December 26, 2015

Scrub a Dub Dub

Chance has some type of skin issue on his chest.  The vet said to keep treating it with MTG and then get some Hibiclens to wash his chest.  It was a warm day, been unusually warm in the SE from what it sounds like.  We still wanted to heat up some water so I was able to utilize my bucket heater.  This thing is great!  Heats in 10 minutes or so.  We didn't need it too hot but we have the ability to get the water pretty darn toasty!

Steve first rinsed Chances chest and then scrubbed the Hibiclens all over his itchy spots.  Then we let the soap sit to let the antibiotic properties take effect.

While Chance chilled and we waited for the rinse water to heat up he investigated some clean water in a bowl and decided to play with it.  This boy loves water.  When I fill the troughs he'll lip at the water coming out of the hose and splash around with his nose.  He's so cute.  I wonder if he's ever tried to roll during a water crossing?

Once the ten minutes were up Steve took the warm water and rinsed the medicated soap off his skin and fur.  The skin was less bumpy afterwards.  We'll have to continue with MTG and then maybe another wash.  Chance was a sweetheart as we took care of him.  He nuzzled Steve's shoulders and lipped at his hair.  What a patient little boy.  He certainly seems less itchy but we have more wet and warm weather the next couple weeks so I have to be diligent about the ponies hooves and skin.

December 15, 2015

Hay Bags

I like using hay bags, I've seen first hand that they reduce waste and definitely extend the chew time a horse gets from the same amount of hay.

At first Chance wasn't too sure about the hay net, he scouted out the piles I set out in the run-in shed since I had not purchased more hay nets yet.  He would eat the free hay first and then grudgingly come back to the hay net.

Dani is a pro, so she showed him how to work the bags and he's gotten to a point that it's no big deal.  Of course every pony wants huge mouthfuls of hay at a time.  These bags make them savor every little bite.

We finally got two more bags for the run-in shed feeding station.  I want to keep the bags in a protected place for when it's raining.  The ones I use in the stable yard can be moved to the stalls if we have heavy rain.   It's not ideal but I don't want all my hay getting soaked therefore being wasted in the yard.  Plus I like to help keep my ponies drier during the wet rains.  So far we haven't had any major skin issues, just Chances chest dermatitis.

Our hay routine seems to be working well but I definitely can't wait until the green grasses come back.  I'm sure the ponies can't wait either!  Yum!

December 14, 2015

Australian Stockman's Saddle

Very exciting news!  This fun, rather large box showed up at our house the other day.

Steve and Chances saddle arrived.  We'd sent a wither tracing so it fits him very nicely.  

The only pad that slightly fit was my English one but even then it was a bit too small.  We have an Australian on on order plus a leather hole punch (great tool to have in the tack room anyways).  When I mounted up I noticed the stirrups need to be shorted by many inches so we'll punch some holes properly once we get that tool.  I was bummed I didn't get to ride Chance much, not being able to reach the stirrups on a horse I haven't ridden since I test rode him is not something I'm took inclined to do.

I also received my barn calendar for the next year.  I've already premarked when I need to feed them psyillium (if I keep them on it out here).  I can also put dates for appointments and possible hoof trimming.

I think my favorite months will be July....

And December...

What?  I girl needs a barn calendar!

December 13, 2015

Serene Sunday

Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the horse manure...

December 11, 2015

Apple Trees and Washing Machines...

Steve and I planted a fig bush and four apple trees one weekend ago.  We look forward to growing the apples and making cider in a few years.  It will be at least 2-3 years until the baby trees start producing apples.  Until then we have some cute sticks to view in our yard.

We plan on planting other fruit trees too like pear and cherry.  Feeling like little farmers on our farmlett!  In the spring we'll also begin our vegetable and herb garden.  We'll have great compost by then too!  

Loki guarded us while we planted...even though I took pictures I was a hard worker and dug holes too!   LOL

Then we took a walk in the woods next to the property and saw an old washing machine.  ?????  So random.  Even though it's not our piece of land we'll get around to cleaning out this and some of the other trash we've found in the woods.  Yuck.

There are many things on our to do list to improve the property.  We have a drainage/substrate issue in the stable becomes a mud pit and nearby we have standing water with even just a minor rain fall.  We have plans to work on a french drain, then to build up the yard with some road base and then comfy pea gravel.

If only we had all the time and money we needed to get this done yesterday!!

December 10, 2015

Curly Dock is the Bane of My Pastures!

The pastures need some love.  One in particular needs some weed control big time.  Curly dock is a broad leaf plant that is hard to control by simply pulling.  It has a large tap root.  I did some research and came across several recommended herbicides that are intended for use in grazing pastures, plus Chances mom gave me some recommendations since she's dealt with that weed many times.  The herbicides state that you can even let a horse graze right after you spray!  I've decided to give it at least a week or two just in case but the two pastures with the most curly dock are out of the grazing rotation at this time so it's really not been an issue.

Our property is laid out really nicely with a sacrifice area, named the Wormhole since it goes between the three main pastures.  This encompasses the paddock near the run-in,  the stable yard and an part of one pasture I enclosed with temporary fencing to make a "riding area" about the size of a large round pen.  The three areas interconnect with gates to make a larger sacrifice area when it's too wet to be on the pastures.  Below is our diagram, not quite to scale of course, of the property.  Steve and I named the 3 pastures: Westeros, Galafray and The Shire.  The stable yard and a pathway through the riding area is the muddy muck area we'll be working on soon.  The riding area I envision, far down the road mind you, grading it and getting proper substrate brought in to make a relatively flat riding area.

Anyhow, the Shire had the largest concentration of Curly Dock followed by Galafray.  The weed spreads by dropped seed hence the clustering of plants observed.  I spot sprayed both Galafray and the Shire (on Thanksgiving day actually!) with PasturePro using a 4 gallon backpack sprayer.  It just made sense to spot spray this weed for now.  

In the future to control onion or other more spread out weeds I may need to get a sprayer I can use with my mower. Onion seems like a problem in Galafray but there are also bald spots that need over seeding.  I've also read that sometimes balancing the soil pH and nutrients can fix an pasture onion problem.

You can see how the Curly dock grows in clumps and followed a small berm in The Shire.  There was basically a path of Curly dock leading from one end of the pasture the the other in dense patches.  Of course there were some micro-patches in other areas of the pasture too.

Westeros has a few bits of Curly dock here so I'll spray in the spring since the horses are grazing that pasture right now.  The forage is dense and Westeros has fewer weeds than the others so I'm going to focus my efforts on the Shire and Galafray.

Within a couple of days the weeds were starting to melt away.  Many more days later most of the weeds are brown and dead looking.  I'm sure I'll have to spray again in the spring since  I know missed areas or didn't fully saturate certain plants but I feel that at least we are doing something to get this under control.

We'll need to over seed with warm and cool grass species (so the pastures have more year round grazing availability), test the soil and apply lime as needed, aerate, and of course spread some compost when the growing season is back in full swing.  I want to get the pastures nice and lush with few if any bare spots.  Some areas look like they have been over grazed or perhaps had too much pony traffic during wet periods.  It will be a management task for sure to keep the horses off the pastures when they are grazed down to about 3 inches or when it's wet. If there are spots I need to have intensive restoration done I can always utilize temporary fencing to protect baby grasses for a season.  

It will take a few years to get the pastures less weedy and more forage-y.  Pasture maintenance is an ongoing task and on a smaller acreage even more necessary!  I will certainly document as spring comes and I can really assess what is going on with the pastures.  I'll also post information about pasture management as I learn more!

December 09, 2015

Sub-dermal Hematoma You Say?

Star Trek-Quote
McCoy: Fundascopic examination is unrevealing in these cases!

Doctor #1: A simple evacuation of the epidural hematoma will relieve the pressure!

McCoy: My God man, drilling holes in his head is not the answer! The artery must be repaired! Now, put away your butcher's knives and let me save this patient before it's too late!

Okay, in all seriousness I had a little worry this morning.  Both ponies were set to have their hooves trimmed this morning.  All feet were looking good and I'm very happy with the farrier I'm using.  As she was trimming Chance though I noticed a swelling on his chest.  We both took a look at it and the swelling was very warm.

She mentioned it could be pigeon fever, I know maybe a little about.  After she left I took his was normal.  He was eating and drinking so I left him in the stall to keep him away from Dani for the time being.  I went inside and grabbed my veterinary reference.  By the look of it the swelling seemed like it could be a hematoma but no way for me to really rule out pigeon fever except by location in the country.

I figured it's best to get the vet out and make sure there isn't anything serious or contagious going on.  Flat River Veterinary Services came out and checked my boys swelling.  He confirmed it was just a hematoma probably from a kick to the chest and the fluids were all collecting down between his legs via gravity.  He gave me some bute and told me to keep an eye on it.  He also recommended a scrub for when it's warmer the next couple of days to work on the itchy bumps that Chance has on his neck and chest.  I've been putting MTG on this area for a few days and he said to continue that regime as well, hence the reason his coat is greasy in that spot in the pictures.

Phew!  I'm glad there isn't a big issue but I need to watch the horses and see if it's just a horse thing or if Dani is trying to beat up on him more for some reason.  Usually they hang out together and graze near each other.  Sure she tells him to move a lot but that is what boss mares do.  I've only once seen her act slightly more aggressive but nothing worrisome where I would have to separate them.  I'll just make sure there aren't areas that could cause an issue with him being cornered either.  I have a suspicion that near the run-in shed there may be some fences that need re-routing to prevent just such an issue.

Hope all of your horses are healthy and happy!

November 30, 2015

Ride One Horse and Cool off the Other???

The other day I decided it was time to saddle up and go for a ride on my horse, on my property.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done but you know, you need to stop and smell the horses sometimes....LOL.  I have a little fenced in "riding area" if you would call it that.  It's next to the stable yard and the eventual plan is to level it out a little more and bring in good substrate to build a decent "arena" type base but that is a ways in the future.

I got Dani tacked up and was happy that even though it's been a while she was a good girl.  Chance was fenced out of the stable yard and "riding area" so a few neighs and whinnies occurred as he was upset his mare was now out of sight.  I rode Dani in the riding area and did my usual turns, stops and backs to assess her compliance.  She was a good girl so I decided that I could try to ride around the property.

Our property is surrounded by easements between neighboring lots so there is the ability to ride in a circle around our complete property, that is if I can eventually get around to trimming up some over grown trees.  I didn't have success with riding the easements so rode on the street and up a the large pathway near our largest pasture.  Some deer were worrisome to Dani on the road but luckily she just freezes but it's still unnerving.  While I was riding Dani outside the property boundaries Chances was full out galloping around the big pasture and neighing like he was being left home alone while Dani and I went to Disney world!  He was gorgeous though so as I walked Dani along the fence line I gazed at him with his flagged Arabian tail high in the air and nostrils blowing.  For someone who gets bossed around a lot by the mare he sure is pretty smitten!

When I brought my girl back to the barn to untack and groom she had her usual sweat marks under the girth area so it was no big deal cleaning her up.  Chance on the other hand had worked himself into an actual lather.  His coat was soaked and around his girth and chest there was lathered areas of sweat and dirt.  Oh my goodness you silly boy!  I groomed him the best I could, and  sponged off the worst areas including his legs to make sure he didn't injure something.  Then since it was getting a little chilly I covered him in a fleece cooler until he was fully dry.

Nothing like riding one horse and having to cool off the other.  Oh my, I never stop getting surprised by critter antics!  I'll try to get a video up of the property sometime soon!  Happy riding!

November 29, 2015

Serene Sunday

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

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 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!