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Square Bale Hay Harvest Video

Square Bale Hay Harvest Video

Hay WagonI think I’ve finally recovered from last weekend. As predicted, they were the hottest days of the year so far, with humidity that felt too much like monsoon season in the desert southwest. For two days (Saturday and Monday) we sweated in a field, dodged barn swallows and wasps and worked on our tans and our muscles as we harvested the first cutting of hay this summer. We know it will all be worth it come winter. Heck, when we’re using this hay in the middle of a frigid cold night we’ll be thinking pleasantly back to the heat of these days. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Although we often speak of dreading the hay harvest, the truth is we have many good memories we wouldn’t trade. It’s a time when a group of people who like each other works together and accomplishes a goal. At the end, we cool off in air conditioning, cook some burgers and tell tall tales about harvest days of years past. We drive home in the cool of the evening with the windows down. We experience the pleasure of washing off all that dirt in a refreshing shower back at the house and slipping into a clean bed under cool sheets to ease our aching muscles when we finally go horizontal for the night. In the end, it’s all good.

Here’s a brand new short video of how we use machines to harvest these square hay bales. It’s about 2 minutes long, with text narration. This will either bring back memories or show you something maybe you’ve never seen before.

Oh and this year we found a live snake in a bale! I was about to grab a bale to send up the hay elevator in the barn when I noticed something wiggling. It was a small snake but the incident reminded me to always wear gloves.

Do you harvest hay this way, too?

How likely it is we’ll be harvesting hay this weekend

How likely it is we’ll be harvesting hay this weekend

Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far and you know what that means? Time to harvest hay. You’ve probably read about our hay harvesting escapades before. The overwhelming theme is how hot it is when we’re doing it. You can pretty much pick the hottest, most humid and miserable day of the year and that’s when the hay is coming in. Here’s a handy chart you can use to predict the likelihood of the hay being ready based on temperature:

Correlation of hay time and temperature

I’m speaking specifically of square bales. We don’t use a lot of them this time of year but they’re a staple in winter when the horses spend more time inside the barn. Our own barn can only hold about 80 bales but there is a barn in the hay field that can probably hold 1,000 or more. That’s where we’ll be tomorrow, pulling square bales from the field into a hay wagon and then transferring them to a loft in the big barn. There we’ll battle stifling heat, wasps, dive-bombing barn swallows and the occasional snake to store up hay for the winter. It’s worth it. We have a deal with our provider that gives us discounted pricing in exchange for help harvesting. Some icy cold winter day we’ll look back in envy of this warm day I dread as I type this.

I think I’m recycling this video but just in case you don’t know what square bale harvesting looks like, here’s a short video from a few years ago.

Do you help harvest hay where you live? Does this chart relate to your experience as well?

35 days of horse repair

35 days of horse repair

Camo Horse Bandage Wrap
Stylish Camo Horse Bandage Wrap

Early last month, Mikki posted about Romeo’s leg injury. It was a surprise that we discovered a little later than we should have. Infections are much harder to treat than fresh wounds. In fact, we ended up treating that infected wound for 35 days. Of course it was smack in the middle of winter, mild though it was.

Romeo learned to dread coming to the barn about as much as we did but the bandages had to be changed twice a day at times and the wound cleaned and treated and then re-wrapped to keep the dirt out (we used blue camo horse wrap, like the one in the picture). The antibiotic pills weren’t pleasant, even when we crushed them into something yummy like molasses or apple mush or a sweet oatmeal cake. It didn’t take long for him to be on to us. But considering the pain and unpleasantness of it all, he took it well. We usually cross tied him in the barn. He mostly stood quietly. Having two of us work on him was key. One of us talked to him and rubbed his neck, delivering a needed distraction. He never kicked or bit, though he did try to walk away at times.

Today, Romeo is still not very interesting in coming to the barn, despite the treatment being over. But he walks and runs well and the wound has healed nicely.

Moral of the story? Check your horses every day! Any kind of stiffness or limping needs immediate attention. And if your horse has any kind of open wound injury, expect to treat it several times a day and don’t skimp on cleaning, even though they hate that part. Also, seek medical attention immediately if you have any concerns. Develop a relationship with your horse vet because these things almost always seem to happen late at night on a Friday or Saturday when it’s hard to reach a vet until Monday. We have our vets cell phone number just in case.

Camo horse wrap picture from The Haughty Horse.

Christmas Figgy Pudding Horse Cake

Christmas Figgy Pudding Horse Cake

Everyone seems to have holiday traditions. While we’re busy baking Christmas hams and pies and eating figgy pudding, our horses are left to eat the same old hay they get all year. Don’t think their super-sensitive nostrils aren’t picking up on all that yummy holiday food. And while they may not crave ham (horses are thankfully herbivores, after all), there’s no reason why we can’t share with them some of our sweet treats.

Here’s a very simple recipe for a horse treat that smells good, tastes good and is actually good for them. It’s very similar to our horse birthday cake recipe.  Measurements are approximate; this isn’t science here.  No baking involved.  It’s pretty much just throwing together a bunch of stuff horses like.  The amounts below made enough for four horses (about 1 cup each) and one burro-sized mule (about 1/2 cup).

Christmas Figgy Pudding Horse Cake

2 1/2 cups oats (we had 5 packets of plain instant oatmeal, so we used that)
1 large apple, chopped into small pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup molasses
6 dried figs, chopped

Mix all the ingredients until well blended.  Press into ramekins or other small dishes and freeze until firm.  Unmold and serve!

So while we might think buying reindeer antler hats for our horses constitutes a good Christmas present, I’ll bet you an apple they would prefer Christmas Figgy Pudding Horse Cake.

Simple ingredients
The completed cakes, including a small one for Jazzy the mule

Merry Christmas from Our First Horse!

Our current Summer horse routine

Our current Summer horse routine

Cash with a grazing muzzle

Fat horses have motivated us to shift our summertime horse routine. Since Cash foundered last month, we noticed all of our horses were on the heavy side. It’s been very hot and humid so they’re not getting much exercise. We didn’t want to put grazing muzzles on all of them. Our solution has been to put them into the barn at night to reduce access to hay and grass. A nice side benefit is that we’re sure to see them twice a day to check for irregularities.

So an average day looks like this: 

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So Long to Our First Barn Dog

So Long to Our First Barn Dog

On Monday, we had to say goodbye to Jack, our loyal Jack Russell terrier.  My parents and I bought him as a birthday gift for Bill in 1998.  He was, as we liked to fondly call him, “the worst birthday present ever.”  Being a Jack Russell, he liked to bark at anything and everything.  To be expected, but so annoying!  As a bonus, for his first few months with us, he peed in the house and would not stop, culminating with an incident during a move from one house to another when he peed on our bed right before we fell into it, exhausted. Believe it or not, he survived that night, and that was the last time he ever peed in the house until his final illness.

He turned into a pretty good dog, though, and we loved him a lot.  He was our only dog when we moved here to Tennessee in 2005.  He adapted from city dog to farm dog quite well – he LOVED it here.  His favorite place, other than on the couch in the air-conditioned house, was the barn.  He had a thing for horse apples and hoof trimmings.

Last January we took him to the vet because we were afraid the Buddha belly he’d developed was more than just fat.  Alas, we were right.  It was fluid buildup due to liver failure.  The vet thought he probably had liver cancer.  We started him on diuretic medication to make him more comfortable and began to wait for the inevitable.

A year later, he was still plugging along, but he had developed diarrhea and started peeing in the house.  Took him back to the vet and discovered that he was now also in kidney failure.  We put him on SQ fluids and a special diet and waited for the inevitable.

The diuretic stopped working a couple of months later so we stopped giving it.  His breathing got to be more labored but the tough little dog hung in there.  He started having problems eating too, and after a really tough couple of weeks, he virtually stopped eating altogether last week.  We reluctantly agreed that the time had come.  So on Monday, July 25, we had to say goodbye for good.  Jack was 14 years old and we’d had him for more than 13 years.  Wow, was that hard.  Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any easier.

RIP little Jack buddy.  We’ll miss you.

My Boots are Back On!

My Boots are Back On!

Yay!  One step closer to resuming normal life.

Bill was out of town and Cash turned up lame (more on that later) so I had to do some horse stuff, and I didn’t want to do it in my tennies.  So I thought I’d give the boots a try, and I got them on!  More importantly, I got them off again later, with no pain.  I wouldn’t call them “comfortable” quite yet, but I’m not going to complain.

The 2011 Barn Names Survey

The 2011 Barn Names Survey

Horse Stall Sign CloseupAbout four years ago we wrote a post about barn names called Curiously Fun Barn Names. Since then, that post has had a lot of comments revealing some really interesting ones. The thought occurred to me that we ought to run a survey of barn names with a few questions such as age and location so we could see if there are any geographical trends. You’d also be able to pick your favorite barn name from those suggested so far. Want to participate? This is all just for fun so there’s no need to identify yourself. I did include an email field in case you’d like to get an email with the results. Depending on how popular it is, I’ll keep it open for a while and will then report the results here on our blog.

 

 

I Kissed a Horse Yesterday

I Kissed a Horse Yesterday

Horse HugNormally that would pretty much be an everyday occurrence for me, but since I broke my foot two months ago, I haven’t been able to even get near one.  I wasn’t able to put any weight at all on my right foot, so I was using a “knee walker” to get around.  The grounds around our barn and pasture are way too uneven to take that thing over, and doing it on crutches would have been just asking for more injuries.  But yesterday I went back to my doctor for a checkup, and he told me I could ditch the crutches and scooter!  I’m finally walking on two feet again!  Albeit in a boot still, but I’m so glad to get rid of that scooter.  So when we got home, my dad took me up to the top of the hill in the John Deere Gator, and I walked over to the fence where Cash obligingly let me rub his head and neck and muzzle and smooch his velvety nose.  Ahhhh….horses smell so good!

Broken Foot = No Horse Stuff.

Broken Foot = No Horse Stuff.

Broken Foot Pink CastSometimes I wonder if I’m meant to have horses.  Given my tendency to clumsiness, maybe not.  Here’s the latest:  On March 26, just as the days were getting warmer and the fields were getting greener, and Bill and I were looking forward to washing all the winter mud off our horses and saddling them up again, I broke my foot.  I wish I had a cool story – maybe something involving a rodeo and finally giving Moonshine her day in the sun – but the sad truth is, I slipped on a used puppy pad.  Yep, that’s it.  We have an old dog in kidney and liver failure who is a bit incontinent, so we keep puppy pads by the back door.  I hadn’t picked one up out of sheer laziness; I stepped outside, over it, to let the littlest dog out, and when I stepped back in, I forgot all about the darn thing and stepped right on it.  Turns out they’re pretty slippery.  We went to the emergency clinic (it was Saturday, of course – all emergencies happen at night or on weekends) and the PA on duty said it was just a sprain. On Monday the radiologist called and said it was definitely more than a sprain.  By Wednesday my foot was in a pretty pink cast and I was on crutches.   (After about a week on crutches I switched to a knee walker – a wheeled walker you put your knee on like a scooter. Much better than crutches!)  I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on that foot until the orthopedic doc gave me the okay on April 27 – now I can stand on it (on both feet, not just that one) but still can’t walk on it.   The doctor says at my next appointment I may get the okay to walk on it.  Two months off the foot all together.  Two months of SPRING.  What bad luck!

And you’ll note it was my right foot…no driving.  I also cannot go anywhere with uneven ground: for instance, to the barn.  I certainly can’t go into the barn with a horse, since I wouldn’t be able to maneuver out of his way if necessary.  Can’t feed them or water them or even pet them!  Poor Bill has had complete responsibility for all the farm chores all this time.  Except when he traveled on business, then my poor dad had to take over.  I never thought I’d miss feeding horses in pouring down rain, or shoveling stalls, or scrubbing buckets…but I sure do now.  I can’t wait to be on two feet again.  Even after I’m allowed to walk again, I suspect I’ll baby my foot for a while and probably won’t be riding for another month to be sure.

If any of you have broken a foot or leg, I’d love to hear your recovery story/advice.