Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hay is for horses

Another note regarding hay.

This is how we raked the 3rd cut of hay. I thought you all might be interested in some real horsepower.

video

At first we were not sure the percherons would be fast enough to make the rake turn but they did a fine job. Saved on diesel fuel. I guess the tractor would have been faster though.

We were very fortunate to get a 3rd cut. Most people were not even on their 2nd without rain ruining it. This only got half cut then it rained on it twice so that got ruined but we got a good enough window to get this stuff done because it was not cut like half the field was a week earlier. Phew, what a year for hay and crops in general. I can't count the fields that you can see water damage.
Don't go knocking hay prices until you are the one using your land for income.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Idle thoughts and other things

When I am doing mindless jobs like stalls, sweeping or cleaning I think a lot. The thing I think the most about is horses (duh). Sometimes I have ideas and go "gee this could really help someone" but then before I can put it into a blog post I forget about it.
Sometimes when it is a really good thought I'll mull over it in my mind for a few days before telling anyone. Sometimes I actually get cracking and write it as a blog so you all can read it and put your thoughts together with my thoughts. I like that, it's what blogging is about.

Lately I have been thinking about a number of different things. I started this post a few days ago and I am sure I'll remember them all at 2 am when I am sleeping, not blogging.

Hands. What do hands have to do with horses? Well more on a skeletal or cellular level they are similar. When we use our hands more our skin cell production speeds up. This creates what we know as a callous. A callous is a place of thickened skin cells where we place repeated use; our fingertips and palms for example. If we stopped using these areas they would shed that calloused skin over time and become softer because of decreased need to keep up an excelled skin cell production. Hence our skin produces more or less depending on how much we use them and on what surfaces. A secretary at an office might have a callous on his/her index finger from using a pen. A blacksmith will have a large callous on their thumb from repeated use of a hammer but not on their index finger because they do not spend much time writing like the secretary.

The same has been proven with horses. Their feet are largely a "Use it or lose it" functionality. The more abrasive surfaces they are on the more sole their hoof will produce. The less abrasive surfaces they are on the less sole they produce. Take this into consideration when shoeing a horse. I hear people say "My horse is ouchy on pavement" so I ask where the horse is kept. The answer does not usually surprise me when they say a grass pasture or a stall most of the day with limited work on the pavement the owner is complaining about. Horses feet need to be conditioned slowly to the surface you want them to work on.
Think of horses soles being sensitive like your callouses on your own hands. If I asked you to pick up a hammer and swing away with me all day on an anvil, and you have never previously done it don't you think your hands are going to be raw by the end of the day? If I asked you to come swing hammer for an amount of time, increasing every day, wouldn't you build up more gradually until the time I was working at with much less resistance and pain?
Same goes for your horses hooves. Don't expect them to be on grass all day and to work on the road comfortably without regular work on the road.

Hay.

I'm saying this because I have seen NUMEROUS horse bloggers complaining about buying hay.. Hay is for horses (and cows and sheep and goats and other ruminants). There are several reasons why people are complaining this year. 1) They cannot get hay. 2) The price of the hay IS TOO DAMN HIGH! (name that youtube video!) 3) Their hay got ruined and now they have to buy it (see 1 and 2). 4) Hay providers are running out and people who buy from them are getting mad.

1) Hay got ruined this year globally it seems. Farmers are being smart and making sure their own families were fed by planting crops such as corn and soybeans that are at an all time high this year in price(See #3). With as much hay that has been ruined this year why should they take a chance on their own families not being fed and cared for when they could plant another crop, cash in the money and buy hay for their animals elsewhere.

2) Do not complain about the price of hay going up. First of all hay has been at the same price in most places for the past 10 and even 20 years!!! If it is not the same price it is within two or three dollars of that price. Do you want to work at wages that were present 10 or 20 years ago? I don't think so.

3) Ruined hay. We have had droughts. Months without rain turning fields of lovely alfalfa into deserts. Rain. It rained sooooooo much that getting a dry moment where your tractor did not get stuck so you could cut and rake and allow the time to cure the hay seemed nearly impossible. A lot of hay was lost. To prevent income loss the farmers who could not take their hay off planted grains instead (See #1).

4) Hay farmers will not usually store hay for buyers unless they pay them ahead of time (or are good friends, return, reputable customers for years and years and years. Depends on the hay seller really). It is a waste of profit, space and time for them. For example the seller could save a few hundred bales for someone who's going to "maybe" come back in a few months at the customers convenience or they can sell it (or ship it to the US where there are states that have no hay whatsoever due to rain/fire/drought) and make the money now. It's a bit less risky to know your money is in your hand than waiting for months and months for that customer to come back at their own convenience when they "need" hay.

I know I am going to make some readers mad with posting this bit on hay but it's what is happening. When you point something out like this a lot of people are complaining about it's going to make someone mad or upset. You cannot please everyone. I understand because I deal with the farmers who sell the hay and the owners who want to buy it.


PS- people are still annoyed at the price this year even if you read this post. Another fact to consider is that farming is directly influenced by mother nature. Hay is one of the most high risk crops and the one with the most manual labor (unless you can afford larger machines that do it all). The only people who fully appreciate that are the farmers directly supplementing their income with hay and other crops. A rise in prices this year can aid the farmer in the chance that this mass loss of income could happen next year. It's their own personal insurance, not farmers being greedy and wanting more money. Your not in farming because you want to make a lot of money, just like your never in horses to make a lot of money. It just doesn't happen that way.

Those of you who are in a severe drought right now COME GET OUR RAIN!!! UGH! It rained the other day and looks like the next 7 days there's going to be rain. The barnyard is a swamp. Areas where it previously was not muddy or deep are now over the tops of my boots. I went to close a gate to a pasture at my one barn and it sucked my boot right off, sock in the mud SPLAT! I cussed for a moment before taking off my sloppy sock and yanking my boot out of the mud.

It's also fall now which means I have to wear a sweater outside in the morning. I hate sweaters because it means winter is coming. It's cold I want summer back with heat that dries this mud and rain up.
It also means apples. I looooove apples. So does Indigo. It's safe to say they are her favorite food ever. When I come with an apple it's generally the only time she will come trotting/cantering to me nickering the whole time. She nickers at me for no reason when I am grooming her, just to see if I'll offer an apple. She nickers at me when I mount to ride her and dismount. I don't feed her an apple every time she nickers (like she wishes) but she does get one every time I go to the fence to get her. She will take apples over grain, carrots or horse treats. She LOVES apples


"Good job loyal human subject. This apple offering pleases the queen Indigo"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where did summer go?

I want it back and I am going to sit here on the ground and pitch a fit until it does.

The mosquitoes are still rampant here even though it's cooled down into the low 70's and 60's during the day. It rained all day today and driving after dark this evening was like playing the game frogger. A lot of toads got game over as I was trying to dodge them on the wet road.. I have never seen so many on the road at once and in September no less. Usually by the middle of June most of them have committed suicide on the pavement.

I've been doing a lot and been lots of places.

I got to three shows.
Indigo was awesome this year. She got me a ribbon in every class we entered with the worst ribbon being a 5th on a class of 15 for Simon says. Not that I am complaining. She has a bad habit of taking steps backwards slowly when asked to stand in the ring in harness. She also behaved phenomenally. Last year she was awesome, don't get me wrong but she did try some shenanigans like hopping around in harness at inappropriate times and refusing to stand still in lineup.

This was taken just after I had won the ladies drive, hence the stupid grin I had going on.

Yesterday we had our last driving show of the year. Props to her for going out and winning when I hadn't driven her in two weeks due to being out of the country. I wondered how she would behave with the crisp morning bath, wind and cool weather but she was totally relaxed all day. We were standing next to a friend with her mare in harness waiting for some other competitors to finish with a timed driving event. They called the lineup and we ended up second. Indigo stood there with her hind leg cocked and ears flopped to the side I clicked to her asking her to walk on. She shifted her weight ever so lazily and started walking only to take two steps and cock the other hind foot. Oi! Woman, wake up! We got prizes to collect.

I took a trip to Mexico with Maverick for a friends wedding.
It was lovely.
Bringing home what feels like 50 extra pounds in food is not.
I love sugar and butter and when they are serving seafood doused in butter and an open buffet of desserts I have no self control. None at all. I gorge myself repeatedly, lie in the sun and have a fat attack (when you eat too much and it's painful to move).
Someone roll me back into the ocean so I can float around and digest.

We got some complimentary pictures taken at the resort. The guy with the camera had a blast. Normally a complimentary photo shoot runs about 10 minutes but we were out for over a half an hour.

What was not so lovely was getting a text from my mother the day before. Maverick and I are at a flea market in Mexico and I get a text that consists of "Your dad got in an accident with your truck call me ASAP" the first thing I think is that my dad was hurt and the second was #*$@!!!! I haven't even had that truck for a complete month yet! Turns out the insurance company will not release the truck or information until I verified it, being the only person on the insurance. I gave my dad permission to drive my truck wile I was gone so it did not sit doing nothing for a few weeks. No dads were hurt in the totaling of the little white chevy truck. A kid turned left in front of him at a green light he was driving through and he smoked the hind end of his vehicle, demolishing the passenger side of mine. Luckily the kid had insurance and my truck is getting fixed. Still, it'll never be the same *sniff*.

When we got back from Mexico the little burrito, Pepe was due for a hoof trim. Now if you have ever trimmed feet you've likely encountered a donkey a time or two. They cannot easily be convinced to not at least try once to kick you in the teeth until they truly want to behave. I had been working with Pepe a lot. We worked on holding still wile a limb was picked up and held. A good ol lead rope around a leg with some leverage until he subsided kicking did the trick, until I went to trim him. The last time Maverick trimmed him he pulled one of his wrestling moves on the 250 pound donkey and knocked his ass (pun intended) to the ground and proceeded to trim his feet with his neck sandwiched between his legs where he couldn't get up or kick too well.

I started with him standing upright handling his front hooves. His smart little brain kicked in and he had the idea he knew what was going on and what happened last time. He started hopping up and down and I was in danger of taking off a digit with the hoof knife but he needed his feet done soooo bad. One of his fronts was an inch longer than the other. Why you ask? Well when we got him he obviously had not had any hoof work done. The sensitive structures in his one front hoof was much lower to the ground than the other. Maverick took a tiny bit off and voila, blood. This time I scraped his chalky sole off with a hoof pick and got over half an inch of hoof wall, meaning the quick receded. Yipee!

So anyway, back to donkey wrestling. So Pepe is flailing and Maverick is grinning from ear to ear watching me wrestle a donkey that weighs twice as much as me and stay just on the edge of winning the fight. Finally I snapped at him to come over and knock my ass on the ground (pepe that is). He reached down and tossed him and sat with his neck between his legs. I started trimming and Pepe was making this horrible grunting noise. I think he was trying to lay pity on us because it worked and we let him up. Only then did he stand like a post and let me do the other feet without so much as a flick of a hoof. Good, sweet Pepe, your such a good boy. I have mastered the art of ass whispering.

That'll do donkey, that'll do.


Somehow this summer he managed to scrape the soft fuzz off his grey muzzle in the shape of a heart. Cute.


Hes such an endearing little fellow I don't know how anyone can resist his personality. I've always loved donkeys from afar. They are comical, incredibly intelligent and beyond cute with those long ears. I never really had much of a chance to work with many. Our county is a little short on long ears.
Being around Pepe and seeing the way he does things, takes treats from you ever so gently, hee-haws like hes in a dire hurry but never goes anywhere fast, rules the herd with a pin of his ears and gnash of his teeth (yes the horses get the heck out of his way when he says so, even if hes just above knee height) and follows my every step in the pasture just makes my day. Sometimes he does get in the way. I was out working with the other horses and took a step back only to just about fall over Pepe who had been standing a foot behind me waiting ever so patiently for my attention.

Maverick chased him with his truck the other day I almost peed myself.
See Pepe has a bad habit. Pepe knows the inner and outer workings of getting in and out of any fence.
I was sitting in the passenger seat of mavericks truck glued to the latest issue of western horseman when all of a sudden the truck speeds up and starts honking, followed by several cuss words. I look up just in time to see Pepe bounding like tigger off of winnie the pooh, head and tail in the air and our truck in hot persuit around the circle driveway. Pepe knew exactly what was up because we followed him honking the entire way back to a corner in the pasture. He slyly did the limbo under the hot wire and hauled ass back to the herd, hee-hawing the whole way. We laughed soooo hard. Little bugger. Pepe has discovered the art of getting down and crawling under the fence on his knees to eat the grass on the other side. Or the hay bales.

When I say donkeys are smart, they are smart. Maverick has some hot wire around where some hay bales are. We watch Pepe come over and do the limbo under the hot wire. Maverick cusses and tells me to get my donkey, which I do. He then fixes it and tells me to let Pepe go because he wanted him to know what hot wire was. Hopeful that our little burrito was going to get a little dose of god from his electric fence encounter and leave the hay alone I let him go. He saunters on over in the direction of the hot wire... and does an about face heading off in the other direction just before touching it. Boy was Maverick mad! He mumbled something jokingly about tossing the donkey into the electric fence and walked away, leaving me cracking up.
Donkeys are smart.

I linked Maverick to a craigslist ad for a mini donkey. For the first time since we have known each other he said a resounding "NO!!!". But his ears, and that face, and Pepe, and watching two male donkeys play is the funniest ever!!
We'll see how long that "NO!" lasts.
I think I know what so many other bloggers who own donkeys are talking about.
I am officially hooked on long ears.
Like potato chips, can't have just one...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Things from the past that make you laugh

You know how sometimes you think about something that happened in the past...
And you burst out in manic laughter at the mere thought.

Roll your mouse over this image to revel in the bushy mustachioed past.






This always makes me laugh.


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