Monday, May 11, 2009

Of cats and hotwire

I just got back from my sister's place. While there I took care of twenty some horses (all but two are minis) five dogs (plus my two, so actually seven) two cats, and the beta fish.

Now, for the dogs. Two are LGDs. That stands for livestock guardian dogs. One, Alex, is a huge drooly Great Pyrenees, about two years old. Mattie is a very ancient Maremma, who loves to bask in the sun, but looks very dead when she does. The other three are border collies. Tessa is fourteen, and in heat. That means that Alex, really loves her. I mean slobbering, drooling, whining, loves her. Apparently mother nature was not nice to Tessa. She is fourteen! If that whole dog years for each person year is correct, and I know it isn't, that would be 98 people years!! Tessa is also deaf. She used to herd sheep, and is a wonderful dog, and very obedient, but she is now deaf. Nip is one of her sons. He is a very friendly doofus of a dog. I'm guessing him to be nine-ish. Then there is Emma. Emma is a miracle dog. She got Equine Ehrlichia as a pup. She was so close to death so many times, I doubt even my sister could count them. She has now saved a few lives as this disease was not known to effect dogs in the area. She was tested for the canine variety and was clear. A wise country vet requested the test and now Emma is on the data base at the vet school and the test is done along with the others on the panel when certain symptoms appear. Anyway, dear Emma is very small and fox like. She has severe arthritis and is completely blind. Since moving she has been able to go off her medication and has put on weight. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't fall for sweet Emma upon first contact. Then I had the two corgwyn.

The horses include Jessie, a retired, and 26 year old, Thoroughbred dressage horse, Zettie, an Arab, who is also elderly, but not quite as old as Jessie. Bandito is the mini stud, who is a wonder horse, and very easy to handle...and all the mares and geldings. The big girls are out in their area and only need feeding. Two young minis are across from the big girls in their paddock. Both areas stay out and just need to be fed. There are seven, or so, mares in a paddock in the far corner of the property, that also stay out and are fed twice a day as well. Bandito has his own area, for obvious reasons, and the remaining mares and geldings are separated by sex into their areas. They all, along with Bandito, come into the barn at night. Each have their separate routines as far as feeding, and stalls. To make it "easier" the stalls were changed around. Hmmmm,. Not easier. The horses know where they are supposed to be, but now it is changed. The good news is that there were only two that I wasn't sure of, and they had the same amounts of food and were housed next to each other. So, each night they came in and were fed, and possibly blanketed, and each morning they were fed and put out in their pens for the day. Piece of cake. Then, of course there was the cleaning of each stall, and the hauling of food to the equines that got to stay out. Here at home I wander the field each day and pick up the poo...but luckily that was not on the chore list.

So, here is the problem. Most of the horse areas are fenced off with livestock fencing and electric fencing. Some are just strung with hot wire. My dogs are not only dwarfs, but used to hanging with my horse. On the second day they must've been missing their horse, as I had a heck of a time trying to keep them out of the pens. I began to think that the bottom wire was not "hot." Kate spotted the sheep in with the big horses, and that herding instinct really kicked in. For the most part I just really needed to keep an eye on her and divert her attention elsewhere. Henry, on the other hand, was on a mission and would look at me and go wherever he wanted. On the morning of the third day he headed towards Bandito. Bandito is wiley, and he is smart. He is a stallion. Henry would NOT make it out of the pen if Bandito saw him. I bellowed at Henry. He stopped and looked straight at me, then turned and ducked under the fence. This time, however, he did not make it between the pulses. He got nailed big time. I would love to know what he thought got him. The fence? or perhaps "Mom's" incredible powers? He screamed and headed out. Once he screamed Bandito came at full charge. Henry hasn't a clue how lucky he is to be alive. He could have easily stayed away from the fence out of fear and would have died in the pen. Instead he jumped back under and to me. That time he made it back under without getting hit by the electricity. When he got to me he was shaking and wanted to be comforted.

Seven dogs means lotsa poo. Each day I went around with the wheelbarrow and picked up the yard. I decided it would be easier if I mowed. Out came the yard tractor and away I went. About halfway thru the transmission quit. I pushed the tractor back to the shop and then up onto auto ramps so I could see where the belts ran and figure out what the problem was. By now I am sweating big time. Into the house I go for a break. Water? No thanks. Their well water stinks. It smells like low tide. It likely tastes fine, but I cannot bring myself to drink it. After ten minutes I am back out, determined to get the tractor fixed. That is when I spot the cat. Oprah. The little back cat with the diamond on her chest. Steadman has been there; I think he lived at the new place prior to their occupancy. But Oprah disappeared shortly after they moved. I was so excited that I called my daughter. I gave lots of lovings to dear Oprah and decided that she must have taken residency with someone as she was looking quite good...even a bit pudgy. Back to the tractor. I found the belt and took off the back panel...hmmmm, only one bolt where there should have been six. It appeared that this was a regular problem with this, this SEARS mower. Gee, ya think? So lawn finished with just a bit of daylight left. Hose down the tractor and put it away. Fall into bed; I don't know that I even changed my clothes that night.

The next day, chores, dogs, and then I look around the place. All that mowing now means raking. I don't rake at my house. A mulching blade takes care of it, and I don't really care. Here it really must be done. This is a shoes off house. The little blades of cut grass were everywhere, as the dogs drug it in. It must be done. I cannot find a rake, so take a manure fork and begin carefully lifting the rows of grass piles. Then I see it. Piles. Everywhere. Smashed flat and buried amid the grass piles. How is it possible that I could have missed so many? I had a wheelbarrow full of dog piles, yet I missed a huge amount. sigh. It was a two day job to get the grass picked up. I was exhausted, but happy. I kept thinking that I was doing my training for the 3 Day. Who needs a treadmill when there are "chores?"

So, yesterday was a running kind of day. I needed to get the house cleaned up, laundry done, stuff packed into the truck, and the rest of the grass picked up. I spent the day alternating between those. After regular chores of course. I managed to find the vacuum (a Bissel Pet hair remover; I want one!) got my bedding into the washer, kept Tessa safe from Alex, and headed up with fork in hand to finish the grass. As I got to the point where I felt ill, I went in the house and threw linens in the dryer, and watched reruns of "Jockeys" on Animal Planet. I gave myself ten minutes, then began inside cleaning until ready to tackle the outside, once again. Oprah would make her appearance and I just felt happy. At two the call came in that they were getting something to eat and would get the horses packed up and be headed home. Outside I finished the yard and got the barn ready to house the horses as I had told her I would get the ones at home done before they got home. All were safely tucked in when they arrived at about 7pm.

And the cat named "Oprah?" Not Oprah after all. Harley. See the white on the back right toes? Oprah didn't have that. Bummer. Harley seemed to enjoy the love I showered on him. Darn cat!!

Long ride home and so many emails that it didn't give me a count. Just a smiley face. I deleted many without opening. If they were important I will get another, or a phone call. I was too tired to have to face them this morning.

Oh, and yes, we did celebrate Kate and Tessa's joint birthdays with a whole lot of loving and some hot dogs. I even sang to them and got them "singing" along. It was a great four days, and I would do it again in a second. Well, except for the corgi/fence thing. Sadly I didn't get a picture of the "pinto" deer. The resident herd is actually splashed with white patches. Stunning, and perfect for my sister's place, where she was breeding for loud color. We did find the paddock where they hang out, and Kate and Henry declare their "left behinds" delicious.

How was YOUR weekend?

This barely qualifies as a one person job, wow! So, did Henry stay out of the corrals after his 'reminder?'. I bet he did.


I really don't know that he realizes it was the fence. He had run under the rope so many times without getting hit. It was on a leash after that unless the horses were in for the night.

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