Pasture Management

Having large animals who eat mostly grass, and not having infinite amounts of the stuff, pasture management becomes a very important issue.
Last summer, we made the decision to cross fence our pasture into 2 smaller ones. Not so small that they can’t run, play and still have good grazing. No, just needed to be able to let parts rest. Herbivores can be hard on the grass, and in no time, graze it down so much that it can’t recover.
I know, it seems silly to worry about grass. When I was in the city, my only worry about grass was if I got it cut on a weekly basis.
Now? I don’t cut my yard site.
In fact, my next big purchase (in the next couple of weeks) is going to be a scythe. I have 2 acres of “yard” which we use for garden, playing, bonfires, etc. In that are some spaces where, if I cut it, dry it and bale it, I could be putting up small amounts of hay. I’m not talking enough for winter. Oh, nope, not that much! Hay for winter for my 4 horses averages around 30-35,000 lbs…depending how cold the winter gets.

What I cold be putting up though, are small bales for the beginning of hay season…when the Hay Guy is still in the field, and it’s hard to pin him down to get him to deliver a load. If I have some small stuff on hand to hold out for a week or two, that gives us some wiggle room.
Or, a few small bales for the end of hay season, when I’m not 100% sure we’re ready to stop throwing hay down, but don’t want to open a 800lb bale.
Or, bales for chickens to enjoy and play in, come the inevitable winter doldrums…or, even hay for next years piggies…though, I’ll likely save any moldy stuff we have for them. I did that this past winter, knowing we were going to get piggies, saved (instead of burning) the 2 moldy bales we had for them to enjoy. And they are!
I also have to add…our Hay Guy rules! lol
When we get a bad bale, he replaces it, free.
Now, I know that’s how a good hay supplier should work, but trust me, they don’t all work that way.
Even better though, is that we rarely get a bad bale. I mean, bad bits in a bale can, and do happen. I just pull this out and go on feeding. But, a whole bale? Very, very rare to lose a whole bale, with this fellow.
Unlike our first hay guy.
While the bales that were good were gorgeous, and the Girls did fantastic on them, the ones that were bad were full of foxtail. Like, “burn the whole freaking bale” bad. Not such a big deal if you have cows, really, really big deal when you have horses. So, yeah, we didn’t go back to him.
When we had the chance to switch to our current Hay Guy, we jumped at it, and we were very happy that he was able to add us to his client list.

Anyways…
Here’s a few pictures to show why rotational grazing and poop picking are important parts of pasture management…yes, even in the pasture, I go out every couple of days and pick poop up and move it to the compost pile. When it gets to be too much poop to pick, we hook the chain drag to the tractor and drag the pasture.
These shots are all from the front pasture last night.

Ruby in the front pasture...

Ruby, grass hiding her hooves…

Not that long ago, they got a good solid day grazing in the front, and then we got rain and heat. Now, you can’t tell they grazed there at all. Not by looking at it.

Sable under the trees...

Sable under the trees…

Astrid found a tall grass spot...

Astrid found a tall grass spot…

Cookie, in one their favorite grazing spots...

Cookie, in one their favorite grazing spots…

And they all look fabulous.
Good pasture management means that they can graze all summer long, without me having to give them hay. That’s always going to be the goal here. Hay in the winter, pasture in the summer.
The best way to do that is to give the grass time to rest when we can, fertilize it, and let the Girls trim it. 🙂
And let Mother Nature do the rest.

Lovely bum!

Lovely bum!

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Miserable Cow Monday…

…Slid right into Testy Don’t-Touch-Me Tuesday.

This one…

Miserable Cow

Miserable Cow

Had her miserable cow face on yesterday, and wanted nothing to with any one or anything. In fact, every time one of the other 3 went near her, she’d pin her ears at them.
Tried it with me too, which resulted in the “I don’t f***ing think so” voice, and the threat of thumping her right between her pretty ears if she didn’t unpin them RIGHT NOW.
I don’t put up with ears being pinned at me…ever.

Turns out, she had a crazy chunk of ice in her right front hoof. Took me a bit to lever it out…part of that was because she kept trying to take her foot back. Balance, we’re still working on it. Oh, and she was being a miserable cow.
It looks like she’s got a bit of a bruise on the sole from it. I brought the chunk itself in to melt, just to be sure that it was just ice, not anything nasty in the ice that was causing pain.
Thankfully, just ice.
The things I do for those nags. *rolls eyes*

This morning though, she seems to be just fine.
Just doesn’t want to be touched. Her “leave me alone” vibe is very strong today. Grumpy ass. I told her she’d better quit acting like a Miserable Cow, because if anything happens to me, there is no one else who is willing to put up with her shit, unless she stops being such a Miserable Cow, so Hubby might just put a bullet in her and bury us together.
LOL!
We’ve actually talked about that…I’ve told him, he can do that, if he doesn’t want to deal with her shit, if I die first. I know full well that I put up with more of her Mare Moods than any other person on the planet would. I take more of her anti-social crap than anyone else would. I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, patience and love in Her Miserableness, and I don’t expect any one else to, after I’m gone.
So, I tell Hubby, I won’t be the angry, vengeful ghost if he sends her across The Bridge after me.
I’ll understand.
100% 😉

"Ya make me laugh, Mom!"

“Ya make me laugh, Mom! I’m an absolute delight to live with, and you know it!”

Still Out Here!!

We are in the midst of a Spring snow storm. Being on satellite internet, my reception is spotty at best. So, if anyone has wondered why I’m not online, well, that’s why. Instead, I’m working on jewelry and editing photos…Dreaming of sunshine, green green grass, and working with my sweet hearted Dork.

<3

❤ my big sleepy Girl ❤

Just to give you an idea of what it’s like here right now…it’s 8 am, I’m using offline mode to write, and when I got online that picture ^^^ took 15 minutes to load. Compared to 45 seconds. Hopefully, when I hit post, it’ll go through.
See y’all when the weather clears!! 😀

J is for Job

Here on the farm I have a few jobs. There is the day-to-day job of being a stay at home wife. I look after the house, The Kid and Hubby. Do dishes, cook, laundry…all the normal stuff.

I also sew. I make moccasins. Saddle pads. Repair clothes. Pants. Just about anything that can be sewn, I can, and do, do. I’ve even done a wedding gown or two in my sewing career. *shudders* As fun as they were, I don’t particularly want to take one on again…it’s a lot of work, for a relatively small amount of pay.

A sample pair of moccasins I did for a customer.

A sample pair of moccasins I did for a customer.

Saddle pad fabrics, waiting to be cut and sewn.

Saddle pad fabrics, waiting to be cut and sewn.

There is a huge interest in camo saddle pads right now. I am more than happy to sew them up and capitalize on that interest! That snow camo in the front is for me though. I want to see how it looks on Cookie. If I don’t like the look of it on her (with Cookie Monster blue binding and straps), then I’ll put it up for sale too.

Another one of my jobs (and this is the one I am actually trained to do) is Goldsmith.
Now, I can work in a traditional setting, doing repairs, making traditional jewelry, but folks, if you’ve learned anything about me reading here, you know full well, I am no traditional anything. 😛 I much prefer to go my own way, which means I have limited clientele.  When I produce a piece of jewelry,  it’s a one of a kind. That suit me just fine. A while back, I showed you what I was doing with hoof clippings, in the Sableine post. Here’s my 2 favorite personal pieces, that are in the same style…

Bear claw, copper, Baltic amber

Bear claw, copper, Baltic amber

African lion claw, 22kt gold and wulfenite

African lion claw, 22kt gold and wulfenite

The bear claw came to me via a friend of a friend. She had gotten it from a hunter who used the carcass to feed his family.

The lion claw is a much sadder story…we had a friend who was doing taxidermy. The hide of the lion was dropped off to him to mount, but it was in too poor of shape to mount, and the person never came back for it. He gifted me the claws that he could salvage, hoping I would use them somehow. I set this one, and I have one more that I have put away, until I get The Call to do something with it. Such a sad end, to be reduced to 2 claws left of what was once a majestic animal.

Another job I have, here on the farm, is I am the official photographer of Midnight Calico Farm. As such, I get to take all sorts of interesting photos (which y’all get to see every time you drop in), and sometimes, I get to design some crazy photo shoots for the horses…for example, I have this on loan for the weekend:

German HelmetThat would be a WW2 German helmet, and I got 4 pretty heads out in the pasture that it will sit on. 🙂

I also get to take pictures like this…

hello birdie!This is why I don’t pull out dead plants in the fall. It’s not really because I’m lazy, it’s because the birds enjoy the seeds in the winter. 😉

As a part of being the Farm Photographer, I have created a line of cards for sale. Images come from the fun photo shoots done here, and money goes into the expansion of pastures, purchase of hay, and of course, pads the vet fund, because with 4 horses, one never, ever knows when an injury will occur. And they will occur. Horses are just like that!

Card backs and photos to attach

Card backs and photos to attach

Cards2

I like to have a removable print, so folks can use as art afterwards.

Cards are a set of 4 for $12. You can buy individuals too, at $3.50 each. In the next week or so, you’ll see a new page on the sidebar, where the information for ordering from us will be.
Or, you can find us on Facebook.

So, there you have it. Those are some of my jobs on the farm. Truth be told though, my biggest job, after feeding every one is this…

A mountain of well-used straw

A mountain of well-used straw

Yep, my main job is as a Manure Removal Expert.
And trust me, I am an expert!

J is for Job.

Sharing with Jenny Matlock’s Aphabe-Thursday.

A Winter Whine

I know it’s been a while since I posted, and well, this post is going to be whiney. Just a warning.

We’ve had stupid cold again. The cold I can handle, it’s the blowing of the snow that gets to me. And The Kid. And most definitely, Hubby. He’s the one stuck on the tractor clearing out the driveway 3 times a week. *sigh* Enough. We’re so over and done with winter.

The Girls are eating like crazy. They can’t help it. With the cold, they need the extra food-and add in that it’s been damp too, and that means hay is going at an alarming rate! Like 800 lbs in 5 days. That’s double rations, and they’re still pawing for the stuff under the snow (they do this because they like to, not because they’re going without!).

Next week, I have another hay delivery coming. Thank goodness! Happily, this delivery is coming from the very same hay source that the stable uses. So, I know, it’s darn good hay. Problem is, with all the snow piled in the yard, I have nowhere to put it. And yet, I have to find somewhere to put it, because the Girls still have to eat.

With this ridiculous cold, and blowing snow, the Girls haven’t had their hooves done since they got here. I can’t fault the Trimmer, because she’s been busy moving snow herself, and, some of her regular clients haven’t had their trims done on time either. She’s actually full for clients, but has agreed to help us out with the girls because she has an understanding of the patience needed for some rescue horses to have trims done.

Like Cookie. That poor horse, her hooves are in such horrible shape, and I still can’t get her to lift for me. She’s getting better about not trying to bite or kick, but a lift just hasn’t happened…she needs a trim on her backs so bad. All hooves are cracked, her fronts are flaring, and her backs. Oh, by all that I hold Holy, her backs make me want to cry. I am amazed that my beautiful paint girl can walk, trot, canter, and even gallop. I am so scared at what the Trimmer is going to say when she does get here…it’s going to be months, if not a year or more, of regular trims to re-hab her hooves. And, there will be no saddle training until her hooves are healthy. All we can do is work on halter training and ground work. Though, frankly, that is a lot of work to do with her! My poor Sweet Babboo.<—-10 points goes to the first person who recognizes that reference! 😉

And finally, just to make this winter a little bit worse…

On Wednesday, Ruby stomped on Heidi-Cat. Heidi was in the hay pile, and Ruby was sniffing and snorfling her, and then, decided to paw and step on her. Heidi came away with a sore shoulder, and a bit of a limp. Then yesterday…Hubby came home to pick me up. Kid had Drama after school. It was nicer than it has been out, so Spooky and Heidi were sitting on the deck in the sunshine. What we didn’t know-and still don’t know how it was managed-was when we got into the truck to pick The Kid up at the library, we had a hitchhiker.

Coming out of the library, Hubby noticed a cat under the truck. It was Spooky. The library in town is about 15 kms away, with most of that being highway! Kid caught him, and we left. It wasn’t until we got home, we realized Heidi was missing. We think she and Spooky may have gone on their “grand adventure” together.

So, now our Heidi-Cat is missing. We’ve posted flyers, called both the library, and the local vet. I’ve posted on Facebook, and it’s been shared all over the place. We’re just hoping, because Heidi is so friendly, that someone has picked her up…and that they see our flyers, and she comes home.

This winter needs to end, because I don’t think I can take much more. 😦

Shoveling Sh**

With any farm that has livestock, there is an abundance of shit. This week’s job was to clear away as much as possible from around the feeders, and inside the shelter. I started Monday, where I moved approximately 500lbs of shit and hay. Then, having seen Sable bang her head on the shelter doorway, I spent 3 hours chopping the snow/shit/urine pack from the shelter entrance. I have more of that to do yet, but I’m going to make kissy faces at Hubby to help me. We have an old mining pick that he swings much harder than I do…if he’ll use that to break it up, I can shovel it away.

The girls, of course, mill around and watch the removal of their waste, and act like they’re losing gold. Everyone wants to see the wheelbarrow, everyone wants to stand beside me(even Cookie!), and everyone wants to be sure I don’t take away their good stuff!

Finally, I got 98% of it cleaned up(it keeps regenerating!), and then the girls could relax.

Astrid

Astrid

That’s the current pile of shit and hay. Underneath that is the packed down stuff from earlier this winter. In the spring, Hubby will go in with the tractor, scrape it all out and we’ll build a compost pile outside the pasture. Can’t do it now, because we can’t get the tractor into the pasture. After some time composting, it will be fantastic for the garden…and anyone in Manitoba that wants some, is welcome to come get it! I’ll give you a shovel, and you can fill as many bags, or pails you want. Have a truck? Hubby will use the tractor and fill the back for you. 🙂

This is why there is hay in the shit pile.

This is why there is hay in the shit pile.

My dear horse believes that hay is the best bedding ever! To be fair, she does seem to have some claustrophobia issues, so lying in the shelter is *not* something she’ll do. She rarely goes in, but will stand in the doorway while the others are in…she always needs to have a clear escape route, my Girl does. *shrug* A girl has to lay down sometimes, why not in your food?

Relaxing in the sun.

Relaxing in the sun.

She’s relaxed enough here, though, that I’m able to be right next to her while she lays down. I even went right to her and offered her a hay pellet. She didn’t want it, she just wanted to doze, but it was a clear indicator of trust, that she didn’t feel the urge to get up and move away.

Astrid dozing.

Astrid dozing.

This picture does not do Astrid justice. She’s a really beautiful girl, and such a sweetheart. She’s so red right now, and I can’t wait to see her shed out of her winter coat!

The Blonde Girl and The Paint

The Blonde Girl and The Paint

I love that…The Blonde Girl and The Paint…makes me think of a title of an old spaghetti western. LOL! I want to write a children’s book, and use it as a title…perhaps it’ll be about bullying, and how a new horse tries to fit into the herd in her new home. 😉

Love PonyOne more of my girl, dozing…can you find the surprise in the hay? There’s 2 of them. 😉

Life Happens…

A friend posted this graphic on Facebook last night…

stay humbleAnd it’s true, right? All the physical stuff in the world, isn’t going to change the end result. What really matters, in the end, are the relationships we’ve built. With ourselves, with family, with friends, with our partners, with our 4 legged friends…relationships. As trite as this is going to sound, love matters. Sometimes, all we have is the love from the relationships we build.

And then life changes…it happens,  we’re caught unaware, and those relationships change. It happened to a very good friend of our Farm over the holidays. A friend that helped us through encouragement and support, get where we are. A friend, who, whether she knows it or not, has challenged me, over and over again, to be a better person, a stronger person. My life, all our lives here, are richer for knowing her, and her family.

I’m not going to go into details of what happened, that’s hers, and hers alone, but her life is changed forever. We are trying to do everything we can, as friends, to support her. So, when, late one night, I got an email asking if we would take her mare-because she had to sell off all her animals-Hubby and I discussed this, and decided, what else could we do? This friend needed our help, and we are in a position to give it. Done.

So, yesterday, we drove down to her place, and with the help of one of her incredible neighbours, got this beautiful little girl loaded, and brought her home.

This girl is Astrid.

This is Astrid.

It was a very emotional time for all of us. My heart broke for our friend, taking this girl from her. I cannot imagine having your life turned upside down, and having to give away your horse. It would rip me in two, to lose my Cookie, and I know, she was dying inside, trying to get Astrid into the trailer. All I could offer were hugs, and the assurance that Astrid will be well-loved here…and, should she ever be in the place to take her Home, we’ll load her up and bring her back, where ever Home is.

Astrid2My girls were less than thrilled…well, other than Sable, who wanted to make friends immediately.

Exchanging breath greetings.

Exchanging breath greetings.

MamaRu watched over every little interaction, because poor Astrid, with her life spun sideways, she keeps doing the mare squeal and back kicks…MamaRu don’t let no one kick her Sable! Not even Cookie. MamaRu runs this herd!

There's the tri-color paint stinkeye...

There’s the tri-color paint stinkeye…

Yeah, our Ruby has a very Calico attitude. If you have Calico cats, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They’re lovely dovey, but only on their terms…and woe be to those who cross them!

My Cookie, however, is pissed at me. Very much so. I expect she’ll adjust, so long as the feeders stay full. Food is her issue, and well, she’s a bit of a jealous bitch(we’re a lot alike, me and that horse!).

Uh, Mom? WTF? What's with the new horse?

Uh, Mom? WTF? What’s with the new horse?

This morning, there was a small bout of asshattery at the feeders, but nothing more than what there was when the 3 were here. Thankfully Astrid is respectful of fences, and man, oh man, she’s loving the wide open space to run!! The 3 girls canter off, and she’s about 2 lengths behind, trying to join the herd. She’ll get there. 🙂

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After all that, time for a little bit of seriousness…

I am, and this is one of my failings, a judgmental person. I know I am. I have judged the folks who dropped my Girls at auction six ways from Sunday. They make me angry, they make me sad. I would punch them all in the throat, given the chance. Especially since I’ve had the time to get to know my horses, and I know there are incredible hearts inside those huge bodies.

That said, this past month has been a lesson for me, in not judging people, because, like the title of the post…life happens. I don’t know how, or why, Ruby, Cookie, and Sable ended up where they did. Especially Sable, who is a giant love pony. But, she did, and, as much as I want to be cruel to the person who got rid of her, I now wonder, what happened? What life change forced the person to take her to auction? Was there a death in the family? Divorce? Job loss? It could have been anything, really. Some traumatic life event that means who ever loved her before us-and she was clearly loved-put her in the ring. Thankfully, at the right time, because the rescue got her, and then we did.

So, as I sit here typing this, I wonder what may have happened to Astrid, if we hadn’t been able to take her. I can say, we would have helped our friend network through the horse community to find someone who could take her, and do everything we could to ensure she didn’t go back where she came from (Astrid came from the same rescue my girls did, who grabbed her from the auction ring…another horse that only 2 were bidding on: the rescue and the meat man). But in the end, if all resources are exhausted, and no one can or will help, would she have gone back? It’s a real possibility.

And so, my judgmental self says:
“Don’t throw stones, Wolfie, because you don’t know the whole story. Save the stones, rocks, boulders, for the ones who send their horses to auction, clearly neglected and unloved. Those are the bastards that deserve it…everyone else? Well, Life Happens”