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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh Dear.

A herd of 12 deer came into my garden today to make sure my plants were nicely trimmed,

Suddenly I noticed one of the deer was wearing some kind of collar.

I don't know what it was or who put it there, but it seemed to make her boss of all the deer. She kept a close eye on the other deer and every now and again she'd strike them with her front hooves.

If someone stepped out of line, she'd give them the devil deer look......

which would strike fear in their hearts.

They were gobbling up my tiny seedlings and then they stomped all over Foxsun's grave.... I decided I had enough and it was time for them to pose for the camera before I told them to leave.

They give me the old innocent.."Surely you don't mean us" look.Photobucket

And that means you too Boss Deer with your fancy high tech collar!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My idea's from my last blog are already being done..with success.

I was so pleased to read on Linda's blog, Beautiful Mustang, that there are many people who care about America's wild horses and they are coming up with solutions to keep them on their home ranges and to also handle them with less stress.

Please read part one of Linda's interview with TJ Holmes here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

BLM issues and my idea.

I had almost forgotten all about writing about the ideas I had for managing mustangs until I came across a letter to the editor in the Sunday newspaper. It was written by Lorna Moffat and it did my heart good to read a letter from a fellow horse lover who truly cares about the welfare of America's wild horses.

Lorna wrote of the abusive horse round-ups carried out by the BLM and their contractors. Being limited to only 200 words she was only able to scratch the surface of the horrors of what our wild horses are put through.

I have read enough of the BLM's own documentation to be truly disturbed by these 'gathers' as they call them.
Here's a snippet about a gather;

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended a wild horse roundup in northeast Nevada on Monday after seven animals died of dehydration and another was shot when it broke its leg in a holding pen.

Animal rights activists were outraged, saying the outcome was predicable given the sweltering temperatures and helicopters used to gather the animals.

The BLM said the animals appeared in otherwise good shape when two groups were herded by helicopter to holding pens in northern Elko County on Saturday. But the roundup was halted Sunday morning after four horses were found dead in the pens and others showed signs of colic and brain swelling.

Read more here;


Here's another snippet, this one from the Billings Gazette;

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. -- Federal cowboys completed one of the largest wild horse roundups in Wyoming history Saturday, gathering 2,269 horses during the month-long capture operation.

Bureau of Land Management wranglers returned 275 horses to the range.

Officials said nine horses died during roundup operations conducted in the huge Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas in Sweetwater and Carbon counties.

The Adobe Town and Salt Wells herds roam about 2.5 million acres of public, state and private lands. The BLM manages approximately 1.7 million acres within the two herd management units.

There will be approximately 860 wild horses remaining in the herd, BLM officials said Monday, which is the appropriate management level for the herd complex.

Six of the nine horses killed received injuries during roundup operations -- or had previous serious injuries or blindness — which led to the animals being destroyed by veterinarians.

They chased a blind horse for miles across rough terrain with a helicopter and when they had him trapped they killed him because he was blind.


Read more here;


These numbers are 2009 Bureau of Land Management numbers, as well as numbers obtained through independent investigation. Please understand that population levels in particular are fluid and subject to a significant degree of uncertainty (the same caveat applies to numbers provided by the BLM).
  • In the 19th century, more than 2 million wild horses roamed the West (source: J. Frank Dobie, “The Mustangs”, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 1952).
  • Today, less than 25,000 wild horses likely remain on public lands.
  • Over 6 million head of private livestock enjoy subsidized grazing on public lands.
  • More than 200,000 wild horses and burros have been removed from public lands since 1971. The BLM plans to remove another 6,000 for Fiscal Year 2009.
  • The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandates that wild horses and burros be managed on 47 million acres of public lands on 303 herd areas.
  • Since 1971, wild horses have been zeroed out from 111 herd areas representing over 19 million acres.

  • Wild burros numbered 14,000 at the time of the 1971 Act’s first census. Burros share their habitat with bighorn sheep, a highly-prized game species that now outnumbers them at least 16 to 1 on public lands. BLM’s target for nationwide burro population is less than 3,000.
  • BLM relies on an annual population increase rate of about 20% to evaluate population levels and justify round-ups, while the National Academy of Sciences estimates that rate to be closer to 10%.
  • Wild horses account for less than 0.5% of large grazing animals on public lands.
  • 6 states have lost their entire wild horse and burro populations.
  • In 70% of the remaining herd areas, BLM’s population targets are set at levels that will not ensure genetic viability.
  • The current removal policy is costing over 39 million tax dollars a year.
  • The removal and processing of a single horse through the adoption pipeline can cost as much as $3,000.
  • Over 30,000 wild horses are currently held in government holding pens. Under the Burns Amendment, about 8,000 of them are threatened with slaughter.
  • BLM’s private livestock grazing program encompasses 214 million acres of public lands, costs over $130 million to manage annually, yet only provides 3% of our national beef supply.
  • The current fee to graze private cattle on public lands is $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM), the equivalent of $0.06 per acre per year, or about 1/10th of market rates to graze cattle on private lands.
  • Private livestock outnumber wild horses and burros at least 200 to 1 on public lands. (note: some livestock may not be grazed year round)
  • In 2008, less than 5% of BLM’s wild horse and burro program budget was allocated to herd management on the range, with the remaining 95% allocated to captures, holding and placement.

My idea is simple and would put a lot less stress on the horses. It was Echo who started me thinking about it. After Echo had been in Foxsun's old pasture for about two weeks I noticed he'd dug several large holes on the horse paths that run through the sagebrush. I guessed he was looking for salt or minerals because I'd forgotten to take his salt block to his new place.

It got me thinking about how they managed in the wild. He must have learned from the other mustangs or maybe his mother, how to dig for salt and I guess they would travel over great distances to their favorite minerals places. The same would be true for fresh water. Then the idea came to me that the BLM could keep lots of corrals in the horse management areas that contain fresh water and salt/mineral blocks.

When we need to get our cattle in, instead of driving them like we used to years ago on horse back, we have got them used to coming into the corrals for salt and mineral licks. Once all the cattle are in, you just close the gates. Corrals can be configured to work animals to where you want them by just moving them through various pens, closing more gates. There doesn't have to be any running for general mayhem and certainly no waving sticks with plastic bags tied to them. Our cattle have become very docile and friendly over the years. The calves learn from their mothers that they don't have to run from us.

The same would work for horses, they are after all domesticated animals but it takes patience and many years. The various corrals would be manned so the horse would get used to human activity and associate it with good things like water, salt and maybe hay..(?)... Wells could be dug for fresh water for them and even trees could be planted for shade and shelter from wind.

The practice of chasing the horses for miles with helicopters has to stop. I think this is a hold over from the days when the mustangs were unprotected and people used to fly over them to round them up. My plan takes more thinking and planing and I'm sure the BLM employees would far prefer to have the kind of control of the horses and all it could offer.

I believe the way to control population is with birth control for some while keeping others able to live a more natural wild way. Spaying mares would be cheaper than rounding them up and keeping them in long term holding for the rest of their lives.

Having the 'uncaptured' horses closer to the BLM employees would make it easier for the BLM to monitor their health and well being. Also it would let the BLM know what horses would be better suited for adoption based on their dispositions.

When you consider how many mustangs there are you will realise that finding adoptive homes for all of them is not at all realistic. Keeping them in BLM's concentration camps with no shade or shelter, is no way for a horse to live. On the range the horses, like cattle, can find shelter in the terrain of the land if nothing else.

Speaking of cattle; cattle are far more damaging to sagebrush country than horses. Our pastures are like the ones where the wild horses live in the west and so we see every day the difference between horse and cattle grazing. A horse can last a lot longer in a pasture than a cow. Cows are very hard on our land and it is the reason I haven't put Dandylyons in with Echo...she'd eat him out of house and home in no time, yet two horses could almost graze year round. Echo is eating only half his hay because he is eating the native grass which is still growing enough to fill him if he was out there all day.

Brad's family have had cattle on this place since the late 1880's and Brad has got a degree from WSU in Animal Science, so we know a bit of what we're talking about. The reason why the cattle are not on the ranges year round like the horses is because they would run out of enough feed to keep them plump and have to be brought in to be fed..while a horse can maintain his weight better on less.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Garden Deer.

I get a lot of Mule deer in my garden. The yellow flags mark where I have planted shrubs and tiny trees. Between the gophers and the deer, I'm having a hard time getting this area started. I don't mind because I love to have these beautiful visitors.

I carefully opened the kitchen door and talked to them to get them to lift their heads up.

But then Max walked out through the open door and they must have thought he was a Bob Cat and so they took off. Look how nimble they are at going over the fence.

There's still a lot of snow on the North face of the bluff.

There must have been at least 10 of them altogether. They return every day to browse.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

By myself and doing the chores

This week I have been alone on the farm because Brad is down in Utah.

Here's me doing my chores. First I feed the ducks and chickens. If there's not too much snow I let the ducks out for a fly about. Here they are coming back.

Wildairo is wanting to know if he's getting a carrot or apple before his breakfast. He got an apple.

Dandylyons pushes the other cows away so she can get to the feeder first. She is the Boss Cow.

Dandylyons will be 20 years old in March. When Echo was put in Foxsun's old pasture, I saw her standing alone when the other cows had gone out to graze, she was staring over at where Echo was in the distance. She's still hoping Foxsun will return.

Brad has set up everything so it's easy for me to feed. I just roll hay off the bales into the feeder. They are happy cows because hay is dairy quality and they are also grazing now because most of the snow has melted.

Next to take care of is Echo. Echo likes a cuddle in the morning. Then I go in the barn to get his break away halter and as soon as he hears the jingle of the halter, he's off.

He trots around all of the pens evading capture. I normally tell him to knock it off before it gets this far, but this is what happens if I don't say anything.

Whoops...he's got himself trapped in the little pen.

He has a way of evading capture in small places. He carefully and daintily goes sideways past me, facing me the whole time, till he's far enough from me to turn and run... see Echo knows if he turns his back on me there's a good chance I'd jump on him or something.

After I had taken enough pictures of his shenanigans, I mentioned apple and kisses and he skidded to a halt and got in the willing horse position to get his halter on.

He's stands frozen like this with his head up in the air till his halter is on and his mane sorted out. I talk to him and give him kisses, but he just keeps like this till I walk off, then he's right behind me wanting more cuddles. He follow me all around the pasture, gently tapping me in the back to let me know he's back there. I think that by evading me in the morning he still thinks he's got his wild horse card...he probably does actually.

Next I turn off the cows water and water Wildairo. He left his breakfast and came over hoping I had another apple. I didn't.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We managed to survive.

I managed to survive last week on the farm alone...and I'm happy to report that all the animals survived as well.

In anticipation of all the work I had to do, I started back on steroids several days before I was left in charge. I've been in bad shape with the sarcoidosis caused arthritis in my joints, mostly hands, wrists and knees, so Brad was going to have someone take care of everything for me, but I love farm work and before getting ill, thrived on hard work. So with the help of prednisone and pain meds, I did all right.

The first day went well, I really enjoy my own company and never get bored or lonely. It was the next day things went south. When I came downstairs that morning, noticing it was a little nippy, I turned the thermostat up and didn't hear the sound of the furnace starting up down below me in the basement. I called Brad and he said he'd get someone to fix it but I said I'd manage without it. I have some electric heaters for downstairs during the day and I love sleeping in a unheated house so I was happy. I'd jump into my cosy bed with my hotwater bottle and Blondie and sleep like a log. During the day, if I wasn't cleaning the house to keep warm, I'd be snuggled under a blanket with Blondie (who's a heat seeking missile) watching television.

It was on Wednesday the county road that goes through our place was finally ploughed creating big snow/ice boulder berms across our drives ways. I have to get out on the road to go to my studio or Echo's place. The first day I walked down the road to feed Echo, but that night I didn't think I should because there was nowhere to go if a car came and also it was a bit foggy. I attempted to walk through the pasture to Echo's barn, but after trudging a little while through the crusty snow I was worried I would damage my artificial ankle. So that's when I took a run at the berm with the Jeep, smashing into it and pushing snow boulders with the front. When I was driving home, the Jeep followed and older deep track in the snow that Brad had made and I had to step on the accelerator to get back up on the road before I ended up in a deep snow drift that had formed since in the meadow. The Jeep got back up onto the road and kept on going across the road despite the brakes being on, stopping just a foot short of going into the irrigation ditch! I didn't even have time to hold Blondie's little paw Thelma and Louise style!

I was worried something would happen to me and I wouldn't be able to get to the horses, and so I overfed them just in case. When I noticed the cows stock tank was icing over I went to the shop to plug the water trough heater back in and I couldn't get in the door because the snow/ice off the roof had fallen in front of the door and was about 4' high. I had to smash the ice with a fork.

Echo was begging me to let him out to play but the fence was down. I spent extra time with him instead. Wildairo just wanted to be fed and no playing about, thank you.

When Brad came home late Friday night he was stunned how cold the house was and I was surprised because I thought it was cosy..... down stairs anyway. He got the furnace working right away. When he went up stairs he said he couldn't remember it ever being that cold up there, he said it was only 40 degrees lol.

Here's Brad clearing the roads.

Echo finally gets to go out to play. I was driving in my Jeep and spotted him going up and down like a yo-yo to roll. I took all these pictures with my cell phone from inside the Jeep.

And then he ran and ran.

He made many passes by the Jeep and I cheered him on.

He loves to run. Even in the corrals he has his daily work out.

Wildairo is like a big tank when he runs and doesn't run unless he has to. But Echo just goes and goes. Sometimes he comes in so hot he has sweat running down his legs. I have to rub him down, walk him and keep him away from his water for awhile. Both these horses will be on this farm for the rest of their lives and I'm looking forward to the day they can run here together on hundreds of acres. That'll be fun to watch. Fences need work first and so does Wildairo.
Brad is going away again this week, but for only three days this time.