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Pasture renovation and Paddock Paradise in one foul swoop

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We just completed the Equine Environmental Stewardship program with Penn State Extension’s  Equine Program.  In this course we learned about best management practices of pasture management.

Right now the horse are being kept in an Animal Concentration Area (ACA ). This area is also known as a sacrifice lot or a dry lot.  This is the area right behind the barn that the horses are out in when I am trying to preserve the pastures form over use, over eating and hoof damage. Now, after the winter snows and spring rains it has no grass and is all dirt and mud. See before pictures below.WP_20140420_11_06_02_Pro WP_20140420_11_09_19_Pro WP_20140420_11_11_03_Pro

As shown in the picture below the ACA consisted of the whole area within the blue lines.  This was a large area for the horses and donkeys and would never grow any decent grass due to over grazing. ACA

Last year we had members of the Equine Program (Donna and Sarah) out to evaluate our pastures and determine if the farm could be part of their pasture rejuvenation project.  See the post from August 2013.  We were invited to participate but it fell through due to the fact that we didn’t have the right kind of tractor.  Their recommendation was to fence off part of the ACA and plant grass seeds so that it may grow to a lush pasture by next year. Their only requirement was that we had to keep the horses off of it an only allow them limited access to prevent over grazing.

The good news is that Donna and Sarah were running the course we just took.  Donna told us we are still considered to be part of the pasture rejuvenation program and we are eligible for a  bag of grass seed.  We could use our on methods to seed the pasture and did not have to use their no till drill.  We received the grass seed mix on the last day of class.

Originally we were going to just fence off part of the pasture (like cut it in half) then I came across the paddock paradise concept.

“Paddock Paradise is an exciting new natural boarding concept based on Jaime Jackson’s research into how horses live in the wild. It is a ground-breaking idea which has many benefits including:

  • provides a more stimulating environment for the horse which discourages vices
  • encourages more movement which benefits overall health of the horse
  • enables easier grazing management”

So I decided to start my paddock paradise in the ACA area and create the pasture in the middle.  See yellow box in the above picture.

This weekend we completed phase I putting up the fence.  See below the pictures of the work in progress.

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After it was completed the horse got to try it out.  They actually enjoyed running around the parameter.

The next day we leveled out the field.  Now all we have to do is drag it to loosen up the dirt and plant the seeds.  Then hope our timing is right for rain and sun.  Be on the look out for more posts as we continue our progress.

Lessons are picking up

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I am excited that the weather is behaving and the lesson program is starting to ramp up again.  I have had a few new inquiries and some new students.  I am excited to see my students from last year coming back.

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Cuervo gets out for a lesson.  It has been a while and some times he can be a big oaf.  But this time he seemed to enjoy himself and was good for her.

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Can you see her mom saying hello to Warlock in the back ground?

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These are my helpers Shadow (dog) and Elvis (cat).

They had a good run around

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Some times they get a wild hair have to run around for a bit to let it out.  It makes for some great pictures.

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The Beauty of Winter

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 This week we had about 8 more inches of snow.  Sure it is pretty to look at and the horses love to play in it but it makes everything more difficult:  Walking out to the barn, opening doors, gloved hands can’t do anything.  Enough complaining, because it also make for some very pretty pictures.

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A couple of days after the snow storm we found ourselves in the the midst of Frozen Rain and slightly Warmer temperatures.  A layer of ice coated everything.  I had some fun with these pictures, as it is really quite beautiful.

Winter Write up

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Today I received a request for to answer some questions about this winter for a human interest story for PSU Extension Equine newsletter.  So I figured I would share with you.

Name and location in state: Golden Spike Farm; Quakertown, PA

How many horses are you caring for? 10 horses and 2 mini donkeys

What challenges has the harsh winter conditions in January 2014 caused for you?

  • Frozen water buckets in the stalls
  • Frozen water hose
  • Barn doors frozen shut
  • So cold your hands and feet hurt so you minimize your time outside (horses not receiving as much attention)
  • Horses not being brushed as much so a wound was missed.  I am now dealing with the abscess.  Twice daily wound care plus antibiotics (topical, oral, intramuscular injection)

What changes have you had to make this year that are different from past years to manage and care your farm and/or horses? 

Personal Comment on Winter of 2014: 

Everything takes longer starting with getting ready to go outside.  I usually can be found wearing 3 layers on the bottom and 5 layers on top, hat, gloves, and my Columbia cold weather boots.  Luckily I have help; all my boarders share the work load.  I am originally from Miami, so I have jumped into this the hard way but we are getting through it and I am looking forward to warmer temperatures this weekend.

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Day 13/14: Positive progress continues

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Things are continuing along the positive path, Nash’s temperature remains to be normal.  On Saturday they stopped one of the 2 antibiotics that he was receiving via IV.  Then on Sunday morning they were please to find the fever didn’t return, they have kept him on the one Antibiotic (Gentamicin).  The good news is that if he remains fever free tomorrow they will discuss with me having him come home early next!  YES, finally talking about my boy coming home.

Fingers crossed and positive thoughts for Nash.  Thanks for all your kind words and support!

 

Day 11: No News

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I was speaking to a friend about not having yet received a call from the vet.  She said the old phrase no news is good news.  Well I corrected her and said in Nash’s case no news is not bad news, because I am sure they would call if he had any significant negative changes.

That being said it is Thanksgiving and I did not receive a call from the hospital.  Dr P. is off today, he said that another vet would call me with an update on Nash’s temperature but I didn’t hear from them today.

I am going to visit Nash tomorrow and finally meet Dr P.  So I will have a full update after that.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  A couple of pictures of me this morning with my “kids”.  Took a break from doing stall for to take some selfies,

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Apple is not amused
2013-11-28_11-53-59_793Me and Bilbo with a Frodo photo bomb.

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