Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Prep Work

Hard to believe that one month from today will be Christmas day! I am SO  not ready for Christmas, or winter for that matter. The past two winters I was in such a daze but this winter I'm keeping an even more vigilant eye on some of the hard keepers. I've increased the hard keepers' grain ration and started doing a mix of beet pulp and alfalfa pellets (mostly because I had an extra bag of alalfa pellets from when I was feeding them to the drafts).

I think the combo of alfalfa pellets and beet pulp helped to get the hard keepers ready for straight beet pulp. We ran in to Sioux Falls Saturday to pick up grain. We stopped in at one store and went to the other and wouldn't you know, the price of grain at the second place was cheaper so I picked up a few extra bags. I should have looked at the beet pulp to compare prices but I was focused mostly on the safe choice original and sweet feeds.

Now that we are into winter, I'm not worried about the grain molding so I can stock up when it's on sale (if it ever goes on sale). I picked up extra because I had a 10% coupon and I didnt' want to mess with the holiday shoppers.

I can't believe that Thanksgiving will be here in three days. I remember in years past that the horses were still out on the pasture and I wasn't even beginning to start feeding them hay. But then again, that was a few years ago when we had less horses and hadn't over grazed the pasture or had such weird weather. Now the horses are enjoying their grain.

When the snow/rain and cold temps were predicted to blow in (and they did), I blanketed Rabbit. She's in a pen that isnt' well protected so I wanted to go the extra mile for her and keep her a little bit more snug (as a bug in a rug). I pulled the blanket off this  morning. Good thing because it's actually fairly nice out. And I dont' really care for the blanket I thew on her. It's the only one that is completely ready for use. I still have a bunch of blankets that I need to repair before I haul them out for use. But I better get a move on if I want to use the blankets! I read earlier this week that the first week in December, we are supposed to get another arctic blast of cold air. I want to make sure that everyone has their winter blankets on but I also need to make sure that the hard keepers (and delicate flowers) are protected.

So while everyone else is enjoying their Thanksgiving meal, I'll probably be sitting in front of the tv watching the parade, sewing up blankets. We are headed down to a tack store in Lennox tonight to pick up Rabbit's antihistamine. It's $50 for a container. If anyone would like to sponsor's Rabbit's antihistamine, let me know! Every little bit counts these days.

Well, if I don't post again, I hope you all have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter, Graining, and Yard Lights Oh My

Sorry for not posting lately. The days seem to fly by and by the time I put my feet up at night, my mind shuts off as well. The paying job has me hopping so I haven’t had much time to do anything outside with the horses.
I have noticed a change in the hard keepers, which I take as a blessing. I was so worried about Brego and Bo. I still need to get them in to the vet but for now, until I can find time to schedule an appointment, I think they are at the very least maintaining weight. I do think Bo might actually be gaining weight. I increased their grain ration and started Bo, Brego, Jim, and Zeke on an alfalfa pellet and beet pulp pellet regime as well. I need to start that same regime with Rabbit as well. I don’t think she’ll mind. Of course I soak everyone’s grain to be on the safe side but I’m not sure if that helps or not.
When Rain is done slurping up his grain, he typically has a brown mustache. I haven’t been feeding calf manna but when I was, Zeke would always have a pink mustache. I will probably increase everyone’s grain this winter to include calf manna but I want to wait until winter actually hits.
And speaking of winter, I think it’ll be here tomorrow. We are predicted to get one to three inches of snow and the low for Friday night is 7 and the low for Saturday night is either 2 or 0, depending on which weather channel you listen to. I’m going to have to do some fast work tonight to figure out what I want to do with certain horses (mostly Rabbit). If the weather gets down to single digits and there’s a wind chill, I may very well be putting horses into the barn and hay shed. It’ll mean more work in the dark, but it’ll be worth it.
We are still without a yard light but at least we have a full moon.  I’m getting used to doing chores in the dark. And in truth, it’s not really all that dark out. The other night I went out to do chores but I wasn’t out long enough and the moon was just coming up when I was finishing chores. It was like a spotlight was shining right on when the moon came out. Of course last night I was running late and the moon was hidden by clouds. Figures! The electric company DID come out  last week but we discovered that there’s something else wrong. It’s not just a burned out light bulb like we’d hoped. So our options were to replace the light for $400 or rent the stupid thing. Since we don’t have $400 extra cash laying around, we now have to do the silly thing and RENT a yard light. How ridiculous is that?!?! But if I want a light (and I do now that it gets do darn dark out so early), that’s the only option. So I guess I’ll start saving up and in four years, we’ll buy our own and have it installed and they can take their darn light and well…use it for someone else. Tehehehe
So the electric company came out early this week. I only know this because the light was off the windmill and sitting on the cattle chute. No note, no phone call, no nothing. So I have no idea if/when they will be back and I have a gigantic light that I have no idea if it’s new or not, sitting out waiting for someone to do something with. It does seem like that’s our typical luck these days.
I also keep seeing older horses that are in search of a retirement home. I wish we could offer them a permanent home but I’m worried about our hay supply. If we are going into some bitterly cold weather in the next couple of days, I can’t imagine how much hay we’ll go through when we get into the “true” winter season. I guess if you know of anyone selling decent (and cheap hay), please let me know. I am always on the lookout for hay these days. If we had more hay, we might not have to turn away horses that desperately need a soft place to land for the rest of their lives, be it a few years, a few months, or a few days.

Horse Abuse Conviction

So glad the judge is sticking to his guns.....

No Sentence Change For SD Horse Abuse Convict

November 20, 2013, 8:38 AM 

RAPID CITY, SD - 
A judge has refused for now to modify the sentence of a western South Dakota woman convicted of mistreating horses.

Terri Harwood is scheduled to begin serving a yearlong jail sentence on electronic monitoring later this month. Her attorney on Tuesday asked Magistrate Judge Shawn Pahlke to modify her sentence because her mother in Illinois is terminally ill.

Prosecutor Patrick Grode said he was willing to consider a sentence change later after Harwood has spent some time on electronic monitoring and started to make restitution payments. Pahlke agreed.

Pennington County authorities seized 69 horses from Harwood and her husband, Don, in January. They later were convicted on nine counts each of inhumane treatment of an animal. Don Harwood was sentenced to five years in jail but remains a fugitive.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Feeding Schedule

I started Brego and Bo on soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets. I think it’s more alfalfa pellets at the moment. I dumped what I had in a tub into a new barrel that Mike brought home but didn’t stir it up as good as I should have. I wasn’t sure Brego would eat it all but he polished it off and licked the dish clean. I gave Jim a little too and he seemed to snarf it all down. Guess it’s a good thing I started out with more alfalfa pellets rather than more beet pulp pellets. I’ve discovered beet pulp pellets are an acquired taste (they only taste good if you steal the mush from another horse!) 
But now that I’m starting in on that new feeding schedule, chores are going to take even longer.  Besides having to grain the hard keepers extra, I know have to haul water back to the mares and pony pen. I need to keep the water tank topped off so that Skippy can drink with ease. It’s a pain but as long as I keep up with hauling water, I should be ok. If I haul back about 15 gallons that usually holds the horses until the next day.
I do need to make a few minor adjustments to the water tank so that all of the water isn’t exposed. We pulled out the old wood box that was around a water tank a couple years ago (which survived the fire) and put it around the tank in the pen. Unfortunately that water tank gets the brunt of the wind and I wanted to try and cut down on the wind. We’ll see if it helps any.  
Rabbit is enjoying her solitude while devouring her grain. I may start her on beet pulp too. She seems thinner than I want and like going into winter. I may just call the vet and make a bunch of appointments to float teeth and see if that helps. Late fall/early winter always seems like the time where I have to go to the vet and see all that hard earned money disappear. But as long as the horses are happy, I guess I don’t care.
I am going to have to go in search of alfalfa (and more hay). I was in such a fog for the past couple of months that I wasn’t even thinking about finding alfalfa for the winter (or finding additional hay). So I think I’m going to start scrambling around to see if I can find any on the cheap side. We’ll see what happens but if you know of anyone selling, I’d love to get their name and phone number. 
We still have no yard light. The electric company was supposed to be out late last week and they never showed. If they don’t show up by tomorrow, I’m calling a different electric company. There’s more than one way to fight this game. If you want my money, work for it! (Sorry, I seem to be a bit testy these days).
We had gorgeous weather yesterday and we are supposed to continue that trend for at least one or two more days. The warmer weather always makes life (and chores) easier to handle. I know the horses are much happier when the weather is nicer. I’m hoping the farmer’s almanac is wrong and we don’t have such bitterly cold temps as they are predicting. 
Life is pretty quiet right now at the Sanctuary (knock on wood). I’ve been so swamped with the paying job and other outside activities, that I really haven’t done too much with the horses and brainstorming for any other fundraisers. I guess I’m just sort of “getting by” right now. Hopefully I can settle my brain down and start focusing again on the Sanctuary. I seem to be losing track of time faster these days.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Week in Review

Last week was a blur. I know I posted once last week but it wasn’t what I was originally going to ramble about. The Sunday before last, Mike was going to climb the windmill and fix our yard light. I convinced him (without much work) to hire someone to fix the light instead. With 20-30mph winds and gusts of up to 40mp it was easy to convince Mike that a $100 bill to repair the light would be easier to pay than $10K hospital bill for when he fell of the windmill. It’s been four months since our least hospital stay and I’d like to extend that time frame.
So, we are still without a yard light a week later. Although, Mike and Dad did work on cutting down trees that had grown up in the windmill and were subsequently blocking the light (when it was working).  So when we finally DO get the yard light fixed, we’ll have light shining everywhere. A little frustrated that they didn’t come out last week when we called but this week I’m going to put my crabby pants on and call them.
We did get our first snowstorm last Tuesday. I forgot what it was like to drive in the snow. I think a lot of people forgot. I know the horses weren’t all that thrilled with the snow but they didn’t really care all that much. I gave them a treat of apples and they were in heaven.  Judy N. stopped out that Sunday when Mike and Dad were cutting down trees and dropped off a blanket and apples for the horses. The horses have been enjoying apples ever since then. Even Dude last night finally discovered that he actually LIKES apples. I’m guessing he’s wishing he would have tried them a week earlier!
Last Monday we had fall and then the snow hit. The snow melted but we had winter after that. I’ve been dealing with breaking water open this past week. When the weatherman said that we were going to have a nice weekend but that a cold front was coming through for Veteran’s Day, I figured I’d better move pens and water around.  It took almost a week to find winter coats and coveralls. Morning chores now require coveralls and a heavy coat, where two weeks before that, I was running out in a heavy coat and that’s it (well, normal clothes underneath. I don’t’ do chores naked!!). I guess winter came early.
I am worried that it’s only mid-November and we are now feeding normal winter rations. In years past, we wouldn’t even start to feed this heavy for another month. I don’t think we’ll have enough hay to get through winter at this rate. The Farmer’s Almanac said normal snow but a lot colder temps! This morning it was three degrees. The horses were not happy and demanded their hay this morning!
So back to this past Sunday. We had temps in the 40s but with some cold wind. Luckily Mike and Dad were able to stay out of the wind and work in the hayshed. They decided to tackle the stall that Sahara had broken. They were able to fix the door and the wall that she obliterated. Now we have two working stalls in the hayshed. Dad and I also unloaded corral panels so I will be putting up a temporary stall in the hayshed as well. That way the horses in the smaller pen can go into the hayshed when the temps really drop and the wind howls.
Because of the temps, I had to move horses so that we had one water tank heater running instead of three like last year.  Last year we had a bunch of horses that needed to be separated but this year, I am able to put them all into two pens. If we had our winter mare pasture, life would be a little bit easier but that’s not going to happen for another couple of years. So for now, I moved Rabbit, Mayhem, Tommy, and Skippy into the smaller pen by the big drylot. So now all the horses are pretty well kept together instead of scattered.
I think Rabbit was loving having the ponies in with her. She pinned her ears and chased after them but I really think secretly that she was enjoying the extra attention.  I did set up a couple extra corral panels in the pen so that I can lock Rabbit in the pen while she eats her grain instead of having to either halter and tie Mayhem and the ponies (who won’t let me catch them) or stand by Rabbit to guard her from the ponies snitching her grain. I figured putting her in a pen would be so much easier. This way I can toss out alfalfa (what little we have left) so that she can enjoy some without being harassed by the ponies and Mayhem. I think she’s enjoying the solitude. I don’t like the pen that they are in. But with the two stalls in the hay shed and the temporary stall I’ll build, I’ll be able to pull the horses out of the pen more often and keep them in the stalls at night when the temps really drop or the wind really picks up. I am now going to have to hall water back to the pen each night. I have to have the tank topped out so that the ponies can reach the tank! I forgot what it was like to have to haul bucket after bucket of water. I would give almost anything to have a couple different automatic waterers. But I’d rather haul a couple buckets of water every evening instead of both morning and night and have to smash water each time. The only power outlet that can handle the water heater is the one on the red shed so that’s why we had to move horses yesterday.
I’m sure glad that we did. With a low of three degrees, I am SO not ready for winter.  We turned away two horses last month and I’ve seen three other horses that we should have taken in. Two were prime for kill buyers and another simply needs a soft place to land for the last bit of her life. But with the hospital bills and other expenses, we can’t take anyone else on. We ARE looking at doing more fundraisers next year. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve that we are working on, so we’ll see how it goes. But for now, I’m going to batten down the hatches and settle in for a long and cold winter. Hopefully it won’t be too dark of a winter either. I want my yard light back! If someone would like to sponsor a horse, we could open our doors to another old soul that needs a soft place to land for their retirement.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Winter Challenge

Winter reared its ugly head yesterday. I can say without a doubt, I am NOT prepared for winter. I also have a bad feeling that it’s going to be a long and weary winter. I am not prepared and am actually starting to panic that we don’t have enough hay.
I saw two additional horses for sale this week that are in danger of a kill buyer picking them up for some quick cash. Big, fat horses for super cheap. If we weren’t turning away horses that fit our criteria, we’d be picking these horses up even though they don’t fit our criteria. I get so nervous this time of year thinking about all the horses that people have forgotten or don’t care about. I was worried last night about making sure everyone had enough grain and hay. I made sure no one was shivering and that if they were, they’d go into the barn (but everyone was ok). But then I started thinking about the horses out on the feedlot in a town not far from us. I get so upset thinking about them. No one is worrying if they are cold or miserable. It breaks my heart thinking about them.
This time of year also makes me think about animals at the local shelter. I once worked at a high traffic animal shelter. It was an eye opener and about this time of year (every year), I get the urge to want to do more, to help more, to make a difference but I don’t know how. Right now my hands are tied. Our funds are low and if the winter is going to be like I fear, we’ll have to go in search of additional hay. So there goes any extra money that I might have been able to save up to help out.
Now that we are going into the holiday season, let’s focus on those that don’t have a home. There are a number of organizations that have wonderful pets just waiting to call your family home. Let’s make a challenge to see all homeless animals home for Christmas. With nasty weather around us, it’s nice to snuggle under a blanket and watch our fur kids relax and know they are happy.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Let There Be Light

I’ve been doing chores in the dark for the past few days. And let me just say, it is DARK. Not just dark but pitch black to where you can’t see the hand in front of your face dark. The yard light burned out awhile ago and I’ve been struggling to do chores in the dark ever since then. I didn’t realize how much I relied on that yard light until this past week. When we had the full moon it wasn’t a big deal but this past week we’ve had no moon and lots of dark clouds (and blinding fog). The plan is to get the light fixed this weekend (fingers crossed that all goes well)!
The past couple of mornings it’s been foggy and pitch black. I have my little flashlight that I carry. I used to carry a maglight but it burned out or the batteries died or something. It died when I was up tarping hay. So I have a tiny little flashlight that doesn’t give off much light but works because it fits into my pocket.
The other morning I went out to do chores and I was struggling to carry hay and the flashlight. The hay hid the light from the flashlight so I was pretty much walking blind. I stood up from moving a pile of hay to be greeted by a gigantic head standing at my shoulder. It took me a minute to figure out who it was. It was Ivan! Then I turned around and about jumped out of my skin. Zeke was standing right behind me. Being that he’s a white horse, it was easier to spot him, whereas Ivan is dark brown/black.
I have been having a heck of a time picking everyone out to make sure they are up for breakfast and supper except for the two mostly white horses (King and Zeke). The rest are a lost cause unless I can make out their star or blaze.
Yesterday morning there at least wasn’t fog during morning chores but it was again pitch black. I was carrying an armload of hay and the flashlight was hidden under the hay (so no light whatsoever). And I walked smack dab into the back of a black horse! Luckily it was once again Ivan. I swear that horse is loving not having a yard light on. He is always right by my side trying to steal hay out of my arms without me knowing it. I’ve run into him at least three times just this week. I think he secretly likes the extra attention.
I had been debating on going to the auction scheduled for tomorrow. It’s the same auction were we rescued TenMan, Savanna, and Sahara (and unbeknownst to me Sir Prize (aka Jett)). Unfortunately, we’ve been turning away horses so I was torn on whether to go or not. If I can’t help one of the horses, what good is it for me to go except to give them each a pat and let them know that they won’t be forgotten. I’d cry the whole way home knowing that I didn’t do anything to help and I’d be heartbroken. But I was still considering going. But then I was able to finally catch up with my farrier and he suggested that we do some trims Saturday morning so now there’s no way that I’ll go to the auction. I won’t feel so guilty about not going because we are doing something horse related instead. I’ll still feel guilty but at least this way, I won’t be sitting on my butt doing nothing. I would love to stop turning horses away and also have the opportunity to rescue one or two horses from auction in the late fall/early winter. Maybe some day.
I’ve been throwing out hay this week both morning and night. The pasture is gone and the horses are anxious for their hay. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to start throwing hay until later but we’ve been throwing out hay at night for the entire month of October and this past week we’ve been feeding both morning and night. I’m worried that our supply of hay won’t last through the winter. If it’s going to be as bitterly cold as they’ve predicted, then we most definitely won’t have enough hay. So now I’m starting to worry about what to do. For now I guess I’ll just wait and see how things progress but we are already burning through more than a bale a week and I’m not doing heavy hay feeding yet. Even with having lost Babe this fall so there’s one less mouth to feed, I’m still worried that we don’t have enough. I guess I prefer to have extra in case we bring someone else in instead of having to worry about making sure we have enough or having to go in search of more hay. So the hay situation is weighing heavily on my mind already.
I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming for fundraiser ideas. I’ve received a lot of great ideas and I’m now trying to figure out if they will work for this year or next year or I few need to table them and work the kinks out in another year or so. It’s fun to hear all the ideas and it really gets me excited to do another fundraiser.
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s already November first! The days are just flying by and I’m not ready for winter. There’s so much more that I’d love to get done but the days are getting shorter very quickly. I know this weekend we’ll gain an hour but that really messes with me because we don’t really gain any sunlight, we only gain an extra hour of dark. I wish we wouldn’t keep switching. It’s hard on the horses (and the little Bear). But maybe that’ll give me time to get a little bit more accomplished each night. My hope is to sew up ripped blankets each night but so far that plan hasn’t happened. I’ve been busy with work or have been falling asleep early each night (trying to put Garrett to bed at a decent time and Mike and I are the ones falling asleep instead!) But we desperately need to get the blankets repaired before winter hits. I have a feeling we’ll be using the blankets a lot this year! I sure hope I’m wrong. But the weatherman is calling for another system to roll in Monday night into Tuesday so we may throw sheets on a few of the hard keepers and older horses so they don’t get chilled (or that I worry about them).