Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feeding Time

Our animals can tell time. I am sure any other horse-owner would say the same thing. They know when it is feeding time. John does the morning feeding, I do the evening. When I walk outside at 5:30p, they are all standing up at the front of the pasture by the gate -- Zora hangs her big head over the fence, and the goat-boys are usually standing on their back legs with their front feet on the gate. Divna, being a little more reserved, hangs back a bit, but is looking at the house all the same.

As I approach the barn, they all vocalize their impatience. Then the ritual begins....I talk to all of them as I put grain the horses' buckets and goats' bowls. What happens next must be done by strict adherence to the order of the established steps. First, Marco (the black goat) must be hooked with a lead to his spot on the fence. Then Misho (the white goat). Tethering Misho first would be inviting trouble -- Marco, knowing Misho cannot get away, would just terrorize the poor white goat. Generally they get along great, but at feeding time, all bets are off. Plus, Marco is an opportunist.

Then, its back in the barn for the feed buckets/bowls. Zora must be fed first. As the dominant animal in our group, she demands this respect. Her bowl goes into her stall, then I must step outside for Divna's "show." Even though Divna has been up near the front of the pasture with the others awaiting dinnertime, she always ends up way downfield. I believe she does this for a reason. She wants to make her dramatic entrance. I have to step outside and call her. With a toss of her head, she comes running......almost full speed, with her mane flying. She gives a few more tosses of the head, and does some fancy footwork. She practically slides into her stall like a baseball player sliding into home. She starts chewing even before her head is in the bucket. She is quite the character!!!

The goats finish eating grain first, but remain tethered until the horses are finished. Marco will try to steal food from almost everyone -- the other goat and Divna. He knows better than to try it with Zora! The hay goes out into the feeder while they are all busy with grain. Once Zora leaves her stall and heads toward the hay feeder, it is safe to release the goats -- Misho first, then Marco. Sometimes I stand in Divna's stall with her if she has not yet finished her grain to protect her from Zora and Marco. Funny, but even though Zora is dominant, she respects me. If I am in Divna's stall, she will not take her grain....if I am not there, then Divna doesn't get her last few bites!

We developed this system over many chaotic feedings -- this is the method that works. It is nice to have peace in the barnyard! I love feeding them, talking to them, and being around them. Feeding time is my favorite time of day.

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