First Snow of the Year, # 500 and the Anna Blake Clinic

We’re headed hard and fast into crock pot season.
Heh. Who am I kidding…it’s always crock pot season here, unless it’s bbq season. 😉

This morning we’re in the midst of our first snow storm.
Which started out as a rain storm. And, there’s a ton of wind.
Of course there is. Why wouldn’t there be a ton of wind to chill down the wet ponies, right?
*sigh*
I could be wrong, but I don’t think this snow is going to stick with us.
Supposed to be sunny and +5*c on Saturday.
Which is good, because I’ve got 14 more chickens to get into the freezer, and we still have the pigs to do.

But…

The bulk of our winter hay is on the yard.
We’ll probably need another dozen bales come beginning of March, but what’s here will get us through the worst of the cold.
Our straw bales were delivered Tuesday.
We are so lucky…
We have wonderful friends who, for a 3rd year in a row, have given us big straw bales to build the shelter extension for Sable (and the other 3).
I hope they know how much we appreciate it. We say thank you often, but I really do hope they know… ❤
This year, Hubby was able to work out a deal with the fellow giving us the straw and our (mutual) Hay Guy to have the straw delivered.

This.
Was.
Wonderful!!!

Since Hubby has been putting in soooooo much O.T on the weekends (which is why we still have 6 pigs to send to Freezer Camp), our Kid hasn’t been getting the same # of riding lessons in. 😥
And, the last 2 years, when she had lessons, we brought the trailer, and brought home 4 bales at a time.
This year that didn’t work…but an empty trailer after a hay delivery and some awesome folks made getting the straw home possible.
We have a few bottles of rum to distribute this Yule as a thank you!!

#500…

This is the 500th post here.
Yeah, I talk a lot. 😉
But, it’s also been 4 years, so, really, not that much.
LOL!

These guys were back around this week:

Bald eagles

I wasn’t thrilled to see them hanging out in the trees closest to the poultry yard. Neither was the poultry.
All the chickens were hiding in one of the 3 houses, whilst the ducks were defiantly making their presence known…and fluffing themselves up so that they appeared bigger. It was rather interesting to see them putting on their “Ima tough duck!” display.

I went out and shoo’ed the eagles away…flapping a feed sack at them is just startling enough to get them to fly off. Perfect, because there ain’t much else I can do to an eagle, know what I mean?

Then there’s this one…

Little Red

Y’know how I keep saying Astrid is pushing her luck with Cookie?
Luck done run out for Little Red.

See, I keep telling her to quit starting shit. She’s not going to win against that Paint, that Paint is going to clean her clock.
Oh, does Miss Astrid listen?
Naw.
She’s pretty sure she’s 10 feet tall and bullet proof.
Except she ain’t, and she’s feeling it now.

She started shit over 1 of 4 hay piles. Tried to drive Cookie off…Cookie let it go…twice…3rd time? She took a round out of Astrid.
Normally that means a few bites and a kick leveled at her. And, Little A is pretty darn good at avoiding those kicks and bites.
This time she got caught. She tried to deke, and I saw the second she did it, she was going to lose…poor Little Red tweaked her back.
*sigh*
Cookie’s bite connected, there were squeals and snorts, and Astrid slowly moved away.
I got the ice pack and dropped it on her right away, trying to bring the swelling down…and got in contact with the vet.
She’s pulled a muscle.
Rest (as much as is possible without stalls), liniment and gentle stretches.
With daily admonitions from Mama…
“DumbAss. Told you to quit pushing the Black One. Told you, you ain’t gonna win. But did you listen?? Oh, no! Had to learn the hard way. DumbAss.”
*rolls eyes*

And the Anna Blake clinic…

We were late.
So awesome for someone with social anxiety, coming into something late, at a new place, with all new people, and having to catch up.
Wheeee! That was fun.
But, we got there, and it was good.

Did I learn stuff?
Oh, hell yeah.

Did I take pictures?
Um, really? Do you have to ask? 😉
Still working on them, around everything else.

Preview:


Of course I took pictures…what better way for a person with social anxiety to hide, but still soak up as much knowledge as possible? lol

I do wish I had a chance to pick Anna’s brain a little more about Ms Cookie and her halter…we did start a conversation about it, but then it was lunch and things got busy and we didn’t get a chance to finish talking.
I also recognize as an auditor, I don’t get to have as much time (if any) from any clinician. It’s nice when you get it, but the people paying full price tend to (and should) get more time/instruction.

So, was the clinic worth going to?
Oh, yeah. And I still wish that I could have brought Cookie.
Not that we’d have done any of the riding part, because Cookie don’t do that…yet…but the hands on learning with her would have been so valuable.
But, I can only do with Cookie what Cookie is okay with me doing.
Her pace always, not mine. 😉

Now, I’m going for some fresh coffee…
It’s cold and blustery and I still have to check on the pigs and poultry…and check in with the horses again.
Not ready for winter.
Just want to register my protest.
Not that Mother Nature cares.

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Winter is Coming

And I’m already tired.

The nights have been cooler.
The days, when not raining, well, not so much.
But the nights are cooler, and there is a definite scent of Fall in the air.

I’m not ready.
There is so much work to do before we can settle in and say we’re ready for Winter.
The good news?
I have the hay money all set aside for a full delivery of hay, not a month to month purchase like last year.
Thank Epona for that!! Just have to get that arranged…

But before winter comes we have so much other stuff to do…
I have to start 2nd cut on my hay.
Now it’s going to be just the front, around the fruit trees.
Hubby used the mower on the tractor to cut the back yard because we had people come out for our Anniversary party.
The grass wasn’t quite long enough for hay yet, and we needed to not sit in mosquio-ized grass.

There’s this guy…

Meat chicken…

And 48 of his friends (we lost one last weekend to a “piling” incident) to get ready for their Freezer Camp session…

As well as this guy…

Andy Piggie

And 5 of his pals to do the same with.
Plus, once the pig processing starts, I’m hoping to run the smoker for a few days and get some hams and bacon done as well.
Last year I didn’t get bacon done before winter, and um, I was sad.
LOL!
Having home smoked bacon for the winter months will be wonderful…but pigs don’t start the Freezer Camp journey until into October, and the weather can be unpredictable then.
Of course, now that Hubby’s garage is cleaned up, I can run it in there in cases of inclement weather.
So, that’s a huge bonus!

I’m also working on getting this one…

Used to wearing a blanket.
It’s been a slow and steady process, and neither one of us have died yet.
That’s good. 😉
I figure with the way the weather has effected her the past couple rough seasons, being able to toss a blanket on her (and Sable as well) will go a long way towards my sanity through the long cold months.
Normally, I don’t worry about blankets for the Girls, but the 2 Old Ladies sometimes just need a little extra help.
And it’s my responsibility to make sure they get it.

And then there’s these 2…

Quack quack quack

Ducks are new to me.
I’ve never wintered ducks before.
This is a learning experience, and again, it’s my responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

Oh, and there’s the garden to put to bed, once things are done there.
That should be done before pigs go to Camp, so that the pigs can eat some of the left overs…pea plants, bean plants, carrot tops…that sorta thing.
Sadly, can’t give ’em potato plants or tomato plants, because nightshade family, so those will be burned.
Then we can cover in manure, pull the tarp and stake it down.
All so we can be ready for next spring, when the plan/hope is to get the whole of the garden planted.

We’re also hoping to set the fence posts for the next pasture.
I know, said that last summer/fall, but yeah, I really want either a milk cow or a couple steers next year to round out the meat freezers. Another pasture is a need, to be able to do either one.

At the end of the day, I know all will be well.
The Kid will miss a few weekends of riding lessons while the work gets done, we’ll work until we’re so tired we can’t think…then go do some more, and all will get done.
Why?
Because, it has to be done.
That’s the simple answer.

So, if you start seeing one picture posts, or no posts for a little while, it’s all good.
We’re just getting ready for the inevitable.
Winter is coming.

Monday Morning

It’s a long weekend here.
I’m listening to the birds singing, the little meat chickens peeping and flapping about, hennys singing their egg songs, piggies grunting and playing and the occasional snort from the mares.
Everyone else is still sleeping…

Normally I’m all about the “get out of bed, there’s chores to be done!” but this weekend has been rather productive, so I’m letting them sleep.
Saturday was a putter around the Farm yard day, doing a whole lot of little things, that don’t look like much ’til you stop for the day and see how much you’ve actually done. And then, there was the plan for yesterday…

My Bro came out to give Hubby a hand with cleaning out the garage.
It’s something that’s been needing to be done for the past 3.5 years, and time just hasn’t been there. But, my hay cutting kinda forced our hands and it had to be done to be able to effectively store the hay for winter.

So, that was an 8 hour job yesterday.
Now it’s done, and Hubby can finally use the garage as a shop…oh, and with the tractor pulled out, I could work on teaching horses to stand in there on cold days for hoof trimming. 😉

And then, this bin was moved in, to stack my hay in, and on top of…

Full of my first cutting…

It’s 4’x8′, and 8 feet tall. As you can see, I have it jammed full.
I had extra bales that wouldn’t fit inside, so we tossed them to the horses. Yeah, I coulda stacked them on top (that’s where 2nd cutting will go, when I start in a few weeks), but, they were standing around the smudge fire and I figured feeding them there would be a good thing. That way, they can enjoy the bug free zone, and have some noms.

Speaking of the smudge…
Look who’s enjoying it too:

Aww, they’re so cute all lined up like that! 😉

It’s taken The Cookie a while to come around to hanging out in the smoke. Sometimes, she’s terribly anti-social, and hanging out in the bug free zone is a social activity. It gets hard for her to handle…and yet, the lure of the lack of bugs is even harder to resist.
I’m just happy to see her do normal horse things. 😉

Heh.
The ears tell you how much she appreciated being photographed.

I had to sneak out of the house, hide the camera, and turn the focusing beep off to catch these shots of her doing normal horse things.
It’s really quite hilarious.

Then there’s this…

❤ Sable ❤

There are no words for how adorable it is to see a horse try to scratch their ear with a hind foot…she gave up and chewed an itch instead.
I did help her out and give that ear a scritching. 😉

Onward and upwards, folks.
Today we work on hoof trims…
Have a great week!

Baling Hay

Last week I told you how I broke my baling bin.
In reality, I was using a simple blue recycling bin to shove my hay into and tie up.
I’ve been after Hubby to build me something a bit more substantial for a while now, because hay is an important commodity.
Yesterday, he got the job done, and I was able to bale up the last of my first cutting…

Simple box made out of 2x4s, 2x6s, and some other scrap bits we had around the Farm yard.

There are 4 nails in the bottom, to hold the baling twine in place while I fork mass amounts of hay into it…

Filled, strings tied…I think I could have filled it more, but that’s going to be a trial and error thing.

I also got him to put nails on the outside, so I can wrap the twine around them and keep it from shifting at the top.

Voila!
Finished bale.

The joy is, I can fill, stomp down and tie all by myself with this…I just place a knee on the grass to pull the twine tight and tie it.

Hubby holding the finished bale.

And that, my friends, is just about 25lbs of hay.
So, in terms of feeding, that’s an average daily meal for 1 horse.

Next thing to do is adapt the baler to put it on the furniture dolly, so it’s easy to move around. That’ll be done with a couple of eye bolts and a bungee cord or two, so that it’s not permanently fixed to the dolly.
After that, we’re onto building a hay shed, because seriously, Hubby is running out of room in the garage for my bales.
😀
That’s a good problem to have!!

Today’s To Do List

Farm stuff to do list for today:

1. Cut a swath (or 2) of grass around the outside of the pasture. This is the stuff that Black Horse sticks her neck out the fence for, resulting in that lovely mohawk mane of hers…as in the picture.

Rocking the mohawk


2. When Hubby gets home, load the back of his truck with all the grasses cut, bring back to the farm-yard, and make windrows for drying.
Why do this?
Because I’m too damn lazy to walk out past the pasture to rake and turn as needed. It’s so much easier when all I have to do is walk off the deck to do it…plus, baling is easier when it’s closer.
Last year I cut that swath too late to use for hay, but this year, I’m right in time to put it up for winter. I’d be a fool not to do so!

3. Work on building a new baler out of scrap wood…because a plastic bin breaks way too easy, though I did get 2 cuttings of use out of it, but still, I need something solid.

4. Clean the chicken coop. Again.
Meat chickens is yummy, but they are such poopy little buggers, and so, cleaning the coop happens a lot. Way more than with hennys.


5. Call it a day, bbq supper, and eat home-made fireball egg nog ice cream.

Yeah, sounds like a good day to me.
🙂

4 of 4

Last night, my baling bin broke (say that 3 times fast!) while The Kid and I were trying to get the hay on the ground baled before rain.
We only got half of it done before the bin was in such rough shape that we couldn’t continue.
Instead of wasting 50lbs of beautiful, scythe cut, Mama sweated on,  lovingly raked and dried hay, I forked it over the fence for the nags to enjoy now…instead of in the fall or winter.
And, I just happened to fork it over the fence right beside the smudge, so that nags could enjoy some tasty noms while in a smokey, bug free space.

3 of 4 trotted over, because this is an unusual time of the year to get hay, so it’s exciting and new and they must gobble it down.
Toddlers.
😀

4, though…
Interesting.

The Cookie…eating not at the hay pile…

Right out of the gate, the moment her hooves hit the land here, we knew this Girl had issues with food.
Not aggressive, resource guarding type issues, but anxiety issues.
For the first 2 winters, we had to stick to a strict schedule of when hay arrived in the pasture. It didn’t matter if there was lots in the feeders, or if we fed extra at the right times…what mattered was that it came regularly, when her internal clock said it should.
If it didn’t, she panicked.
It was the same with beet pulp pails…and that’s a year ’round feeding.
Panic if it was late.

1200lbs of panicked toddler is…

Not fun.
Kinda scary.
Really, really sad.

This past year, we’ve seen some amazing and wonderful changes in her. And last night solidified it for me, that I’ve done right by this horse.

I threw 50 lbs of top quality hay over the fence.
3 of 4 trotted over to gobble like piglets.
4?
4 came over leisurely, had a few mouthfuls, and wandered on.
She nibbled the greens just past the smudge, she went for a drink of water and played in the big trough, she wandered back and stood with her head on Sable’s back…and when Ruby and Astrid moved off to eat fresh grass, she and Sable ate hay together.

Simply put, no panic.
No worries that there won’t be food later.
Just a relaxed, normal horse, doing relaxed, normal horse things.

It’s taken 3 1/2 years for her to get there…
It’s okay though, because, her and I, we got nothing but time to work together and work things out for her.
And this relaxed normal horse thing looks real good on her.