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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Horses & Chickens & Kids, Oh my!

Yesterday was wonderful, despite having to deal with the nursing home issues mentioned in my essay's blog. I thank God for the good times that balance out the bad.

I gave Maggie a few days to settle in, but yesterday I brought out her old saddle. I was going to sell it since it didn't fit my other horses. Maggie has extremely high withers (horsey tech) and I had to shop for the right fit. I kept putting off taking the saddle to the tack shop. It's been three years and the saddle is still here. I guess somewhere deep inside I knew she'd come home.

She's a lot taller than my other horse and I always mounted her from a rock or fender... whatever was handy. I had taught her a cue that swung her around beside whatever object I chose to climb up on. She has since forgotten the cue, but I will refresh her on that later. I walked her over to my sitting rock in the iris bed. I tried cuing her but she didn't understand what I wanted. She ended up swinging around in the other direction, her hind feet stepping into the irises. As graceful as she ever was, she walked back around out of the flower bed without so much as a bump to a blade. She knows where her feet are and steps ever so carefully. I don't know of many horses that could walk through a flower bed without doing at least a little damage. Hubby came to the rescue and coaxed her to sidestep toward the rock. It felt good to sit astride her again. She's got a super easy walk and trot. I have never used a bridle and bit to ride her... Only a halter with reins clipped on. She doesn't need anything more. I've ridden her in traffic, on trails and the bike path that way. She's what horse people would call bomb proof.

Maggie is buddy sour already. This is when horses don't want to leave their pasture mates; They keep turning back to the barn. She refused to go across the creek, so we ended up walking in lots of circles. (It's kinda like a horsey time-out - they hate little circles) We rode around the front and side yards. It felt like coming home. The memories had become so faint, and now here I was... I'll never let her go again!

Ali wanted to ride her. She had never shown much interest in the horses, and since they had busy soccer schedules, hadn't spent a lot of time learning about them. For her, a ride meant being led around by me. I had other plans.

Maggie is extremely easy to handle and I trust her. She is not the kind of horse to take off on you. I kept her lead line attached where I could reach out and grab it if needed. I told Ali to mount up and handed her the reins. It took her a bit to find the gas peddle. You can see a video clip of her ride on her blog. Let her know you've visited...

Well, the chickens got evicted! FIL got tired of waiting for them to go out on their own and tossed every single one out the door. They really loved their day outside and seemed to adapt well. Here is a short clip of them running away from me:

Our four laying hens always return to their coop at dusk. All Hubby has to do is go out and shut the door so the critters can't get to them. In the morning he opens the door for them to come out. They go back in to lay their eggs in the nest.

We've read and now know it's true... You must let a chicken find it's own way out if you expect it to find it's own way back in! So after a really long day that began at the hospital, and was about to conclude with a campfire, here we are crawling around in chicken poop grass with a flashlight gathering over fifty chickens! The people steps going into the house are just stacked cinder blocks. Some of the chickens decided to roost inside them. Luckily my hands are smaller than Hubby's. It's not easy retrieving chickens from cinder blocks!

Hubby's fishing net made the job a lot easier. He could net four or five at a time, since they like to huddle. I would take one at a time from the net and carry it to the door of the house. Surprisingly, they were very calm as I cradled them against me. I expected squawking and flapping. A few of them sat in the doorway letting me pet them before joining the other rescued birds in the corner.

Too bad I don't have an infrared video camera. I'm sure the scene was quite entertaining!

Tonight the hens went into their small coop while all the young chickens were still out. Hubby waited patiently, and soon they started heading in on their own. All except one. Hubby says he was pretty fast too! Good thing he's got the net.


AL said...

Nice post Lilly, a picture of my future farm. I want to have chickens as many as those in the future. . .how lovely they look. Chickens are camera shy, aren't they? You scared them all off.

With the way you describe Maggie, I can see that you're so happy and I feel happy for you too. I saw the video and she really is lovely.


chicamom85 said...

The chickens are out!!! Yahoo!

I am so glad you got to ride Maggie, it made me happy thinking of you out there. I would have done anything to be there to watch you catching chickens.

Thanks for that story

SquirrelQueen said...

A wonderful post to describe what sounds like a busy but interesting day.

I am so glad you got to ride Maggie today, it's good that the two of you are together again.
I will go to Ali's blog and check out the video of her ride.

To bad it was dark, I would have loved to see the chicken herding.

CrazyCris said...

Them's a lot of chickens!!! lol!


Rae said...

I wish I had been there to watch all that chicken activity. I would have laughed until my sides hurt. I am sure it was not how you wanted to end a long day but someday maybe you can have a good laugh about it.

KrisGC said...

The story of your horse and chickens brings back great memories for me. When I was young I spent a lot of time one my grandma and grandpas farm with chilckens, horses and cows. I love all the sights and smells, thank you for that!

Mark Kreider said...

Great movie! One never does know what to expect with birds. I'm glad you're happy to have Maggie back home!

charmine. said...

Very busy day you had.Glad you got to ride maggie,will chk out those vids.

Susan R. Mills said...

We don't have horses on our farm. We have dairy cattle. They aren't too keen on letting you ride them. :)

Grandma Nina said...

What a great "down on the farm" story. I'm not a horse person, but I have many friends that are and I know from them how much they love their horses. So I'm so glad you and Maggie are back together. It was a match meant to be. And the chickens are quite the entertainment.
I know you and I both are in the same boat about having to cut down on commenting, but I always have to comment on you. I can't stop myself.