April 7th…Sunny +6 –

Had a couple of hours I could spare this morning so off to the farm I went!

Marie and Mrs. Farmer were off to work today.  Mr. Farmer was in Ottawa working.   Kids were all at home recovering from a flu bug that went through their house over the weekend.  They were all busy doing chores inside and out.  My plan was to feed Kaz and Pebbles then work on cleaning up the yard.  There is to be an invent in a few weeks at the farm and the goal is to make the farm look it’s best.   Over the winter the bale twine gets hidden under the snow and needs to be cleaned up.   Like all yards,   other things blow in or are dropped .    Then there’s the horse poop.   Most people have to pick up dog poop in the spring.   Here it’s horse poop.  : – ) This happens after they breakout out of their paddocks.   They take off then  get back in the yard and inevitably they poop.  They are pooping machines!

So I fed Kaz and Pebbles.  Gave Pebbles a brushing.  The horses are really losing their winter ‘coats’ now.   Next my plan was to pick up any stray garbage.  Mr & Mrs. Farmer’s youngest child “Little Miss M” helped for a while and then went in to do her inside chores.   Such a little sweetie.  While I was doing this Max (miniature horse) was hanging out in the yard.  The dogs decided it was play-time and were chasing him around.  I called the dogs off.  He then stuck to me like glue.  Like I was his great defender.  He was hilarious.  I’d bend over to pick up something and he would shove me.  Nothing big.  Just being his playful self.  He’s such a little darling.  He then got bored and left.  Probably to find something to eat.  His favourite sport!

I only had a couple of hours so didn’t come close to accomplishing what I had planned to do.  Somehow my “to do” list is always longer than the available time.  The poop will have to wait for another day!

It was lovely couple of hours.   Looking forward to the next time I go.

 

 

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April 5, 2015 – “bring your kids to the farm day Today was pretty cold, but bright and sunny.

Sue and Patrick, Matthew, Colin and Jenna were at our house this weekend for a visit over Easter weekend.  Colin had mentioned a few days before he’d like to go visit the horses.  I checked this out with Marie and she said it would be fine.  She mentioned she would be out on a trim ‘call’, but would probably be back in time to visit with us.  My family is always glad when she’s there.  She answers many, many questions.  Always shares a funny story. I went in the house to mix Kaz’s beet pulp with water and grab some seeds and mineral powder for Pebbles.  I fed Pebbles and then was headed to the house for Kaz’s meal and noticed “Dandy” was out of his paddock in with Tina’s herd.  I called him to see if he would let me put him back.   But he was having none of that.  Didn’t matter.  I knew Marie would get him, when she returned from work.  At this point Marie returned.  I told her about “Dandy” she said you’re sure it’s “Dandy” not “Curly”.  I was wrong.  It was “Curly”  Geez….will I ever get the horses straight! Sue and the kids told me, while I was gone, Marie did her ‘thing’ and got Curly to follow her to the paddock.  The other horses in the paddock started over to the fence that was now opened and she flicked a finger (gotta love this) and they all backed off and in Curly went.  They were so impressed with it! I was really quite impressed with Matthew and Colin following me in to the herd and wanting to pet the horses.  Especially, Matthew.  I mentioned this to him and he said he figured Marie would keep them safe and not let anything happen.  So much for their mother!! Ha!! We then showed them the goats and sheep.  They loved the baby lamb! Such fun.  Such a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

April 6, 2016 – Easter Sunday – sunny and +2

Went to the farm early in the afternoon to spend time with Kaz and the gang.  Marie was busy visiting with her sister and Mr. and Mrs. Farmer’s kids.  I feel very fortunate to be able to come anytime to visit with the horses.

Along with feeding Kaz his supplemental meal I now give Pebbles (from the big herd) a small meal of sunflower seeds and mineral powder.  Pebbles suffers from some sort of skin allergy in the summer.  Marie is hoping the oil in the seed will combat that allergy.   Pebbles and Parade are both black (Canadians?).  They are very similar.  I asked Marie do the first feeding with Pebbles so that I could be sure, when I was on my own, I would be feeding the right horse!  I’ve, always, felt that this herd was ‘tougher’ than Tina’s herd.  It might just be that I know Tina’s herd better.  We walked in to the herd with Marie holding the dish of meal. The horses always go to Marie, when she enters their paddock.   This time they were more excited because she was carrying a dish. I think, excluding Pebbles, there are 6 other horses.   They were acting like a bunch of pirañas after a bit of meat!! We didn’t bring a carrot stick with us so she was on her own keeping the other horses back from Pebbles and the dish. She was able to keep them back,  but then decided to pick up a stray string (left from bales of hay) and use it as an extention of her arm.  Her aim is pretty precise.  I think it was Eumalee she smacked on the end of her nose.  This pretty well had all of them standing back, at a more respectable distance. I decided after that I would be taking Pebbles in to another paddock to feed her.  Not a good idea for the volunteer to be run over by a herd of horses over a little dish of food!  The next time I came to feed Pebbles I brought a harness with me.  I didn’t need it!  She saw me coming and trotted to me and followed me in to the paddock.  Unlike Kaz who didn’t come without being called until I had fed him at least 10 times!

I shut the gate and she ate in peace. Euma stood on the other side of the fence having a bit of a tantrum. Stomping her foot. Making weird sounds. Pretty funny. I gave her a bit at the end for waiting.

After Pebbles I fed Kaz and then brushed him.  It was a beautiful day so I took him for a walk.  Sadie (Kate’s pup) kept following me out of the gate.  I had to keep turning Kaz around trying to get Sadie to go back on the farm.  I’d then go back down the road a bit and turn around and there she was.  I did this, at least 5 times.  She kept coming.  Finally, I thought she got the message and off I went.  I was quite far down the road and she appeared behind me.  At this point, I let her follow us.  She was really good.  She kept back about 10 feet and stayed on the side.   I practiced with Kaz what Marie had taught us on our last walk.  I did have to ‘tune him up’ a bit and then it worked!   I trotted and he stayed with me, at a respectable distance.  I then walked very slowly then fast etc etc and he stayed mostly in step.  I was very happy with the walk.  We did much better than I thought we would. After the walk I went back in to Kaz’s herd and gave the rest of the horses a quick brush.  It was then time to go home.  A wonderful day! Thanks Mr. & Mrs. Farmer!!  Thanks Marie!!

Funny picture – below is a picture of Tina, Annie and Misty (I think) all prancing in front of Johnny.  Johnny is makeing those “come over here baby!” sounds.  Spring was in the air, at the farm!

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March 29, 2015 – Sunny + 5 or 6. Best day, yet!

Planned to go to the farm today to hang out with Kaz and the gang. I’m about to get a lot busier than I have been in a while, so am taking every opportunity to go.

The day started with a hike up to the look-out this morning with Gracie. (it’s up the mountain behind our house – about 45 min there and back. Not a big hike, but does the trick in giving Grace a bit of a workout. Used to take a lot more, but she’s 10 now!) Took her to the farm, yesterday, and wanted to leave her at home today. Wanted to spend the afternoon with the horses and I don’t like leaving her in the car for more than a couple of hours.
When I arrived, I was surprised to see Marie’s truck. She was farm-sitting at 2 homes this weekend and I thought she’d be away. I fed the goats and sheep. Brought a few bits from our kitchen waste for them. Goats are not great at sharing! Tried to give the little lamb some carrot pieces, but he was more interested in ‘practice’ eating the hay. I say practice because I don’t see him, actually, putting any in his mouth he just seems to be practicing. He’s a little doll. One of the sheep had a chunk out of her ear. Probably the goat took a nibble!

After a bit Marie came out to water the horses and then planned on going back to the farm she was sitting at. 2 of the big troughs were frozen. She said it was a fuse and not the heaters. A good thing! We sorted that out and then she asked me if I’d like to see the farm that was down the road she was going to. Just 2 dogs at this farm to let out. So off we went. Marie has mentioned this place to me before. Saying how beautiful the view is. It is spectacular! Both Round Lake and Golden Lake are visible. With all the mountains in between. Just gorgeous. On the way back she was sent a text that she didn’t have to go to the other farm as the owners were on their way home. Her plan was to then spend time with her horses. Grooming them and just hanging out. She has decided to keep Tina and, therefore, will be working on building a relationship with her. Her aim is to use her as a riding horse or to drive her (pulling a cart). Interesting how her plan isn’t to ‘break her’ and then ride her or have her pull a cart. First she builds a relationship on the ground. What a concept.

After grooming the horses in Tina/Kaz’s herd we decided to take Tina and Kaz for a walk. I can’t put in to words how wonderful I think this is. I’ve done it a couple of times with Kaz, but not with Marie where she was working with Tina. This is so fascinating. Marie understands every little twitch that a horse does. Everything (kind of like a dog) has meaning to her. So the aim of what we were doing was to walk down the road without getting trampled or squished (I did a bit …more on that later). The horses were to walk with us. Not drag us or pull us. Every time Tina would walk too close or make a move that looked like she was going to bug Kaz, Marie caught it and corrected it. Tina is so sensitive that Marie can think what she wants her to do and Tina does it. Tina was walking with her head really high (a sign of being stressed). Marie asked her to put her head down through thought (literally)  and body language and Tina responded. She did this with backing up, going sideways, etc. So very cool!

On our way back Kaz was more stressed. Probably anxious to get back with the herd. He was pushing in to my space. Marie said something like “at some point your going to have to correct this – with meaning.” This means, when he begins to try to walk in to me or ahead of me I fan/twirl the end of the rope (attached to his halter) in a circle in front of him. If he doesn’t respond, you smack him on the nose with it. This isn’t about the human beating the horse down until it’s submissive. It’s explaining through language they can understand what the human wants. It finally occurred to me today, how and why this works. This is how horses communicate with each other. They start with putting their ears back. If this doesn’t get the reaction they want they might reach out to bite. If that doesn’t work they might kick. So we are to do something similar. Start out soft and if that doesn’t work follow through with something that will get their attention. Of course timing is everything and that takes tons of practice. So Marie took Kaz and showed me what she meant (I always do better learning visually). It took very little time for Kaz to respond quickly to what she was asking. I tried a few times and before we got back it was working. We then purposely walked verrrry slowly. The horses walked slowly with us. It was very cool! They were really paying attention unlike when we started.

When I was driving home I was thinking I think I’ve got this now. I, actually, did something with him and he responded! It then occurred to me that maybe Marie’s ‘tune-up’ put him in the frame of mind to ‘listen’….groann…: – ) Oh, well. It’s all good. Just have to practice. It was a wonderful afternoon. Thanks, Marie!!

March 15, 2015 – Phoenix, Doc & Rocky moving

Today was the big day.  Phoenix and Doc were moving to the facility in Pembroke to be used in the therapy sessions.  They should be there for 4 months or so.  Rocky will live at the same facility now.  He’s much closer to his new owners.

I went to the farm to help get the guys cleaned up for the move.  First I helped Marie finish her chores and fed Kaz.  We then brought Doc and Phoenixout of the herd to brush.  The farm is getting wetter, therefore, the horses are getting dirtier.  Rocky’s new family arrived shortly after we started.  Melissa brought Rocky out to brush and get him ready to go.  The horses were to be picked up at 3pm.  The closer we got to 3pm the more antsy Rocky got.  The horses in the front herd were hanging out watching what was going on.  As soon as the normal routine of the farm is changes the horses notice.  Sometimes it makes them a bit nervous.  Rocky was certainly nervous.  I’m not sure what happened, exactly, but while he was being brushed he all of a sudden ‘spooked’. He took off to the gate/entrance to where his herd stays.  It was icy and he slid sideways, but stayed upright.  He was really anxious.  Graham went to bring him back and he kicked out at him.  This is so unlike Rocky, but he was really nervous.   It took a bit of doing, but Graham brought him back.  Marie took over and calmed him down.  She made him back up a couple of times.  She says this is like a ‘reset’ button.  Gets him thinking again and out of the ‘flight’ focus.

At 3pm sharp the truck and trailer arrived.  Kate had come to the farm, as well to help load the horses with Marie.  I’ve put a few pictures below of the guys getting on.  My favourite is Melissa bringing Rocky over.  See Lacy out front so excited that ‘work’ was going on!  Melissa has a determined look on her face.  Kate loaded Phoenix first, while Marie waited with Doc.  After Doc was loaded Melissa led Rocky on the truck.  This was the first time he had done this.  He & Melissa did so well.  Marie and Kate were calm and focused, as usual.  Melissa is the same.  This is why it went as smoothly as it did.

Melissadoc ready?phoenix ready?

March 11, 2015 – Dogs and Horses..

Had a dental appointment this morning so arrived at the farm late.  Mr. & Mrs. Farmer were away on business for the day so just Marie and all the critters (as she likes to say).  It was a gorgeous day.  Marie wanted to trim some hooves.   Specifically Doc and Phoenix, as they are going to the facility that the Equine Therapy for the military happens.  Pretty exciting stuff.  So first on the agenda was Phoenix.  He is a beautiful boy.  All the mares in his herd seem to have ‘feelings’ for him.  I might be imagining it, but I get the feeling that he knows he’s ‘hot stuff’ : – ).  While Marie was trimming his hooves, I was brushing horses.  The horses have begun to lose their winter ‘coats’.  Marie suggested I use a type of scraper brush.  It’s combination shedding blade/sweat scraper from what my research says.  The horses appear to be very itchy, when shedding.  They stood very still while I brushed.  They really enjoyed it.  Anytime Marie is in the field working with one horse several other horses come to see what they are missing.  She had 3 or 4 around her, while trimming Phoenix.  They all want her attention.  It’s really quite funny.  Doc was away in the field and wasn’t coming so Pauly got trimmed next.  Then Kate arrived.  Kate is working with Cashmere.  Teaching her to come or at least be okay with being approached to have a halter put on her head.  It’s a bit of a dance that happens, while the horse is learning.  It takes a lot of patience  and practice.

Sadie, Kate’s pup, was also at the farm.  She is approximately 9 months old and a cross of a border collie and not sure what else.  I’m thinking by her behaviour she’s about 99.9% collie!  She doesn’t stop.   She travels from one paddock to another in hot pursuit of her Mom, Lacy.  Lacy’s all business 110% Border Collie.  Her drive is really something.  Problem is Sadie doesn’t really know what she’s doing.  She gets in lots of trouble.  Her Mom gets frustrated and snaps at her.  Sadie also likes to bark and snap at the horses. She got in Johnny’s enclosure and barked and chased him around and around and around.  I tried calling her off, but she was in “LaLa Border Collie Land” .  I tried Marie’s trick of throwing frozen poop.  Nothing was working.  Eventually, she got tired and left.   A bit later she tried starting him running him, again.  She stood behind him barking.    I then realized he wasn’t afraid of her.  He just stood there looking at her.  He was probably just playing with her before!  She then got bored and left him alone.  When Kate was working with Cashmere, Sadie kept going in the paddock barking and getting the young guys running.  Marie and Kate decided to put her on a lead.  She has never had a collar or a leash on.  Well.  You’d think Marie killed her.  First she laid on her back with all 4 legs stuck up to the sky.  Then she turned over and was laying as flat as a pancake.  The look on her face was shear misery.  It was so pitiful!!  Marie and Kate were discussing the need to train her and I think they plan on working on it soon.  Kate has a baby.  She, also, trains horses and give riding lessons and Marie has so much I’ve begun to write a blog!  Not sure when these girls think they’ll have time to do this.  I’ve put pictures below of Sadie before the leash and then after…poor puppy.

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The other dogs on the farm are in order as shown  “Sam”, “Juno”, “Lacy”, “Dixie”IMG_4262IMG_6192IMG_1461IMG_6233

March 10, 2015 – Feeding Kaz – Beautiful day!! plus…wait for it…9!

Marie and Mrs. Farmer were away today.  First day of their new sessions of Equine Therapy for military personnel suffering from PTSD.

I went to the farm to feed Kaz.  Had sent Marie a text early this morning to offer to do any other chores she needed done.  It was early.  About 7:30.  Everything was already under control.  She said I could take care of the goats and sheep, if I wanted.   Always a good opportunity to see how the little lamb is.  They are all becoming more accustomed to me.  The ‘mom’ goat now lets me pet her.  Amazing the power of food.  I’ve tried to pet or get near her since I started at the farm, back in September.  Since helping the family with feeding them she now lets me get near her.  : – )

Kaz’s beet pulp had now soaked for a bit so time to feed him.  I decided to put a halter on him and bring him out of the pasture, again.  Easier to do this when Marie is away.  Other horses tend to ignore me, when we do it this way.   I’m better, at keeping them back now (also, amazing what a knock on the head will do for you!!).  It’s just easier.  Lacy’s pup “Sadie” was still, at the farm visiting.  This dog is in heaven when she’s at the farm.  She doesn’t stop.  Chases Lacy from one field to another.  Lacy, always, stays with the sheep unless there is a human around doing something with one of the herds.  Then she’s all business with the human.  Sadie is still learning and she’s a pup.  A part border-collie pup (looks like more collie than anything else).   Pups tend to be a pain until they are 3 years old.  So far Juno isn’t like this.  We’ll see though.  She’s still the new dog on the farm.  While Kaz was munching away, Lacy came over.  She was in her working stance under the tractor.  Sadie was running around like a lunatic.  She’s constantly ‘egging’ her Mom on.  She wants her to move and run so that she can too.  She doesn’t quite get the lying still and watching ‘job’, yet.  Johnny’s pen is near where we were.  He was walking around and this caught Sadie’s eye.  She ran over to where he was and got in the pen with him.  She started chasing him.  He ran around his pen with Sadie in hot pursuit.   This went on for several minutes.  I kept trying to call her off.  She was so engaged nothing would work.  I threw frozen poop at her.  (Marie does this)…Nothing.  Didn’t even look at me.  Then I realized Kaz (he’s a bit of a chicken) was behind me.  He left his meal to either try to get back to his herd or I’d rather think so I could protect him : – ).  Probably wanted his herd.  I thought he had finished so I let him back in with his herd.  I went back for his dish and saw it was half done.  I went back to him so he could finish.  At this point Johnny had stopped running and Sadie had left.  After a bit she went back to get him going, again.  At this point he just stood there looking, at her.  She kept trying to get him going and he completely ignored her.  I then realized he wasn’t afraid of the dog he was probably just playing.  He got a bit of exercise.  Probably didn’t hurt him, at all.

It was then time to go home.  Too bad.  Such a lovely day.  Good for the family though.  The work they do is outside.  The facility has an arena, but I’m sure they don’t go in there unless they have to.