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Riley the happiest dog on the planet

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Riley is the official ‘welcome wagging’ of the farm.  He greets everyone with the same enthusiasm and love.  He runs up to them, starts the happy whining, flops on his back and doesn’t want the attention to stop.

Usually he stays at the farm during my trail rides.  Last week I brought him along.  He loved it!  Now I have to admit he wasn’t the best trail dog.  He wandered off too far into the woods, then when he went to find and catch up with us he took a wrong turn.  I told him to use your nose buddy.  Shadow my previous trial dog would always find me.  But I digress…  all was well with Riley we saw him running the wrong way and he came right back to us when we shouted to him.  “Wrong way Riley we are over here!”

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The next trial ride he didn’t want to go through the gate right away but I could hear him barking as we were leaving “what about mee?”.  So we went on the trial ride. About 3/4 of the way through he come bound up behind us.  I guess his nose worked this time.  He was so overheated from this run around the field that he jumped into the horses water trough when we got back.

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I entered one of these photos into the dirty dog contest.  If you get a chance click on this link and like his photo so he can win.  Click here to like Riley’s photo! It should open with this picture in a pop up window and all you have to do is click like and share if you are so inclined.

Thanks!

Pasture perfect

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At long last the conditions are right for their first evening out in the pasture. They are loving every minute of that fresh grass.

New Pasture: Part 2

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For some, horses are a phase but for others, horses are their life.

We are equestrians and pasture grass farmers.

Have I mentioned to you I have a black thumb?  Some people have green thumbs and are excellent at gardening and growing things.  I am convinced I have a black thumb that kills everything. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I would rather nurture a horse than a plant. Needless to say here I am trying to get grass to grow in the new pasture.  This is the before picture.  This is how the ground looked when we started.  The fence is up as noted in the previous post so the horses can’t trample and eat the grass before it has a chance to grow.

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The next step was to scrape the field level by back dragging the tractor over all of to get the field level and fill in the hoof prints ruts.  Then we dragged the field using a pull behind rake.  It wasn’t heavy enough at first so we attached a cement block to it.

Next we seeded the pastured.  We just used the walking broad cast seeder since the areas are not that big.

Lastly we covered the field with compost/manure.  I figure this would fertilize and driving over the seed would push them into the ground a bit.

Ok we are done for the day and can let the horse back in to the ACA.  The area around the new pasture.  OH wait we forgot to close the gate!  What are you guys doing in here?  Oh rolling around will help with the seed penetration.  Now get out you lot! You are not supposed to be in here!

Now we hope for rain to start the germination process.  NO NO not 24 hours of straight rain.  Did it wash the seeds away?  Only time will tell.  I am not liking those low laying areas where rain water is still standing.

9 days after seeding let’s see what we have.  Well the weeds are growing but  I do see some blades of  grass.

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Fingers crossed the green grass grows.

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.

Sunset Trail Ride

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What a great way to end a long Saturday of lessons.

Who awakened your soul?

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Who awakened your soul?

Around the Farm

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Usually she rides Casey but during this lesson we decided to try something new: Cuervo.  He is one of my rescues and best described as an ornery old man.  He is great, loves trails but not a big fan of the ring.  In fact he isn’t really a big fan of being told to turn.  BUT he looks good! 2013-07-23_17-27-53_5432013-07-23_17-28-21_325We finally got the roof of the barn painted.

2013-07-23_17-39-03_727Nice pic of Chex’s beautiful colors

2013-07-23_17-30-50_381The Donkeys… I haven’t posted about them in a while.  They spent some time up in the front pasture with the goats because Izzy kicked them out of their stall.  This week with the weather so nice I brought them back to hang out with the horses.  They seem much happier here, even though they don’ have their stall any more.

2013-07-27_16-27-36_321 2013-07-27_16-27-14_826The walk to the front pasture.  The 8 barn horses (my 4 plus 4 boarders) are hand walked up the front pasture for grazing.  This time when I was following 2 Chestnut butts (Izzy and Sunbun) they decided the would spook at the new tarp.  But Rachael had it under control!

2013-07-29_17-07-29_82 2013-07-29_17-07-34_761I got a new tractor last week.  Yup after having my first Ford for less than 2 years it decides to die on me the Mechanic said that the repairs would cost more than it is worth.  So sorry credit card but farm comes first.  I didn’t take any pics of it because it looks the same only bigger than my last sexy beast.  but you can see it in the background here.

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