Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet Kachina

Apparently it is pronounced "Katsina" and can also be spelled this way as well, but I think I like the "ch" I get to correct everyone on the proper pronunciation of her name!

Kachina lets me come pretty close to her and she never acts threatened. Today she stood in the barn and I walked back and forth in front of it, actually hoping that she'd come out so I could go in and get her hay. She decided that she would rather stand and watch me and sniff my camera offered to her than leave the barn. Eventually she did. I didn't want to get trapped in a small space with her in case she got nervous and panicky.

She has sores in her flanks with bare skin. It's hard to see them close up, but I think that these are spots being attacked by gnats. I'm going to look into hanging some strips of cloth soaked in fly repellent from the doorway to see if that might help keep the gnats away. I'm afraid they'll continue to eat her raw if I don't do something. She must have very thin skin because none of the others seem to be having a problem with them (aside from a few gnat bites on their bellies).

The swollen gland nearest her throatlatch started draining today while the other glands have slowed their drainage I hope that means that she's going to heal up soon. I don't want to see any more lumps! To take this picture, I actually stood pretty close to her rump (definitely within kicking range if she felt so inclined, but I wasn't worried because she wasn't worried and I wasn't pushing her at all - just trying to get a picture, but of course I was very alert). She doesn't seem like a kicker though. Or a striker, but I guess we'll see when I start working with her. I think that her personality is actually quite passive and not defensive or offensive.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Some mare name ideas

Still having a very hard time finding a name for the mare. Here are a few more I found.

Kachina - from Hopi or Pueblan culture - a term for the spirit beings that inhabit natural objects (trees, sun, rocks...that sort of thing)
Faline - name of Bambi's friend - little doe
Kitsune - means fox in Japanese
Pixie - fairy or elf
Sprite - elf or forest spirit from midieval folklore.

I'm sure I'm going too deep with this, but nothing stands out yet.

Even closer!

Today, Griffin came even closer to eat his grass than he did yesterday. And I was able to turn and face him while sitting on the ground and while talking to him. And he still came this close! I was NOT using the zoom on the camera, either! He's also not moving away every time I make a movement now when I'm standing near the panels. At one point, I came to his pen and just sat on a chair up on the bank. At first, he moved to the other side of his pen, but then he came right over to the panels near me and looked at me, as if to say "where's my grass?" I'd call that progress.

I also found a huge chunk of pus in his water today but he's not draining from his glands. This is either snot, or maybe he coughed in his water. He does have a lot of bright white goo in the corner of his eyes (you can kinda see it in the picture), but I have no idea what it is being caused by. Perhaps he just has a cold.

Ms. Mare needs to be worked with. Today she kept trying to dodge around me to eat the hay I'd just thrown down to her, but I kept cutting her off because she wasn't offering to sniff my outstretched hand. Finally she did and then I left to reward her. She lets me walk pretty close to her without moving off what she's doing (usually eating) as long as I'm not looking at her.

At one point, she was relaxing in the barn when I checked in on her.

And the fat piggies had a little more pasture time today. They were happy and stuffed themselves again. I bribed them back into their over grazed pasture with grain and once they'd finished, they wanted to go right back out, but found that the fence was shut, so then they had to stand on the hill and sleep off their full bellies. They were full, but they would have gone right back out and continued eating! Maybe I shouldn't put them out there full time. They are going to get so fat!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Calming down

Griffin is really starting to calm down. He is still nervous, but he doesn't retreat to the barn near as often when I come down to beside his panels. He'll stand from the far side and watch me. He's not snorting anymore unless I startle him (appear from inside the barn). I've been picking grass and leaving it in his pen. Generally he stands and waits for me to leave before he comes forward to eat it.

Today though, I decided it was time to see how brave he can be, so after I dumped a huge pile of grass in beside his panel, I didn't leave. I stayed and crouched down and continued to pick grass right alongside his pen. I turned my back to him and just kept peaking back. He slowly crept up and started eating grass right beside me!

So, I continued to dump piles in as I made my way around his grassy bank (I needed to shorten some of the grass as it was starting to choke out some flowers I had planted there). He kept following me to each new pile. This is my favorite picture of him.

The key though was that I couldn't stand and face him. If I did that, he would move back and stand in front of the barn. Although, he doesn't have a suspicious look on his face! He still looks rather relaxed.

I'm starting to lose my fear and sense of intimidation associated with this horse. I don't think he is mean or aggressive at all. I think he is very scared and very uncertain and doesn't really know what to do. His answer when he was crowded at the BLM corrals was to fight back in the chutes. That doesn't make him a mean horse. That makes him a horse that has a huge trust deficit and it will take a long time to bank enough time and positive interactions to build that trust.

I have high hopes for him. I really think he's going to come around.

Today we let the horses out to graze in their new pasture for 45 minutes. As I expected, they didn't get very far from the gate. There's just so much grass!

Cody only got this far from the gate because I thought I'd lead her around the fenceline again to make sure they knew where it was, but Chico and Catlow only followed her a little and when we went into the woods, they ran back to the gate to continue grazing the tender stuff. Cody was pretty miffed that they didn't follow her. She is the lead mare afterall.

I took Catlow for a ride after this. This time I actually used a saddle. We rode around the property first, then off. She was nervous in places, but overall, she did pretty good. She's getting more comfortable with this area. In this picture, Chico and Cody watch me saddle Catlow up and are snoozing on their full bellies of green grass. Don't they look contented? I'm sure Catlow wished I would leave her be too.

I am dying to actually get in the mare's pen and do some work with her (no, she still doesn't have a name yet - I'm just not happy with any of them). She is so curious. She watches me constantly when I am in the pasture messing with the other horses and walking around her pen. I have basically been entering her pen once a day when I get hay for her and Griffin. Everytime I go to leave, I'll approach and retreat with her until she looks at me and sniffs my hand. Today, she actually bumped my hand with her whiskers - that's the closest she's gotten yet! I really want to work with the bamboo pole with her because I think she'll settle down really quickly with it, but I'm still waiting because she is still draining pus from her jaw. She's definitely perkier and I'm really happy to see that. I think she felt pretty awful the first couple days here. I pick green grass for her too. Her and Griffin also get some pelleted feed and a dash of oats for a supplement and they have started to clean it all up. I have a vitamin supplement too, but if I put that in there (even if I only put in 1/4 as much as recommended) they won't touch their grain.

Then I finish up each day dumping bleach water down the panels where I climbed over and on the ground where I stand and wipe my feet in it, then I dunk my hands in it too. So far the tame horses are not showing any swollen lymph nodes or runny noses. Griffin is still coughing and he drains snot from his nose, but no swollen glands that I can see and no lymph drainage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gaining weight and a name

Things are settling down here now, with a diagnosis for the mare and the acceptance of what the immediate future will be like on our place (guess I don't get to go on any trail rides with others for a while...but that's okay, I have lots to do).

I think that the mare is looking perkier today for sure. She is still draining from her lymph nodes, but I haven't seen her laying down and sleeping for the last couple days, and she seems to be a little more active and willing to move. She is still sweet and curious about me though, although I am staying away from her for now until she is not draining any icky contagious bacteria.

My schedule consists of doing stuff for my other horses earlier in the day, then just before I go home at night I rinse out mustang water buckets and get their hay (which I have to enter their pens to do). When I first discovered that she was sick, I loaded a bunch of hay onto a tarp and removed it from the barn so that I could feed my horses without getting contaminated. I've adjusted and accepted it. It is what it is, and I am flexible. I'm glad she's feeling better already. And she really is gaining weight already! Check out the picture I took of her today!

And here are two pictures where I was trying to show her lymph drainage, but my zoom wasn't very good and I am working on my mom's computer so couldn't figure out how to zoom and crop the pictures. For a closer look, you'll just have to click on the picture to open it full size.

My dad and I spent the day setting up a larger pasture for my horses. They've pretty much grazed their couple acres flat and need more grass so that I can wean them off hay and let their current pasture rest. We had to remove an old barbwire fence that my grandpa put in years and years ago when this was his place to scavenge enough T-posts to put up our new fence. We got all the posts set in and the insulators attached, and tomorrow we'll string wire and I'll walk the fenceline with the horses and them let them graze for a bit before putting them back in their overgrazed pasture (I want to take this move onto grass very slowly). Their new pasture is the top of a hill that encompasses the upper portion of a hay field and a pine stand where they can shelter from flies.

And I think we have a name for the boy.

We shall call him Griffin.

A Griffin is a mythical creature that is half lion and half eagle. It is thought to be a very powerful and courageous beast because it is the combination of the king of land beasts (the lion) and the king of birds (eagle). I think it is fitting for him. Plus the sound of the name just works. And it also happens to be my grandma's maiden name. My sister suggested it, and it sort of hooked me in right away. I haven't thought of anything better yet.

We are still searching for a name for the beautiful, sweet, dainty, feminine mare. I have come up with a few, but I'm not sold on any of them. I've found nothing that suits her from places in Utah or the habitat she grew up in. I've thought about spanish names, since her lineage is supposed to trace back to the conquistador's horses. Here are some names I've come up with: Sabrosa (means dainty), Solana (means place warmed by the sun), Querida (means sweetheart or darling), Gatita (kitten), and Chick-pea. I like Chick-pea simply because it is cute and suits her right now, but it's not very dignified. I don't really like how the other words sound. This is hard. Anyone else?

vet calls

Well, I talked to the vet and she said that it sounded like a classic case of strangles that the mare has. She also said that it is very contagious and my horses will likely come down with it. She said watch them and as soon as they start showing signs of it, we can start them on a 2 week course of oral antibiotic. Thankfully she said that it would only cost around $50 to treat all three of my horses (not including the new ones who will need to just let it run its course). I was very happy to hear that. She of course lectured me on how I need to alway quarantine any new horse coming to my place. I know, I've learned a lesson.

But then the vet had to go into how unpredictable these adult mustangs are and how you can never really get them to trust you like a domestic horse. She recommends to people to get a horse less than a year old. She said she knows a guy who's trained a few of them and one he has had for 12 years - but if you lose your balance in the saddle at all, this horse will dump you and head for home. Why do people have to say those things? I know they think they are helping, but really, domestic horses can act like that too! It all depends on the horse and how you work with it! At this point, I'm only thinking about getting the boy to let me touch him...I'm not even getting to the point of riding yet...I feel like the gentling will be the hardest part. Once he trusts me and I am actually able to touch him, it can only get better from there on out, right? I'm not so foolish as to think that it will be easy, but I think it is do-able! Tracey, you have a lot of adult mustangs...what do you think about the vet's statement?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 3 with the new ones

I didn't do much with the new mustangs today other than feed them, pick some grass for them, and clean out the mares water bucket with bleach (there was pus in the water).

I think that the mare has already started to gain some weight. She's filled out quite a bit (okay, she's still thin, but noticeably less so). And she actually looked a little perkier today the few times I looked in on her. Perkier as in she didn't have that sleepy look in her eyes. I also noticed that there is no drainage from her nostrils today. Maybe it's not strangles...but I think I'll swab the grain bucket and have the vet test it for the strep bacteria. Or maybe it IS strangles but a mild case, since she's been vaccinated for it. It'd be really nice to know if I need to worry about getting the others sick.

So I made a plan for "working" with the boy today. I'm going to start off doing what Arlene did with hers - feeding them fresh handpicked grass. I already know that he won't come eat from my hands, so what I plan to do every day is pick grass, give it to him, then leave so that he'll come and eat it. Once he comes to expect and enjoy it, I'll start sitting on the hill after I give it to him so that he has to accept my presence to eat it (hopefully he will). Then I'll move a little closer every day until he will come and eat it with me next to the panels. For now, that's my only plan. I need to get him to be able to let down his guard with me outside before I can even think about being inside with him.

Today, we spent the afternoon planting our garden beside his pen, so he's going to get a lot of exposure to us just being around there. When I fed him this evening, I sat on the panel inside the barn for a while and just watched him as he stood outside staring in and watching me. After a while, he started to blink his eyes a lot, like he was falling asleep, but his ears were moving all over listening to everything. I wonder if he is really tired because he's not letting down his guard to get some deep sleep, or I wonder if that is just a way he has of shutting down and blocking out my presence? Has anyone else seen that? I can't imagine why he would be comfortable enough to doze in my I don't think he was really sleeping. It makes sense that he might be blocking me out, since I took away his ability to hide in the barn and not even look at me like he does when I'm outside the panels. He is getting a little calmer (hasn't made a blind panic move, but is still retreating to the barn). Today I rode Cody out behind the barn near his pen and he forgot all about me being on her and came right over to the edge of the panels. Seems he has no fear of people on horseback...or maybe he realizes it's me and this horse that is now part of his herd that he watches in the pasture every day.

Chico and Catlow are in fine condition (if not a little blubbery). As I rode Cody around in the back hay field on the back side of their pasture today, they were running, and Chico was herding Catlow around, and they'd both kick up their heels and buck. Chico would come racing over the fence line and do sliding stops, spin and then gallop a circle and do it all again. And well after Chico quit running around, Catlow was still going. She likes the hills in their pasture. She would run up to the top of the one hill, then run down the side and up to the top of the other hill, back and forth. Catlow didn't cough or anything after she'd done this and I would think that if she was sick all that activity would loosen the phlegm. I heard her cough a couple of times before the new mustangs even showed up. I think it's just a spring cough thing...maybe the dusty hay gave her a cough. She's the one I'm most worried about catching strangles because she might actually have a depressed immune system.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sick baby

This is pus on the edge of her grain bucket.

Our little girl is VERY sick. I'm pretty sure she has strangles. Today, I was standing in her pen trying to convince her to approach me and sniff me, so I was squatting down on the ground. She was standing very close, so close that I could feel her breath on my outstretched hand, but she wouldn't come any closer. As I was sitting there watching her I notice that she had a thin watery (slightly brownish tinted) nasal discharge. THEN I noticed that she had something hanging from underneath her jaw, right in the middle between the two halves...a closer inspection revealed that it was actually puss caught on loose hair. And sure enough, she also had a swollen lump a little further back, almost in her throatlatch. She's coughing more often now, still phlegmy, and I notice that every once in a while she'll stop chewing her hay and stretch her neck out, letting the hay come out of her mouth while she makes a bit of a choking sound, then she'll resume eating. I also noticed that the left side of her cheek is very swollen...I don't think that is from stangles though...that seems more like an abcessed cheek or tooth or something.

And now I'm worried about the other horses that were meeting her through the fence! We put electric wire up so that they can't reach her to touch noses anymore, but it's probably too late now. And no, I didn't vaccinate mine against strangles, but in hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea. I really didn't imagine the mustangs coming in with diseases. They are actually vaccinated for strangles, but that vaccine is notoriously ineffective (part of the reason why I didn't see a need to vaccinate mine). I'm pretty sure that she wasn't draining pus yesterday, so hopefully the exposure that they had was not extreme. Plus, my horses are over 5 years old, very healthy, and pretty much in the prime of their lives. I am hoping that they don't get sick! Ugh! How awful!

I also read that antibiotics (penicillin) are very effective early one, but once they start draining from abcesses, antibiotics can prolong the infection. Not that I can give her injections now anyway...that'd be a way to destroy any little bit of confidence that she has in me!

I will be calling the vet on Tuesday to see what I need to do...if necessary, I wonder if I should start mine on a short course of antibiotics to prevent them from catching it. It's too late to vaccinate because it can take up to 2 weeks post vaccination to build full immunity.

In better news, the 2 year old boy did not try to run through the fence when I gave him hay this morning. He was still snorting and standing back watching me distrustfully as I talked to him and told him I understood, but really it was not necessary for him to snort at me. He really does think the barn is very safe. He thinks the danger lurks outside. I came through the side door and walked toward his area in the barn, and he didn't even notice me until I was right up beside his panel. Then of course, he snorted and lept outside. I think he just needs a lot of time. He is super scared.

She is not as scared, and before I noticed her pussy drainage, I had been walking her around the pen (yes, she walks, not panics), and trying to get her to just stop and look at me with both eyes. She was getting pretty good about it on her left side, but not so good on her right. It took more patience and I had to stand farther back and wait for her to look at me...if I approached or stood any closer, she'd just turn away from me and walk away. On her left side though, she'll actually turn into me and face me then change direction and walk off. I'm sure that the walking has something to do with being very sick. I'm going to not even go in her pen anymore. She needs the rest, and I don't want to contaminate myself and end up being the vector that transmits the bacteria to my horses, if they don't have it already. No wonder she was sleeping so much. Poor girl.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What have I gotten myself into?

Well, we had a little mishap today. We are dealing with a very very fearful boy. He has decided that the barn is his safe place and he retreats here every time I come around the outside of his pen (I don't go inside his pen because he can't handle it). Well, then I needed to go in to feed him, so I was standing in the barn and he was snorting at me from the far corner of the pen. I was walking around in the barn and tossing hay flakes out to him. He's not afraid of the hay flakes flying through the air, but if I move to fast or toward him, he becomes extremely panicked. I was standing in the doorway by the edge and he decided to make a run for it, INTO the barn and straight into the panel. I ducked out of the barn and into the pen as soon as I saw he was making a move for it. The panel bent, but held him in.

He's fine, just a little scrape on his nose. I climbed out of the pen while he was still in the barn, then came around to try to make sure that he saw me in the barn after the whole thing was over. I didn't want him to think that his panicky flight made me go away. In this picture, he is still snorty, but as long as I stand very still, he'll come forward to investigate the hay...but he does NOT like that I'm there. At all. I have to admit that I am very intimidated by this horse, but I think now I see that he is absolutely scared to death. The problem is, how can I work with him at all if I can hardly stand on the outside of his pen without him running off and retreating for the barn? We are putting in a garden on the hill behind him, so he'll get to see us doing things around him. He's not afraid of THINGS, just people. He was intensely interested when we came out with the rototiller, but after a few minutes he was ignoring us again and eating hay. People are the bad guys.

I guess we'll just give him time working outside the pen right now...and if he doesn't settle down any more, I'm going to need some serious help with him. I don't think I'm experienced enough to deal with this kind of a fearful that can potentially get aggressive to defend himself because he feels so threatened.

In an extreme contrast is the little girl. She'll roll, eat oats with me standing on the outside of the pen and a few feet away. And today, I saw her sleeping. She saw me come closer, but didn't care. She was tired. I also heard her cough a few times today. It was really phlegmy when she inhaled between coughs. I hope it's just a passing thing due to stress, because it would really suck to try to treat her for pneumonia. I only heard her cough about 4-5 times in a row, and that was just one time. But she is sweet and has grown on me already in just a day.

I SO wish she was a little bigger. If she doesn't grow, she'll either be my pack pony, or maybe I can have her trained to pull a cart (not by me since I have no experience with that). Or she just might actually have that fabulous of a disposition that she could be a kids horse. She's really not very spooky. I can walk around in her pen and she just calmly moves to the far side. I can stand in the middle and sometimes she'll stop and look at me and think about coming closer, but she doesn't yet. Today I cleaned out the shed right next to her pen to make room for my saddles. I was banging, putting in nails for hangers, throwing stuff around and appearing out of no where, and she just watched without jumping. The only times she jumped was when she was facing away eating and I SUDDENLY appeared from around the corner. Other than that, I think the shed cleaning was a really good lesson for her. I did ALOT of moving around and working, throwing strange things on the ground outside her pen, and she accepted it and wasn't afraid. I think that being in the front pen gives her the benefit of seeing me interact with the "tame" horses. Chico and Cody always come up to the fence when they see me in the shed (they are thinking treats), so she'll come forward and stand at the fence with them, but so far, she's been too chicken to sniff the treat in an outstretched hand.

Friday, May 22, 2009

There are two wild horses in my wild horse pens!

Well, they are here! And I took a lot of photos...too many to load into blogger. So I'm giving a link to the facebook album where I also have comments attached to the photos telling the story of our day.

The basic arrangement is the adoption pens, then I show photos and talk about the mare, then photos and talking about the stud (to-be-gelding).

It looks like they must have trimmed up their feet before the adoption - I conclude this only because they are not overgrown and they've been in a holding facility since November.

Also, I'm trying to come up with names for them...I like to go with something that is unique or descriptive for the horse, or is a name that heralds from their stomping grounds (for example, Catlow's name is from the Catlow Mountains and Valley in the South Steens HMA area). These guys come from the Needle Range in western Utah. I won't tell the names that have been popping into my head because they are corny and I don't like them. I'd love to hear suggestions! Naming is hard because names are so important!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm ready!

The pens are assembled, rain gutter is up to slow drainage through the pens, plywood is up covering the tin, and the pens are now equipped with full water buckets and hay troughs full of fresh green hay! I think I'm ready.

All along I was planning to have the BLM put halters and long lead ropes on the two, but the last couple days, I've been wondering if maybe I shouldn't. My halters aren't break away halters, and the pens have a lot of places that a halter could accidently get snagged. These are an older style of panel that has really unsafe attachements between the panels (see this post for a closeup of the attachements). I can only imagine how awful it would be to try to untangle a wild horse hung up on a panel by a halter. Either the wild horse will be ruined, or the panel will be ruined, or both. So, today after walking through, looking for any place they could get hung up, and just mulling it over a lot (weighing the risks of them getting injured versus the ease with which we could have gentling a horse wearing a halter and lead rope), I've decided that we are not going to have the BLM put halters and leadropes on them. I feel immediately relieved and now we'll just focus on the gentling. I've heard many people say that the slower and more thoroughly you take the gentling process, the better it sticks in their heads. I hope that's the case!

Today we also removed the dividers from our three horse slant load trailer so that it will served as a "stock" trailer. We went through that too to make sure that there are no protruding edges they could get caught on and we ended up duct taping a rag around the columns that the divider pins had set in. Up near the ceiling there is a ring that slants up that the trailer ties snap to. If the horses were wearing halters I'd be really worried about them getting caught on that, but they aren't, so I think the trailer is safe! Now I hope they don't try to go through the windows...anyone had experience with this? Our windows are covered with a metal grate inside, but if a horse was super determined, he could push through that. I just wonder if they will try to go out a place where they can see outside (through the window, even though the windows will be closed). When we brought Chico and Catlow home, it wasn't a concern because they were so little, the windows were up high and they wouldn't have attempted to go through them. On this trailer, the windows on one side are down low so a horse can look out, but on the back side, they are up higher. Should we cover the low windows? I know I should have thought of all this before, but we are bringing along a whole host of supplies so that we can adjust when we get to pick them up. We have cardboard, duct tape, rags, all sorts of stuff.

Tonight I've been studying for my physics final...I plan to take it at 1pm tomorrow after we unload the horses at home. This means that we'll be getting up early to head out to pick them up at 9am. If we don't get back in time for me to take my exam at 1pm, I have a back up date scheduled for next week Tuesday, but I'd really just like to get that class over with.

Wish me luck! The next post that you see from me will hopefully be of those same two pens, but with horses in them!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Only 2 more days!

Today, my dad and I hung a gutter under the overhang of the barn. We won't be able to get the load of sand in time, so the gutter will keep a lot of water out of the pens. They'll only be a little muddy right after it rains. Maybe we'll be able to get some sand later.

The pens are now ready and waiting for their new occupants. I'm really excited, but also a bit apprehensive. I've been anticipating this for a long time (and also just anticipating being able to get back out and spend more time with the other horses too). The end of physics coinciding with the arrival of the wild ones is a really firm transition to summer for me. I worry that I won't be able to gentle them and I worry that I won't have enough time to spend on everyone. I also worry that maybe they won't settle down as fast as I'm hoping they will and I'm also not looking forward to having to be very careful around new horses...I've gotten pretty relaxed with mine. I know them so well and I know how they react to things, so I really don't have to be on guard with them (although I guess we do always need to be a little on guard or someone will get hurt, and accidents happen all the time). But I'm also looking forward to the challenges of working with them too. I think I need to get this physics over with because right now, I have so much to do that I can't really focus on any one thing. The day I get to wake up and only think about what I want to get accomplished with the horses today will be wonderful! I can't wait!

I think one of the things I'm most excited about is the actual trip to go pick up the new mustangs. I've always liked taking trips and especially to go do something with horses. I like the casual conversations that happen when riding in cars and watching the scenery go by. The horses are being delivered to Marshfield, WI, just over an hour from our house. There are around 60 horses being offered up for adoption in Marshfield. Our neighbor is coming along and I think that he'd really really like to bring one home too. Unfortunately, the actual adoption is not until the day after we pick up our two. I think that day is a viewing day. It's required that we pick the online adopted horses up that day because if for some reason we didn't show or decided we didn't want them, the horses would be offered up along with the others in the regular adoption. But no worries about us leaving one behind...we are bringing them both home! I'm also excited to wander and look at the others that they'll have there. I'm not sure what management areas these horses will be coming from, but I'm guessing Nevada. Perhaps my neighbor will be making a second trip up there??? I'll see if I can't talk him into it. :)

Speaking of adoptions, the internet adoption just recently ended. Most of the Oregon horses were adopted...I must say that Oregon horses are my favorite, but I guess I'm a little biased :) My favorite big bay was bid on almost right away. A handsome bay yearling with lots of chrome went for $720. I was surprised to see a sorrel yearling go for $670! I couldn't tell what was so special about him over the others...he had decent conformation looking past the awkward fuzzy baby look, but no special marking or anything, but I guess someone just really wanted him! Or rather, two people must have really wanted him. He even went for way more that the fancy silver dapple colored filly.

The chicks are growing quickly and are not nearly so cuddly as they used to be. They are quite flighty now and do not want to be held anymore. Time to move them to a pen! Right now they are in a huge box in the garage.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mustang pens and chicks

The chicks are growing so fast, but it's hard to tell just how fast until I noticed today that there is one who is not quite thriving as well as the others. Notice how tiny the little black chick is compared to the yellow one beside him (and see how long the yellow one's primaries are!)

You can see that he holds his wings at a funny angle too. They sort of stick out, while the others hold their wings flat against their bodies. He was eating a lot today though, so maybe he just didn't start eating right away and he'll catch up. Or maybe there's something wrong inside and no matter how much he eats, he's not going to thrive. We'll see.

Before we started working today, I took some pictures of the pens. Note the new boards along the bottoms. Since these pictures, we've done a lot more, but I didn't take any after pics.

This is the front pen. The two posts closest to the barn on each side are set in the ground, while the three posts in the middle are "floating" posts; the panels are attached to them, but they are not dug into the ground so that we can move them. Notice that two of the posts are attached right next to eachother. This is essentially how we'll get the horses in (and out), and it is our gate. On the outside fence, the middle post is also floating.

This is a closeup of one of the post set ups to show you how we attached the panels to the posts (this happens to be one of the floating posts). We drilled a hole through the metal, and then attached the panels to the posts with 4.5 inch lags. The next panel is attached to the first with the panel attachments. Notice that on the rear pen (first picture), each panel has a post attached to it, unless we meant it to act as a gate, then that panel is only attached to the other panels by the hinges, so that it can be unlatched and swung open. The panel in the near corner on the side can be swung open.

I was at first a little worried that drilling holes in the panels would weaken them, and I think that it does a little, but these panels are really really old and almost trashed as they are. Many of them are bent and some have pipes that are starting to rust through (we didn't use these ones in the pens). I was worried that I might not be able to use them as a round pen in the future if we drilled holes in them, but now, I'm convinced that they would be a marginal round pen anyway with the shape that some of them are in. The rear pen will be a permanent pen, but the front pen will eventually be replaced with a wooden corral. And if I need a round pen in the future, we'll have to buy a new one, although that might not be necessary either because my neighbor has a round pen/arena that I'm allowed to use, so I just need to get the horses leading and then I can work with all of them down there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More work on the mustang pens

Today, my dad and I put 2x6 boards along the bottom edge of our mustang pens. Since our panels were only 5ft, we raised them 1 ft and bolted them to posts. The board along the bottom filled in the gap left by raising them so that there is no gap larger than 1ft. This way they won't even consider trying to go out underneath. There are no pictures quite yet because we still need to finish up lining the tin with plywood and getting a load of sand. I'll take pictures when it's all done, which will be before this next Friday because that's when we pick them up!!!!!

I'm super excited, but I have so much to do before then, not just with getting them ready, but with my physics courses. I have to do 2 more chapters before Monday, take my 3rd exam, then do 3 more chapters and take my 4th and final exam on Friday after we pick the mustangs up. This is much much faster than I completed the 1st course. I can tell the pace if affecting how I'm doing though...I am not taking enough time to go back over stuff and really get it down, so my grades have been a little lower this time around, but I'll still pass. Passing is all I need to do to fulfill the prerequisite anyway.

Wish me luck! As soon as this class is over, it's all horses for me...well, not really, I also have to reanalyze some data for my master's research and get my final manuscript finished and sent out for publication before the summer is over, so I really just have too much to do. But the horses will be a much larger priority after this class, and I WILL get more riding time and will hopefully get these new mustangs gentled quickly. Can't wait!!!

And the new chicks are just growing like weeds! They already fill their box up by quite a bit more and have grown little primary and secondary wing feathers. They are also a lot more active. Now they spurt around and run and hop, bowling eachother over in between periods of quiet rest and sleep. They are also getting a little more spunky and if I move to catch one, they run away, but if I don't try to catch and just move my hand around in the box, they run to me. Silly chicks.

Chicks are cute

My favorite chicks...the buff orpington/araucana crosses...note the adorable orange color with brown stripes.

It's so interesting that our chicks seem to come in pairs and triplets of identical color patterns. I'm sure it has to do with having hatched out about 2-3 eggs from each hen, but there are only 5 differnent kinds, and I've seen many more color patterns than that. The leghorn/araucana cross chicks are all light yellowish varying from no dark markings to very strong head dots and back stripes...same for the buff orpington/aracuana crosses...all chicks are orange, but varying levels of brown markings.

My neice and nephew love baby chicks too. They missed the hatching, but got to come over the day after and play with day old chicks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The chicks have arrived!

Yesterday our chicks started hatching. Our's is a mixed 16 hen, 2 rooster flock of buff orpingtons, silver laced wyandottes, black australorps, and araucaunas. The 2 roosters are both aracauna, and only 1 hen is. We have about 3 - 4 eggs from each hen in the incubator. We have an interesting color mix of chicks. As of right now, 31 have hatched out and we are still waiting on the last 3. 2 of those have pipped, but I fear the 3rd one is dead. There's no pecking or peeping coming from that egg.

Here is a sequence of pictures starting from the first chick last night, to the first few in the brooder, then the whole batch that hatched out today. I love chicks. These are definitely imprinted on me. When I cuddle them, they snuggle against my hand and get quiet. When they are older, we'll be eating the roosters, and probably many of the hens, but we'll keep the especially cute ones, so it's okay if I bond with a few.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And the mystery photo is....

....rainwater in a bucket of loose mineral salt! This is one of those green hang-over-the-fence buckets that had a couple cups of loose salt in it. It used to be in the barn so it didn't get wet, but the horses are currently blocked out of there now that we are getting ready for the new horses. So, this bucket is sitting outside.

There is not enough water in it to dissolve all the salt, so you can see the remaining salt crystals at the bottom. However, there is as much salt as possible dissolved into the water meaning that it has reached it's saturation point. Now, as water molecules leave the surface of the water when they evaporate, the salt in the water at the surface precipitates out because the water is already saturated. The salt precipitates in perfect crystalline squares (look at table salt really close up and you'll see this). And the way that it crystallized is in an inverted square crystal, so the salt crystals are floating on the surface of the water like little square boats. The smaller crystals here are probably only 1/8 inch across, but some of them were up to 3/4 inch across! And in some places the crystals met and grew into a mat.

They are so abstract, that when I first saw it I thought "yuck, junk growing in the wet salt bucket" but then I noticed that it was just salt growing.

Since I've started giving my horses loose salt, I never see them eat it. I used to see them licking on the salt blocks all the time. While it's possible they don't eat it at all, I think that they can actually get all that they need in one lick, so they don't have to worry away at that super hard block for hours at a time. And for a while, they were getting plenty of salt in the free choice minerals, which they've decided they like all except for 4 of the 16 now. I'll elaborate on that more later when I feel like typing more about it.

And I had a great time today. We went to my grandma's, which is the farm where we keep the horses. Since we own the place, my dad usually does all the mowing, but since he's still recovering from shoulder surgery, he can't weed-whack, so he just hasn't gotten around to it. My grandma must have told my aunt, so my aunt, uncle, and my cousin came over today to help her with her lawn. We (my mom, dad, and I) were there too, so it turned into a very fun unplanned afternoon of mowing, tilling up my grandma's garden, cutting down old bushes, setting up a new flower bed, and digging and transplanting lilac bushes. Then, we grilled some brats, and grandma made mashed potatoes and we refilled our energy reserves. My grandma's brother and his wife ended up stopping by too. It was a very productive fun day. I really love yard work and landscaping. It definitley puts my soul in touch with the present. It's also something that I just haven't gotten to do for several years because I haven't been around home and I was renting a place in town.

These pictures aren't very good because I didn't think to take some of them until it was starting to get dark. I'll do more later after we get flowers set up in the new beds. I'm also excited about getting the mustang pens finished soon. I planted grass on the bank behind the rear pen and it is growing in thick!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chico is horrid

I enjoyed Arlene's post about Wildairo being horrid yesterday, because today was Chico's horrid day!

It didn't start out so bad. I played with him in the pasture, scratched and loved on him. Then, my dad came in through the gate and left it unlatched. While we were chatting, Chico walked up and shoved it open, waltzing out into the yard to graze. I wasn't in a big hurry to catch him, since I figured he wasn't going anywhere, when suddenly, Cody appeared out of nowhere and shoved her way through the already open gate, too. Then I went and got a halter and lead and approached Cody. She trotted away, but I trotted alongside her and she stopped, like a good girl...she knows she's supposed to stop and face me. I put her back in the pasture, then went to go catch Chico. He trotted away from me and dropped his head to graze in a different location. I followed, and he appeared to wait. I was about to slip the rope around his neck, when he slowly turned away and started to walk off. It's kind of an instinct for me to pop him with the rope on the butt if he presents it to me when I'm trying to catch him. This of course works great when he's in an enclosed space...I chase him around for a while, and he realizes he was naughty and stops and faces up. Well, being that we were outside the pasture, I probably shouldn't have done that. He took off for the back hay field (borders their pasture). By the time I caught back up to him, he was still thinking that he was having way too much fun out there by himself eating the lush green grass and then took off back for the barn area. Once he got there, he circled once, then decided to take off around the pasture going the other direction. Well, this took him onto the road (thankfully a little not busy country road), and around to our neighbor's freshly mowed lawn. My Dad went after him in the Rhino, and Chico came running back (cantering up the road), and into the barn area again. I had him cornered and was trying to engage him and get him to stop, but he just decided to keep dodging me, and then took off down the road to the neighbor's property again. That's where I finally caught up to him (with a bucket of oats as a bribe) and was able to halter him (I didn't give him any oats though). I led him home and let him stand tied for a while. No harm done except for a few divots in the neighbor's lawn, but they were minor. The little turd had company this whole time too...Cody and Catlow were whinnying for him and galloping along the fence line to keep near him. I know I shouldn't have done something so aggressive as pop him when he was avoiding me, but I obviously wasn't really thinking. I was just reacting to him turning away from me and completely disrespecting me. I think I may need to take him to the neighbor's arena now and do a catching lesson so that he will still face up even when I have to put pressure on him.

In better news, I trimmed Catlow's back feet today while she was tied to the hitching post (facing the pasture this time) and she was a perfect angel. Either tying her the other way was key, or she was just more comfortable today.

And now, it is time for a mystery photo. I took this today, so obviously I know what it is...but I wanted to see if there was anyone out there who could ID this from such an abstract photo. It was taken in the barnyard area. That's the only clue. Give me your best guess.