Monday, June 16, 2008

Tips & Tidbits

While I go about my barn chores and horsekeeping duties, I keep coming up with little helpful tips that I think some of you might appreciate. Of course, I’ve usually got a muck rake in my hand instead of a pen, so I don’t write them down. As I remember them, I’ll send them along to you in some short posts.

For example: My favorite new barn tool is a fish net. I went to the pet store and bought a long-handled big rectangular net last winter. I used it to fish poor dumb mice out of the heated water bucket when they came to an untimely end trying to take a Jacuzzi. What I’ve discovered is that it also makes an excellent skimmer in these warm bug-ridden months. The water buckets always seem to have drowned bees, moths, spiders and other flotsam floating on top. My horses are princesses, so if the water is dirty, they don’t like to drink it. Each time I pass through the barn and corral during the day, I grab my bight blue fish net that is hanging next to the front gate. One swipe in each bucket leaves the water nice and clear again so the girls can drink without getting a dead bee up their noses.

Also- I learned a new trick about fly predator maintenance. When I come into the corral to clean up, the fresh nuggets are always covered with the tiny fly guys doing their job. I started to think about how dumb it was to clean up everything and dump it in the manure pile, leaving no fly predators left in the corral to continue their efforts. So, in the same way that I “seed” the corral when I first release the fly predators each month from their shipping container, I have started to leave a couple of very small deposits of fresh nuggets that my superstar fly eaters can snack on while waiting for the horses to drop another load. The fly predator population is flourishing right now, and I hope I don’t jinx it by saying that we have almost no flies.

Last tip - Love that clear, 100 percent aloe vera gel that I buy at the health food store! I have been rubbing it into the base of Silk’s mane for about two weeks since the gnats attacked her and almost made her bald. It’s helping her hair grow in again beautifully and soothes her everywhere that the insects have ravaged, especially the center line of her belly.

Late last night, I had to pick up my husband at the airport. We didn’t get home until after midnight. This morning, as I fed the horses, I was pretty fuzzy. For some crazy reason, I decided that I needed to realign my perspective, so before I got a cup of coffee, I stumbled to the top of the hill above the barn and stood in the cedar grove, looking down on my world. I hadn’t been up there for a while, and it helped.

“The eyes experience less stress when they can look upon a wider horizon.”


M. C. Valada said...

I've been using a butterfly net with its fine mesh for skimming water buckets for a couple of years now. I got them at a toy store outlet for about $1 each and it means I don't have to drag the bucket out of the stall every day, only every other day or so.

Thanks for the rest of the tips.

the7msn said...

Bugs on the belly line...I hate those things. But the 100% aloe vera gel is one thing I haven't tried - it's now on my shopping list. Thanks for the tip!

I sacrificed my kitchen seive for the greater good of the water in the stock tank – it gets way more use out in the barn than it ever did in the kitchen.

The R.D. Chin quote is a keeper - I think it's true figuratively and literally.

Grey Horse Matters said...

All good tips Victoria, I like Aloe it just seems to be good for everything skin related, on a smaller scale for humans I also like to break a vitamin E capsule open for myself.

I can understand how it is to need to rebalance and get a different perspective. Standing under the cedars up on the hill at dawn I'm sure a whole new world of thoughts and ideas must have been swirling in your head. The scene I'm picturing is similar to the way the Native Americans greeted the day, by turning to all the four directions to give thanks for another dawn.

Callie said...

Good tips! I keep a fish net as well for scooping out the troughs, works well for grass and hay deposits. Really loving my fly predators! They're working!!!!

Pony Girl said...

Great tips, Victoria. I use a net too. It's a flat net, no idea what kind, it was just at the farm. It helps keep the dead worms, hay bits, and tree goobers out of there.
I will have to try the aloe vera. I have to wash some dead skin and grime (it has a fancier technical name than this) from my geldings pasterns during his first bath this spring and I think I will try aloe on his skin afterwards, the vet mentioned he could lose some of his hair where I wash.

Chris said...

Some very handy tips, thanks! We use margarine containers at work to clean out the small automatic waterers... sure beat using hands in Ireland for the same thing but in much cooler conditions!

Love your quote at the end - very fitting.

smrp said...

Hi Victoria,
Just thought I'd mention that I put a piece of lumber in my trough so that any rodents who fall in can actually crawl out alive. I know other folks who tie a rope to the fence post next to a trough then tie the end to a rock. If you let this hang in the water it becomes a ladder for swimming rodents, too.

Just thought this might be a way to prevent mice from drowning (I like live mice) and also prevents dead mice from mucking up the water.

Whinnies and snorts,
Sue and the gang