Monday, July 23, 2012

Lost and Confused

I went to the feed store today and was taken off guard by not only road construction, but cops posted in every intersection with their red and blue lights on. Drivers were confused by the flashing lights, and no one would go when the traffic light turned green. I suspect they were worried they would get a ticket if they made a left-hand turn from the right lane.

After getting stopped by the same traffic light three times, I was more than ready to go home. Then I got stuck behind one of these drivers who drives 20 mph everywhere he goes, regardless of the posted speed limit. He kept glaring at me in his mirrors and slowing down more as if daring me to tailgate him. I was desperately looking around for some side street or business driveway I could take to get around him. When the feed store is just five miles from your house, it shouldn't take half an hour to get home.

Fortunately, he turned onto a street I didn't need to take, and I finally made it home to deliver some trace mineral salt blocks to my horses...

...and to set up some fly management, because the flies are ferocious around here.

The flies are starting to get into our house, and they are so aggressive that we can't eat or sleep without them landing in our mouths, and they are too fast for fly swatters.  I looked at Bombay and saw that he had his fly mask on.

Lostine also had her fly mask on.

But Gabbrielle's fly mask was missing for the third time this morning.

I walked along this fence line to search for it.

And I walked along that fence line to search for it...

...but it was nowhere to be found.

The wind wasn't strong enough to blow it away if one of the horses tossed it over the fence.  I began wondering if one of the neighbors might have seen me drive off, and then saw horses trying to shred the mask, so he decided to rescue it and give it to me later.  But that didn't make sense, because he could have just hung it up somewhere around my barn or patio.

Then I got an idea...

Yup.  My idea proved to be fruitful.

What horse could resist dunking the fly mask in the water trough?  I guess they thought it was time to wash it.

What disturbed me was that I checked this water trough in the morning and it was full all the way to the top, so all three horses were thirsty enough to drink it down to the bottom by mid-day.  The dirt around the trough was dry, so I know there wasn't a leak.  The same thing happened with the dogs' water bowls.  They were both full in the morning, and within six hours were empty.  I didn't even know that animals could hold that much water in their stomachs.

I've been trying to catch the horses in the act of removing their fly masks because I wasn't sure if they were rubbing them off on the fence or if this was all Bombay's doing.  One day recently I got my answer.

Of course it was all Bombay's doing!

I watched him pull the Velcro tab, and then grasp the top of the fly mask with his teeth at Gabbrielle's poll, and lift the whole thing right up over the top of her head.  She didn't even have to shake it off.  Bombay did all the work.  He then proceeded to swing the fly mask in circles from the Velcro strap like he would a Jolly Ball, only this was much funner, because he could swirl it up like a towel in the boy's locker room and then whip it at the mare's bare butts.

As you can probably guess, my experiment of consistently putting the fly masks on at breakfast and taking them off at dinner did not help in preventing Bombay from removing the masks.  Since the horses were not removing them because they wanted them off, but Bombay was removing them because he wanted to play with them, one solution would be to provide him with some new unique toy that is more interesting than a fly mask.  The trick is to find something that doesn't cost money that he can't use to cause damage.

I know that people have told me about the fly masks with double-Velcro closures, one flap covering one strap, but I have no doubt that Bombay would figure out how to undo both straps.  I'm not spending another penny on solutions unless they are 100% guaranteed to solve the problem.  Trying out ideas that don't work is going to drive me into bankruptcy. 

I actually see indications that the horses look forward to wearing their fly masks, such as them approaching me when I am carrying the masks into the barn, and them lowering their heads while waiting for me to attach them.  Then after I put the masks on, the horses hug and kiss me.  No, they really do.  They wrap their necks over my shoulder and touch their muzzles against my cheek and lips.

In the process of cleaning out and filling up the empty water trough, our brand new pipe system to get water out to the barn broke at a joint and was spraying water everywhere.  Nothing seems to last more than a couple of weeks around here. 

Oh yeah, and I broke the Golden Rule.  I opened the fly repellant with my bare hands because I was too hot and tired to go all the way back to the house to get my gloves.  Now I'm regretting it... and the flies love me.


Promise said...

If you have Windex or pretty much any other household cleaning item, use that to spray the flies in the house, instead of trying to swat at them. It pretty much paralyzes them. Evil trick, but so much easier than swatting!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Promise - I'll try the Windex. I can't use fly spray indoors because the poison smell upsets my family members and gives them headaches. It takes a long time to dissipate. Windex has a much lighter smell.

Katharine Swan said...

I think horses can drink as much as 10 or 15 gallons of water a day in hot weather. The rest of the missing water could be explained by evaporation. Arizona is very dry and hot, so the water is probably more likely to evaporate into the air than you're used to.

K.K. said...

To keep him from pulling off the velcro could you maybe spray some of that bitter apple chew spray? If you lived closer to me I'd give you my bottle! I used it when my puppy was chewing on wires and everything else in the house. I heard that it can be used for horses that chew on blankets and things since they don't like the taste. I wonder if there is a DIY recipie online that you could try with ingredients at home. Maybe I will look online and see if I can find you anything!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Promise - Nope. The Windex didn't work. I shot the fly three times point blank and it's still landing on my face.

K.K. - I used every bitter-type product under the sun when the horses were chewing my wood panel fences and wood barn, and wasted a ton of money because it didn't do any good. The best result I got was from painting on motor oil, but eventually they ignored the taste of that too.

When the dogs were eating each other's poop, I used both powder prescribed by the vet and home remedies, and the dogs just found the poop to be even more delicious. My animals are not normal.

Everyone - I'm really not looking for advice or help. I'm just trying to make people laugh, but my humor tends to get lost in my writing.

sydney K said...

Our water is evaporating much faster lately too. For the fly masks I used to put reflective tape on them and do out at dusk with a flashlight. Easy to find.

fernvalley01 said...

The best I can suggest for the flies , it dip them in chocolate, that way when they fly into your moth they will be pleasant! I hate flies, and when they are determined they are impossible to take . I cut the top off of a pop bottle turn it in on itself and fill about an inch in the bottom with sugar water or pop and a drop of dish soap ,works a treat as a fly trap !

Promise said...

Well, crap. You must have some mutant flies!

lytha said...

i bought some fancy paint-on horse repellant for my fences and it was just capsicum and oil so my horse thought i'd seasoned the wood up for him! i broke german law painting used motor oil (from the lawn mower) on my fence, and that really, really works! my fences are safe from teeth! *evil laugh* i think i got that tip from you.

Mikey said...

Aren't the flies unreal? I'm swarmed here, no matter what I do. I can assure you, I've tried everything and more. I'm about to spray my house with pyrhana while I'm outside doing chores, since someone left the back door wide open today. I have no choice, I can't kill all these flies by hand.
I have no suggestions that work. Fly traps like you've got help, but with what how many I've gone through, I started making homemade ones from 2 liter bottels. However, they fill up fast, and start making maggots and I can't stand that.
As for the water, yep, horses drink A LOT in this heat. I have a tank just like yours, and that one I do put a float on. 6 horses in one pen will drain it in half a day otherwise. (and have fun protecting it from bored horses. I finally put a wire mesh cover with cholla burrs tied to it over the float, and still had horses wearing cactus at the end of the day. Eventually they learned not to mess with it, but it was a long learning process)
Anyway, those are my working, young, healthy horses so I don't worry so much about watching how much they drink. My older horses in pens I use half of a plastic 55 gal barrel. Easy for me to tip over and scrub out, and those horses usually drink a full container a day. I top them off morning and night.
I love reading about your adjustment to Arizona. I think you're a lot happier and your posts are sounding like you're more relaxed.

achieve1dream said...

Spraying the flies with windex didn't work for me either. Well I'm having problems with fruit flies, not house flies. They say that peppermint oil (tiny dab on a cotton ball) sat next to you while you're eating will keep the fruit flies away from you and I'm getting VERY tempted to try it because I'm so sick of them killing themselves in my food. I won't eat my food if there is a bug in it. So gross!!

Did you see my comment before about the horse toys? If you drink milk then you already have the jugs. You can put rocks from the yard in them and use baling twine to tie them up. Cheap, cheap, cheap. If it damages it just throw it away and use your next jug. :D I was going to try it for Chrome, but the lease land is barbed wire fences. :( I thought about hanging it from a tree though. He would love that. If I think of any other cheap toys I'll let you know!

Oh and I do find the humor in your posts! It's just hard not to try to offer suggestions. I love helping people. :D