Category Archives: livestock

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Foul play

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

I have a few friends who suffer from ornithophobia. I’m not sure why. Maybe they watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at a crucial point in their development.

Other people may have had unfortunate experiences and never fully recovered. I get it. Having a winged creature attack you can be traumatic. When I was about 5 I was bit by a goose, and once I had a bat get tangled in my then-very-long hair. I got over it. Not only did I get over it, I really am a big a fan of all creatures that fly. There’s something innately cool about any creature that can soar in the heavens, no matter if it squawks, sings or screeches. I especially like chickens.

That is until until I met The Beast.

Technically, The Beast was merely a Rhode Island red rooster. As a youngster he’d get an ornery glint in his little beady yellow eyes, but I thought it was all show for the chicks. As he got older he got ornerier. He started stalking me. My hubby suggested roosters are too stupid to stalk. He said I should just be brave. “Act like you’re the boss,” he said.

Wrong.

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Filed under Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, humor, livestock

Taking livestock — Ranchers, mushers face challenges of evacuating animals

Photo courtesy of Jill Garnet. Jill Garnet readies her dog truck in preparation of evacuating her home and kennel in Kasilof, as the Funny River Horse Trail Fire draws near last week. Residents with livestock or lots of animals faced a particular challenge in getting ready to get out of the path of the fire.

Photo courtesy of Jill Garnet. Jill Garnet readies her dog truck in preparation of evacuating her home and kennel in Kasilof, as the Funny River Horse Trail Fire draws near last week. Residents with livestock or lots of animals faced a particular challenge in getting ready to get out of the path of the fire.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

It’s hard enough for people to prepare to evacuate their homes when a wildfire approaches, as has been the case for residents of Kasilof, Funny River and the Kenai Keys area along the Kenai River as the Funny River Fire has torched over 176,000 acres since starting near Mile 6 of Funny River Road on May 19.

It’s even harder when it’s not just things and able-bodied people to worry about, but helpless animals to corral, as is the case for livestock farmers or mushers with dozens of sled dogs in their care.

“Living just south of Johnson Lake in a heavily wooded area, we are trying to stay prepared during this fire. We have 13 sled dogs who live on a fenced 2 acres and are used to running free all day within the enclosure,” said Jill Garnet who, along with her partner, Sean Rice, saw the risk of fire overtaking their kennel after the blaze made a seven-mile run in two hours last week, reaching the shore of nearby Tustumena Lake.

“On Tuesday we spent 10 hours packing up our most vital gear, most of it related to running dogs — carts, sleds and whatnot. We packed up 10 days of dog food, water jugs and our doggie first-aid bag into our dog truck. We packed up some clothes and guns. Important documents like Social Security cards, birth certificates and vehicles titles made the list. We threw in a camp stove and a filled propane tank, too,” she said.

Garnet’s dogs are used to being transported, for training and racing, in a large, multicubbied box attached to the bed of her truck, so moving the dogs shouldn’t be a problem if the time comes.

“Our dog truck, which is big enough to transport our entire team, is now parked facing out, just outside our fence gate attached to our trailer, which is packed up,” she said.

The difficulty isn’t the moving, it’s the act of gathering up her dogs for the move — since all of the dogs are rescues with various social issues. Her dogs are kept with a free run in their enclosures, rather than tethered on chains as is the practice of many mushers. There also is the dilemma of where to take them and how to maintain them once evacuated.

“We aren’t trying to be reactionary or panic, but just smart. Evacuating 13 dogs isn’t something you are going to do just because. Our team is used to a free-run lifestyle, so taking them out of here and staking them on chains would prove extremely stressful for us and them,” she said.

“We have had many offers over these four days for places to go, but none are fenced. I looked into renting construction fencing, 6-by-12 panels out of Anchorage, but they are all rented out in this high season. So we are keeping our eyes open for fenced areas owned by people who may allow us to park inside temporarily as we camp out with the dogs,” she said.

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Swine time — Peninsula’s livestock season kicks off with a herd of oinks

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Tim Benson, in overalls, and Brian Rohr survey the swine scene at Kenai Feed last week.

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Tim Benson, in overalls, and Brian Rohr survey the swine scene at Kenai Feed last week.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

It was a grunting, rooting, oinking sea of pink, but a relatively calm sea until Dan Chaloux entered. Gradually the noise became louder and the movement faster, and as Chaloux lunged, the sound of the creature caught was deafening.

“I should have brought my ear plugs,” he shouted over the screams of the swine he was carrying out of a high tunnel filled with 425 pigs at Kenai Feed and Supply last week.

The porkers were not going easily. Whenever Chaloux entered they would scatter. Once he had a hand on one they would kick, twist, bite and attempt to wrestle away from him with all their might.

“The best way is to go for the back leg and hold tight,” he said. “Then, if they’re little enough, I can get my other arm under them and scoop them up, or with the big ones I can get both back legs and kind of wheelbarrow them, but either way it starts with that back leg. If you go for a front, they have too much power behind them.”

The pigs were in the 20- to 100-pound range and being picked out for different reasons, according to Sarah Donchi, store owner.

“The small ones were born February 1st, while the larger ones were born in December. The little ones go to 4-H, while the larger ones are feeder pigs that people will raise for butchering, since some people like them to be done sooner,” she said.

Getting small pigs for 4-H isn’t just a prerogative, it’s in keeping with a policy. According to the rules for participants raising pigs for the Junior Market Livestock program, pigs had to be acquired by May 1 and weigh not less than 180 or more than 260 pounds by the time they are shown during the Kenai Peninsula Fair in August.

“I wanted one with a long back, because a long back means a long loin. I also wanted one with a little indent on their rump, because that shows how much muscle they have and they usually grow the biggest and make the most meat,” said Skyler Shadle, of Homer, a three-time competitor in JML, and the participant with the largest swine last year, weighing in at 260 pounds.

“He spends a lot of time with them,” said his mom, Jackie Eisenberg. “He gets them so big by mixing a little molasses into their feed, and our real secret is giving them fodder with sprouted barley, which we grow ourselves. It’s like wheat grass for pigs, high in protein and rich in micronutrients.”

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