Saturday, March 07, 2009

alchemy in the feed room

The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves.

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I got two scales yesterday for the feed room, and spent an hour last night and again this morning weighing feed ingredients to get more exact about amounts and ratios.

I should have taken photos this morning, of the vivid green of alfalfa pellets, the mixed and more muted green of the beet pulp, the light brown fluffy wheat bran, and the beautiful oats, layered in the white bowl sitting on the big scale.

Cody's coconut oil is iridescent in its tiny glass, and the vitamin E capsules are a rich amber liquid. I use a pushpin to puncture a hole in each one so I can squeeze it into their tubs.

Right now I'm doing one horse's feed at a time, using the nifty bowl scale which allows you to zero out after each addition so you don't have to calculate as you go. The smaller gram scale is for the few things I am feeding in smaller amounts, like flax seed, and measuring individually for each horse.

Once I get everyone on the exact amount by weight, I can convert back to the easier measurements, i.e. Salina gets two scoops of this, that many of that, etc.

I keep the best sized scoop for each ingredient in the bins and a white board with instructions so nothing gets confused.

This morning I also took my new coffee grinder out so I can start grinding the whole flax fresh each feed. It turned out beautifully and smelled really good. The horses were intrigued with the grinder, not at all afraid of the noise. Salina and Keil Bay actually seemed to be happy hearing it - the warmbloods love food and I suspect would put up with anything if it meant a feed tub was the end result.

My husband was not thrilled with how long it took me to get all the tubs done. I know there will be times when it will seem like a lot of work, but for the most part, I truly enjoy it. The scooping and measuring - just the sight of the flax seeds in the little scale bowl made me happy. I had NPR on, and the sun was shining through the feed room window. I have a pretty vinyl tablecloth on my work table in there, and a container full of measuring spoons and scoops.

I fancy myself a sort of equine nutrition alchemist, mixing up potions that keep them healthy and well.

It's time for a spring cleaning in there, and I have a dark green wicker love seat that came from the foyer outside my old office, so if there's room once I clear and shift things, I may get the seating I've been longing for. There's a lot of good energy in the feed room, and I'd like to be able to sit down and soak it in.

I learned that the world has a soul, and that whoever understands that soul can also understand the language of things. I learned that many alchemists realized their destinies, and wound up discovering the Soul of the World, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Elixir of Life. But above all, I learned that these things are all so simple they could be written on the surface of an emerald.

-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


Grey Horse Matters said...

You are a equine nutrition alchemist. My goodness that seems like a lot of work each day. I'm sure your wards are happier and love you for the extra care you give them at every turn.

Victoria Cummings said...

Okay - We need a photo or two of this. I just read a quote from Jung about alchemy that exactly fits what you're doing: "Alchemy sets itself the task of acquiring this "treasure hard to attain" and of producing it in visible form." Sounds like you've achieved that.

billie said...

Arlene, right now it feels like a lot b/c the measuring is taking up a fair amount of time. However, like everything else once it becomes established and I don't have to weight and measure every single ingredient, I think it will be a much faster process.

Once the grass comes in, I can stop the fresh flax for the season, and that will reduce the work some, although to be honest, I love seeing those shiny seeds turn into fluffy flax meal!

billie said...

I am familiar with that quote and almost used it in my post! Nice that it showed up in your comment - it must have wanted to be here. :)

Anonymous said...

I share your love of feed room alchemy.

I never felt better about a day's work ahead than when I had 18-20 horses' dosing and mixing to do. Getting things scrubbed and measured and labeled, thinking about how the concoctions would nourish the beasties was always so exciting.

Thanks for reminding me so lyrically.

billie said...

Wow - 18-20! I am really happy with this new feed routine, even though it does take longer, and requires a higher level of concentration to make sure everyone gets exactly what they need.

I have a number of small Horsetech supplement containers with lids that I have saved, and they'll come in handy on days I need to pre-mix the dry ingredients for daughter and/or husband.

I keep masking tape and a black Sharpie in the feed table drawer so I can hastily correct labels or add new ones.

The best part is when all the tubs have been served and there's that 'in unison' chewing and slurping and eating sound. It's like equine church service.