The phone rang yesterday morning and it was decided that the Mellotts, a lovely family in Wyoming - complete with a basset hound named Elvis - is going to give Pancho and Lefty a new home. It seems Pancho and Lefty are going into show business and will be participating in a wild west show. I'm thrilled because when I asked Mrs. Mellott if they were sure, she replied. "Yes, I think they've been put in the will above the children." Maryruth should be pleased.
Mr. Mellott will be fetching them week after spending a night in Idaho with his brother, which means I need to provide appropriate health documentation when transporting livestock across state lines. I didn't want to do it before I knew when and where Pancho and Lefty were going because different states have different requirements and health certificates are valid for only two-weeks in come cases and a month at the outside. In order to get all the necessary paperwork I called the Wyoming Livestock governing board to inquire what might be needed. Remember Wyoming is a large state known for its cattle, at least that’s how I view it. So I would think especially the guy in charge of livestock would be extremely knowledgeable in this category. I was wrong.
“Hello, I’m calling from Western Washington and I’ve just sold a pair of oxen to a gentleman in Wyoming and I need to know what if any vaccines you require for them to enter the state.”
“Oxen? Is that a yak?” he asked perplexed.
“A yak? They live in Tibet. No. They're oxen you know,cattle. I guess they look a little like a yak with a crew cut.” I replied a bit surprised. Wondering if I had the right number.
“Are they bulls?” he asked.
“Ah, no. they’re oxen. You know a steer but older and with an education.” I replied slowly completely off guard. I’m the city girl.
“So what are they exactly?” he asked me again still confused.
“They’re cattle, they’re Milking Shorthorns.”
“What they’re from a dairy? That changes everything. How many cows are you talking about? These are milkers then.” He seemed somewhat authoritative now.
“No. If you tried to milk these two you’d very sorry. Their breed is the Milking Shorthorn. The breed that settled the entire western United States. They are males. An ox is merely a four-year-old or older steer. A castrated male. They are usually trained to pull a cart or a plow a field.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.” Obviously. This guy is in charge? “In that case they don’t need anything special only a health cert. and a permit number. The vet you have check them out can call us for that.”
“Great, thank you.”
So I called the large animal vet's office and made an appointment for Tuesday. They asked if I was sure of the health requirements for Wyoming, I told them I was and that I’d just gotten off the phone with the livestock board of health.
Next, I cleaned out the gosling’s container and settled down to order some chickens. I’ve completely given up on Black Javas they’re great but at this point they are so rare I can’t even acquire any. So I went back to the Williamsburg breeds page on their website and decided on Silver Dorkings. I did a search and found they are available at the Murray McMurray Hatchery. Fabulous. I went to order them, but stopped short of check out and called my feathered friend, Toby. And told her I had to order 25 chicks in order to get an order and I really didn’t want or need twenty five of anything. She agreed to meet me in Horse Shoe Bay and take the extra chicks. She sells eggs at the farmer’s market and says she never has enough eggs. We did the math and calculated the shipping costs etc. She decided she’d like to get more Araucanas, commonly known as the Easter egg chicken because it lays colored eggs and everyone loves them. In fact, Henry took green eggs from Toby’s chickens to school on Dr. Seuss Day in kindergarten. They were a huge hit with the kids and the kindergarten teacher, Nell, was more than a little taken aback that there really were green eggs to go with ham.
So I excitedly picked up the phone and called the Murray McMurray Hatchery to order my chickens. I didn’t want to leave it to the Internet because I had too many questions. I went through the discussion about taking chickens across an international boundary and was assured that with their health certificate and the appropriate vaccinations the hatchery provides I would have no problem. Sure it might sound easy from where she sat, but had she actually done it? Taking poultry to Canada seemed daunting to me, yet I wanted my chickens so I was up for the challenge. I’d make Henry go with me he’d distract them. Great mother I am. I'm willing to use my child as bait to distract international agents. Whatever works.
I was ready to pull the trigger and give my debit card number. Then the woman’s tone changed.
"Oh, I didn’t realize you wanted the Silver Dorkings. We don’t have any.”
“Really? You’re sure. I don’t need many. Ideally I’m only looking for five pullets and one cockerel.” I said dazzling her with my newly acquired insider chicken lingo.
“Sorry, chicken season is almost over so we wouldn’t be able to get you your order until June and even then we don’t’ have any Dorkings.”
“ There’s a chicken season? Don’t they lay eggs all the time?” I said revealing my novice knowledge of poultry.
“There’s a short time when we have chicks so we’re almost over and you won’t be able to get any until next spring. You can put your pre-order in next January.”
“I had no idea. You’re sure you don’t have any.”
“Well, let me see” she said as the tapping of her computer clicked over the phone. “ We do have three from a canceled order available the week of May 12th.”
“Great! I’ll take them.”
“No you can’t. Because we don’t have anything else available that week. And we can’t ship less than twenty-five.”
“There isn’t anything, nothing else?” I figured I could at least sell something else on Craigslist.
“There are plenty of cockerels.”
“Roosters? I would have to buy twenty-two roosters?” I thought of my neighbor, “stinky britches” wouldn’t he just love it if I got twenty-two roosters. My evil side began to emerge.
“What would I do with twenty-two roosters? Do you think I could sell them?” I knew I really couldn’t keep twenty-two roosters and stay on speaking terms with Mike.
“Well, not a lot of people want them that’s why we have so many, but you could eat them.”
“I don’t think so. We really couldn’t.” Although Tom’s mother can twist the head off a chicken with one hand. But unless she intends to come up here and handle it while I take a cruise somewhere I don’t think that’s going to work out. “Can we buy wild turkeys?” Tom has this dream of having wild turkeys roaming the area. Unlike modern domestic turkeys that can barely move because they've been bred so top heavy, a wild turkey can run up to 25mph and fly up to 55 mph and are very adaptable to almost any environment in the U.S. “Or, the Standard Bronze? I just want a tom and a hen.”
“Sorry. We can’t ship turkeys with chicks. We get them from two different locations.”
“Hmm, then I guess I don’t really have any other options do I?”
Well, then sorry.” Click.
I wasn’t ready to accept defeat quite yet, but I needed to take the goslings out for a little waddle. Luther thoroughly enjoyed the outing racing back and for the with them in the twenty minutes of our allotted sunlight.
While I stewed over the chicken dilemma, the phone rang again it was the veterinarian’s office. They had some questions about the health check on Tuesday. It seems they were unclear what exactly oxen were. and again I went through the exact same bovine discussion I’d had with the man from Wyoming all over again. Can we be a society so removed from the past that even people working with livestock don’t know an ox from a cow? To be clear. A heifer is a young bovine that has not had a calf. A cow is a female bovine. A steer is a castrated male. A bull is an intact male bovine of any age. An ox is a castrated male over the age of four. The age distinction is made because steers are usually covered in A1™ on your dinner table long before the age of four.
Tom called and had a chicken idea. He suggested I call the co-op, Laurel Farm Supply or Dell's and see if they’d take roosters. Great idea. Although he apparently doesn’t know the term cockerel yet – complete nubie.
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