Monday, March 25, 2013

Tufted titmouse builds his house

For a while now we have been pampering Becca.  Yes, I know she looks like a decrepit bag of bones & she mostly is a decrepit bag of bones but she is OUR decrepit bag of bones.  A couple years ago she had EPM which was quite a party for us all.  Then last last year she was diagnosed with Cushings.   Plenty of people have asked me if maybe it isn't "time" & someday it will be.  but my feeling is that as long as she is still eating (& she is slow, but steady) & as long as she has a role to play....

About that role.  Many herds of horses have a boss mare.  By & large horses are matriarchal in their communities, with rogue stallions popping in & out.  This has probably not a little to do with how we keep them, specifically a stallion is a pain in the ass & we like to keep them apart or they fight, bite & generally act like teenage punks.   Our boss mare is Becca & she has been a good boss.  Well, she is certainly a better boss than Tiki or Coco would be.  This means that no matter what it looks like from the outside, she is still valuable here (like the old chickens that don't lay eggs anymore but work their feather fannies breaking up the horse manure & eating those bugs). 

But that pokey eating has become a problem.  She can take 2 hours to finish & that is too long to leave her in a stall away from the water.  So we have moved her to the back yard for her meals.  She moseys around, eating a bit, snoozing a bit, eating some more.  & over the week, the wildlife have come to think of her as their own.  They don't even seem to mind when she distractedly bumps the bird feeders as she passes by.  They just scatter & return.  Okay, the squirrels curse her name; they cannot keep up with the birds when the seeds are scattered over a larger area.

So Becca spends a few hours most days, strolling around the backyard, eating her fill & actually looking less malnourished.  But her coat still looked like hell, no matter how much I brushed her.

Enter the tufted titmouse.  I am sure any bird will do this to any horse, but this particular titmouse particularly likes Becca.  For starters, she is slow moving, just strolling along as she is eating-no sudden breaking into a gallop.  Becca also does not get down to scratch an itch, rolling over on her back & kicking in the air, unless it is really worth the effort; a little titmouse is not worth the effort.  & lastly there is that weird Cushings-coat, that mix of long & short hair that falls out so easily.  Titmouse gathers up a beakful very quickly, flies off, flies back & begins again.  More than that, his presence is discouraging the horse flies who usually take advantage of her docility.  I hope he lines his nest every day for the rest of her life.


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