Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hay Day

Sunday was Hay Day for us. We unloaded 20 tons of alfalfa into our barn in 90 degree heat.

We enlisted the help of a big work crew--our nephew and his friend and a bunch of the neighborhood boys. It took about 3 hours to get it unloaded and stacked in the barn, but besides a little grass hay--this will get us through to next year. See that bed of hay in the picture with the guys tossing off the top layer so it can fit in the barn? We had two of those beds full of hay. I do not know HOW we fit all of that into our barn. It sure doesn't look like it!

The semi came through the breezeway of the barn, as you can see in the picture. It just barely fit, but the driver was quite skilled in maneuvering his truck. Unfortunately, we didn't open the front door high enough, and his exhaust pipe caught it and bent it up. It's all fixable though. It's not like we haven't done THAT before!

Here's most of the hay--minus about 2 tons that was still outside. This picture really doesn't do it justice--it seems like there's so much more in real life!

The goats liked it. Here they are sneaking some off the pile. They've snuck lots more by this point.

The horses have all loved it, too. We got it out of Waitsburg, WA. There's a grower down there who does it for a living--that and wheat. He's going to get 5 cuttings off of his alfalfa field this year. This is the 2nd cutting, and every bale is uniform and perfect--lots of leaf--0 weeds--low moisture.

The thing I really liked about having it delivered by semi is that I could see the official weight slip, so there wasn't any guessing going on. We got 15 tons last year and 20 this year--and this stack was double last years size and much better hay.

As for price--last year we paid 240/ton delivered for mediocre hay. That was a killer! This year--150/ton delivered for the best hay I've seen in a long time. It appears prices have come way down. Even this grower said they dropped their prices from last year. Anyone else have exprerience with hay this year?

Lea told me that Arlene had some of the most beautiful hay she'd ever seen down her way, (Lea went down to sign Wildairo's paperwork a few months ago) but neither of us knew how we'd get it up here.

As it turned out, the cost of the semi bringing it up here to us from Waitsburg was was much cheaper than I imagined: $470.00--which, broken down, was $3.00 per mile. I always figured a semi would cost around $1000 for a load like that. Although the semi does belong to the grower--so he probably subsidizes the cost. Or, do those semis get much better gas mileage than I figured? Is what I paid the usual cost?

My husband told our hay bucking volunteers when they couldn't believe how much hay we were getting--Boys, happy horses make a happy wife--and I'm going to have a very happy wife for the next year!

Truth be told, I think I also have a very happy husband. Getting the hay up and putting that behind us is a big relief.

I made the choice to put the bulk in alfalfa this year--returning to what I used to feed up until a couple years ago when I switched to alfalfa/grass mixed bales because I got tired of not knowing what was in each bale. I didn't feel like the horses wintered as well as before either.

I talked to my farrier about it and he has always fed alfalfa and feels that either is good as long it's good quality and fed in the right proportion.

I know some people swear by grass, and I understand their reasoning--it being more natural and helping to keep them warm in winter.

Anyone else have thoughts on alfalfa versus grass?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Saying Goodbye to My Piano

I've written before about my piano--the one I've had for 17 or 18 years--that I bought for $50.00 at an auction. It was a huge blessing to me, and I got so much from it all these years.

But around Christmas, I began to want a baby grand--imagining how wonderful it would be to be able to play the piano and look out the windows at my horses. I was right, playing and looking out is awesome.

I got a great deal on my new piano, too, and it inspired me to return to piano lessons.

Well, all this time I've had both pianos in that small entry room--as well as my Clavinova--so three pianos, and I just realized it is way too crowded. My hope was to move the old one downstairs and save it for one of my kids--but it turns out, there is no room down there either.

So, I made a hard decision yesterday and put it on Craig's List for $50.00--the same price I paid at the auction.

Today I had a woman call and come over to see it. She has played piano since she was little and now wants to have her own so she and her children can play. She is a young mother, pregnant, and raising her kids, and she was thrilled to buy it. She and her little boy sat and played it for a few minutes before deciding they wanted it.

However, when she was handing me the cash, I couldn't take it. The piano has so much emotional memory for me--it's priceless--and it has a beautiful sound--but it's not worth much monetarily. I'm thrilled it's getting a home where it will be used and they'll get enjoyment out of it. I told her to save the money and put it into the tuning.

I don't know where it will end up--I'm nervous for it. I've played it so much, it's kind of taken on a life of its own, and it will be one of the harder moments in my life when I see it pull away down the road.

I hope it gives to her and her family what it gave to me and mine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mom, He's Picking On Me

So far, releasing Beautiful in the turnout has been a far, far more uneventful process than I imagined--which makes me wonder if I worry too much. Hmmmm...I'll have to think about that.

Here are three pictures for tonight.

Shadow is released at dinner time with Beautiful. I fed them outside their runs so she wouldn't get trapped in her stall with him. He pushed her away from the first pile and made her go to the second. She kicked up at him--not used to being told where to eat. Naughty, naughty, Beautiful Girl--that's a good way to get hurt!

After an hour or so, I came out to give them more hay. Beautiful couldn't walk to me fast enough to tell on Shadow.--Mom, he's being mean to me!

And last, a new pile of hay--she has been pushed to the nether-ends of the dinner line--looking over her shoulder for the big, fat alpha gelding we call Shadow--or pig horse--he answers to both.

Poor Beautiful--so far, life with the domestics isn't all that fun.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't Eat Electric Fence

That is the lesson Beautiful learned when she decided to taste the electric fence not once, but twice, on her first day ever out in the pasture.

I've never seen Beautiful from this view before--the back patio--just beyond the trampoline there.

I've waited a year to release her with the herd, but the first day out, I thought it best to give her a lesson on electric fence. I walked her on a lunge line twice around the dry lot turnout. The first thing she did was put the white electric tape in her mouth!

What a shock that was. She jumped back a few steps and looked at me, then looked at the fence, then looked at me as if asking what it was.

We walked the rest of the fence to the other side, and there she decided to taste the white tape again. However, it didn't shock her because, unknown to me at the time, that side of the fence was off.

I told Shiloh to run and turn it on, which she did, and then Beautiful returned yet again to taste it, and you can guess what happened. That was the last time she tried it out.

I have to say, besides eating the electric fence, Beautiful did awesome on her first day out. Some horses get really upset when they first get shocked--especially in the mouth--and they look for the first horse or person to kick not knowing what did it to them! Beautiful, however, just backed up a few steps and REALLY thought about it. That tells me she's smart. She looked to me for support as well--a sign that she trusts me.

I was also curious about her ability to read other horses--but she had a healthy fear and respect for her elders--which will serve her well when she is released with them. (More on that tomorrow.)

The same day I released her, yesterday, I got this in the mail--my letter of approval from the BLM.

And, Certificate of Title.

Back out in the pasture, Beautiful was eager to get into the one open stall--her stall--that had dinner in the manger.

However, the other horses were in their stalls--and Cowgirl wasn't as interested in eating as she was in establishing her dominance over poor Beautiful Girl.

She got bit in the butt--and off she ran--it took her three hours and the removal of Cowgirl, for her to enter her stall again.

At which point, we closed her run from the turnout and let her rest for the night. This morning, at breakfast, we opened it up again, and tomorrow we're going to release the alpha male, Shadow, into the turnout with her.

Here is the pasture grass we have coming up now. By next year, with all the seed, fertilizer and irrigation we should have some lush grass.

This is what the weed looked like after it was sprayed.

And this is a bare spot that needs reseeding in Fall.

Here is one of the pasture sprinklers. We have several in the front and back that we move throughout the day and we have on an automatic system at night.