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Archive for July, 2009

New Routine, Bad Girl

This past week we’ve had a new routine at the barn. During the day (which is muggy and hot), Cass and Becca are kept in their small pasture where they can get under their fan in the shed. But now at night, they have the run of the whole property with the new mini cows. The first night they were out they must not have slept a wink. When I got there the next morning both were acting hung over! They barely could stay awake to eat their breakfast. They’ve adjusted to it now and have been going into the barn shed to sleep. I’m not sure if they allow the cows to come in to sleep or not.

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Becca had a big adventure the other night. Leslie, our trainer, came up to give us all a refresher lesson in the round pen work. My round pen is still set up for Becca so the tent is in the way. We decided to trot her down to Terri’s barn behind the golf cart. As we started down the road a major storm came up. It had been cloudy and windy but it turned ugly fast. Becca took it all in stride and was a brave girl. When the lightning started we all decided there’d be no training and we let Becca chill out in one of the stalls. Gayle had brought some subs over for dinner so we all just sat around the barn picnic table, laughing, talking and eating. Becca began to get a bit impatient and she didn’t understand why she was there without her mom. I went over to pet her and she nailed me right in the arm! OUCH!!!!!!

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The storm finally let up around 9pm and we had to take Becca back home in the dark. She really is a good girl (despite the teeth!) and she trotted down the dark road like she did it every day. There were all sorts of scary sounds and mailboxes and such but she was solid. She got excited when we approached our pasture and her momma called to her, wondering where the heck she’d been. I’m sure she was telling her all sorts of stories.  It was a late night for all of us.

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New Cows On The Block

Our new roomies have moved in and we think we like ’em! Snuffy, Maybelline, Millie and Mollie fit right in with our short girls. These cows are midgets! They actually come up to be petted. The big Buford girls never did that. I never quite trusted them bovines. Buford was cool, but this new bull is, well, special. He’s so tiny he can walk right underneath Cass! He may have to arrange for a step ladder when it’s time for him to perform his bullish duties. He’s not as brave as his ladies, but he’s curious, so I’m sure we’ll be friends. Shorter, smaller cows mean less poop, fewer flies and Cass will really be the big-mamma-in-charge.

Eva (my defective cattledog) meets one of the new girls. She was trotting out brave until the cow turned to look at her. That’s Snuffy in the back by the hay ring.

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Charles and one of the ladies get acquainted. It’s really nice they want to be petted.

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I don’t know how to tell Maybelline, Mollie and Millie apart, yet. Snuffy is taking it easy on the ground. If he was standing he would only come up to their shoulders.

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Snuffy and the girls are miniature Hereford’s. He’s a youngster at a year and a half. I’m assuming the girls are just a bit older. Two are expecting babies next month and one just had her baby weaned. She’s been breaking my heart looking for him.

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That’s quite a look!

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Eva may be defective, in the fact she’s afraid of cows, but the girl is far from stupid. She knows where the cool spot is and will watch me from afar under Cass’s fan. There may be hope for her, though, this morning she actually ran one of the cows out of the barn! Her instincts overpowered her brain, but for just a moment. Didn’t take long for her to hightail it back, but she seemed rather pleased with herself.

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Hi Mom,
You’re not gonna believe what I did today. Miss Terri came down and we played with the golf cart. THEN…she took me out of the gate and made me walk on the road! No big deal…I sniffed and snorted just a bit, then walked right out. Do you know there is really, really, really, good grass over there?!?!?! Well, Miss Terri got in the golf cart and made me walk down the ROAD beside it. I did really, really good! When we got to Miss Mary’s driveway I decided I didn’t want to go any further, so I danced and jigged but she hung in there even though the rope was hurting her hands. I heard her say  “damn this nylon lead!” She must not know the rule about cussing. I calmed down and then we played with a plastic bag. I think she kept trying to scare me but I’m a big girl, doesn’t she know that?  A big truck came by and she made him honk his horn at me….how annoying.  I didn’t even care because it did not scare ME.

So, we continued down the road. I really didn’t like it but I was a very good girl. We went to this place that had a gate that opened all by its self! It must be magic. We went in and I trotted  right up to a fancy barn. I met a whole lot of new friends and saw my little buddy Skipper! He’s fun and smaller than me. I mouthed at Angel (hello pretty lady) and Sam (I remember you!) and Roper (he’s a hunk of a horse). Everything was great until I was talking to Angel and Roper sniffed my butt! I did a 360 piroette! I  wasn’t ready to be goosed. Miss Terri walked me to the round pen and I ran a little bit and walked some but I was getting tired. At that point I could hear my horse Mom, Cass, calling me to come home.

Miss Terri took me to the wash station and hooked me up. I did NOT like that. I pulled back with all my might but the strap was rubber so we played tug of war. Miss Terri said we really need to work on that, big time. But I got all cooled off, the water felt really great. I ate some cookies and was ready for the trip home. When we began to leave I got a wild hair up my butt and started to buck and kick so she let me go and I ran to the gate. I couldn’t get out, though, because it wouldn’t open for me. I guess I’m not the right magic. When Miss Terri walked up to me I thought she might be mad, but she wasn’t. She petted me and said she knew I had been through a lot and then she told me how proud she was of me. The gate opened for her and we took off for home.

Well, Mr. Marvin was on the street and he saw us coming. He turned his big truck off. He thought I was a runaway. How silly! Miss Terri told him what we were doing and then she had him start his truck and honk HIS horn. Geesh! LOL… I guess Miss Terri likes that sound. I just wanted to get home but she talked a bit with Mr. Marvin and I was good. Then ANOTHER car came by and like Mr. Marvin, they also thought I was a runaway….well…..blah…blah…blah ..same story was told again and you guessed it……another horn honked! Her and those horns. I looked at her and chuckled. I’m pretty much thinking I’ve passed the traffic and horn test with flying colors.

We finally got to the fence and there was my horse Mom, the beautiful Cass! Boy…..she really missed me….she kept calling to me. We trotted in our gate and then finally  into our house. Miss Terri took my halter off and then gave me some more loving. She told me we are going to do this again…soon. WOW…what a day! I did really awesome with everything that was new and scary to me! I am going to be a good trail horse for you Mom. Next time, do you want to come, pleeeeeeeeze?!?!?!?!?!?

Love,

Becca (I am certainly not afraid of a little horn honking!)

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New Roommates

Tomorrow brings us new roomies. The Buford herd moved out a couple weeks ago to the main property. It’s been cool because apparently all the bugs moved out with them! We get some different cows tomorrow, though. They are a much smaller breed and it’s another bull with his ladies. It’ll be interesting to meet them and see how they react to my girls and vice versa.

Terri also brought home a wonderful mini donkey mother, Matilda, and her baby, Clementine. They are simply too adorable! The mom is underweight so she’s been getting pampered at the main barn. I stop by and see them when I can.

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Left to right: Matilda and Clementine visit with Gayle.

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Our old friend, Sam, has also moved into the main barn. He and his mom, Gayle, were needing a cooler environment since Sam doesn’t sweat properly. Terri and Gayle hit it off and so far Sam is making his way in with her herd. It hasn’t been easy, he’s got some bites and scratches, but he’s a smart boy. It’s nice seeing him have so much room and actual grass to graze – like a horse should.

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We got part of Cass’s blood results back. Her testosterone levels are actually within normal ranges. We’re still waiting on one more test to pinpoint to the possible granulosa theca cell tumor on her ovary. In the meantime, Dr. Carson (our holistic vet) came out to do acupuncture this week. Cass was having no part of it, though. She told us in no uncertain terms she was not in the mood. We didn’t push her with the needles and just did a little massage. We’re giving her some Chinese herbs to help her soreness (she’s pulled some muscles when she was going after Becca) and her hormones. She’s not wanting to eat them in her food, but tonight I mixed in some apples and she ate most of it. She and Becca are still back in together and I’ve not noticed any more aggression. Whew!

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Watching Dragonflies

This morning with Cass was just about magical. Things have been very quiet lately, especially since her hormones have quieted down a bit. But the cows moving out changed the energy of our little barn. It’s somehow even more peaceful than before. I fed the girls their usual breakfast and then let them out to play and graze on the whole property. I tended to my chores, mucking their living area, tidying up the barn and even tidied up my car. The pasture was abuzz with our dragonfly friends.

Cass has decided she’s comfortable in the barn. She likes to just go in there and hang out. It’s very sweet and she’s gotten brave. Even when she knocks something over she doesn’t spook or take off. She’s at peace. She was taking a little nap in the center aisle.

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My smart girl places herself where the fan can blow on her. She looks like a supermodel with her luxurious locks whipping around in the breeze. I was ready for a break myself and Becca was busy grazing in the front where I could keep an eye on her, so I grabbed a book and plopped down on a chair to share the comforts from her fan. As I was reading, I felt Cass inch closer and closer to my face. She was sniffing me, sniffing the book, sniffing my boots and melting me with those gorgeous eyes. I kept reading and offered her my hand a few times. She likes it when I massage her bottom lip. Even though she’s been in my life for over a year now, times like this still give me a feeling I can’t describe.

After a while, she tiptoed around and stood behind me. I continued reading and then I felt her on the side of my face. She was standing so close her breath was in my ear. My heart may have stopped for a couple beats just waiting to see what she was up to. She simply stood there, with me, soaking me in as much as I was soaking her in. I’m the only one who has access to this part of her. The complete trust and comfort and comradarie. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. When Cass was standing with me today I could feel that little 10 year old girl who dreamed every night of a horse to have as my best friend. Cass has shown me how to watch the dragonflies.

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It’s been an interesting week here in Cassidyland. Cass has been exhibiting stallion-like behaviors towards Becca. That translates to running her off aggressively by biting her back legs and actually mounting her. Cass has always kept Becca in her place but this is all strange behavior. At one point she got herself so worked up chasing her, she got dangerously overheated. So, I had a few conversations with the vet and scheduled her to come out to examine her. In the meantime, she told me to separate the two girls.

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Becca’s new temporary home is the round pen with our tried and true canopy tent for shelter. She’s not real happy but we can’t let her get hurt, either by her mother or running away from her mother. The past few weeks Cass has even been a bit “pissy” with me. But now that she has the pasture all to herself, she’s back to being my calm and wonderful girl.

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The vet who was on duty for my emergency call the other night is who came out to examine her. First time meeting Dr. Fowinkle, though I’ve heard good things about her from friends. She was kind and completely impressed with how well-behaved Cass was. The exam showed a couple things for concern. Cass has residual edema in her mammary glands from having multiple foals and scarring to the mammary ducts. I thought she’d just never dried up her milk completely. She performed an ultrasound to get a look at her female parts and we found a possible reason for her behavior change. She has an abnormal ovary with multiple follicles, including some follicles that appear to have fibrin deposits. One of her concerns had been that maybe Cass was pregnant and we ruled that out! (There was a sexy stallion in the vicinity when she was with her trainer.) We sure didn’t need another baby. Whew!

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The vet pulled some blood to send off to test her hormone levels. That will help confirm the type tumor it may be. The best case scenario is she could be put on birth control or some natural form of hormones to even them out. The worst case scenario is she would need the ovary removed surgically. That would mean a trip to Gainesville. For right now, she’s fine and I do let her and Becca out to graze together when I’m there to supervise. Cass has chased and mounted her a couple more times, but that’s settling down. Becca may be going to stay at the Barnhill’s down the road for a while, we’re playing that by ear. For right now, she hangs with the cows a bit and gets to flip a feed bucket around again. We’ll take things one step at at time.

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Fireworks, family barbecues, parades, flags, eagles…these are all images conjured by the thought of our Independence Day. But when we think of America there is another image that should be coming to your mind, our American Mustang running freely over the plains. Our country was built on the backs of horses and we are about to totally destroy a true American Icon, our beloved Mustang. We’ve been slowly extinguishing them for many years, but most don’t know about it.

You see the cattle ranchers caused a fuss because they didn’t like sharing the public lands (our land!) with the bands of wild Mustangs. Keep in mind, this is millions of acres. So, the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) started rounding the wild horses up and adopting them out. It must be so rewarding to win the trust of one of these animals but obviously, not a lot of folks are qualified to take one of these on. The numbers being held versus being adopting started getting bigger and bigger. Now, all these years later, the BLM is complaining about the cost to care for all these horses they’ve continued to capture. They want to kill them all or send them to slaughter, which is a worse death. It’s become a horrible mess. The mustangs are paying the ultimate price for greed.

Last night I read a story and met a horse who will forever stay embedded deeply in my heart. He was born a noble, wise, strong and fair stallion with a family all his own. He was doing just fine until the BLM stepped in. Maybe he will touch you, too.

El Mariachi’s story

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