Thursday, June 26, 2014

Capturing The Carriage Game

I caught the boys playing the carriage game with an old shredded Jolly Ball again...

The carriage game always begins with the two geldings working together to each hold the ball in their mouths and walk side-by-side, but inevitably one or the other gets silly and tries to steal it away, which results in scuffles.  Eventually, a biting fight breaks out until Rock chases Bombay into the barn and says he's had enough.

I've always thought it would be interesting to have someone actually hook these two horses up to a carriage without any training preparation and see what happens.  I'm not sure the carriage would survive, though.

Thanks goes to blogger Cindy D. for finding a new resource for hay in our area, being thoughtful enough to ask if they deliver to my part of the boonies, and calling me to let me know.  With my hay barn cleaned out, I called them to put in my order.  I was originally going to get half an order of grass and half an order of alfalfa, but the man told me they like to deliver a block on a squeeze.  I was so excited.  I haven't seen a squeeze truck since I lived in Nevada.  They are so convenient.  They just back into your yard, drop the whole block, you pay 'em, and they drive off.  All of the hay companies I've used in Arizona have delivered on flatbeds and hand-stacked the hay, which usually took about an hour, and I always felt awful for these poor men who have to lift hundred-pound bale after bale.  They were usually cursing by the end of the job, and I was running back and forth between house and barn to bring them ice water so that they didn't die.

This new company was good about calling before they came so that I could be ready for them, and they delivered within 24 hours of my call.  My old hay farmer back in Nevada would sometimes make me wait weeks for my delivery, and then when he didn't show up at our appointment time, I'd call him only to find out that his squeeze truck was stuck in a ditch or something.  It seemed the poor guy always had one problem or another, which made it hard for me to estimate how soon I should call for fresh hay when I start getting low.

Anyway, this new hay truck driver got here before I spotted him, and he began the process of backing up to my hay barn.  I need to be out there to direct trucks, because it's a tight squeeze and there are a lot of obstacles in my yard, so I hurried outside to help.  Right when I stepped out onto the porch, the driver gunned it backwards and he was going to back right into my water well system, which was surrounded by a loose stone wall.  I started pumping the palm of my hand in the air and yelling STOP, STOP, STOP! while running toward him.  Thankfully, he saw me and braked, missing the well wall by just an inch.  He rolled down his window and apologized, saying he didn't see it at all.  He thought he might have hit it and asked if there was any damage.

I saw my life flash before my eyes when he was backing into it, because we have sunk so much money into fixing that well and have had so many struggles with losing our water source in the hot summer months and often over holidays when we no one was available to make repairs.  Since this isn't the first time a truck driver nearly hit it, I think in the future when I have new truck driver showing up to do something around my property, I will set up orange construction cones across the front of my driveway so that they can't get into the back without my help.  Once truck drivers are familiar with the layout of my yard, there isn't any problem, so I usually have them walk it before they drive it.  The well is in a really inconvenient location that causes drivers to have to drive an S pattern, but to the naked eye, it looks like a straight shot.

Then we hit the next problem.  Long story short, the barn builder and I spent a lot of time debating over the design of the hay barn.  I wanted a set up where someone could just drop a squeeze inside it with a truck and drive off, but he said that no one in Arizona has their hay delivered with a squeeze truck.  I insisted that he still design for that, because someday they might.  That's why our hay barn is 16-feet tall.  Well, the guy on the phone told me the arm of his squeeze truck is 16-feet, so he might not be able to get it in.  He must have sent a smaller truck, because the height turned out to not be a problem, but the width was a big issue.  The hay barn is only 12-feet wide, and if the truck driver had perfect aim, he could have lowered the block into the barn, but couldn't have pulled the claws out to release it without hitting the sides of the barn.  So, he had to set the block down in front of the barn.

He said he could re-stack the hay in the barn for $1 per bale, which would have been $64 total, but I declined his offer because it was just too much work for one man on such a hot day.  I didn't want to kill the guy, and he assumed I could help.  These were huge, heavy bales and I'm just too weak to budge them.  I said I'd figure it out later.  We don't have any rain in the forecast yet, so I thought I had time.

Then he told me that if I order less than a squeeze, there is only a $20 charge for delivery and stacking from a flatbed.  I asked if they ever run out of hay, and he said they have three fields around the state and always have something available year round.  That's a miracle to me, because it was impossible to find hay in my area of the Eastern Sierra between January and July every year.  People were always scrounging around borrowing hay from friends who could spare some before the first cutting.  Anyway, since there isn't such a huge famine here, I decided that next time I will put in small orders and have them bring them on a flatbed.

But the next question was what to do about the alfalfa.  I didn't have any room to set down a block of alfalfa too without it getting in the way of other things we need the space for.  The driver told me they sold alfalfa in pellet form.  I have shopped around in the past for hay pellets and cubes, but either places did not carry them, or they only carried them at certain times of the year.  He sold 80-pound bags for a fraction of what some feed stores sell 50-pound bags for, so I decided to take that route, especially since the monsoon winds should be showing up soon.  I've had fits trying to feed the horses loose hay in the wind these past couple of summers.

What really got me excited was that they carried a Bermuda grass/alfalfa mix pellet.  When I lived in Nevada, my hay farmer delivered bales of Timothy grass/alfalfa mix.  He grew it in his fields that way.  That mixture was perfect for my horses.  However, in Arizona most farmers separate the grass from the alfalfa when they grow it, so it is up to the consumer to mix it how they see fit, which usually means breaking slices or flakes in half, which results in waste.  I did have one hay farmer who brought me mix, but the grass was just whatever wild grass happened to take root in his field and he said it was really hay for cows.  Some batches were better than others, and horses didn't like that wild grass.  They'd just nose around it to get to the alfalfa.

I asked if they deliver the bags of mixed pellets, and he said they will deliver a pallet of 25 bags, so I ordered that and they brought it out the same day and stacked them in my garage where the rodents can't get to them (or where they will attract the rodents -- depending on how you look at it, I suppose).

In retrospect, I looked up the shelf life of horse feed pellets and was shocked to see that it is around 60 days from manufacturing.  I'd be lucky if I went through two bags before then.  Oh well, another lesson learned.  Don't buy in bulk -- just drive out there and pick up a few at a time.  Stocking up on horse supplies is so ingrained in me, because I'm used to there always being shortages.

The hay turned out to be really nice, and my husband insisted on re-stacking it himself despite his back problems.  I'm amazed that he can even move those bales.  I could roll one from end to end if it was situated at an angle, but otherwise I couldn't budge them myself.  I told him to just take his time and not overdo it.  It gets more difficult as the hay needs to be stacked higher.

Now I'm feeling relieved because I got several of my horse feed issues resolved, and I also have a new farrier coming out today.  Hopefully, she will work well too.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

New barefoot trimmer turned out to be a great find. She said all my horses were well behaved and she appreciated the shade of the barn and having a chair to rest in. Hopefully, I won't do anything to piss her off, so that I can keep her.

Cheryl Ann said...

I love my farrier. He sings to the horses and even Sunni now doesn't move a muscle for him! Glad to hear about your hay. I do supplement with pellets myself.
Cheryl Ann

fernvalley01 said...

wonderful news all around!

achieve1dream said...

Yay for finding a source of hay!!! That's fantastic! I hope the pellets work out for you. I had no idea they only had a sixty day shelf life.. I wonder why? I'm guessing a lot of them sit for way longer than that at the feed stores I buy from. Maybe if they are dry and not in the sunlight they will be fine.

Also with pellets I'm super paranoid ever since Faran choked so I always soak them. It's a GREAT way to get extra water into the horses in the summer to help them stay hydrated, but it is kind of a pain in the butt.

I LOVE the pictures! Those two are so cute! I'm glad Bombay has a buddy to play with now. :D