Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Hour of Excitement - in which Hopi doesn't completely lose it

Written Wednesday:

This morning pft had an appt with his sleep apnea Dr (looks like we may be headed in the right direction there, so we'll see how it turns out) and Tom Mayes was supposed to see Fergus this afternoon, so I booked a day "working at home" in between all that stuff. Then Tom postponed until Friday and I didn't have any work, so thought I was going to have to have a day of enforced vacation (and get done all the stuff that I failed to get done over the three day weekend)("the stuff" = anything).

As it turns out, there were fires to fight from work, so I did end up working six hours and once again didn't get anything done - until I looked up and realised it was 7:30 and sunset is 7:30. I'd promised myself – if nothing else – at least I'd trim a "pair of feet" today (either Hopi - needs all four done desperately - or Uno - needs front toes done desperately).

Out on the back deck, struggling into my shoes, I immediately got distracted by small chickens flying onto the roof - was admiring their cleverness in figuring out the safest way up into the roosting tree (the current chook roosting-tree is at the corner of the house, at the end of the dog run). They usually sit on the fence and fly up into it at dusk. And hopefully avoid any interest by the dogs in the process.

Current roosting-tree. If you squint, you can see two chooks in the top left area.

Chooks in roosting mode

But not this time. I went around the corner and discovered both dogs "playing" with one of the teenage chooks. He wasn't looking too hot - down on the ground with Spike looking cheerfully on.   I don't think they like to be "played with". 

Rescued him and took him (stunned and lolling) down to the barn for a night safely tucked up in the chinchilla cage* to recover. I couldn't find any obvious damage - just more dog drool than a chook needs - and thankfully it seems that he was just stunned by his ordeal and appears to have recovered - was walking around within the hour and looking much perkier, so I'm guessing he just got rough-housed. Of course it was my favorite red roosterlet of that bunch. I don't know why I bother having favorites - it's the kiss of death on them.

(* aka chook crĂȘche).

Back in the bosom of his family the following morning,
no worse for wear. He's the red one in the back.


On to trimming.

We got hay delivered today, so everything that normally lives in the barn aisle is being stored temporarily in my trimming space (an open-sided stall closest to the entrance), meaning no space to trim, so I opted to trim in the aisle. Which would have worked fine (probably) if I hadn't picked Hopi to trim.*

(* There was methodic reasoning to this - I figured if I did two of his feet tonight, I'd get the other two done another day, since he can't usually tolerate four feet being done in the same session).

Because I'm too pauperish to buy mats to cover the dirt aisle floor, instead I put down some boards -against mud (winter) or dust (summer), and to drag bales of hay across when the hay truck is too loaded up to fit into the low-roofed barn so has to pull up to the far entrance to unload.

Hopi was a little concerned about standing on the big, heavy 4x8 plywood board, but got used to it soon enough, happily eating out of the hay bag I'd provided, standing with the lead rope looped around the panel a few times (I never tie him when I trim since he can become "excitable").

I trimmed one foot totally without incident, then decided I needed a piece of string to tie the hay bag (on the ground) to the panel, since both he and Uno (inside the stall) were eating out of it and it was moving around too much.

At one end of the aisle is my hay shed - and area that is 8' x 12' with two sliding doors. The door closest to the center was slid open, and the hay area was half-full of 30 bales of hay (they are bringing the rest tomorrow)... and I had one of those "what if" thoughts about how, if Hopi had a meltdown, I could dash in there to get out of his way (one side of the aisle is lined with panels, the other with chook crĂȘche cages, so no escape route for Lucy if she's stupid enough to get trapped at that end). 

I turned to get the piece of string and ... yup... Hopi had a minor meltdown.

 Unsure what set him off but he scootled, tucked his rear end, his back feet slipped on the board, and then he was scrambling around and practically falling down, trying to rear and scootle and panic all at the same time. As designed, the rope came unwoven and - as planned, I dived into the hay shed to get out of his way.

What I wasn't expecting, however, was him diving in after me.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING??? I don't know if he saw me as a safe place, so followed me for protection, or if he was just facing that way and ran forwards, but now there I was, stuck in the hay shed - an area of about 4' x 8' - with a panicking horse who's facing me and threatening to climb up the wall of hay or over the top of me (he's done it before). His back end was covering my exit route - the open sliding door - and behind him in the rear of our 4' x 8' space are two feed bins - the closest one being a metal trash can (for maximum banginess) and I knew if I tried to back him into that gap between the bins and the hay (about 2' x 3') to get him turned around, he'd miss, hit the bin with his back end, panic even more and leap forwards on top of me. Ack.

The space he had me cornered in
The space I needed to back him into (not going to happen) to make space to get out.

Finally opted to grab his lead rope and make a speed dash for the door while turning him to follow me. Not exactly space for him to turn, but better he's turning towards me and the exit than cornering me furthest away from the door.

It worked! He scrambled a bit on the slippery wooden floor of the hay area, but popped out behind me - no damage done, except for a skinned knee (him) and a minor cardiac arrest (me). I shook for about three minutes afterwards but managed to talk nicely to him and praise him for being so clever and not completely losing it.

And got the second foot done. Not well, since I couldn't turn him to face the light without putting him back on the board and that wasn't happening with me underneath him - but got it done in the dark, mostly by feel. He wasn't cooperative, no doubt still in a mild state of alarm, and that was the side he skinned his knee on, so maybe it was sore, but by then pft came down to help me and held him for me while I finished up.

Hum. At least I got something done. Sorta.

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