Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kitten spam

This kitten, I swear.  She is a cutie.  Also a terrorist, but still a cutie.  She actually made friends and played with our Maine Coon before he succumbed to cancer.  She has decided she doesn't mind the dog (finally) and will play with her despite the dog having no real idea what the heck the kitten is doing.  She has this (annoying) habit of walking on my face to help wake me up when she hears the alarm go off.  If she isn't already snuggled with me, she will walk on my face and plop herself on my face/neck.  Helpful kitten helps.

She is already a chunky 4lbs and is really growing.  It is crazy to remember that she was 1.8lbs when I found her at the beginning of Sept.  She is now UTD on shots, microchipped and was just spayed.  She tries to play with the other 2 indoor cats but they don't really have any desire to be friends.  Yet anyway.  I know the oldest won't make friends, she hates everyone except SO and I, but I think the other (only now? :( ) tabby will make friends with her soon enough.

So here is kitten spam as filler.  Why?  Because 3 back to back trips to PA (load, drive 11hrs there, unload, turn around, drive 11hrs home within the same weekend) makes for little to no blog material. you go.
RIP :(  Playing with Danica before cancer took him 
Friend time or warm body?
Attack cat
Now with extra bitey!
Cuddle Queen
Watching carefully for things that need attacked
Extra snuggles after her spay.  Nekkid belly!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Let's talk about nets. Slow feed hay nets

Ever since I have owned App, which is 20+ years now, he has been a pig.  Not a swine kind of pig but a pig in his stall.  Although I have cleaned a lot of stalls in my day and, overall, he isn't THAT bad, he isn't that good either.  He does a great job of mixing his poo in his bedding and will mix his hay in with the pee and poo as well, because only the best will do his delicate palate.  He is also a waster and will waste his hay if given an ounce more than that which will satisfy his starvation.  Ah horses.

When I moved to MI and I had to pay for hay, I knew exactly what I was going to do.  I was feeding exclusively in hay nets.  And I have, exclusively.  I have the 2" hole slow feed hay nets in stalls and I double bag for outside use so that they can eat even slower.  Cause I am a bully that way lol.  I use the cheaper nets (tough one, shires, etc) and usually buy them at trade shows for $6-9 per bag.  I usually end up going through 2-4 bags a  year as they get holes in them (thanks to my velociraptors) and I have to semi-regularly (few times a month) do "net surgery" where I have to fix/replace the drawstring or tie holes shut with baling twine until I deem the net deader than dead and replace it.  I have done this for 5 winters now and it has worked well enough.  In the dead of winter I can fill 3 bags with 16lbs of hay each and after 12 hours, the horses either still have just crumbs left or they have been without hay for only an hour or so and have barely a forkful of waste. That is really good IMO.

On the plus side with this method, I have very little waste, the horses have hay for long periods of time, I can control exactly how much hay they are getting, I can control inventory and it is very high quality hay that I can inspect very closely as they are square bales.  The downside is time and effort.  When people help out, they HATE the nets.  They take me about 10 mins to fill and hang, others take twice as long.  You then are carrying the hay 10-15+ pound bags from the barn to their hanging spots.  There is a LOT of poop around the hay spots as the horses stay there almost 20 hours a day.  There is a LOT of urine spots around there as well and App has zero problem urinating exactly where he is eating.  This causes some dropped hay to be urinated on as well, which then has to be thrown away.  *sigh*

This winter I have this whole up-in-the-air about the move.  Will I?  Won't I?  When will I?  I didn't want to buy a full years worth of hay only to sell the property a week later and lose that money.  I am not looking forward to taking care of the entire farm by myself through the winter either.  If I didn't work full time, it wouldn't be any big deal but I work full time, take care of the 10 acre farm full time plus try to find time to ride, visit SO in PA, see friends, etc.  I have a lot going on.  One idea I had to reduce work was to try round bales.

Now, just to be clear, I hate round bales.  I have hated round bales for a very long time.  Why do I hate round bales?  There is just so much waste.  There is so much dust in the bales.  You can't see when there is mold or when quality has degraded.  Most are stored outside so the top few inches of the entire bale are already crap.  Did I mention the waste?  I have read that horses waste up to 50% of a round bale, I wouldn't be surprised!  They tear it out of the bale, drop half of it, stand on it, pee on it, poop on it, use it as bedding and you watch your dollar bills be chucked into the dumpster.  Ugh!

But I want to reduce work.  I want to save time.  I am willing to try anything.  So I called around and found someone who has round bales and kept them inside.   And would deliver a 4'x5' for $45.  Okay, fine, I will try it out.  I got 3 and made a note that I wanted to order a net.  I looked up the cost of round bale nets, they are $150-$200.  Eek!  Perhaps a round bale wouldn't be so bad I said.  I put a round bale at the end of my arena on a Wednesday.  The horses KNEW it was for them as I was removing the string and I felt like someone opening the doors of WalMart on Black Friday, I would have to do my business and jump back FAST.  The horses, well they were in HEAVEN.  They certainly liked the hay and stood in front of it all day.  That evening, I looked on in horror.  The waste, omg.  I threw the equivalent of at least 2 flakes of hay out every single feeding as they were covered in urine/poop. I raked the unsoiled hay that was left on the ground into a pile behind the bale so hopefully they would eat it later.  The big round bale lasted my horses 9 days before it was eaten to the ground.  Gone people.  The farmer said a bale should last 2.5 weeks and they ate it in 9 days!  Plus it was taking 15-20 mins per feeding just to clean up the mess of the hay and all 3 horses had a cough.  This was not working.

I researched and did my homework.  I found the cheapest 4x5 slow feed hay net was about $170. Well damn, that is out of my budget.  So I started dong more research.  Looking on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, wholesalers.  There are some sellers who sell repurposed fishing net however they couldn't tell me the tensile strength and I knew my heathens would destroy the netting if it wasn't strong enough. I was not willing to take the chance on the $40 plus shipping for it to be destroyed within a week.  I finally found a seller who sold bulk netting by the foot.

I learned you want a minimum of #30 net, #36 or #42 netting.  These nets have a break strength of 300lbs, 350lbs and 400lbs, respectively.  So strong enough for velociraptors.

Net porn, all naked and on display
There is also a very large range of hole sizes and I knew 4" holes would not work for us.  Hell, I didn't even want 2" holes, I wanted 1" holes.  Unfortunately 1" holes in the size I needed was too cost prohibitive so I ended up with 1.5 inch holes.

1.5 in holes, bale after 3 days of nonstop eating
No where seems to have the measurements for round bale nets.  How much net do I need?  Why is this a proprietary secret?  I knew I needed a minimum of 9" high and 16 feet around, I ended up buying a 10x20 net.  Your results may vary, however for a 4x5 round bale, it is a little large but the size makes it very easy to install the net.  I would recommend it again and even for a 5x5 bale.
Room for everyone!
I then found a old clothesline and tied the 10' sections together so it would be round.  This took about an hour, hand tying knots in 1.5 increments with a 25' line.  To save $100?  Sure I can do that!  I then took a heavy duty metal quick link and wove it through the net for the bottom and wove the remainder of the rope through the top for a drawstring.  Score!
See those sexy knots, hand tied by me personally
I used the tractor to bring out a new bale and threw the bag on the bale like a pillow case.  I then flipped the bale onto its side with the tractor and closed the drawstring.  I scooped up the bale and set it where I wanted it and, since I had plenty of drawstring left, I threw the drawstring over the rafter to help "tie" the bag up so the horses wouldn't be walking on it since I don't have a round bale ring.  We are now coming on day 4 of them having round bale 2 and it is looking much better.  The waste is about identical, if even less, than the hay bags when using square bales.  It takes me about 30 seconds to rake up the single fork full of hay that is scattered around the round bale and I throw it behind the bale for them to eat later.  And now, it is virtually no work.

Easily able to obtain hay through the net
Overall I am impressed!  I didn't expect it to go this well and I am pleasantly surprised.  I think the bale will now last the 2.5 weeks that I expected, there is virtually no waste and the round bales are significantly cheaper than square.  The cough each horse had has also went away since they can't shove their heads deep into the bale.  If I had more funds, I would have preferred the 1" or 1.25" holes but I think 1.5" is working well.  And, after 4 days, not a single tear in the net.  Win!  Let's see how it holds up long term now....

Nom nom nom

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fails, wine and kitten

This is a very short, melancholy, wine filled post.  That I couldn't proofread.  Sorry peeps, feel free to skip.

 Mia was successful in recovering from her abscess and I went to PA for the weekend.  A nice short 11.5 hour, one way drive.  I got the call on Sunday morning, Mia was very lame again, this time on her left hind.  The diagonal opposite of the last lameness.  Of course she was.  When I got back Sunday night (after another fun 11 hour, one way drive), she was almost 3 legged lame.  Very uncomfortable and unhappy, she had zero desire to put her heel down and her hoof was very warm.  I slathered ichthammol on her hoof 2x a day and she is much better now.  She is still short at the trot but pretty sound at the walk.  I weaned her off of bute yesterday so I am hoping to see her true pain level tonight.  I don't think it has popped but it isn't causing her as much pain.  Another week lost!

Things have been very hectic here and it is affecting me more than I would prefer.  The biggest one is that our farm here in MI still hasn't sold.  I am extremely down about the whole situation, I think we were lead astray by our realtor at the start and it was priced way too high.  I also don't know what she is DOING other than listing it on websites.  The video that was taken has never been posted on youtube or put on realtor/zillow/etc.  This has caused stress from knowing whether I need to buy hay for the winter to how am I going to plow since I sold the blade for the tractor to regrets of our selling stuff I could use but sold because this was supposed to sell fast.  Ugh.  Add wine.

Things are not super better at in other aspects, the brake lines blew in the van as we were bringing it to PA, thankfully we were only 10 mins from the house at the time.  Wine night.  The tires on the car trailer are dry rotted so SO stole the tires off of my horse trailer so he could move the racecar.  My trailer is literally sitting on blocks.  Fail.  Add more wine.   Then today, for example, I got a showing request.  Awesome!  Except I was working and they wanted a showing in 2.5 hours from when I got the call.  UHHHH!!!  I have lived in a "staged" house condition since it was listed so it doesn't take long to have it go from "clean, ready to go" to "staged" but I was working!  I took off of work for the 2.5 hours to finish staging the house, dragging the arena, sweeping the barn and stashing all of the animals/toys/litter boxes/etc and I was SO impressed with myself because I got it done. All by myself in 2.25 hours!!  I took the 15 mins to go eat a banana and check in on work when I saw an email.  The people canceled 15 mins prior to their arrival.  Are you fricken kidding me?!?!  They ended up rescheduling for tomorrow but geez.  Was so bummed.  Guess what is happening tonight?  Wine.

The bright spot, however, is this dang kitten.  She is SO sweet and fricken adorable.  And a ferocious panther.  She sleeps under the covers and cuddles ALL of the time.  With EVERYONE.  She is really good for car rides and I even brought her to the farm store and she wasn't scared of anything.  Very inquisitive and curious of who would pet her.  So damn cute.  She is now 3.5 pounds and SO big in comparison from when I got her.  She now has her own collar, flies up and down stairs and chases the other cats in an attempt to play.  Anyway, here is kitten spam, doing what she does best.  Cuddling.
Sleepy sleep

Why did you disturb me?

What you doing?  I get you!