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weaning liberty

In early May, I shared the story about a little foal that had just been born here on the farm that we named Liberty. It's been such a joy to watch her grow and get to be part of all the new things that come with having a filly to raise... getting her used to having our hands on her, putting her first halter on her, the first time to try to lead her, and the first time to pony her behind her behind Ria, just to name a few.

She's been a wonderful horse and is growing fast. She's already a good bit bigger than Casper, the school pony and I don't think it will be long before she's eye to eye with her mama. She's pretty well mannered and is as sweet as can be, always want to eat treats out of our hand, and letting us pet or brush her.

But she's now about seven months old and unfortunately for her, it means that it's time for her to grow up a bit. And so this past week we began the process of weaning her.

After church this past Sunday, our friends Dennis and Mary came over and he helped me separate her from her Mama for the first time.

We walked her to the other side of the farm to another barn and stall where we had a small paddock setup for her. We actually had to walk her Mama there, so Liberty would come too. Then when we had Liberty all set in the new barn and stall, we walked Ria back across the field to paddock near our farmhouse.

The whole way back home Ria whinnied and turned, looking for Liberty.

But thankfully, she kept walking and went back into her paddock just fine. But then of course, the moment we let her loose, her maternal instinct kicked into high gear and she pretty much went crazy running around, crying for her baby and calling out to her from the corner of the field.

A few hours later, she was still running and still upset. Every time I stepped onto the back porch or looked out the kitchen window she was still running, trying to figure out what happened.

Meanwhile in the barn on the north side of the farm, Liberty was actually doing pretty well. Mostly I think, because we brought her friend Casper over to the new spot too, to keep her company.

It's been over a week now and for the most part, other than being a little more hungry than normal, Liberty has taken the weaning process in stride. She looks forward to me coming in the mornings and evenings, almost as much as I look forward to seeing her.

Ria on the other hand, still stands in the same corner of the field, day after day, silently listening for Liberty, waiting for her little one to come home. And she will. After a few more weeks. We have to let Mama dry up before we put them back together, and Dennis says that'll take 4-6 weeks, so it's going to a long next month or so for the horses here at the farm.

This is our first time to wean a horse, and so I've never experienced any of these things before. I look forward to bringing Liberty back and them being reunited, once and for all. And also getting to be part of all the next steps with her. From working her in the round pen, to saddling her, and one day riding her.

Maybe by the time Liberty's older and fully broke, Indy will be older too. And we'll be able to ride together, just she and I. Just like her Mama and I did all those years ago...

...Well darn, scratch that...!

I wrote this story yesterday afternoon and thought I might share it this morning. But as I made my morning coffee, and looked out the kitchen window... I saw this - both Liberty and Casper were both grazing in my back yard, near the fire pit...

Maybe the big storm we had last night scared them so much, they went through the electric fence that was around their paddock. More likely, Liberty wants to be close to her Mama more than she's been letting on. By the time I got outside, she was right next to fence, and Ria was making her way to be near her little one.

And so our story has changed a bit in the last 24 hours. Instead of them being separated on different sides of the farm, I called Dennis and he thought (since its' been more than a week now) it would be okay for them to be in paddocks right next to each other.

So I spent the cold, rainy morning getting a new paddock ready for the Liberty and her buddy, just on the other side of the wood fence from Liberty's mama. I just filled up their new water trough and everyone seems happy now.

I guess we'll see what tomorrow morning brings...



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