Monday, September 17, 2012

Escape Artistry

Blue: Don't be fooled
by all the cute.
The recent rain has greened up the lawns at Touchstone Farm, and the cool days have re-energized the animals after the summer muggies, renewing their spirit of adventure. That’s my explanation for a sudden increase in escapes on the farm.

I arrived at the farm on Saturday morning to find Blueberry, that wily pony, munching happily on a patch of grass near his paddock. On Sunday, as Roxy and I worked in the Hacking ring, I could hear annoyed squeals coming from the barn. That was Blue, shut into a stall to keep him from wandering while the barn staff figures out how he is getting out of his paddock.

It really IS greener.
One of the sheep has been getting out, too. He doesn’t go far – just to nibble grass on the other side of his paddock fence. You put him back, and minutes later he’s mysteriously out again.

The farm has two other determined escape artists. Kiwi the goat is one. He is smart, friendly, and curious. You never know where Kiwi will turn up, but it’s seldom where you want him to be.

Kiwi: He's everywhere
he shouldn't be.
Kiwi and I went head to head on Sunday when I was tacking up Roxy in the lower barn. I heard thumps and crashes in the locked grain room. When I unlocked the door and slid it open, there was Kiwi, trying to get the lids off grain barrels.

I shooed him out, only to see him nimbly re-enter from the unlocked side of the sliding door. He and I went another few rounds, and then Jordan Reynolds, a member of the barn staff, found a barrel to wedge against Kiwi’s personal entrance.

I think Kiwi knew I ratted him out to Jordan. As Roxy and I walked to the ring, Kiwi followed us, head-butting me along the way.

Goat-proofing the grain room
Later, I saw Boo take him firmly by the collar and stuff him into the stall next to the incarcerated Blueberry. Busted by the big boss.

There’s little love lost between Kiwi and the farm's other great escape artist, Roxy. The only time I’ve ever seen Roxy put her ears back is when Kiwi gets in her face.
I thought they might see each other as kindred spirits, sharing their love of freedom and food. This is not the case. They are fierce competitors in a contest of unauthorized eating.

Roxy: "Can't comment. Eating."
Roxy keeps to her paddock these days, but her adventures in breaking and exiting have set the bar pretty high, even for clever Kiwi. Next week, I’ll tell you about Roxy’s Greatest Escape.

See you around the farm, and watch out for that goat.

Kathy McDonald
Rider and Volunteer at Touchstone Farm

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