Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Slow feed hay net **Update**

So it has been a month since the hay net has been being used, I figured you may want an update.  Has it lasted?  What do I think, positives?  Negatives?  Suggestions?

Overall, things are going really well!  The net is holding up amazingly well.  The net has not a single rip or tear in it, something I certainly didn't expect.  The horses spend all day (and night) at the bale and no one has destroyed the net.  That is huge in my book!  The net also does a good job of keeping the mess to a minimum.  There is still hay dropped onto the ground however the amount is only about a single fork full of hay, picked up twice a day.  2 fork fulls of hay a day on the ground is not a bad amount, I chuck it either on top of the round bale and the horses eat it or I chuck it between the bale and the wall and they eat it after the round bale is basically gone.

The positives?  Net is holding up, no tears!  Little waste.  Very little daily effort.  Reduced chore time, currently 25 minutes which includes scooping all poop.  10 minutes if not scooping.  Horses (well, App is the only one I am concerned with) are maintaining their weight well.

The negatives?  They poop and pee all around the bale/net which requires twice daily scooping to prevent it turning into mud.  TWH is pushed off of the bale by the more aggressive appys.  A lot.  Mia is gaining too much weight, down to about a cup of grain 2x a day and is a very healthy 7-8 on the BCS scale.  May need to muzzle her as winter progresses.  The horses still finish a 4 foot by 5 foot round bale in 7-10 days.  I really hoped it would last longer, right now I let them eat the bale to the ground, empty the stragglers from the net and give them another day to pick through the stuff they didn't want to eat before putting a new bale out.  Because they can eat it or starve because I am a bully that way.

Suggestions?  First, old clothesline worked really well for tying the net ends together into a circle.  Old clothesline does NOT work well as a drawstring.  I toss the end of the drawstring over a rafter to keep the net "up" and so I can pull the loose netting up off of the ground.  3 times the horses broke the drawstring before I finally replaced it with some boating rope (80lb break strength) I found on clearance at TSC for $2.  Apparently clothesline has a break strength of 50lbs, likely less when it is old lol.  So far the horses have not broken the new drawstring.  A bale ring could really be helpful to keep the horses from pooping/peeing on the hay that is dropped.  That is the biggest pain, throwing out hay they have dropped simply because they peed next to the bale (like, literally next to, they would have had to have splashed the damn hay and net) or pooped on it.  The buffer of space would be nice.

That is it!  We will see how the winter goes but I am really happy so far.  For those who are curious, this is my routine.  When the horses eat the bale down to empty and I have let them starve/eat the stuff on the ground, I rake up anything left over and throw it outside. I take down the temporary fence and use the big tractor to pull a bale out.  I don't have a hay spear but have pallet forks, I pick up the bale from the bottom with the pallet forks.  Set it on it's end.  Walk around the bale while unwrapping the twine, there are 2 or 3 long pieces to find..  Throw the net on like a pillowcase.  Use the tractor to push the bale over.  Throw all loose hay back into the net, close up the drawstring.  Use the tractor to pick up the netted bale by scooping it from the bottom.  May take a couple of tries if the forks catch the net, back up and try again.  (So far, the tractor has not ripped th net!)  Drop netted bale on the super heavy duty pallet (it is a Quickrete pallet, given to us when we bought 20 bags of Quickrete for a project and we had Home Depot load it for us.  This pallet is heavy, no joke!).  Throw drawstring over the rafter and tie it to the wall with just enough tension to keep the net taut.  Put temporary fence back up, let the raptors/horses back inside the arena.  It takes about 30 minutes total.  Honestly, I wish I had known how easy it could be and I would have done it a few years ago.  I just have had this hatred of round bales for so long.

Anyone else using round bale hay nets?  What do you think of them?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Updates, updates, updates

The good, the bad, and the ugly.  All kinds of updates and haven't had too much time or motivation to type it all out.  I do owe it to you or at least myself to document it all down so, here we go!

The good:

The horses are doing great.  Mia had 3 abscesses in 3 different hooves over the course of a month and is now sound, sound, sound.  She is also very, very good.  That last show where Mia actually felt like a partner? Where she listened to what I had to say instead of feeling like I am just there trying to manage her?  Yeah, she is still doing that.  Listening and trying.  It is such a cool feeling!  It only took 2 years to get here but I am so happy we finally made it.  I am hoping we can develop a really good partnership over the winter and she keeps this attitude.  It would be so nice!

The bad:

The farm didn't sell for what we wanted so we have pulled it off of the market for the winter.  I can't imagine a farm would sell in the winter and it is WAY too hard to live in a staged house 24x7 in good weather.  I have zero desire to continue through bad weather.  I am really disappointed, I didn't even think this was an option when we put it on the market, we thought it would sell extremely fast.  Our property is so very unique, the private indoor arena, brand new fencing?!  I mean come on!  I think our realtor did us wrong by having our start price WAY too high in the spring so we missed a huge batch of people and by the time I had her lower the price to it's "correct" price, very few people were buying.  Let's not comment that SHE never suggested a new price.  The last month the property was on the market, we would have a showing request about once every week or two.  Before that we had barely any showings.  We had one set of people say they were extending an offer but then never heard from them (*sob*) and another that loved the property but weren't "right now" buyers.  That tells me that they are dreamers with no intention of buying so they are wasting their time, my time and the realtors time with their daydreaming.  (Yeah, that one pissed me off pretty badly lol).  I had requirements for showing to hopefully eliminate daydreamers and unfortunately one still slipped through.  

Anyway, that means I am here all winter.  It is the reason I went ahead and bought/made the round bale hay net.  The net, by the way, is performing beautifully.  It is on its 3rd bale and there isn't a single tear or rip in the entire net and it is still doing a beautiful job of keeping the mess down.  It hasn't eliminated the mess but has reduced it down to a single forkful a day.  Win!

The ugly:

Sadly I have lost two of my buddies in the past 30 days.  I had a full blooded Maine Coon cat that I had adopted 7 years ago as a 6 yr old.  A show cattery had been dispersed due to the deaths of the breeders and I ended up with Arimus.  Everyone loved Arimus, he was just the coolest cat.  He didn't meow, he chattered and chirped.  He always met everyone at the door.  He wasn't afraid of anything.  Anything!  Shoot Nerf darts at him?  He wouldn't even bother to stand up.  New dog/cat come in?  He would go up and say hi and would threaten only if needed.  Throw a pillow at him when he was sleeping?  He would just open his eyes.  He loved everyone and was extremely friendly, he was extremely popular with everyone who met him.  Unfortunately in spring of 2014, I noticed a lump on his elbow.  We brought him to the vet who did a biopsy and it came back as cancer.  It was ingrained into his elbow joint, the only options were to amputate, put him through chemo or let him live it out.   Amputation and chemo would give him 2-3 years left of his 14-15 year life expectancy, letting him live it out would give him 1-2 years.  Since he had bad arthritis anyway, we opted to not amputate and chemo wouldn't be worth it for only one additional possible year.

We let him live his life, he did very well.  After surgery he gained his weight back and got back up this normal, not even close to chunky weight of 19lbs.  I would drain the tumor of fluid about every other month and all was well.  This spring I had to start draining the tumor every month and it had quadrupled in size, it was the size of a small apple on his elbow but he was still in good spirits and didn't seem in pain.  Over the summer he started limping and slightly losing weight, but not a large amount.  In July he stopped eating dry food and would only eat wet food.  In September he started losing weight quickly and went to eating only a quarter can of food twice a day when he needed at least a full can twice a day.  He was still in good spirits and I was waiting for one other "thing" and I was going to make that call.  On a Thursday, he was playing with Danica and was his normal self.  On a Friday I went to PA to move another load of stuff and got back Sunday night.  When I got back, he wasn't right.  He moved really slowly up the stairs and didn't meet me at the door but it was 9p at night so I didn't think about it.  He ate normally.  Monday morning, however, he wouldn't stand up and wouldn't eat anything.  Including treats, something he had never refused.  So I made the call and let him go.  It was so sad, he was my buddy, my friend.  That was October 12th.

Hairy cat can make a full 2nd cat
Mouse was a weird cat, we got her in our neighbor's divorce.  No, seriously.  Right after SO and I got together, we moved into a townhouse apartment.  The neighbors were nice enough, they had a 2 yr old daughter and a cat.  We lived there about 6 months before the neighbors split and were getting a divorce, when SO and I came home one day we saw the cat outside.  She was desperately trying to get into a door, any door.  The neighbors just kicked her outside to fend for herself, despite never being outside before.  SO paid the pet deposit as my birthday present and Mouse came to live with us.  She was 9 months old and had been the runt of the litter.  The neighbors took her bc she was so small and had a lazy eye, they figured she would die but she had lived.  We got her fixed and UTD on shots and lived pretty happily together.  She was always a grumpy cat, she didn't like other people, hated to be pet anywhere other than her head and shoulders, despised vets and didn't like other animals.  We made the mistake of sending her to MI to live with SO for 3 weeks during the transition to living in MI.  She was SO happy as a single cat.  The look on her face when everyone else moved to MI was priceless, she was pissed and she didn't forgive us for over a year.  Seriously.  She wanted to be an only cat and didn't let us forget it.  She never, ever played with the other cats and only tolerated the dog.  

Mouse has always been in good health, which is good considering her dislike of vets, but this July she started being off.  She lost weight, didn't want to really eat and finally looked bad so I brought her in.  Her T4 (thyroid level) should have been 2-4.8 and it was a 26.  We had to play with medicine levels and treatments to find what worked but by late September we had her leveled out and pretty happy.  October she did very well, she got ringworm (from the vet's office, its the only place that makes sense) but was in exceptional weight, ate very well, took her meds like a champ and her coat was looking really good again.  After some home remedies/horse treatments failed, I got meds to treat the ringworm was advised I should shave her down too. Yikes, did I want to live?  Lol!  I went to PA over the weekend and got back on Monday.  Mouse was still great and she got a bath with the special shampoo but didn't shave her.  Yesterday Mouse ate her entire breakfast.  I bothered her at lunch and made her sit on the couch for a little bit.  She was fine, her ringworm scabs weren't as prominent.  I was rushed after work and went out to ride quickly, when I came back in to feed dinner to the inside animals she was already gone.  When she didn't come to her bowl, I looked for her and found her in front of the dog's bowl.  She was lying down, looking asleep if not for her open eyes and stiff body.  I am in shock as it was so sudden, I wasn't ready.  With Arimus I was able to prepare and expected it, I didn't expect this with Mouse.  I can only assume it was a blood clot or her heart gave out, I am pretty sure she didn't suffer.  I have now lost 2 buddies in 30 days :(  RIP guys, I am glad I was able to improve your lives as much as I could.

Grumpy cats can still play, just not with others