I've been pretty silent for the last several days - nearing two weeks - trying to figure out what has been going on with the horses. About a week and a half ago, I had gone out to feed the nighttime meal (usually around 6:00 pm). The horses had hollered at me as usual, but would NOT come when called. They had stashed themselves in a small corner of the corral where the water tank stands, currently frozen as they use the stream. As long as there is running water in the stream, we don't bother with the tank. I walked over to check the tank; sure enough, frozen solid with no sign of them being interested in it. You know, no nose smudges in the snow on top of the ice, or hoof prints trying to break it open. So what the heck? Why stand here?
They followed me back to the hay feeder and basically had a normal meal. A couple days later, same activity, only at the morning feed. This was just before my birthday, so when Compass called to say she had seen a lynx sitting on the front porch of her cabin, I explained to my crew that - to my knowledge - a lynx was probably not going to be a problem for them. They appropriately hung their heads and apologized for being 1000 lb wimps.
OK. Fine - for a couple of days.
Here we go again. We get a lot of snow and MUCH more aggravated behavior from the horses and I noticed them hanging out at the lower end of the corral, keeping careful watch. I walk down to check and see that Compass and crew seem to be turning a storage shed into something else. They had cleaned it out (we had seen multiple PU loads of stuff being hauled out), added a lean-to to the long side, and cut a huge hole in the upper half of the wall. Now this shed happens to be just between her cabin and our corral. Hmmm?
How many of you have had the chance to see a very angry Mustang mare? I've had Jesse 11 1/2 years now and she has almost always gone directly to 'fight' status, leaving out the flight thing, and not a lot invokes fear in her. If something enters her 'living space' that she doesn't think belongs, she has no problem with 'taking it out', quite literally.
Imagine how I felt when I went to feed last night, found the two geldings holding up in the water corner again, and Jesse in full fight mode. When I stepped into the corral, she raced up to me, did a sliding stop, then raced between the fence by the shed and the fence by the feeder. That's when I finally put two and two together. The lightbulb had finally gone off for me.
Then it hit me. She had gotten some chickens (maybe a month or so ago) and was keeping them in a portion of her tack area just inside the barn. Bill and I had discussed what she could possibly do with them when she needed that area this summer for tacking up the horses. I think the shed is becoming a hen house, and what a great location. Right between the cabin whose porch the lynx likes, and a likely 'living quarters' in one of the deserted sheds - with our corral directly in the middle. And why, pray tell, would a lynx not think a hen house could come in handy? Especially if maybe she was pregnant and having trouble hunting in the cold? Or if he was getting older and stiffer? Just last winter a bobcat had hung around those empty sheds for a couple weeks, so they must be inviting to cats.
I feel badly that it took me so long to make the connections, although, not sure what I could have done about the situation anyway. So glad they take care of themselves so well.