A horse named Spirit now lives in the barn as Lunar’s new companion. I met Spirit on my first day in the big barn and learned that he’s food aggressive when he ripped some hay out of my hands. When I found out that he’d be our new barn companion, I admit I was a bit nervous. With Moonie, all I really did was guide his head to his food and give him pats and tell him how much I loved him. With Spirit, I now have to get him into the barn from the outer outer ring and be careful when feeding him. Did I mention he’s stubborn, too?
Deb spent the first day with me and I was proud that after she got him into the back and then he walked back out (we forgot to close the gate – actually, I probably forgot to close it but didn’t think of it when he first went in and Deb was nice enough not to call me an idiot), so when I was able to get him back in by talking to him, I was pretty psyched. Deb told me that unlike the other animals, I was to talk to him in a firm voice and let him know who’s boss. After I demonstrated my “boss” voice, she laughed for a good long time. Hmm. Since my first attempt was too soft and sing-songy (I swear I was being firm), I’ve been working hard at toughening it up. Definitely a challenge.
While Spirit comes easily to the front of the barn and stands in Athena’s area when he’s ready to eat, getting him around to the back is anything but that. And I learned that apparently, it’s also a challenge with Lunar. I’d never had to coral her before and all of the sudden there are two horses standing there saying, “No, thanks. We’re all set.” I spent a good fifteen minutes calling to them from a foot away, from halfway around the barn, and even while standing in the back of the barn staring at them. Nothing. I’d hook an arm under Lunar’s neck and say, “Hey! Yay! Let’s go!” And she’d move her head away and continue standing right where she was. And this is a horse who seeks me out for hugs! I finally cheated and grabbed a teeny bit of food and gave Lunar a whiff. She launched into high gear and practically ran to her pen. (And yes, I made sure that Spirit had NO idea what I was doing. I’m not a complete dummy.) When Spirit noticed that she was gone, he high-tailed around back, too. Sweet! I closed the gate behind him. (Who’s learning now?!) He went into his pen easily and I went about feeding all of them, only, what, a half hour late? Baby steps.
When Deb was helping me last week, she spent a long time in with Spirit while he ate, standing right next to him, speaking softly. I asked her if it was something that I should do when I was by myself and she said, “Yes. Let him get used to you and your voice while he eats. But don’t touch him.” So, while Spirit munched away, I stood a couple of feet away, blathering on in as commanding (yet affectionate!) a voice as possible. He glanced at me now and then. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was thinking, “Wow. This one’s a weirdo.” It took a whole lot of resistance not to dole out hugs.
Spirit and Lunar are learning to be friends and I think this photo captures that pretty well.
New water bucket!
This is Niko. She’s a super cute and affectionate cat who lives in the barn. She has something wrong, I think, with her eyes. She rarely looks at people or animals straight on and when she does, her face is always squinty.
This is Niko climbing up my jacket and onto my shoulder where she stayed almost the entire time I picked up after the horses with a rake. I am an acrobat.
Delilah is another cat that lives in the barn. When I first started at the farm, she wouldn’t come near me and avoided me like her life depended on it. She would press herself against the wall and shoot past. I think there was some hissing mixed in. Sometimes I’d even catch her glaring from afar. Over the last week or so, the tides have turned and apparently she’s taken a liking to me. It began with meows. Then she started standing right next to me. Now, she even follows me around!
Right after I found her having a delightful time with the hay (that I was in the middle of distributing), she came running over to say hi. Sure, she latched onto my arm a second later, but she immediately rubbed up against my leg when she was done. Buddies!