November 16, 2015

Weighing Hay

I've always weighed my grain and tried to with my hay to get a feel for how much to feed.  Once you are familiar with your hay and the flake weights you don't have to weigh every time but it is always good to make sure you are feeding the proper amount.  Horses need from 1.5-2.0% of their weight in forage.

The shipment of bales I purchased are around 30 lbs each.  Yikes.  That is small.  Luckily when the horses still had pasture to graze there wasn't as much of an issue that I wasn't feeding them "enough".  But as I was needing to lean on feeding hay as their main forage I wanted to get the hay weighed.  So I made a hay tote with tarp, wood and rope.

I already have the scale which works nicely with a bucket but it's harder to get the small hook around the two twine ropes of a bale.  The hay tote worked one time, then the ropes broke off.  Ugh.  Instead of going through and trying to make it work I just figured a few bucks and I could get a hay bale carrier.

The one I purchased is from Tough One and very easy to throw the flakes of hay into it, grab the straps, weigh and then carry the flakes to the various locations I leave hay for the horses.  

I make sure to locate hay in several places so boss mare won't run Chance off the hay.  They still seem to eat well next to each other off the initial pinning of ears and deciding who should eat where.  So this wasn't really a good DIY project and I'm sure I could have created another version that actually worked but...I've got enough projects right now!  

November 15, 2015

November 11, 2015

How to Organize Your Shit

Horses poop, like, A LOT!  At KCRC I just carted my manure to the big pile there and eventually they turned it or carted it off after some time.  Here I have to figure out what to do with all this stuff.  I've only been here two months with one horse and now two but I have still gathered a decent sized pile that we are going to compost.

Composting is great but can be labor intensive when you don't have a tractor with a bucket (eh, hem, yeah we don't have that).  So.....yipee!  Exercise!!  Composting decomposes the material to a nice rich and more usable form for plants.  It has to be done correctly though or you don't get all the benefits you could from this black gold.  The pile has to heat up in order to kill weed seeds and to kill off parasites.  Steve and I composted leaves and grass in the Winston house, rarely turned it but in the end had some dark rich soil with which to amend our yard.  

For the horse's "by-products" I've built three, soon to be four "bins" from pallets and "U" posts.  It was pretty simple to put together, just tap the posts in between the wood pieces and place the next pallet at a 90 degree angle....tap that one in and boom, compost bin.  When the bin starts getting full we'll add a "front" to each bin using a wooden lattice and some more posts to hold that in place.  The plan is to completely fill one up then water it, cover it, turn it a few times and within a couple months sift and spread on our property. While that first pile is heating up and turning into rich compost you start dumping your manure in the next bin until it is full (repeat process). The whole idea is that once all three are full (or better yet even before then) the first bin will be completely composted and ready to use.   

Many horse owners muck manure directly into a manure spreader and spread it on the pasture during a warmer dry period.  This kills parasites and the smaller pieces will still eventually fertilize the soil.  It works best on larger properties it seems. I think with our property being so small composting is a better way to go and definitely less high tech (aka not needing fancy equipment).  We'll still need a spreader but we can use a simple fertilizer spreader vs. a manure spreader.  These are smaller and less expensive.

The bins were easy to set up and I've already seen the manure start to break down in the first one.  We even saw some steam coming from the pile before we tarped it to keep the heat in and the moisture level damp but not soaking.  One does not want pouring rain to percolate through the pile and cause the run off to enter streams or ponds.  We are doing our best to have our horse care be environmentally friendly.

Our large pile of poo that was growing into a large blop, not unlike "Slimer" the famous gross ghost from Ghostbusters, is now neatly organized and becoming something pretty darn awesome.  Yes, I'm excited about horse poop.  I collect the manure from the stable area daily and then weekly from fields the horses have been grazing.  Not an apple is wasted!  But man, this fescue with its rhizomes make forking poo difficult.....I'll be posting on that soon too.  LOL.  

So there you have it.  Simple compost bins made from pallets, what a way to organize your shit!

November 09, 2015

Hay Sourcing

I had finally found a great source for hay in Colorado, Horse Food Bank.  Not that it was the best hay ever but they always had good hay and a portion of the money went to a good cause.  I'm starting over in North Carolina so trying to find a good source here will surely take some time.

A local store didn't have hay located at their store for me to view and it seemed difficult for me to get anyone to tell me how I could take a look at the hay.  I don't like buying sight unseen.  I was getting down to one bale so ended up going to Hurdle Mills Feed to pick up 50 bales of Fescue mix hay.

This place sources hay from various locations and this was a pretty decent source.  The bales are small though only weighing about 30 lbs.  Some maybe more or less.  Interesting.  Is that normal for this area?  It seemed that many of the bales were a little loosely bound too, at least I only had one bale bust open.  I can go back to Hurdle Mills and try another variety of hay when I get low but I'll double check the weight beforehand.  I never expected it to be that small!  Essentially I'm paying $485 per ton!  Yikes!  That's not good.

Anyhow it's good hay and the horses seem to be fine with it.  I don't like the green twine though, too easy to lose that in the hay and accidentally have it end up where it shouldn't!  Who makes green twine????  I got the hay stacked in the feed room all by myself since I did it during the week.  There is certainly more space in the middle once I get some pallets cut properly and if I can stack it higher I think we'll be able to put up at least 75 bales in there while leaving room to move around and access the grain bins.

This first year is going to be a little all over the place while I figure out how best to store the hay here and then how much to put up depending on the state of pastures throughout the year.  That's another thing, we have to work on the pastures.  There are some bare areas and some pretty significant weed infestations we have to deal with in order to get them producing good quality forage.  That will be another post though!

Anyways, I am happy to have some hay for now and will continue to send out feelers for where I should get my next load.

November 08, 2015

Serene Sunday

Promise to make "real" posts soon!!!!

November 01, 2015

Serene Sunday

Our last home had a cute dwarf pine near the front door.  We loved that little thing and named him Piney Pete.....yeah we are weird but if you are just realizing that now you are probably new to this blog.  We didn't want to remove him since we were afraid he wouldn't survive so decided we would get another pine tree for the new house.

Meet Piney Pete II.  He's a very little guy but he is mighty!!!

This rainy sunday morning Steve dug the hole....

And we welcomed our little Piney Pete the second!

I just hope the other plants will be nice to him.

October 28, 2015

Serene Sunday

Cute Chance loves helping clean and refill the water trough!  :-)

October 25, 2015

October 19, 2015

I'll Take a Chance, Please!!

Dani  has been alone on our property since she arrived at the end of September.  Luckily the one pasture is near other horses but when I moved her to another pasture she got so upset and worked up a sweat pacing and neighing of the horses that were too far away.  We needed to do something to find her a buddy.  I contacted several people locally that had a horse for sale and even thought about a free lease on this older unrideable companion horse.  Nothing really appealed to me since I wanted a permanent friend and also a useful horse for Steve and I.  We have just under 4 acres so we'd be limited to how many horses we can keep here.

I went onto a local, well two hours west of us, horse rescue.  They had several horses in the rescue and then many others that individual owners listed to rehome.  One in particular stood out to me.  His name was Chance.  He was a handsome little Arabian, 17 years old and well trained.  He was ridden on trails a lot and sounded like a great minded horse.

His owner had a smaller property with a little donkey and a younger horse, she needed to rehome Chance since she was planning on doing more intense riding with her young horse and also the two horses didn't quite get along as well as she'd hoped so Chance was in a neighboring paddock.  I drove 2 hours to the Winston-Salem area to meet him.  The whole time I was nervous....what if he's too much, what if he's spooky....what if he's like Arabians I test rode before?  But then the thought kept coming back.  What if he turns out to be amazing like Willy?

When I met Chance there was something so soft in his eye, something soft but also intelligent.  His owner cared for him so much and told me all about rides she has done with him and how he's reacted to many new situations.  She studies Parelli and he was very responsive to her.  We trailered over to a friends home where there was a small arena.  She worked him on the ground and he was certainly feeling his beans but a good thing was there was not the redheaded mare attitude I'm often confronted with when my horse is fresh.

She rode him and then it was my turn.  I worked him on a ground for a few minutes and found him very willing and supple in his movements.  Not so much the ton of bricks I have to move when working Dani sometimes, LOL.  I was unsure and definitely nervous to mount up but I took it slow and rode him at the walk doing serpentines and many turns.  He seemed to sense the nervousness but he just hesitantly moved onward.  As we both grew more comfortable we got in sync and he moved off better with my cues.  I was pleased he wasn't going to react and run off with me, he was just calming awaiting leadership and not running off in terror.  That is a good thing in a horse for someone with fear issues.  I know being a leader is the most important thing but it's good to have a horse that is secure in themselves when their human has a little bit of nerves from time to time.

I slept on it and then emailed the lady that we would love to give Chance a home.  We agreed on the following Saturday as a good day for her to bring him over.  We worked out a contract and the day of signed and paid the rescue agency for his adoption.  All was very smooth.  Even the horses meeting was smooth.  I kept Chance in the small stable yard while Dani was in the pasture.  The two could meet over the fence at first.  Dani did her usual sniffing of nostrils and then her mare squeal.  Then, the two just chilled together.  We opened the gate about half an hour later and there was another couple squeals but then the two went on to grazing.  As they moved around the pasture Dani pinned her ears to move her little gelding around the fence line and then the two would settle into a new location for grazing.  

With only a couple days of having the two together they seem inseparable.  If I move one out of the field first and into a stall for feeding there is a little upset until they can see each other again, if Steve is hear we try to move them together.  I want to get into a routine where I can just open a gate at feeding time and the two will go into "their" stall for their grain/supplement.  Chance seemed unsure at first but he is now starting to understand it's okay to go into the stall since that is where his food will be and that he's not going to stay in there forever.  Chance has a senior feed he is on so he receives more at each feeding.  I want to keep them apart so he gets all his food and Dani doesn't try to steal it.  We'll see how this works and if we need to try another system for feeding we can do that.

I'm so happy though, Dani seems very content to have a pasture mate and now we can put the horses in the other pastures without any upset.  She doesn't need to see the horses across the way since she has her very own that she can boss around.  It will be awesome getting to know Chance and seeing his personality and learning how to work with him.  I'm also excited that Steve will have a pony of his own to ride!

October 18, 2015