Monday, 29 April 2013

Our first foal of the 2013 season

We are delighted to announce that Inca (Wolsey Quebec) gave birth to a beautiful, whole black filly just after midnight on 27th April 2013. The new filly has been named Destiny de Kingmaker (it's names beginning with "D" in France this year).

Inca had the speediest birth I have ever seen. She went from quietly munching hay in her stable with no signs of stress or discomfort, to a foal on the ground in less than 5 minutes!!! Fortunately, she had the decency to wax-up 8 hours prior to foaling, so we knew that the birth was imminent and were watching her continuously on the foal-cam. Otherwise, we'd have probably missed the whole thing.

Destiny is a very pretty foal (she takes after her beautiful mother) and even though she is just 2 days old as I am typing this, she is already developing a friendly, confident and inquisitive nature.

Inca, 12 hours pre-foaling :

Waxed-up 8 hours pre-foaling :

Lying down to push (grainy foal-cam picture)  :

Destiny finds her feet for the first time :
Destiny aged 8 hours getting to know Martin :
1 day old :
1 day old :

Thursday, 25 April 2013

1 happy stallion. 1 sulking stallion

We have glorious weather here now. The days are long and sunny with temperatures in the low twenties. The swallows have returned and are busy renovating their nests in the barns. The May Blossom is flowering and the whole farm has turned green overnight, much to the delight of the horses who are enjoying the new grass. I love this time of year!

King, our bay roan stallion, is a very contented lad this week as he has started the covering season. He has been reunited with Belle (Aquilasstud Maebelle) who failed to conceive last year. Our vet has carried out some preliminary fertility tests and established that she has small ovaries, so we may struggle to get her in-foal. We have decided to let her run with the stallion for two cycles naturally, before we resort to any extra measures.

Here's King and Belle enjoying their time together :

Wilf, our black Dales stallion, is not so happy. He was due to welcome a visiting french mare at the end of April, but due to her owner's health issues, she is no longer coming. Wilf is grazing in a field on the farm situated at the farthest possible distance from King, and the 2 stallions cannot see each other thanks to several thick hedges and a range of buildings, but Wilf can hear what is going on and is fully aware that King has a "girlfriend" whereas he doesn't.  Until his prospective mares are ready for covering, he has no option but to content himself with "warm memories" of last year's romances :
Inca (Wolsey Quebec) is still keeping us all waiting for the patter of tiny hooves. She is now (allegedly) 20 days overdue, but I am convinced that the vet made a mistake when he aged the embryo at her post-covering scan last year. I suspect she conceived a full cycle later than the vet estimated, thus making her due date tomorrow! You can guarantee she will foal when I have 8 horses tied-up on the yard for the farrier to visit!
Number 2 mare is now safely installed in her foaling-box at night. Her baby is due on the 6-7th of May, but at the rate Inca is going, it's anyone's guess who will foal first....
Here's my nightly entertainment. The 2 expectant girls on CCTV :

Monday, 8 April 2013

"Wolf Racing"

So much for my claim that Spring has arrived. We now have cold, grey days. Serves me right for being smug!
We have moved our 3 pregnant broodmares and two year old fillies Breanna (bay roan Dales) and Elsie-May (skewbald Trakhener x Welsh) into the only paddock that has any grass. The mares need the grass for milk production and Elsie-May has come out of the winter a bit on the scrawny side so she's getting a bit of extra TLC. Since she is joined-at-the-hip with Breanna, she got some tasty grass too.
The new paddock borders our garden and it didn't take the youngsters long to find a new hobby to brighten up a damp, foggy morning. Cue a spot of "Wolf-Racing" otherwise known as baiting the dogs until one joins in and chases them along the fenceline.
Velvet, one of our rescue greyhounds was happy to oblige. Watch for the blue streak flying past :)

Then our Pharaoh Hound Inca joined in the fun. At this point, Elsie-May decided that baiting "two wolves" was bad odds, so she went back to peaceful grazing. Fearless  Breanna was still loving the game :

  All friends after their playtime :

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The benefits of being on foal-watch....

Inca (Wolsey Quebec) has been safely installed in her "baby bedroom" at night for just under 2 weeks now. Because our stable-block is over 200 yards from our house with lots of trees and thick stone walls in between, we were not able to find an affordable wireless CCTV system that could cope with the distance and obstructions, so we purchased a wired system and set-up "Mission Control" in a caravan which is parked in an empty stable next to the foaling boxes. It's not luxury accomodation (I could not lead a permanent Gypsy life!) but it means I can watch the mares on the foal-cam without them being aware of my presence, and be immediately on hand if there's any complications.
Here's Inca on foal-cam :

Her due-date was yesterday but she is not showing any signs of imminent foaling, so I think I may be in for quite a few long, cold nights in the caravan! However, it's not all sleep-deprivation and gloom. Because I am awake earlier than usual, I have witnessed some beautiful sunrises.
This is the view from the caravan window as dawn breaks :

I also have the dubious pleasure of Breanna (2 year old bay roan Dales filly) sticking her head through the caravan window to demand breakfast at first light :

... and I have company!
This owl appeared 2 nights ago and sat on a fence post outside the caravan. It's a very poor quality photo, snapped in the pitch dark with the poor owl illuminated by torchlight, but I am ridiculously excited about it because a friend who is a professional falconer has identified it as a European Eagle Owl, which I have never seen in the wild before. It had extraordinary bright orange eyes and a huge wingspan when it flew off.  I hope it becomes a permanent resident on the farm as it will hopefully keep the rat and rabbit population in check, but I am a bit concerned that it may be choosing a more upmarket dinner menu as 3 of our Khaki Campbell ducks have gone missing. Ooops.....