We have had storm after storm batter us this winter. Interaction with Ben and Cloud has been limited to dashing out, feeding, distributing hay and dashing back in again, with time made for hoof trimming also. Somewhere in the midst of that Ben has sought me out, making it clear that he wants to spend time with me. Cloud has seemed stand-offish, standing away, approaching only when he sees a bucket in my hand or hay in my arms.
So today, a sunny, frosty morning, gave some opportunity to spend time with the boys before this evening’s promised storm crashes in.
My agenda: to spend time with Cloud, undemanding time, sitting in a chair wrapped against the cold and showing him that I am non-threatening.
I can take my time this morning with my approach with feed buckets and hay. And I see why Cloud is stands off. He is clearly signaling to me that Ben is his. Ben, behind him on the track is looking for a way around Cloud and I, standing in the yard am clearly a threat – a threat to Cloud’s control of his herd. I sense that if Ben were not trying to reach me, Cloud would come straight up for that bucket he sees in my hand.
I turn away and wait. They come up, but Cloud is lively, not settling to his bucket and this effects Ben also who moves around. I signal to Cloud to stand by his bucket. I point to Ben to return to his. And they do. And my agenda has changed.
Clearly Cloud has reasserted himself over this winter. Managing a herd of two at home I cannot have this. When I am around Cloud needs to know that I am in charge. I am grateful to Carolyn Resnick for coaching she gave me when I had to manage this situation for Ben and Rosie. I distribute hay in the picadero in small piles. They come up and I guard Ben’s pile. Cloud challenges me just once – we have done this particular ritual before quite a while ago. I find myself very relaxed as I move between Cloud and Ben. Cloud moves away to another pile. It is beautiful up there. Cold, fresh with a wind picking up. The hens come to join us. There is a good view in most directions and I can react to the same sounds as Ben and Cloud almost as quickly as they do. As I notice these sounds they relax and return to their hay again.
After a while I move to greet them. Ben first, he turns his head as I look at him and I offer him my outstretched hand which he touches gently with his muzzle. Cloud: I look at him, he turns his head and gives my hand a gentle lick before returning to his hay.
All is well here.
Here are some photos from our storm-lashed winter. I missed my opportunity to get a rain sheet on Ben but to my surprise and delight, there is no rain scald this winter. His immune system is clearly stronger.