December 2001

Where did the summer go?

          Spring is always exciting at a miniature horse farm, when the foals start arriving. Due to a quirk in nature, our Spring 2001 started in early February - when our first foal arrived - wet, cold, a maiden mare Mom with no milk and caregivers without a heated barn or foal experience in -35 below weather. With the help of some frozen colostrum (previously saved for such a situation), heat lamps, heaters and sheets of plywood, Survivor II is now cavorting with his brothers and sisters. We had two more foals in February, but our foaling kit now included a hair dryer (most important) which, coupled with moms with milk and having some cold weather foaling experience, they arrived and thrived without incidence. Our next six arrived when the temperatures were more accommodating, and aside from losing sleep watching the monitor 24/7 (do need a foal alert system), all went well. Fortunately, Marilyn retired this spring, so sleep loss was minimized. I mentioned the first foal providing a challenge, well #10, the last one, was a (small) bigger challenge. The little filly arrived at day 285 gestation, which is very premature for a foal, and frequently do not have much hope for survival. Fortunately the mare was ready with colostrum milk and is an extremely docile and accommodating Mom. The foal was too weak to stand up to nurse, so we milked and bottle-fed her every hour for three days, after which she had gained sufficient strength to stand and nurse on her own. While she is small, today she races around the pasture with Survivor II.

Before the foaling is finished, the breeding season is in full swing. At our farm this seemed to be a Spring, Summer and Fall affair this year, with a few maiden mares not settling, and a few previously "confirmed pregnant" mares coming back and cycling again. We are expecting 15 (+/- 2) foals for next spring (none in February) which we are awaiting with great anticipation, especially since we acquired a few different stallions and are anxious to see their offspring. At this time, the first dozen horses are 5/6 months pregnant, so the foals are already doing aerobics in the mares' bellies, which is readily discernible to the touch.

Since we seem to acquire more foals/horses than we sell, every year requires additional run-in shelters and fences to be built. In anticipation of next years foal crop, additional stalls needed to be built. Of course, with more horses, more hay bales and shavings were needed which had to be hauled and stored.

Over the years our farm has become an annual outing for many parents and grandparents, daycare and school classes, who bring their youngsters to enjoy visiting and interacting with the miniatures, especially the babies. We enjoy their visits, as seeing the smiles and the joy on the faces of the little boys and girls is very rewarding. Of course, we love to talk "minis" and to showcase these marvelous little creatures. Visiting the Seniors Care Home and attending local fairs/parades/events also elicits many "oohs" and "ahs", along with the routine "What are they good for?" and "What do you do with them?" questions.

          After writing this, at least we now know where the summer went!!!


"Home is where the Herd is..."


"Dog lovers hate to clean out kennels ... 
Horse lovers like cleaning stables."


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Marilyn & George Peters
Box 565
Steinbach,  Manitoba
R5G 1M4


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