Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Photo Dump

Here are some pictures and videos from around the farm in the last week. Our internet is a little slow, so I'm sorry it took so long to get them updated!

BB in her new stall

BB apparently thinks this angle is her best one for pictures.

Rollin Rollin Rollin

More rollin

My husband built me some really nice looking stalls! 

Farm life and constant running/bird chasing/pond dunking is EXHAUSTING

My lawn mowers getting to work

The girls have a shelter as well as a barn overhang (now that the dead cat has been moved...)

Tractor! I haven't named him yet. 

Foxie agrees with Atlas; farm life is EXHAUSTING.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We moved!

And no one died.

Actually... scratch that, but I'll get into that story in a minute. I tried to write this out long format and it's just not something I can handle right now, so let's try something more organized:

Soon to be owner of our townhome walked through and seem surprised that we were still living there. I worked a half day, and loaded a moving truck the other half. We hired some badass movers who loaded SO much stuff in two hours, and nothing shifted or got damaged during the drive.

I drove a 26' moving truck across the Twin Cities during rush hour and no one died. The previous owners of our home failed to show up and walk me through the house and explain anything - instead they left a key by my coffee cup on the porch (I was in the house unpacking at the time) and managed to slink their own moving truck out of the driveway. While walking around the property, my friend J and I found one of the barn cats dead in the shelter (a few weeks dead, judging by the decomp) and also a whole lot of mud. We unloaded and returned the moving truck and trailer and our badass movers again helped us get a shit ton of stuff into the house and vaguely on the right floors in record time.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:
We unpacked, shopped and cleaned. The cat was laid to rest in the garbage can.The house was left in pretty amazingly disgusting condition, including with tons of shit left in the stalls, dirt and Asian Beetle carcasses all over the house and just generally... dirty.  We bought a riding lawn mower and hubby promptly (15 minutes into use) drove it over a super deep tire divot we didn't know was there and bent a blade (which we fixed some hours later). I had to work from home part of Friday because I was leaving on a business trip, and the days between slipped away in hard work and dead-to-the-world, dreamless sleep. The dog met the barn cat and it didn't go well (he got his ass kicked) and we had some friends over on Sunday for a grill out in the nice weather. I packed for my business trip by selecting the clothes I could find that were not in boxes.

Monday - Thursday:
I got up at 4 am and went to the airport to fly to Orlando for a conference, where I was also busy from dawn to dusk, but at least my hotel room was clean and I didn't have to worry about ticks (our new house has so many ticks. Or the dog just has talent at finding them. IDK.). Hubby drove to Ames, IA to pick up our tractor half way, and had grad school Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The dog spent a lot of time in the kennel, and the horses were pretty much left at the boarding barn's mercy without being checked. I got home from the airport on Thursday at about midnight.

5 am wake up call, and more working from home. I took delivery of the stall front kits around noon. After work, we purchased lumber for the project and I tracked down some hay to buy, because I didn't get around to it the previous weekend as I had planned.

Barn demo and new stall construction began bright and early. Hubby had his dad and my dad there to help. I drove to Wisconsin, bought and stacked hay on the trailer, and drove home without a speedometer or gas level because the truck decided to blow the dash fuse at the BEST POSSIBLE TIME. Stalls got 90% done, and I went to Menards about 70,000 times in the process.

Stalls got finished. I managed to pack up all of my remaining shit at the barn, cut a check and get the girls loaded in a surprisingly short time, but was still running late when I got home around 11 and basically threw them out in their new paddock and ran to the grocery store. Hubby's mom, aunt, sister and brother came over for Mother's Day lunch and got treated to my horses running around like idiots because NEW PLACE. I got the hay into the barn and stacked despite having a death cold that started on Friday and got worse each day.

Monday & Tuesday:
The girls are home. I've been working from home because I think it's inappropriate to come into the office when I'm legit dripping snot and hacking up chunks of lung tissue and also because I'm terrified that the mares are going to do something stupid. They've been slowly settling in, and I'm slowly working out a routine that works for us. Foxie wasn't eating well, until genius me put her in a stall this morning. It's been raining off and on, but so far, besides being a bit bewildered at being outside all the time, the girls seem to be settling in well. Bailey is in #feralredhorse mode and is being very protective of her sister. They're so buddy sour right now it's painful, but it's slowly subsiding, I think, so maybe they will stop being so dumb soon. The barn cat reappeared last night and is being super annoying meowing for food - we didn't think he'd come back after the run in with the dog, but hubby has dubbed him "Carlito" so apparently he gets to stay, after all.

The future:
We need to do a lot of work, yet:

- Reinforce the new stall divider walls
- Level and mat stalls.
- Organize and find a permanent home for everything, including all the new equipment
- Finish scraping out the sacrifice paddock and shelter in in the least grassy paddock
- Probably brush hog and mow the other pastures
- Mow the lawn. Again.
- Find a solution for our heavy clay soil and rain problem: probably french drains, gravel/sand/pea gravel and lots of careful manure management.
- Figure out our phone and internet problem (we've already used all of our "fast" satellite internet bandwidth... and we have like two weeks left of the period.) so I can work from home and we can get cell service.

I'll get ya'all some pictures, I promise! Right now it's raining and I'm surprised to see that my horses actually have the good sense to use their shelter when it's raining hard. They're shockingly smart sometimes, those girls :D 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Coming Down to the Wire

Greetings from the land of half packed boxes!

The move is coming up quickly now; we close and move on Wednesday! Clearly, I am super motivated... to ride my horse. Pack? Not so much.

I'm trying to not loose my mind, despite taking on way too much and being sick at the same time this week. The mares started transitioning to their new/old feed, Purina Senior Active and I'm excited to have their feeding back under my control once they come home. I don't know if they will stay on Senior Active; I like it on paper, but it seems so moist and often has odd chunks of ... by product? Dust? God knows what? in it. They're easy enough to spot and sort out (they aren't small, and are usually a very different brown than the feed) but still kind of odd. I haven't noticed them in the Ultium I've been feeding Foxie, and Ultium is just so solid that it always tempts me. I've also sourced cheaper-than-smartpak prices for MSM pellets and started both horses on Chaste Berry powder.

After Foxie's weird issues last spring (was it stress? or something else?) I popped her on Smart Pituitary Senior for a month, and boom... horse shed out and began to gain weight. This spring she's been shedding, but her coat is still quite long and, because of the way it sticks out, looks dull. She also isn't blooming like I know she could be - this may be the barn grain still causing problems, but after finding a source of Chasteberry quite cheap on Amazon, I said, hey, what the heck. And then I read about it helping hormonal mares, and tossed Bailey on it as well. She's been such a hag this spring that I might as well try; I don't know from whence her crazy comes, but if I can magic it away with herbs, I am going to try.

Foxie's weird longer than normal coat is weird.

Bailey has been quite up lately; it got cold again (to the point of snow) and we've been doing dressage due to the rain, mud and her stupid long feet. The girls saw the farrier on Wednesday, and, of course, my life got busy and now I am scrambling to get time in around moving to take advantage of the XC course a few more times before we leave Boarding Land (probably) forever.

On the #horsescomehome front, we've dropped a not-small amount of money on 14' stall fronts, and have a weekend planned to re-do the barn. With closing coming so soon, we're buying a utility trailer this weekend for tractor transportation (and hay) and once we close, there will be lots of fun purchases to blog about! I'm struggling to get a hold of my fancy jump cups (I am weird and want the fancy pin-less Dapple Equine cups), but I will not give up hope!

I'm hoping to crowd source more opinions from ya'all...

What is your favorite equine first aid or health related book?

Happy weekend,

Monday, April 24, 2017

Protection Animal Follow Up

After doing lots of googling on the subject of protection animals, I decided to try Facebook. Not only did I learn a lot about my facebook horse friends' horse keeping habits, I actually got some information on protection animals. My first choice of information, the TCCT List (which is a long standing yahoo group that is populated, now, by more than just Twin Cities area eventers), explodes on a regular basis with stupidity, and exploded the day I finally felt like posting the question, so that was out. 

They already love each other, but neither is particularly... sensible

What did I get out of my facebook friends? 

1. That I probably shouldn't worry; they will be fine.
2. Depending on my local coyote population, they may cause problems, especially if it's a hard winter and they form a pack. However, most people who mentioned coyotes just mentioned that the horses got all excited and ran around a whole lot. 
3. I probably don't need to worry about bears, but mountain lions can and will attack horses and cause me some nasty vet bills. While I don't have a ton of info about mountain lions in my area, I am hoping they aren't prevalent. Cross your fingers for me.

What am I doing with this information? 

Well... I think I am going to get a donkey as a companion animal. The gal who had coyote problems also had a mountain lion attack; I think she was in a bad area for this sort of thing, and also... seems to be the type of person who just has bad luck. I hope I get off a little easier than she does in general. Her coyote problems were solved by the purchase of a Jenny standard donkey, and a donkey seems like it would kill two worries with one stone. This does cause some more minor problems, as we're only planning to build 3 stalls, but we could easily build a 10x10 or what have you opposite of the horses with leftovers from the barn re-do should J decide to bring Ginny over to live with us. 

So... Anyone know of a donkey for sale? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Farm Tangent 2: Protection Animal

While Bailey had a great ride on Monday, I'll save my excitement for a later post in case today's ride changes things (again).

Pictured: Horse with very few survival instincts.

In the mean time, I've been looking at donkeys and mules... not just because they are cute, but because I read somewhere that, beyond being a companion (and probably an easier keeper than buying another horse, at least when my preference tends to be TBs) they serve to help protect their herd. If you read the blog, you know that Foxie is older, and Bailey is silly and stupid; neither of them seems to be particularly worldly when it comes to predators. At our new farm, we will be farther north than I have ever lived, and 30 minutes north of their current, busy boarding barn. I don't worry about wild animals because it's so busy around the farm that there are always people and dogs around. Our farm will be much quieter, and while we are definitely not without neighbors, I still worry; the area we are moving into has plenty of civilization, but it's generally bunched closely together with big areas of wooded, farm or undeveloped land in between.

Technically, we have a good chance to be visited by black bears (though usually just the adolescent ones who are stupid), coyotes and... technically....wolves. Those are in addition to other less scary wild animals (deer, beavers, muskrats, racoons, foxes...), which I worry about less.

However, I have nothing but cursory familiarity with mules and donkeys in general. So, time to crowdsource advice from the internet! Part of me thinks they will be fine (which means we can focus on filling the 3rd stall with J's horse, or another riding animal) and part of me is convinced that they need something to be sensible and worldly, because lord knows they are not.

So, Internet:

What do you know about protection animals? Have you, or do you currently have a protection animal (vs an animal that is just a companion)? Beyond some awesome youtube videos I've seen, do protection animals... actually do their jobs?


Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekend Update & A Birthday

After last week's little to basically no riding, I was more than happy to take my friend J up on her offer to lunge Bailey for me on Thursday. Saturday morning finally arrived and I whisked myself off to the barn early to start taming the dragon (again). After trying to lunge in the freshly watered lower indoor (which was the consistency of a slip-n-slide) I tacked up in dressage clothes and headed up to the upper indoor; it was rainy and had poured overnight, so the farm was muddy, it was still sprinkling and all of my intent to be tough and ride outside was gone. I  tossed B on the lunge line in her halter and got this:

Surprisingly, Bailey (once under saddle) was quite good. I could tell she was really trying to be good - chewing until she looked rabid from all of the foam and being quite through and connected. She was a little spooky, but her canter was particularly adjustable and ride-able. I was quite pleased with her, and she really only got sweaty from her running around vs being stressed or wild under saddle.

Foxie got a quick bareback ride around a pony lesson, and tried to buck me off before doing some very decent trotting work. I can tell she needs some time in her BOT and a schedule to keep her stretching and bending... but that will come.

Because it was the most beautiful day on Sunday, I hauled the hubby back out to the barn to take some photos of the birthday girl (she's 21 TODAY!) and snuck a ride in on Bailey while Foxie got hand grazed by her dad. It was windy, Bails was not even remotely tired from the previous day and the outdoor was apparently full of lots of scary things, because she was quite explosive and distracted. I wasn't wearing full seats, and even a good spritz of saddle tight did nothing for my stickability; we suffered through a quick ride with a few jumps and lots of lid-keeping-on, and I called it a day and let her hand graze for a bit before dinner. I'm looking forward to working her harder today and trying to continue building in the control I need for when she's hot and reactive like this; my riding plans for tonight are probably heading out on XC, but the ground might not be dry enough to do much (stupid spring rain)... so we shall see.

In the mean time, Happy 21st, Fox!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Farm Tangent 1: Atypical Stall Size

Since I haven't 100% decided if I want to start a new blog for the farm, or not (and probably should wait until we've named said farm to make it a blog...) I figure I might as well continue to document the exciting life of pre-farm existence here.

The item that is on my mind today is stall size, because one of my/our first big projects is spiffing up the barn. It's rough and I am not 100% sure what it's going to look like on move-in day, because it looked like this when we visited:

Complete with poo in the stalls (and no shavings, but I am not here to critique the previous owners). Either way, I don't know if I fully trust the brochure that said "2 10x12 stalls!" simply because the two stalls were visually different when we were there. We are moving in May, and I don't plan for the girls to spend a lot of time in the barn over the warmer months for a variety of reasons, but I have one horse who is super annoying to other horses and one horse who likes to lay down (and is 21 with various lower leg damage that makes laying down kind of... precarious) and currently... my stalls don't have a divider between them.

Clearly, the barn needs a makeover to be worthy of my princesses functional for the day to day challenges and, also, to accommodate a future where J's (food aggressive and generally doesn't like to be bothered, especially when stalled) mare Ginny may come to live with us, too. My plans are:

1. Create 3 stalls, minimum.
2. Divide the stalls in a way that still allows for airflow but ensures Bailey can't annoy the crap out of the other horse(s).

After that, my plans are to mat the stalls, work towards matting or even concrete-ing the aisle and (hopefully) building an enclosed area for my tack, blankets and other storage that would be protected from any bird poo and other grossness.

The big challenge is, I think, the 32' width of the barn - I am assuming that I have two 10' sections of wall, and one 12' door making up the 32', which limits my ability to build a standard 12x12 stalls, which was my natural go-to. Assuming that my assumptions hold true... what would you choose, if you were in my boots?

1. Three 10x12 stalls with 9' of space by the door (aka closest to where the photographer was standing in the above photo).

2. Three 10x14 stalls with 3' of remaining space by the door

3. Build uneven stall sizes (example: 2 10x12s, 1 10x14 or larger for gimpy horse)

4. Why leave 3' by the door. Just build three 10x15 stalls and possibly curse yourself to hell / endless stall mat cutting

Follow up question: what is the minimum acceptable stall size in your mind? Does it depend on height of the horse? Or other factors?