Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ponies Propensity for Speed Was Good for the Races and Wars of Men

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere 
 by William Robinson Leigh 1866-1955
The National Heritage Museum

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by Jacques Louis David (1748-1825)
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Peaches the Pony

--- full speed ahead!
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Essay: Ox, Dog, Pony and Man Walking

Four Species Went for a Walk Today

by Larry T. Dake, Copyright 2010

Peaches, the pony, usually isn’t invited on the long walks I take with Harry and Scout. However, on this winter evening I do decide to include her. She doesn’t like to walk: she’d prefer to run —full gallop —flat out, — top speed! Our plodding quickly bores her so I keep her on a long lead to prevent her getting out of sight and into trouble. She circles impatiently, keeping me busy untangling rope from paws, hooves, and feet (sixteen in all). Amongst horses, speed equals survival. It is the equine's advantage in this world, and is what makes them better suited for races and wars than for leisurely walks.

Harry, the puppy, hunts for road-kill on both sides of the gravel up ahead of us. Because of his constant searching, he covers many more miles than the rest of us. When Harry finds some nasty tidbit he gulps it down as though we might wish to grab the nasty thing from him! The first pup in a wild pack to scavenge something to eat is the pup most likely to make it through a hard winter. The dog’s keen ability to find (and catch) food makes them useful for search and rescue, hunting, and herding. As dusk falls, we walk by a farm place with barking dogs. Harry is uneasy sharing our space with another “pack.” Canines are staunch defenders of territory, be it twenty-square miles of wilderness, or the tiny cottage at the edge of the field. They will guard either with a vengeance!

Scout, the bull calf, has a strong preference for walking at my side, his nose about even with my elbow. He maintains a steady pace throughout our exercise. Amongst bovine, calves follow cows. As his surrogate cow, he prefers to follow me. In general cattle move together; their steady migrations keeping their four stomachs full. Their large size gives them an advantage when threatened by the wolf. They form tight-knit bunches and fend off the attackers with their horns. We think of cattle mostly in terms of prime rib and nicely marbled steaks. (Along with a glass of milk, beef is what’s for dinner!) These mighty oxen were yoked together to pull the heavy wagons across The Great Plains, to skid the heavy logs from The Big Woods, and to break the heavy Sod with the Plow.

It was pitch dark and we still had two miles to go when headlights appeared in the distance. I quickly got Harry and Scout on leads, and along with Peaches, I pulled us all into the ditch, where we struggled belly deep in the snow. The unknown driver rolled past as we slowly gyrated in a tangled ball of mixed species. The steam from our mingled breaths glowed briefly in the headlights, the lights passed, and darkness enveloped us again. Only I, the one with the oversized brain, could have gotten us into this curious mess; now I’d have to get us out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Riding a Steer?

From the book
The Dark Continent: Africa, the Landscape and the People
Hugo Adolf Beratzik, ethnographer, 1931

There really are people who ride steers and they’re not all as exotic as this man! Riding Steers Forum is a place where these people go to talk and learn.

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When The Wolf Cometh

John Leighton, (1822-1912), Illustrator
When the Wolf Comes
 The Oxen Leave Off Fighting to Unite in Self-defense
 by Jacob Cats (1577-1660)
Not long ago, some oxen of our herds upon the moor, in furious fight among themselves, as oft I've seen before, were suddenly surprised to see some wolves, which, crouching low, were stealing on the herd to strike an unexpected blow.
Like magic, all at once, the internal feuds and bloodshed cease, as though the common danger had subdued them all to peace: and quick, as if impressed with all the folly of their strife; made sensible that Union alone could save their life.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

American Pit Bull Terrier

Harry's father was probably an American Pitbull Terrier.

This and other awesome pictures of little value can be seen at http://www.infomercantile.com/blog/
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Sunday, March 14, 2010


Harry and Jake got along grand. Jake is an American Water Spanial. (Harry's mother was a Landseer Newfoundland, his father of uncertain breeding.)
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We took Harry to our daughter's when we went to visit and he got some quality playtime ---- so important to healthy social development.                                                         2/14/2010
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Saturday, March 13, 2010


Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Clemens), hitches a ride.
Prints of this photo are available at http://www.bridgemanartondemand.com/

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ox in Training: Puppy leading calf

I was having trouble getting Scout to go ahead of me so I hitched the pup up to him and let him lead the way. It worked great.

Ox Training: Puppy turns calf around

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder was a first century author and naturalist. In Naturalis Historia he wrote: "Indian oxen are said to be as tall as camels and to have horns up to four feet wide. Among the Garamantes oxen only graze while walking backwards."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Making the trek back home.
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On the Mountaintop

Here on the edge of the Red River Valley the land lays pretty flat. Our "mountain" is a large pile of gravel at the county gravel pit. The eroded sides are very steep but Scout was game to climb right up to the top. From there we could see the mosaic of the countryside around us. Immediately below us is the "lake" the gravel was dug from. That's a lone ice fishing house on the lake. The dark spots near the horizon are the pine trees at the place we call home. 
Scout's clearly taking in the view.  (2/6/10)
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Harry does battle with plastic chimney sweep.
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They fight like cats and dogs!

The dog hassles the cat. . . .

and the cat hassles the dog!
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Cool Clear Water

Cattle need plenty of fresh water, year round.
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Rosa Bonheur

The artist Rosa Bonheur was a friend of Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (see below), and his father Etienne. Her father was employed by them to do natural history illustrations. The bull looks like Scout. . . .not?

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ethology (ee-THOL-uh-jee) The study of the natural behavior of animals. The word was coined by French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint Hilaire (1805-1861). He was known for his studies of anatomical abnormalities in humans and animals.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hoof Trimming

Early Hoof Trimming

Scout, was on milk replacer twice a day, had free choice hay, and was offered fresh commercial calf-starter mix from the day he first came to Storybrooke Farm (at ten days of age), til our first real cold snap in early December. During this period of time he was not confined to his stall and spent most of his time out grazing with his stable-mate Peaches (the pony).

The pasture was hard-frozen winter pasture, mostly brown duff, but he preferred it to calf starter. He was only consuming a modest amount of starter mix daily. When it finally snowed sufficient to cover the frozen pasture, the temperature also dipped to -15 F below zero(-26 C).

As I noted in an earlier blog entry, I found Scout in the morning hypothermic with partially frozen ears, even though he had spent the night in the barn with ample dry bedding.

Soon after this event (I’m calling it a metabolic energy crisis) I began to observe abnormal softness and growth around the coronary band (top of hoof) on his front feet. In a few weeks a thin layer of the soles of his hooves began to separate and come off. By mid-January his front hooves were abnormally long.

Wanting to prevent his fetlocks and pasterns from getting stretched out and weak I decided to trim his feet. I trimmed a modest amount of toe because he is so young. He has presented no signs of lameness before or after trimming.

I purchased Scout from my favorite dairy (from my hoof trimming days) largely because the cattle at that dairy never had serious hoof problems. So it is a bit of an irony to me that I am having these hoof problems with Scout.

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