Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Well, so much for that.

We are getting a couple of inches of snow today. And the weather will turn cold for the next week, so I think it will be sticking around for a while. Oh well, at least it covers the mud!

Last weekend, it was gorgeous on Saturday (55!) and I asked my mom to come and watch the little rascal (she jumped at the chance). I skipped away and rode a horse! I played with them out in the pasture for a while. Kachina is an in-your-pocket horse. I haltered her, lead her around and groomed her for some practice. She was awesome. Let me halter her and just wanted to be played with. That's wonderful for a wild horse that's been ignored all winter. Pumpkin also wouldn't leave me alone. Griffin was interested, and approached a few times, but did not let me approach him without moving away. Cody, however, didn't come to visit the person with the curry comb, but she did let me approach and halter her when I was ready. I tried a new bit on Cody. She'd been trained with a TomThumb type bit (shanked with broken mouth piece), but I've read that those types of bits can cause confusion with rein signals. Since she did seem to not respond super quickly when I rode her last fall (but she'd also had a couple months off before I climbed aboard after baby), I decided to try a solid mouth bit. So I have a very gently curved curb-type bit that I tried on her. Afterall, the severity of the bit is determined by the hands that are connected to it, not the bit itself. And those broken mouth type bits can really be severe when they pinch the mouth as they fold in half when pulled on.

I couldn't do any ground work before riding, since it was so muddy, so I took her for a walk down the road a ways first. She was excited and nervous. I'm really glad I walked her first, especially since I was riding bareback. Even so, she was still keyed up when I climbed aboard. We rode down the road and through the woods on some closed snowmobile trails. They were partly snow covered and partly bare. Cody was quite nervous and antsy and just wanted to go home. I guess that's what happens when you haven't ridden a horse all winter, it's melting snow, and a little windy. She did spook a couple of times at flushing grouse and the wind, but other than that, she was pretty good and responded really well to the bit. She turned very nicely and even bent her body in the right direction when neck-reining. I was surprised at myself for having such a good seat when she spooked while I rode bareback. It's been quite a long time since I've ridden! This was only the second time I'd ridden in the last year!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What a difference a week makes!

One week ago, the snow was still pretty deep out in the pasture. Now, after a week of 40's and 50's and a little rain, most of the ground is bare, with the exception of the north facing slopes.

I wish that my new header pic was what spring looked like here right now, but unfortunately, that is a picture from last spring, taken in April.

This is what it looks like right now...dreary and muddy.

Today, we had sleet and some hail with thunderstorms. The horses stood under the bare leafless oaks for shelter. They could have stood in the shed, or under the dense pines (at least they have leaves!). Why they choose the places they do is beyond me. The dense pines are also on the same side of a hill that the oaks are, so they'd be blocked from winds coming from the same direction.

These pictures are from a week ago now already. Momma hen is pretty protective of her rapidly growing chicks. We started out with 6, but right away one died, and I think it was my fault. I think I startled the hen and she stepped on one chick. Then about a week and a half ago, the smallest chick suddenly went missing. I had them in a large wire dog kennel in the main coop area. I think the smallest one squeezed out of the cage and happened to find his way outside of the coop (I had left the door open overnight that night), and since it was below zero, I'm pretty sure he didn't make it. I found no other sign of him in the coop anywhere.

The rest of the chicks are doing great. They are really feathering out and growing up.

They are no longer in the large dog kennel. I moved them to the other half of the coop so that they could have more room.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winter's end

Even though the ground is still snow covered, the end of winter is in sight! Forecasted highs in the 50s and 60s (YAY!!!!) for the rest of this week promise to get rid of the remaining snow very quickly!

The horses bask in the sun at morning's first light.

Later, they are found napping while Chico stands sentinel.

Griffin and Kachina are so comfortable that they lay flat out while Chico guards them.

Later on, I saw Griffin get up and stand for a while and Chico laid down with the rest of the herd.

There is still a lot of snow in the pasture, but on some of the south facing slopes in our yard, there are bare patches of ground! Of course, they were found by the chickens today!

Most chickens I've ever seen really dislike snow. They won't walk in it if it is deeper than an inch or two. So, when the weather was nice this winter, I had to shovel a small patch outside their coop door so that they'd come out and get some fresh air. I didn't have to worry about shutting their fence door because there was no way they'd wander. Too much snow! But on this day, I did close the door, and even so, one determined hen found her way over the fence and ran across the old hard snow (hard because it had settled) to forage bird seed on the bare patches of ground around the bird feeder.

We are all excited for spring!