Life moves fast on a farm.
And if there’s one thing that horses and farming both teach you, it’s how to be flexible. That sometimes, despite your best laid plans, things don’t always turn out the way you wanted…and sometimes there’s a big fat lining of silver in that rain cloud.
For me, that was realizing that Quill was not meant to be a farm horse, and not a good fit for me. He was miserable doing arena work and bored meandering around the island, and the big colt let me know it in no uncertain terms. So we sold Quill to an amazing horseman and trainer in British Columbia, Danny Virtue, who trains horses for Hollywood. They took to each other immediately. I expect to see Quill in all his magnificence on the big screen in the next few years, a lifestyle better suited to his larger-than-life personality.
Quill’s absence begged the question, What would I do for a riding horse?
My bestie, Bernadette (known as B), was helping me search, and I had already come across and then stupidly dismissed the ad for the mare because she was in foal, and I wanted a horse I could ride right away. B convinced me to take a second look. The mare was only three months along, which meant I would be able to ride her for at least the next few months. She is in foal to an amazing stud (more on him in a minute). Best of all, she was the sweetest, most agreeable horse I had ever met, and she soothed the aching part of my heart that missed Quill.
I love her a ridiculous amount.
The lush grass of spring is gorgeous! Yet it’s also full of sugar, so we limit the time the horses are allowed out on the pastures.
Here’s a short video Matt shot of bringing in Yukon, Mocha and Quill, showing their herd hierarchy. Where was Neela? She was “off island” for a date with a stallion. More on that in a future post!
Yes, there’s a play on words with that headline. We are full swing into spring and the horses are thrilled to be turned out onto the farm’s lush grass. But that rich grass can be too rich all at once, so we have to work them up to it, starting with just 15 minutes in the morning and adding more time every few days, then adding afternoon grazing time (pastures have more sugar in the afternoon because the sun’s been on it all day).
So this video is of Matt bringing three of the horses back in: Yukon, Mocha, and finally, Quill.
Our 10-year-old Australian Terrier, Chiko, has a new mission in life: Watcher of the Chickens.
For the first two weeks of their lives, we kept our six baby Barred Rocks, followed quickly by six Australorps, in the house inside a large Rubbermaid bin in the guest room. We kept them warm with a heat lamp (which we adjusted several times a day, depending on whether they were huddling or evading it), kept them fed and watered and handled them every day.
The dogs and the cats hovered near the guest room doors, intrigued by the chirps and cheeps they heard, but we shooed them all away (especially the cats). Finally the chicks had enough feathers to where they could graduate to the coop outside (with the heat lamp still on at night at first). After a few days inside the coop we opened the little hatch door so they could wander into the enclosed yard, and that’s when Chiko got his first look at “the girls,” as we call them.
It was love at first sight.
Or, maybe, blood lust. I’m still not sure what exactly Chiko would do if he had access to the chickens, but whatever his interest, he has made it clear he’s not sharing. Because shortly after we put the chickens in their coop we had our first fox sighting on the farm.
Actually Neela, the mare, alerted to the fox first. Ever the protective mom, she was in the stall in the barn hovering over Wilhelmina while the filly slept when I suddenly saw Neela pop outside the stall, head high, staring intently in the direction of the hen house. I followed her gaze, and my eyes alighted on the fox at the same time Chiko did.
I’ve never seen that little dog spring into action so fast. He didn’t bark, he didn’t growl, he simply dug into the ground with his short, sturdy legs and made a beeline for that fox, who gave one look of alarm before turning its bushy tail to run.
Chiko chased that fox all the way across the east pasture and then into the nearby woods, with me close behind trying in vain to call him back. No Chiko. On the other side of those woods is a gravel road, and it leads to a busy paved one, so I was getting worried about how this was all going to turn out when finally Chiko emerged from the woods, with what I can only describe as a big grin.
Since then I’ve seen the fox in the distance, but he’s never gotten close to the coop again. Not while Chiko’s on the job.
Once we made sure the water buffalo were comfortable with their new life on the farm, we opened the gate to their paddock to let them roam the adjacent pasture. And roam they did!
This video that Matt shot gives you an idea of how fast “the girls” (as we affectionately call them) can move. You can also hear the funny noise they make, similar to that of an elk.