Crofting: Bucky Improves and Almost Kills Me

The Morrisons on their croft

This is where we are going to be vis-a-vis transportation if petrol prices do not recede. They won’t; so I am actively looking for a low-cost horse and cart solution. I paid $1.24/litre for gas today. Multiply that by four to get an approximate cost per gallon. The prices were lower in Grand Falls than in Perth, where I shopped, but I needed to go to Perth first, and then didn’t want to risk attempting the voyage up the Trans-Canada to Grand Falls on less than a quarter-tank. As I filled up at the Irving station, a young man in a new VW bug pulled up across from me. The new “people’s car” is no longer rear engine and air-cooled, so I assume it is a little thirstier than the old models I had. “I used to fill up my bug for $10,” I said to him, just to show that I am old enough to be his mother. “Not anymore,” he said, pumping $30+. I put $50 in my almost empty Dodge Dakota, and that has to last most of the month if not all of the month. We used to take a monthly trip to Fredericton, but no more, as that would now cost us about $80. Without a second income, we can’t afford it. Once I drop off the rent check, the hydro (electric) bill comes in and I pick up Nicholas’s Crestor prescription, that will be all we need for the month. I try to spend the income right away, pay up everything I can, and then sit on what is left. I am quite concerned that we always have enough on hand to buy at least a tank of fuel for the truck. I may have a wee bit extra coming this month, if Canada Post every decides to deliver mail. The strike will supposedly be off next week.

I suppose I could get a small cart and harness Bucky. He is feeling much better, thank you. The abcess has drained and is mostly gone, with just a small bump left. The goat salve treatment must have helped. I am brewing some more rosemary tea for their drinking water tonight. He is feeling so frisky that when I was clipping him to his tire rim picket, he decided he needed to go see what Vanilla was doing, and wrapped the cable around me, dragging me along. It took all of that old sea training to keep me on my feet as we pitched together in tandem for a good ten feet or more. I staked down his tire rim, as he now knows he can haul it around.

My friend Sonja said her grandfather used to get around by goat cart. I can see it now, Bucky and I bumping down the old railroad right of way along the St. John River. I’m not sure what people in Perth-Andover would think. There are some good spots to tie up, but would someone who doesn’t know how strong goats are report me to the SPCA? I once had some troublemaker call the SPCA to report that I was neglecting the sheep. I was away for a long weekend, and my neighbour and fellow pastor, Kimber, was looking after the animals. They knew her as the second-in-command, and she was a really good substitute shepherd. An SPCA worker came to the yard and asked if they could examine the animals. Kimber, in fact, was a bit miffed. She had been attending to the sheep diligently, with grain and water, and as it was summer, they were on meadowgrass, too. “Go right ahead,” Kimber said, and took them to the pasture. “Well,” the SPCA worker said as he looked at the plump, happy sheep who came running to the fenceline. “Actually, they look maybe a little overfed. Nothing wrong here.” (This was repeated in another location; I now suspect that the supposed SPCA worker in the second instance was trying to find an excuse to take my purebred animals to a relative who was interested in keeping them. Yes, that can happen. The SPCA is not a government ordained agency, and most of the time the courts are simply not interested in an owner’s complaint if animals are removed unfairly.)

Today I met a man in the market where I went to get my feed. He was buying dog toys, the kind that is like a tennis ball with a heavy line through it. He said to me as I ordered feed and bedding, “Funny, this is for my goat.” I looked incredulous, I’m sure, or at least puzzled. “Yup,” he said, “she needs something to keep her busy and she can’t chew these to pieces.” I have found my goats trying to nibble on pieces of polypro line, which is a big mistake. I have never thought to buy them toys, though. My sheep used to have toys – a big indestructible playground ball, and a tough polyurethane tub which they enjoyed kicking and butting. A tub can be filled halfway with water, and apples put in it, then frozen in a chest freezer. It will keep goats, sheep and calves amused all afternoon.

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9 thoughts on “Crofting: Bucky Improves and Almost Kills Me

    • I just went out to untangle Tara, who was lying helplessly on her back (not really) with her leg wrapped in the web lead, flopping around like a hooked salmon. (Oh, woe! Woe!) But then when anything got her interest, she popped back up on her feet. Still, I try to keep them untangled so as to prevent any circulation impairment. I never leave them tethered and unsupervised. Of course, they all thought it was time for grain, so when I went back in the house, they stood in a row, staring with cold disdain at my back.

    • We crossed the threshold last year. I cannot get a fuel-efficient vehicle for less than the cost of a horse and buggy (estimated $1000 for animal, $800-$2000 for buggy) and feed here is cheap, even if an animal is on hay daily year round – about $60 a month. No insurance, not much maintenance (for the horse and probably the buggy) that I can’t do myself. We have a good off road transportation system, i.e. a province wide network of trails. Pay a neighbour to take us to the bus station for longer trips occasionally, and even with that it would be cheaper.

      • I have rarely had to call vets for animals. I can do most of the routine care myself, including worming, giving meds and immunizations, when I think it is necessary. There are choices when it comes to shoeing. Unless a horse is on hard pavement hour after hour, day after day, shoes aren’t required. Natural foot care is better for the horse, so I would have a natural foot specialist in a couple of times a year, at about $30 a visit. I can learn to do most of the hoof maintenace myself, as I do for the goats. With two sets of seasonal tires this year costing about $1500 (and likely to last no more than three years) and the $3000+ it took to get the truck fully operational in the last year, the horse would have been a bargain.

  1. As far as goats chewing is concerned, it reminds me of the old tale that goats like to eat tin cans. 🙂 Speaking of the SPCA, I heard back in the ’70’s that some of their workers in Northern AZ would be so bold as to go in a person’s yard and unclip the animal and just take them. That’s trespassing!

    • Goats won’t eat tin cans; they might try to lick out the leftover contents, and they will eat the paper labels, as will sheep and cows.

  2. Hi Magdalena,

    I know that here in the states buggies have to have a license plate, not sure if it is the same in Canada. Two essential item to have with a buggy are a buggy robe and a sturdy, large umbrella. The buggy blankets are usually about the size of a throw blanket, they are heavy duty black vinyl on the outside, and dark blue furry fleece on the inside, they keep you real warm and the vinyl blocks the wind. The umbrella is useful of course when it rains and it makes a nice shield from the wind on cold days. In our community all of the Amish buggies are open year round, they do put a “kid box” on the back in the winter so that small children are enclosed and protected from the elements.
    I do know that here (NE Indiana) a pony, pony cart, and harness can be had for around $700. Pony carts are used a lot, primarily for short trips, or if just one or two people are out and about. Ponies eat less, but are rather ornery and often times little escape artists!

    If you have an Amish community not too far away you can probably purchase a used buggy and buggy trained horse for a fair price, you will also have someone to contact in case buggy repairs are needed, you would also find large umbrellas and buggy robes.

    Bean

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