We finally got the garden started. No potatoes in the ground by Good Friday this year. It’s been too cold for that anyway. This year the tomatoes and peppers went in the greenhouse at the same time that the potatoes and cabbages and even two rows of corn went in. We also went out on a limb and planted beets, swiss chard, and zucchini. The Goblin Child was actually a big help this year. 8 Still not so much. We planted a corn/sunflower house for them again this year. No maze this time. It never did work out as well as it sounded. This year we just did a circle, with a double row of corn and a wire panel trellis as the entry way. They have already started enjoying it.
Over on Rusty’s page I’ve spent the last few weeks playing with all the strange ways I could think of to get on my horse. No particular reason. Wanted something fun to do and I had seen a couple of ways that looked cool to try. Turned out I didn’t, couldn’t, do those but did come up with a few others. Rusty was a willing and enthusiastic participant who takes my strange ways in stride.
We worked on lots of little thing and put them together into a couple of big things. I can’t begin to say how proud I am of him and what a fun and enlightening trip training him has been. Not just this part but all of it. Normal horse training drives me insane now. When I see people round penning and desensitizing horses, the pointlessness of it nearly makes my head explode. Desensitizing in my biggest pet peeve at the moment. Why in the world would someone chase a horse around until they get tired enough to accept what ever you are trying to force on them when you could, without ever making the horse scared in the first place, show them how fun it is to chase and play with things they once considered scary?
No, Rusty is not perfect. Far from it really 😉 But he is the perfect example of clicker training and it’s effectiveness. Using traditional, natural horsemanship methods, I got exactly nowhere with him. He still ran me over. He still bounced off the end of the rope.
Now he works off a rope most of the time. He’s nipped my fingers a few times being over enthusiastic for food but has not crashed into me once. He now comes when called, I can’t even begin to think of the vocal cues he knows, walk, trot, canter, whoa, bow, lie down, step big (Spanish walk), and the list goes on. Not to mention being light and responsive to ride.
A quick intro to this video turned into a bit of a rant. But anyway, here is the end result of our little training exploration. All put together into one short video.
They are still sitting. Most of the time. When we’ve been to check on them the young yellow hen will be off sometimes getting a snack and a drink I always picture the older spotted hen being somewhat disapproving of the young mother. I see her clucking in dismay as she ruffles her feathers, that yellow hen, she should be here with her chicks, not off roaming around, humph. She’s a young mother and not settles enough to raise chicks.
But we looked today and both hens were off roaming together. They appear to have settled their differences and the older experienced speckled hen is going to put disapproval aside and mother these chicks together.
Hopefully, the eggs do hatch. I see one of them got broken. They are dark when candled, with only the air sack showing light through. My more experienced friends tell me that is a good thing. Shouldn’t be to much longer now if they are going to do it.
The school year is nearly done. Less then a month to go. The kindergarten teacher came down to the preschool class to test the kids on their letters. See how much everyone knew and get an idea of where the class will be for next year. When The Goblin Child heard that she was going to see if they knew their alphabet she loudly, and confidently informed the teacher that she didn’t need to test her, she knew all her letters!
And how well she did.
I’ve been indulging in an in depth exploration of all the weird and unusual ways I can think of to get on my horses. Rusty in particular. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite ones here! These are long and involved and complicated, obviously not ones that would, probably, be used everyday.
The benefits of teaching such in-depth skills is well hidden in the details. I achieve control well beyond the basic. My horses get used to all sorts of strange things. They also enjoy the work and want to come play. Quite the opposite of horse who are drilled and “desensitized” (I’m coming to hate that word and all that it implies). Hope you enjoy!
Last year one of the hens tried to hatch some eggs. She found a good, well hidden spot, she sat quite determinedly, but nothing happened. It could have been that we didn’t have a rooster.
She wanted it so bad and I felt so sorry for her that this spring I called around until I found a rooster to borrow. We went and got him and brought him home and the hen showed no sign of wanting to set. I was a little annoyed with her after all the trouble I went through on her behalf.
Then a different hen settled in on a clutch of eggs. Satisfied that at least one hen was going to make use of the borrowed rooster we started keeping a close eye on her in her hidden spot out in a barn. She was sheltered through snow storms, out of wind and rain.
But then the hen from last year decided to join the party. The speckled hen has pushed the yellow hen off the nest. Not that the yellow hen has given up, she still sitting happily next to the nest. I’m not sure what proper protocol is for this. The speckled hen certainly seems to have broken quite a few rules of etiquette here, stealing another hens nest can’t be considered polite! Maybe it will be to both of their benefits in the end. Shared mothers to a shared hatch. We will have to wait and see how they do. Until further notice we are on chick watch!
The storm is over. The snow is mostly gone, melted by the next morning already. The calves are laid out in the shelter of the windbreak soaking up the warmth of the sun. Cows are happily filling their bellies with hay. Snow drifts are piled in twisting, curving formations. We are all resting and gathering strength, hoping the forecasts are wrong about the next one being on the way.
Did I mention that we have a hen setting? We don’t ave any idea when to expect chicks but are sure looking forward to it!
It is snowing, hopefully it brings May flowers just as well as showers do. The wind howled all day yesterday and the day before. It rained all night, then changed to snow this morning. Fortunately the worst of it is East of us, unfortunate for them though.
Yesterday 8 and I ran out through the cows. They were already locked out of the pivot. Locked into the pasture to try to force them to stay behind a windbreak. Going across the pasture we saw a calf moving funny. Looking closer she was carrying a leg. It curled under her wobbling in a sickening manner whenever she stepped on it. It was broken. There was a blizzard predicted for the next day.
Deciding that through the wheat in the pivot would be an easier rout than through all the cows, down the lane, and round and round we headed her for the gate. The mama was a little high headed, the calf was managing to follow on three legs but it was hard for her. They finally went through the gate. The mama went the right way nicely from there, down to the corrals and the old horse barn. We went as slow as possible, following way behind so we didn’t rush them. She went right in the gate and we shut it behind her leaving them in the corral.
We had to wait for the father-in-law to get home to do anything with her. Once he did get back we went out to see what we could do. The mama stood back and watched while her calf was pushed to the old horse barn. The one that was falling down until they pushed it up with the payloader this winter, and tightened the cables holding it in a somewhat upright position. With the wind howling around us we crouched in the rickety old building out of reach of the mama and looked at the leg. It had broke just above the ankle. Swollen and floppy but not awful. Unless it moved then my stomach lurched and I had to look away.
We had found some old slats, a pair of The Goblin Child’s pants tossed in the rag drawer once they developed holes, and duct tape. Throwing the calf down and sitting on her we pulled the pant legs over her leg. Breaking the slat down to the right length we taped them to three sides of the leg. Once everything seemed secured we sent her back out to mom.
Overnight the rain set in, then blowing snow by morning. The horses were happy to be locked in the barn, warm and dry with lots of hay. The cows were fed up against the shelter of the windbreak. Calves bucking and playing in the snow. Coming back to check on the two calves in the pen I found the new born calf laid in an exposed corner with a snow drift building over him. The calf with the broken leg was shivering.
I got the snow covered calf up. he woke with a beller that brought his mom running. She didn’t eat me and I was able to push them back towards the barn from yesterday where both calves could find dry shelter, if only they would.
Hopefully the storm will end tonight and give the cattle some rest. Give the calves a chance to dry off and warm up. Give us a chance to start doctoring the ones that get sick from this. It is spring, the weather will warm up soon. Hopefully soon enough.
This time she took her horse. The lovely Princess Onna stood nicely as all the preschool children petted her nose and tried desperately to feed her treats. The whole thing was a little stressful though and she couldn’t handle eating too. The wind had picked up bowing a blizzard in and was whipping through the parking lot where we unloaded, stirring dust up into our faces. Princess Onna stood like the princess she is carefully not smashing any small children.