When I first weaned Jackson, I left him and RT in the familiar stall/paddock where Jackson was born, and had lived all his life, when not on pasture. It's the most secure and sturdy, as well as being familiar, and the stall was bedded with straw instead of pellets, for the health of immature eyes and lungs, as well as somewhat fluffier bedtimes.
Last weekend I finished the last bale of the half ton of straw that I got last spring prior to Misty foaling. Plus, the smaller paddock was getting pretty muddy from having two inhabitants, one of whom was always romping around, trying to get the other to play. So I switched the guys with Misty, giving them more room and slightly nicer footing (at least for the moment).
Jackson got all excited! At the larger expanse. Oh boy, Oh Boy! GO BOY! At all the new sights. I've NEVER seen the EAST side of the farm! At the chance to play! Hey, Old Man. Let's go!Come on! Leave me alone, Kid!
RT, on the other hand, decided the clean snow provided an opportunity to get a good back scratch. Wait, RT, wait....I'll take your coat off for you.
Hey, Lady! Aren't you supposed to be taking pictures of ME?!? Get out my shot, Squirt!
Meantime... Wait a sec. What's this doin' here? Is it a new toy for me? I don thin so. It don belong here. Bye bye, blankie. Thar she goes. What, Mama Laurie? I don nos hows it gotz there. This is only a few of a series of over 30 photos I took over less than two minutes, while Jackson took care of that misplaced blanket. When I run through them quickly on Picasa, I get a cute little mini-video. But I can't figure out how to share that with you folks.... I'm asking Santa for a video camera for Christmas, seeing as how my little Cannon, with which I shot earlier short clips of Mr. CutiePie, is on the fritz.
Hey, Lady. Why didn't you just put my mare back in with me, and leave this little snot by himself? All you'd have to do is open this here gate just a bit... Pleeeeese? See ya later, guys.Play nice!
So little Mister Jackson is coming into the stall regularly for his grain.And eating it mostly all at once. Occasionally, he will whirl around, race out to the paddock as if the gremlins were about to devour him, buck-fart a time or two, then leap back in the stall (there's a half-buried two-by-six holding the bedding in and the mud out) and return to eating. This, of course, delays his consumption a bit, and RT will usually finish his grain outside and come in and jostle a little with Jackson for the remaining baby food (unless I'm right there to growl at him). But for the most part, Mister Growing-Like-A-Weed is cleaning up his goodies.
Until last Tuesday night. I needed to catch him up long enough to give him the second of his series of baby shots. Since he was such a late baby, we'll wait on all the mosquito-borne viruses (EEE,WEE,WNV) until spring--for now, he's getting a flu-rhino and a tetanus vaccine at 5, 6, and 7 months. (Jackson had his 6-month birthday last Saturday...Can you believe it!?!) I let him get started on his grain then went over to close the outside stall door. Whatdya doin, lady?!? He raced outside, but returned shortly. I hesitated a moment, letting him settle, then closed the door. Now you might have expected a half-wild wrestle to corner him and get the halter on, but Jackson came right over to me and I slid his halter half-way on. Why only half-way? you ask. I had to let his halter out: two holes on the nose piece and two on the crown!! But he stood quietly through all of the adjustments, so I led him over to his bucket as a reward. No, not interested. So I gave him his shots, for which he again stood like a champ. So I offered him his bucket again. Nope! It was obvious to me from the undersized halter that I have been neglecting my training lately, so we practiced picking up feet (he will give me the fronts, loose in the paddock, but wanders off when I move to the rear). Again, after a few distracted circles, he stood like an old hand, so I dropped his halter and told him he could go finish his dinner, with no further fussing from the old lady. Did he dive into his dinner? No way! He didn't do any of the stomping and carrying on that we had earlier times I locked him in the stall, but he was NOT going to eat! Knowing that RT was lurking just outside the stall door, I settled in on the straw bale in the corner to wait Jackson out. And wait, I did....Whatcha up to? He absolutely refused to eat any more of his dinner, unless I hand fed him, and even then, he only took a few half-hearted nibbles. After 45 minutes, I was starting to get cold, so I gave up and let him out. I half expected him to return to the stall as he often does, once he had confirmed his freedom, but he trotted out briskly to the hay feeder and settled in next to RT. I took the bucket back to the feed bin to wait for breakfast (when he ate it wholeheartedly) and retreated from the chilly power struggle to the warmth of the house. Nite-nite, silly baby horse!
Right now the weather has been getting cooler, but has not been altogether too wet, so no one has had access to their stalls except RT and Jackson, and then, only at night. Sun's up. Let's go, old man!Thanksgiving Day changed that, with several inches of rain during the day and overnight. I took pity on the girls and let them all have access to their stalls for the afternoon and overnight. Hey, mom! How come Kate gets her own room, and me and Sis have to share?
I mentioned the other day that Jackson threw a fit when I tried to lock him in to the stall so he could eat his grain without RT's help (after RT finished his senior feed and supplements). All right. I'm ready for seconds!But the little guy usually has straw in his mane and tail in the morning, so I know he lays down in there at night. RT has never much cared for the confinement, but has enough sense to come in during inclement weather. Jackson has gotten better about coming in for his grain, though he still prefers not to be locked in; so, if I have time to sit with him until he's done eating, I will. Watchya lookin at, lady? By the way, if it looks like Jackson is standing with his back feet on a mountain of straw.......he's not... He's actually two inches taller at his rump than at his withers! Really! I put a stick on him! He's 12 hands, 3 inches at the withers, 13, 1 at the rump! Check him against the top horizontal plank of his stall.This boy's got some growing to do!
This afternoon, after several hours working on the last row of poplars, I came in the house for a late lunch, and then lay down for just a bit. I was startled awake by the sound of hoofbeats and neighing out in the barn. I looked out and RT and Jackson were running about and playing a bit, so I decided that nothing was amiss. An hour later, Al was the one that heard a commotion out in the dark. It was dinner time anyway, so I put on my coveralls and went out to check it out, and feed.
What I found was a black and white baby horse in the barn aisle! [No picture! Just imagine this face......peeking through this door, in the dark, of course.]He zipped back into his stall through the front stall gate that I had left open, pending mucking, and on out to the paddock through the open paddock door, which I know I had closed after he ate his morning grain. I locked him out, while I went to assess the damage. The couple of bales of hay that I move to the west end each weekend, to make it easier to feed the two stalls at that end, were a bit mussed up, with a small pile of baby-sized manure nearby. Some buckets full of towels and show accessories and other odds and ends from the trailer that need to be stored for the winter had been upended and spread gracefully about. But he hadn't made it as far as the grain bins around the corner, nor had he scooted past the tractor to the empty pen at the east end, where I compost the manure. Evidently he hadn't been in the aisle very long. His curiosity could have gotten him in serious trouble.
How did this escapade occur? Had I slipped up and not closed the sliding horseshoe latch on the stall door that morning?While I straightened things up and started the tractor to bring it down to muck, I heard the suspicious sound of metal clanging against plywood. By the time I drove the tractor down the aisle, Jackson was back inside the stall (aisle gate now locked), with the horseshoe latch upside down on the outside door, now ajar! On his 6 month birthday, the little bugger has figured out how to fiddle the latch open!I'll now have to add the extra security of a snap hook to "lock" the latch securely, as I have had to do with Kate for years. Who me?Has she been coaching little "brother" Jackson?
From yesterday: one other example of Jackson, sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. Hey! How come this milk bar isn't open? Usually, RT doesn't tolerate this behavior. But he was distracted by horses going by, out on the road.
No, not this Cookie Monster. [Though I can identify with him--if I have any addiction it is to sugar.]
My dear, loving husband, in on-going efforts to protect us from viruses, spam, and all sorts of cyber-evil, occasionally does things to our computer. Trouble is, he doesn't always recognize the repercussions of the things he does, nor how to reverse them. Often, he doesn't even know what thing it was that he did!
Last week I got a bit frustrated when, after composing thoughtful and insightful comments for some of my favorite blog writers, blogger seemed not to recognize me, and my thoughtful and insightful comments subsequently disappeared into cyberspace! Last night it happened again--on my own blog! I couldn't respond to the thoughtful and insightful comments (or even the fun and silly ones) that some of you have recently left for me! It's bad enough that I disappeared from the blogosphere during my tree-planting retreat. But now others might be thinking that I might be thinking I am too aloof to respond to their posts, even when they respond to mine.
Suffice it to say, I may be doing a "system restore" in the near future.
Whaddya mean, no more milk!?!I had really only planned to have them apart for a couple of hours, to see how Jackson would react. But he didn't really, so I decided we might as well make it permanent. Mama Misty is still right next door, and the only fireworks I got were when I tried to lock him in the stall for his grain (so Uncle RT didn't try to share). Jackson pawed, he stomped, he didn't eat, so I finally let him back out and held his bucket for him 'til he was done. Now, if I hang his bucket facing Misty's, Jackson will stay and eat steady, mostly finishing before RT finishes his Senior and supplements and comes over to clean up any leftovers. Speaking of RT, he was more upset about losing Misty than Jackson seemed to be! He paced the fence and chest-bumped the gate for several hours. Jackson thought it was a great game, and followed along, "jousting" with his head and trying to mount RT. Things have pretty much settled down since then, though RT takes great exception to Jackson trying to nurse off of him. Stick with me, kid. Misty, meantime, is on starvation rations until her milk dries up: a handful of senior feed with her supplements, which dropped from the 32% protein lactation batch to the maintenance 12% batch. Not that it will hurt her any. She's not in bad shape for almost 23 years old, and 12 foals! She's done now making babies, though. She will retire to being the grandkids' pony.A compensatory chest scritch and all is forgiven (sorta).
Okay, so one can't get too lost in a forest of 6 inch tall trees.
But if I seem to have gone missing the last few weeks, it's because all of my time lately, on top of all of the usual getting-ready-for-winter chores around the farm, has been spent planting the 220 tree-lings that were shipped to me on a staggered schedule from Plants of the Wild. The project has been taxing, to say the least.
Here I am rolling out the [very expensive] "Lumite" landscape cloth. Because of the competition from invasive reed canary grass along the irrigation ditch, previous plantings have not been at all successful. Our hope is to eliminate that competition by first spraying the grass with Round Up, then covering the dead sod in the immediate vicinity of the new plantings.
One inch by six inch staples go in every 2 1/2 to 3 feet along the each edge, in the shallow trenches that will later be pushed in to help hold the cloth down. Each planting hole will also get a staple or two, and our abundance of rocks will be handy for weighting the center of the cloth between trees.
Sandy supervises. Almost to the end of the first 100 foot run of landscape cloth. I later decided it was faster and a bit easier to kneel on the center of the cloth and just crawl along, shifting left and right for the staples. Either way, an awful lot of hands and knees work for this old body!
Tucking in one of the few surviving trees from an earlier planting. (Please note the helpful photographers foot.) At the bottom of the trench you can just see the new supply line for two extra sprinklers being added to the system to irrigate this section.
Here's where the new line [behind me] will tie into the old line [in front]. In the meantime, we hauled gallon milk jugs to water the newly planted trees. This first section was just far enough away from the barn, around gates and fences, and it was just warm enough, that it was helpful to run the hose from the paddocks....
...and fill my watering bottles from the planting side of the fence. The first "plugs" I got were Rocky Mountain Junipers. Please note the blister on the inside of my left thumb! After cutting an L-shaped slit in the mulch cloth and folding the flap back under a staple, I used an inch and a quarter spade bit to bore a planting hole. The 4 cu. inch plugs are supposed to transplant much better than bare root stock. Sometimes we hit rock and I had to pull out my little planting trowel. But more often, it just got tangled up in the dead grass. Into the hole A little drink.
The 10 foot piece of conduit is to help me space the trees evenly.
It was sort of sunny on this first day of planting, but only about 40 degrees F. Nearly done with this first 100 foot row. Only 800 more to go! I did wise up on the hole drilling, and ordered this "Garden Auger" off of Amazon (a little cheaper than their own site). Although it can't handle anything but the smallest rocks, it churned through everything else like butter! And because of it's two foot shaft, after I slice all the holes in the landscape fabric and add a staple, I can just walk down the row (upright) and drill hole after hole! My drill's charge will last 15 or 20 holes, depending on the soil, but quick charges while I do some other part of the project, or eat lunch, or some such. Then I can go back and drill some more! It has a welded on blade at the bottom of the shaft. It also helps that the top of the shaft is flatted a little, to keep it from slipping in the drill's chuck. Two weeks after the Junipers arrived, here came the shipment of Austrian Pines. Most of the trees are for windbreak and privacy screening, so the rows are primarily parallel. In one wider section, I wanted a little more of a "grove" look, so I mixed and matched the pines and junipers and will scatter in some shrubs come spring. After the evergreens, I added fast-growing hybrid Idaho Poplars. They came still a little green, but have shifted to dormancy rather quickly once out in the chilly open air. Where we used to live there were masses of quaking aspens. I also got a few of them for the particularly wet corners of this project. This summer photo shows one of the earlier planted ones that is actually doing pretty well. I love their colors in the fall! Next spring I will add several areas of shrubs and wildflowers. For now, I'm pooped! Al and I are truly blessed with the land with which we have been entrusted. I must say that I am more than a little proud of how far we have brought it, from rough cattle pasture to horse farm, in the seven years we have been here at EvenSong Farm.
After a lifetime of working with other people's horses, I was able to start a small Paint Horse breeding farm, on the outskirts of the Kittitas Valley of central Washington state. Beginning with just one broodmare, then adding another, 2005 was the first year we had TWO babies to run and play and grow up together! Canticle (Kate) and Madrigal (Maddie) are now seven, and may someday become my replacement broodmares. But now is the time for them to learn to be riding horses, and, hopefully, to earn a bit of a performance record.
I am not so much into the "round-and-round" experience of the pleasure arena, so I will be looking at the girls gaining some trail mileage out in the "real world" in the coming years, and completing some Mountain Trail clinics and competitions. This blog will be the story of that adventure.