I looked out this morning and standing in the one corner of my front pasture was my horse’s, sam was just hanging out but Brandy, well Brandy was staring at the house.. and she knew I was up and moving around.. I got the horse eye, and when I let the hounds out, she called to me, her soft nicker.. Hi Mom!, Hay please and her head bopped up and down.. and I said sorry girl, I have full new hay bales coming in this morning, and if it get here before X time, I want to hold the core from the last bale of hay back for other use.
Now her, sam and Glenda all walked around the fence to the hay feeder area and the horse’s look out at the fresh green hay just out of their reach and looked at me and the house and flicked their ears..
I didn’t laugh at them openly, just called.. soon guys, soon..
and then I went in the house and started to laugh, you see its been a busy winter, when we fenced the pastures, we fenced for sheep and goats in mind, it’s a four and half-foot fence with sheep wire, with a top line of barbed wire that will slow be replaced so much per sections with a top rail each pay-day, but it was never fenced for horse’s in mind as they were just not on the table at that and place.
Now with the snow, with the hay around the hay feeder, the truth is my “fence” has gotten lower and lower all winter long, each time in the past two weeks that we have had even a hint of melt, we have been out with rakes, shovels, the wheel barrel or sled and we have been raking back, and moving the area by the fence.
BUT it’s about knee-high on the horse’s, it’s so low the adult sheep can just jump over it, now thankfully, only two of them make this choice, the rest are good about being behind the fence..
Which bring us to this morning, with the last storm, it’s barely at their knee’s, they could honestly step over the fence, they would not even need to hop or jump it.. just step over it, I have taken to putting the sheep flock and the horse’s in the barn with hay if I am leaving the farm “just” to be safe.
I know that if the horse’s were to get out, that they would head for the crossties as that is where their fat, protein, vit and mineral lick tub is, and its a major treat and draw, it also mean if I flip the lead over them and send them out in front yard (which I swear is going to be fenced this year), I know that is where they are heading.
But to date, they have never yet stepped over, if they even lean over a bit too much, I say.. “FENCE” and they back up and look at me sheepishly, Brandy came with the habit of loving to lean on a fence with her butt, so we have had lessons.. about NOT leaning on the fence, lean on a tree, lean on a building, but you will not use the sheep fencing like a hammock!
Now clearly its a combo of things, the first being that my horse’s and pasture critters are well feed, they know that if there is not free feed in the big round bale feeder, that x amount of times a day either farmgal or Mr. Farmgal will be out to give them hay.. On average, at 5 am, 10 am, 5pm and 10 pm, so really, they are not hungry, I would like to think if they were in fact not feed, that they would step over that rail and go to the bale sitting right there..
The second thing, is that they are used to seeing us many times a day, they are not off in a pasture where they might see a person x amount of time, they interact with us many times a day in all kinds of small ways, it’s not just about training sessions, they come up when we are just puttering, they knicker when we come in and out of the house, they follow us up and down the paths as we go to the barn, they hang with us where we are.
but it’s also about respect, both of them have a respect for fences, for gates, for the rules..
It is funny to me that they clearly have a set of rules that they do their very best to follow on a regular bases, respect the fence even if I could step over it, stay back so far from the gates when the people come though, beg but don’t touch the pails until given permission, follow so far back from the people on the trails, don’t touch the sled or wheel barrel when its moving, only when it’s stopped, get out-of-the-way when you see the person coming though, they get the right of way at all times.. be it outside, in the barns or in a stall.. Watch out for the babies..
I know I have told this story before but it still amazes me, I have seen their big old feet start to come down and the freeze as they grasp that a baby lamb is there, and they will inch it down giving the wee one time to get out from underneath, when the adult sheep really drive Brandy crazy, she never uses her teeth or kicks at them, she will give a gentle head swing but most of the time, she reaches out with her front foot, curves it, hooks it under the sheep’s whole underside, lifts them up and moved them over and out-of-the-way, I swear someday I will get it on video..
I consider myself very blessed indeed to share my world with two horse’s that despite the challenges they can offer at times, the bottom line is they are just amazing in so many ways!