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Sunday Farm-Fun day

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On Sunday we had a visit from my college roommate and long time friend and her family.  It was the first time meeting her 2 girls and we had a blast!  We did everything we could on the farm in a few hours time: Met the horses, climbed on the hay, met the goats and donkeys, gave the donkey’s carrots, brought the donkeys back to the barn from the goat’s pasture, tacked up Heather for a pony ride, rode Heather around the riding ring, gave the horses and donkeys treats, gave the goats stale crackers, played hide and seek and scavenger hunt in the house, had tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, colored in the coloring book, went on an ATV ride and collected rocks. Phew busy day but we had so much fun and the girls loved every minute of it.

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Changing thousands of years of thinking

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I have spent much of the morning reading about the natural horsemanship and paddock paradise.  There are many interesting articles out there trying to change the thinking on the way horses have been domestically kept for over a thousand years.

http://www.aanhcp.net/blogs/main/12203217-perception-vs-reality-equine-myths-and-mistakes

“But sometime around 700 A.D., with the rapid development of kingdoms and castles– complete with cavalries and armies to secure or defend various geographic areas, horses had increasingly been removed from their free-roaming lifestyle and were moved into small spaces for reasons such as an easier prevention of theft and keep the horses close by in a location convenient to the desire to be able to tack them up at a moment’s notice. Of course,what was happening was the creation of the notion that it was acceptable to keep these 1,000 pound animals warehoused or ‘in storage’ so that they were easily accessible.” ~Jill Willis

So I grew up thinking grass is good for horses.  In South Florida the grass that grows does not provide enough nutrients to sustain a horse so hay is fed all year round.  In Pennsylvania the grass is lush enough to provide the sustenance they need and hay is not necessary during the summer.  I have take equine management courses where they are telling me to grow my lush green pastures and let the horses out on them.  One thing to note is a good reason for pasture management is to ensure the land is absorbing the rain water and not causing erosion on the areas where the horses have destroyed the grass by over grazing and treading on the land.

Now I am learning that too much lush green grass is bad.

http://www.equinewellnessmagazine.com/the-dangers-of-lush-green-pasture-the-romantic-myth-that-harms-horses/

“These rich grasses are not safe because they are too high in sugars/ carbohydrates.  There is a delicate balance of microbial life in a horse’s gut, and these innate, good bacteria have their own biological requirements. If not fed properly, through a reasonably natural diet, then they are subject to being dominated by harmful bacteria that do not live in symbiosis with the equine.  

The rich sugars feed these detrimental bacteria and facilitate their dominion.  Through a complex series of metabolic events, these bad bacteria release waste by-products also known as endotoxins.  These poisons travel the equine cardiovascular system, and once meeting the hoof, they initiate an enzymatic reaction that deteriorates the attachment mechanism that holds the hoof to the horse. This is commonly known as laminitis, and is the second most prolific killer of domestic horses today. ” ~Narayan Khalsa

I still have more processing to do and am not ready for full transformation to the Paddock Paradise system as it does leave me some questions.

  • How do I ensure all the horses have coverage and protection from the weather?  In the farm’s current set up only the heard leaders are allowed under the shed roof during the rain.  While the others get wet.  I know that the water will not kill them but I have seen them shivering coming in from the wet and cold.  I have also had a horse get constantly rained on in Miami that he got rain rot.  If I build shelters in various areas of the track system will the herd separate to go shelters down the track if the herd bosses have the closest one?
  • Will this concept be accepted by my boarders?  I don’t just have to decide in my mind but also see if the boarder are interested.  I guess that we can still move ahead with the concept but keep the boarders in the traditional system if they want.
  • My older horses are on pellet grains.  Will they get the nutrients they need on hay, oats and minerals?  I thought this was interesting since 3 horses on the farm are on beet pulp and the senior feed has beet pulp in it: “Throw any and all beet pulp or feed with beet pulp in the top 15 ingredients into the garbage or compost heap. Whether organic or GMO, many unshod horses are ‘foot sore’ or ‘sensitive’ on hard ground or gravel until the beet pulp is removed from the diet. This is one of the biggest waste products that you can put into a horse (with rice bran, soy, corn and various grain by-products running closely behind. They serve no healthy purpose for the horse.” ~Jill Willis

There is no way to know who is right but for now I can say that the horses at GSF are healthy, happy and sound.  So we must be doing something right.

Day 7: Nash update – fever

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Wow, I can’t believe it has been a week.

I spoke to Dr Stuart to get an update on Nash.  He still has the fever but it appears to be responsive to bute.  So this morning it was at 104.1.  Then he received his morning does of bute and it went down to 102.  He is still doing fine, eating and all the rest.  They have all his legs wrapped now because since the fever started they stopped hand walking him.  They really don’t want to release him until the fever breaks, so hopefully that is soon.  The pics are from my visit with him yesterday.

Being Neighborly

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Making hay while the sun shines.

This weekend we had the opportunity to help out our local hay farmer.  He is Golden Spike Farm’s hay guy and we found out that he owns and runs his production with his 3 sisters.  I learned the value of my hay, what it takes to produce it and enjoyed the good honest work (even though my muscles are screaming this morning).

 The first step is to cut the grass. He uses a Discbine.  Didn’t get to see this piece of machinery in action as the hay was cut and laying on the fields by the time we got there.

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Next he uses the tedder.  “A tedder (also called hay tedder) is a machine used in haymaking. It is used after cutting and before windrowing, and uses moving forks to aerate or “fluff up” the hay and thus speed-up the process of hay-making. The use of a tedder allows the hay to dry (“cure”) better, which results in improved aroma and color.” (Thanks Wiki)

The machine called the hay rake then rakes the hay into windrows (a row of cut or mowed hay).

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The next step is the baler.  It is driving over the windrows and puts together the bales of hay.

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The baler shoots out the bales of hay into the hay cart were we were waiting to catch and stack them.  This is the fun part, watching the farm boys catch 50lb bails of hay coming straight at them.  It is also considered down time compared to what is next.

The last step is unloading the wagon, putting the hay on the elevator and then stacking them for storage.  I have to say this is the exhausting part.  I was out on the wagon moving the bales to the elevator, which then went into the barn and dropped the hay for the stackers.  It is a lot hotter in the barn and hard work moving those bales.

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This weekend the farm family helped with 2600 Bales of hay @ approx 50lbs/bale = 130,000 lbs or 65 tons. AND we still had time to enjoy the beautiful scenery while posing for pics.

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Hay days are happening more often.

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This time we had 3 guys and 3 girls helping us. We unloaded and stacked 132 bales of hay in record time. I think it took us like 20 minutes.

Hay Day

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How do you keep warm in the winter? 

We moved 132 bales of hay from the truck to the hay loft yesterday. Luckily this crazy weather held out for the delivery and unloading.  Thanks as always to the farm family for your help.

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This is what 211 bales of hay looks like.

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Friday night was spent unloading a trailer full of hay. Two barns and 3 1/2 hours later we were finally done and completely exhausted. PS. Check out our guns.
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