 miles on it — and get out of the Kia for only $1,000.  Plus, my monthly payment was very close to the Sorento.

As someone who has NEVER driven a pick-up truck — someone who drove Hondas and BMWs and Nissans and Pontiacs, I was very impressed with this vehicle.  It is big and roomy and comfortable – and has a great ride.  Plus, it has plenty of utility for the farm!  Dare I say, it is my favorite vehicle — ever!

Of course, it quickly became Tammi’s too.  The next day, she was driving to Tractor Supply to pick up more chick feed with Gertie in the back seat, sticking her nose out the window.  Now the dilemma was — how do I get to drive the truck most of the time?

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A little card arrived in the mail the other day from the Hoffman Hatchery.  It was meant to warn us of the pending arrival of 25 little yellow fluffy chicks – our new family members – the Ladies Leghorn — Egg Making Machines!  Unfortunately, the card was damaged in the mail, and the portion with the date on it was illegible.

“Does that say the 15th?” asked Tammi, concerned about it being so soon.

“Nah — can’t be — must be the 25th,” I replied confidently, as I often do — even when I haven’t a clue.  (I find this tactic works better in allaying the fears of the fairer sex – and I usually luck out.)

“What if they come before settlement?  Either way, that appears to be the case,”  continued my lovely lady, not taking the bait.  (If I’ve learned anything in two years – I should know better – she’s sharp!  She used to audit projects for Deloitte!)

“Well, they are coming to Camp Hill, you know,”  I said. “They’ll come to the post office — doubt they’ll know what to do!  When do you suppose the Camp Hill post office last handled a box of live chicks?”

“Let’s hope they’re alive!” worried the wife.

Sure enough, on the morning of the 15th, a nervous clerk from the post office called —- “We have your ch-ch-chicks!”

Of course, all of this fell on Tammi while I was away at work.  Boldly and confidently she walked into the post office and claimed her babies.  The clerks were astonished — who the heck is chicken farming in Camp Hill? — they thought.  Tammi carried the box out to the Sorento and promptly called me.

“The chicks arrived!”  she announced “Now, what do I do?”

I suggested we put them in the kiddie pool in the finished basement — we had a nice spot in the workshop / furnace room.  I also reassured her I was headed to Tractor Supply (more on this store later) to acquire a feeder, chick starter and water bottle.  By early evening, we were watching our peeping little yellow chicks skittering across the newspaper in a plastic kiddie pool in the basement of our suburban house — the very house we were trying to sell or rent!

“What if the agent calls and wants to show the place?” asked the wife in a very concerned voice.  I had to ponder that one for awhile…

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