As we came out to feed the horses at dawn this Sunday morning the horses had company of a moose cow and her yearling. Our alpha mare Bluebell stood in front of her “herd” watching their moves with pinpointed ears and full concentration.
When we first came to settle down at the south end of Sotardalen in an old steers pasture six years ago the locals told us the area was known as a frequent moose habitat and warned us about keeping horses up there by the woods, because horses and moose usually don’t get along. A moose with calves can be aggressive.
Nokota horses still speak fluent wildlife lingo, so they don’t have the difficulties to communicate as domesticated horses might have :-). (I’ve seen moose at the same spot when the neighbor’s horses stood watching on the other side of the fence, the horses didn’t react at all so the moose looked confused not knowing whether to stay or leave.)
When we were building the house the pasture was an open range. We often saw moose and roe deers grazing at dusk and dawn. There were a few occasions when we saw moose sleeping in the tall grass fifty yards from the site. Later we set up fences to host horses from the local riding school at summer, but left a corridor unfenced so the moose could cross. That’s where the mooses were seen this morning. Moose has also been grazing inside the fenced pasture and we have seen them jump five feet tall fences from a standing position at ease, magnificent animals. In Sweden it’s the Eurasian Elk that is the correct nomenclature (Alces Alces), but there are more subspecies, like the Western Moose in North Dakota.
Every autumn in October the moose is legitimate for hunting and there are a few weeks of hunters, gun shots and runaway dogs all over the place, we usually invite the moose for a safe refuge here on our pasture, but so far they have managed by themselves. No fallen moose has ever been carried out our road, what we know of.
This morning a moose cow and her yearling stood grazing the bushes and probably came out of the woods from the west and were crossing our pasture to get to another of her yearlings that we saw and heard on the dirt road north of our stable. Our Nokota horses and the moose family both reacted with curiosity and caution.
Buebell took the lead and curiously walked up posing proudly and telling the moose to back off. The moose and her yearling eventually made their way, crossed the dirt road and walked into the forest. Just a few minutes later another yearling came out from the west and crossed the pasture. It is unusual for a moose to have three calves.
It took a while before the horses came up to eat hay by the stable, but then they did not seem much bothered. This moose family now knows that the proud Nokota alpha mare Bluebell Star will not let any trespassers enter her territory without appropriate action, the word may spread across the forests of Sotardalen.
The moose and roe deer still have the forest south of us where they can roam free. The storms early this winter brought down a whole lot of trees. The last week the timber has been cut up and that is probably why the moose felt anxious about crossing there, but that will go by.