Browsed by
Category: The Barn

Posts that talk about the barn.

Is your pasture wet and muddy too?

Is your pasture wet and muddy too?

Pasture MudWhen it rains, it pours here in East Tennessee. To make winters even less pleasant, the frequent rain (January is our second rainiest month) is causing us work and making the lives of our horses a little less fun. Even though it was warm Sunday when I shot this little video, I decided to let the horses in to dry off and they seemed to appreciate it. I can’t wait until we have a few dry days to move some dirt. We knew we had some new drainage issues but the big rain storm Sunday made it seem a lot worse. I made this quick 2 minute, 26 second video to show you how muddy our place is right now. Now with voice overs! LOL. Once you get past the first few dizzy seconds, the rest of the video is pretty smooth.

So does your barn and pasture look like this right now, too?

Neat Horse Stall Signs

Neat Horse Stall Signs

Sure, our horses know which stall to go in at feeding time but we’ve always wanted nice horse stall signs. We’ve thought about having someone make some carved ones but thought it might look too big. Most of the horse accessory catalogs sell engraved ones and those were okay but they always reminded me of baseball trophy engraving and the labels just seemed too small. I wanted something bold and good looking, with impact. Mikki surprised me one day by ordering stall signs from Metal Image Creations (, a family small business that specializes in custom stall signs and custom display signs (warning signs, company signs and even trophies). The signs she ordered show our horse’s barn names in bold, along with their fancy pedigree names underneath (I keep forgetting the fancy names so this comes in handy). The text appears to be lasered onto aluminum, the edges are rounded and there are two small holes on the top for mounting. I love these stall signs! I put them up about three months ago and they look as good today as they did when I first unwrapped them. The price was right, too. Only $19 each. I’m amazed at the high quality lettering and the info sheet that came with the stall signs indicates the lettering “is so tough that an image cannot be removed by erasure, and even resists abrasives such as steel wool, extreme temperatures, fungus, and most corrosive atmospheres.” I hope out stall signs aren’t exposed to most of those things but I did try to scratch the lettering with my fingernail with no luck.

I meant to write about these months ago and even took some nice pictures but I can’t find them at the moment. Below is a photo I took of Moonshine a few weeks back with some reindeer antlers we bought for future Christmas pictures. Yeah, she’s REALLY dirty in this picture but at least you can see the cool sign. We have one for each horse and no doubt you’ll see them in upcoming photos.

Metal Image Creations didn’t pay us anything for this review. We just like this product so much, we wanted to pass on the info:

Mark and Lisa Peters
Metal Image Creations
Phone: 660-890-4820

Wasp nest in tack

Wasp nest in tack

Wasp nestLet this be a lesson to us all. Yesterday I was stung by a wasp who unbeknown to me was busy building a nest under one of our saddle blankets. Around here, wasps are everywhere right now! At times we are afraid to go into our tackroom, which is open to the barn on the top. Someone was coming over to exercise Romeo for us and I dashed into the barn to grab the saddle blanket. I don’t recall ever being stung by a wasp but I can tell you it felt like someone had stabbed my finger. I thought I had left something sharp under there and I had cut myself on it and fully expected to see blood. Although the pain eventually dissipated, boy did it throb for a while!

A quick search of the internet revealed a way to relieve the pain. Apparently alcohol is good for bee stings and vinegar is good for wasp stings (think a-b and v-w) but not vice-versa. This seems to have worked and today I had forgotten all about it.

So just a quick note to suggest safety when pulling out tack you haven’t used in a while.

Romeo gets his head stuck

Romeo gets his head stuck

Yesterday I went to the barn to let the horses out and to my surprise Romeo greeted me with his head through the gate we use for his stall. He’s always the one who has his head through a fence eating grass so it wasn’t unusual but after a few minutes it became apparent that he couldn’t figure out how to get his head out of the gate. It’s funny now but I started worrying about his panicking and me trying to manipulate his head to freedom. Of course I expected he wouldn’t know what I was doing and would fight me. I briefly thought I might even had to get out a saw of some kind.

Now let me say right now that of all the animals I’ve worked with over the years, horses are probably the smartest I’ve come across. You can tell how much more intelligent they are from the way they learn and make decisions. Still, in situations like this I wonder.

Since I always seem to have a camera nearby, I grabbed one and pushed record as I tried an idea. If I could just get Romeo to move to the side a little and then incent him to turn his head sideways to fetch a carrot, maybe I could encourage him to fix this problem himself. And it worked. Below is a short (25 second) video.

So this has taught me a few things:

1) It’s important to check on the horses, even if they’re “safe” in the barn. If there is something to get scratched on or tangled in, they’ll find it. Romeo even scalped an inch square piece of fur from his head the day before on a little rough piece of metal on the fence (you can see it wrapped in twine in the video).

2) Perhaps gates aren’t the best wall substitutes. We intended on building a real wall with a wooden gate like the other stalls but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. This reminds me of the importance to get that project done.

3) Try the simple first. Romeo clearly wasn’t panicked when I found him so it was a good idea to not freak out and look for some complicated solution. A few carrots did the trick in this case.

Have you had anything like this happen with your horse(s)? Please share your story.

Horse Houdini Chronicles, Chapter 2

Horse Houdini Chronicles, Chapter 2

That would be a good book name, huh? Last January, Mikki wrote about Valentine’s escape from his stall, which fortunately was an escape to the center aisle of our barn and not to the outside world. We have another Houdini and I bet you can guess which horse it is. You’ve probably read about Cash’s karate demonstration back in September, where he literally kicked a stall door from its hinges as we watched. Now he did this accidentally while rolling but he’s the one horse standing at gates and fences with a look on his face that says “I sure would rather be over there”. I went up to the barn to let the horses out one morning and found Cash rubbing his face on one of the stall gates. It’s shedding season so everyone is itchy. Well he continued to rub his face on the latch and while I was standing there, it flipped up. Another couple of rubs and I could see how it would unlock and open the gate. Fortunately (again) I was standing right there to see this or he might have had another run of the neighborhood.

When we moved here, the outside doors of the stalls were all nailed shut and I think I can see why now. Still, in an emergency, I want to be able to free the horses in a hurry without trying to find a hammer, which is why we loosened those nails. But it is clear I need to secure the latch on Cash’s stall door better. Poking around my workshop, I found a spring-loaded keeper I must have bought at the local horse tack auction last year. At the time I didn’t know how I’d use it but now I’m glad I bought it anyway. Ladies, this is a guy thing and although I probably collect a lot of junk, too, this time it worked out. You can see from the picture how we have it attached. The spring is pretty strong but not so strong I can’t open the door latch with a strong pull. It did, however, add a lot of resistance to the latch where Cash like to rub his face. You can see two holes to the left of the horseshoe part. That turned out to be a bad spot, as there wasn’t enough leverage for the spring-loaded keeper to hold the handle down.

Do you have a Houdini and if so, how do you cope?

Romeo gets a barn stall

Romeo gets a barn stall

Last week as very cold weather approached, Mikki and I got a hankering to knock off one of our outstanding barn projects. Although our barn is designed with room for five stalls, two of them were being used for storage. Since we built a hay loft over one, we’re able to store hay there instead of the other stall. Sure it’s more of a pain to get to but poor Romeo needed a stall. Romeo, being the most easy going horse we have, was chosen to be an “open staller”, meaning he got the run of the center aisle. When the weather is nice, that’s not a bad spot. You get lots of room and we kept the barn door open on one end so he could get water whenever he wanted. But when the wind blows, it blows right through the barn. Clearly we needed to do something. So last weekend Mikki and I cleaned out stall four for Romeo. He doesn’t have a fancy wood door like the others and he’s missing an outside window but he’s safe and protected from the wind.

Here is what it looked like before it was cleared out. What’s missing is all the hay bales. It doesn’t look like much but it took hours to find new homes for this stuff, pull exposed nails and clean all the loose hay off of the ground (it was old and nasty).

And here it is after. It was dark by the time we were done, hence the dark picture.

One more project off of the list!

We need a new barn radio

We need a new barn radio

Old Barn RadioNo matter what kind of music you listen to, if you spend time in the barn you probably play a radio there. We have an old CD player radio with a broken CD door (nothing duct tape and an old horse shoe couldn’t fix) which worked great until a week or so ago. For some reason the CD player won’t play anymore. It might have something to do with the half inch of fur/dirt and hay pile up in the corners of the CD tray or the fact that its floor location means it gets accidentally kicked a lot. Either way, it’s dead and we need a new barn radio.

So here are the three options I have, as I see them:

1) Cheap radio – I could simply purchase a cheap new radio from Walmart and I might even be able to find one that can play MP3’s. I hate changing CD’s in the barn anyway and I can put 150 songs on an MP3 CD. Heck, I could even go low tech and tape around the edges of the CD door to keep the dust out. I might even be able to find one with an auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player. For less than $39 I’d probably have a radio that would last another two or three years.
Barn Radio Idea - Walmart
$37 on clearance at Walmart

2) Resistant car radio – I could build a box to mount a car radio so I could use a boating water/dust front cover. I actually have a car radio that would work that plays MP3 CD’s and has an auxiliary input jack for use with an iPod or something. I would have to buy speakers but this would give me some speaker flexibility. For instance, I could mount maybe four speakers around the barn. I’m not always in the tack room and I hate turning the radio to full volume just to hear it while cleaning stalls. But car radios are twelve volts to work in cars. I could use a car battery and wire a solar charger to it. This option is fun but I have a feeling it would end up costing me $100 or more and take several days to setup and perfect. But it would be neat and would probably last a long time.
Barn Radio Idea - Car Stereo
3) Durable jobsite radio – What I’m referring to here is one of those contractor radios that home builders use on job sites. I’ve seen them at Home Depot and Lowes. They’re dirt, water and impact resistant. But they’re also $200-$300. But some of them work on battery power and it would be nice for camping and other projects. But that’s a lot of money.

Barn Radio Idea - Jobsite
Bosch PB10-CD available at Amazon right now for $140

So what do you use for a barn radio? Any suggestions?

Cash Knows Karate!

Cash Knows Karate!

When the weather’s nice, our horses are only in the barn for about 15 minutes a day, when we feed them grain. We let them into their stalls, they have their grain, then they go on out again. A few days ago, we were watching Cash finish up, marveling at how very dirty he is. The reason he’s so dirty is that he likes to roll, and as we were standing there watching, he did that very thing. He knelt down just like a camel, rolled on to his back, wiggled back a forth a couple of times, then kicked out his back feet to flip back over…knocking the stall door off its hinges in the process. It was really quite impressive – he didn’t kick very hard at all, but those hinges didn’t stand a chance. So we got some longer bolts, which hopefully will fare better.

I’ll tell you, whenever wood splinters around this place – and it happens too darn often – Cash is almost always behind it. Troublemaker.

Why we needed an emergency runaway kit yesterday

Why we needed an emergency runaway kit yesterday

As I mentioned earlier, “Cash” is in our barn to test him out with our resident horses. Mikki works during the day so we decided to keep Cash in the barn until she got home so we could watch him together. I felt bad for him being cooped up in the barn all day so I put his halter on and took him for a walk this morning. As with the previous day, he was curious but well behaved. He ate some green grass while I washed him and dressed a wound with ichthymol. No problems. He was happy to go back into the barn but didn’t want anything to do with Moonshine, who was making quite a racket.

Our farrier came by to check out Cash’s feet and even though one foot has a slight clubbing, it didn’t look bad to him. He wasn’t concerned as long as the horse didn’t exhibit problems walking on it. Next I had the bright idea to put Moonshine in her stall so Cash and Valentine could socialize and establish order. This went pretty well. Valentine isn’t aggressive at all and seemed curious but not pushy. Next to our barn is what I call “the peninsula”. It’s an area that juts out towards the small road by our house where the horses like to stand and watch cars drive by and cows across the way. Cash headed to the peninsula and from the other side of the barn I saw Valentine slowly walking that way. Now the peninsula can be a trap and for this reason we should probably fence it off. There are two ways in and out – one high and one low – but it still feels like a corner. I didn’t see what happened next but I heard a loud crack and the sound of tin crinkling, followed by shod hooves cantering down the road. Cash had escaped. I knew enough to quickly grab a bucket with some feed and a halter with lead rope, as I hurried after him. A quick glance at the fence explained the noise. Cash had somehow broken the top two fence boards at the end of the peninsula, both of which were reinforced because Valentine like to eat grass over the fence in that spot. Did he run right through it? Did he try to jump the fence? Why? I have no clue. Cash ran down the road where I walked him earlier that morning, promptly turned (thankfully…the highway was less than a quarter of a mile in that direction) and headed towards me. I shook the bucket and offered it to him but he wasn’t interested. He ran right past me towards the barn. The gate was open so I hoped he would run into the barn but instead he ran up the road, past our farm. The road was fenced on both sides for quite a ways so I gently called him as I hurried in that direction. He walked past a few houses, avoiding the curious neighbors that happened to be outside. The end of this road is private and I had never been very far down it. I was about to get the whole tour. Cash made his way to the end of the road and headed for a garden. I caught up to him and ever so gently tried to send the lead rope around his neck but he knew I was chasing him and avoided me at all costs. The elderly couple who lived there came out to see what the ruckus was and I apologized for the intrusion. They didn’t seem to mind and even tried to help me wrangle him. Realizing the road was somewhat blocked, Cash headed into the woods and we both ventured further and further from home. Mikki wasn’t answering her cell phone so I called Shari for help. She sent Mikki home (they work together) but Mikki forgot her cell phone so she had trouble finding me. Heck, I didn’t even know where I was at this point! Cash navigated through a junk yard full of rusty old cars, sharp scrap metal and broken glass. I, in my shorts and boots, followed him. Shari recommended I not chase him but instead wait for Mikki to show up. Sometimes women have better luck catching horses. So I trailed him at a distance so I knew where he was while I waited for Mikki to find us.

Cash headed down a trail, even further from home. He eventually found a creek, which he crossed to try and reach the pasture on the other side. Fortunately and unfortunately there was a fence on the other side. At least he couldn’t go any further that way but the fence was barbed wire and he seemed to be trying to push through it or jump is. I saw this horse run up and down steep embankments, though thick brush and over small trees and all the while I’m thinking he’s going to get hurt. Once he got close enough to me so I was able to pet him and try to calm him down but when I tried to slowly move towards his head he bolted again.

What seemed like an hour later, Mikki finally found us. She had to ask several neighbors to use their phones and apparently the very rough geographic indicators (south of the old barn at the bottom of the hill from the junkyard), as well as some audio cues (think marco-polo) but eventually there were two of us. At this point, Cash was close to being tangle in old barbed wire. I have heard the stories and seen pictures of horses that got themselves caught in barbed wire and it isn’t pretty. That and Cash had wedged himself between the barbed wire fence and some trees at the top of a narrow and steep embankment. What the heck?! I stayed a distance away and Mikki trudged through the muddy creek to reach him. As she approached, Cash tried to jump the barbed-wire fence but couldn’t. Mikki spoke softly to him, climbed up to where he was and was able to halter him.

Here’s a short video from my cell phone so you get a feel for how he was stuck. The video is of terrible quality and you can barely see him but you’ll get the point. In the video, he’s rubbing on the barbed wire fence, trying to run through it and jump over it. Scary! You’ll hear me say “don’t do it buddy!”. I didn’t know what to say.

Once the halter was on him, he seemed perfectly normal again. It was a challenge (and probably pretty dangerous) getting him down off of the ledge, through the thick brush and trees and old barbed wire, through the junk yard again and then a two mile walk home but the entire way he behaved as though nothing happened.

Back at home after almost 4 hours in the hot sun, we were all tired, hot, thirsty, cut up and bruised. Mikki washed his old and new wounds, dressed them and put Cash into the barn. Valentine and Moonshine looked at him as if to say “what the heck happened to you?”

Cash fence crashing injuries

Here’s what the fence looked like:

Cash broken fence

I put up new slats with screws and doubled up the top one, making it as high as possible. It’s a miracle he didn’t impale himself on the sharp pieces of broken wood. I’m starting to think we need to consider one of the electro-braid fencing alternatives. While it might not have stopped him, the braided rope wouldn’t impale him.

At night we put Cash into the round pen and let Valentine loose. Moonshine has been curtailed in the barn ever since. Valentine, ever the curious one, slowly and gently went to investigate the new horse in the round pen but Cash wasn’t in to socializing.

It’s been almost 24 hours since this ordeal and things have settled down quite a bit. Valentine routinely spends time near the round pen. He pretty much goes between the barn and the round pen now. Cash doesn’t appear to mind and gets quite close to him. When Valentine followed me to the barn, Cash got pretty excited, as if he wanted to go too. Otherwise he occasionally nibbles the grass or stands in the shade. Earlier this afternoon I washed his wounds, dressed them and took him for a walk around the back part of the pasture, which he hasn’t ever been through until now. I wanted him to know his options so he could “escape” back there if he felt threatened by one of our horses. I hate this part – introducing new horses to the herd. It’s so stressful for everyone.

The plan is to let the horses get acquainted through the bars of the round pen for a while. Then maybe we’ll introduce Cash to the pasture again with Valentine loose. Later we’ll let Moonshine out there while he’s in the round pen. Some internet research also revealed the suggestion that we take all the rear shoes off of the horses. They all need new shoes anyway.

A runaway horse kit?

Oh, so back to the point of this post (and I know it’s an extra-long one). As I was chasing this horse yesterday, I realized I was missing a few things that would be been handy. But I didn’t have time to round things up because I needed to make sure I knew which way the horse was headed at all times. This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered runaway horses, either. Once we accidentally left our gate open and once we tried to help Shari catch one of her loose horses. Maybe it’s a good idea to have a backpack we could quickly grab. In it could be:

1) Halter and lead rope (we should have one in each vehicle, too)
2) Map – this seems stupid but I could have used one yesterday
3) Flashlight – could be dark outside
4) Bottled water – you might be out there a while
5) Horse treats or food in a zip baggie
6) Something to display the horse treats/food/bribe in to the horse
7) Snake bite kit! Don’t think I wasn’t worried about that yesterday. Maybe even a bee sting kit.
8) Basic tools – knife and a small finger saw – the flexible kind you can cut a tree limb with, if need be. I needed this yesterday.
9) Towel
10) Small first aid kit/Something with which to make a tourniquet
11) Flute or piper (pied piper anyone?) – kidding 🙂

And don’t forget your cell phone!!! Though you probably wouldn’t keep it in this backpack.

Got any other ideas for an emergency runaway horse kit or advice for us?

We Should Have Named Him “Houdini”

We Should Have Named Him “Houdini”

Rope on latchA couple of days ago, we came up to the barn in the morning to find Valentine in the aisle, happily munching hay from the three bales he’d pulled off of the stack. Bill immediately took the blame for forgetting to latch Valentine’s stall door, since he was the one who had put him in there and closed the door behind him the night before. This would be the third time one of us has forgotten to latch a stall door – once before for Valentine, and once for Moonshine. Heck, those things happen, though you try very hard to be conscientious about it.

Well, this morning I was letting Valentine out when I noticed that the rope I had tied to his stall latch to tie it open (it doesn’t have a chain affixed to the door for that yet – we just started using that stall) was all matted and nasty. I thought, “what the heck has been jumping up here to chew on this thing?” Then I realized that most likely nothing was jumping up, but rather something was leaning down: Valentine. I showed Bill, who agreed, and further theorized that since the rope was tied to the latch…and a horse was pulling on it…that if he pulled it the right way, he would slide that latch right out. Suddenly the earlier escape didn’t seem to be so easily pinned on Bill.

I took the rope off.