Thursday, May 03, 2012

another week on November Hill

Last weekend we finished the last of the April birthday celebrations - April is our biggest birthday month here, and we have ages ranging from pre-teen to forty-something as a result! Lots of good food and green grass has been consumed.

I started this week with an early morning chiro and massage appointment - a rarity as I almost never schedule anything in the mornings that requires me to leave the farm. It's just too hard to get out of the driveway before afternoon. But this was all the massage therapist had so I took it, and once I got in the car and set out, I enjoyed being out in the world and on my way to something useful and nice all at the same time.

I've been struggling with changing my daily routine around, and this early appointment helped kick-start that process a bit.

On Tuesday Moomintroll (fanciful polydactyl feline) went to the vet and we discovered he is suffering from hyperthyroidism. We're relieved to know what's going on (ravenous appetite, weight loss) and will be starting treatment soon.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I did my last day of barn chores in the mid-day time slot. At two p.m. I was in the bottom of the front field, it was 90 degrees out, and I had a moment where I wondered if I could even make it up the hill to walk through the barn aisle and into the house.

Today I started the summer season routine: get up an hour earlier, get dressed, and have coffee in the barn. I did barn chores with the herd around me in the still shady barnyard. By the time the heat set in they had eaten, were munching hay in clean stalls they picked for themselves, with fans on, clean water in their buckets, and doors open so they could find the cool spots as the day progressed.

I've been hanging water bags in the barn openings this week, an experiment to see if they help with barn flies, which we seem to have more of than usual. I have double+ the amount of fly predators coming every three weeks and although we don't have the black clouds of flies I've seen in some barns by any means, we have more than our usual share.

I'm not sure yet if the bags are helping - of course I muddied the water by hanging sticky strips up too! But I did get lots of assistance as I perched precariously on the stepladder with string and bag and the need to hold on to something and only two hands. The handsome and helpful Cody came and stood by me so I could feel his neck against my hip. He helpfully nudged each bag to make sure it was secure after I hung it. And he gave his seal of approval to all so that no one seemed the least bit concerned by bags of water hanging every foot or so along the back shelter.

I was in by noon today, feeling quite chipper and eager to get the a.m. riding piece in place so I can start the day with one of my favorite things. 

Which brings me to this question: has anyone used the Cool Medic vests? I'm thinking about getting one and would love to know if they stay cool - as opposed to feeling warm and soggy after the first few minutes. If you know, please share!


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

The flies (and ticks) are just wretched at the moment. I am trying a fly sheet for Val - the jury is still out. The first day there were large green heads trapped between Val's back and the sheet, along with bloody spots.

Please keep us posted about the effect of the water bags. (glad you had a handy sidekick for that job!) Our local farm stand swears by them, and I never see flies when I'm there.

It's time for a schedule change up around here as well. Luckily the sun is encouraging cooperation. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

I can't believe you're so warm down there already- we're still in the 50's-60's and it's been raining for the week.

The water bags are intriguing. I'm probably the only person who hasn't heard about this fly deterrent. Do you buy them somewhere or make them yourself?

I've thought about the cool medic vests but haven't actually tried one.

Your routine change sounds like a good idea with the weather warming up (except for getting up earlier).

Happy Birthday to all the April celebrants at November Hill!

Greta said...

If you're referring to what i think you are, I can say that I liked the headbands which had a gel (maybe water) in them. I kept the bandana cold in the fridge or freezer and then put it on to work out in the plant nursery.

As for routine, I'm finding in retirement that I do better with a schedule. I believe, but can't prove, that having a routine helps me keep depression at bay.

billie said...

C, I have tried a fly sheet once - Keil Bay hated it, so I "handed it down" to Salina. She too hated it. Hated it as in neither one would move with it on. They seemed offended that I even had the audacity to put a sheet on them in summertime heat.

My main reason for not using them is exactly what you experienced - I can't think of anything worse than having a fly trapped inside the sheet where it can keep biting. :/

I'm that way about fly masks too - we use them but put them on loosely enough that the horses can get them off if they want/need to.

So far I think the water bags are helping some. I have added even more sticky strips as I'm trying to get the adult population targeted. The crazy thing is that there are fly predators everywhere - I am seeing them all over the place. So I know they're working hard but for whatever reason there are just more flies this season!

billie said...

A, I had a basket full of zip-locks that my supplements from My Best Horse come double-bagged in - these are perfect for our water bag trial. I've never seen them being sold anywhere - clear zip-lock bags are what I usually have seen around - with a hole punched to put string through.

I've heard/read that some folks put in one penny with the water and others put in four pennies. ??? I didn't put any pennies, but I might try that with the next batch I hang.

I'm enjoying my mornings with the herd and my coffee in hand. It was so nice out this morning - perfect temp for riding - once I get the routine set I'll plug the rides in too. :)

billie said...

G, I'm not sure the vests have gel - but there's a different thing I saw in a horse catalog that definitely does have the gel and you put them in the freezer. The vest I've seen looks like a normal quilted vest but you submerge it in cold water, wring it out, and then wear it. It gradually dries out and you just wet it again.

I don't know anyone who lives here who has used one to know if it actually stays cool in our humid summer heat. The last thing I need is warm/wet sticking to me! May the summer be mild and the season short. :)

Victoria Cummings said...

I'm intrigued about the water bags. What is the reasoning behind why they would work? If they do, it's a great way to deal with flies. I just got my first shipment of fly predators. Grey Horse is right, we're still in the 50's-60's without any bugs up here in New England. It's a gift, and we are enjoying all the time outdoors with the horses and in the garden before things heat up. I've used the Cold Medic headband and it works. Never tried the vest. I do hose myself off when I hose the horses if it's really bad.

billie said...

Supposedly the light hits the bags and confuses the fly - so they avoid flying toward the bags. I have one end of the shelter that doesn't have them yet and that one corner has the most flies. However it's also the corner that gets the morning sun, so I'm not sure if that is impacting my little experiment.

Many many restaurants in the south use these around their outdoor seating. I suspect it works better in places like restaurants than it does in barns, where there is more to attract a fly. :)

I hose myself too! I am thinking of the vest for riding, as I like to ride when I'm clean and dry and if I could start out that way, with the vest to help, I could take it off and hose myself after when I'm drenched from doing barn chores.

They're over $100. so I'm trying to get some endorsement before spending. :)

Máire said...

You do paint a good picture of a very different climate.

billie said...

Maire, it's definitely a tropical feel here in the summer season. Not my favorite by any means!