Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stabbing Yonkers - On Our Land Day 31

For the past week we've been trying to get Yonkers her antibiotic shot. One would think this would be an easy prospect. Just corner her and stab the needle in.

Except that Yonkers is by no means a friendly yak. Whether because she's naturally ornery or because she wasn't socialized as a baby, or probably both, she doesn't like people very much.  And looking at the huge black bruise on CK's belly didn't inspire any confidence in us.

Although she has gotten to the point where I can wander around in the corral shoveling up yak poop, she doesn't let me get much closer than three feet away. And I'm the person she seems most comfy with. The idea of going into the corral and nailing her with the needle, wasn't a good one.

So Quantum worked on finishing the chute. After a couple days of bracing it together, and creating drop gates that we could let her into and out of the chute with, we hooked it up to a cable, attatched the other end to the bumper of the pickup and dragged it in. We braced it up against the fence and put a bucket of Senior Feed in.

Yazoo, being the little piggie she is, immediately went for the feed, walking right into the chute and chowing down. "This is a good sign," we said. "No doubt Yonkers will get used to it and go in too." Little Yeti was more cautious, trying to poke her head though the bars.

We waited. And then the wind came up.

We've got some funny winds that pass through here. Things will be calm and then we get a sudden gust that sends things flying. If the land were flatter and not protected by mountains, this is no doubt the sort of wind that creates a tornado. Already the wind has sent things flying, tossed around a table, broken crockery.

So as I sat in the trailer, expectantly watching for Yonkers to go into the chute, one of these swift gusts came along and blew the chute down. We were lucky - the yaks were at the far side of the corral and no one got hurt. We ran out, and managed to push it back into shape, but it wasn't looking great.

An hour later another gust came up and tore the damn thing into three pieces. So much for the chute idea.

At the same time, Quantum had been working on a "bang stick" inspired by the bang sticks they use on sharks. He carved a piece of PVC so that it would hold the needle. The idea was that if we could get Yonkers close enough to the edge of the corral, he could stab her with it from about 4 feet away, and drive a second piece of PVC to depress the needle. Getting her close enough being the operative challenge. Every time we got close, either the babies would come over and investigate or she'd get nervous and move to the interior of the corral.

The good news is that Yonkers was actually looking much better. Her nose cleared up quite a bit, and her breathing, though not wonderful, was far less labored than it had been. Still we were determined that she'd get the needle.

Finally, today, Quantum went to get more hay and returned with our new friend RY, the guy who originally helped us trailer the yaks up here. If I haven't mentioned it, RY is a huge burly guy. Somewhere over six foot tall and built like a linebacker. He's in his sixties or perhaps older, but is one of those big farmer types who just seems to get more powerful with age. RY came in, lassoed Yonkers (managing by inadvertent good luck to catch one of her forelegs too) and we dragged her over to the fence. Then, brave guy that he is, he got in the corral with her, pushed her up against the fence and jabbed the needle in. She bucked like mad. Even with a leg tied and weak from illness, she's a powerful critter. She managed to get away, and it took three tries to get the needle in (which she managed to bend a little) and shoot the meds home.

Whew! We were pretty much useless for the rest of the day. We'd been so stressed about getting her the meds that the relief was exhausting.

Obviously we're going to need to invest in a lariat. And build a stronger chute. But for now, Yonkers has been stabbed and we can hopefully look forward to her recovery.

Soon after RY and his wife left, the moon came up, a thin lovely new crescent. And the weather got chill, but Yonkers was eating and looking really hungry for the first time in a week.


  1. What an interesting blog and I wish Yonkers all the best in her recovery.