Farming

Bettina

Bettina, a mare that my aunt bought two years ago, had produced another foal. It’s another male and was named Beloy. Last year, Bettina gave birth to Cloppy, who has gotten so big he’s as big and as strong as Mike, the stallion who had sired him.  Cloppy was named by my nephew and niece. Since they saw him as a foal and therefore small and cute,  Cloppy would seem to fit, but today when he’s now such an ass at the farm – stepping over the pechay with his large hooves, running around the watermelon patch,  our farm hand Peter lobbied for  Cloppy to be reined.  If Nina and Ethan come home they’d never be able to pet Cloppy. None of the farm hands have had some experience caring for horses, so by the time we realized that Cloppy had gotten too big for his bridles it was too late. I even had two box stalls constructed for them but they’re too untrained to be contained. When there’s a downpour, they just let the rain slide down their backs. They get scared by thunder and lightning, but not nearly enough to gallop to shelter. Mike is even scared of a puddle of water. He is tame enough to ride but wouldn’t cross a stream or river. I read somewhere it’s not because he doesn’t want to get his hooves wet, but because he’s afraid of his reflection on water. 

Mike and Cloppy

Wouldn’t it be so Jane Eyre to be astride a horse when you’re counting pili trees? Unfortunately, that would be highly unlikely in my case as I’ve torn my left meniscus after a run-in with a stupid dog and I am now terrified of two-wheeled vehicles and animals whose minds I can’t read.

Mike and Bettina were bought from a mountain farmer in Matnog who claims the horses have some Appaloosa in them, but apart from the spots, I doubt it.

I didn’t know that horses had such proclivity for procreation. When we were transporting the horses from their mountain top in Matnog, I was flabbergasted that Mike just had to have his moment with Bettina…well, two – with every one of us watching, and then twice again when we got to ARGO Farms. You’d have thought he’d have been tired and stressed from all the traveling.

We are fortunate in that Mike is gentle. Bettina is feisty. There’s this small window between foaling that Mike takes advantage of. And oh boy, does he take it. But the moment Bettina kicks her rear legs when he gets another urge for some romance, that’s it. It simply means Mike’s happy days are over and she’s with foal again. Every year? Cloppy was born in January last year. Beloy, last month. So yes, every year. Unfailingly. Unlike carabaos and cattle though, mares gestate from 10 to 11 months.  Since we now have three male horses and just one mare, I think Bettina’s attraction just shot up through the roof.

My aunt would be pleased to know that our animals are multiplying at a rate of five/year. But while it increases in value, it puts a strain on our grazing area. A horse, for instance, could chew through 11 hectares of grass a year. My folks’ farm is not big enough to accommodate that much grazing, given that we’re primarily a coconut farm so most of it is planted to coconut. And then, there are other livestock on the farm. The kings on it are not the horses, despite the illusion of grandeur, but the carabaos, to whom our farm is indebted for hauling and towing.  I’m obsessing on utilizing the power of the horses and cattle for farm work, but I can’t even go near any of the horses much less coax them into pulling a ton of coconuts.  It’s criminal to have so much livestock who just chew grass and procreate for a living. I mean, hello, isn’t sloth one of the seven deadly sins?

Gurangan and Swerte, her fourth calf

Of all the animals in our farm I love watching the horses best. They have so much grace and elegance.  And then there are the carabaos, whom I love for their astounding humility despite their incredible strength.  They’re our farm heroes. I was chiding Peter for what I thought was mistreatment of Pas-ing, and I was stuck by his come back: “I’d sooner go hungry than starve those carabaos…for without them, I’d never be able to carry a hundred coconuts.” 

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