Thursday, June 21, 2018

Waiting for rain

We’ve had a stretch of 95+ days here and although there have been pop-up thunderstorms around us, we hadn’t had any rain until yesterday. I was out at the barn checking in on horses, offering cold hosing, filling water buckets with fresh (cold) well water, giving hay, and just hanging out when the sky got dark and the wind began to gust and thunder started up.

One of my favorite things is being in the barn as a storm rolls in on a hot day when we need the break from heat and we need the rain. I quickly rearranged my order of chores to get all the waters done first, then the hay, and saved the mucking for last since I could do that while it rained.

The temperature dropped about 18 degrees and cold air blew through the barn. It felt so good I served their hay under their shelters so they could eat while the cold breeze blew.

In the end we didn’t get a huge rainfall, but enough that we don’t have to water anything today. And since more widespread storms are predicted we will hopefully get another rainfall to add to yesterday’s. I’m keeping a close eye on rainfall for the pollinator beds, the veggie garden, and the inkberry hollies and dogwoods we planted this spring. And I have to keep an even closer eye on the potted plants on the porch. Things dry out quickly when we have this many days of this kind of heat.

The AC install scheduled for yesterday got moved to today - they are running behind, which is understandable. They’re working on it now - installing a totally new system including AC and new gas furnace for the downstairs of the house. The units they’re replacing were original to the house so are 20+ years old. I hope the new ones will be efficient and will last a long time! This wasn’t on my list of projects but I’m writing it in and checking it off anyway.

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I also send safe thoughts to children separated from their parents. I’ve written senators and representatives and am trying to read enough to stay abreast of what is actually happening with them. Another piece of the much larger appalling situation our country is in right now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

November Hill farm journal, 56

It’s been awhile since my last post because I have been traveling with dear daughter and am finally back home again! My very amazing husband kept the farm going while we were away and I think the only thing he didn’t manage to get to during my absence was weeding my pollinator beds. They were thankfully clear enough when I left that what was there when I returned was not too bad. I’m clearing those weeds out a couple of buckets a day and I think tomorrow morning I’ll have it back in order again.

The pollinator plants are gorgeous. I have to take the camera out and get photos. We had a couple of uncharacteristically cool days when I got home and then the heat revved into full gear. Today we’re at 92 with highs predicted at 95, 97, 99 the next few days. Our downstairs AC went out AGAIN after I got home and this time the compressor died, so we have a new system being installed this week. I sure don’t envy them working on the sunny side of the house in 95+ degree weather. Meanwhile I am keeping shades drawn and we’re using fans downstairs to keep things reasonably cool.

In other news, the hoof trimmer pointed out last week that the pony seems to be storing fat in not so great places and so he has gone into daily free lunging and walking on the lead line. I remain impressed with how much fun he is and how smart. One day when I took my turn working with him the donkeys decided they could not be parted from their pony pal, so all three marched into the arena and we had a pony/donkey exercise extravaganza.

Side note: someone on one of my nutrition email lists posted a month ago that she had blood work pulled on her donkey due to him just generally not looking good. She had balanced his diet just as she did her horses, which is what many of us have done on that particular list. Her donkey’s blood work was very odd in terms of mineral levels, so she took him off all the supplements to see what would happen. Low and behold he started looking good again. I immediately went into my own private panic mode, wondering if I had supplemented Rafer Johnson into overweight condition. I took both he and Redford (not overweight but a little heavier than I liked) off everything except a very small serving of soaked Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance Cubes AM and PM, loose salt, and literally a handful of hay each 4x a day. They can graze freely at all times but we do not have lush pasture so I wanted to see if this made any difference in Rafer’s weight.

He has lost weight and looks terrific! During the days they are in and out of their stalls but since I already separated the pony and donkeys from the horses anyway, I can easily control the hay the little ones get while still feeding the horses their normal amounts. At night they turn out together and graze. If the three very easy keepers continue to lose weight and do well we won’t have to resort to grazing masks.

Back to the original tale: after the pony/donkey work-out session, I hosed the pony and noticed that both Rafer and Redford were in their dust circle in the grass paddock. First one would roll, then the other, in what could only be called ‘synchronized donkey swimming.’ I didn’t have my camera to take the video, but it was the very best ending to a hot exercise session.

I can also report that we have FINALLY got the entire property dog-proofed. This weekend we started a new and very long-awaited routine. When the herd comes into the barn in the mornings we close the stalls and the Corgis get the run of the farm. I expected Bear and Baloo to run totally wild with this new freedom, but they have been amazingly controlled - doing perfect recalls from across the pastures, waiting at gates for me to open them instead of running through the fencing, responding perfectly to “this way” and “wait for me.” They are having a blast. It’s so nice being able to give them this freedom now. I hope once this part of the routine is established, we can move on to getting them used to being out with the herd doing their regular thing. (Meaning NOT CHASING the dogs.) I  don’t think the dogs have any desire to chase the herd! But I can’t say as much for the pony. Slow and steady and we’ll see if we can get to peaceful cohabitation.

Right now I’m in “finish up all the unfinished projects around here” before I dare come up with any new ones. It’s nice to slow down and focus on the basics - which this time of year are fly control, heat control, and weight control. Keeping the animals comfortable is a major focus.