Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CK Gored and Yak Dancing - On Our Land Days 19-27 Part2

That night we strung a heat lamp over the corral (running it with the pickup engine and the inverter) and stayed up all night. Our big fear was that with Yonkers so sick, she wouldn't be able to defend the herd if predators were around. In fact predators might even be attracted by a sick animal. And despite the fact that yaks are naturally furry critters, innate to cold mountain climes, we wanted her to have warmth if she desired it.

She looked like hell, and we were terrified she wouldn't make it through the night. A few times she lay down, and that scared us until we noticed the two younger girls were doing so as well. I do realize that cattle often lay down to chew their cud, but I'd also read a lot about "downed cows."

Quantum loaded the guns and watched them till about 2am. Around 4 I woke up and sat watch till morning.

In the morning, Yonkers looked pretty bad, but at least she was still alive. Quantum got up in time to drive out and call the vet by 8am, and then to get more hay and Senior Feed for Yonkers. By almost noon he hadn't returned and I was starting to get worried. Had the truck broken down?

No, it turned out that he'd gone to the hardware store for more wood. When he'd called the vet (a cattle vet from Trinidad, not Zen's local vet) the guy had asked him if we had a chute or squeeze box to put Yonkers in. Otherwise he wouldn't be unable to treat her. "I'll make something by the time you get here," Quantum said.

We immediately set to building something, racing the clock.

By 3:30 it was partially assembled, and time for me to run out to call the vet, and arrange where we'd meet him. "Hurry up back, I need the truck to run the power tools," Quantum said, thinking that the vet wouldn't be there yet, and that we were only arranging a place and time.

But no, Dr. Kirk was already on our main road when I called him. He and I looked over the yaks while Quantum and CK struggled to finish the chute. We got it pieced together, the doc helping. Then for the fun, trying to get the thing into the corral and get her into it.  CK, Quantum and I carried/dragged it in. With it unfinished and no gate yet on the back, we weren't sure how to get her in, and our best idea was to try to catch her up against the side of the corral so she'd have nowhere else to go.

What we didn't count on was the fact that sick as she was, she wasn't going to take that sort of nonsense. As we approached with the chute, she put on a burst of power and ran at CK. I'd seen her move quick when we put them in the trailer, but even that was nothing. In seconds she charged at him, stomping his foot and goring into him with her horns. Fortunately her horns are curved back and didn't pierce. It was terrifying. CK got a big bruise slightly above his groin and hopefully a bit of respect for her. He's lucky he's got so much flab that she didn't bang any internal organs.

We all stood back and considered what to do. Finally the doc decided to give us a needle with the antibiotic and told us to finish the chute/pen and then lure her in with some of the Senior Feed (which all three seemed to like).

Doc Kirk is about our age, I'd guess (late 40's) and has a great smile and kind eyes. We'd been dreading the charge, since we're on the verge of broke at the moment, and figuring somewhere between $250 and $500, but he was actually pretty lenient on us. And wow, he was even willing to help hold the posts on the chute while we screwed it together. Truly a nice guy and we're happy to have him for our farm critters. I won't give up the vet in town because I like him as well, but since he doesn't do farm animals, I'll keep them both.

The doc left, and as it was once again getting dark and rainy (we've had rain pretty much every afternoon for the past several days) we decided to let them sniff on the chute overnight and get used to it, and we'd finish it in the morning. It was fairly clear that no way was she getting the shot that night.

Tuesday we worked on the chute. Meanwhile some pretty nifty things happened. First, Yonkers actually looked a little better in the morning. We were determined that she'd still get the shot, but we were also grateful that her nose had dried up a little and that she'd managed to clean it in the water trough.

Zen managed to slip past me on the leash. Of course he headed straight for the corral. I raced after him, catching him just before he got there. To our amazement, the yaks weren't aggressive, just very curious. Zen sniffed at them, they sniffed at him, standing only a few feet apart. It occurred to us that the folks we'd bought the yaks from also raised dogs. They hadn't mentioned socializing the yaks with their dogs, but I'm now fairly sure that the girls were used to seeing and smelling dogs on some level. Yeti was the most curious, and the first one to come toward Zen.

Later while I was getting them some more of the Senior Feed, and uncovering their hay (we'd put a tarp over most of it when it rained the night before) Yazoo came really close to me. I offered her a handful of hay, and she sniffed and backed away. I tried it a second time, and she reached out her huge tongue and started licking my fingers. Its a funny feeling. Almost like a cat's tongue, but not as rough.

Even later, we noticed the little girls play. Yeti started it, kicking up her heels and bouncing.  She nuzzled over to Yazoo, and got her into the game. The two of them started bouncing and running in a circle around the corral. Yak dancing. It was astounding to watch. Like having National Geographic in our own backyard. Their swiftness and power was an eye-opener, letting us know just how lucky CK had been. These critters can MOVE! Yazoo's heels came nearly as high as the top bar on the corral - about 6 ft off the ground.

Quantum says it's becoming clear that the yaks feel the most comfortable with me. He chalks it up to estrogen. Though he warns me that I do need to be a bit more cautious around them. Since I'll be the one training them to pack and eventually milking them, this is probably a good thing.

They like Quantum, though probably not as much just yet. But its obvious that they feel pretty comfortable around him as well.

CK they don't seem to like at all. Yazoo, so curious and calm with me, actually charged him when he was standing outside the corral. I'm now used to Yonkers stamping and charging a little bit, but I'd never seen that behavior from Yazoo at all. Part of it is that Yazoo seems to realize that with mom feeling low she needs to be the protective one. Anytime CK gets near the corral, all three of them back up to the farthest side from him.

Quantum says that CK doesn't have any respect for anyone, including himself, and the yaks sense it. I wonder if it's that, or the fact that CK, being huge (around 375 lbs.) looks like more of a threat? (I'm only 5'5", and though not as thin as I'd like to be, I'm not a large person. Quantum is a stick.) Also I tend to talk soft and deep - unless I'm ticked off at someone. Quantum modulates his voice around the yaks as well, and works to not come off as threatening. CK's vocal tone is what I'd call grating and whiny. But then as you've probably guessed, CK and I don't get along well.

Meanwhile, the night before I'd noticed that Zen was favoring one foot. Also he was starting to get itchy hives (possibly stress)and chew at them. At first I thought he'd been chewing the pads on his feet, but then I noticed it was more than that, and that he has a small infection on his paw. By flashlight I soaked it and put on Triple Antibiotic, and covered his foot with a sock. Going to have to keep an eye on that. Just what I need. But I think I can deal with this without a vet visit. I hope.

Monday night I made fried chicken. Quantum says it was the best he's ever had. Considering I was working in the dark over a stovetop outdoors, I'm pretty happy with that. Tuesday I made Thai Stuffed Peppers and they were pretty amazing too. I'd wanted to use coconut milk but discovered we were out. I'm guestimating the amounts, since I didn't measure, but here's the basic recipe.

Thai Stuffed Peppers with Chicken:

2 Chicken breasts, brined (see below)
Rice, 1 1/2 cups?
4 Green bell peppers
Rice, 1 1/2 cups
Sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
Hoisin Sauce, about 3 tablespoons, divided
Ginger root, about 1" piece, minced
Garlic, about 3 cloves, minced
1/2 Serrano pepper, minced
Olive oil, 2-3 tablespoons

1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
Garlic powder, 1 tablespoon
Cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon
Hot Sauce. a dash or three
1/2 gallon water

Mix all brine ingredients. Put in the chicken breasts and let sit in the fridge for approximately 2 hours. (The longer you let it sit, the more salty it will be.) Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse. Discard the brine, don't reuse, as this can spread unwelcome bacteria.

Boil the rice with water (or you could use chicken stock) about 1 knuckle (yes, measure it with your fingers) over the level of the rice, and the sesame oil, till al dente (slightly chewy).

Saute the chicken in olive oil until nicely browned on both sides. Remove from heat and chop into about 1/4" cubes.

Cut the caps off the peppers, and clean out the seeds. Reserve the "cups" of the peppers for stuffing. Chop up the caps. Saute the veggies (except the pepper cups) in the pan from the chicken using the leftover oil and chicken juices, until the pepper chunks are wilted but still firm.

Mix the rice, chicken and veggies in a bowl, and add 2 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce. Stuff the pepper cups with this mixture.

In the same frying pan you used for everything else, place the stuffed pepper cups. Add water about 1" lower than the top of the pepper cups. Add the remaining tablespoon of hoisin sauce to the water. Cover tightly with tinfoil and simmer over medium heat for approximately 45 minutes.

Remove the peppers from the pan. The cups should now look a bit wilted and be fork soft. You can now boil the water that you steamed the peppers in until reduced thick enough to make a sauce. (I didn't have time for that as it was getting late.) Add several tablespoons cold water mixed with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch for faster thickening.

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