Sometimes nothing goes as planned or why I hate frogs in December
Frogs in December?
OK…I should have known something was up when there were banana slugs on my walkway Friday night. I mean slugs in mid-December? Really? I hate slugs.
But I should start with the faulty weather report. For that is the beginning.
The weather report read that the rain would end by two PM on Saturday. So, based on the weather report, we decided to wean this weekend. We separated the foals (Chakra and Tantra) from their dams on Saturday morning. One Lusitano pair and one Percheron pair. The fillies went into in a huge stall together and the mares went into a pasture.
Now, two days later –the water has been unrelenting. The temporary rain has turned into a nasty, three-day tropical storm. Perfect weather for weaning…not.
The fillies in the barn are going stir crazy as it has rained and rained and rained.
At the first hint of stopping this afternoon, I have the bright idea that I will get the fillies out into a paddock at the opposite end of the farm from their dams.
Now I just have to get the foals out. No problems, right? They are halter broken, haven’t seen their mamas in two days (who are far away on the other end of the farm). I usually don’t have an issue walking foals together –as we kind of move along in a group. I know what I am doing. Yeh, right...
Somewhere between the stall door and the barn entrance, Chakra (900 pound, seven month old gorilla –um, Percheron foal) decides to run. Tantra (Lusitano foal) decides on a different tactic. She goes for the “aires” and rears up before trying to run. Lead ropes are fast becoming tangled. At this point, we are walking past carriages with lots of spikey parts that look like they are going to hurt –as I am being pushed in that direction. I decide (not my brightest bulb moment) or maybe it just happened, to let go of both lead lines and protect my 52 year old ass . Those naughty fillies are out of the barn like bats out of hell.
They race through mud and rain (yes, is it raining again), dragging the lead ropes over to the four Percheron mares (not their mommys) grazing. This is a goodly distance of about ten acres from where I am standing. Luckily, those mares pretty much ignore the babies and after much “are you my mommy?” behavior, the fillies decide to run again- just as I am almost caught up with them. They take off again, toward the barn, with me doing my best to catch up. At this point, Tantra hears her mommy and runs for the back of the farm. Chakra missed the mommy train and missed where Tantra ran too. So she wanders around over to my direction. I nab her and get her in a paddock, where she immediately begins neighing and running around too. One down, one to go (or so I think).
Now I run to the back of the farm. Tantra Lusitano filly is running the fence line with her mammas on the other side. All three horses are frantic and covered in mud. I grab Tantra and she pretty much runs me over as her mother runs the opposite direction in the paddock. I grab her again, she rears. I hold on –she is frantic and contemplating jumping the fence to get to her mother. Oh good!…not. This is NOT working. At this point, I am covered in mud. There is mud in my hair, my hands, clothes and my boots. I am slimmed with Georgia clay. Time to stop digging.
So, I unclip Tantra and take another tact. I go in with the mares and catch Tantra’s dam, Caranja. I get her out (leaving 2400 pound Glory mare in the paddock stomping around like an elephant) and walk Caranja to the paddock where Chakra baby is. Tantra follows along like a little lamb. I get all three horses in one paddock and then remove the dam from the paddock. Whew! Babies together and Cananja dam is being a doll. All is well in mudville. Now, to get Caranja back with Glory in the mommy paddock. The feeling of Success! I can taste it (along with a whole lot of mud). I am singing hallelujah. I am going to have that glass of wine and a hot bath soon!
Except. Except. Except.
I hear a loud cracking sound and turn around. Tantra filly has flung herself over the four board fence and lands on her back in the mud! My imagination runs wild. I have visions of a broken neck, torn flesh and terrible damage. But Tantra gets up and sprints to her mama’s side again. No visible damage done. Oh man… I am so lucky.
At this point in time –forget the bath, I just need a drink.
Time to change tactics again. I lead Caranja into the barn with Tantra following quietly along. In the barn, I manage to get Tantra in a stall and Caranja in another. Much crying ensues from Tantra, as she proceeds to throw herself against the wall –but the stalls are bomb proof (errr Percheron proof). I am not giving in -these fillies have to be weaned.
Glory, the other dam is crying piteously in the paddock, as well as stomping through the mud. When I get to her, she is shaking from being separated from everyone. Chakra, the other foal is crying out front. There are lots of unhappy horses in mudville.
I bring in Chakra and put her in a stall.
I bring in Glory and put her in another stall.
Glory looks at the foals across the aisle, and settles. Caranja dam is already settled. The foals look at their mommys and think that this arrangement sucks but is better than nothing.
Everyone, including me is covered in mud from head to hoof.
I go get hay. The sound of four giant jaws masticating fills the air.
I am a nervous wreck. This fierce battle between fillies, dams and myself has taken over an hour…
As I begin to shut the barn door, I look down as a huge frog is crawling between the barn door and the concrete. Eewww…. Frogs in December, it just isn’t right. I rescue the frog and here I am... now for the glass of wine.
Did you get in the shower and then, stripped your clothes off? I remember laughing so hard at a motocyclist recalling his experience at the Paris-Dakar race ... "I got in the shower, then I took off my clothes!" Looks like you were just as muddy as he was. Thank you for the laugh anyway!!
How old are the fillies? I weaned a 6 month old filly and 6 month old colt about a month ago with very little drama. Foals were put in pipe corral where they could see their dams but couldn't get to them. There was a little bit of calling and the mares hung around the corral for a day or two but filly's dam quickly went to the hay at the other end of the pasture and forgot about filly. The colt's dam is older and is being kept in a pasture adjacent to the corral where the foals are but there is no calling or trying to get to mama.
There are times in my life when I welcome ice and snow because at least it's cleaner and you can let them out in it. We also have had what has felt like torrential rains for the last three days. Everything is soaked and rather than try to shlep my way out in the pasture I've taken to tying their feed buckets to the t-posts with baling twine so I can reel them in from the not-ankle-deep mud outside. The biggest drawback to electric fence is you can't hang anything on it.
I hope you went indoors and took a few Advil along with a hot bath and that wine. Cheer up - if you stay in horses it'll happen again and you'll have had practice!