What Chickens and Cattle Have in Common

Ah, memories. Back when Lee’s dad was still around, he liked to tell us all he knew about cattle. He knew a lot, since he spent most of his time with cattle, not people.

I found this 2011 photo of one of Lee’s dad’s mama cows who nursed two bull calves, well past the usual nursing time.

One of his favorite things to tell us was that cows were very smart, and that they had definite habits. He’d tell us he always knew where his cows would be at any time of day, and what they’d be doing. He knew when to go outside and take a nap with them, when they went to get water, and when they went to the back part of the farm to graze. He was a very find observer of bovine behavior!

Well, for the past few days, since I have been sitting at my home office window, I’ve been watching the chickens. I now know that they start out hanging around under the RV in the mornings. Around midday, most of them (Springsteen the Jersey Giant hangs around the coop) head over to where our cattle troughs are and peck at the hay. They also drink out of the fish tank…I mean water trough.

At mid afternoon, they hike over to our house and visit the porch, then at least four or five of them head ALL the way out to the edge of the woods.

They spotted me, so they’re running back toward the house.

And of course, as it begins to get dark, they head back to the coop area, before turning in for the night. Just like cows, chickens have habits. I don’t know if that makes them “smart.” I don’t think it’s at all smart of them to go way over there, knowing the chicken hawk lives here, too.

An Anniversary Year

When I was looking for a photo of Lee’s dad’s cattle on an old blog, I found a picture of the first time we ever stayed overnight here at the Hermits’ Rest, which was in November, 2011.

There’s Ursula, our first RV, sitting pretty much where I could be seeing her outside my office window.

Wow, ten years of this property. No wonder we’re getting to know it so well. Guess who else I’ve known for ten years? My precious horse! Here he is as a strapping 5 year old!

Apache is pissed off that Sara is riding her previous horse, Aladdin. She traded him for Spice.

Literally Back in the Saddle Again

Apache and I are proud to report that we got to be a horse and rider pair again today. I think we were both happy about it.

Ignore bad form and look at happiness.

Just before he was declared un rideable, I’d gotten this side pull bridle and fixed it up for him. He never got to use it. So, I figured I’d try it today. It annoyed him at first.

This thing’s dumb.

But, he got used to it in the round pen pretty quickly. We then headed out to one of the pastures and rode around. Apache did pretty well other than wanting to eat grass a lot at first. I got him to stop, though.

The main problem we had was that I didn’t cinch the saddle tightly enough. I remembered he’d lost weight and checked, but not well enough. I’ll fix it next time. All in all, we had a good riding reunion. My legs hurt though, so I need to get back into saddle shape.

A Little Cow Cuteness

On my way home, the new group of cows that are behind us were investigating the chickens. When they spotted me walking toward the coop and all came to see me.

These are the 19 series, from different places, apparently.

As I chatted with them, I heard mooing from behind me. A couple of the cows who live on our property came up to meet the neighbors. I got this cute shot of a calf and cow saying hi to the new gals.

Hi. Hey. Hello.

That’s a cheerful end to my weekend.

My Best Accomplishment of 2020

Now that it’s getting near the end of the year, I guess we can look back and see what we’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that so many of us are still here, and sad to have lost others in this pandemic. But, in a more cheerful vein, I learned only today what my best accomplishment of 2020 has to be.

This is a hint

Happy Horse News

Yes, today at his farrier visit, Apache was declared to be in his best physical shape ever. Trixie kept repeating how good he looked. He also is in great mental shape, because she also remarked many times about how well behaved he was.

Here is Apache behaving well during a delicate procedure on his back quarters. You can see his heart-shaped chest patch.

His feet look really great, and that’s a tribute to how carefully Sara and I have managed him since he got all lame after eating spring grass in the big pasture. I’ll be able to ride him now! I’m very grateful for all of Sara’s and Trixie’s help and advice (and everybody else’s, too), because apparently putting him in the little pasture with poor fodder and supplementing with last year’s hay was what he needed.

He is at his ideal weight!

Not only did he lose the fat, but his coat is in much better shape now, too. Even his winter coat is shiny and soft. That may be the result of worming him sufficiently, for which I thank Sara very much. His mane and tail are growing back in well, too.

Yes, it’s a horse’s butt, but it’s an important image. That is a straight tail.

Best of all, now that he’s lost weight, Trixie can see what’s going on with his skeleton and musculature much better. This let her figure out what might have been causing his tail to veer to the left so significantly. So, she was able to don some gloves, put on some lotion, and manipulate some “intimate” areas to where they are looser, which loosened the tail.

Whee, my tail feels good. So does the rest of me.

We decided not to photograph exactly HOW happy the manipulation made him, but it was mighty impressive. We thought it might hurt, but apparently it was quite the opposite.

Through all the prodding, tail pulling, and leg stretching, Apache was a true gentleman gelding, albeit a happy one. In fact, when a leg stretch didn’t quite work, he cooperatively picked his foot up and angled it over to Trixie as if to say, “Try again, I’ll do better this time.” At a certain point, Trixie and I just stood there grinning at how great he was doing. She said that this is why she does what she does, seeing an animal with an improved quality of life like Apache has.

“Who am I, chopped liver?”

Not to be outdone, Fiona was quite a little lady as she got her tiny little feet trimmed. It had been twelve weeks, and all the little issues she’d had were also completely grown out. It amazes me how Trixie can sit on the ground and trim Fiona’s feet, with Fiona just standing there and picking up whatever foot is asked for. This is most un-donkey-like!

“Look, as long as someone is petting or brushing me, I can stand here all day. Treats never hurt, either.”

Even Fiona’s health seems better. Her normally pretty dull winter coat has shiny parts, too, though she’s still a bit plump. It just doesn’t take much to feed a donkey, even one as active as Fiona.

“You’re gonna WHAT?”

Trixie and I talked about getting her a little cart and sending her over to learn driving (cart, not car), if Trixie’s first donkey-cart training client goes well. I think that would be incredibly fun. However, we’re pretty sure Fiona won’t be thrilled at the idea of having to work for a living, having gotten by on cuteness for all these years.

I am SO proud of having the patience and receiving the good advice needed to help my horse friend back into good health. He’s back to cheerfully going wherever I lead him and doing whatever I ask him to. He and Fiona run happily together. And I get the benefit of the love my horse and donkey give me.

Sunset Ranch Update

There hasn’t been an update on our ranch citizens in a while, and tonight’s sunset inspired me to write one.

There’s a bonus dog in this photo!

Last night’s solstice sunset was apparently amazing, but I was busy lighting candles and missed it. Luckily a friend took great photos for me to enjoy.

The sun sets right on our road.

As the sun disappeared it looked like a tribute to the universities I attended (orange and blue!)

Shiny.

Anyway, most of the ranch residents are doing well, but we’ve discovered a new chicken killer, our resident harrier. No wonder they call them chicken hawks. Sigh. But, as always, we have a plan. Since that hawk only goes after them out in the lawn, we’re going to keep the chickens cooped up for a while.

A project!

The newly arranged coop is getting its fancy new roof. Once it’s done, the residents will get locked in. That will annoy Gertie the Guinea a lot, but we want him alive! And hopefully it will remind my buddy Bertie where she should lay her eggs.

Harvey was a great supervisor, I’m told.

And to end on a happier note, I got home early enough today to play with Apache and Fiona. Apache was thrilled, and showed it his usual way.

Oh boy! I get to play with Suna, after I pee.

We got to go for a nice walk, and then I got him to run and trot around for a while. He seems in good shape.

As we were trotting, Fiona got all excited and started galloping around us in circles, hee-hawing away. After four or five circuits, Apache and I turned around to trot back. Fiona then zoomed into the race and began bellowing at Ralph’s cows.

I was wondering if I would ever get her back in the pen, but when Apache and I went in, she barreled in with us. I guess the both had some fun! So did I.

Why Does the Horse Pee at Me?

Apache. He’s quite a guy, with the heart shape on his chest and his pretty mane and tale. He’s also quite funny.

He likes to stand on anything that makes him look taller.

Lee tells me that while I was gone, Apache made his annoyance at not getting his hay regular enough quite clear. First there was snorting, then he snatched a big hunk before Lee could even get it down to him.

But for me, he reserves a very special message. As soon as he spots me coming down the driveway, he snickers. Then, like he’s on a schedule, he pees. That’s an impressive sight that I’ll spare you. Consider it a Blogmas gift.

I’d noticed it before, but I’ve been keeping track, and that horse has peed for me every day since I got back. I actually found a forum post on the topic, and a bunch of English people agreed that many horses “wee” from excitement to see their human friends. Aww. Happiness in horse language.

Now that I think of it, lots of female dogs pee from excitement. Or fear. Ha. I don’t think he’s afraid. Not him!

I love you, too, Apache.

I’m always glad to see him and Fiona, too. But I can hold my pee until I get home.

Horses: Worry? Don’t Worry?

Two quick horse things. The farrier was in again on Tuesday. There were so many things that came up, I had to take notes. The most interesting finding was his hooves. She said his hooves were full of blood that had pooled there when he foundered, which may have been long before we realized it.

I feel better now.

Sara and I had the aha moment that perhaps the reason he was so hard to ride and kept insisting on turning around was sore feet. At that time, they looked fine. From what we deduce, the damage didn’t show up, because it was hidden.

No wonder he’s like a different horse! And I was right that something must have caused him to start acting so weird. Poor guy. The best news, though, is that his hooves are growing in really well. Hooray.

And Lakota

So, this evening I was feeling all good about stuff. We even saw a really pretty rat snake, thanks to a vigilant cattle dog spotting it.

Getting the heck away from the dog!

Poor Lakota feels bad. He keeps lying down and rolling. He tried to eat, but laid back down. We couldn’t get him up, so we called his owner.

Sad horse

Mary said he’d colicked before, and since then, he’s occasionally done that lying down thing. Still, we’re worried. Sara has called many vets, so I hope she hears from one soon. We sure can’t get him up to go to Texas A&M.

Sara put fly spray on him for his comfort.

Say a little prayer for poor Lakota. I hope it’s just his occasional issue. He’s a nice old guy. If it’s his time, that’s fine. He knows he’s loved. Spice is watching him. And Sara keeps checking.

She says he finally got up, pooped, and walked off normally. Well. Do I worry or not? Horses!

Enter Here for Surprises and Adventures

Hmm, the adventures thing may be exaggerated a bit, but I did get a new gate to go from our part of the property to the rest of the ranch. In addition, Chris smoothed all the dirt that had been disturbed when running the water line, and did a bit of grading, too. The chicken house area looks marvelous.

It’s all smooth now. At the rate the Bermuda grass grows, it will be covered in a week to ten days. Notice the feathers on the ground, which I mentioned in my previous post. It’s your fault, Bruce.

The highlight of the day was seeing this big gate that swings open mightily and allows me to easily head to see the horses. We had the gate already, so it didn’t cost anything. It’s very sturdy on the hinge side, since Chris drilled a big ole bolt through the roof support pillar. The other side is only temporary. The fencing project is not done, but at lease those of us who have to go into that pasture can do it easily (thus, Jim could drive the riding mower over the the horses to mow this morning).

I can now go from here to there without crawling under a fence or climbing over a fence and nearly knocking it over.

The entire family was pretty giddy about getting the new fence, as Lee shows here.

That man cracks me up. And there’s Alfred before I pulled those clumps of hair out.

Surprises and Adventures

I’ve used the new gate to go visit the horses twice already. Last night, I went to join Sara to feed them, and I got quite a surprise. In the field where the 18 cows should be, there were just three cows, each with a little white baby.

Who the heck are they?

These are not the 18s. First, they were afraid of me. Second, their ear tags were in the left ear, not the right. Um, where were my friendly cow buddies? Where was 18-1, bravest calf ever?

As I walked up to the barn, the Vrazels were driving by. They warned me of another surprise, a large cow and her newborn calf were in the pens. I said, hey, um, where are the 18s? Tyler laughed and laughed. “They’re in Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Yep, they sold them all and trucked them off when I was at work one day. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Cattle ranching. Not for the sentimental. I am sure they got a HUGE payday out of those young cows, all of whom were due to calve in November. But still. Sniff.

On I went, and sure enough, there was a very large red Angus cow with a very small and shiny black Angus calf. I blurted out, “Hi, Sprinkles,” and Sara asked if I had to name everything. I guess I do. In any case, Sprinkles is cute as can be, and seems to have recovered from being sick and needing to be penned up. Mama, on the other hand, was mostly pissed off.

Sprinkles and I would like to leave, now.

She mooed and snorted and ran around until we left.

This morning, I came back to do some horse fun, around 9 am. It was NOT hot outside! But, dew drenched my shoes, since I wore the wrong ones. Sprinkles and Mama were still there. Between Sara’s dogs and Lakota having the utter gall to stand quietly tied to the gate, she was in a huff.

Lakota just stood there and ignored her. A real quarter horse! We proceeded head off down the race, to see how Apache would do. Sara rode Lakota, who plodded along like a livery stable horse and was generally uninterested in anything. I led Apache (hope to get riding permission soon). Here’s where it became and adventure, the good kind.

We walked all the way down the race, the place where he was refusing to ride earlier, and the place where he has been all nervous and pushy when we walked for the past month or two. Today, Apache walked beside me, not in front of me and not behind me. He stayed about two feet away from me. He did stop to get a mouthful of grass, but started right back up, every time. He did not crowd into me. He did not try to turn around. He did not rush ahead, or refuse to move forward.

He completely ignored all the “scary” parts of the path where there are big ruts. The scary tree got a nod. When all of the 19 heifers came thundering over to check us out and walk along with us, he and Lakota both looked at them, then kept going. The giant bull didn’t phase them. DAMN!

Sara and Lakota, with Fiona-bomb.

We then went on out to the big pasture where it floods (the bottom). We all walked and looked at stuff. Sara’s dogs came along, and no horse paid the least bit of attention. Even Fiona didn’t dawdle and pitch a fit. She followed right behind us cheerfully. Every time we went through a gate, everyone was fine. Even when Jim drove by on the lawn mower, they just stopped and looked for a minute.

WHO WERE THESE ANIMALS AND WHERE DID MY JUMPY HORSE GO?

I have no clue. Sara and I tried to figure out what was different. Well, we had Lakota instead of Spice…but Apache likes Spice. It was morning, not afternoon. He wasn’t starving. That’s all we could come up with. My attitude is the same (I am pretty calm even when he’s jumpy, to try to keep him calm).

We’re just in a good mood. What can we say?

I’m just going to have to accept that we had a wonderful morning, got lots of exercise, and ALL enjoyed ourselves (even Lakota, I think). I look forward to more of this kind of adventure and these kinds of surprises (but I do hope Sprinkles and his Mama go back to the pasture soon; she didn’t enjoy Sara and me pulling up some grass burs right next to the pen, either).

I hope you have some bright spots in your weekend!

Horse Bites and Sitting Donkeys at Sunset

I’m still laughing inside after a fun evening romp with our trusty steeds, even though there was some drama in the middle. And, um, my hand hurts.

We met at 7:30 to do our evening horse chores together, which we always enjoy. Everything went fine, and we paused afterwards to watch Spice and Lakota walking together like old friends, and to look at how beautiful the sunset made sone eastern storm clouds look.

Romantic cattle chute

Suddenly, we heard coughing, rather loud coughing. Exchanging a look, we hurried toward the sound. There was Apache, continuing to cough. He was a great example of how coughs spread droplets, as we could see spray going way out.

See the moon up there?

Where was that spray landing? Why, on the hay bales on the other side of the fence, the ones encased in green netting. Uh oh. We zipped into the paddock, where Sara opened his mouth. My job was to see if there was any green stuff. Like the non-horse person I am, I stuck my hand in, to feel.

That wasn’t smart. I discovered just how powerful horse jaws are and how sharp their teeth are. Its just a little chomp, but I have a feeling it will look worse tomorrow.

I’ve put ice on it.

Sara gave Apache a treat, and he ate it just fine, so he dodged that bullet. I leaned on him to get the owie out of my hand and thank him for being okay. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement.

Whee

Fiona was done with all the drama, and decided to roll in her favorite dust patch. I was so glad I could get some pictures.

I have crazy ears.
Time to get up!

When she was done, she sat and rested for a while. We couldn’t stop laughing at her pose. She looked at us like we were crazy. Apache kept coming between us to make sure we were okay.

I’m very proud of this belly!

Then the wind came up, and we all ran around like kids. Me, Sara, Apache, Fiona. Just living for the moment. I’m still having fun!

Come back, we want more fun!

It’s been a good day. Sending love to all. Back to icing my hand.

Equine Spa Day?

Trixie the farrier came last evening to check on Apache and Spice’s feet. She’s coming more often while the issues get better.

Lucky Fiona didn’t get trimmed and just got to eat as the sun set.

When she was working on Apache, she said she’d never seen laminitis growing out like he is, but it seems to be working. Then she tried to scrape his hoof and it was so hard she couldn’t.

So far, I’m enjoying my trim.

So, she suggested he go stand in water while she worked on Spice, to soften him up. It hadn’t rained yet this month, so all their hooves are hard!

We over-filled the water bucket, which made Big Red happy. A big muddy area ensued. It was a horse spa!

High quality mud.

Sadly, Apache wasn’t as happy with the spa treatment as we’d hoped, so I tied him up to where he couldn’t escape it. Much stomping ensued.

I’m gonna cling to this little dry area.

Sara pointed out this morning that perhaps he wasn’t happy, because he knew the mud was mostly a mixture of his, Fiona’s, and random cows’ poop.

Fine. I’ll stand here.

Trixie coped with the stinky mud fine, once we let him out. he hadn’t softened up much though. If it doesn’t rain a bunch before her next visit, we will soak all the horses for a few days. Somehow. Maybe it will rain.

My conclusion is that Apache would be more interested in massage, grooming, and food for his next spa day.

World’s Hottest Socially Distant Photo Shoot

What? I had visitors? I was careful! My work friend, Heather, and her daughter, Emily, wanted to come see our ranch animals, especially Rip in his baby adorableness. We figured if we were mostly outdoors and wore masks, we could safely manage it.

So they drove up, and even brought me my mail from work AND a chocolate pound cake. Homemade. Yep. It’s divine.

Horses and donkeys are on the mantel at the moment.

I have them a tour of the new office, which was a lot of fun. All my animal stuff went over well with Emily, who rides hunter-jumper and volunteers at a very cute farm. And all the shiplap, metal, and brick!

After the tour.

Then it was off to the ranch! It’s good they used to have a Great Dane, because it made all the dogs palatable. Alfred LOVED them. Heather couldn’t get his picture, because he kept going back and forth between the two of them.

Since I got no dog pictures, here’s a leaf-footed bug Emily found.

We then headed to see the chickens. That was sort of sad, since we discovered Butternut had passed away. I think the others huddled on top of her and she overheated. I couldn’t figure out what to do, so I put her in the garage fridge. Sigh. the hottest day of the year is not a good day to get chickens.

Bye, little one. I’m am glad they’ll replace her, and maybe I can get another one.

Heather took a zillion pictures (actual total, 127). Many were of Fancy Pants, who let Emily carry her all over the place. It was really fun watching the chickens with Emily. Here are just a couple of my favorites of her chicken photos.

Off we went to see the cutest calf ever, Baby Rip. That was also a teen animal lover’s dream come true. Since I wasn’t holding a dead pullet, I could get a couple of pictures.

Calf love.

Of course, Heather got a real keeper with the good camera!

Beautiful baby! Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

Here are a couple more of my pictures. Rip is so curious and cute!

Rip wasn’t sure about Vlassic.
Look at my cuteness!

We saved the best for last, and headed over to the horses. Guess who they loved? Fiona! She and Apache were both on their best behavior.

It’s because I am cute and nice. Photo by Heather Westmoreland.

We had a lot of fun trying to get glamour photos of them with Emily. Neither of them was real interested in getting in the good light, of course. After all, it was 104 degrees outside! But, we persevered. Here are some highlights (the last three are by me, the rest by Heather).

My favorite picture, maybe ever, of me and Apache was taken by Heather, and I am going to try to get a print of it.

Me and my buddy. Eight years ago today I learned to put his halter on.

Everyone was having a great time, so we rewarded Apache and Fiona with some grazing time over by the cabin, and went over to see the 18 cows. Guess who was front and center, as always? 18-1. A few of the others also came up to say hi.

Before we left, I asked Heather to take some pictures of R45, since she is getting way up there for a mama cow. She hasn’t had a calf in a couple of years, and is in her decline. But she sure produced some great calves! And she’s still built like a 1970s Buick. Big and wide.

We fed the horses and Big Red, then headed back to the house as the sun was going down. I had a lot of fun talking to Emily about all the supplements the horses get, and she told me a lot about the farm where she volunteers and the place where she rides giant warmbloods. I’m glad Heather is giving her these opportunities to work with animals.

And I’m glad to have given Heather some opportunities to take photos, because she’s taken some real beauties where Emily rides. Looking forward to more! You can see more photos on Facebook, since Heather tagged me on the ones she uploaded.

This makes the ranch look fancy!

My heart is full from getting to show off my animal friends, and I am so glad it was so breezy outside. If we had germs, they all got blown away! Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to getting replacement hens (Butternut2, perhaps?).