Monday, June 23, 2014

Better than Christmas!

To me, the week before a mare foals is better than Christmas.  "Why?" you might ask. 

This is Tulah, Durkkhal x Malikat, here on a foal lease from Kelsey Kempfert.  She is due July 9th, but could foal anytime in the next few weeks.

Well, after doing this for almost 30 years (which is kind of amazing in itself), I've found that the week before the mare foals is full of lovely speculation...that foal is the right sex, the right color, has perfect conformation and is as healthy as can be.

Once she's in labor, the tension heightens;  "Will it be a colt or a filly?"  "Will it be buckskin/palomino/with lots of chrome?"  "Will the delivery be easy?". 

As the hours fly by and the dead of night approaches, some of your foaling buddies give up and go home.  Some stay.

This was a few years ago, from Monica's blog, Horsebytes, during foalwatch for Cady (a boarder), I think.  Note the helpful dogs as lap warmers.
Then, the excitement begins!  Usually a foaling is over within minutes after the water breaks.


Annie and one of her foals from the Horsebytes blog.  Maybe in 2010?  Is it a filly?
No, a nice colt. The foal gets up and greets the world, Christmas has come and all is as it should be.
This photo is from 2010, from the Horsebytes story "The Foaling Moon"
 This is Miras, Annie's 2010 foal by Murgab.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Farm Chores

It seems to be summer (although today it sure doesn't act like it).  I can tell because we've already gotten 2 loads of local hay out of the field and that ONLY happens in the summer.  I've been dealing with the same family for around 20 years now, THANK YOU Vicky!  Every summer we joke that if the kids get the phone when she calls, they won't hand it to me.

Last year we picked up around 600 bales and I was able to get another 100 or so when I ran out in the spring.  That really helps stretch the expensive Eastern Washington hay I get.  And, last year, the local was so good that it actually was better than a lot of the Eastern WA I got. 

My children and husband have become a well-oiled team;  maybe not the most cheerful during this time, but they do the work. 

This is Callie (in green) my almost 20 year old daughter and Zach (almost 17 year old) stacking hay.  I took this in the trailer, as I was throwing the hay to them.

One of the great things about local is that most bales run around 50-60 lbs, which means we can throw them around.  Those monsters from across the mountains need one of us on each end.  Also, it's cheaper than Eastern, thank heavens!  I have to feed hay year round, so my expenses are not insignificant.

Other things we do during 'summer';  get ready for winter!  This past weekend (Father's Day weekend), my husband and I spent most of it working on new runs off the barn.  Our plan is that we will have almost all the stalls with runs, which makes winter so much easier.  Over the years, we've figured it out; Larry cuts a hole in the barn for a door, frames it in and then we sink posts and put down fabric over the graded run area.  Then, it's drainage rock about 4 inches deep and 5/8 minus over that, another 5-6 inches.  Near the barn, we put in a 'porch' of Hoofgrid with gravel in it(I'm trying a competitor this time called Ecogrid) to keep down any possibility of mud.

The view from inside the stall.  Right now, I have the end of the Ecogrid up in the air, as I need to put more drainage rock under it, but my tractor died before I finished.  Sigh...

So, once the tractor is running again, I'll put in more of the big drainage rock until the whole area is smooth and flat and then put the grid down and fill everything in with 5/8 minus.  When this is done, you will barely see the grid, but the horses will not be able to dig or paw.  Presto!  Dry runs no matter how wet it gets.  ( far it's taken about a year to get to this point).  The horses love it, as they can go in and out all night long, there is no mud (here anyway) and if they like, they can poop and pee outside only and keep their stall clean.  Win-win all around! 

Now, why haven't we done this sooner?  Besides the large amount of work involved, it is NOT CHEAP.  Each normal size run costs us around $1500 + or -.  This is a double run (otherwise, there would be a slice of useless area and we can't have THAT) and I think it will be well over $2000 by the time we're done. 

We are also moving a shed.  We started looking at the projected runs and realized that if we ever wanted to move this shed, we had better do it now.  When it was built, over 20 years ago, we had no plans to put runs on.  Well, times change and this shed is built so strongly that I can't imagine trying to take it apart (or, at least MEANING to take it apart).  We will see what happens when we actually go to move it. 

So, this coming weekend, we are planning to shovel out around the posts and put runners on each pair, along with cross bracing.  We will cut each post off and then the idea is that we will hitch up the truck and tractor (when it's working again, argh) and just pull the whole shed to it's new position.  Sounds easy in theory; we'll see how it works in practice.

Oh and actual horsey stuff?  Well, not so much right now!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Klickitat Trek, 2014

Monica and I headed down to Glenwood, WA for the Klickitat Trek endurance ride this past weekend, May 30- June 1.  We had originally planned on riding both days, but after the long ride the previous weekend (where I felt good afterwards) and then a very short ride the day after (where I didn't feel good afterwards), I decided not to push it.  Having catastrophic ankle failure 5 miles from anywhere wouldn't be pleasant.

So, we pulled into camp around 3:30 or so, found our spot that was saved for us (thank you Aarene and the Pirates!) and vetted in without incident.  We went for a short ride that evening and tucked ourselves into bed.  Thunder and lightning woke us up, but the little bit of rain just kept the dust down the next day.

Monica was going to ride the LD on Danny with the very early start time of 6:15.  My departure was at 8:30 for the Trail Ride.  Galen wasn't terribly happy that everyone left, but he dealt with it. 
Monica and Danny before heading out.  He wasn't quite as relaxed when he started!

Galen telling me that he should be tacked up and heading out!

Galen and I headed out around 8:30, after meandering around the camp, looking for the out timer.  Looks like the Trail ride is MUCH more relaxed than even an LD, as I didn't see anyone else heading out at the same time.  In fact, I saw several people heading out as I came in a few hours later.  We were on the Red and White loop, which was fine, as I've done most of those trails before.  I knew that neither Galen nor I was really all that conditioned, so I had a game plan.  Slow, steady, enjoy the scenery and have fun.  We headed out of camp at a walk on a loose rein (big improvement!) and started some cows along the way.  We did do some trotting and my deal with him has been that if I can sit it, he can do it.  Amazing how even the atmosphere of an endurance ride can bounce up a horse!  Usually, Galen's trot is so smooth I can sit all speeds.  Saturday, we had to slow it down a bit, as there was much more bounce to the ounce than usual.  That was ok, as it was already getting warm, and we really hadn't trained in heat very much. 

We came into the vet check and took a minute or two to pulse down, which made me realize I needed to slow down even more.  We took some extra time at the vet check, although I knew he wouldn't drink anything (he never does before around 20 miles).  We didn't need to pass the vet, just be pulsed down, so after 15 or 20 minutes, we headed back out.  We did some leapfrogging with the Ride and Tiers.  I did help a few of them find the trail.  Mostly, we were by ourselves, which was fine.  The trails were lovely, the weather was gorgeous, my horse and I were happy.  I did some singing, admired the gorgeous lupines and finished in about 3 hours.  Not our fastest by any means, but that was ok.  I went into this as a conditioning ride and to see how my ankle felt. 

By the end of my ride, I was very glad I hadn't done the LD - my ankle was swollen and I could feel the fluid squishing around in it (lovely image, isn't it?).  Galen was willing, but definitely not ready for much more.   We did get lots of nice trot on a loose rein, which was the goal. 

We got back to camp and Monica trotted him out.  Dr. Jen noted that he was travelling a little bit crooked, no doubt because of my bad leg.  Not enough to be lame, but certainly enough to be noted.  Sigh...  But, it's wonderful to have an experienced eye to tell you that you need to work on stuff.  We probably won't do any more rides for awhile (maybe Bare Bones later on), but will work on arena work, trail riding and I will see if I can get my ankle to behave better.  Summer is coming which means foaling, breeding, hay season, fix it up season, kids, etc.

All in all, it was a very satisfying weekend!