It has been a very hectic year and so many changes have taken place. We are ending the year in good standing with a few new members to our barnyard, five miniature horses. These new additions were part of my good will effort to rescue them from a farm that had ran out of pasture and the owners were just sick that they could not feed them. They were in good physical shape and between wild and semi-tame.
The owner and I had worked together with putting on petting zoo clinics for the elderly at nursing homes this past summer. She knew I was an animal lover and called me up and asked if I would have room to take 2 or 3 of her herd and give them a home. Al and I went to look at them and came home with three; Cocoa, Jessie and Mistress Minnie, the baby of the herd. I fell in love with them before I even got them home. They are just a pleasure to watch and play around with. It is a task to get them to cooperate at times since they have not been messed with in quite some time. I can get close to all of them but they are still skiddish and fearful at times and spook extremely easy.
They get along fine and I would mess with them as much as time would allow, but not as much as I would like to. About three weeks later I was contacted again and a couple had backed out of taking the stallion and mare, which is expecting in Feb./Mar. I had to do my “FLIRTY EYE MOVE” to get Al to agree to just go look at them once more. Of course, I knew we would be bringing them home because he hooked up the trailer and away we went. So I now have five.
Taco, the stallion, and Sugar had not ever been separated and she had delivered healthy colts and fillies for the past eight years. The owner said the could not be separated or they would just be uncontrollable. I kept them together for three days and then I took a risk and separated them. It took Taco a while to adjust being alone but he does just fine. Sugar has to stop by his stall on the way back in the barn once in a while just to say “hello” and then goes on. Taco will do his “I am the Man” dance every once in a while but for being told he was wild and I would have a hard time with him, we get along fine. It took me an hour to get him to come to me and a halter on and now we are “buds”. I must say that he is just so beautiful. A miniature black stallion and with the lines and mane to go with it. So petite but full of spirit and spunk. Don’t let them fool anyone, just because they are small does not mean that they cannot put away the food. I feed them Grostrong Ultra Fiber and they eat it up. They are not shy when it comes to meal time. I did have to make some changes in the feeding area and that is they cannot reach any of our feed bunks so feeding pans were placed and it makes feeding time a lot easier.
We have had a busy year but our animal family continues to grow. We are ending the year with new stock and new baby goats on the way within two weeks. Life on the farm is just great.
Today, 11/12/09, we mourn the loss of our Belgian, Duke. He was one of the most gentlest, big horses I have ever known. He had a long life of 20 plus years and had competed in many horse pulls. He was what I would consider a “Big Teddy Bear” of horses.
My 2 yr. old niece, Kalissa, rode for the first time on Duke, as well as others over the years. Allen’s daughter used to ride Duke and I have seen him with 5 young riders on him at one time and not even care. He was that gentle. Allen would just place his hand on the side of his jaw and he would go wherever, most of the time Duke would just follow him without any halter or lead rope at all and the kids just sat on his back without fear.
When I first began being around the horses and livestock after an absence of 15 years, I had some fears to face. I do not mind saying that Duke really intimidated me and it took me a couple of months to realize that he would not ever intentionally hurt me. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t need to be cautious but, I could, at least, ease some of my fears. Here we are 8 yrs. later and having conquered some of the major fears, I can now feed every animal on the farm and feel confident. I do not, by no means, throw caution to the wind but, I do keep focused when choring and working with the animals. Having Duke helped me conquer that fear, mostly because of his personality and his size. I learned to work around him and therefore, it helped me with the rest of the livestock. Now I am out there everyday and loving it, for that reason alone, I’ll remember Duke and his gentle way.
In the past year Duke’s age really began to show. He acquired arthritis in his joints and there were days that he struggled to get around but, he continued on. We supplemented his food with joint supplements and vitamins and I believe that one small part of his diet kept him up and going. We knew the day would come yet, had not expected it to come so quickly. A few days ago he got down and didn’t come to the barn. Allen went out and helped him up and brought him to the barn. His appetite had decreased some but not so much that it concerned me until two days ago. I don’t have the insight that Allen has with animals and I believe he knew the worst was coming. Two days ago it came to the point that he did not have enough strength to get up and even with help, he could not accomplish that one task. It was then that it sank in, it would not be long before he just gave up and he did. He just closed his eyes and slept, peacefully without pain.
So, now he is in Animal Heaven and we will miss him but, we will keep him in our hearts.
I was looking through the December issue of “Cowboys and Indians” the other day and came across an article that just surprised me. It was about a steam cleaner for hay bales. Have you heard of this? Is this considered a farm accessory or is it farm equipment?
It is called the Haygain Steamer made by Jiffy Steamer Equine along with British partners at Propress, Ltd. I had never heard of such a machine. When I first saw the photo, I thought I was looking at a way to haul bales in your vehicle, such as a car, without the mess. Was I surprised when I read what it really was.
I, also, did not realize that one in six horses have allergies to the dust and fungi in hay. I guess that is something that is well over looked where animals are concerned. Even though I have a Jack Russell (dog) that suffers every Spring with allergies and has t0 have an allergy shot, I still did not consider the larger animals as being susceptible to allergies but, it is not so uncommon.
According to the article, the Haygain has found a way to eliminate the millions of spores found in hay and purifies it with steam. This machines improves the hygiene quality without leaching the nutritive content and creating a sweet – smelling feed that the animals really enjoy. Quite a breakthrough.
If you would like to read more and see a photo of this new product, check out the December issue of “Cowboys and Indians” now available.