Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Playfight! Or maybe it's not playing?

I've been reading about all the training that my blogger friends are getting started on this year, and I'm jealous! I ache to get out there and do something with my horses, but alas, the snow is too deep (and I'm tied to the baby indoors). Sometimes I really miss my setup in Idaho where I had an indoor round pen and the best trails ever right outside the barn. I'll just have to be happy watching my horses play in the field for now. This is what they were up to this morning...

Chico and Griffin really tear it up out in the field. They are the only two geldings amongst five mares. Sometimes I wonder if Griffin is trying unseat Chico from his higher standing, but I think most of the time, they are just playing. Griffin pesters Chico constantly though. I think most of these pictures need no captions. Remember, Griffin is the dun who will be 4 years old this year and Chico is the bay who will be 7 years old. Chico has always been a high standing member of my little herd, while Griffin has only just joined it a year ago.

Don't the mares look a little bored?

Cody and Kachina both pin their ears at the boys as they barge through the middle of the herd. They are saying: play your little hearts out, but don't run into me!

This picture may need a caption: Kachina (will be 5 years old, red dun mare) is heading up to get involved in what the boys are doing. She is the only mare that does so - gets all mixed up in the geldings playing. I'm not quite sure why she does it. She's lower than either of them in the herd hierarchy...maybe that's why. It's a time she gets to try to throw her own weight around and act tough. None of the other mare bother with "playing". It's beneath them.

After separating himself, Chico decides to head back down to the main herd at a full gallop.

Griffin and Kachina both lunge at him as he races by.

Chico gets back and immediately settles in to rest with the mares. He's pooped (he's overweight).

Kachina is still full of energy so she continues to pester Griffin to play. She isn't always the instigator. Just this time.

She kicks at him.

Then ends her kick with a lovely tail swat to the face!

I love watching them! The funniest thing is that later in the day, I saw the boys playing again, and somehow, Griffin got stuck under Chico! I think Chico reared up, came down over Griffin's back, and then becamse high-centered! The two of them kept whirling around and around trying to free themselves. I worried that they might get into the fence since this was all happening along the fenceline where they like to loaf, but thankfully they freed themselves without incident...then continued fighting like nothing had happened. If anything, it increased the intensity of their play. They were down on their knees biting eachother ferociously, and Chico was kicking Griffin repeatedly as Griffin kept chasing him and pestering him. Sometimes I really do wonder if Griffin isn't trying to drive Chico out of the herd, but then when they stop playing, everyone rests/grazes peacefully. I never see actual pinned ear chasing out of the's always aggressive rearing and playing all around and through the herd. And in the end, it seems like Chico is still above Griffin. Chico can make Griffin move out of his way when he really means it (usually that happens around the hay feeder).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another online adoption

The BLM is hosting another online adoption starting March 2nd. So far, there are not many horses uploaded online, but I think they'll probably add more before the adoption begins. What's special about these horses is that they are offering youngsters from the Sulphur Utah herd management area again - where Griffin and Kachina came from.

I am very unhappy with their photos of the horses this time though...they took them indoors in a small pen, so there are almost no good conformation shots and many are dark and shadowy, so the horses' coloring doesn't come through well. I think that a good picture is worth a thousand words and can make the difference between adoption and getting passed over. I wish they would have done better for these horses.

All the horses look a little rough, but I think it's exaggerated due to poor picture quality.

I LOVE this little filly's face! (wish I had more room!) She is so cute, even though I can see she's stressed (snot running down her nose).
Horse #4547

One of my favorite horses listed so far is this little 2 year old mare. Her facial expressions are wonderful and she is beautiful, although I fear that fact won't come across for most people and she may be passed up (because she is only bay and the pictures are terrible).
Horse #4543

Come on BLM, next time do better! It's worth it for you if it increases the likelihood of the horses to be adopted!
I know a lot of my pictures look similar, but like I said, this is the view I get to see from my house. This morning was beautiful and sunny and the day after another Wisconsin blizzard. We had 1 week of above freezing weather and our several feet of snow had almost completely melted, but just one day of windy snowy weather, and it's ba-ack! I guess it's not quite spring yet, eh? This winter has had way more snow than average for this region.

The horses bask in the sun to warm up in the relief of the still weather. Windy blizzards suck a lot of heat from their bodies. Look at their long shadows!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicken lover

Yes, I am a chicken lover. I can't explain it, but I've always had a fascination for birds, especially chickens. We built a fabulous chicken coop this summer for our house (so that we could have chickens in our back yard instead of at the farm). I ordered some chicks early last spring and they started laying eggs last fall. I like a variety of egg colors in my egg cartons, so I choose some hens for their attractive feathering, and others for the color of their eggs. Gold campines lay white eggs, cuckoo marans lay dark brown eggs, Welsummers lay dark brown eggs, and blue-laced red wyandottes lay light brown eggs. We also have a couple hens from our old farm yard henhouse and they are mostly mixed breed hens, but they are good layers. We have 19 hens and 2 roosters. We currently get around a dozen eggs a day and our extras go to family and neighbors.

So we do have a colorful carton of eggs.

The breeds we have are not known for being broody (willingness to hatch eggs), but every once in a while, you get a hen who is really in touch with her instincts and she gets the urge to set and incubate a clutch of eggs. We haven't had such a hen for several years, but this winter, one of my Welsummer hens decided she wanted to have her own chicks. So when I noticed her in the nest box all day several days in a row, we decided to give her some eggs and see if she'd hatch them.

I gave her a batch of 8 eggs that had been laid that day (not hers, a mix of the other hens), and blocked off her with a wire dog kennel so that other hens wouldn't interfere with her. I candled the eggs halfway through incubation and two were not fertile, but the others were dark. I threw out the unfertile eggs.

On Saturday, 21 days later, I was greeted by a chorus of cheeps!

Momma hen eyes me suspiciously, but she's actually a very trusting hen and lets me photograph them.

There are six chicks total, 3 are grey, 2 are brown speckled, and 1 is black. Our roosters are a gold campine and a blue-laced red wyandotte, so it is uncertain if any of the chicks are purebred or not, but it doesn't really matter. They are so stinkin' cute! And momma hen is doing a great job with them.

She pecks at food to show them what to eat, and they watch closely!

I threw a piece of bread in there to try to entice momma out so that I could get some pictures of her chicks, but she just reached out and pulled it close.

She ripped it to little pieces and dropped them in front of her chicks. They jumped in to feast. One little grey chick grabbed a chunk and ran to the next box over to swallow it in peace.

Even though he had a huge piece, he managed to gulp it down!

They are just so cute, and I am so excited to be able to watch momma hen nurture her babies.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby girl is growing!

Here are some of my favorite recent pictures of Wren. She'll be 5 months old next week! She's sitting up unaided, eating some solid foods (she's loved every veggie that she's tried), she rolled over from her back to her belly at 4 months old, she "talks", and she giggles at just about everything!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Little mule

These are the pictures that the rescue has on their website. I'm not exactly certain when they were taken, but by the looks of the trees and grass, I'd say late spring/early summer. We brought her home in April of 2010, so the pictures might be from summer 2009, and I guess her poor condition then could be due to her previous situation. However, she had difficulty shedding out and looked rough for a couple months after we got her last spring, which would be a year after the rescue pics. I'll be interested to see how she looks this spring. I know the rescue said they had her at least a year before we got her. She'll be 5 years old this summer.

This picture shows her shortly after we got her in spring. She is still not shed out, but she doesn't look as bad as I remember her being. It was probably mostly the rough coat that made her look in such poor condition and it was rough because it was old dull winter hair.

The following picture is her later in the summer. She'd shed out by then and was looking pretty glossy.

I guess the real test will be to see how she sheds out this spring.

Snowshoeing with the little monster

We have had a very cold winter. I'd say it's been colder than average with highs only in the teens and even single digits more often than not. And we've also gotten quite a bit more snow than usual (added on to a summer with way more rain than usual - multiple storms that dumped 7-8 inches of rain at once). It's been a crazy year to say the least, especially given that we have a new addition to our family to add to that! Since it's been so cold, baby and I have been house bound. When the highs suddenly went from single digits the day before to almost 50 degrees today, we HAD to get outside! We decided to go snowshoeing around our place. We started out carrying baby in a wrap, but she became upset when she couldn't see well. Everytime she looked to the side, her hood would occlude her vision. So we ended up pulling her out of the wrap and carrying her. The conditions were absolutely perfect for snowshoeing! The snow had settled just enough that we only sank in about 4-5 inches (on top of another couple feet of snow).

Our path took us along the horse pasture, right past the area where I always watch them loafing.

They all of course came to investigate! Doesn't little Pumpkin look in fabulous condition? Granted, she also has lots of winter fluff, but she looks in great proportion compared to the big bellied, thin bodied animal that came to us. And you might think that I'm horrible, but I don't worm my horses constantly. I think that they can build up a bit of resistance to the parasites themselves. I've decided to only worm in the fall after the ground freezes so that they can have a winter parasite free.

Cody and Chico look so cute, but would you have guessed she had her ears laid back at him the moment before I snapped this photo?

Griffin is one handsome boy.

His zebra striping really stands out. He'll be 4 years old this spring, and I plan to really start working with him this summer, now that I'm no longer pregnant. I'll have to get someone to watch the little monster while I do that, but I really want to get back out and on my horses this year.

The lineup of horses. They are currently standing in their usual loafing spot. You can see how packed down they have the snow, although they are still standing on close to 2 feet of packed snow! Our house is visible in the background. I love to be able to see them from there during the day.

Kachina is also in good condition, although her slim build and high energy temperament prevent her from looking fat like some of the others. Kachina will be 5 this year, but she still looks and acts like a baby.

Kachina is interested in the little monster in Todd's arms. This picture shows how high the snow is. The top strand of wire is usually level with the base of the horses' necks when there is no snow.

My little monster is the cutest little girl in the world. She is now 4.5 months old and getting so active! In a future post, I'll show some of my favorite pics of her.

After we got to the top of the hill, I took over carrying the monster for Todd. She gets heavy! She weighs about 19 lbs now! She's thrived!

Jasper has a hard time in the snow as well. Him and Sage sink much more than we do, since they aren't wearing snow shoes. He doesn't care though. He's high energy enough that this barely wore him out...although I was wore out and had to take a nice long nap with my baby when we got home. Neither of us are used to all this fresh air!