I've been really horrible about keeping up with this blog lately. I think part of it is the distance between my horses and myself. But anyways better late than never, right?
Last time the horses had just gotten their feet trimmed and I'm happy to report that a month later they still look like they were trimmed last week and no one was sore from it that I noticed. The family hadn't plowed the wheat field and a lot of volunteer wheat was growing so we figured we'd turn the horses out there for a change of scenery and something to munch on.
Low and behold, a couple weeks out there and I'm pretty sure Haji gained weight. And they weren't eating much grain at that point because no one wanted to come up to the barn to eat. All the while they were still on their first bale of hay. Of course out of that whole 11 acres or so, the horses chose to stand in the one little patch of brush which meant tons of burrs.
And by "horses" I mean Haji. Though the other boys had their fair share of burrs as well.
When they needed to plow the wheat field they moved the horses back to the front pasture where they nearly finished off the first round bale. So that bale lasted them since the end of September! Guess they weren't done with the grass yet after all.
I wasn't able to make it out to Canby after that so Jeff took on the chore of pulling all the t-posts and trailering the horses over to his brother's place. There's a leak in the well so we can't leave the water on all the time which means we can't use an insulated/heated automatic waterer. And since the hose will freeze we can't really get water at all at our place so we decided to move them for the winter. The cattle pens are all full of cattle at the inlaws so Jeff's brother's place is the only place left but there's no fence. So Jeff pulled the t-posts in the dark and hand pounded them into frozen ground til his hands hurt for a week. Don't worry, I got to hear all about it ;) Not being there just compounded my worry about the horses and not being able to manage their care being so far away. It was a rough night to say the least.
So when they moved they threw out some hay from the loft and then put out a new round bale without the net which they all but finish in a week. When I finally got out to see them after Thanksgiving they were FAT, super fat. Which for Haji is a good thing, scratch that, great thing. And that's without a lot of care in feeding him several times a day. So I'm hoping he'll keep that weight on this winter. At some point someone took off Haji's blanket when it was a little warmer so I threw that back on him though he's got a nice winter coat and would probably be fine, I like the thought that he doesn't have to use his energy to keep himself warm and it'll help keep that sticky hip of his nice and warm.
So we had ourselves some more chores this past weekend and luckily the weather cooperated wonderfully. I wrapped up the wire fencing from our place (that is a super lame job BTW) while Jeff started cleaning out his brother's barn. Sunday I was able to get some time while Daniel stayed with Grandma and I went out to help. The barn was full of who knows how many years worth of manure. But between Jeff hand shoveling (I helped a tiny bit) and Joe running the bobcat they got the barn looking pretty nice.
We tied off the sides of the barn so the horses will just have access to the middle portion. That way they don't mess up the sides where the bobcat can't get and make it easier to clean in the future. Also leaves the sides for storing various random things we found in the barn.
I put the buckets on the fence inside the barn which should mean a person can enter the barn from the small door and fill buckets without having to cross any fencelines or even go in where the horses are. The buckets will be out of the snow and rain so they can stay hung up and they won't go wandering away when a horse decides to play. I thought maybe a neighbor kid could even feed but Jeff thinks that's too dangerous. Anyway it's a pretty nice set up at this point. The buckets are a little closer than I had hoped so hopefully the boys can figure out how to eat in peace and not run Haji off. When I feed them from their buckets on the ground Sunday morning they all stood nicely and ate and Haji was able to finish before Axel came looking for seconds. So that was nice. Oh! I saw Haji pin his ears and move Cody off at one point over the weekend. Yay Haji!
I think there might be a bit of mud in our future but we'll see. There was a low spot where the paddock is set up but this fall they filled it with gravel so maybe it'll be okay. They do have a cement apron on the barn as well as the barn aisle to stand in if the mud gets bad. We'll just have to scrap the aisle of manure on occasion. Maybe throw out some stray or something. I don't think it'll be as mud free as I thought our place would be but I think it'll be okay. They don't have a large paddock right now but when the ground freezes they don't do too much moving around anyways.
So we cleaned up the barn, cleaned up their paddock area and put out a new round bale with net and everyone looked pretty happy. I'm a little concerned that Haji hasn't figured out the net yet, so I'm hoping he figures that out soon if that's the case.
Sadly my hopes to see if Axel would not get swollen this winter are foiled. They had a full round bale not in a net and he's swollen up again so I guess that experiment is off. Oh well, I'd rather have fat happy horses in the end. I'm also hoping this small area will make the three horses become better buddies in the end. Maybe Haji will stick up for himself a bit more or something.
So after all my personal turmoil over the horses and their home and gaining or losing weight, I'm feeling good after this last weekend visit. I'm thinking maybe the initial weight loss Haji had was a combination of not great hay, not getting grain quite enough, and the other horses running him around too much. The hay is decent and the boys don't seem to run him around and he's getting regular grain so I think he'll do good this winter. I think I can relax now. Thanks so much to Jeff's brother for letting them live there this winter (I'm sure he doesn't mind the added bonus of us cleaning his barn either).