My vet does a slightly-cheaper call out fee if you accept that they’ll give you ten minutes’ notice of arrival on a Thursday, so I went hurtling out this morning to get the horses in when I was informed Randall the vet was on the way (he’s a nice Irish bloke who’s good with ferrets – always worth hanging onto any vet who’s good with ferrets!). All four horses were flat out in the sunshine! Luckily I’d taken a small bucket of nuggets out with me, because when I rattled it Poppy got up to come in. That meant Dancer got up to follow Mum, and I put the bucket down five yards inside the walkway and went back to shut the gate almost in George’s indignant face!
The girls followed the bucket into the yard readily, and I shut the yard gate behind them, then applied head collars. They both remembered how to put a head collar on (they normally only see one every 6 weeks!) and then Randall arrived.
George and Abe were trotting up and down the fenceline staring across and whinnying. Their state of mind wasn’t helped by Dancer whinnying back! They don’t get separated very often and they really don’t care for it.
Poppy reacted to the sight of a strange man with a needle in what I’ve come to think of as her ‘freeze and hope it goes away’ response – she stands quite still and her eyes go a little withdrawn and shuttered. The flu jab was quick and easy, then he checked to be sure she really wasn’t microchipped before putting one into her neck, high on the left side near her chest. It obviously twinged a bit but so briefly the needle was out as she flinched, and I made a big fuss of her before Dancer got stabbed with a whacking great syringe full of fluid. She clearly didn’t like this at all and pulled back, throwing her head up a bit, but the hooves stayed on the ground and, again, it was over very quickly so then I made a big fuss of her, too.
I let the girls back out straight away, then chased after them and opened the field gate for them to leave completely – which Poppy did, hightailing it half across the field before she stopped! Abe and Dancer went with her but George paused to frisk me with his nose in search of the bucket-and-contents while I tied the gate open again for them! Failing to find a bucket in my pocket anywhere, he went off after the others and they settled to graze.
Dancer needs another jab in a month, Poppy’s now fine until next year. Abe will need his in July, so it’ll be vet fees three months in a row!
Just as well I’ve now sold the trailer. The horses are enjoying the untrammelled view.
Now, the fox. Or putative fox, anyway – it could, just conceivably, be a stoat or the like. As I went out to fetch the horses in, I noticed a goose egg on the left hand side of the walkway. I picked it up and put it in a safer place before any hoof landed on it, then put it to the back of my mind for later while I dealt with the immediate task. Once the horses were all out, paperwork completed and vet waved off, I went back to the egg and checked – it was one of the pair I left in Lucy’s nest yesterday. I picked up the other and brought them both inside.
There’s not many critters can get their mouths open wide enough to pick up a goose egg, and a fox would be about the only one here. It’s just possible that a stoat or a weasel might try to steal an egg by rolling it away and then abandon it when they couldn’t get it past the wriggly tin sheets that make up the fence just where I found it – there’s a small gap under the sheets that might let a small weaselly thing slip through.
Clue the second – I spotted a handful of ferret kibble in the yard. The ferrets are all safe in their cages in the shed and nothing else could have – or would have – picked up meat-flavoured biscuits to carry anywhere. A ferret couldn’t have carried a couple of handfuls to drop that many on the yard! Again, something with a larger mouth, that would fancy what’s effectively cat biscuits… a fox could easily trot into the sheds through the horses’ doorway and then through the whole complex from there on!
I counted the rabbits – all present and correct, including Tiger’s babies and (I noticed suddenly!) a tuft of black fur sticking up out of Nightshade’s bedding…. I investigated and found she’s got a nest of warm wrigglers tucked away very tidily under her straw!
I’ve moved Tiger’s nest and its contents into a cardboard box, in case whatever it is comes back and tries scratching bits of baby rabbit out through the mesh.
I’ve also removed one of the horse shed doors and rehung it behind the ferrets, so last thing tonight I’ll be shutting a solid wooden door between the bunnies and the ferrets. That should stop any predators, big or small, getting in there from the horse end. At the other end, I’ve blocked up the hole in the workshop door with a sheet of old plasterboard wedged in tight and backed with three big sacks of woodshavings. The birds can still get in and out alright through the workshop’s broken windows, no need to worry about starving swallow babies in the morning!
I moved the ferret kibble into a lidded plastic bin, so that’s not available to snack on anymore.
That left the quail, so I moved their cage into the goose shed, where it’s sitting safely on a big concrete shelf behind a bolted door.
I’ve also put up a trailcam covering the top end of the yard and the horse shed door, so hopefully I’ll find out what it is that trotted in and out last night – chances are good that a fox who finds a meal will pop back to see if there’s another! Fingers crossed the dogs react if the geese go berserk in the night, because the feathered dinosaurs have made it plain they don’t want to come into the shed!