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My Other Farm and House Animals

Many dogs and cats have found a new friendly home on my farm.

On Tobago there exists a terrible dog problem. Dogs are actually enemies of the farmers. I love my dogs, but I can also understand the farmers who get angry about the many stray dogs, and who even poison them!

A few years ago one of my goats was almost killed by dogs. Cleo could not be found for two days after her mother and all the other goats came home at night. Her mother kept calling her in desperation, but it was too late: when we found her, she had huge bite marks on her belly and a compound fracture of her leg. Unfortunately the leg had to be amputated below the knee. She is living quite happily now on the farm on her 3 1/2 legs, thank God.

Other farmers had greater losses. A horde of dogs is able to kill an entire flock of sheep in one night. Especially in the Dry Season, when the grass is down and they can freely roam and have an unobstructed view of the goats;  then a horde of dogs band together to kill. De actual guilty parties are the owners of the dogs: they hardly feed them or care for them. Also they do not want to pay to have their dogs castrated, even though such an operation hardly costs more than a bottle of rum. Little puppies are put out at the road side and big dogs are sent "on a journey". One drives to an unknown area and just puts them out of the car. So easy is that.

This bad attitude towards animals by the locals may upset you when you read this account. Of course, it does not mean that all Tobagonians feel the same way. Also here there are animal lovers among them, but it seems less than elsewhere, or the island would not have that many stray dogs. Many foreigners who come to settle here on Tobago and make it their second home, have adopted more than a few dogs from the Tobago Animal Shelter. I sometimes feel used when I find yet another animal on my doorstep. Is that what we foreigners are here for?

At least the Tobago Animal Shelter (click here )  is doing its best to find new homes for dogs and cats that have been abandoned. Most of my animals have come to me via the above mentioned ways. Many have also left me, have died, some premature (a dog's life here is not all that long), some were poisoned. Innocent animals often die when poison has  been doled out indiscriminately.
Cats don't fare any better. They are pretty much disliked here and many locals actually feel disgust on seeing cats.

Here are some pictures of my house animals:

 

 

First there is Muddy


Muddy is a little black mixed dog who sat at the side of the street at the beginning of this year ( 2010). He was then very tiny.

I named him such because his white paws have grey markings which look as if his feet are muddy.

In the meantime he has made friend with everybody and he loves to play with the tomcats. Unfortunately, Muddy with his short legs and low to the ground picks up a lot of  ticks and has to be powdered with tick and flea powder all the time.

 

 

Here is Punky

who joined us at the end of last year.

Punky was  so small, he fit in the palm of my hand. One morning he was sitting at the bottom of my steps. I wondered how he got there. A little kitten his age does not wander off by himself, so somebody put him out on purpose at my doorstep.

As soon as I picked him up he pushed his little head into my hand and began to purr. Of course, he would stay, there was no question about it.
In the meantime he developed into a gorgeous tomcat. His name, Punky, derived from the black spot on top of his head which makes it look as if he has a punk style hairdo.

He gets on like a house on fire with the other tomcats: Sammy, Sascha and Maxi. Unfortunately soon he needs to be castrated, I am feeling sorry for him already. Over the years I have had more than 10 cats sterilised and surely as many dogs as well. 

Punky included, I have 4 cats and 4 tomcats.  

 


Muddy

 

 

 


Punky when he first came

 


4 of my cats on the steps

 


Punky now


Mama Tinka and daughter Liesel

 


Tomcat Maxi  feeling cozy in the wash basin


My first tomcat, Sammy

 


Sascha and Sammy waiting to be fed

 


Maxi, Mikel and Motte (on the chair)

 


Junia and Mikel on the steps
(Junia died in 2008, age 8 years)

 

The Chicken Family

..........last, but not least, the chickens.

On my farm also the chickens are allowed to grow old. I am just not able to eat my own animals, not to speak of slaughtering them. The black hen on the photo at right is "Easter". She used to be a real beauty when she was young. Now one can see that she is already more than ten years old. She is a survivor. Every time I think that Easter has died somewhere, she re- appears. Her eggs had a very special shape, I was always able to spot an "Easter" egg, but now she is slowly nearing her chicken heaven.

Otherwise I get many baby chicks, but my colony does not get larger. Sometimes I think that I raise chickens just to feed the surrounding wildlife (see News of 27.8.2010).

It takes a lot of effort to raise chickens from chicks (see photos at right). In the first weeks the chicks stay with their mother in my rearing pens. Then they are allowed to go out with their mother during the day, but return to the pens at night until, after a few weeks, their mother chases them up a tree. From then on I am not anymore able to watch over them and especially when the hen "cuts their naval string" early and often picks at them in a horrible manner to chase them away, I lose a lot of them.
In this manner I also get too many roosters which fight each other and some die soon because they are being attacked constantly.I need somebody who is willing to slaughter some of the roosters, so I would be able to cook them for dog food.

It is pretty interesting to watch the behaviour of the chicken family. For example when the rooster, one wing folded under, "dances" for his hen or tries to entice her with a so-called delicacy and then quickly jumps away, or when the mother hen calls her chicks with "Chick, chick" sounds and then puts small bits of food in front of them - it is just too sweet to watch.

Another benefit of keeping chickens is the supply of tasty farm eggs with their dark yellow yolks. Depending on the time of the year, I may get more than I can use or, when I actually need them, non can be found.

 

 

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