Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Changing of the Stalls

This is something we have been wanting/needing to do for a long time now -- switch our current system of dirt and straw stall floors to something that will actually absorb and drain. We checked out some friends and neighbors stalls, and decided to go with a crushed limestone base, perimeter drain tile, and interlocking rubber mats. We bought the mats last summer (YIKES!! That long ago!), and John just got the time to tackle the project last week. Of course, last week we had 90 degree heat and wicked humidity -- this week we have mild temperatures (70's) and no humidity....had we only known, he could have waited a week to do this and saved himself a lot of misery....ANYWAY, he got the old, stinky straw and a few inches of urine-soaked sand/dirt out of the stalls, and prepared it very nicely for the base of limestone and drain tile. Unfortunately, I did not get a before photo, nor any of the limestone part....but trust me, it was a lot of work, and he did a beautiful job!!

The Girls and the Goat Boys had to stay outside for those few days. But they have two evergreen trees in the pasture that give shade, and we made sure they were bug-protected and had plenty of water.

Last Friday with the help of a Serb friend, they finished off the project. Here is Zora, overseeing the progress. The mats are all interlocked, and it is great! Now we can do a periodic hose-down by removing the short section of mat near the door so the water will flow into the drain tile. The only part we are still unsure of is what type of bedding to use. We bought some corn cob pellet-type stuff that you put down and mist so that it fluffs up. They also make this in a pine pellett (I think it is pine....), too. But we are wondering if this is going to prove to be too $$$$.

We are kicking around some ideas -- we hear wood chips/sawdust will work....with all the woods we have on our property, perhaps it makes sense to get a wood chipper and make our own ... ?? I also read someplace that shredded paper works....I used to work in an accounting office, and the number of bags of shredded paper we threw out a day was staggering. Perhaps if I found a local attorney or CPA office we could have a steady supply??? We are just not sure what to do here. I only know we are NOT going back to straw!!!

I think the animals like their new rooms!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The War on Bugs!

There have been so many things that happened lately that would have made for great blog posts (our saddle club's horse show last Saturday - John was Ring Steward and we both got really sunburned! One of our cats killed a poor little hummingbird :( . The bareback riding session the other day), but I have been just too swamped by projects. But then came yesterday....

Here in the midwest you have got to be tough to take the weather extremes......it was about 90 degrees yesterday -- only 4 months ago it was below zero. The heat coupled with the rain we've had lately has cause a bug population explosion!! Our poor goats and horses are just being tortured.

We give them a feed through to help keep the flys in check, we have fly masks of course, and we use a bug repellant that our farrier uses (I figure it must be good if he uses it -- he really needs for horses to stand still while he works). Yesterday we tried something new that we learned from our new friend we met in the Dunes a few weeks ago (older post on my blog here). They are like fly masks for their legs. Hopefully these things will keep the girls from stomping because of the flies and cracking their hooves. These should help with their aggravation level, as they won't be getting bit by flies on their legs. Here are the photos.....................

I was unsure of how they would handle having these things put on their legs, but they both were just as patient as they could be -- even Divna! Of course I did her sighted side first so she would not be as afraid. They were so good.....

But when we untied them, and they took their first steps, it was just hysterical!! They could not figure out what was on their legs, and they were walking so strangely...John and I were laughing really hard!! They kept picking up their feet really high, and moving in slow motion....it was too funny. I took some video on the camera, but am not sure it turned out. I will try to post a video here, but no promises...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our Crazy Ride

Well, we took a ride finally on Sunday. Here is the view from the bridge that goes over the Indiana Toll Road. I tried to get a shot of John and Zora on the bridge, but the girls were having no part of sitting still on that bridge while traffic raced by beneath them. The fence never used to be on top of the barrier like this -- we had a friend we used to ride with who was always afraid his horse would jump over the barrier onto the Toll Road and kill the both of them. Then they put up the fence, and his mind was finally at ease. We rode the section of the trail that we cleared, but did not bother to go all the way to the last section where the new landowners are promising to block it off. Though we did run into a guy riding alone, (on a very handsome Paso Fino with a positively beautiful gait) who said he had ridden all the way north on the trail from the County Park. He said he had to go around a bunch of stuff in the way at one point, but he made it. We still did not go all the way to that section -- just too depressing.
What made this ride so crazy was that The Girls were just so fired up! I guess they had not been out in about a week or so, and they just wanted to have fun. Keeping them under control, even Divna, was not easy. At one point where we know the terraine, we let them go....I swear, Divna was flat-out....It was AMAZING!!
When we got home, we gave them both a long overdue shower. I don't think they even noticed, because the grass was so tasty!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Snapping Turtle

The other day John went out to do the morning feeding and found this georgeous snapper laying her eggs right by Divna's stall door! She must not be the smartest turtle in the swamp! I don't feel real optomistic for the future of her little eggs.....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Funeral for a Chicken

We were out of town for the weekend, and our wonderful neighbors were feeding our animals. When we got close to home, I called our voice mail for messages. The neighbor left a message askign us to call as soon as we got home. Knowing something was up, we stopped at their house first. They told us one of the chickens died Sunday morning. Immediately we knew it was the poor little Bumblefoot chicken. She had been acting strangely for the past week or so -- staying off to herself, things like that. They saved her little body for us.

We went home and prepared a Serbian Orthodox-style funeral for her complete with incense, candle, and a little rakija. We have a pet cemetary in our yard where we have cats, a rabbit and a bird, and now the Bumblefoot chicken has joined them. It was a sort of sad homecoming.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Making Friends at the Indiana Dunes

We went to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Sunday to ride the trails, and ended up having a different day than what we had thought it would be. On the way to the park we ended up behind a really nice horse trailer -- once we followed this trailer for a few miles, we knew it was going to the Dunes also. Sure enough, we both pulled in to the parking lot at the same time. It was a woman who was by herself, and she had this very handsome paint horse. We got to talking and found that we have many similar interests, and don't live too far from each other. We will be getting together to go riding this summer, and are looking forward to having a new friend. Here is her photo -- Gigi and her paint horse (I am so upset with myself that I forgot the horse's name!!) -- isn't she pretty?

Then a family was having a picnic, and of course the children wanted to pet the horses. These two little ones had such a good time petting "the Girls" and we had a great conversation with their parents. Their older brother finally came over and pet the horses, too. I wish I had gotten his photo! He is blonde also, but older than these two.

After about an hour or so of socializing, we did finally get out on the trail. It was a great ride. I felt so comfortable in the saddle -- I love rides like that. I felt in synch with Divna -- John said he felt the same way on Zora. We did not ride the entire trail, because it was getting late. We never got slower than a lope......the trees were full, the flowers were blooming, and it was just great!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trail Clearing

Last weekend, in addition to riding with our friends, we finally got out and cleared the 1st section of the abandoned railroad line trail. We have not used that section for about a year now because a big tree fell right at the entrance point. Since we had two more sections of the railroad line as trails, we were in no hurry to tackle that project. But with the new property owners blocking off our access to the last section of the trail, we figured it was time to open the 1st section up.

It was a job!! That tree was huge, and our chain saw is small. So John had to cut it up in sections, and then we had to drag the large branches away. It was not easy.....it was really muddy in that spot, and there was a LOT of poison ivy growing all around. To make matters worse, some poor little critter died right near where we were working and the smell was just horrible.

We found we could not cut the trunk to get it completely off the trail -- we had to cut the smaller top branches and make a path to go around the trunk. Whatever works! And this will work....we will be able to get down this part of the trail now. We had to then go down the entire length of that section (a mile, easily, probably more) and cut back all the growth that has happened since we last maintained this section of the trail. It wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, which was nice.
We haven't had a chance to ride it yet. We went to the Dunes to ride yesterday (I am going to do a post on our day there yesterday), and this weekend we will be in Wisconsin. My family is having a good-bye party for my nephew who is being sent to Guantanamo Bay! Not as a detainee -- he is in the Navy....

Will have the Dunes post ready soon!!!