Friday, May 15, 2009

'Tis the Season to Check Your Water Troughs

I had another lunch hour eaten up (hee hee - love that pun) by a variety of unexpected problems at the barn. I went outside with the plan to clean stalls really quick and then spend the rest of my lunch hour relaxing with a good book. However, I noticed that the paddock needed cleaning, so I started there, then moved to the stalls.

Inside Gabbrielle's stall, I discovered that she took a dump in her water trough. Obviously, I can't let my horse drink her own soup, so I had to dump that out, clean up the trough and refill it. When I got to Bombay's stall I found a dead baby bird floating in his water trough. It looked like it hadn't been there long, but dead animals in water troughs can cause botulism. If a horse drinks out of a water trough that contains such toxins, it can die.

At this point, my lunch hour was rapidly disappearing with all these extra chores, so I called my daughter out to help me. We disposed of the bird, but I needed her to bail the water out of the trough one bucket at a time, because it was too heavy to tip and slide. I finished cleaning the stalls and together we finished cleaning all the water troughs. We also found that Bombay's trough was overtaken by spiders, despite me just cleaning it and refilling it a few days ago.

My nosy neighbor spotted us out there talking and rushed outside to eavesdrop. She pretended to be picking up some junk that has been sitting on her driveway all year. I guess she couldn't hear us well enough, so she decided then would be a good time to check her mailbox, though the mail carrier doesn't usually arrive until later.

I found a live baby bird hiding behind Lostine's water trough, so I deposited it between the two walls of the barn, so that the horses wouldn't step on it. I prodded it to move along, and it hopped around to the back of the barn and through the chain-link fence. Because we were fiddling around with the baby bird behind the barn, my neighbor knew she couldn't stand back there to eavesdrop, so she kept walking.

A UPS truck arrived to deliver the rest of my daughter's dormitory shipment, and my neighbor stood in her doorway watching to see what we got. As soon as I looked directly at her, she quickly stepped inside and shut the door. The UPS driver honked several times and backed up fairly close to the horses, and they didn't mind one bit - a huge improvement in their spooking behaviors from years past.

Anyway, we saved one bird and two horses today, though we didn't reach another bird in time. Check those water troughs every day to make sure there aren't any critters floating around in them, and avoid letting the water get so dusty or grimy that you can't see what is in it. If it gets to that point, you should clean it anyway, critter or no critter.


fernvalley01 said...

Good advice , too bad about the bird

Sydney said...

We don't get birds we get mice. Not often though.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Why must they always dump in the FULL water troughs?
I found a poor little baby bird last week in Annie's water. And the week before, there was an egg that was half opened with a baby inside. Yuck! Poor things!!
Yes, they need to get their troughs dumped and cleaned a LOT in the spring.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's always a good idea to keep the water troughs clean. We normally brush and swish out the waterers daily.
I'm sorry but if I had that neighbor I'd be really annoyed. I have a funny story, when we were very young and just married with our first house. We had a neighbor (old lady) like that. My husband got sick of it so one day he just mooned her. She stopped being a nosy body after that.

Kate said...

I've found dead birds in water troughs before - I guess they fall in when they're trying to drink. During grazing season, we switch pastures every week, and water tanks are checked/refilled as needed every day. The winter's the hardest, particularly if a tank needs to be emptied. Glad you got that all done - it sounds like a busy lunch hour - going back to work must have been a relief!

Paint Girl said...

I've never found a dead bird or anything else, in our water troughs, we just cleaned ours out. I think the only thing that gets in them is hay.
Thanks for the advice!

City girl turned Country Girl said...

Yes definitely good advice!!! I just went through that with a yearling dumping in the tank!! So annoying LOL!! And the neighbor, maybe send her a picture?!?! LOL!!

manker said...

thanx for the birds of wisdom since we found a bird's nest in our barn feeding area today too!!!

happy trails

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I always throw a short board in the water tanks and that keeps the birds from drowning while trying to get a drink.

The winter time is when I seem to get the poop in the tanks, because I move them into the barn so I can put heaters into them. To clean them out, I have to drag them out to dump. It's really a pain when they do it after I fill the tank and then I have to bucket the water out until the tank is light enough to drag.

One thing about horses-they will keep a person busy.:)

AareneX said...

An old cowboy buddy told me to float a chunk of 2x4 in the water tanks during "dumb baby" season so that little creatures who fall in the tank can climb out onto the board and then get out of the tank. This trick works okay for baby mammals, but baby birds have never used the "rafts" we leave for them.

My question: Why is it that birds ALWAYS build nests directly above the water tanks and buckets?! If I move the tank, they move their nests. Argh.

lytha said...

Oh gee, I haven't been out to my pasture trough in a few days!

We have a couple of chickadees who are working hard for their babies. The parents were so annoyed today as I groomed Baasha under their birdhouse! I could hear the parents come with food, but they were too scared to fly to the house, so they just complained about it, and the babies inside had to wait. Yah, Baasha's waterbucket is in the area (but not directly under the house).


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

LOL! I love what Grey Horse's husband did! You really must consider talking your hubby into doing the same thing! lol!

We had a kangaroo rat in a water bucket a couple weeks ago. Dead animals in water buckets grosses me out. We pull outthe bleach ad really sanitize after that happens.
My hubby placed the dead rat in a plastic bag...and forgot about it...for several days....Our shearer was over here during that time and smelled something nasty, but didn't comment on it, until hubby found the dead rat in the plastic bag next to where he was shearing.
We had a good laugh about that. lol!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh yeah! You cracked me with your comment about 'soup'. You mean 'Poop Soup" right? lol!


allhorsestuff said...

Oh man..Grey horse!! HOOT!

I just cleaned my Water barrel is a large trash barrel outside Wa's stall...need to go down to the fieled tomorrow for the other one.
I had nightmares of the Botulism once I found out about that...and the pooping birdies, of a former barn, they let roost in the stalls!NO!!

Lulu said...

My husband thinks I'm rather insane with my tank cleaning! ;)