Mustangs, Part IV


My mustangs have been home now for a month and five days. They seem to like it here, they’ve never acted crazy, never tested the fence; farm noises don’t bother them, although the first couple times they heard an engine start up, they’d stop to listen . . . now they’d don’t even flick an ear.

Both have finished the first round of de-worming. I used pellets instead of paste, for obvious reasons, and also for obvious reasons it necessitated getting them used to grain. That part they have down pat!

Unfortunately, we’ve had some nasty weather: ice and subzero temps, thankfully not at the same time. And rain. Good grief. More coming tonight, and the pasture is only starting to dry out from the last monsoon.

Cody is still wary of me. When I open the cross-fence gate, she’ll come close, then bolt through. But I’m happy to report that she’s got that down to a fast walk this week! She, like Cav, has discovered that buckets hold good things, and when she sees one she starts a single-minded walk towards me, ears up.

She will not, however, eat while I hold the bucket. I have to set it down and move, oh, three feet away now. It used to be a good ten feet, so there’s progress. And she doesn’t move away from me while I’m out in the pasture, unless, of course, I cross that mysterious three-foot line. But she’ll answer my whistle!

Chestnut, our visiting horse, is presenting a bit of a problem. I’m not sure if she’ll be staying. Oh, she’s helped “teach” Cody and Cav that I’m not a threat, and they see her getting scratches and treats. I do believe that helped. The problem, though, is that Chestnut is territorial when it comes to food—hers or anyone else’s—as well as attention. It’s difficult to feed and to work with the mustangs.

And Chestnut is around seven years old, not worked with much, is rude and pushy, and never been saddled. She tends to nip on occasion, looking for treats, and tosses her head quite a lot. Not sure I’m up for getting rid of bad habits before starting on good ones. I might be too old for this. And too breakable . . .

That said, she is entertaining. Today, while I had the ATV in the pasture, she checked out the milk crate strapped on the back. Tried to eat my gloves. Slobbered on the seat. Then she simply took off the seat. I turned around to see it hanging from her mouth . . .

So we’ll see how it goes . . .

Cav is coming along nicely. Poor thing was so pitiful in the ice storm, but he’s finally dry and fluffy again. I’ve been able to run my hands and a cloth all the way from his face to his rump, and down his left foreleg. Most of the time, he’s distracted by the bucket, but not always. He responds pretty well to pressure to move him a step sideways or to back up a bit, not completely docile, but as you’d expect and want a mustang to behave—with just a touch of attitude that says, “Okay, I’ll do this, but only because I want to at this moment.” He will learn, though, that he’ll want what I want . . . eventually.

He likes to be scratched under his jaw, and he tolerates my rubbing his ears and playing with his forelock. And now that he’s wormed and getting plenty of food, he likes to run and buck when he’s in the south section—often with Aunt Chestnut!

Today he was introduced briefly to a lead rope—I held it and let him smell it and play with it. Had it in his mouth a few times, but since it wasn’t food, he wasn’t too impressed. I rubbed it on his nose a bit and let it dangle and move a little. He was also interested in the curry comb, and I was able to brush him just a little, until I hit a ticklish spot. Apparently he has several of those!

016 024 005 007

 

 

Advertisements

Daily Stuff


I have to laugh whenever someone says that I’m “retired.” First, I’m a little young for that, and second, if you’re on a homestead, you will NEVER retire. NEVER.

On a typical winter’s day, after starting the coffee, I feed the small critters, a dog and two cats. At least one cat inside, but on most mornings, the other one is outside. Speaking of, the dog needs to go outside too for a few minutes!

I try to get the fire in the furnace started before feeding time; it depends on much the constant meowing is annoying me . . . My perfected method of fire starting is (after emptying the ash pan) to throw all the little stuff in, add a big wad of newspaper or whatever I can scrounge from the burnables trash can, put a couple logs on top, and then use 17 matches to get it going.

I exaggerate. I normally only use seven . . .

By now, I’ve started the caffeination process of two cups while I read the news and catch up on email and so forth. The fire needs tending about every 15 minutes and, with any luck, the blower will kick on in about half an hour.

Or so.

Next, I layer up and whistle to the horses; they answer. If the temp is below, say, five degrees, I’ll take the farm truck to the barn. Otherwise, I use the Mule and spend another ten minutes getting it to A) start, and B) actually move. It prefers reverse.

I unlock and open the gate, providing the lock isn’t frozen, and open the barn and turn off the alarm. After doling out everyone’s grain rations in their buckets, I have to wrangle down a bale of hay.

This generally involves reaching and pulling until one works loose, then I jump out of the way in case more than one has chosen to cooperate.

I load up, making sure to have a hammer somewhere close at hand, and mosey on over to the pasture. Chestnut knows her spot, so dropping off her bucket is easy. I move around to the other side, by the gate, and take in Cody’s and Cav’s buckets. Cody still isn’t particularly interested, but Cav lets me hold the bucket while he eats. About halfway through his breakfast, I set it down and try to encourage Cody to eat.

That doesn’t work so well, so I ignore her and go get the hay, spreading it out in three different piles. Next, I have to break the ice on the water trough. The end result is available water, wet gloves, and ice freezing to my glasses.

Once back inside, I have to feed the fire again, and then I have regular household stuff, just like everyone else. Cleaning or dishes or laundry or meal planning and grocery list making. You know. Stuff.

If it’s bitterly cold, I’ll go back out to the pasture around noon with lunchtime hay. If it’s not, I’ll spend an hour or so doing chores out there or working with the horses.

And sometimes, after lunch, I’ll take a nap. Hey, it’s winter, amiright?

But there are also things to tend to in the greenhouse, and garden planning, and projects in the barn. And cooking dinner, and more dishes. And the constant, every hour on the hour, feeding the fire. See, if it goes out, we get cold. And it’s a right bitch to get started again.

By evening, I’m beat. It can be a real struggle to put on and take off six layers of clothing; I get plenty of exercise just doing that . . .

So we watch a lot of movies. Or I do some leather work, which I’m just getting back into, and I may yet give that knitting thing another shot. Or not. We’ll see.