Saturday, March 16, 2013

Four wide

Clip-clop-snort-clop clop clop...  It's about a 1/4 mile down the road from the end driveway to the pasture gate.  The five of us have been making the trip up and back every day for the last few days.  The ponies are thrilled to be out on pasture - especially since there's some green to it.  It's just shy of 10 acres that hasn't been grazed for the last two years, so there's considerable old stuff there, too - a nice prairie mix of buffalo grass and some longer stuff.

I didn't think we were ever going to get the fence finished, but the weather finally cooperated and it's up.

We've had rollercoaster weather here lately, but I had managed to get the small piece of grass north of the driveway sectioned off with temporary electric fence and they'd been getting an hour or so a day on that, so getting out on grass wasn't a complete shock to their systems, and I've been gradually increasing the amount of time they're out. They're up to six hours on the big pasture now.

I haven't gotten a water tank in yet, so for right now I fill two big plastic tubs for them.  Thursday and Friday we had 80's, and they drained them.  Today we had a high of 41' - the high was lower than yesterday's low.  They weren't nearly so dry.

Currently we have to walk all the way up the road to the southeast corner of the pasture to get to the gate.  On the plus side, there's a grass shoulder wide enough for all of us 90% of the way, and I can see clear to the stop sign in one direction and almost as far in the other, so we stop, look and listen before starting out and if I hear anything coming in any direction we wait until I see which way the driver's going to turn.  (So far there's been a sum total of 1 car to wait on.)

The plan is to put in a walk-through gate on the north side, and then I shouldn't have to take them down the road at all.  I'm looking forward to that.

Coming in for the evening trip down the hill

It took them all of one trip to figure out where they were going every morning, and now they meet me at the gate and stand in a row to have their halters put on.  I'm a little slower; I haven't quite gotten the perfect twosomes down yet.  The only one I'm sure of is Rufus.  He walks on my heels, and he has shoes on, therefore he's an outside horse.  Other than that, they walk along politely whoever they end up next to and they've even figured out the four-wide swing at the pasture gate so that I can hook the line behind us, and the swivel-to-me at the barn gate so that I can take their halters off and block the way back out at the same time.

Speaking of the line at the pasture gate...  The existing pasture gate is one of those multi-strand wire things.  And it was a miserable pain to start with.  I can't open it one handed.  (It's tight, heavy and awkward, and I have to literally hug the fence to open and close it.)  I didn't want to leave it wide open, but I couldn't get it open easily once I had them all caught without one of them - or me - stepping in it on the way out.  And I surely did NOT want to open the gate before I had them all caught.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the solution: I tied a strip of polywire decorated with a few strips of orange surveyor's tape to the gatepost on one side, tied a gate handle to the other end so I could hook it on the other gatepost, and viola, a gate I can get in and out with four horses attached.  They respect the polywire, because it generally comes with electricity running through it.  They can also see it much better than the brownish wire gate.  The best thing is, I can unhook it one-handed, walk in keeping it snug, swing them around, and then hook it again.  Once they're all in and turned loose, then I close the wire gate and they're secure.  It will work until the walk-through's in, and/or we get a regular steel gate up instead of the wire.

See the house & barn roofs behind them?
When I walk up to get them in the late afternoon, they've been great so far about heading my way.  They get a drink, I halter and flip leadropes across their backs, collecting them one by one once I have the last one haltered.  Then it's back down the hill.  Today it was chilly with a stiff northeast wind, and I was wondering if I'd have my hands full.  Thankfully they were only a little lookier than they've been on the warmer/calmer days. 

Other than that, Cat 1 and Cat 3 have been hauled to the vet, tested negative for feline leukemia and FIV, and had their respective reproductive bits removed. Cat 1 has forgiven me.  Cat 3... not so much.  Cat 2 will hopefully cooperate and catch himself in the livetrap Sunday night so that he can take his trip Monday morning.  And that's the news that is news from around here.  Now I'm off to catch up on what everyone else has been occupied with while I've been incommunicado.


Kellie said...

Glad you are back, I've been wondering what you were up to :)

Great pictures. It is so pretty there, even though it is mostly brown.

I can just picture you and your herd moving down the side of the road. Good exercise, moving them back and forth.

Definitely roller coaster weather there. Not for us tho, stinking cold cold and more snow. I know we need the moisture, but holy cow I'm sick of winter.

So how much does it cost to get a cat altered there? In AK they had an SPCA program where you could get cats/dogs done for 30 bucks. Here at our favorite vet it is 200! Not even kidding. I called around and the cheapest place I can find is 125 - and that is 40 miles away. You'd think with all the barn's and cats they'd have like a barn/outside cat program.

SunnySD said...

Hey Kellie,

Definitely good exercise moving the critters up and back :)

I had sticker shock when I got the bill for the cats - it wasn't much better even after I realized that I'd had them add on 4 strangles vaccines, and that bumped the tab up considerably. I had to go back and check to see how things broke down exactly, but the spay and neuters alone were relatively cheap at $67.50 and $58 respectively, so not so bad. The feline leukemia tests were $32 a pop, and I had them vaccinated and dewormed, and Cat 1 had ear mites that they treated, so that added on considerably. Cat 1 ended up being $185 and Cat 3 was $203, so I think the vets in your area are right in there.

I like the sound of the AK SPCA program! Depending on how many you need to have done, you might try contacting the local animal shelter and see if they have a deal with one of the vet clinics they'd be willing to extend - the shelter in MI where my folks are will do that. And I know some vets will work with you too, if you have a bunch of them to do.

Here's hoping you get some warmer weather - or at least not more winter - soon!

Kellie said...

Yeah, I'll have to check into what the shelters will do. Oh and our vet wants 200 just to spay, no vaccinations or test included in that. Got to get it done tho, can't be overrun with the kitties.

SunnySD said...

That's just plain highway robbery! At those prices I bet the feral cat population is HUGE. Hope you get a positive response from the shelter.