Tuesday, November 25, 2014


It didn't go quite as quickly as I'd hoped, but we did get all of the hay unloaded and stacked away.  170 bales in the barn loft - which is not nearly as full as I thought it would look - and another 28 in the granary for quick access (and cat insulation). 

We started unloading Saturday afternoon after T got off work, and with H home from college even had an extra set of hands for the first couple hours.  Which was a huge surprise and a lovely gift, considering she's not at all interested in the horses.  And given the fact that she only weight about 30 lbs. more than the bales do, I was seriously impressed that she stuck it out for that long. 

We had the first 60 or so bales in the loft when the skidsteer started acting up.  Resolving that problem and a break for supper took a couple hours, and by 5:30 it was too dark in the loft to see to stack.  So call it 85 bales on Saturday.

And of course, for the first time in over a month, Sunday morning's forecast called for rain.  It started to spit as the last 25 bales came off the trailer, and probably would have poured had we left some on, but we didn't end up getting enough to even settle the dust. 

I guess I'm in better shape than I thought, as other than my hands I'm not terribly sore, and I sure thought I would be.  Tired, though.  I slept really, really well Sunday night.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Amyra, on the fourth day

The camera was in my pocket on Tuesday afternoon when Amyra got herself stuck.  Guess I'd never make it as a reporter, because I didn't stop along the way to document the untangling process.  But I did get one picture after I had her all undone and doctored.

Here's the same foot this morning.  The black stuff mostly dust stuck to the wound spray and feet wet the from dew/heavy fog we had overnight.  There's some scabbing at the back, but she completely ignored my prodding at it, so apparently it's not sore.

From the left (outside, same as above)

From the back

From the front

From the right (inside)
 Still can't believe how incredibly lucky we were!

What's on your gift list?

What's on your horsey wish-list this year?  I'm guessing like me, you probably have a running list of necessary, would-like, and when-I-win-the-lottery tack room & horse gear tucked away somewhere in your brain.  Here's hoping some of those items will end up under your tree or decorating your four-foot (or you) after the holidays. 

Me?  It's no secret around our house that horse-something is always appreciated.  But every year about this time T announces, "I don't want anything for Christmas.  Nothing.  Christmas is too commercialized."  (He does this for birthdays, too.  And of course I get him something anyway.)   And before you start thinking, oh, he must just really like surprising me, or that he really hates shopping in general, nope. That's not it.  

I suspect in his mind, if I don't get him anything, he doesn't have to shop for me.  To be fair, it's more likely the trauma of past gifts given: jewelry (I've never worn any of it), the new cell phone (it went back), the perfume (made me sneeze, reference jewelry above)... see where I'm going with this? 

For my birthday this year, we got a new coffee maker.  I picked it out.  As copious amounts of strong black caffeine help keep other people safe (from me) in the pre-dawn hours, it was the perfect gift.  Although we agreed it was my birthday present after our previous one died the morning before my birthday....

But really, I'm not that hard to shop for, honest.  The perfect gift doesn't have to be expensive, sparkly, or even require braving the mall or that store, initials VS, full of lacy things, that shall not be named.  I'm even okay with gifts of small power tools - or would be, if T didn't already own most of the ones I can name and more that I can't!  But you be the judge; here are a few items that made my Christmas list this year, several of which can actually be found at the local lumberyard:
  • A saucer.  Not the teacup kind, the outdoor, fun in the snow kind you can tie a nice long rope to.  Given snow, I think Sunny would be a perfectly lovely saucer-towing pony.  At least, I'd like to give it a try.
  • Weave/pole-bending set of 8 poles.  Admittedly, a more time consuming present, but with a few empty coffee cans - we have those (!) - some quick-set concrete, and a few lengths of PVC, not overly spendy.
  • A pair of large C-clamps.  My own set, for moving the trailer mats, that way I don't have to dig through the tool box (and remember to return) a borrowed set from the workshop when I deep clean the trailer.
  • A trailer mat.  A new one for outside the barn, one under the loft door for dropping hay out onto.  Yes, this is on my to-be-purchased list anyway, but it would be a lovely early gift, and he'd definitely get credit.
  • New lead ropes.  Several of the old ones are really ratty, and I'd love a couple more of the long, thick, cotton kind with bull snaps.  Not available at the lumberyard, but I'd take an IOU in my stocking.
  • A battery-operated portable radio.  For the granary/barn/orchard riding.  With good speakers, and maybe a port to plug in my MP3 player if I wanted to ride to a particular playlist.
  • Flavored coffee.  Not horse related you say? But since it's lovely, lovely caffeine, or the promise of it when I come in, that propels my butt out the door to do chores in the morning, and I'm the one that drinks the flavored stuff, it counts.  And that's grocery shopping. 
  • Horse treats.  Always acceptable.  The (Sunny-approved) gift that keeps on giving.

(We won't mention the gorgeous saddle rack I spotted on Pinterest that I know he's more than capable of making for me.  And yes, I hinted. Well, actually, I came right out and said, "Hey honey, look what I found!  Why don't you build me this, with wheels, for your next project!  It would be  a perfect gift!")

So anyway, this year when he started bemoaning the shopping aspect taking over the spirit of Christmas,  I called bull.  "You just don't want to shop for me.  Because you and I both know you'll get the kids and your mom something."  LOL!  Yep. 

T's right, of course, it's not all about the presents, but this list is going up on the fridge. :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Bandage Cutter/Hoof Pick

Combo Bandage Cutter/Hoof Pick:  After a week of trying not to stab myself or Rufus with short, pointy-ended scissors, while attempting to remove firmly adhered to itself Vetrap, I was thrilled to find an inexpensive dual ended bandage cutter/hoof pick.

At less than $3, it was a bargain, and it really worked, at least initially.

It ended up costing about $1 per month. Because after the third month of twice daily use, the blade is very, very dull.  And unfortunately, it isn't replaceable.  But still not a bad deal, especially if you don't intend to use it as frequently, or only intend to need it frequently for a short time.

The hoof pick is... sort of okay as long as you're not attempting to dislodge packed dirt, gravel, or dried on mud.  Or gooey mud.  So basically it works well on anything soft that falls out easily.  Like horse manure.  Otherwise, the end bends.   I haven't broken it yet though.

The cutter is far, far better than scissors for removing Vetrap, it was much harder to stab Rufus accidentally.  It is more difficult to cut myself (although I can still manage), but also amazingly easy to separate myself from a stray lock of hair.  Yes, my hair has gotten that long, and no, I don't always have it tied back when I do chores.  Probably not an issue you need to worry about if you're more attentive, remember a hair tie, or have short hair.

I'm going to try a Multi-Cutter next - maybe it will be a bit more durable.

Yay, hay!

Upwards of 15,000 lbs. of small squares trailed me home last night.

The big round bales have been here for a while, but having some small squares stored in the barn is never a bad thing.  Especially given how cold the weather has turned this fall!  We stacked 60 up in the loft this summer, and another 200 will be joining them on Saturday.  Really nice grass hay, averaging about 77 lbs. a bale, and decently priced, too. 

A bit of cushion if winter hangs around into spring.

One of the guys at work puts it up, and he does a  fabulous job - nice, tight, evenly  packed, sweet smelling bales, all stored under cover.  The horses loved the ones I bought from him last year.  Not to mention how super-convenient it is to have to-work delivery - last year I only got 50 bales, so I just picked it up in the horse trailer.  This time since with the larger amount, he loaded it (he has a bale mover attachment for his skidsteer that will grab 12 bales at a time - and boy howdy, would I love one of those!) onto his big flatbed and pulled the trailer in to work.  Much easier to just hook on and drag it home from there.

He ran the whole shebang across the scale on the way into town: his truck (1 ton Dodge dually, same as ours) & loaded trailer weighed in at upwards of 33,000 lbs.  Which was kind of fun to pull.  I haven't driven with a load that heavy on before.

Out of curiosity, what's hay running in your neck of the woods?  We paid $50 per net-wrapped, big rounds of prairie/mixed grass hay - not sure what they weigh in at, but I'm guessing somewhere in the 900-1100 lb. range based on how tight they're baled & how hard the skidsteer works to move them.  That's about average for here.  The small squares were $4.50 a bale, which again is about average based on what's listed on the HayExchange for Kansas ($3.75-$5.00/bale for grass hay).  

(Stay tuned for further adventures as we actually get the bales stacked in the loft!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stay Calm and Locate the Channel Locks

Stayed home sick from work yesterday, only the second one I've used since April of 2013.  I made it through morning chores with a splitting headache and one emergency run to the house for the bathroom, and decided crawling back into bed was the wisest course of action.  I hate being sick.  Divine providence at work, though. 

Because when I finally crawled out of bed at noon feeling much more human and less like body parts above my neck were going to fall off, I counted only three horses clustered together in the orchard.  Thunder, Sunny, and Rufus.  Hmmmm....  Not the normal trio (Sunny, Amyra, Thunder) plus one (Rufus) that's the usual make-up of the afternoon sun worshipers.  But the boys didn't look fussed so, I thought, she could be over eating hay at the feeder by herself, which has been known to happen.

About 1 o'clock I went out to hang a load of laundry and again counted the same three horses.  And there was whinnying, which I hadn't been able to hear from inside.  Okay, the whinnying was Sunny, who does whinny pretty much whenever the house door opens because, hey, there's a slim chance it means he's going to get fed.  But still.  And when I looked, Amyra wasn't by the feeder, and she wasn't drinking.   A quick survey of the orchard didn't turn her up; she wasn't hiding behind the pecan tree or dozing by the barn.

When I did finally spot her, my stomach flipped over.  She was up in a corner of the creek pasture, not that far from the barn geographically speaking, but definitely not somewhere she would stay of her own volition with the boys down in the orchard. And in that stationary horse position that screams, "I don't want to try to move, because I can't move."

All four feet were solidly on the ground, she was alert and looking my way, so my first thought was she'd somehow found a tangle of old wire to get stuck in.  (Despite my best efforts, every now and then one seems to roll magically out of nowhere.)  But no, it was better than that, at least marginally.  She'd managed - in that incredibly how the H-E-double-hockey-sticks??? fashion that horses do - to get one hind foot stuck in a loop of wire cable. You know, the thick kind that gets used to anchor power poles? Yep.  That kind.

Stapled to a big fence post just below dirt level, and why it was left on, I haven't the faintest.  I didn't see it when I walked the fences earlier this month (or last year, either, 'cause it surely didn't just now materialize) and Amyra caught her foot in the very end of a 15' stretch of it.  She must have stepped into it somehow, and then like a rabbit in a trap, pulled, and the twist that formed the loop tightened down until it wouldn't slide back down over her hoof.  And of course, right in the corner where two sections of barbwire meet.  Yes, I know, barbwire  + horses = bad news, but it's a COW pasture I keep being told.  Sigh. 

She wasn't panicked, thankfully, just ticked to be stuck.  And not best pleased at being deserted by the boys.  I ran back to the barn after a halter & lead, channel locks (because no way were bare hands or light pliers going to do the trick), and the wire cutters just in case she decided now was the right time to back into the fence, start kicking, and get tangled up in it, too.

Oh, and treats and the clicker.  And that proved to be the trick.  Once she determined that standing still while I untwisted the three-times-wound-around end, one twist at a time, with the channel locks so she could step out got her a clicker-reward, she was stationary.  No kicking, no fussing, just the occasional butt-sniff to see what I was up to.

Five minutes - that felt like 50, let me tell you - and she was loose.  I led her back, let her get a drink, tied her up and examined the damage - completely superficial, thank you, thank you, thank you! - and applied some topical wound spray to what basically amounted to a rub mark and one scrape on the opposite leg from the cable end.  Tolerating me poking and prodding got her some more clicks/treats, which she definitely didn't mind.  When I put her back in with the boys she had another drink and headed over to the feeder without any more fuss and no trace of soreness.
And THEN I spent the next five minutes sitting on the well house with my head between my knees until my stomach decided to behave.  So grateful I was home sick.  Not to mention that:
  1. We've done rope work, so she didn't freak out when her foot wouldn't come loose
  2. If she had to get stuck in something, the cable was nice and thick and left a few surface scrapes, but no worse damage
  3. We've apparently established enough of a rapport that even though every time I pried on the cable it dug into her, she tolerated it because she trusted that I was helping.  Well, that or she just really liked the treats...
Saying my Thanksgiving thank-yous a bit early this year, that's for sure!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Old Junk, New Dust Catchers

My bucket of rusty bits & horseshoes...

With the addition of some ribbon, a few tacky Christmas do-dads, jingle bells & buttons, cord, some thread and a touch of craft glue, turned into...

That one of the right was a really ugly bit.
It makes a much better door hanger.
 A pair of Christmas door hangers, and a couple of very heavy Christmas ornaments.

 My kind of crafts - inexpensive, easy to assemble, minimal clean-up, and difficult to screw up, lol!

Pinterest... It's a dangerous place!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Old junk?

Today's finds
One benefit to living on a farm that's been home to several generations - lots of junk accumulates.  Wait, that's a benefit?  Occasionally.  These were today's finds, and I have plans for them.  Three guesses as to what.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

All Wrapped Up: Review of the "Hoof Wrap"

Injuries are seldom positive, but looking on the bright side Rufus's has provided some husband/wife/horse bonding time.  
Soak, soak, soak

Along with that, I've also gotten the chance to use a few products on a long term basis that I otherwise might not have encountered.  On the off chance that my experience might be helpful, I thought I'd review a few of them over the next few weeks.

New wrap

I mentioned the Hoof Wrap in my last post, as the final layer of protection that allows Rufus to be out and about with the herd.  He's been wearing one  24x7 for the last going-on-four months - a pretty fair test of usefulness and durability.
  • What it is: the name actually describes it well.  It's a soft, easy-on, plasticy/canvas wrap with hook & loop fasteners and a removable pad. 
  • What it does: protects the sole and hoof (and any injuries) from the ground.
  • How to put them on:  Remove the backing from the velcro squares, attach the pad to the wrap, and then just follow the numbered tabs.  After multiple applications, I found actually found it faster to pre-fasten all but the last two tabs on the wrap, then simply slip the wrap on and do up the last two tabs.

  • Where to get them: you can purchase direct from the company's website, but I've been ordering  from Valley Vet : quick shipping, reasonable prices, super helpful customer service, and a slight discount when you buy two or more at a time.)
Rufus has worn his:
  • In the mud: some wet does seep in, but cleaning the wrap isn't hard.  Either wait until it's dry and let it slough off, or if it's stuck on, it soaks off easily. The fasteners do collect some gunk, and they don't stick closed as well when they're covered in muck, so having a second clean wrap on hand to change out doesn't hurt.

    After a few wears
  • On extremely hard ground: when it's super dry - it's drought-stricken northwest Kansas out there, so there's never a shortage of dry - the interior pad compresses faster.  Rufus would walk a hoof-print shaped depression into a pad in a day.  In dry conditions, I could use the same wrap until it fell apart, but the pad needed to be swapped out at least every other day.   Pads do puff back up enough to reuse several times before they stop recovering.

    Interior of the wrap with pad after several uses
  • While turned out:  the terrain in the big pasture (10 acres) is uneven and brushy. Initially I was worried the wrap would catch and pull right off.  I wasn't completely wrong, as he come in sans wrap more than once.  But hey, those hours I spent walking concentric circles gave me a chance to work on my tan, right? And overall he lost his fly mask a lot more frequently.  The wraps actually stayed put much better than I predicted. 
Horse approved? From the first, Rufus had no objections to wearing the wrap.  It provides decent traction, at least on dirt and pasture, and doesn't cause rubs or irritate his skin.  (We do wind on a layer of Vetrap, both to prolong the effectiveness of the Corona as well as to provide a buffer between horsehide & the stiffer fabric of the wrap.)

Bottom of the wrap after about a week of use, without duct tape
 Another reason to like the wrap?  Unlike most of the boots I looked at, I didn't have to know what size shoe Rufus wears, or take measurements, or order different ones for front and back.  Hoof Wraps come in one size, which they say will fit 80% of horses.  Just looking at one, I would not expect it to fit drafts, minis, or small ponies.
Toe view of a well used wrap - this one I retired, but you can
see how the outer reinforcing layers had worn through. 
The velcro fasteners were shot on this one by this point.

On average, wraps lasted 2-3 weeks before the bottoms wore out.  I did have to do some restitching on the front tabs of a couple of them, and I started reinforcing the toe area with bright pink duct tape, both for extra wear and for better visibility in case of loss.

Reinforced, for visibility and longer wear
Still in use, but showing some wear.
I've been so pleased with how well the wraps have preformed I even wrote the company, to say how much I like them, which I almost never do.

Rufus in the wrap, walking - very brief
If I could make any changes, I would:
  1. Use stronger thread to attach the fasteners. (Those were what I ended up sewing back on on a couple of occasions).
  2. Make the fasteners and/or the wraps in bright colors to make locating lost ones easier I never would have guessed basic black would be so difficult to spot!
  3.  Supply additional velcro stick-on squares with the replacement pads, because I always ran out of those before I exhausted my supply of pads.  (Velcro does make a stick-on product that will adhere to flexible vinyl, but it can be tough to locate around here.)
Minor details aside, I would highly recommend adding a Hoof Wrap to whatever emergency kit is in your barn or trailer for a quick, economical, easy to pack, temporary solution for stone bruises, thrown shoes, etc.

Friday, November 7, 2014

July: an injury

A hot, mid-July Sunday.  Middle of the day, and too sticky to ride, so I had the radio cranked while I cleaned out the tack room and granary entry way.  The horses were dozing in the shade of the barn, stomping flies. 
Not the same day, but you get the idea.

In the length of time it took me to run up to the house to use the bathroom and re-fill my water jug, Rufus somehow managed to split the inside of his right hind hoof clear up to the coronet band.
The pictures of the initial injury are on my cell phone - can't figure out how to get them transferred.

To this day I have no idea what he connected with, but he was three-legged when I got back to the barn.  I called the farrier, of course.  Repeatedly.  No answer. 

We both called around to several area horse-owners for other farriers with no luck - either they weren't taking new clients, were not traveling to our area, or didn't want to deal with Arabians.

Tuesday we ended up at the vet, who trimmed the hoof back pretty radically and recommended Bute, soaking, booting, & restricted movement.
July 17, 2014

A week later the farrier finally returned my call.  After a visit during which he confirmed too big a chunk was missing for a shoe to help (and called the vet a hack),  he said what we were doing was probably going to work as well as anything else.  So there we were...

In the meantime, I'd gone online hunting for long-term horse boot solutions, and stumbled on Hoof Wraps at Valley Vet (love that place).   For weeks we soaked Rufus's foot twice daily in warm water & Epson salts, followed by applications of Vetericyn wound spray (recommended by our previous vet from SD) on the exposed lamina and Coronoa hoof dressing along the coronet band, Vetrap and a Hoof Wrap to cover.


No Bute at all, as amazingly, after the vet trimmed the ripped triangle of hoof away, he was barely off, and progressed speedily toward completely sound.  I hate medicating if it's unnecessary, and the padding provided by the Wrap allowed him to walk, trot, and even lope without soreness.   Needless to say, he hasn't been ridden at all.  But he has been able to go out in the big pasture with the other three without any ill effects.

August 3, 2014
As his hoof grew out, we ceased soaking.  By late September, the lamina was no longer exposed and we transitioned to once daily changing of the cotton pad coated with Corona followed by Vetrap & the Hoof Wrap.
August 31, 2014
His hoof continues to look better.  He's on a hoof & joint supplement, which I think is helping, and I'm cautiously optimistic that he won't have a long-term crack running down from where the split went up into the coronet band.
Oct. 12, 2014

Oct. 26, 2014
Oct. 22, 2014
Rufus, second from left

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

(Still) Not liking the time change

Did I really last post November of 2013 (!) Don't ask me how it got to be that long ago, I have absolutely no clue. Good grief!

First things first: all is well on the home front. We've had a couple minor catastrophes and there is a bevy of new critters underfoot, but it's been a relatively quiet year all-in-all.

A quick recap, with more detail to follow:
  • T came home safe & sound from foreign parts.
  • Rufus lacerated his right hind hoof, resulting in the year's only equine vet-visit.
  • We now have a flock of chickens (and one - remaining - duck).
  • And 7, 8, 7 cats.
  • I once again did not show at the county fair. I did, however, attend a 3-day Buck Branaman clinic. Wheee!
  • The ponies are sane, healthy (barring Rufus, who's amazingly sound, but still sporting a hoof-wrap) and remain as round as ever.
More to come soon - I promise! - with pictures :)