Saturday, March 7, 2009

Winter Clean Up

While the horses were rolling in the mud...

...I was driving around town buying out every bag of Dry Stall that I could find.

The poor guy who had to load all these 40-pound bags into the back of my truck wasn't happy. By the time he got to the last bag, he had nothing left in him to lift it. I promised him I wouldn't come around buying anymore Dry Stall until next winter.

Dry Stall is essentially volcanic rock aggregate that you spread underneath your shavings to absorb any moisture and make the shavings last longer. It makes the ground soft and is more absorbent than decomposed granite. It's expensive ($10.75 a bag!) but well worth it if you've got mud in your stalls, which I do...

I should have opted for the longer overhang for Gabbrielle's stall, because the rain and snow blow right in through her window and metal bars. I prevented water from flooding underneath the frame by piling up manure around the base of it. Her stall is portable, so it doesn't have a foundation. I don't want her standing around in mud, because she could get thrush. I laid down five bags of the Dry Stall after mucking out the manure and the worst of the mud.

Then I laid a bag of wood shavings on top of that.

Of course, Bombay had to help by "cleaning up" the empty bags.

Gabbrielle wanted to push the wheelbarrow.

Then my husband and son came out to help spread manure. Our pile was getting a little too high.

We have a variety of locations where we move manure. This time of year I like to spread some on the pasture for fertilizer. Unfortunately, for the first time in many, many years, we have a mole problem. I'm hoping they aren't tunneling under the pasture, because the horses could injure themselves falling into mole holes while running around out there. I have already twisted my ankle when my foot collapsed a tunnel on the outside of the pasture.

My husband and son like to use manure for a pole vault pit. One of those huge landing pads costs around $10,000, while manure is free. Having lived with horses for many years, we're a bit immune to manure. We don't smell it unless it is on fire. We don't consider it to be gross. Dog poop -- gross. Horse poop -- not.

Here my son is getting a running start up his pole vaulting path in order to dump the manure into his pole vault pit. Manure is actually quite soft, warm and comfy. You just have to keep your mouth and eyes closed when you jump in it. Oh, and it's probably a good idea to keep any open cuts or sores cleaned and bandaged up before and after taking a roll in a manure pile.


OnceUponAnEquine said...

That looks like a lot of work you did in those stalls. Glad the horses were such good helpers. Hilarious about pole vaulting into manure.

Andrea said...

I love how Bombay plays with the bags!! That is so funny, considering how freaked out he was when you first showed him one!!

How wonderful that the hubby and son get out there and vault with the manure piles!!

I have never heard of dry stall!! That is pretty cool!!

Mrs Mom said...

LOL You meanie head picking on that poor man at the store with the Dry Stall! ;) The stall looks fantastic though, and I am sure your young Princess likes it!

lytha said...

I'd never heard of dry stall. Interesting!

I counted, we had 31 mole hills in the front yard of our new house last week. The pasture across the street from our house is a mole paradise, with mole hills on every square meter. "Mole Manor" I should call it. We seriously need more cats in the neighborhood, cuz, get this - moles are a protected species in Germany. You are not allowed to kill them. And trapping them is the ONLY way to get rid of them. I know, because growing up, we tried everything.

Now I must learn to live peacefully with moles, so I gather up the dirt and use it for planting. I heard it's great potting soil, and it does seem weed free and nice and loose. Good thing we don't have a huge front yard. Taking away mole hills by hand (spade) is tedious, but it doesn't disturb the moles' tunnels causing them to make another hill. At least, so far so good.

And when I visit America this summer, I'm definitely smuggling a mole trap in my bag. How on earth can they be "protected" when they are plainly so successful?


Cheryl Ann said...

I'm always wondering what folks do with their manure, since SOMEDAY DH and I will have our own ranch! Interesting post!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Wow, I am such a low maintenance horse owner, it's pathetic. I never use bedding in their stalls because the manure decomposes into nothing but the shavings would get to be a manure nightmare for me. At least you've found an outlet for the waste. And the cost is exhorbitant!
However, there is nothing so nice as the smell of fresh sawdust and it keeps your horses waaaaay cleaner than mine!!!

Jenn said...

I opt for straw instead of shavings because I spread it on my pastures and in my gardens. The straw seems to rot faster, and I have the added benefit of it helping to prevent erosion.

We had moles really bad last year and I don't like to use poison on them. Did you know the amount of poison it takes to kill one mole will kill an owl if it eats it? So, we spent a weekend with pitchforks and shovels and killed as many as we could just by stabbing them in their burrows. Gross, I know, but it got rid of them and I didn't worry about killing any owls. I just hope they aren't back this year!

I don't know if you guys have Japanese Beetles out there, but one of the things that really attracts moles is the larvae of those beetles. The moles LOVE to eat them and they live in the dirt. So, reducing the Japanese Beetle larvae with milky spore has helped some people lower their mole population. Just a thought.

Chris said...

Eheheh... I'm the same with manure - the smell used to settle my stomach - bit of a worry? ;)

I think the gentleman that loaded your vehicle should have been happy for such a sale!

Lulu said...

A. That is the most creative use of manure I've ever heard of!!

B. The men in your family are awesome! My husband helps with the horses, but nothing like what your husband and son do!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! You have a lot of terrific helpers around there, 2-legged and 4-legged.

I'm not too sure what to say about the manure pole are joking, right?

I don't mind the smell of manure either. It is basically grass. Around here, it breaks down so quickly that we never have a chance to muck because it dries up and becomes a part of the earth.

So I don't use any stall bedding in Baby Doll's barn pen. She's really good in that she only uses one corner of her pen to eliminate in and she only sleeps and eats in the other end.
She's even funny in that she will come back into her pen just to use her corner to poop. lol!

That Dry Stall may be something I could use when we have melting snow and rain though. The uncovered side of the pens end up getting muddy then. I wonder if just spreading some of the Dry Stall there would help keep it from turning into soup?