Tuesday, August 26, 2008

cloudy with a little flurry (of activity)

We're getting some welcome rain this week, and a nice break from the summer sun with these gray, rain cloud days. This morning I went out dressed to ride, but by the time I got the feeding done and some basic barn chores out of the way, it had started raining. I settled into a chair in the barn aisle with the white board, which was woefully out of date with reference to who is getting what feed-wise right now. I tend to carry all that info in my head, and I like to have it written down in a pretty obvious place so that everyone knows who's eating what in the barn.

Everyone in the barn is doing well. The biggest drama this week is the gigantic horse flies, but running into the barn seems to deter them. Cody seems to be their favorite target, and the pony not at all. I haven't seen any going after Rafer Johnson either.

Otherwise, after a weekend that really did get me rolling again, I've been working on adding somewhere in the vicinity of 20k words to the novel, with plans to exchange mss with my writing partner in a week and a half. She has buoyed me to think querying thoughts for September.

Funny how one thing moving tends to set other things in motion. I've had two magazine article queries answered positively this week, and some other things are rolling in that area.

The fall flurry of activity is beginning - and I've got two big crows right outside marching toward the window even as I type. Things always flow when the crows are near.


Grey Horse Matters said...

The white board is a great idea and every barn should have one, just in case you're not around to feed one day.
I was wondering if Cody was the paint? My paint Blue is beset by flies, they are unmerciful to him and I thought it would be interesting if all paints seemed to attract these little monsters.
Glad your novel is going well, and it's exciting that some positive feedback came in from the magazines.
Okay, I've got to ask what do the crows have to do with good luck and getting things moving?

jme said...

if only there was a way to deal with horseflies! my horses bug out if they just hear one close by! and then when one lands they run over to the fence, swing their butts around and say 'get it off! get it OFF!!!'

i'm always amazed at how, for me, once those little showers descend into a dry spell they become monsoons.... i'm glad things are flowing in the right direction for you these days :-)

billie said...

Arlene, Cody is the sorrel QH - the pony is the paint, and he is rarely, if at all, bothered by biting insects! It may just be his pony blood that protects him though, and not his coloring. :)

And, LOL, I'm not really sure about the crows, except that they seem to follow me around and when they're here things seem to go well. I think they are my personal bird totem.

billie said...

jme, our horses do that too, where they run up and turn the side with the fly toward us so we can kill it for them.

I have not yet bought my Horse Pal big biting fly trap, but I have several recommendations that they do work and make a huge difference in the monster flies. They're pricy - $250. each - but last forever if you put them where horses can't get at them and tear them up.

I have two on my list but other things keep bumping up to the top!

Thanks for the good wishes.

mamie said...

Love the title of this post! As for the crows, they have been ever present for me this weekend. Every time I came to my dad's house from the hospital there were three of them in the yard. Things are now flowing nicely with him.

billie said...

Mamie, I think 3 crows is the very best number to see. For several years there were 3 every place I went.

For about a year here there have been an entire group, and then there was one.

Today there were two and then the third came.

I don't know why but they really do seem to bring magic with them.

Cheryl said...

I love to watch crows! We always have them out by the horse pens and they are so fun to watch! There was a crow's nest where we used to board the horses and we watched the parents teach the young ones how to fly! It was so cute watching their little "flights"! One baby didn't make it, though. That was sad, but the others grew up and flew away!

billie said...

Cheryl, I would LOVE to have a crow's nest here - that must have been something to see those little ones!

jme said...

celtic mythology is full of crow lore - and of course the number 3. they are linked to several deities and myths, but particularly to the morrigan (the 'triple' goddess), and are thought to travel between the worlds, often as messengers... food for thought :-)

billie said...

Thanks, jme - I know some rather vague things about crows and ravens off the top of my head but am so scattered today I couldn't put it into any kind of sensible response.

I am in a stir about soy in horse feed - god help me - another thing to research and sort out!

jme said...

OH NO!!! what's wrong with soy?

billie said...

Quite by chance, I read a thread on a local horse forum about a friend's struggle this week with a laminitic mare. Turns out she switched her entire herd to a ration balancer the beginning of summer and all her horses have gotten uncharacteristically fat.

Then she noticed she had young and obviously not pregnant mares with swollen udders. That part caught my eye, so I kept reading.

In trying to sort this out, she realized the ration balancer (and most of the low-carb feeds, and in fact, most feeds period) are using soy hulls and/or soy meal to get the protein in.

Apparently there are a number of people (she referenced yet another thread on a different forum dealing with the same issue) whose mares, metabolic horses, and even easy keepers aren't doing very well long-term on the feeds that have increased soy.

I had been using my low carb feed mostly as a base for the intensive supplementation I do. It has no sugar, very low starch, and good stuff like beet pulp, etc. But Salina is getting more of it due to needing the calories to keep weight up. And we had the swollen udder.

Thankfully the pony gets none at all, and the big geldings and Rafer don't get all that much, but I'm now right on the edge of buying bags of beet pulp, oats, alfalfa pellets, and maybe barley, and making my own mixture I can tailor to each horse.

I had considered this last year but thought the feed was a nice shortcut - and it is, except for the soy. Sigh.

If you have any experience with feeding "whole" grains, I would love to hear about it.

jme said...

hmmm... i was a little worried about soy's ability to mimic estrogen, but i have 2 easy keepers with pssm, so they need low starch diets and lots of oil. and one of them is allergic to oats, barley and corn, so my feeding options are limited :-\ i think i might be stuck with soy, unless anyone knows of alternatives that are low in starch - and i'd need a safe alternative oil source, too. i guess i need to do some research... maybe alfalfa pellets?

someone recommended skipping grain altogether and just giving a ration balancer, but i've just never trusted them - they're much too concentrated for me. feeding is so complicated. how did horses ever survive in the wild?

i used to mix all my own feeds from straights, beet pulp, and chaff, so if you need any suggestions i might be able to help :-) it's not hard, and it's easy to adjust day-to-day as needed.

billie said...

jme, based on all the stuff I've read in the past 48 hours (and all along, as this is the kind of thing I tend to mull over for months before making a change) and the people I know currently experiencing problems, this is the lowdown:

the soy is often a problem for the hardier/thriftier breeds like mustangs, ponies, etc.

it can be especially problematic for some mares

and it can be problematic for metabolic horses and even some easy keepers that are perhaps on the borderline of being metabolic

soy seems to be in nearly every feed, but the low carbs are using more of it, as are the ration balancers, to get the protein content up

even the forage-based feeds I've looked at have soy

Now... the issue is that soy won't obviously bother every horse, but since I have a mare possibly reacting to the soy, two easy keeper geldings, a pony that could live on air, and a miniature donkey who is extremely hardy, I figure using this as my "base" feed is not the best long-term plan!

So right now I have beet pulp soaking in the laundry room and I'll begin to add it in to their soaked Carb Guard and gradually replace it. Once I get the Carb Guard out of the mix, I will use alfalfa pellets and rice bran as needed to balance the diet. Given my herd, I think I won't need the oats, but it's possible Salina might need a few to get a few more calories in. We'll see.

I've wanted to do this for awhile, but this recent udder issue has pushed me to finally do it.

As usual, Salina has me out at the edge of my comfort zone, scrambling to get smart, quick. :)

I had a feeling you had probably done this custom mixing - any advice is totally welcome. I'm a complete novice!

Cheryl said...

Hmmmm....woke up to ??? this morning. Couldn't see anything, too early. I THOUGHT I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my eye, but, hey, at 4:30 a.m. who knows? THOUGHT I heard thunder. By 6:00 a.m. we were in a full fledged thunderstorm! YIKES! The plants really need it here!

billie said...

Cheryl, I'm glad to hear you're getting some much-needed rain. We had nearly 6 inches in a bout 48 hours this week - it was pretty astounding to see the rivers and lake nearby rise so quickly.