Thursday, April 30, 2015

Done and Done

The last couple of weeks have involved an almost non-stop stream of farriers, dentists and vets spending large chunks of time at the farm. It has felt like every day was a long marathon as we started very early (think 5am start time) and finished very late. Today was "only" a 12 hour day and it felt like we only worked a half day or something. 

However the good news about working an insane number of hours is you get a lot done. Yesterday we had our last visit with the equine dentist until late summer or early fall. Half the horses have now had their yearly dental. The rest of the horses will have their turn in the dentist's chair later in the year. 

Today we had Vaccination Day Part 2. All of the horses have now been vaccinated. We carried on with our routine of running a strand of electric tape in each pasture to pen the horses up by the gate. The horses carried on with being most upset about this new fence. As they did on Vaccination Day Part 1 the horses did a lot of pacing and walking along their new fencelines. They milled around, they stared, they marched along the temporary fence over and over, certain that with each pass they would finally find an opening that would allow them to escape this tragic existence they suddenly found themselves in. When that failed they tried to pull halters off each other. They came to the gate and stared at us with disgusted looks, then they went back to pacing. Staring and pacing and staring and pacing is the name of the game on Vaccination Days. 

Calimba, Maisie, Cuffie and Norman looking decidedly unhappy. Cuffie is looking at me saying "I would like to speak to somebody in management immediately."

Lily saying "This is not what I signed up for when I moved here. Where do I complain?"

Baby looking most unhappy while he and Levendi marched along the temporary fenceline

Thomas and Tony pacing

Apollo and Thomas walking along the temporary fenceline looking for a way out

Grand and Moe. "Keep walking Moe, there has to be a way out of here. Just keep walking."

While the horses used every possible method of non-verbal communication to show us their displeasure Jason and I smiled back at them.  As the Big Boys paced, stared and milled around at their new fence I said "sorry boys, there's nowhere to run this year." But I really wasn't sorry and they knew it. It was so satisfying to know that we had foiled the runners before they even had a chance to run. The horses felt so defeated no one even tried to walk away, apparently if you can't run away it isn't worth the effort.

Jason and I enjoyed the thrill of victory as the horses felt the agony of defeat.

We are happy to have two big items checked off our spring to-do list. Vaccinations are done and half the farm is done with the dentist for another year. Yay for getting things done.

Some of the horses that had their teeth floated yesterday included Silky



Cuff Links

and Norman

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Today was Part I of Vaccination Day. You will recall that last year we finally decided there was a better way to handle Vaccination Day.  Instead of doing it all in one long marathon day we decided to break it up into two days. We do the four pastures on the front half the farm on one day and the three pastures on the back half of the farm on day two. The other thing we started doing last year was using step-in posts and electric tape to pen the horses up at the front of their pastures by the gates. 

I think we like the temporary pens the best because it pretty much eliminates the runners. When there is nowhere to run it certainly ruins the thrill of being chased for the horses. While I was feeding breakfast and putting on halters Jason was running a temporary strand of electric fence to keep everyone from leaving. Just like last year, the looks on the horses' faces were priceless when their march to the farthest corner of their pasture was halted in its tracks by the temporary fence.

This was very upsetting to them. They all had their halters on so they knew that it was imperative to exit stage left immediately. They stared at the electric tape. They walked their new "fenceline" back and forth and back and forth. They milled around at the temporary fence and generally looked disgusted. Then they would come back up to the gate and and give us questioning stares. 

Duesy, Lucky, Lightning and Slinky staring us down. "Hey, do you not realize we can't leave? Do you realize we can't go galloping away from you across the pasture? Help a horse out here."

Duesy and Bruno standing at the temporary fence dejectedly. Remmy and Hesse decided that when all else fails you can entertain yourself with halter removal games.

However the best part of Vaccination Day, Part I was vaccinating Timbit. No, I'm not being my usual sarcastic self when I say that. For anyone who has forgotten, vaccinating Timbit was a total rodeo last year. This was our first time vaccinating him and we learned that he wanted No Part of It. He reared, he spun around and double-barrel kicked, he ran backwards, he charged. Even with four people attempting to vaccinate the mini we barely got it done, and we didn't actually finish. Although we got him vaccinated we were never able to pull blood to update his coggins. It wasn't going to happen. We had no idea what we were in for when we innocently walked up to Timbit to vaccinate him.

This picture from last year absolutely does not accurately portray the fight that Timbit put up. He was in it to win it, and he won.

It was such a horrible and dangerous experience I knew something had to be different this year. A few days ago I bought a clicker and a bunch of toothpicks and started working with Timbit. I have successfully rehabilitated one other needle-phobic horse with clicker training. However Timbit's dislike of needles put the other horse's reactions to shame so I had my doubts that it would work.

For several days we clicked and treated and clicked and treated. We got the concept of the click and what it meant down. The we moved on to working on the issue and out came the toothpicks. We broke a lot of toothpicks. A lot. But things kept improving. By yesterday the only objection he was offering was shaking his head, and he didn't even do that every time.

While we were waiting for the vet today I made Jason do some practice with him. Jason participated against his will while I reassured him "he's good now. He won't attack you." Jason unhappily took the clicker and toothpicks, and fearing for his life, touched Timbit with a toothpick. Timbit stood there while I yelled "push the clicker! PUSH THE CLICKER!" Each time Jason survived touching Timbit with the toothpick he got braver and put a little more pressure into the next touch.

The vet arrived while Jason and Timbit were clicking away. The vet was also doubtful of the whole arrangement but I told him to just touch Timbit with one of the needles with the cap still on. He did and Timbit stood there quietly and got a click and a treat. We then proceeded to vaccinate Timbit AND pull blood for his coggins with little fanfare. Timbit threw in a few headshakes and walked in one circle but that was it. It took maybe a minute to vaccinate him. No one was kicked at, charged at, drug backwards or struck at by a rearing mini. It was certainly a refreshing change from last year.

We proceeded to vaccinate the rest of the horses without issue. When we were done with each pasture we released them back into the wild. Or so one would think given the way they went charging off when their temporary fences were removed.

We get to to it all again on Thursday, with a date with the dentist sandwiched in between the two Vaccination Days. Even by our standards we are having another very busy week at the farm.


In other news Jason was having withdrawals so he had a few more loads of gravel added to the driveway. 

Lightning and Slinky

Duesy, Hesse, Remmy and Merlin

Flyer and Silver

Walon, Johnny and Stormy

Coming on the run to eat.  Clayton, Toledo, River and Johnny in the front; Donovan, Largo, Rocky and Kennedy in the back

Lotus and Lofty were being wild before breakfast

Timbit and Griselle

Asterik and Faune (Gus and Romeo hiding behind them)

Donneur, Romeo and George

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Stills

Silky and Norman

Calimba and Maisie

Rubrico, Johnny, River and Oskar

Tony, Hemi and Apollo

Sam, Dutch, Lighty, Renny and Murphy

Taco and Sebastian

the deer are really scared of us

Moe and Levendi

Leo, Homer and Chance

Kennedy and Oskar

Thursday, April 23, 2015


The horses gave up almost any pretenses of eating hay in the pasture about three weeks ago. As it always seems to happen every year, one day they were still eating measurable amounts of hay and then the next day they weren't. Their hay consumption had been gradually declining before it came to an abrupt halt. 

Thus the last round of hay we had put out has been sitting in the hay feeders doing nothing but getting rained on for two to three weeks. Jason spent the last couple of days on the tractor removing the hay feeders and cleaning up around them. Once he removes the hay feeders he uses the bucket of the tractor to push all of the old hay in the feeders, as well as the manure that accumulated around the feeders, into compost piles. We'll leave the piles to compost for several months and then spread them for fertilizer.

Jason left one feeder with a fresh bale of hay in each pasture just in case someone decides they want to eat hay. However he fully expects to be adding that hay to the compost piles in a couple of weeks. 

In his downtime Jason has made it his mission in life to find the most basic diesel truck he can that is available for purchase. You will recall our truck's latest annoying but not serious issue was the window that refused to go up all day long . . . and then randomly decided to go up at the end of the day.  Apparently the truck heard us debating the pros and cons of clear plastic vs. a black trash bag to cover the window and cared for neither option. 

Anyway, Jason sends me links to diesel trucks that don't even have automatic windows. I'm going to make a confession here. I didn't realize it was still possible to buy a vehicle with windows that you manually roll up and down. I've never owned one in my lifetime. Apparently there is a high probability of that changing. Maybe Jason is just "window shopping" (gosh I crack myself up)  to make himself feel better.


Jason making a compost pile

Slinky leading the way (at 40 years young) followed by Duesy

Lightning, Lucky, Remmy and Hesse

Fabrizzio and Walden

Chance and Tony

Leo and Homer

Elfin and Trigger


The World's Cutest Fainting Goats; Miss Lyle on the dogloo, Mina on the bucket, and Jo in front

Duesy, O'Reilly and Merlin

Largo and Stormy in the front, Donovan and Clayton in the back

Johnny and Toledo

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dentist, Farrier, Fertilizer, Broken Window

Jason and I are continuing on with our spring them of doing all the things. In the last two days we've spent a day with the dentist, a day with the farrier, de-wormed all of the horses and spread fertilizer.  I think I could sum things up by saying we are tired, and if we could both shake whatever freakishly stubborn cold we have now had for almost three weeks we would probably be less tired. We're in that phase where we're not sick but we're not well either. So I guess we are swell, sick and well? 

I will give all of the horses credit. They did their best to make yesterday and today go as well as they could have. The horses that had their teeth floated by the dentist couldn't have been any better, and the same for all of the horses that saw the farrier today. For the most part they were all cooperative about the de-worming as well. 

The only thing they made more complicated, of all things, was spreading fertilizer. Jason was spreading in the Big Boys' field this afternoon and I constantly heard the horn on the tractor beeping. I finally took a break from working to see what the problem was and none of the horses would get out of his way when they happened to be in the path of the tractor. He would basically stand on the horn and make one long beeping noise while screaming at them to move. Their response to his tirades was to continue grazing and not even bother to lift their heads. Then he would start pounding on the horn with his fist and yelling at them even louder. I'm pretty sure anyone within a five mile radius could hear him screaming "Move! Get out of the way!"  One time he actually had to get off the tractor and shoo Moe and Homer out of the way.

I think our favorite part of the last two days was when the driver's side window on the truck wouldn't go up. Jason put it down yesterday morning and then it wouldn't go back up. He tried off and on throughout the day but nothing happened when he pressed the button. Finally we began discussing our redneck options late yesterday afternoon. As we were discussing the pros and cons of clear plastic vs a black garbage bag Jason pressed the button one last time. Lo and behold the window went up. Hopefully neither one of us will accidentally hit the button and put the window back down over the next few days. There are rain chances throughout the week and we have so much going on this week we just don't have time to take the truck somewhere to deal with this. 

Why on earth our late model diesel truck has a malfunctioning window is beyond me. This stupid truck dearly loves to nickel and dime us to death with stuff like this. We keep threatening to get rid of it. However we seem to enjoy being in an abusive relationship with our truck because we never break up with it, we only threaten too. I guess we are enablers.


Jason spreading fertilizer

Some of the horses that had their teeth floated yesterday included Traveller





and MyLight

Lighty and Mick

Sam and Johnny

Hemi and Thomas needed the gate and the fence to hold them up while waiting to be fed. Being retired is exhausting.

Tony and Leo

Baby and Trigger

Johnny and River

Murphy and Mick grooming

Merlin and O'Reilly

Renny and Sebastian