February 2007 Report
February held some surprises and offered hope but definitive answers are still elusive.

On February 17 Mare Nunki was in a heavy heat and Mimosa responded appropriately. It's disappointing to know she is not pregnant, but now we have a baseline from which to start
monitoring her.

Using the sonogram on two other mares, Bellatrix II and Alnitak proved to be a major challenge.
The manufacturer of the unit recommended corn oil as a lubricant to prevent any air bubbles from being trapped between the transducer and a horse's skin. It was assumed that the mares would
ignore a new substance.

Wrong. They LOVED the idea of corn oil. So as I tried on Bella to fiddle with adjustments, add more corn oil and keep the transducer in the right place I had Bella's nose prodding at me and her flank, Nunki horning in behind me and Alnitak approaching from the right. It was quite a dance. As I tried to move away I had to rescue my backpack because Bella was ready to walk right over it to get at the oil container in my hand.

Despite all that I was quite sure I got a brief flash at the right point on the machine. Ditto for Alnitak. We all ended up rather oil spattered but it was a beginning.

Later on Shawn Dunn, who had obtained the unit and delivered it to us, tried another round and I tried again. Once more I seemed to get two fleeting blips.

A call to the manufacturer was helpful, he said that any blip at the right part of the scale was reason for optimism. Since it's obvious that the mares need some distraction while being 'sounded' we are waiting for the arrival of a friend who has also worked with a similar unit. The horses know her and it is hoped that we'll get some good, solid readings.

In the mean time, the men are about 3/4 done preparing the fence line for the stallion area, the tractor is waiting for some attention from our mechanic.

We also suffered our first fire of the year. It took out a lot of fence, but in many places the fence line prevented further spread and the main logging road stopped the rest. The fire was set on the former citrus farm and ran over us on a strong west wind. We also lost perhaps a fifth of our forest forage area, but we've had good rain so regrowth should be fast.

And a final observation, Mare Acamar is showing increasing slackness in her hindquarters, an indication that she could be slowly preparing to give birth. She has lost the round curve of the croup line to a series of dips and pads, her tail seems to be sinking between her pelvic bones. We wait.

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