Monday, September 28, 2015

Welcome autumn!

Colorful fall is upon us and the show season is winding down. We sold all our wooly lambs and were confounded when one of the ewes had another lamb this year out of season. We call the fuzzy, black ram, Surprise. The meadows have turned a golden emerald. spotted with violet-flowered weeds and browning plants releasing their creamy-white fluff. Splotches of crimson paint the stately maple trees as they waved goodbye in the autumn winds to summer. The horses are frisky, relieved that the sweltering heat and sticky humidity has left. They are turning shiny and round, preparing for the long winter. Our two muddy pigs rejoice at the harvest surpluses, grunting and squealing as wind-fallen apples roll under their snout. We welcome fall as we say goodbye to the dog days of summer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Here Come The Babies!

We welcomed fourteen baby lambs to the farm this year. Their births heralded in the warmer weather and were without incident. They have formed a youthful flock and will part company with their mothers to spring and leap into the air as a wonderful, wooly gang.

Two foals joined our family and it is joyful to watch the long-legged sprites dart around the greening fields while their dams nicker to them. One is a bay filly and the other a chestnut colt.

We added six new chicks to the flock and they have lost their yellow fuzz to be replaced with ebony and white feathers. They hang out with the plump Pekin ducks which we raised from babies.

Spring, with its flowering pear trees and crimson tulips, has brought many new faces to the farm. We welcome the new additions and look forward to a balmy summer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Last Wild Horse

While in the throes of winter, when riding can be numbing and painful, I have turned greater attention to my studies at Michigan State University. While getting my Master, I am creating a husbandry care manual for the last remaining species of true wild horses, the Przewalski’s horse or Asian wild horse. This equine is a descendant of the domestic horse and remains untrainable. While many people think the mustangs out West are wild, they are actually domestic horses that went feral when they escaped from the Spanish conquistadors and the settlers out in the plains and mountains. There are only about 1500 Prezwalski’s horses left, mainly in zoos though a couple hundred have been reintroduced to part of their old home range, Mongolia. These animals used to roam all over Asia and Europe until they were reduced to only thirteen captive horses because of hunting in the 20th century. With careful breeding, their numbers are now above 1000, which is truly remarkable. There is no current guide on how to care for these wonderful horses in captivity. By creating a manual from existing data and observations, zoos will have a reference for these equines.

In the Grip of Winter

Winter has descended upon the farm with its frigid temperatures and wind-swept fields layered in powdery, white snow. The horses are snug in their heavy blankets and grow bored with lolling around. They irritate each other with cranky nipping and kicking, or me, by breaking fences and galloping around the property. Hidalgo, my spotted Spanish mustang, is by far the worst. If he is let out of his stall to exercise in the paddocks, within minutes he will barrage through the fence lines, running to the bird feeders to nibble on the seed. When I try to catch him, he will saucily toss his mane and charge across the fields. Only a bucket of sweet feed can entice him to leave his charades and return to his stall. After going inside to warm my frozen hands by the fire, I will do what most horse riders are doing in blustery, cold Michigan, dreaming of spring, with its emerald fields and sunny skies. I itch to return to my oiled, heavenly smelling, leather saddle so I can prepare for show season. But for now, it is only a dream.