Monday, May 4, 2009

What a difference leaves make to my outlook!

Saturday was a busy day. My trimmers, John Graves and his daughter Sara came out and did the ponies' feet. Their feet are doing great and I'm sure the track will only make them better, although they have pretty great feet anyway, I'm happy to say. They were very complimentary about what I have done with the place since they saw it eight weeks ago.

In the afternoon I put up a fence for the second grazing cell. I really have no idea how often I "should" move them from one cell to the next, or how big the cells should be. Right now my system is that I have 16 cells, eight up each side of the property, and will try moving them once a month. They would get too much to eat, however, and also simply "camp" in the cell rather than move on the track, so I'm only opening the cell at night at the moment. If they are still getting too much, then I can reduce the size of cell or the time I allow them in. With only two ponies, I am more concerned that the land will be undergrazed than anything, but it is in need of a rest, too, so I hope it will work out.

Since the ponies have been strip grazed and had electric fences moved around in their world a lot over the past few years, I assumed (oops!) that they would be curious about this new fence, and find their way into the cell during the night. Nope! They must have checked the gate of their old cell, found it shut, thought "Humph!!" and not bothered to explore further as they were still on the track on Sunday morning, It's okay, there's still quite a bit of eating on the last section I opened up.

Sunday night, I made sure that I opened the gate when they were nearby, and showed it to them, and in fact, just moseyed with them for a bit in the new cell. This morning I fed them and shut the gate. I went off to a birthday lunch for my aunt an hour's drive away. When I got back about 3:30 they were still camping by the gate. Of course they may have been all over the farm while I was gone, but I don't think so. That area is a bit of a favourite lounging place anyway. But it got me thinking about whether they thought that I opened the gate because they were near it. Had I accidentally "trained" them to wait by the gate? Did they think that they had "trained" me to open it?? I made sure that they were leaving the area this evening before I opened it, but also tried to catch their attention just enough that they would notice.

I'm sure all this is just teething and that eventually they will see a routine to the whole thing. They will begin to understand that they will be moved from cell to cell, and to look for open gates. Heck, in Scotland it got to where they worked out when we were about to move them from their main field with the track to their relief grazing half a mile away.

I just loved this big sky!

On track. Spot the ponies!

New grazing cell open for business!

P.S. - I have also added some new pictures of the track to my page on Paddock Paradise site here


  1. I kinda envy your lack of green grass Kris. After a very warm spring, we've had some substantial rainfall, and the grass is lush and plentiful.

    Did you remember say hi to John from Nick?
    Small world isn't it?

  2. I did and it is! John was pleased to hear the "hello" although I think they are regularly in touch anyway.

    Even with what I've got I'm noticing that the ponies are gaining weight. A little would be okay, at least for Iona, but I don't want things to get out of hand or I will have the devil of a time getting it off again.

    There is some yummy little weed, like a ground cover right now. I don't know what it's called and so can't look it up. A couple of cattle guys have said to me that it's wonderful spring feeding. Bruce and Iona certainly think so, and I suspect that this is where the weight is coming from. Of course, I've no idea about starch levels...

  3. Hi Kris,

    Loving your blog!!

    After having Bridget come down with an accute case of laminitis a couple of weeks ago and then Blossom with colic! I have built my own little track system in the field, at the moment it is only a track around the outside of the field as I ran out of fencing. Would you believe after all that fencing I got from you plus the stuff I already had it was possible to run out lol.

    Leanne x

  4. Hey Leanne,
    Great to hear from you! Sorry about all your woes!

    Poly posts are like little black dresses - a girl can never have too many!


  5. Hi Kris,

    Our lot are still on hay, we've been shoved into 1.5 acres (for 5 big horses, not enough!) at the moment and there is tons of rain and even snow just now but no sun and no grass....eek!

    Just a thought, looking at the great pictures on Paddock Paradise of your place I found it hard to see where the fencing was up or down, would flags on an open cell give the ponies a signal that something is open and move the 'flags' to the next cell when open? don't know if that would work, I'm sure they just need to learn to investigate more and that will come with time.

    Love all the piccie's, really helps visualise you over there with your babies.


  6. Hi Shelley!
    1.5 acres? Eek, indeed! Good thing you are resourceful people.

    The idea of visual signals is interesting. It probably would work, but I think it's better for them to be encouraged to explore more. Wouldn't want to make it too easy for them!!