Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tip Tuesday - Choosing Hay

It's #TipTuesday and with everyone thinking hay, it's a good time for a few tidbits.

Cicadas Singing

The katydids or cicadas (depending on where you're from) started singing last week. I was a little shocked to hear them but not really. Looking back in years past, the cicadas started singing around the fourth of July in other years. They are a week or two behind. I'm ok with that.

The old wives tale is that we will have the first hard from six weeks after they start to sing. If it's true, the first hard frost would be the end of August and I don't see that happening. There might be a nip in the air in the early mornings but hopefully no hard frost.

But I still need to listen to them. When I hear them singing, it sounds like they are trying to prompt me to get off my duff and get moving. I always joke that I'm a couple months behind. At this point, I've lost track of all time and every day is just a blur. I can't be behind when I have no sense of time these days.

I'm afraid I've been packing in too much stuff lately. But with adjusting to the new paying job and all the kids' activities, I'm struggling to get anywhere with the Sanctuary. It's my own fault for scheduling so much for the kids to do but I want to expand their horizons and see what they like and don't like for extra curriculars. You don't know until you try but it does mean we run really ragged.

Last night was actually a night where we didn't HAVE to do anything but we decided to go on the SD State Park scavenger hunt. We've been trying to get to a few state parks all summer and last night we had a free night. I love going to Palisades. But doing family stuff means only doing chores and nothing extra for the horses.

Lately it feels like I've been met with one obstacle after another on some of the projects I want to get rolling. Perhaps now is not the time. But if not now, when? I've been siting on these projects for years and now when we are just finally starting to make a name for ourselves, we are met with all kinds of obstacles that I can't seem to get around.

We aren't much. The Sanctuary is really just an old farmstead and we are doing our best to keep it up. Our main goal is to keep the horses happy and healthy. It's not fancy. In fact, to me, I see weeds and peeling paint and all kinds of things that need to be repaired. I see all that needs to be done. I see stalls in a barn that aren't fancy but they work. It was only supposed to be somewhat temporary in the first place but they've become permanent. I'd love to get a new mortan building and add fancy stalls but that's not in the cards. Not with where our focus is at. I'd rather spend my time and money with the kids and the rest with the horses. It doesn't leave room for capital campaigns for barns. All the money ends up going to care for the horses. Do we have crappy stalls and an extra mouth to feed to ensure he or she gets to live out their life in luxury or do we have a pristine barn with one or two horses standing in the stalls and say no to those that ask? I hate saying no so instead we have stalls that aren't the greatest but work and we have one extra mouth on the feed bill and THAT is what makes me feel happy.

This morning I realized that the days are getting shorter. I'll be in serious trouble soon when I'm back outside doing chores in the pitch black. I hate doing chores in the dark. There's too many varmints lately to deal with because we aren't home. The racoons have taken up residents in the old grain bin but we can't trap them.

I'm guessing that as the days fly by, I'll probably not post much. I'm posting more on Facebook so that's where the action is these days. So if you don't hear from me, it's not that we aren't around, it's that I'm totally swamped, juggling too many balls in the air, and am exhausted.

And for now, I'll continue to listen to the cicadas and try to ignore their songs that are a constant reminder that fall and winter will be here before we know it.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Staying in Bed

I am amazed and somewhat astounded by my ability to jump out of bed when there's a storm coming in the morning. I can get so much more done knowing there's a storm on the way (get chores done, get on the road to the paying job, etc.) all before a storm hits the Sanctuary.

But with no storm on the horizon, I can't seem to haul myself out of bed in the morning. Of course we've been running like crazy for the past three months so very near exhaustion state at the moment. Usually I start to lose my cool in August and hit peek exhaustion some time in August but I seem to be doing that in July. But I digress.

So this morning as I'm hitting snooze for the third time, I smell a smell. The windows have to be open upstairs because the air conditioner can't keep up. Even with the fans going and the AC on, it's still in the upper 80s in the rooms upstairs. So the window was open in hopes of cooling it off. But what should accost my sense of smell? The smell of skunk.

So apparently the smell of skunk makes me not want to get out of bed and get up to do chores. I figured I'd let that old skunk wander away so we wouldn't meet and make the place stink. On Wednesday night I watched a mama racoon and her FIVE babies. Luckily they were running down the driveway but they were here, so that means they are probably living here. I hate having varmints on the place. I know some people will disagree with me about "removing" them from our place. I am not one to trap and release. Because when you trap and release, you're releasing them near someone else who has to deal with them and all their damage they cause. I've had racoons damage the hay barn multiple times, to the point they've eaten a hole in the side to get into the loft of the barn. We may set traps but we'll see. We do NOT need to have six racoons on the place.

Tomorrow is cleanup day. I'm not sure we have everything we need to tackle any one project but we'll see how things go. I'd love to work on the garage but I'm sure there are too many preparation steps that we don't have done yet to even consider tackling it. Mike said something about working on a vehicle and our lawn mower died so I'm sure those will take priority over getting the roof done on the garage even though it now leaks in two spots that I'm very aware of (and I'm sure that it leaks in other places). I need to take some time off but don't  have any vacation time built up because of the furlough. So now I need to juggle even more on my plate to keep the place from falling down around our ears.

Friday, July 12, 2019

National Different Colored Eye Day

Today is National Different Colored Eye Day! Skippy has one blue eye and one brown eye (maybe that’s one good side and one naughty side?) King has partial blue eyes.

Let’s see your pets with different colored eyes!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Foster Care

Last week in all the commotion of every day living with small kids and their summer activities, I got a message from my cousin. Last year she'd asked if we had room for her two horses. At the time, I was pregnant and couldn't take on any more. She kept them and figured out how to relocate to a different acreage and get fencing up (beautiful place, wish I could live there).

So when she messaged me last week, I was surprised. Her beautiful mare was coming to the end of her time on this earth. I shared my knowledge on what to expect for the very last minutes on earth and how to somewhat prepare. You can never really prepare for such a loss.

Now her second horse is alone.

We are going to rectify that situation. We will be hauling My Girl to live as a long-term foster. It'll be our first try at it and I do believe My Girl will be absolutely spoiled to no end. More so than she is here. I'm a little nervous about it just because she's not in my care but I know she'll be in very capable hands and will do even better than she is doing here. Can you say super spoiled?!?

My Girl is very attached to Mayhem. But she's going to a home where another red mare will be waiting for a friend and companion to fill the void. My Girl will be the solid figure that this other mare needs.

I had tossed around the idea of taking Mayhem but she's got a few health issues. Although my cousin's mare is accident prone, I didn't think she needed TWO accident prone mares! Both being red mares is a handful so we opted for My Girl.

I also didn't think that My Girl would handle being left behind if we took Mayhem. Lace is still here but she too isn't long for this earth and then who would My Girl hang out with? I figured it would cause My Girl more anxiety to be left behind than to go to long-term foster. And it would cause Lace some serious issues as well. She's very sore on her legs and being run over by My Girl looking for Mayhem would not be good. My Girl has only been here for 3.5 months. Enough to feel settled, which is what I want and I am worried about unsettling her but between the two, moving My Girl is a better option. When we lose Lace, it'll be back to Mayhem being alone. We'll have to fill that spot but I expect that won't take more than a whisper on the wind and we'll have more than we can handle for those wanting to come in to the Sanctuary.

Because of our crazy schedule, we can't take My Girl down until Saturday. I'm hoping we can get her to her foster home right away Saturday and get home. It'll be four hours round trip (not really that bad). But I also have lots to work on at home. We need to work on getting a roof on the old garage. We had to repair it two years ago when the chimney fell in but now the other portion is starting to leak. We need to get back to focusing on our outbuildings before they crumble to the ground.

I'm sure I'll be in a frenzy the closer the weekend comes simply because we will be moving horses around. I don't worry too much about Mayhem but I do worry about My Girl. I dont' like change but I think this move will be ok for My Girl and for the other mare involved. I always seem to put myself in their shoes and worry. If I only I could tell them and let them know its' all for the best.


How is it the 9th of July already? I'm so far behind, it should at least only be June. The days fly by with kids' activities that there's barely any time for the horses. We'd gone on a family vacation for the 4th and came back Sunday only to discover that the ponies had been out the ENTIRE time we were gone. For whatever reason, that brought me to tears. I'm sure everyone thought I was being stupid or over reacting. I'm not really sure why I was so upset. Only that they are my responsibility and something serious could have happened to them. It might not seem like I'm that passionate right now about the horses but I am. And their care is still of my utmost concern even if I'm not talking about it much.

We had thought about going on another quick trip with the kids this weekend but decided to stay home. There's too much to do at home to get everything done. We need to start thinking about fall and upcoming winter. Last year didnt' count because I couldn't get past the end of September as far as planning goes. But the year before around the first of August, I'd go for a walk and my entire chest would tighten up. It had nothing to do with me walking. It had everything to do with me thinking about what needed to be done and not having time to get it all done. I'm going to be in the same boat soon and I don't want to.

I realized just this week that my coveralls from this past winter are still hanging up from the last time I used them and haven't been washed. Everything is right where I left it last (including all of the blankets that we used this past winter). I need to pull out the power washer and see if we can't wash them that way instead. Once we get them washed, I need to waterproof them as well. I don't think we will be as lucky as last year and score free blankets so we need to get these washed, repaired and reorganized. Some days my procrastination is a bonus but other times it's a curse. I don't want to be caught unprepared this coming winter.

I did talk with our hay guy over the 4th and he said we will have our hay. If he still had cattle, that wouldn't be the case. Where he's at (next to my parents), there has been a bubble where they didn't get any rain. It was two or three years where everything around them got rain except right over their fields (including my hay ground). Now, that bubble burst and there seems to be a massive amount of rain over all of the fields. When driving up there this past weekend, I noticed of the six fields I could see, five of them were not planted. The hay ground that will be ours for hay, looks good. But we were warned that the hay would be a bit more tough than last year. It's going to be two cuttings into one. He didn't get a chance to cut the first round because it constantly rained. They had planned to cut and bale this week but we are getting a downpour as I type this so I'm not sure we'll get our hay this week or not. Not that we haul hay this time of year but it would be nice to see our hay lined up and waiting for us.

My cousin called to say that they had to put one of her beloved horses down. She'd actually asked us to take the pair but I was pregnant at the time and couldn't handle more horses. Now that she's lost her horse, she wants to make sure her other horse doesn't get lonely as she's never been by herself before. So we are going to try a new thing, long-term foster. I'll write more about that later. Now back to the paying job.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Plodding Along

How can it be July already? The last I looked, it was the first of May. I'd like to say I've been busy doing Sanctuary stuff but I haven't. I'm bouncing from one child's activity to another for the past two months. I'm home just long enough to take a shower, check on all the horses to make sure they are in their respectful pens/pastures, and sleep for a few hours. That's it.

It's difficult to get anything done when we are so busy. Whoever said the lazy days of summer didn't have kids (or animals).

I DID however move corral panels last night. I was a little shocked that the mosquitoes weren't as bad so I took the time to move corral panels so the ponies could enjoy a different spot on the lawn. Their lawn pasture was done and they needed to move. Hopefully I didn't leave them on it so long that they burned down all the grass and only left the weeds. But if they did, at least now I can go in and spray the weeds. I'm so far behind on getting rid of weeds it is ridiculous.

We have a ton of projects that need to get done but we aren't home to get them done. I scheduled a cleanup day for July 20th. If I don't schedule a day to work, we'll fill it with other stuff. So hopefully we can tackle a few of the projects. I'm not sure if anyone will show up but we'll at least have a down day to get stuff done.

I was really hoping to get a skid loader so that we could haul manure. With the rains we got this spring, all of the fields surrounding us are empty. We could easily spend the next few weeks here and there spreading manure but I'd prefer to get it all done in one grand swoop and then do another one this fall when it's not so much. Our manure spreader is fairly small so we need to either make a million trips or find someone with a big one. We also need a skid loader to get into the lean to and it would make loading the spreader 10 times easier.  I'm not sure if we'll ever get one. It's on the long list of things we need to purchase.

And even though we've been running, it's always after the paying job finishes up (or I have to take vacation hours). Sadly, we are still dealing with having no vacation hours after the furlough (no I'm not a government employee but I work in a government building and was therefore unable to work). So now I'm very limited on what little vacation hours I have. So even some of the  major projects I would do alone during the day, I can't get done because I can't take any vacation time. I know I shouldn't complain about vacation time. I'm lucky to have it but I still struggle on juggling everything on my plate.

For the past two weekends, Rain and I have been performing with Dakota Thunder Mounted Drill Team at Estelline and Irene. I was always worried about pushing him because he's 21 and the oldest horse on the team. I also was really worried this past weekend because of the heat. Amazingly, he had no problems (but I did). Never underestimate those older horses. Hopefully I can start working with my personal gelding, Lightening (aka Satan), so that I can start using him for drill team rather than Rain. At some point, Rain won't be able to perform any more. The problem is, I have perfect trail riding horses, which is what everyone was looking for at one time. But I made those horses a promise so they are with me until the end.

I'm trying to get a few things figured out for the next few months, as far as upcoming activities but that's not going so well. So if anyone would like to help, I'll fill you in on all the details.

I am taking Jim, Dude, and Rain in to the vet on Friday to get their teeth looked at. Jim isn't putting on weight and still looks thin after a month on pasture. Dude hasn't picked up any  more weight and Rain always has wavy teeth. So I'm hauling all three in to have them checked out. If Jim's teeth are good, then it's a matter of needing to pump him full of senior feed and supplements. He's now on my permanent watch list (along with Lace). Both are thinner than I like but we are going to lose Lace for sure. Jim is a bit of a shock although he sometimes loses weight in the spring. But he's not picked it up so hopefully it's just his teeth and not some other underlying cause. He is really starting to show his age in the face. So if his teeth are ok, then I need to prepare myself for the inevitable. I'm not yet prepared to lose another one just yet. But that's part of Sanctuary living. Everyone grows old and some day has to leave this earth. We haven't really taken on anyone new except My Girl. It feels weird not having more but with our schedule, it's nearly impossible to do right for everyone. I hate saying no but I'm sort of stuck at the moment. I hate that the waiting list keeps getting longer and sadly, most people aren't willing to let a horse sit on a waiting list until a spot opens up at the Sanctuary. But we will simply continue to do what we can for who we have and keep plodding along.