Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flight of Piwakawaka - part 2

I've just returned from hanging out with the Kais again. They are more settled but we're still a long way off actually catching them. We've started giving them some hard feed but they don't seem particularly interested in it at the moment. It may be because of the buckets although they have had a good sniff of them and still aren't impressed. Maybe we just need Brother in there to show them how it is done.

The plans for getting Piwaka home have changed a bit again. Originally it was going to be on a float but I think we're planning on getting her friendly enough to catch and then lead her down the road. Easier said than done. First we need to get the other 2 into a different area of the yards and introduce Piwaka to Brother. it is then Brother's responsibility to keep her company and to teach her to trust us.

Anyway, Piwaka is the woolliest horse I have ever seen. You could almost plait her fur it is so long. I guess it's a good thing as she is quite skinny and it has been raining and cold for the last few days. When I saw them yesterday they were all huddled together, shivering. Poor horsies. The sooner Piwaka is back here, the better

Because of the weather recently their yard has turned into a quagmire of crap. They have very muddy feet and tails and it looks like the sogginess is getting to the big mare. She's very sensitive on her feet. It also may be because there are a few stones now concealed under the mud.

Piwaka is still the shiest of them all and prefers to use the other 2 as equine shields. So most of the time we can only see her like this....

The big mare is very pretty. She's heading to a new home in Eketahuna....

The fate of the colt and his banished friend is undecided at this stage. We're waiting to hear back from the guy who was supposed to pick them up months ago....

I saw this little dude getting quite excited about Piwaka which only makes me think that she could be pregnant. That will be the next hurdle. I hope she's not but if she is we'll have to just deal with it.

Ok, everyone else needs to be fed now and I'll take some hay down to these guys as well. I don't want Piwaka to lose anymore weight at this stage.


K :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flight of Piwakawaka - part 1

A few photos of the 2010 Kaimanawa muster.

A heavily pregnant mare with a foal from last year.

A few pics of the helicopter round up.

So, 3 months after our little Piwaka arrived in Takapau we finally have her in the yards down the road. It has been quite an adventure already and our nerves and strategies have been stretched and tested. When she first landed she and 5 other Kaimanawas were released into a rather large open paddock with questionable fencing. Over the period of about 5 days they had settled enough to wander close to the road side of the paddock and munch on the grass. They had no interest in the hay we gave them and continued in their wild herd mentality.

The day came when we were to try and round them up into the yards in the corner of the paddock. Things were looking promising until they approached the yards and 2 young kids raised their heads (and arms) above the yard railings. The horses turned on their heels to see a group of people walking towards them and decided that the only place left to go was over a barbed wire fence. Three went 'over' - each getting caught in the wires one after the other. Luckily they managed to free themselves and galloped off in the direction of a herd of cows. With a bit of persuasion we got Piwaka back into the big paddock and the other two took off in another large paddock.

We tried to get the 2 strays in with the others but they had a different idea and went through another fence and in to the house paddock with some of the domesticated horses. We focussed our attention back on the 4 in the big paddock. Piwaka was eyeing up the fences again thinking she'd give it another go at an escape. Luckily she decided against it.

Six hours later we (and the horses) were exhausted and we managed to get them in to the holding pens by the sheep yards and decided to let them calm down for a few days. At least it was a smaller area to limit their grass intake and hopefully eat hay that we provided for them - one way to get a bit of trust.

Our neighbour then went over to Sweden for a month and the horses were let back into the big paddock. They stayed there for another month and were not handled and no there were no attempts to get them into the yard the entire time. One of the colts was banished to a distant corner and Piwaka, a colt and a big mare became a clan.

In the past few weeks we set up an electric temporary fence cutting off half the paddock and every few days we moved the fence line in so encourage the horses towards the yards. We gave them water and sat in the paddock. The colt thought about coming over - either out of curiosity or in an attempt to be threatening and keep us away from his girls. We put hay in the yards and water fairly close to the yards and from that saw that they were venturing in there at least to eat.

Anyway, on Friday Marty and I went over to reduce the size of the paddock and all three went into the yards. We moved closer and closer but obviously not fast enough and Piwaka bolted out soon after, before we had a chance to lock them in there. We didn't want to push them in case they went back through the fence so we left them for another day.

On Saturday, Marty, Graeme and I went back to drastically cat their grazing area and managed to get them all into the yards again and this time we managed to get them locked in there. Piwaka was terrified, the other two were scared but not as much as our little girl.

Piwaka has obviously found this whole process (her mother died in the main muster yards the night they were brought in off the Kaimanawa Ranges) quite hard. She has lost a lot of weight and is very skittish. For a while I thought that she was the ring leader of the 3 but I think she is looking for guidance from the older horses and is actually just very scared. She's incredibly woolly - so much so that her fur actually wafts in the wind.

I'm hoping that her skinniness is due to the abrupt departure from her mother and that once the weather warms up a bit and the grass comes through she will put on a bit of weight again.

We've been topping up their water in the yards each day and giving them plenty of hay but Piwaka is at the bottom of the pecking order so it's a bit of a battle. The others are heading off to new homes this week - the mare on Sunday and the colt hopefully on Thursday.

The colt is such a typical looking Kaimanawa. He is super stocky with a big heart-shaped bum and a neck so solid and thick he looks like he's about to founder.

The mare looks like she has been domesticated her whole life. She is in amazing condition and nicely proportioned. She's very big. Probably about 15.2-15.3hh and is lovely.

This Friday we have Tigger's trainer coming over and we'll get some advice on the next step with Piwaka. We need to get her back here as soon as possible and try to get her settled in her new home. We'll put her in with Brother because he's calm and not too impressionable. Hopefully he'll teach her some good habits but also keep her in her place.

It is hugely relieving to have her in the yards finally. Stage one is complete. It's been a long time in the making. I should have just put her straight into yards but unfortunately that didn't happen and I can only blame myself for that. Next time will be different.

I'm planning on documenting her progress on this blog. It will be an entirely different situation from Tigger methinks. But it will be a good learning experience and I'm looking forward to sussing out her little idiosyncrasies.

It is absolutely pouring with rain and cold outside which makes me worry about her being so thin. I have to keep reminding myself that she is from the Desert Rd and has probably experienced much worse in her short life.

Anyway, I will keep this updated.


K :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Two posts in two days! It has to be some sort of record!

Well, we're slowly getting back into the muesli making. There is a new shop in Dannevegas opening soon which will be for locally made goodies. We're going to sell muesli, cordials and jams among other things. I'm also hoping to start making a few hampers like the one we made for Weazle and Joe's wedding earlier in the year.

This morning we went into town and on the way home, driving down Snee Rd, we passed a huge stock truck which flicked a big stone up from it's wheel and completely smashed the driver's side window. Glass shattered all over Marty and all through the car. Luckily the window was shut at the time or Marty may have been killed!

I really should be out in the garden doing something but I have had such a lazy weekend that it's hard to find the motivation. We've finally got a whole lot of seeds sown in the greenhouse and most of them have germinated. The bloody mice dug up the first lot do we've had to encapsulate them in frost cloth until they are big enough to fend for themselves. We may have jumped the gun on things like zucchinis and cucumbers but we'll wait and see.

This winter has been so mild it's a bit scary. I'm worried that it will be like last year when winter was REALLY late and it snowed in October and we had a frost on Christmas Eve. That was not cool. Fingers crossed that winter is almost over.

Anyway, need food.


K x

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pictures of Piwaka - finally!

For some reason the website won't let me delete this image from this position so it will have to stay here. It is of us getting rid of the pool. Thank god it is gone. It looks so much better now!

A few photos of Piwaka from earlier today...

Piwaka in the middle


Piwaka on the left.

Well, we still haven't got Piwaka back to our house. There was a bit of a mishap the first day we tried. Our aim was to get them into the yards in the corner of the paddock and then get her onto a float and back to our place that way. But just as we were about to get them in, the kids stood up on the yards and the horses took off (two of them, including Piwaka, went straight through a barb-wire fence). After that it was a bit of a lost cause. The horses decided that the yards were the scariest place on earth and wouldn't go anywhere near them.

6 hours later we were still chasing them around but it was just getting worse and worse. So we decided to leave it for that day. 3 months later and we're trying a new method.... we've made their paddock much smaller and every few days we go and move the fence line towards them even more in the hope that they will eventually not be scared of the yards and will happily go in their themselves. We're slowly moving their water further into the yards and they've finally started to eat hay which we've also put in the yards. They weren't interested in the hay at all in the past because there was so much grass in the paddock and they don't trust us at all!

I went and sat with them in the paddock this morning. They weren't very happy at first but the colt thought he might get a closer look at this strange being on his turf. Piwaka and the other mare reluctantly followed. They were nowhere near me but at least they thought about it. It's a start!

Spring feels like it has sprung early this year (touch wood!). Little dorper lambs with black heads and bums have arrived in the paddock across the road and daffodils are almost in bloom.

Ages ago we dug out a pond where the old, awful "swimming pool" was and it looks so much better. We moved all the daffodils from the middle of the lawn to the pond area and have replanted them all along the fence line so once they are flowering it should look great.

The pigs are growing slowly. I thought they would be bigger than they are by now but it's probably a good thing as they're pretty strong and demanding around food time.

Tigger is learning a lot at the moment. We have a guy, Mike, helping us out with her training. She's doing really well but if she get pushed too far she holds her breath which is a bit odd. Hopefully she'll grow out of that habit.

I took Dino for a ride yesterday, albeit a very short one. He was pretty good but Brother wasn't happy being without him so galloped around the paddock being a nuisance.

Token shot of the dog

The pond

Marty playing with the torch in the fog.