Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prophet's Thumb Farm: Appreciating Our Girls...

   Okay, before I snap and Go Henry VIII, doling-out executions for failure to produce a male heir, I should review some of the things I really appreciate about my broodmares and their {cringe} fillies...

Woe is me!  Afflicted with creatures such as these!

   Anne and I have been involved in horse breeding, sometimes on a much larger scale, for a very long time.  So, even without the many sad stories posted on the FB groups, we're well aware of the hyper-stressful horror show foaling season can become...  Knock on wood, the Belgians have been free of most of that.

   First, they've been foaling at 340-something days.  No "Oh no! It may be premature!" or "Ye gads, is this mare EVER going to foal?" stuff.   

   Second, they've been having trouble-free, unassisted births. (Except for Ethel popping Kirby out directly into the electric fence!)  Take it from someone who's had to reposition and pull all sorts of problem children into the world, finding a still-wet foal already out and either standing or about to stand is THE way to go!

   Third, the Belgians basically do it by the book...  Considerable wax in the morning, easily expressed, opaque, sticky milk that evening, foal the middle of that night.  None of that dripping milk, waxing, then holding it for another week to mess with my mind.  Also, no popping-out foals in the middle of the day half a mile across the big pasture. 

   Fourth, the robustly healthy, teat-seeking missile foals.  If you've ever had to deal with a baby who insists on trying to nurse on everything but the udder, or worse yet, a foal who doesn't want to suckle at all, you know how great it is to see a foal go straight to the target and heartily tank-up less than an hour after birth.

   Fifth, these big Belgians are instinctively good mommas.  Even with their first foals, the switch seems to get thrown and they seem like veteran broodmares about ten minutes into the job.  Having had to deal with mares that required physical restraint and sedation for hours before they'd let the foal nurse, and others who seemed unaware the foal was even there, and even the ones who mean well but are too hyper to let the foal find the spigot, I've gotta love our girls.

Rookie mare, first morning on the job last year.

   Last, but not least, I appreciate how beautifully our girls come through pregnancy, foaling, and nursing.  They are truly Industrial Strength mares...  The Quargian foals are big and hungry enough to put a strain on any normal mommas.  But the Belgians carry and birth 180# foals, nurse them 'til they're huge weanlings, all without showing a hint of ribs or hip bone.  And all on less feed than it would take to keep a Thoroughbred mare in tolerable shape.

That's actually a pretty big foal until you put it next to Lucy.


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