Thursday, April 01, 2010

a season shifting

Over the past few days it feels like spring has really hit. The daffodils are finishing up, and we now have tulips in bloom and irises budding. It's getting greener and greener by the day, and the air is filled with flying insects.

I found frog eggs in one of the water troughs.

I put the first fly mask of the season on Salina. And had to go retrieve it from the ground by 4 p.m., which is a regular summer chore here. She wears it until she gets tired of it, then she takes it off!

And now we're into a string of very warm days - they predict we'll hit 90 degrees later this week. (I hope that is wrong, but we'll see!)

Yesterday around 4 it was warm enough that the horses came in to the barn seeking shade and I decided it was as good a day as any to make the change to night-time turn-out. I closed windows on the sunny side of the barn, put hay in mangers, and let them in. I turned on the fans! Not because of the heat so much but to blow any little insect pests out. The gnats that love the insides of horsey ears are out already.

It was funny to have everyone in until after their 9 p.m. feed - they all had access to paddocks and I never actually closed the gates to the back field, but they were happy to rest and relax and when they realized we were serving hay out for the night, they all sauntered back out to the field together.

This morning I saw Cody and Redford doing a bit of morning exercise together in the arena. Cody was tossing his head and doing his fancy-prancy trot. Redford was doing his lovely ground-covering donkey trot, head held high. I don't know why but seeing them in the arena, on their own, doing figure 8s, 20m circles, and changes of direction makes me laugh out loud. Dressage in its essence is when they do it on their own!

Today I need to clean up the back field and get horses settled in after breakfast tubs. Which will be easy because the stalls now get mucked in the evenings after they go out, so they're nice and clean when horses come in - the change in routine is nice. It's an entirely different experience mucking after dark than in the mornings.

 We're using the pine pellets in two stalls now, one on each side of the barn. I'm absolutely loving the ease of mucking and the reduction in stall bedding hitting the wheelbarrow and the compost piles.  We'll be closing Keil Bay's stall off later this week so we can resurface and then convert that one to the pellets. Then two more to go and we'll be done with that.

My next barn project is to level the shelter floor and then cover it with straw. I'm going to put some "curtains" around the perimeter using the sun shade material so that it will make it cooler in the afternoons and also deter flies. I had this idea end of the summer last year and by the time I did all the research on materials it was too late to implement. Now I found the materials at a very good price at our local home supply store, so... it will be fun to try this out.

Mostly we're enjoying the springtime, getting into new routines, and making some new ones. The seedlings covering my dining room table are being carried outside to the shade for most of the day now, and will go into the ground in the next few weeks. I have another batch to start, and many loads of compost to haul and spread. Even with the longer days we're getting, there are still not quite enough hours of daylight to get these things done.

The days are full, life is good.


Matthew said...

I simply love watching the red boys playing together!

Anonymous said...

We're big fans of the pelleted bedding too - less storage and waste and great absorbency, as well as easier to clean - who could ask for more!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Another season and more changes to a routine. It's getting to be nicer here too. Glad we're not hitting 90 yet just the high 60's which is perfect.

Salina sounds like a gal who knows what she wants and doesn't want. You're probably lucky she keeps the mask on as long as she does.

billie said...

They were suitably tired out when I fed breakfast. :)

billie said...

Kate, we had really good shavings (more like sawdust, but not quite) for years, but the last load was totally unsuitable and that's what we'd be getting from now on due to changes in the equipment they were using.

I'm relieved to find the pellets so nice. I never imagined.

The one thing I need is a finer rake, but other than that, I'm very satisfied.

billie said...

Arlene, I'm probably weird in that I don't try to put the masks on so they can't get them off - I like it that they can remove them on their own if they want to.

I've always had an image of some kind of biting fly getting *inside* the mask and the horse being trapped with that. Plus I like the jaw to be completely free to move.

So I buy up in size and fasten them just enough that they aren't gaping and don't fall off their heads.

The only horse who doesn't take his off by the end of the wearing time is Keil Bay. He prefers to let me do it for him. :)

Dawn said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures.
So much good ch'i over there.
I love your writing style with this. You should mesh your photos and some of your reflections into a calendar on cafepress. Or even one of just the cats [I know I'd buy one for my niece].

billie said...

Some of that good ch'i belongs to you! You left it behind when you were here last!

I am getting very excited because we are ONE WEEK AWAY from writing retreat in April, in the Magic Mansion!

ponymaid said...

Billie, that pelleted bedding is delicious. Sadly, Herself won't put in in my stall any more. Your place looks enchanting - is the Lilac out yet? Also very tasty for snacking. We would love to see pictures of Redford and company doing their high school dressage. I see Rafer is keeping a lower profile in all of this -he's probably marking the test papers behind the scenes.

billie said...

Sheaffer, please tell me someone was not actually EATING the pine pellets?!

We do not have any lilac - it often doesn't get cold enough here for it to bloom well, although this year it likely did!

Rafer's lower profile was staying with Salina - he is ever the loyal young man. (except for when he needs a bit of time to himself, of course)

We wish you were here to enjoy the warmth with us.

Matthew said...

I love the new embedded picture feature with flow-around text!

Máire said...

Your spring is more advanced than ours here in Ireland. Our daffodils are out now as is a gorgeous pink camellia. Tulips are at least a month away. I have wood pellets in my stable and they are great. So much easier to store, clean out and less space on the muck heap.

No flies yet, but they will come!

billie said...

Me too, Matthew. Blogger has made it truly fun (and easy) for the non-computer types (me) to have blogs.

I've known a few folks to complain (some bitterly) about various issues with Blogger, but all I can say is it's free! It's wonderful! There are no ads!

Thank you, Blogger.

billie said...

Maire, you have those gorgeous flowers you photographed - so lovely and delicate.

If you are missing the flies we would be happy to send a few your way. :)

Got my email this am. that the first shipment of fly predators (double pack!) is on its way.

Rising Rainbow said...

Those tulips are gorgeous. Makes me wish I'd taken the time to plant some last fall. However, since I can't seem to figure out what's eating them, it's probably a good thing I didn't.

I can't believe you have predictions of 90° weather this early. Right now I'd be happy for 50° and dry would be nice.

We've tried pellets but Lindsay can't get the hang of them so they cause her too much frustration to be worth the effort. I sure wish that wasn't the case since they take up less room and compost more quickly.

billie said...

MiKael, we're experiencing a bit of learning curve wrt picking out the pelleted bedding ourselves. In the end I do like it better, but it works more like a cat litter box than the normal stall mucking, which is a change!

Rising Rainbow said...

billie, I know what you mean. I especially like it under the straw when a mare is foaling. It sucks that amniotic fluid right up making for a much dryer stall. Wish Lindsay could figure out how to work with pellets.

billie said...

MiKael, maybe you can use the pellets just for "spot treatment" effect as needed. I have heard lovely things about peat moss but it's extremely expensive - but perhaps not for special uses like with foals?