Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seasonal Barn Management Makeovers

When I was in elementary school in California, I remember a lot of emphasis being placed on the seasons.  Every bulletin board was covered with seasonal decorations and every subject taught was tied in to the seasons.  I could not comprehend why this was so important, because at the time, California only had one season:  Perfect.  I do not remember ever feeling too hot or too cold.  The seasons were indistinguishable, and all this stuff about snow had to be something from history, because it certainly did not snow where I lived, and being a child, I figured that the world was the same everywhere you went.

Now that I'm an adult who is responsible for taking care of four horses, and now that I no longer live in California, I am painfully aware of the seasonal changes, because they call for a complete barn management makeover.  Whatever routine I got used to that was working for me over the previous three months, no longer works and I have to train myself to change my habits along with the seasons.

For instance, now that it is summer, I have to spend a much larger chunk if my time outdoors cleaning and filling water troughs because the horses drink a lot more.  Also, when I bathe them or hose them down, I have to spray the first 100 feet of water onto the ground because it has been boiling inside of the hose and pipes and will scald my horses.  Also, I have to keep all fly sprays and ointments inside the air conditioned house, because otherwise the sprays dissipate, leaving me with an empty bottle, and the ointments turn to soup.

However, storing them in the house presents a problem in itself, and that is being able to remember to take them down to the barn with me so that I don't have to expend all my energy running back and forth between the house and barn to retrieve what I forgot.  Notes on doors do not help.  Been there, done that.  I need my reading glasses to read them anyway (and hunting around the house for glasses is one of my more time consuming tasks, so I usually choose to just not read the note), but after a while, notes on doors just become a part of the door and I don't even see them there.  I've also tried setting the sprays and ointments down on the floor next to the door, and I still walk right past them or walk out a different door.   So, I'm blind as well as forgetful.

This summer, in particular, I've been having problems with my ability to focus because the extreme heat scrambles my brain, and apparently, I keep forgetting to latch gates.  I shut them, but don't latch or lock them.  The sun is so bright that I can't just look at the gates and see that they are unlatched.  I have to test all the latches by pulling on the gates with my hands, which burns me if the gate is being hit by direct sunlight.  So, then I have to remember to wear gloves.  Anyway, my latest new routine to try to remember is going around and testing all of the gate latches with gloved hands before I walk away.  Either that or get Lasik surgery so that I can see again.

I often go down to the barn with the intention of doing just one thing, but I always find twenty other things that need my immediate attention, and two hours later I crawl back into the air conditioned house only to realize that I never did the one task I originally set out to do.

Also, now that I have a horse who is on stall rest, barn management has become exponentially more complicated.  On the surface, it seems simple, but believe me, it's not.  If anything at all can go wrong, it does.

The vet gave me Bute in powder form, which is cheaper than the paste, but my record with spilling powder or having it blow away in the wind is reaching Guinness Book proportions.  I almost protested and asked for paste, but told myself that I just need to focus, and then I can successfully deal with the powder.  The vet said that the powder is easier because you can "just" mix it in with her pellets.  She stuck around to do a test run and make sure that Lostine did eat the Bute.  She did, but only that one time.  She also kicked her bucket over and nearly spilled the Bute on the ground, but the vet grabbed the bucket in time and used a lead rope to tie it to a railing.

That evening Lostine ate most of the pellets, but left the powder and powder-covered pellets in bottom of the the bucket.  So, this morning I went to the trouble of dragging a hose over to her mounted bucket to mix the Bute and pellets with water thinking that would disguise the pungent orange smell of the Bute, which she doesn't like.  But she refused to touch it.  That means that I get to spend an extra 15 minutes out in the searing heat twice a day mixing powder and water in a syringe, haltering Lostine, and injecting it into her uncooperative mouth.  She's really good at fighting me when I worm her, and she is an expert at always keeping a chunk of hay stored in the back of her mouth so that she can spit out whatever I am trying to get down her throat.  I always forget to wash the food out of her mouth ahead of time.  She depends upon my forgetfulness for so many things.

Anyway, she hadn't eaten her mash and Bute this morning, and I opened up her stall to halter her and see how she was moving, but before I could untangle the rope halter, she walked right past me out of the barn into the arena by herself.  Obviously, she's feeling much better, even without the Bute.  I think it's because the swelling in her legs has gone way down.  I thought I'd just let her walk around on her own a little bit while I cleaned her stall.

Then I noticed that her water was getting low, so I dumped, cleaned and started refilling her trough.  I had to drag the hose through Bombay's stall to get it to hers.  Then I moved all the way to the far end of the arena to clean up manure, and heard a big metal bang.  I looked up to see Bombay escaping from his stall -- apparently, I had closed the gate, but forgot to latch it again -- and he ran right across the barn aisle into Lostine's empty stall and started slurping down the Bute-laced mash in her bucket.

I took off my hat and ran toward him waving it in the air and with each second I was hearing my wallet being flushed down the toilet.  Bombay was totally ignoring me and I was so focused on him that I wasn't paying attention to anything else going on around me.  I had startled Lostine by running at Bombay waving my hat, and she took off running, which she's not supposed to do because she can injure herself worse.  She ran right in front of me and into her stall.  So, I was in this pickle where I need to get Lostine to hold still and Bombay to get the heck out of her stall.  I smacked him with my hat until he went back to his own stall, and locked Lostine in her stall with a now empty bucket of what was her morning dose of pain killer.

Not in a million years would I have expected that to happen, but my forgetfulness is the ingredient for a perfect storm.  So, I'm back to the drawing board trying to find a routine I can do that outsmarts my poor memory and is efficient enough to prevent me from being out in the sun long enough to have heat stroke.  I think the trick will be for me to force myself to only do one thing at a time.  I am no longer capable of multi-tasking.  Because it is so hot, I'm always trying to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously in order to get out of the heat faster, but then I overlook small details and the horses take advantage of it, and I end up doing a bunch of other tasks I hadn't planned on doing because I'm constantly being presented with problems caused by my forgetfulness.

Wait.  What was I saying?


How Sam Sees It said...

Oh gosh - powdered bute was the bane of my existence! We've tried everything with no luck - apple sauce, sugar - they just know.

Maybe you need a grab bag by the back door? With just the essentials (and a pair of glasses) and just get in the habit of grabbing it every time you head to the horses?

Cheryl Ann said...

One summer, I made up homemade fly spray and left it outside up at the ranch, in the tack room. It got so hot the plastic shattered and the solution oozed all over the floor! Ugh! My coconut oil turns liquid, as does my SWAT.

Cheryl Ann said...

Sounds like my days up at the horse ranch! Two of the horses (Quad and Gigondas) are near the tack room. The other two (Sunni and Scout) are all the way across the property. Needless to say, I'm always forgetting the items that I need for them (like fly spray) and I have to go back trudging up the hill to the tack room. Then I get there and can't remember what I needed! Our son suggest I get a red wagon to haul stuff back and forth and I may just do that.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I just took a dog out and looked over to see Gabbrielle in Lostine's stall with her head stuck in her Bute mash bucket. How the heck did she get in there? Lostine's stall was latched. I know I did not forget to latch her stall, so this means that the horses have figured out how to unlatch the gates. I've been blaming myself for all their escapes. Ugh. I guess I have to go to the hardware store and come up with a double latching system. I don't know why this is suddenly happening now when they've lived in that barn for four years. I just want the chaos to stop. Make it stop! I need to rest.

Tina said...

Would maple syrup or apple sauce mixed in with her pellets help? My horse had a sweet tooth from hell so when he needed to take bute, I did that.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm trying different things with the Bute, but so far everything has been a fail. Injecting it into her mouth was a nightmare. It took two hands and all my strength to push the stiff syringe and I had to use my elbow to pin her head to the railing since I couldn't free up one hand to hold her halter. She bit down on the syringe and broke it. So much for that strategy. Since I have to go to the hardware store anyway, I'll stop at the grocery store and grab a bunch of different things to trying mixing it with that I haven't already tried.

Mrs Shoes said...

The 4Shoes pigpen is in the barnyard & a hose runs from the barn to their on-demand watering bowl; we were worried about hot hose water. We solved the problem by burying a section of pipe underground (from the pump inside the barn to the pen across the yard) about 12" & running the hose through the pipe. In the fall when the pigs go to freezer camp, Mr Shoes clears the hose with his air compressor so that it won't freeze over winter.

I have had luck giving powdered bute to fussy horses by mixing it in a little molasses & pouring that over top their grain/pellets/whatever; they clean it right up & most of them lick the feeder afterwards!

I could never live in your area, I would melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.

ellie k said...

Mash up some of there favorite mints and try mixing it with that. Go to the Dollar store and buy some extra reading glasses and place them around, even a pair hanging somewhere in the barn or maybe between some hay where they are safe from the horses.
The heat can rattle your brain.

Tina said...

There is always that difficult child isn't! Stinkers that they are.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I actually have about a dozen pair of reading glasses, one for every room in the house, but I still have to hunt for them. I almost need glasses to see my glasses. I also have a grab bucket by the door and have been walking past it, so I've been making a lot of U-turns back to the house once I get to the barn. Our watering system for the barn is underground, but at 110 degrees, it doesn't make a difference. Even the water inside our house is hot. As far as Bute delivery goes, everything works once and then never again, so I'm just wasting money and time buying stuff to mix it with. (I'm going to be eating applesauce over the next couple of weeks.) I figure by now Lostine is past the worst of the pain, so I'll just save what's left of the Bute for the next horse who injures himself. But perhaps these suggestions will work for other people or other horses. Thanks.

lytha said...

4 seasons in a year is kind of cool, but they are so extreme I prefer the rain: )

It's a murphy's law thing every Spring. Do I put the snow shovel away or leave it handy?

Do I carry sunscreen or an umbrella? (Seattlites never use umbrellas!)

Will these blasted leaves please stop falling so I can have a rest? No? Not til we're in snow? OTOH I understand 9 months of rain is difficult for most people....

You mentioned seasonal deco. It is one of the first things I noticed here about Germans. They love their seasonal deco. I don't own an Easter tablecloth/napkin set, or harvest time set. I accidentally put an Advents-time tablecloth on Opa's table and was corrected and it was hidden from me. *lol* It's not just tables though, it's the entrances to their homes, and their centerpieces. It's so adorable.

I just found out TWO of my cousins live in Sierra Vista. I had no from each side of my family, and they are my only relatives there. What is with Sierra Vista? Is it something special?

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Agave syrup/nectar! That stuff is pure sweetener and hides all bitter stuff. Plus it's what they make tequila out of ;)