When southern weather puts a damper in your plans: I smell revisions!

Afternoon everyone! For those that aren’t aware, here at our farm we have somewhat of a menagerie of horses.

When it comes to horses, I look for a sound mind, good legs, dependable track record, and seasoned under saddle. Unusual coloration (grullo, buckskin, palomino, oh my!) and coveted bloodlines (I’ve always been a sucker for Poco Bueno and Hancock bred horses personally) are always a nice bonus, but picking your companions on looks alone has…let’s face it, never really worked out for anyone, am I right or am I right?

As such, we’ve wound up with a Standardbred, AQHA (American Quarter Horse), as well as a couple paint crosses and the like. Now I will admit, while I am a bit partial, despite picking personality over appearance, we lucked out with some absolutely gorgeous horses. Now I say this now so that you will remember it because as I get into the nitty gritty of this post, you may question my love for paint horses…if only just a lil’ bit.

Enter our two overo paints, Gambit and Finnegan. Key word: OVERO.

FullSizeRender (6)
From left to right: Gambit & Finnegan

By APHA (American Paint Horse Association) standards, an overo is classified by the following:

  • The white usually will not cross the back of the horse between its withers and its tail.
  • Generally, at least one and often all four legs are dark.
  • Generally, the white is irregular, and is rather scattered or splashy.
  • Head markings are distinctive, often bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced.
  • An overo may be either predominately dark or white.
  • The tail is usually one color.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Now then, what does it all really mean? It’s just one particular type of coat pattern found in paint horses right? Let me #realtalk you for a moment and re-phrase a few of those key points…

  • All white sections of your horse’s coat will be subject to easily sunburn, bordering from mild to severe.
  • White legs in overos are uncommon but when they occur they bring with them the increased likelihood of other skin ailments such as Mud Fever, Scratches, and the like. Thhhhhhat’s right, your horse is just that much more genetically pre-disposed to catching “all the things” as I’ve fondly (or not so fondly) nicknamed it.
  • Bald-faced with light eyes and a pale muzzle are 50% striking features and 50% endless headache. Why? The sad reality is that these features typically require fly masks with higher rated UV protection up to 9 months out of the year to prevent chronic conjunctivitis, blistering, and first to second degree sunburns to name a few. (Yes…there’s more, oh so much more…)

(Note: They do sell legitimate sunblock for horses. I purchase mine in a powdered form that you moisten and wipe on comprised of Zinc Oxide. It was created by an equine veterinarian in Arizona, you know, the state of endless heat and torment. So while I’m just speculating, I feel like she knows what she’s about, you know? SO! To any fellow sufferers, “My Pony Sunblock” changes lives! You can find it on Facebook.)

Now then, despite Kensington fly masks with high UV reduction ratings, that my Standardbred likes to pull off of his siblings …and then proceed to drown said fly masks in the pasture water trough, sunblock applied daily to their muzzles and around their faces, and having access to two large walnut trees to stand beneath for shade, I was still finding new blood blisters along their skin and even peeling about their necks and over their backs near daily.

You really start to hate yourself and feel the guilt just wash over you as you walk out to the pasture each morning and see that your horses are uncomfortable / suffering, knowing that you’re doing all you can, or at least, for what we had available, I certainly felt I was.

But that was it, that was my breaking point – that gut wrenching feeling morning after morning. I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. #thisiswherethebudgetgoesoutthewindow

After a month of fighting against the painstaking heat and relentless summer sun I decided to nix my current project of creating cross-ties beneath the easement of our barn to instead create three temporary 12×12 stalls.

Washrack and Crossties
My original intention for the area under the barn easement, what was supposed to become my outdoor covered cross-ties. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

It seemed easy enough, I mean…I’ve built stalls at a previous ranch before and I’m not feint-hearted when it comes to a new vision on the fly but there were a few key factors that I realized immediately were going to make this a struggle and a half:

  1. Gambit absolutely, positively, HATES being stalled. He’s near broken down a stall front made of oak in the past, to say it “isn’t his thing” is the understatement of the year.
  2. The space available to build stalls beneath wasn’t going to produce 12×12′ stalls but more of an awkward 13×15′ stall size.
  3. The positioning of the barn on our property doesn’t allow for much air-flow to the extent that the easement on the eastern side gets little in the way of a passing breeze. In the south with 95+ degree days and 85%+ humidity daily…that’s a big problemo.
IMG_2208
My VERY rough canvas of what I have to work with…

The solution? Well…that’s an adventure in itself.

Stay tuned!

~Christy

Advertisements

From Jungle to Field: The beginnings of a second pasture.

IMG_2062.JPG
The future site of our next pasture. It lies adjacent to our new CenFlex 4 acre pasture.

Would you just look at that. When I tell you it’s a sight for sore eyes… Darlin’, I ain’t kiddin’!

With only an electric push mower at my disposal, it was simply inconceivable to attempt tackling this 3.5 acre parcel of grass/thistle/weeds that was nearing 4′ in height. Had the mulching kit on my mower even been capable of cutting it down…I would’ve likely bogged down the blades every 5-10′.

(I may know this because at one point earlier on in summer, I tried. I will summarize it briefly: It did not go well.)

On a happier note, by mere chance one day, I happened to be home and you guessed it, mowing the lawn…again…when a neighbor popped by to say hello. They had hired a crew with a few impressive looking dozers and tractors to clear out their acreage to the west of us in order to reclaim the trails that run across them.

IMG_2089.JPG
Impressive, right?

The only problem was that the job would take them several days and our neighbor felt uncomfortable leaving the rented equipment just randomly out amongst their acreage. So they proposed, seeing me dripping with sweat and my signature push mower in tow, to have their crew mow down our secondary pasture field for us if we’d allow them to park their vehicles near the barn each night.

I attempted to gracefully accept but I have a feeling my expression gave me away for the “YES YES YES YES YES YES” that was going through my head on repeat. The result was 4′ masterfully cut down and a lovely 6″ left in its place. It’s no longer a ‘jungle out there’ and I can actually stake out the location for our T-Posts we’ll be driving into the soil in preparation of hanging our next pasture fence.

IMG_2064.JPG
A properly kept field. So glorious!

Yes, yes, I know. It’s just a picture of a field. But let me remind you, it’s a field now, not a frightening jungle with anacondas, leopards, …and probably your handful of armadillos.

Cheers!

~Christy

From Shabby to well…Shabby Chic!

Though today is a might bit dreary outside, as the last lingering remnants of Hurricane Irma pass over our little farm, the past month has been anything but!

When we first happened upon our home, it had been greatly reclaimed by nature with shrubs and vines covering half of the exterior windows…even those near 10′ up from the ground. Now, while we’re still a constant work in progress when it comes to exterior maintenance of the lawn we have made some progress!

(‘Progress!’I always hear that in my head like Bill Nye the Science Guy when he yells out “SCIENCE!”, how about you?)

IMG_2057.JPG
The front entry and porch.

As you can see above on the right, the mudroom’s singular window is all but blocked by a ginormous shrub that may hold plans for world domination. I’ve zero factual basis to back that aside from the fact I said it and that we’ve hacked it down and rounded the surface to a reasonable 4′ and yet it sprouts up as though possessed.

Matter of fact, all of the shrubs are the exact same and yet some grow ridiculously faster than others. Be gentle in your judgement that not a one is of the same shape nor size but A HA! we can see out of nearly all of the front windows now. #takingthesuccesseswhenandwhereican

IMG_2051.JPG
The front side yard as you pull up to the house with barn in the distance.

Once more, what seems like a mere photo of grass is to me a STUNNING victory of non-enviable sweat equity as I fought down two feet of tangled weeds, thistle, and the occasional bit of Bermuda grass! Take that Home & Garden, my lawn is finally beginning to look like a photo you hocked before going to print but we’re still a runner up Gosh Daniel!

On the other hand, …perhaps that doesn’t seem all that impressive? BUT WHAT IF I told you that it was achieved with only an electric push mower that isn’t even self propelled? See, see! Now you’re likely cringing at the thought. And why you ask? Because that “small” front side yard is 1/2 an acre. That’s right! Two foot tall jungle of a beast, 1/2 an acre in size, mowed into submission with sheer will power and approximately 11 charges of our mower’s batteries. #endurancewinithout

One thing I both love and hate equally about our property – the near 500′ driveway. The scenic drive in from a long day at work: Priceless. The walk with the varied sounds of nature in the darkness as I walk our waste bins back up from the street: Terrifying.

It should be noted that the 5′ tall grass/weed fiasco bordering our new pasture fence and right side of our drive has been tamed. I’d like to thank the academy, and by that I mean Academy, for selling wonderful workout clothes for all the “hikes” I’ve gotten from this driveway.

 

Cheers to mastering the lawn…somewhat, heck, I’ll drink to that!

~Christy

P.S. No shrubs were harmed in the “taming” of this lawn.

Horse Fencing 101: Not Another Horse Fencing Post

Afternoon all!

I think the title pretty much sums this one just right on up. Yet another…horse -fencing- post. *dramatic music ensues*

IMG_2049.JPG
We opted for 5″ CenFlex horse fencing with CA (Copper Azole) treated lumber.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I am happy to report that our fence is FINALLY finished. Let me just get that out of my system one more time, I repeat, our fence…is FINALLY FINISHED!!! Where is a rooftop that I can shout this from? …that isn’t ours, as I am PRETTY confident that is the next thing on our ol’ farmhouse that’s going to kick the bucket.

IMG_2052
The northwestern corner of our pasture leading to the barn.

ANYWAYS… after two months, twenty-three days, sixteen hours, and give or take forty-five minutes or so…our pasture fence is done. How best to express the joy the Mr. and I felt in that moment? It was champagne toasting type worthy, if we were not scrounging pennies, and if I drank…but still! It was a glorious moment of realization, driving home that day to find the fence crew gone and our pasture in all of its splendor just waiting for horses to settle within its borders.

There is an old saying amongst folks that own horses and it goes as follows: “If you want to make a small fortune in the horse industry…start with a large one.”

My bleeding savings account endorses that belief wholeheartedly.

Why? Despite careful planning and placing a ridiculously high “in case of: X” fund aside, for all the little hiccups one -always- runs into whilst doing any sort of DIY / home renovation project, we went over budget (understatement of the year) …and then some, not to mention we were a month and a half behind schedule.

Regardless, the finished project was worth all of the headaches, sleepless nights, budget constraints, and overall stress (Is that a gray hair?). From the moment our horses were brought home, they settled in without any fuss, choosing to enjoy the Bermuda grass rather than explore or kick up their heels.

FullSizeRender (6)
From left to right, Gambit and Finnegan.

Our geldings have never felt more comfortable as we often find them laying on their side napping during the day. My rescued Standardbred, Remington, who suffers from anxiety and is extremely skittish, lounges about day after day and whinnies in excitement whenever anyone approaches the pasture.

IMG_1997
Lilah and our miracle foal, lil’ Ember.

Lilah, our rescued Quarter Horse mare, was pacing in place on the trailer in anticipation as we went to unfasten her lead rope. She forget her filly, Ember, as she tugged me along to their separate temporary pasture in our 60′ round pen. Lil’ Ember chasing after mom was a spectacle all in itself.

Like I said, for all of the heartache and hardship, having our horses home at last…worth every moment.

~Christy

When Two Worlds Collide: Lawn care Woes

Good morning all!

     I realized it has been a quick minute since our last update on the farm. To be blunt, this whirlwind never slows down long enough for my head to stop spinning. Still, no regrets!

Now then…as you can imagine, going from 1/3 of an acre to 15 acres is a bit of a leap. In our previous garden home, we actually considered our lawn to be quite sizable, yes…I know, looking back, I feel silly for ever complaining about mowing it.

Looking back, it was around a year to two years ago that our hand-me-down mower, a.k.a. the one that was left in the garage when we purchased the house, had finally had enough and simply called it quits. There was no fixing it, no helping it, it was done. D-o-n-e, done.

Not wishing to be the social pariah of our neighborhood, we were a part of an HoA community mind you, the Mr. did some research into finding a replacement and came to adore the idea of a battery powered electric mower. No more awful gasoline stench in our garage, quiet, and just as quick to mow. Did I mention it was surprisingly cheaper? Seemed a no-brainer, so we went for it.

Now for the final year in our garden home, it was a wonderful addition to our lawn care regime. Fast forward to purchasing our farmhouse fixer-upper and that we’ve moved from that 1/3 of an acre to 15 acres. Let me just express how terribly quickly one gets over mowing when you only have a 28″ wide blade and the average battery life is one hour before needing to be recharged.

The Mr. or I used to spend about an hour cutting the front and back yard at our previous home once a week and presto, done! Now it takes about four days, six hours each day, to get about 5 acres done. Does it help that we’ve been reclaiming our acreage from nature, seeing as it sat untended for 5 years? Nope, not really. So there I am, day after day, me and my electric push mower vs. the mighty Amazon jungle. I say that literally, I believe our grass gets to around 3-4′ tall after two weeks of not mowing.

Just call me Sisyphus as my stubbornness won’t let the acreage get the better of me…but I don’t even have the excuse of blaming Zeus, nope, all my own doing.

Now I will admit, while one sweats into a puddle out in the humid southern heat hour after hour, I’ve never been tanner AND my arms are beginning to really look great. On the flip side, I likely terrify local wildlife as they watch me charge at a run pushing that mower over the 3-4′ tall sections of weeds.

It’s a jungle out there.

IMG_1934
My throne.

Now I found that during my hourly breaks, due to the batteries recharging, I needed something to do. It was then that ‘the throne’ came to be. I spend a good deal of time cooling off in the shade with some water, staring with one eye twitching at the bane of my existence, I mean…looking at the lawn mower as the batteries charge inside.

IMG_1931
There she is, in all her eco-friendly glory…

 

But to be fair, I mean…the lawn does look pretty fantastic despite the fact I’m working with the poor man’s Mary of lawn mowers here. So to all of the folks with those lovely tractors, driving mowers, and zero turns…check out my ECO-FRIENDLY (it hurts inside…) and mad ELECTRIC PUSH MOWER skills (…make it stop)!

That being said, I’ve begun filling a mason jar with spare change. One day, I will have my zero turn. Just you wait acreage, your days are numbered!

Ciao!

~Christy

Black Snake Moan: The Literal Version

I can’t help but channel my inner Samuel L. Jackson more often than not recently since learning of the two slithering tenants that took up residency in our crawl space (at least it’s not on a plane??) The fact that they’ve given no references, did not allow a proper background check, and that they’re living rent free…well, let’s just say that we have our differences.

Now then, a gentleman with Alabama Wildlife Pro came out to the farm to see if he could sweet talk the snakes out of our crawlspace so that our duct-work installation crew would return. When I say return, I mean that quite literally. At the moment the first snake was spotted one could make out the dust in our driveway as they sped out and hopped back onto the road.

To our frustration, the crawlspace was empty. He spent nearly an hour hunting about for the pair and found only one old snakeskin that had been shed. There was evidence of the snakes coming and going amongst the crawlspace but none to be found. Overly thorough, which this gal appreciates, he checked our returns, around the house, and up amongst the attic. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

He asked us to give him a call should they return but ultimately…after an hour’s search, the man-hunt was called off.

Snakes – 1, The Mr. and I – 0

Giving the go ahead to our duct-work crew, they arranged to come back out the following morning to finish attaching the final pieces of our duct-work. I really thought that I’d exaggerated just how quickly they’d left the day before until Mario showed up the next morning with a brand new machete (Rambo anyone?) ready to ‘bust out the inner ninja’ should the snakes come back. Being of a small build, female, and horribly weirded out by most all reptiles, it felt a tad humorous to accompany him to the crawl space where I waited as he put on his headband flashlight and crawled under there.

The rules were simple – a scream would mean he’d found a snake. If this scream was intended to be a ‘war-cry’ or ‘cry for help’ I wasn’t certain, but I waited patiently at the crawlspace entrance as lookout…for snakes…don’t ask, I couldn’t tell you.

After looking through the entirety of the crawlspace he exited triumphant and declared that it was safe to return to work, which he did, promptly calling in the remainder of the crew.

Two hours in, so far so good. Another hour passed, still going strong.

…a knock at the door…

They’d found a snake. As per the previous day, everyone panicked and fled our crawlspace. I was provided photos they’d taken. A rat snake by all appearances but still…a three foot long snake that might as well have been an anaconda snatched out of the rainforest and dashed away into our crawlspace.

I couldn’t have us going another day without air as the duct-work was only 3/4’s of the way installed so…I did the only thing I could, I put them on snake-watch. It is exactly as it sounds, they sat near the entry to the crawlspace and kept their flashlight aimed on it to track its movements while I called back up the wildlife removal expert to come and evict our unintended tenant.

It seemed that within the hour things would settle down, work would resume, and we’d be back on track…wrong, wrong again.

After close to an hour of trying, the snake remained a free agent, simply retreating back behind a cinderblock in the far corner of the crawlspace anytime the hook was reached out to gather him. At a loss, all that our brave wildlife expert could do was set three traps surrounding the corner so that if it slithered out, it’d trap itself…theoretically. So I guess that’s what you’d call being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

We’ve wondered over the past couple months why we haven’t seen but the one field mouse and no other critters aside from the occasional rabbit or deer near the wooded edge of the property line. Considering the size of our rat snake it seems he’s been making a killing for himself.

With little choice left to us we did what any rational person would, we named it. So here’s to you, Snake Gyllenhaal!

This day just gets more and more bizarre as it goes on.

~Christy

The Ugly…Bites Back: A/C Unit 2.0

It comes in threes. Isn’t that the old wives tale? Regardless, our adventure takes yet another turn…this time for the crazy unexpected.

Duct-work installation went off like clock work yesterday morning. I can’t begin to describe just how much torn and crumbling material was torn out from our crawl space but I hear a picture is worth 1,000 words.

FullSizeRender (3).jpg
After an hour of demolition in the crawl space. Fare thee well, old duct work!

To be blunt, I’m amazed that some of this was ever considered ‘up to code’. The vents themselves looked to be nothing more than pieces of plywood …if not just cardboard… that were then covered in a thin coating/sheet that has done little to offer protection, as the pictures illustrate below:

I admit, seeing all of this cover the entirety of my driveway…I couldn’t help but go and peek at what all supplies they had in their truck. To be fair they showed up with a crew of six technicians and three trucks.

IMG_1903.JPG
It’s like an arts and crafts fair gone wild! The love child of Michael’s and Home Depot?

And look! Shiny new METAL duct-work to prevent future critters and basic wear n’ tear from becoming an issue…at least for the next decade or so!

FullSizeRender (4).jpg

Oh right, I did mention the ugly didn’t I? About that… so last night I received a call from the Mr. Work on the duct-work had come to an abrupt halt as they discovered not one but two snakes lounging about in our crawlspace. Suffice it to say, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person, aside from Indiana Jones, that runs in terror at the sight of a snake.

So this morning I hunted around for someone that could come out and remove the two newest tenants of our home. In doing so I discovered we are an unfortunate loophole in our particular location. …as in, we are within a city yet zoned county for all purposes related to animal control. SO- even though our city has an actual technician that handles snake removal specifically, we are “outside his jurisdiction”.

Next step…I called the county animal control to have someone out to gather up our tenants and another brick wall was found. They service our area BUT they do not cover the removal and relocation of snakes.

This is just getting better and better. Time to roll up the sleeves!

After exhausting the yellow pages, I received a referral from a pest company we’ve used in the past that covers the removal of ‘dangerous’ wildlife -including- da da da daaaaaa…SNAKES!

So now the waiting game begins or rather I summon forth the patience somewhere in me, we have a technician coming out to safely and humanely catch and relocate these two slithery tenants this afternoon.

I cannot wait to see if they’re still under there or if they’ve found their way into our attic.

Until next time,

~Christy