27 March 2017

Queenie’s Smile

Queenie's Smile

Treasure Wilkinson is working with a black Standard named Queenie, she looks a bit like a thoroughbred. The horse is like a pony, independent and strong-willed. Treasure has trained her to "smile" when she wants a treat, and she was smiling at me repeatedly during our visit to her farm today to see Chloe.

She curls her lip and opens her mouth.

I did not give  her a treat, but Maria did. She smiled at me again, and this time I had the camera  ready.

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Chloe And Her New Pals

Chloe And Her New Pals

At her new farm, Chloe seems to have made friends with two small goats. Every time I get the itch to get a goat, I go and see one and I forget the idea. Goats are cute, smart, and relentlessly obnoxious. Every time I am near these two, they try to eat my shoes, pockets, jacket and camera bag. One of them even tried to sample my camera as it was hanging at my side.

This did not go well. Chloe likes to hang out with them in the barn, and they follow her around the pasture.

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Visiting Chloe, Day One

Day One

We went to see Chloe on the first day after she left our farm. When we pulled up, she was standing quietly with the other two horses, Queenie and Mickey. That was a good sign. It was a gray and muddy and dreary day and we both thought Chloe was looking great, but somewhat ill at ease. She didn't seem to have the energy and spark we always saw at the farm.

And what did we expect? She hadn't been living with horses for two years and had been in her new surroundings for less than 24 hours. She looked a lot better than I did when I moved into the first Bedlam Farm. I looked so bewildered and lost a passerby pulled over and asked if I needed medical attention.

We also knew that it takes horses at least a week or two to adjust to their new surroundings, figure out the new pecking order, get used to the new routines. At first, Chloe hung back when we approached, Queenie kept cutting her off, trying to dominate.

Still, things are never certain. When we brought Simon onto the farm to live with Rocky, our blind Appaloosa pony, at least a dozen experienced horse people told us there was no doubt they would all work it out in a few days. When they didn't, every one of those same people told me you never know.

So it's looking great, but it's true, you never know. Horses are complex creatures.

Chloe handled this diplomatically, waiting until some time had gone by and then sneaking around to the back of the barn for a secret rendezvous with Maria. It was hard for me to see Chloe in a different environment, her personality somewhat hidden. I imagine she will re-assert herself over time, given what we know of her.

She was grazing, standing comfortably with ears about, at ease around the other horses. It was very good for one day, horses always make a fuss around new horses, they scream, bite, kick and rear. Donkeys are superior. They just wait and watch.

By the time we left, Chloe was coming up to us as normal, then going off to graze I won't lie, we were both upsettled, it was difficult to say goodbye again. We'll wait a few days before coming back.

The bottom line is that she is find and doing well.  Maria needed some reassurance.

This all reminds of when my daughter Emma first went off to sleep-over camp far  away, my wife at the time and I thought we would melt from worry. We wanted to call 100 times to check on her and she wrote the most piercing homesick letters.

We waited until visiting day two weeks late, and she was, of course, fine, happy, acclimated and surrounded by friends.  The counselors said they saw no problems at all.

We learned our lesson. The following year, we didn't call or pay much attention to the letters.

Today, we just needed to see her and get reassured that Chloe is all right. She is.

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Red’s Acupuncture Treatments End, For Now

Acupuncture Treatments

Red his his fourth and last acupuncture treatment, at least for now. Dr. Suzanne Fariello of the Cambridge Veterinary Service and I are working together on a number of maintenance options designed to keep Red active and healthy as he gets older. I've lost a number of wonderful border collies before their time, and I am working hard to change that history for Red.

I am happy with the laser treatments, massage and acupuncture options I began after Red was stomped by our pony Chloe during a tiff the two of them had out in the pasture. Chloe was trying to chase Red away from the sheep, Red wasn't moving.

Sometimes Red is anxious during the treatments, but he always ends up quiet and relaxed. We are not looking for transformations in Red's behavior, if he were any calmer he'd have to be dead.

I want to keep  him where he is. The only change I've noticed during the treatments with Red is an enhanced intuitiveness during his therapy work, he seems to be ever more powerful at connecting with people and sending their needs.

A year ago, Red was limping badly and struggling to run, his arthritis was also worsening. Today, he is running fluidly and easily, he seems comfortable and he and I are even more connected. In a month, we'll return to one of these treatments and keep the maintenance going. I am wary of elaborate surgeries and expensive treatments for dogs, they are good for vets but I'm not always so sure they are good for dogs.

I think acupuncture is very good for dogs, as it is for people.

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Working Dog: Guarding His Chickens, 24/7

Guarding His Chickens

This beautiful Great Pyrenees dog – one of many around her who live outdoors year round guarding sheep and chickens and calves – sits in front of a sea of chickens on a poultry farm not too far from our farm. In America, there is a growing schism between people who have pets and people who have animals.

I have never met anyone up here who thinks it is cruel for working animals to work, working dogs, horses, donkeys, cows are everywhere around here and are generally much admired and loved.

Some are pets also, some just working animals, some a mix of both. This dog sits in this enclosed chicken barn, surrounded by a sea of chickens,clucking up a storm. He takes breaks outside and in the early evening, but otherwise, this is where you will see him and find him around the clock.

He lives with his chickens, his life is devoted to guarding them

The farm produces fresh eggs for local markets. He sits quite proudly there, oblivious to the thousands of laying hens that march around him. I am told that no coyote or hawk will dare to come near his hens, he can be up and moving and roaring in a hurry. I was happy to take this photo, I love working animals and their glorious history with human beings.

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