Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Photo: Knee deep...

Knee deep in hay (Tess & Sonnie) May 2016 Lif Strand

Because, you know, they're just so skinny that I've got to make sure there's enough for these girls to eat.


Truth is, I was going away for two nights and I'm a worrywart. Thus I put out five bales of grass hay for five horses. They're big bales.  If I was at home and not free-feeding, that'd be enough hay for a week. But I wasn't going to be home so I had to leave enough to keep me from worrying about them.

This isn't the first time I've free-fed them grass hay so I could go away overnight, mind you. I knew perfectly well it was an awful lot of hay. But you know.  Worrywart.

That's an interesting word I think. Apparently it was dreamed up for a comic strip called Out Our Way by J R Williams, that ran from 1922 to 1977. Worry Wart was the nickname for one of the characters, a boy, who was a real pest in his family. It used to be believed that warts came from too much stress and worry, so someone who was a worrywart was someone who caused stress and worry. Warts, not being life-threatening, were more of a nuisance so the worrywart was not a really bad person but more an irritating one. As with many terms, though, the meaning evolved over time. Today a worrywart is someone who worries too much and worries unnecessarily about something.

I guess worrywart is me when it comes to my critters.

My horses normally get an alfalfa/grass mix. They of course prefer straight alfalfa, which is like candy for them. Aside from Sonnie who is young, and Koko (not in the photo) who is a stallion, the rest are retired and don't need alfalfa hay. They're plenty fat, they're not working or breeding. But they love alfalfa.

My mares provided an income for us for many years, so they deserve to be treated well in retirement. They want alfalfa... but it's not good for them. So I compromise and feed them the alfalfa/grass mix. They think this is less than stellar treatment after all they did for us over the years but then that's why they're on that side of the fence while me and the hay are on this side.

I know my horses. I know that if I throw more than a meal's worth of alfalfa/grass over the fence so I can go away for a few days they would pick through the pile to eat the alfalfa all at once and then get sick.  With nobody here to help them. Thus the grass hay. Free feeding grass hay is almost as good as turning them out to pasture while I'm gone, but I can't just do that.  The stallion doesn't run with the mares since he's related to all of them.  He'd go bonkers if the girls were turned out 24/7 for a couple of days while he was locked up. And I'd worry about that while gone so all of them  had to be penned for the duration. Which I worried about, too, but not so much.

Free-feeding all that grass hay worked just fine. While the two in the photo above were interested in taste-testing right after I put the hay out, the others thought I was poisoning them. Ultimately none of them were thrilled about straight grass hay. They ate it because that was all there was. They're still working on the pile and will be for another day.

I had a good time on my little trip, by the way. Among other things were the great B&B we stayed at (such awesome breakfasts, beautiful gardens and incredible southwestern artwork on the walls that I can't tell you where we stayed because then everyone would stay there and there'd never be any rooms available for us); the four hour lunch we enjoyed at a friend's house yesterday; getting to hear Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series, at the Albuquerque library last night; and discovering a new quilt shop today, Hip Stitch, before heading back home.

I'm glad to be home, though. The horses are glad, too. They're tired of that crummy grass hay. They want their alfalfa and they want it NOW. I better get out there and feed them before they starve.

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