May 24, 2022

2022-Not My Favorite Year

This year has already been a hard year.  My parents' health struggles continued (there was a blip about it in my post about Dani's hooves). I tend to keep this blog horse focused but there has not been much horse stuff for me aside from the regular care for my babies who are both doing well. Anways I digress.

The horrible news is that in January my father passed away after a long struggle to gain strength in the aftermath his emergency intestinal surgery last September.  He was doing better and had just gotten through a surgery to reverse the ileostomy bag.  His heart began beating faster so he went to ICU.  The morning of January 14th he was talking with a nurse and then suddenly had a heart attack and went quick and peacefully.  It was instant we were told which is at least some comfort.


All of us were heartbroken and shocked because he'd been improving.  My mother in the assisted living home was told in person by my father's sister, her priest, and my brother and I were on the phone 2,000 miles away. We were out in Colorado that following week dealing with his death and arrangements that were made for the end of February.  Then we headed home while my aunt and cousin stayed to assist mom and continue packing up the house. We needed to get mom to assisted living near my brother and I as soon as we could after dad's memorial.


About a week later my mother had a doctor's appointment and that infection in her sutures, the infection that reared its ugly head back in September, had come back with a vengeance.  I flew out two weeks before the memorial to help my mother in the hospital and continue with the efforts for packing up the house in prep for moving and then selling of their house.  My mother wanted to be in NC near me so I also spent time while out there and while I was in NC looking for assisted living places for her.

My mother had two additional back surgeries to clear out the infection.  The second included a graft of muscle due to her skin around the wounds turning black.  Then she had an emergency surgery for a perforation of the intestine.  She was so weak I was surprised she made it through any of those three surgeries. 

After the memorial I had wanted to get her on a plane with me to bring her home to NC. That did not happen since she was so weak I couldn't possibly have been able to help her navigate the airports. The hospital would not have discharged her either. The plan was to get her strong enough to be discharged to rehab and we could then have her on a plane to NC with a nurse to assist her during the flight. That was apparently not going to happen either. I received a call from the palliative nurses at the hospital in early March.  I had a conversation with my mother that she didn't want to fight anymore.  She would have to have more surgeries to fight her infection and her physical improvement was virtually nonexistent. She wanted to be on hospice.  It was a hard phone call.  I figured out what to do financially and chartered a medical flight from CO to NC on March 18th.


Mom arrived late friday night on a stretcher to a nursing home in Hillsborough, NC. Assisted living was out the question with her needs and that was hard to convey to her.  The hope was maybe she would get stronger, since she was out of the hospital and with my brother and I nearby to encourage her.  She was positive for those first weeks and it was great to see her regularly. I made sure to always keep pretty flowers visible from her bedside.  Some weeks I was there every day as I got her settled but I needed to pace myself too.  There was a lot to still do with finances and then a discovery that my dad's life insurance probably was not there to assist with her increased needs.  Long story but it was a blow and I was overly worried about how to care for my mother and pay for the medical flight from CO to NC.

The fact that she was nearby was a blessing.  She got to see her grandchildren and son many times and I got to spend time with her as well.  Mom was on hospice but they did evaluate her for physical therapy.  That was not a possibility since she was in such a fragile state. The nurses did get her up to sit in a chair but my mother was not able to stand that for long.  She continued to decline.  I freaked out shortly after she arrived when she had a urinary tract infection that manifested with major confusion and hallucinations on her part.  It was very scary to me but at least cleared up quickly, certainly a new and disconcerting experience.  Then Mom had an Emergency Room visit due to uncontrolled bleeding from her abdominal sutures that should have been long healed.


My mother just wasn't healing.  She ate some food but not enough and what little she ate didn't really absorb into her system. In mid May I was told by hospice that she was declining and they felt she would pass in the next two weeks.  A day later that timeline was one week and the next day we were told and could see for ourselves that it was very imminent.  My brother and sister-in law came down on a Thursday, my aunt (mom's sister) flew in from the Caribbean and Mom's brother from Pennsylvania came down as well as a cousin from Georgia. 

We spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday with her in the small nursing home room.  She was aware she was dying I'm sure on Wednesday when I saw her and held her hand and told her how much I appreciated and loved her.  She was aware on Thursday and told us she loved us, it was hard to talk and she was more moans than words but we knew and she knew and much love was exchanged as we all held her hand. When she rested the family talked about memories and we hope that with hearing being the last sense to go that Mom heard the happy memories and about how much we loved her. Friday she somewhat responded to us talking to her.  Then Saturday her breathing was very gasping and labored.  We didn't get much response from her.  We all said we loved her and said our goodbyes probably 5 times throughout the day between going to lunch or taking breaks.  When we left that evening we felt like this was the very last time we'd speak to her.


I kissed her forehead, told her "Peace be with you mom. I will love you forever". I left soft harp music playing when we all took our leave that evening.  I hope the music was soothing in her last hours.  She passed within 2 hours after we left.  Maybe even right after we left, who knows.  That's the hard part.  We weren't there, the medical nurse checked on her and discovered she'd passed.  The hospice nurse had warned us that most likely she would pass when we weren't there and to not be troubled by the possibility. She knew we were there in the days leading up. We all had held her hand, told her we loved her and supported her until her mind was most likely floating somewhere between this world and the next.  

This has been the hardest thing I've had to do.  Caring for my mother, trying not to be overwhelmed with everything that comes with being a Power of Attorney and Executor of an Estate, grieving for my passed father while staying strong to support my dying mother and then also trying to be there for her in the end and questioning whether I did enough. Now we live on...without Dad and without Mom, to carry on their love and reflect on the memories.   

Dad died January 14th and Mom died May 14th. Exactly four months apart. I'm still in shock that both my parents are gone. Their lives over and plans ended.  They were 72 and 74, still young enough to have been able to enjoy the golden years.  It's hard to believe that 2022 isn't even at its halfway point and I feel like I've aged several years thus far. The road of grief lies before me but hopefully healing and peace as well. Peace be with you Mom and Dad, I'll love you forever.




December 29, 2021

The Future of Horsing for me

Looking back at the past few years I see my neck surgery that prevented me from riding for a year really set me back, only physically for a period of time, doctor's orders, after that it was mental.  Once I was back and able to ride I'd honestly been out of the habit of riding regularly. It was too easy to just fall back to not riding and prioritize other activities.  We have more than enough projects at our house and on the property that I've done more with those items than riding Daenerys. Why?  That's the hard part...lack of motivation, tired from work, the gosh darn humid hot summers I hate....who knows.  

Chance is officially retired due to his degenerative suspensory ligaments (DSL) in his hindlegs.  We are trying to manage his heaves and Cushings and hopefully not riding him will keep him comfortable in relation to the DSL.  He's a sweet horse to have a around and for Dani to boss around. But Dani, she'll be good to go I hope in a few months.  She never was going to be an eventing horse but well, I'm not an eventing rider either!

The evil equihaler

What do I want in the future of horsing? That's a tough one, I feel like there is often stuff in my life I want to do but then I just get tied up with other stuff.  I have to stay set on my priorities; that's always been difficult for me.  What I always wanted to do is go on trail rides, go to clinics about doing trail obstacles and fun trail competition (ride and tie, small endurance type events etc). I love riding Dani but there will come a day when she can't or shouldn't be ridden just like with Chance.  

Then there is the trailering issue, I have not had success with trailering Dani. She has gotten on a trailer and has been a good girl at times but swinging the dividers or closing the door, that's when she really puts up the fight.  I haven't been able to deal with that as someone not experienced with trailering horses.  Adding this complexity to it had been a bit much and moving to NC I lost my horse network that helped me with these types of things. Here I have to trailer my horse to events to build that network but I can't trailer my horse....chicken and the egg. My fearful mind would wonder "what if I successfully trailer her somewhere but then can't get her back on afterwards and I'm stuck in a parking lot with a silly horse that won't load?"

Dani is a homebody and that's okay.  I love her to pieces not matter what.  She is my first horse, the horse that I could trust after having some fearful falls, the horse that I knew was a great match for me.  She had some challenges but is a perfect partner to play around with; my crazy chestnut mare.  With the new pasture design we are working on there is an area in the difficult slopping pasture that is flatter; I am going to make this my dedicated riding area.  Maybe someday it will officially be like an arena with good footing but for now it will work as a dedicated pony work area.  This was going to be the area for Steve's workshop (my riding area was then going to be where we tore out an older shed). We priced buildings and were floored so he's altering plans and now I have too....that's how it goes.

I'm starting to research a future horse.  A younger but well trained horse that I can cart all over the place and do clinics, trail rides etc.  I've been wanting to learn about some gaited breeds too.  This next year I'll be looking at some Kentucky/Rocky Mountain horses, Paso Finos and maybe Peruvian Pasos, I've already reached out to breeders where I can come meet their horses and ride some to help decide if I want a gaited breed and if so what kind.  If I have a horse that I can trailer with no problem I'll be able to start to build a horse friend network here that I haven't thus far; not being able to bring Dani to events has been a little isolating. When I boarded her....I met people, I rode with people and there was a shared good time by horse people.  I loved that about boarding.  

Steve is not really a rider.  He really needs a horse that he can just get on every once in a while having not ridden in 6 months...so probably no horse for him.  He'll go for a trail ride at a trail ride rental place with me but he doesn't have the time or desire really to learn to ride and do it regularly.  That's fine.  He really wants a donkey, so we'll get him a donkey someday I guess. In Colorado we'd planned on getting that 3 horse trailer and then another horse and perhaps a mule or donkey and going on trips, and overnighters with the riding club.  Obviously that never happened.

I was hoping the venture of horse riding was going to become a thing Steve would enjoy.  He loves the horses and loves caring for them but riding and getting out on trails isn't really a draw for him. For me I need to truly understand that and continue on my own.  Sure he'll come to some events and hang out.  Maybe I can get him involved in a ride an tie type event since he wants to get back into running....so do I actually. If we get a horse that we can cart around we can do an event like that and maybe have a ball together!  And when it's just me and that horse we can do other events.

So the next few months I plan to get into better shape, just like Dani I've had a bit too much grass!  I may ride locally at a place I found that rents horses for trail or arena work. And then I'll work with Dani once I get the vets okay and play with her around here. My neighbors ride in the woods nearby and if I get Dani back up to speed we could go too I hope. My neighbors are nice but I'm not sure how comfortable I'll be riding with them since even after 6 years we are still the new kids on the block.

Dani's a good horse that you don't need to ride often to keep their head in the game, that's one of her great qualities.  She could be a horse Steve could hop up on occasionally if I keep her ridden some.  She's my special girl.  I love her to pieces and I really hope that she will be long lived. I will do my hardest to figure out how to manage Cushings and insulin resistance in her. I won't give up on trailering her either, with a future horse that can be trailered why not try and see if Dani can come too?  That would mean getting Steve to come out to ride....I have to just concentrate on me.....going off on tangents and the same dream as before.  This is my hobby, my love.  I have to do what is right for me.  Steve's supportive but not a cowboy.

I'm reminded of Colorado, me and skiing. I went a lot with the man I dated before Steve.  This man was passionate about skiing.  I loved it too and went with him and we really enjoyed skiing.  When I started dating Steve I continued to go skiing and he occasionally went with me and we had fun. I started going less and less though since I missed hanging out with Steve and I didn't have ski buddies to go with, it was fun but I was becoming bored honestly.  It wasn't a passion, so it didn't bother me that much that I went less.  Then I started leasing a horse, then I bought one.  Weekends were now pony time! 

Since horses are my love I can't be held back by wanting to do other things with Steve or by all the house projects I have on my to do list.  I have to dedicate time to riding and I know he understands and encourages it...it's the voice in my head that wants to hang out with him or do stuff together and feels bad that I'm out in the barn or what not.  There is time for hanging with the hubs, I just have to prioritize my interests too.  I have to cut out the time for myself and my pony friends, pen it in on the calendar. It's important for me.  


But now I have a thought, perhaps it was easier to plan this time out when it wasn't a "daily out the back door gotta muck and feed everyday" kinda thing. When my horse was a car drive away and I didn't see her everyday, each time I made the trip I was there to ride, I groomed, I played! It's been too easy to fall into the idea that I see my horses everyday and I muck and feed everyday, pick hooves or clean up a silly beast that rolled on poop...that's good enough. It's great I get that time, don't get me wrong.  I love having horses in my back yard. Going outside to grill or get a tool from the shed I'm nickered at; that will never get old. I have to block off time to do the really fun stuff, the riding and training stuff!

With time being so limited on this earth I need to make the time to do what I love.  Dani will heal and I hope I will be riding her early next year. I also hope to find a horse that I can load, trail ride and go out and meet horse people here. I miss the comradery that is "horse people". 

It's very alien to think about buying another horse.  I knew logically I would eventually get another horse as Chance was aging and Dani is only one year younger. This laminitis episode has made me really assess my horse life. I will ride Dani when she's better, I'm confident that will be a possibility. And I will begin a new adventure with another horse too, that can expand my horizons some.  In my head I feel like I would be abandoning Dani but that's silly.  If you only have a Fiat but you need to haul things because hauling things is how you make a living, well you buy a truck right?

I knew buying Dani that she didn't load or haul well.  I accepted that, she was perfect for me in every other way and I've grown and learned so much with her and continue to learn!  She is my heart. I shouldn't feel weird about getting another horse to do more with right? 

So this is the future of horsing for me.  I miss being fully immersed in the horse world with other horse people.  This coming year I have breeders to meet and horse breeds to learn about. This world is full of noise that pulls you in so many directions.  Don't forget your center.  What is your center, what makes you calm, whole, happy? Is your center painting?  Is it skiing? Mountain biking? Hiking? Writing? Horses?

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Horses.

December 08, 2021

Rusty Trailer- New Beginnings


We sold Rusty....I actually cried after he was gone.  We put a lot of work into him and had plans to haul Dani, a future horse at the time and perhaps a mule or donkey and do the overnight trips with the Kit Carson Riding Club in Colorado.  


We moved to NC and Rusty made the trip hauling a lot of our stuff.  And since then he's basically sat. Owning horse property has been so much work and I've been easily sidetracked from riding. I never got Dani successfully loaded so therefore plans to go to clinics or trail rides here just never happened.  Steve really hasn't had that much interest in riding and the one time he did ride Chance he fell off. Dani, loading in a trailer is still an issue and maybe one I'll be able to work on with her in the future but really I'm not sure I'm up for that.  I see riding her around here but loading her on a trailer is just not in the cards at this point.


Rusty has basically sat and been unused for many years.  For a couple years Steve has been telling me to sell him.  We'll buy another smaller trailer when we need to is his thought.  A smaller two horse trailer would be one that I can haul a single horse in easier than our big three horse one and go on rides with groups myself. So I power washed Rusty and took pictures to show his condition.  A lot of the paint had peeled off since I wasn't a professional metal painter so there was yet more rust. We got a ton of inquiries though! I was floored with the response! We bid farewell to Rusty.  Hopefully the next owner will get good use of him! 


I'm at the point in my life when I have a future trailer that needs repair I'll pay the ones who know how to repair it to do the work.  I'm reassessing where I am in my life and my horse life.  What do I want to do? Where do I want to go?

Stella our 2015 New Truck

Buddy was donated to Veteran's Association

We said goodbye to Buddy our GMC 2500 too since all of his rusty related issues finally caused the battery to have a short and not charge. He had non-working mirrors, no AC, and other electrical issues.  I ended up buying a 2015 Ford F250 named Stella.  She'll be our work horse and trailer hauler from this point forward.  It's so nice to be in a truck that has working dash gauges, windows, mirrors and A/C!!  It was hard to say goodbye to buddy too but I really like driving Stella!!

It's hard to look to the past and see what plans you had that did not come to fruition but it's best to learn and move on.....more on this in a later post! Buddy was sold for a decent amount and it went to a great cause.  Rusty will be with someone that will fix him up again and haul horses around!

December 07, 2021

Daenerys Update

Dani has been doing well.  She foundered on Oct. 10th but luckily we caught it early.  She recently had a hoof trim after thanksgiving and was maybe a little tender still but doing much better.  I hand walk her when I can with her Cloud Boots on. It's difficult now that it gets dark so early. My farrier is having me apply Hoof Armor to help protect her sole from wear.  I'll have to make a post about that this weekend when I put on the next application.


Both her and Chance are now on Prascend (Pergolide), the medicine for Cushings.  Chance was tested and had a higher reading than Dani!  She most likely foundered due to insulin resistance which she also has. I probably won't be riding her until March or April but I am hopeful that she will be healed well enough to do riding around the property.  Obviously I don't trailer her since that's never been a success for me....


Older ponies, Dani will be 23 and Chance will be 24 in early 2022. Since Chance has COPD and his leg issues he's officially retired.  Steve never really rode him much which is a bummer.  Overall they are both doing well right now being doted on and loved with no work in sight!  Chance is having a flare up of his COPD or Heaves.  We have an inhaler ordered from the vet to give him a 10 day treament.  The syrup he normally is on is on back order now, thanks Covid for the supply chain issues!


We are managing as best we can and will be turning our two connecting pastures into a pasture paradise track system.  I will have to post about what that is but it's a system to make horses move more naturally, meaning more often, since they don't normally sit in nice rich pastures in the wild. It's hard for our pastures to not be green here in NC!

November 09, 2021

Laminitis

This has been a hard year for many reasons and this one is at the top.  My 22 year old Morgan mare had laminitis with founder (aka rotation of the coffin and pedal bone). The vet thinks we caught it early but I'm very quick to blame myself and wonder if I missed subtle signs. I noticed her walking very tenderly on the Oct. 10th and we had the vet out asap.  We'd iced her hooves and had a two week regimen of pain killers and other laminitis drugs.  I got her snazzy cushion boots and bedded up a stall to keep her on soft ground.  She's recovered well enough and walks around fine without pain or limping.  We had her tested, yet again (but with a more sensitive test) for Cushings.  She is positive for Cushings and insulin resistance.  So she will be on Pergolide (Prescend).


Dani has always been an easy keeper and never been slim in any sense of the word.  She's been in a grazing muzzle often.  This year has been a crazy year with my Stubs having a kidney issue, Chance having a strained branch of a tendon in his hind fetlock, then my carpal tunnel has gotten worse so I had injections which helped but were painful for the first few days.  I also had to go out to Colorado for two weeks to help my parents, my mom had three major spinal surgeries and my dad was her care giver but right when she got to a rehab facility in early September he gets admitted to the hospital with a major colon hernia. He nearly died and has been recovering since then, he's still not fully recovered.


There has been a lot going on and I feel like I must have missed something, must have slipped in my care.  I didn't get the horses off the pastures when we started having cooler nights (always something to worry about since this causes spikes in sugars of the grass). I did delay in getting weight off her this year, I didn't ride, I didn't, I didn't, I didn't.  I will beat myself up forever but it all comes down to one thing.  I'm human and if I missed something I can't be too hard on myself.


My farrier will be out in a week for the first trim post founder.  It will be many months for her to fully grow out any issues that develop in the hoof wall.  Trimming can help to realign the hoof to the bone inside and hopefully continue to keep her comfortable.  


She's a trooper.  Even in pain she had enough spunk to put up a fight about taking her medicine.  I had to pump a large syringe of ground Bute, aspirin and another med into her twice a day.  She is stubborn for sure, I love her though.

Looking at her 1 month after the beginning of the laminitis event she is doing well.  She's bossing the gelding Chance around (hopefully not too much where he restrains his tendon) and begging for food constantly.  They are both in the dry lot of the property, two of my pastures will be converted into a track system (Paddock Paradise - Information on how to create it (all-natural-horse-care.com)) since we were needing to redo the fencing anyways. I'll post more as we progress.  We have some planning and a small section of woods to clear out for this project.



I don't know the timeframe for healing Dani, I'm currently hand walking her when I can, have her on a Laminox supplement, and changed the ration balancer to one with an even lower rated non-structural carbohydrate ratio.  I'll have to consult with the vet in a couple months as to when it will be safe to ride her and then progress to other types of exercise for her as well. I also will be testing Chance for Cushings, he is 23 and has kept his coat some springs a little longer than normal.  He's been negative in the past but I don't think he was tested with this more sensitive test.  He already has heaves (COPD) and his tendon....man, old age sucks for ponies just as much as humans!

July 06, 2021

The Shitty Side of Things

We hired out a  project at the end of last year in order to get rid of our falling apart pallet manure bins.  We hired a crew to make us a nice monstrosity of a poo bin out of concrete.  It's three bins that are wide enough (ugh, will get into that later) to accommodate my front loader. My desire for the concrete was so I didn't keep gouging the clay bottom of the bins like I did with the pallet system and so I could have something that would last longer. We also wanted to come up with a lid system to keep the rain off the manure because that shit gets heavy when it's wet!


When it rains and it rains a lot here, the manure gets so bogged down with water that I can't use my manure spreader.  I've gotten around that issue by taking big scoops in the tractor and trying to drop little piles of manure throughout the fields and then later go over it all with a harrow to spread it into fine particles that will feed the grass versus smother the grass.  It works decently at least.  I would just prefer to use my mini manure spreader and get the job done in one step and consistently spread; you know, and use the piece of equipment I paid money for!  

I transferred all the manure still in one of the pallet bins to the concrete bin once it was able to receive the manure. We didn't have lids on yet so the manure still became water logged and I had to spread using my front loader and harrow system but at least scooping the manure from the bins is much easier with concrete bins.


Initially I was having major issues with getting the front loader into the bins without hitting the sides, each bin is smaller than anticipated due to during construction the supports bowing inwards so I have very little wiggle room for the front loader.  The first bin is the most narrow and my husband still plans to go in with a tool to cut out some of those bows and make it more user friendly.  The other two bins work well now and I certainly have become more precise in my operation.  I have a solid base of gravel that had evened out the surface leading up to the bins since one tiny bump or dip in the soil made the tractor lean just enough that the tilt left or right was magnified at the front loader end of things.  It's still a tighter fit than I prefer but it works and Steve can get the bins adjusted as we go.


We now have lids on all three bins and I've noticed that when I transferred the manure from bin 2 to bin 3 that it was a normal poo moisture content, it will hopefully be good for using our spreader again and not bind up the mechanism like our saturated peanut butter poo of the past. I'm all for making some of this "farm work" easier.  It's just amazing how much manure comes from two equines.  I luckily can spread it on my 3.77 acres and reuse the nutrients for the soil but I'm curious what others do to manage manure.  I've been at places that just pile it up in a huge dung heap or others that have it loaded off by I guess companies that then compost it?  What do you all do with your horse manure?

August 28, 2020

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) aka Heaves

Poor Chance, my sensitive 22 year old Arabian was diagnosed with COPD this spring.  He was coughing a lot this winter and spring; and not just a little cough.  A labored, violent, knocks a loud fart out of him that echos through my neighborhood kinda fart. So we had the vet out to float his teeth hoping that was the issue; I was worried that he wasn't chewing well and could choke.  He needed the dental work but after a few weeks he still was having some issues.  I contacted them again so they gave us some Ventipulmin syrup to see if that was effective.  We had him on that for about 14 days.  He improved and seemed good for a little while, an occasional cough but nothing as regular and violent as before.

Then he got to coughing more and more; so one more trip from the vet and a final diagnosis....COPD, aka Heaves. I'm still learning a lot about what this is and how it affects him.

The Ventipulmin helps but eventually horses can develop a resistance to the drug and at $150 for a two week course it's a bit pricey. Environmental conditions are what seem to be the triggers for most horses.  The hay this past year was not the best but sometimes you can't help that.  One way to help with this is steaming the hay.  For thousands of dollars you can buy a great steamer for your hay bales but who wants to spend that when were are tons of options for DIY below $200.  My husband immediately went online to find the supplies and ordered them so we could make a steamer.  

We are working on making better substrate around the barn, so the dusty dry clay that kicks up when we don't have a swamp out back will be curbed.  He's been here for four years, so I really don't thing it's environmental, we haven't had big changes.  The hay isn't necessarily the cause, Dani is not having issues, it's just some horses develop it from what I'm reading.  He's 22 and not a 10 year old so this diagnosis to me is just part of the aging process.

I have done some research on some supplements to help with mucus and inflammatory maintenance of the pulmonary system and one of the best recommended supplements was Heave HO.  Just the name alone makes we want to buy it!  It's $68 for a months worth and that is much better than keeping him on the Ventipulmin.  If he has acute occurrences we have the ability to give him that medication for a couple weeks as needed.

With summer time coming to an end I'm glad to report he's done really well on grass and his supplement.  When there have been weeks I've had them on the dry hay, he hasn't had too many issues.  I'll report once we start steaming hay this fall, here's hoping we don't hear any coughs from the old man!


August 13, 2020

Evil Humidity and Heat

 I hate summer.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a heat person.  I like the 70s or cooler.  50 degrees or 40 degrees, particularly dry cold, I barely need a jacket.  I hate North Carolina summers.  

There are thing that are nice about it though.  Frogs. Bees. Dragonflies. Fireflies. "Free" horse forage. Beaches.

Funny that the first few things I mention are critter related, and mainly insect related.  Hahaha.  I think for horses, summers are also the least favorite season.  It's hot, there are flies, and even when the human rinses them will nice cool water the huge horse flies seem to b-line for their haunches.


I haven't ridden in a ridiculously long time and summer certainly never helps the matter.  I don't like being outside in the summer but I have to in order to mow our pastures, care for the horses or inspect the bees. When I'm done with all the outdoor chores I just want to retreat into the nice cool inside and take a cool shower to rid myself of the dirt and sweat.  

I often have the though that I should wake up early and do some riding before the heat comes but that never seems to happen.

My poor horses sweat so much when it's 70 percent humidity and 90 degrees or more.  I wish I could bring them inside. They have full water troughs that are not exactly chilled water which sucks but they do have the cool barn and two fans that blow everyday....an electric bill I"m more than willing to pay.  The deserve it.  

Some days I go outside to care for them and see they are crusted with salt from all the sweat.  How miserable.  I hose them off often and I think they really enjoy that cooling effect, though I think a water heater could help so the water isn't so darn cold on their tender areas!

I've been assessing the areas around the barn as to where the most logical place would be to build a washrack where Dani and Chance don't end up standing in mud every time I hose them off.  In the barnyard I've found a location that appears to be an optimal place though I will need to build up the area with leftover Chapel Hill gravel I have from the barn mud project.  

I purchased a 10 x 12 mat from stall savers.  It's permeable and will work nicely as a wash rack ground cover.  I used it today in the area of question, no substrate there yet so eventually a puddle formed during the second horse bath. It worked pretty nicely and I think it shows promise that I can get this set up with little effort.  


Both horses loved the bath and afterwards seemed to be much less itchy.  I hate itchy ponies!  The only thing that makes me so mad about giving them a water rinse is that it seems to attract the biggest horseflies.  I try to smack the flies but they are too fast.  I have to spray the horses down with fly spray after the rinse which is a bummer.  And of course they both end up rolling in the dirt while still damp but the bath was certainly not for vanity.

Luckily we are in August and that means September and then October follows which means a little bit cooler temperatures.  I would love to get out of the 90s into the lower 80s.  That would be fantastic!  I'm sure Dani and Chance agree!

May 19, 2020

Weeds and weedwacking

This spring has been pretty cool, maybe since I'm working from home I'm just enjoying it more and loving the weather.  There seems to be more weeds in our pasture this year and that is our fault.  We didn't spray for weeds at all last year and didn't do any liming of the acidic soils.  This year we plan to do a little bit of reviving.  All three pastures have been sprayed with a horse approved pasture product.  I still like keeping them off sprayed areas for at least a week or more.  We have tons of buttercup but not as much in past years.  There are other weeds to: curly dock, henbit and dead nettle (good elsewhere for my bees but I don't want that in my pastures!), wild onion, and then a handful of others.  
So while off the pastures for a week or so Steve and I did something we've been talking about doing forever, temporarily fencing in a portion of the back yard that isn't over the septic field.  It's essentially the side yard that we kind of use for a through pass when getting hay deliveries but otherwise is just a place we have to move.  We also have our sort of fenced in vegetable garden in this area and the trailer and truck parked next to the house.  It took maybe twenty step in posts and about 500 yards of electric rope to enclose the area.  We left a path around the outside for us to be able to walk from our backyard to the wooden fence pass through and get to the barn yard without navigating the electric rope.  It's working nicely so far, I spent yesterday at the patio set with my laptop working to hang with the horses and enjoy the weather.  It did much for my mental state!  When we aren't home I don't like the idea of the horses being in a section of fencing like this so once work from home occurs less it will most likely be that we do this on the weekends.  
The grass is so lush in this area since it hasn't been grazed as much as our pastures. It's nice to have an alternative place to graze them while we are resting the pastures for a few weeks.  We need to do a better regimen of fertilizing, liming and spraying.  One pasture I spread a ton of orchard grass seed this fall and it's taken pretty nicely.  We'll do that some this fall in all three pastures and probably have the horses off the pastures for a few months from September to January or February.  I have to do some more research on the best way to revive the pastures.  
Still they are better than when we first moved in and I often have a neighbor making that comment to me which makes me feel I'm at least doing some things right!  I just continually want to improve the ground.  Our soil is very acidic and the clay gets compacted easily making it a great place for weeds. We want to have good pasture in the summer months for the horses since it saves on hay costs.  My easy keeper mare doesn't like her muzzle when we have nice lush pastures but she can deal!

March 31, 2020

Project Anti-mud-Phase 1

We've been wanting to do it forever and I finally decided yes, let's start phase 1 at least of the anti mud project. Mud season is the worst!  I ordered 10 cubic yards of gravel, it's called Chapel Hill gravel and is a great substrate that packs down a little and also drains well.  We use it in our bee yard and it's been a a great product.


The ground was hardened up after being so rainy for weeks and then now pretty dry.  The problem is that clay hardens up hoof prints and then the potholes are a danger as much as the mud is a health and function issue.  The aisle of the barn had areas that were washed away so it made some areas of the aisle very narrow.  I had my farrier often have issues trying to trim since she would be several inches lower than the ground my horse was on!

One big washed out area right where I have the cross ties

So what we did was dig a trench from up the slope down to where the water collects naturally by our shed.  Phase two will be taking that area and making a french drain out towards a lower part of the property.  Currently this is a dip in the property and water just sits with no where to drain.


The area in the picture below was always the worst area to push a wheel barrow through.  The mud would be nearly 8 inches deep at the end of the barn and filled with hoof holes that deep.  In the winter if we got a freeze those would turn into holes that were ungiving and could easily twist an ankle or worse.  I would have to close gates to keep the horses off that area until the ground unfroze and was a little safer.


So once the trench was dug and all the mucky mess moved out, I dumped all the substrate into the low areas, in the aisle, into the trench and into the mud pit area at the end of the barn.  The aisle is now one level for the most part, all the potholes and gullys are filled in and packed down.  The trench is happily filled and today...being a rainy day, we have seen that the water has indeed flowed down this trench unseen; it's working as planned!


I will certainly have to get some more of this substrate as it will get more packed down over time and we wanted to have more area in the barn yard covered with it.  I also have other boggy areas that I will get to in time as well.  The next big project will be a french drain to move the water that drains into the shed area.  It's a process but I'm glad we are finally one step closer and there will be that much less mud for the horses to stand in.


The standing water is away from my horses precious hooves....and Dani approves!