No, that’s not the name of a new musical group. It’s about why today’s ride was rather antsy for my usually patient steed, Apache’s Smoke Signal, AKA Apache AKA Patchy.
The morning went as usual. It was hot and I dripped sweat all over myself, but Sara and I got the horses (and Fiona) ready for a ride. We want to ride as much as possible, so we’re going early on weekend mornings. She goes more than I do, thanks to all my volunteering and such.
The entire time we were out in the pasture where the horses usually hang out, Apache kept turning around and heading toward the gate. I turned him back around and made him trot around, go over some logs, or up and down the “hill.” He kept turning around.
I’m never going to be a great equestrienne, and that’s fine with me. I started way too late, ran out of money for lessons, and don’t have enough time to really get to be great. But, I’m better than I was, anyway!
One of the things I’ve always wanted to be able to do when I’m out riding Apache is to take pictures of some of the interesting plants, wildlife, and scenery I see when I’m out riding around the Hermits’ Rest. Up until recently, I haven’t been comfortable taking my phone along on rides, because my phone is a good one, and I could break it if I fall.
Sara has an inexpensive phone she uses, so that if there’s an emergency she can let our spouses know to come help. I just relied on that, until a few weeks ago when Sara ordered us some really nice holders that have a water bottle and a cell phone pocked in them. They attach to the front of the saddle and can be secured really well, so they don’t bounce and irritate our mighty steeds.
First, don’t worry. No one is hurt. However, on yesterday’s ride, a bit of freak-outage did occur with Apache.
Oddly enough, our ride Saturday was practically idyllic, as we traipsed all over the ranch, through beautiful tall grass (pre-baling) with Fiona in tow. Fiona always needs to be rounded up when it’s time to go through a gate, so our herding practice is fun (however, Apache sucks at it).
But yesterday was different. First, we decided not to bring Fiona, since she was still limping a bit. And second, the baling operation was going on pretty close to where we were riding. Some combination of these things did not please Apache, though he was doing what I asked him to, including squishing over a wet spot.
He kept turning around and looking urgently toward his pasture, ears up, all attentive. We finally figured out he was hearing Fiona braying in her loneliness. I guess he’s used to having her around now!
Then, when the tractors got close, everything he encountered suddenly became A Big Deal. Trees, cactus, the overhead power lines. He’d turn around, start randomly trotting, and basically act like he was on his last nerve. He used to act like that often, when I first started working with him four years ago, but he hasn’t done that recently.
A couple of folks have asked how Fiona the mini-donkey is doing as she recovers from her two sore feet. Thank you for asking, and she brays her thanks, as well. It may be the cutest bray ever, by the way.
Oh, and I finally figured out how to upload my video of how badly she was limping last weekend.
Anyway, according to Dr. Mandi, she is on the mend. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have a neighbor who used to work on a large horse breeding ranch with so much experience in fixing up foot and leg issues. Mandi said that when she got to working on her, it just all came back to her, and something that might have taken her an hour years ago just took minutes.
I know Fiona appreciated that her doctoring didn’t take too long, though I think she views it as more “special time” with humans.
Mandi thinks the back hoof is just about healed, though she is going to put Betadyne on it one more time. As for the front foot, it’s improving, though Fiona is still limping a little. We still don’t know how she hurt it.
Yesterday, Mandi said that Spice and Apache protected Fiona when the neighbor puppy, Jess, who is a heeler and likes to chase things, tried to mess with her. Fiona managed to kick at her (a good sign), but after that, Spice was not letting that dog anywhere near, and Apache was doing his best angry stallion imitation, with ears pinned back and eyes ablaze (even though he isn’t a stallion).
It made me happy to see how much our tiny herd is bonded. At first the horses really didn’t like Fiona, but now I see them licking her and being sweet. Ahh.
Yesterday was the final day of the great chicken coop cleanup effort. Before that, though, I had to clean my dang horse, who has started to shed his thick winter coat. Fiona the mini-donkey did not want to be left out, either.
It was too cold for me to ride, but I wanted to hang out with Sara and brush Apache out. Of course, Fiona had to come along. Sara had bought these new miracle tools, which look suspiciously like something you’d clean your barbecue grill off with. I tried it out on the very dirty Apache, and wow, did a LOT of long white hairs come off. He seemed to like the way the cleaning tool felt, too. Neither Spice nor Fiona were shedding like Apache was. Must be the Arabian in him.
While I was at it, I also trimmed his tail, since it was reaching the ground again and getting all dirty. I hope he appreciated it.
I kept having to go back into the tack room to get things. I heard a noise, and there was my little “helper” wanting to come on in and check out the food dishes full of beet pulp that were soaking.
When I told her to move, she happily went over to help get rid of that last bale of hay that was hanging around from when the horses were in the corral. Such a little darling.
Also had hen helpers
Later in the afternoon, I came back to finish cleaning out the chicken coop. I was very proud of myself for emptying out all 24 nest boxes and replacing the old mulch with new pine shavings, which are what the new chickens are used to, anyway. The job was made both harder and more fun by the new hens, who were very interested in “helping” me.
In fact, after I finished, I was picking up more glass off the ground, and Fluffy Butt, the new Barred Rock hen, came up repeatedly, so I fed her some chicken scratch right out of my hand. She was very delicate!
About that time, Mandi and Randy showed up to help me with the floor and parts of the coop I could not reach. A real cleaning ensued, with the feed trough cleaned out, the top of the chick raising area cleaned, and ugh, a dead chicken that got wedged behind the cage removed (one final owl casualty, I guess, though it had been a while).
Mandi also swept all the droppings and stuff off the floor, which now will be some fine mulch, once it composts a bit more. It may be an old coop, but it’s a clean one now.
Once Randy discovered the pieces of glass in the pen, he started picking it up, and by the time we were ready to go, we had another large amount of glass! I sure appreciated the help.
Now I’m just hoping that the new hens and the old hens get along. They definitely hang out in separate groups. But we already have a couple of eggs from the new gals. Hooray!
Adventures in raising littles to become budding naturalists in their own back yard and beyond. The wonders of the natural world await if we could only take the time... Follow me on Twitter @naturemomtexas!