To follow up with the last post about the coyote couple that moved in, so far we've dealt with them by chasing them off, putting mothballs under the hedge where they like to sleep, and trimming the hedge up so that they can't hide there and take us by surprise. The mothballs make a noxious fume that smells bad and makes the eyes water. We used that technique in the past to ward off bunnies who were chewing our drip system under the hedge. Last night I saw two coyote puppies drinking out of the sprinkler system we set up for our new trees around the round pen, so perhaps the couple already had their babies. Puppies of even the wild kind are seriously cute.
I got the water tank float that Teresa recommended since I can't put in an automatic watering system at the barn. I can hang it right over the side of a trough and go do something else while the trough fills, and the float prevents the water from overflowing. I can't install it permanently for the same reasons why I can't install automatic waterers: The horses will destroy it. They have to play with everything they can get their teeth into. I do have to close the gate to the stall where I'm filling the trough to keep the horses away from the float.
I had been storing the float in the tack room, but knew I would stop using it if I had to walk all those extra steps in the summer months, so I stuck it in a bucket with a lid next to the spigot. I got a float with metal casing since it would last longer than plastic in the heat and if the horses got a hold of it, however the metal burns when it gets hot, so I have to keep it in a dark, enclosed space.
The other issue I'd been having, which is really only an issue in triple-digit temperatures, is that the hose to the barn had to be hooked up to the tree watering system most of the time, so whenever I needed to clean out and fill the water troughs, I had to hike over and detach the hose from the tree watering system. Of course, that's minor compared to having to hand water each tree. I'm thankful for the sprinkler system, but sometimes I need the hose to do a variety of tasks simultaneously.
I know that sounds lazy, but it truly is dangerous to be outdoors in this extreme heat. Four hikers and mountain bikers have already died this week. Heatwaves are supposedly a bigger factor in human deaths than any other weather-related phenomenon. Your body can shut down before you even realize that you are dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Every step I have to take outside while doing barn chores in this heat is difficult, so it is important that I get my routine down to a science.
Things got really energy depleting when Gabbrielle took a chunk out of Bombay's leg and I had to hose him down each day, clean, and re-dress the wound. The cut is too wide for stitches, so I've been doing first aid on a daily basis to try to prevent flies from burrowing into the wound. I need a hose available for that, so my husband got a 4-way spigot adapter and more hoses. Now I have one hose attached to the tree watering system, one for filling water troughs, and another for either filling a second water trough or for treating wounds or bathing horses. Handy dandy. Now I can multi-task instead of having to do things in single file, which means spending less time dying in the heat. I've also been spraying down the horses with cool water on the really hot days. They love it.
Bombay is having problems again this summer with flies burrowing into his sheath and laying larvae on his privates. I can't stay ahead of it even with using fly spray under there twice a day. My vet told me there are fly mesh jock straps available, but they are hard to find. Has anybody used them? Do they stay on or does the horse rip them off right away?
I've been trying to outsmart the crowds when it comes to getting all this health care crap handled. I managed to hit the imaging lab during a lull, and got right in. There were only three people ahead of me, but by the time I got out, there was standing room only. Then when I drove home, I hit a green light at every intersection. Someone was definitely on my side that day.
For the lab work, I decided to go in on the hottest day of the year, counting on the thought that other people would prefer to stay in their air conditioned homes rather than to venture out and get lab work done. My strategy worked, and they got me right in, however the lab technician couldn't find my veins because I was so dehydrated from fasting. She had to draw from my hand, which now hurts while I type.
But the really unlucky part of it was that the lab was kind of banking on a lot of people not coming in for services on the hottest day of the year too, and their office was in total chaos. I went in on a day they were doing construction, so she had to draw blood in her office. I'm sure it wasn't as clean as a medical examining room, but I should be okay. It also turned out that they got a new computer system and were using it for the first time that morning. Everyone was in training and it took four receptionists to scan my insurance card. They also forewarned me that I will have to fill in all that paperwork and scan my insurance card again in two weeks when I have my follow up. Yeah, I'm lucky like that.
I told the lab tech that because I own horses and have to do barn chores for an hour or so first thing when I roll out of bed, it's very difficult for me to hold my urine and fast for blood work. I can't just roll out of bed into the truck and drive over to the lab like everyone else. I have to do some hard physical labor which requires an empty bladder and fuel for my body. She got excited and said that she wants to own horses some day. I couldn't easily tell how old she was, but I'm guessing late 20's, early 30's. I told her that even if it's a stretch for her financially to get a horse, she should get one while she is young and can ride. Most people wait until their kids have flown the coop to own horses, and then something rotten happens with their body that cuts their riding time short.
She said that her father says that finances will always be a struggle in today's economy, so she should just have kids while she physically can instead of waiting until everything is financially stable. I was tempted to take it a step further and tell her to get a horse before she has kids, because once she's busy with a job and a newborn, she definitely will struggle to find time to ride, but I refrained from furthering my bad influence upon her.
I started having physical challenges a few years ago when I was riding regularly with P.S., and I encouraged her to get herself set up for horse ownership before she got married and had kids. I don't think I realized back then how determined she can be to make things happen, but it seems that in a blink of an eye, she bought herself a truck, then a horse, then a horse trailer, and now a second horse. She is really dedicated to riding as much as possible. You've got to admire someone who's got her priorities straight. She strikes me as someone who simply has to be around horses. It's not a choice. It's an ingrained need, so it makes me happy to see that she got started early with her horse ownership and has her whole life ahead of her to ride.
I owned my first horse when my kids were little. I bought him as a yearling, though, so I didn't ride him until four years after purchasing him. I was busy working 60 to 80 hours a week and taking my kids to their extracurricular activities, so I only rarely got to ride. Most of that time was spent in a round pen, because my horse was green and I just didn't have the spare time to be trailering out. What got me trailering out was my obnoxious neighbors always doing stuff to spook my horses. It was tough finding places to ride horses safely, because my county allowed motorized traffic on most of the trails. I found one mountain trail where ATVs and motorcycles could not go, but then I started having problems with people letting dogs off leash hassle my horses, and I didn't enjoy riding there anymore.
Moving to an Arizona community where horseback safety is a priority is what finally got me out on the trails regularly. I have a round pen and an awesome riding arena, but rarely use them because I love the trails. Because this location is so perfect for horseback riding, we invested a lot of money into building the horse barn, the hay barn, the arena, the round pen, and most recently, the tack room. However, I wish someone could have given me a glimpse of my future, because had I known my body would fall apart like it has been, I probably would have saved the money. You only invest in that kind of project if you believe you are going to be riding horses the rest of your life. It's a cruel reality that most of us don't have the money to own horses when we are young and able to ride, but we do get more financially secure as we age, and sometimes aging is what keeps us from riding.