Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Curiosity Killed the Skunk


On Monday, I stepped out to do morning chores and I smelled corn. The heat and humidity makes it smell like corn. Of course, we are surrounded by corn. For those that don’t understand what I’m talking about, go get some sweet corn and take a deep whiff. That’s what it smelled like when I stepped out the door. Not a bad smell, just took me by surprise.

The temperatures have been all over the place as of late. I think it’s causing the varmints to not know what to do.  Just this morning while I was making my lunch for the day (darn paying job getting in the way of Sanctuary work), I saw a possum “scooting” along up the driveway.  At least that’s what Mike called it. I would have called it, hauling butt. I’d never seen a possum move that fast before but he was on a mission. He disappeared before we could “remove” him from the property. Hopefully he stays away but if you see them, that means there’s more than one and they are possibly finding a place to live.

The other day Mike also said that he was asleep in the chair one evening and heard something scratching at the French doors. He couldn’t tell what it was, even when he peered out the doors so went into the kitchen to see if he could spot it from that vantage point. He couldn’t so wandered back in. Want to know what he saw? It was a skunk! A skunk was trying to get in the house. Apparently skunks are very curious animals and will investigate almost anything. It’s not the first time that a skunk has visited Mike out of curiosity. I think Mike must somehow lure them in.

I went out to check the herd but those darn geldings wouldn’t come in when I hollered. Although Jim did wander up while I was standing there. He’s a sucker for grain. It’s a good thing he came up. His eyes are giving him problems. They are all weepy so I put a flymask on him to hopefully cut down on the sun glare. Guess he’s going to need a UV fly mask. If I remember right, he had some major problems last year about this time and I seriously thought he was going blind. Allergies, summer uveitis. It’s hard to say. But for now, I’ll pamper him and see if anything I do helps. He’s 26 years old and deserves to be pampered.

When I got Jim settled in for his evening meal, I heard someone else outside the door. Of course it was Bo and Zeke. Why they wouldn’t come up earlier I don’t know. But I let them in and gave them their grain. None of the other hard keepers came in so I left it at that. Right now, the only hard keeper is Bo. I hate to even say it but I don’t grain the horses once they are on pasture 24x7. Everyone except Bo is fat and sassy and looking rather nice. Bo on the other hand is not keeping weight on. He’s maintaining what he has but he’s not putting on weight. So I’m going to start slow on his grain ration and then increase it. I’ll have to start in on the nightly beet pulp, senior, sweet feed, calf manna concoction that usually seems to help. I think the only way for him to maintain his weight is with grain.  I guess I’ll always have to have at least one horse to worry about.

I was thinking about it this earlier this week. This may be the first year that we don’t have to say goodbye to any of the herd. Of course, we haven’t brought any horses in since the summer of 2011 and the oldest is Jim at 26 and he has a few good years left in him. We’ve lost all the others that were old and the rest are young (or what I consider young). So unless we have a pasture accident, we may be able to not go through the stresses and heartbreak of losing someone this year. I’m sure you’re thinking it’s a weird topic to discuss, but I’ve had to say goodbye to at least one a year since I lost my very first horse in 2007. It’s been seven years of watching as they grow old and me having to make that final decision. It’s heart wrenching and devastating. So this year will be an easy year for me.

Although, I would like to repay the favor and help others. I’m not sure how to go about it but I would like to assist those that might be considering having to say goodbye. It’s still a thought in my head that I haven’t fully fleshed out so I’ll keep it there for now. But when fall rolls around this year, I won’t be in such turmoil over saying goodbye.

Of course, my mind is always in turmoil this time of year because of the number of horses that are being dumped at auctions. But I’ll save that for a  different post.

I need to do some serious cleaning. Anyone want to come out and help? I need to get some barns cleaned out, blankets washed and repaired, the hay areas cleaned up in preparation for whenever we actually get our hay, get the roof back on the horses’ leanto, fix the barn roof, fix fence, put a new fence line in in the drylot.  There’s all kinds of stuff that we need to get done. Are there any takers?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Antsy

I'm antsy. I've been antsy for the past few days. You'd think that by being antsy, that I would get off my duff and do something but I haven't. I've classified myself as lazy lately. It's an awful experience to feel antsy and lazy all at the same time.

By the end of the day, I've worked myself up into such a tizzy that I'm exhausted and can't function. It's a good thing that the horses are on automatic and all I do is check water and make sure no one is bleeding profusely. Otherwise, I don't get to see the herds.

I'm antsy for two reasons. The first is that it's haying season. I'm seeing everyone haying every possible field and ditch around. Unfortunately, we do not have enough pasture to hay, nor do we own any land or rent any land to put up hay (and we don't have the equipment either). So we are forced to buy all of our hay. We don't have our hay yet (we normally don't even get our hay until September or October anyway). But I'm wishing that we had land we could rent, and the equipment so that we could put up some of our own hay to help defray the cost. Instead, we have to scrimp and save to come up with the money to cover the cost of hay for the 11 Sanctuary horses (and I have to come up with more to cover the cost of my three personal horses). And the hospital bills are still there along with other bills (gigantic rock chips thanks to construction, new tires, etc.) so it's a struggle to come up with the amount we need every year.

The second reason I'm antsy is that it's that time of year again. In another couple of weeks, people will be thinking about kids going back to school, winter setting in, and that all means that more horses will be on the market. More horses will be shipped to auctions and run through loose because owners are too busy to put some elbow grease in to their horses to ensure a good home. So I'm already seeing horses online for free or very cheap. I can assure you the kill buyers will pick them up without a second thought and send them to slaughter. It breaks my heart because my hands are tied. What more can I do? I've been avoiding looking at Craigslist but started and I'm seeing a few I'd offer retirement if we had the space. There will be more....and soon. So I need to just sit and make sure that the Sanctuary horses are cared for. But it's heart wrenching and heart breaking to see these old warriors being treated like a piece of machinery.

So I think that's my reason for being antsy. My problem is, by the end of the day with the paying job, toddler, and other activities, there's nothing left of me, either physically, emotionally, or financially. Maybe a short vacation, which is already set on the calendar, will help but I'm not sure. I'm betting that I'll avoid the upcoming auctions because there's nothing I can do except tell each horse that they won't be forgotten and then take down information about prices and where they went (although we all know where the majority of loose horses end up).

So I guess I'm hitting that time of year where I get upset because there's nothing I can do. It's come earlier this year than others. Usually I don't get this way until mid August. This year it hit mid July. So now I'm even more motivated to do something about these old horses except that the exhaustion hits by the time I get home. I feel like I'm in a bit of a catch 22.

I guess all that I can ask is that you hang with me while I climb out of this stress pit. Moral support is always welcome. And if you ever get bored, I'd be more than happy to put you to work.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trail Ride Fundraiser

I've decided on our next fundraiser. I'd hoped to do a playday but am struggling to find an arena so I'll keep working on that. If you know of anyone that would be willing let us use their arena, please let me know!

But until then, I want to do a trail ride! So, mark your calendars for...Sunday, August 24th.  The time is still TBD but it'll start in the  morning.

I'll need to ride the route and do a lot of prep work but hopefully if we start advertising now, we'll get plenty of people. The cost is $10 and there will be a meal included. Proceeds will go to pay for the winter hay. I'm also figuring on bringing other items for sale including horse shoe art, horse shoe nail crosses, horse hair keychain rings, up-cycled grain bags (they work awesome for all kinds of things), and a few other items that have been generously donated.

The Sanctuary horses will also be represented as I'll ride either Chaos or Maverick. I'm debating on bringing the ponies along just for kicks. Who doesn't like a pony??!?!

What: Borderlands Trail Ride
Where: near Larchwood, IA (in a conservation area so all grass and NO gravel)
When: Sunday, August 24th
Time: TBD (but it'll start in the morning)
Why: To raise funds for the winter supply of hay for the Sanctuary horses
Cost: $10 and includes a meal

(If you would like to donate items or money towards the  meal, it would help immensely).

Now the very hard part....advertising. I am in desperate need of help getting the word out for the trail ride. So please share with everyone far and wide. The more people that attend, the more money we can raise to help offset the cost of hay for this winter.

Lawn Pasture

Last week I had just enough time to set up corral panels to put the ponies and mares on the lawn. It didn't take them the entire week to eat down that part of the lawn. I was feeding hay by Monday night. I needed to move more corral panels around so I took advantage of the help and got a new lawn pasture set up for the ponies.

I debated on whether to keep the mares in with the ponies but opted against it. I don't think there's enough for the ponies to last even a full week, let alone add two more mouths. So instead I let the mares back into the road pasture and filled their water tank. I think they were pretty happy to get away from the ponies and find more grass. I don't think the ponies were as pleased about the new arrangement. I really think they adore hanging out with Rabbit.

Mike sprayed the yard (or what we could get to now that I have half of it taken up with corral panels). Hopefully that'll get rid of the  mosquitoes for the next week or so and make being outside more bearable. He used the last of the spray so hopefully we won't have to deal with too many more mosquitoes (hahaha, I know it's wishful thinking).

I figure in another week, I'll have to move the ponies again. I'm debating on were to put them. I'm leaning towards in front of the barn but we'll see what happens when the time comes. Where we had the ponies a few weeks ago, the weeds had taken over (in between the barn and the burned down chicken coop). Mike got after the weeds with the lawn mower and sprayed to get rid of the  mosquitoes. So hopefully we can go back and spray for the weeds as well. Now that we can actually get back to the fence (and pasture), I need to walk the mares' fall/winter pasture.

I was hoping that the road pasture would hold out a little bit longer but I don't think it'll happen. I am figuring that by the first of August that I'll have to move them. Unfortunately, I don't think this other pasture will hold them until winter. So we may be looking at feeding hay sooner than expected. Anyone want to donate some hay to help offset the pasture issue? For now, I figure the road pasture has about two weeks worth left before it's completely burned up. I'm also hoping for a little bit of rain to help. I doubt that rain will help make that pasture go farther but I'm a little worried that without any rain, it won't come back next year. Pasture management is not my strong suite.

I didn't get anything else accomplished yesterday and I'm finally finding the motivation to get projects started. Unfortunately, I seem to run out of day.

On a bright note, I think I've finalized our next fundraiser. I'll post a blog about it in just a few minutes!

We have many projects to work on and if anyone wants to stop on out and help, we'd greatly appreciate it. I'll even make sure you don't get the super crappy jobs either!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

And So It Begins

It's a little early in the season yet, but I just saw an ad on our local classifieds for a horse sale, with loose horses to follow. That means selling season is just around the corner. August is really the month that people get rid of their horses. It's also the month that I long to bring in those old warriors.

I have lots of ideas bouncing around in my head. Anyone want to help form a committee to get those ideas down on paper?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cooler Temps

We are experiencing a small cold snap. It's glorious! Everyone seems more relaxed and happy. The bugs aren't as bad and no one seems all that crabby. Of course I went out before the wind died down so it's hard to say.

I  need to move the ponies and mares again. Where I have them is done. I knew it wouldn't last a week so I started throwing hay to them again. I'll probably put the mares back out on their pasture and just burn that pasture up. There's still grass in that pasture but I had hoped that a month off would help make it last longer. But now the weatherman is saying we aren't going to get rain for a week at least. So not really sure what to do with that pasture.

But at least where they are at now, there's not much left for grass and not a lot of hiding spots for mosquitoes! I wanted to move corral panels last night but I'm still moving slow with that pinched nerve. And I didn't have a lot of energy last night either. It was a beautiful night so I should have taken the opportunity while I had it. I'm hoping to just keep pushing the ponies farther north up through the lawn so that they eat everything down. I'm sure that's not the right way to do it but, I'm running out of places to put them that has grass.

I need to walk to fenceline for the other mare pasture but I need a windy day or at least be able to do it not after 8pm when the wind dies down and the mosquitoes come out. I haven't walked the fenceline since last winter and with the snow, wind from the tornado, and tree branches, I want to walk the fence before I let them out. My goal is to have the mares eat that down this fall instead. And once they have that eaten, I can hire someone to come in and bury the burned down chicken coop. Maybe then we'll have more room to park trailers. No matter what, it'll be nice to have a bit more cleaned up around the place.

I hate looking around the place because it looks so dumpy. Oh for a manicured lawn, well kept fences, fat yet well muscled horses, painted barns, and anything else that would make the place look nice. Some day.

The weather is supposed to turn hot this weekend so I doubt that I'll be out working on much outside. Maybe with the hot temperatures, I'll be able to turn my attention to repairing blankets. There's so many to repair and I have no sewing ability (too bad because my great grandmother was a seamstress). There's always some project to tackle.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Coming Up the Ranks

I was invited out for a ride on Sunday and decided I would jump at the opportunity. With summer in full swing, it’s hard to find time to get anything but prep work for winter done (I know it’s a sad thought). I decided I would take Maverick again because he’s going so well.

Maverick crossed a flowing creek like it was standing water, watched cows, and climbed up and down hills like it’s nothing. Of course, he’s been on a few rides before so it shouldn’t come to a surprise but he’s not my “go to” horse so I forget that he has been exposed to a lot of different environments.

In the arena, it’s impossible to get Maverick to lope. At home, riding alone, I don’t want to try loping on him. But with riding with friends, we decided to see what he would do. Oh my goodness, what a dream to lope!  I’m used to the high knee action Arabians but Maverick is a fairly comfortable lope as well. We didn’t lope for very far but I wanted to keep going!! Maverick surprises me at every turn.

I’ve decided that I will take Maverick to the next drill team practice just to goof around with afterwards.  I had high hopes of making a Bo the next drill team horse but there’s no way I can work him like a drill team horse and have any hope of him gaining any weight. He’s been on pasture 24x7 for the past couple of weeks and he’s actually dropped weight. I’m going to revert back to graining him his standard grain ratio and see if that helps. He should be able to maintain his weight on pasture only but there’s something wrong.

But on the bright side, I think Maverick will be able to handle drill team with no problems. I’m anxious to try him out now and see how he goes. I want to see if he’ll lope in an outdoor arena or if he’ll get bogged down and think that he’s not supposed to. Either way, I think when it’s time to retire Zeke, I’ll have another horse coming up the ranks to use. I won’t feel so bad about working Maverick since he’s still so young. He’s actually in his prime so best to start using him to his full potential.

Maverick surprises me all the time.