When Willowtrail Mountain Storm was born two weeks ago, it was after a run of nice spring weather which ended and it turned back to winter. A number of warm days had dried out the mud in several places, and temperatures barely got to freezing at night. Then a front moved in and dropped a foot of snow; Storm was born in the midst of it. I put out to my Fell Pony community my frustration, saying “Maybe someday I’ll understand why mares foal right as weather changes to dreadful.” The comments I got back were so insightful that I fully expected Lunesdale Silver Belle to foal Sunday morning. And she did.
Once again we’d had a run of nice spring weather. I looked at the long range forecast last week, and snow and cold were forecast for Sunday. In addition, the moon had nearly completely waned. One community member suggested that mares take advantage of the changing weather to facilitate labor. Another suggested that the phase of the moon plays a role. Still another suggested that mares may make the choice to foal in advance of adverse weather as a protection against predators who are less likely to be out and about in a storm.
Shelley and Ellie approached delivery almost identically. Both refused to let their milk down so I could test its pH (click here to read about a new foaling prediction method.) Both of them made sure we saw them looking at their sides and flagging their tails the night before they gave birth. And then of course both of them chose to deliver right after a storm settled in and dropped snow. Two weeks ago it was a foot. This time it was fourteen inches.
Both mares and their foals are able to get in out of the weather if they want to. I choose to foal this time of year because it’s easier for me to protect the foals from snow than insects which can be voracious here later in the year. These two storms and two foals are causing me to ponder foal timing. No conclusions yet, though, since everyone is healthy!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2014
If you enjoy stories like this one, you’ll enjoy the book A Humbling Experience, available by clicking here.