Wednesday, January 12, 2011

after the ice

Well, not quite *after* yet but getting close as the sunshine today melts things down. It's 36 degrees Fahrenheit and windy, but the geldings came out of blankets to get a break and they are right now standing in the front field in full view eating tree bark. What is it that they love so much about tree bark in the dead of winter?

The pony came down the hill at a very fast trot as I was watching and did the equine equivalent of "pumping the brakes" - I'm serious! Trot trot trot trot - sit back a second - trot trot - sit back a second -trot - halt.

So cute.

I kept Salina and the donkeys in their barnyard and paddock area today so they could go in out of the wind when they wanted to - and also to keep Salina from running with the herd if they happen to start up out there.

We're feeding from the small mesh hay nets this week, trying to reduce hay waste and keep them busy. Although now I see Cody has started in on a small tree trunk and he is rocking the entire tree trying to get some bark. I have threatened to build a track if they keep this up, and ... just might do it for all the great reasons to have a track.

Keil Bay is now craning his neck to reach a branch and pulling straight back with all his might.

And now, for the grand finale before I go finish my chores, the pony has turned and is using a small tree to give himself a nice butt scratch.

I think they're glad to be on the other side of this weather. (although down to 19 tonight, it looks like 50s for the weekend - and please, I'm begging, NO RAIN!)

Hope all are staying warm and safe - I'm seeing so many reports of major snow storms and blizzards in the U.S. - saw yesterday that 49 out of 50 states had snow?!


Grey Horse Matters said...

I would have loved to see the pony 'pumping the brakes' that must have been cute.

I've always wondered why they eat tree bark to. Our one horse Lifeguard used to distract himself at shows by eating leaves from trees and occasionally the tree bark of pines. We have some who eat it and some who don't. We worry about Blue because he seems to have a preference for the black locust(that we're waiting for the guy down the road to take down). It is toxic to horses and he needs to be watched until they're taken down or we'll have to build a barrier around them.

You asked on my post how the dogs got out. Well, I shoveled a path from the garage so they could get to the plowed driveway. They had no problem going along the edges.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Small trees are good for scratching between shoulder blades too (I hear) :)

Dougie Donk said...

I too wonder about trees! There is one on the way to our field that Dougie Donk & Tammy pony love to eat leaves from, but the horse boys show no interest whatsover.

Vet says it's not toxic, so I just let them do as they wish; but is there a difference in nutritional needs or pleasures?

Weather in Scotland is finally beginning to thaw (+7C today!), but my heart goes out to the Australians living through floods.

I thought global warming was going to be all t-shirts & ice-cream - if only!

billie said...

Arlene, I should have known you made a path for them! This is how inexperienced we are with snow here!

billie said...

C, all sorts of scratches can get itched by trees it seems...!

billie said...

D's mom, our herd have various non-grass things they eat in the different seasons. It is almost a given that once winter really digs its heels in, they will be pawing and rooting for things, and doing the de-barking thing about the bottoms of the trees - their favorites are the tulip poplars but they will sometimes go after cedar and pine as well.

It's part of their natural instinct to forage, so unless they get into something toxic, which we don't have, it's not really going to hurth *them* - but with all 6 of them going at the base of a tree, they can clear it of bark in a few weeks' time. We still have one huge tulip poplar that is standing dead due to this practice of theirs. We have wrapped some tree trunks in woven wire to protect them and probably will do more of this weekend unless we decide to make the track.

In spring they go after the honeysuckle, and in summer, it's mostly grass, although I see them sampling various things almost as if they just want a slightly different taste of something in their grazing.

In the fall it's acorns. I do try to reduce the amount they get by raking them up and removing them to the woods, but they always manage to get some.

Oh, I just glanced out the window and there is Cody, debarking away.

Rising Rainbow said...

I was going to say that bark eating can kill you trees but reading the comments, I see you know that.

It's finally warmed up here as well but we are drowning in the rain. The creek is now flooding yet again and it's supposed to keep up for a number of days.

Hope it stays dry where you are like you want.

I think it amusing to see horses use trees for scratching posts. I swear you can almost see them drool with pleasure.

billie said...

MiKael, yes, we have learned the worst case scenario of bark chewing first hand.

I hope you get some dry weather soon. It is just relentness so far this winter. I have a terrible cold that went into round two - which is probably making it seem that much more relentless.

Máire said...

It is wonderful to have trees and not just flat, bare paddocks. I love watching their facial expressions as they enjoy a good butt scratch.

billie said...

I totally agree, Maire. They also use the lower hanging branches in summer to get horseflies off.

If I can keep them from debarking (two dead trees in 5 years) they can continue to enjoy the great things about their space.:)

There are two big tulip poplars (they really love the tulip poplars) in the front that I fear they will go at next - we may fence those in as I do NOT want those big trees to die.