Saturday, 18 February 2012

Happy Days Are Here Again

It is surprising what a few days away can do and last weeks grumps have well and truly gone. Besides seeing my son and his girlfriend again, we all braved the minus 6 temperatures of Saturday evening to see a brilliant demonstration by Monty Roberts (commonly known as the horse whisperer).  I have now been to several of his demonstrations, all have been interesting, informative and entertaining, but this one was the best ever.

Early in his life Monty Roberts developed a natural, non-violent, approach to training horses, after studying the ways of wild mustangs.  Since then he has demonstrated and taught his methods to people, worldwide, even to our queen who is a big fan, his mission being, ' make the world a better place for horses and people too.'  Inadvertently he is also changing the world for other animals too as many handlers are finding that a more natural approach works better.  He is now 76 years young so hopefully has many years left to spread his knowledge.

I have always found the way animals interact with each other and ourselves very interesting and it is one of the things I enjoy most about working with horses, as to me, this is the ultimate in animal/human communication. When one considers we are fundamentally a predator on a prey animal's back and we are expecting this animal to, not only carry us safely, but also to interpret the many subtle signals we give, to make it do all sorts of clever things.  It's amazing!! 

I always try to take a natural approach when dealing with other animals too and have found a lot of the tactics used by Monty Roberts work universally when dealing with any prey animals, from pheasants to sheep and make life a lot easier.   

Recently my husband and I were asked to check on the cows that are calving in the barn at the farm.  In general I am a bit apprehensive when it comes to cows and, as I was required to enter the barn and walk around amongst the cows and calves, I first spent some time just watching them so I knew what I was up against....Oh dear.... I think I have fallen in love...they are gorgeous!!:))

They are so tolerant of each other and of the calves.  Several times I saw cows giving another cow's calf a good lick if it approached...very different from the sheep, who tend to head butt any lambs out the way, that aren't theirs. After I'd been standing there a while, they seemed to want to investigate me too, so I held my hand out for one cow to smell when she came over and after giving me a sniff she started to lick me. I was soon able to reciprocate her friendliness  by giving her a lovely scratch on her head:)  They are inquisitive too and frequently messed up a photo by smelling the camera...

When I eventually went into the barn, they were totally unconcerned, apart from one.  I was just standing still reviewing all the cows/calves for any odd behaviour.  They were all happily sleeping or ruminating, except for one, that I had previously given a friendly scratch on the head to, but was now standing over the other side of the barn, giving me the evil eye.  I was a bit confused as she had a calf standing by her back legs, so shouldn't need to be protective, however, having seen how they mother each others calves, I wondered if the calf standing next to me was in fact hers, so I walked away a bit and sure enough she came over and told her calf not to talk to those smelly human strangers:)

I really enjoyed my time with the cows and can't wait to visit them again.  So now I am back to my normal happy and rather silly self I think some cow jokes are in order:

Q.   What do you call a cow in an earthquake?
A.   A milk shake:)

Q.  Why should you never tell a cow something important?
A.   Because it will go in one ear and out the udder:)

Q.   What are a cows favourite school subjects?
A.   Moosic,  Cowculus and Psycowology:)

Lastly, if you like seeing new borns, the following two farms have lamb cams... be prepared to get addicted as you wait for one to give birth!  Signs of labour are...separating from the others, restlessness, scraping the ground, turning circles, getting up and down, not eating or ruminating (although I have seen one doing both all through labour), a fluid filled bag or mucus coming from its backside, arching its head up or backwards and straining. Good Luck:)))))))))         &


Anonymous said...

Glad your comments box is working again, had trouble getting on to it.
Keep your eyes off the lambs, cows are the in thing now.
Interesting and entertaining blog as always..

Helen said...

Hi Anon...I was up until midnight, last night, watching one of the lamb cams. A ewe had given birth but another ewe, that was in labour, thought it was her lamb so they were both licking it sooo hard that the poor little lamb couldn't stand up. Then when it did get up it didn't know which ewe to suckle from and they kept pushing each other out the way,I imagine saying, "Choose me..choose me." Eventually Farmer Anne came and sorted it all out...far better viewing than Eastenders:)))