Our One Year Farm-iversary!

Hello hello, everyone!

        So… there’s no getting around it, I have been quite the absentee for months now. Things around the farm have been beyond a bit crazy and have left us working double-time in what free time we have to keep things moving smooth”ish”. While I may be a month behind in posting this I’m beyond excited to finally feel I’ve the time to blog again.

As of March 31st, we’d officially spent an entire year in our budding little farm. The amazing thing is how much has happened over the course of one lil’ ol’ year too! Looking back and considering what we’ve learned, experiencing the ups and downs, the painful realization of hindsight after heroically attempted projects, the joy of crossing something off the “to-do” list at long last… It’s been a process to say the least. And this wild ride seemed best to show rather than tell. After all, a photo says a thousand words, right?

 

It’s amazing to think that once upon a time we started out by digging over -200- holes, three feet deep and one foot across, to space out where the fence posts would sit…with the Bobcat that broke down every other hole.

Then there was the day we began setting the final row of posts on our first pasture. That blasted string would never stay taut and yet we prevailed. Seeing our horses content from my porch, morning coffee in hand, worth it.

Watching the evolution of a pile of brambles and clay dug out, filled with drainage gravel and sand before laying out our stall mats, and finally, setting up the floating stall panels. Finally, shade for our paints in the summer!

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As the needs of the land became more apparent with fall approaching and our singular pasture suffering the wrath of one too many horses upon it. And just like that, the beginnings of our second pasture.

And then when life threw us another curveball – we needed a new roof, water was quite literally dripping down the INSIDE of the walls. With a prayer and a bit of elbow grease, the farmhouse was looking better than ever!

We’d thought we’d seen and experienced our fair share of surprises. So naturally we woke up to a winter wonderland…in the deep south. Despite the challenges this posed for our horses and lack of heaters on our water troughs we managed. Plus it was gorgeous!

The new year came and with it brought the lingering chill of winter, did anyone think it would actually end this year? For the first time ever, blankets were a necessity for the horses. As always, Gambit is always ready for an epic photobomb.

Eventually hints of spring began to poke past the chilly temperatures and before we knew it, spring was FINALLY here! It felt as though our little farm came back to life and the scenery was nothing shy of spectacular.

And now as summer is on the horizon, we look back and realize that while the farm is endless work, endless surprises (not always the YES! kind either), and tiring as all get out…the sheer enjoyment we get out of this little slice we call our own paradise is worth it all.

Here’s to our first year and many many more! Cheers!

~Christy

 

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The Adventure of a Second Pasture

Adventure: [ad-ven-chur]

Noun.

  1. an exciting or very unusual experience
  2. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome
  3. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture

 

Back on point, the Mr. and I had come to the realization that we would need to build a second pasture for our horses pronto. With limited time, the weather hinting at winter, and our endless ‘honey-do’ list of repairs on the farmhouse…we realized we didn’t have much time to do this one ourselves. Moving forward, we enlisted the aid of a fencing company. In fact, due to the professionalism and quality finish of our last pasture, we elected to go with the same company again.

Now as previously mentioned, this pasture was being put up a year sooner than planned and sadly… budgeted. If you are looking to save a few dollars or in our case close to $500, you can elect to do all of the measurements, research the necessary materials, and pick them up yourself. We simply stored ours in an empty stall in the barn, ready for the arrival of the fencing company.

It’s really sort of amazing what a company will charge you as a convenience/labor fee just to pick up supplies five minutes down the road…

Anyways… back to the checklist!

  • Fence outline drafted and measured – check!
  • Measurements delivered to fencing company and estimate provided – check!
  • Materials for project acquired and delivered – check!
  • Start date agreed upon for project – check! …er, stop, nope, stop right there, and so we meet…our first hiccup…

In case you find yourself debating what the best time of year to install a fence is, let me tell you this much, it isn’t late fall/early winter. Though we didn’t have much of a choice as to the when, we did assume that with the colder temperatures and higher likelihood of rain, that fencing companies would have less work coming in. Wrong! We learned that it is actually a prime time for these companies and couldn’t get placed on the schedule for nearly 4 weeks out from the date we signed on with the company.

After the debacle of our first pasture, we made certain to let our fencers know that we would need to be on-site anytime they were out to work on the property. I can’t manage the implementation of a project if I’m not here. Simple? Simple! And so three weeks went by before we received a message that they’d set the corner posts for our pasture but couldn’t finish them as we hadn’t provided enough posts.

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One set of corner posts put up. Though the heights appear off, there is simply a dip down in the soil along the far right corner giving the appearance of such. It is actually level.

Momentary eye twitch of frustration. They were a week early, had not contacted us beforehand, and when I arrived home to check the work done (and see how our post calculations were off) it was a disappointing sight to be certain.

We had written out specific instructions (that were notated on our estimate) for how to lay out the corner posts and gate posts which were the following:

  • 5″ x 8′ round wood posts provided for all corner and gate posts
  • 6′ metal T-Posts provided for all remaining posts
  • One 16′ galvanized steel gate provided for southeastern end of pasture
  • One 10′ galvanized steel gate provided for northwestern end of pasture
  • All wood posts should be set 3′ underground
  • All T-Posts should be set 1′ underground
  • All posts should be separated 10′ apart with the exception of “H” brace posts to both sides of each gate post
  • “H” brace posts should be only 4′ apart with a 4′ horizontal post going across the middle for additional stability

Despite our instructions, the wood posts had been set only 18″ underground versus the requested 36″, a depth that was chosen based off USDA recommendations due to the strain a tension-based fencing system places on corner/end posts. To greatly reduce the risk of a post upheaving, concrete involved or no, 36″ is simply the go-to standard.

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From left to right: The corner post spaced 10′ apart with an unexplained 4′ gap between the next post. It seems even our Gambit was curious what was going on.
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From right to left: The 10′ spacing in between the two “H” posts is where our 10′ gate will hang, however, the “H” posts should be only 4′ wide, not 8′ wide, and all wood posts visible are only 18″ deep vs 36″. Gambit still seems confused as well.

Furthermore, we found our “H” brace posts 8′ wide instead of 4′, they had not cut the posts and thus had used four too many leaving them short-handed. We sought to contact the supervisor of the project immediately, sent photos of the work done incorrectly complete with a measuring tape included to show posts were not sunk deep enough. Hours later we received only a, ‘I’ll handle it.’

Once more, workers were sent to our farm without notice and seemed genuinely confused as to what was wrong with the way things had been set. When we re-went over the specifications with them, they informed us that they had not received any of that information or they would have dug the holes deeper. Furthermore, none seemed too savvy on digging up the concreted posts to re-set them so they instead offered to place bracing rods at an angle beneath the surface that would fasten on to the posts at ground level. While not my preferred option, it was the most time efficient and held merit, so we approved that accommodation.

As the posts were already set, there was little to be done about our now 8′ wide H brace posts. At 8′ wide versus 4′, it does not take away from the stability of the fence, it is more of a cosmetic issue and so once more, we approved leaving it as it was for the sake of progress continuing on the fence.

Sadly, it was at this point that we lost the last of the sunshine-filled fall weather and faced the off and on rain for days  as well as uncommonly cool temperatures for the south. To their credit, if it wasn’t raining, the crew members were out and working to get the remaining T-posts set so they could begin fastening the wire in place.

Day after day I went out to tend to our horses and check in on the progress of our new pasture. What was originally quoted a five day project was already well past as we found ourselves well into week two as the crew’s days and time spent at the farm varied greatly, leaving us to believe they were working on multiple sites simultaneously.

Despite the mounting frustration, by the beginning of week three the Mr. received a message that they had completed the fence. I think this is a universal feeling felt by any that have undergone home renovations or attempted them DIY-style, to hear that something has been finished, that it’s completed, is a moment of sheer euphoria. I will admit I hummed the entire car ride home in my excitement to see it.

I am also sure that to those who have gone through the arduous process of home renovations and/or DIY projects, that you have felt that joy pulled out from under you as you arrive to look over the finished project and it’s…and it’s…a hot mess.

The number of brief video clips taken that afternoon go beyond my desire to count. Only a third of our wood posts had been cut down to 5′ tall, our southeastern gate had not been hung, wire spools were left sticking out around corner posts, staples had not been properly placed, and worst of all…nearly two thirds of the fence wobbled. As in, I could gently grasp the top of the fence, shake it gently, and watch nearly one foot in either direction of the T-posts wave from side to side nearly 100′ from where I stood.

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The entire 425′ expanse of this section of the fence was leaning to one side or another, crooked, and extremely loose.

To be blunt, it was not completed as no finishing touches had been done as of yet, and as for the fence itself, it is tension based and cannot be left so loose that it has that amount ‘of play’ to it. There was zero part of our fence that was capable of being a safe habitat to contain livestock, or in this case, horses within it.

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The wire itself was bent, though they came in perfectly rolled spools, and the fence was only fastened to each T-Post by 3 clips vs the 12 clips we requested for additional support.

After very crass messages, on the verge of harassment and bullying, for us to pay for the work in full…as it was “completed” remember? We put our foot down and challenged the supervisor to come and look for themselves. Apparently, my extensive video clips and photos were enough to bring about a very brief and disingenuous apology stating that they’d been misinformed, that the workers were simply meaning they were done for that particular work day..?

Now I’m a rather understanding person but when one considers the mishaps we’d been having since day 1, it seemed extremely far-fetched. And such was the moment when I was placed in the position I hate, forced by circumstance to contact the BBB if they did not prioritize our project and complete it. Don’t forget, we were over two weeks behind the schedule they quoted us.

Suddenly the crew was re-assigned back to our property and our fence was given three days of their full attention. The trash left on our acreage was picked up and cleared away, the spokes of wire sticking out were properly cut, capped, and stapled down wrapping around end posts. Our gate was hung, the fence tightened across the entirety of the four acres and at last, it seemed we could move our horses over.

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The northern edge of the pasture after they had gone back over a second time to retighten and fasten each 10′ section. Note how much straighter the fence stands now.

Those final days either myself or the Mr. watched and oversaw the corrections made to the fence. While there is still some wobble to one particular side and curve of the fence, it is minor in comparison to its prior condition. Watching the efforts they went to to tighten it as much as they did, we agreed that without some rather heavy machinery, it was unlikely it could be made any tighter.

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A rare sunny day amidst the dreary winter weather.

As for now, the horses have enjoyed the pasture for approximately a month’s time. While the fence already shows some wear and tear, our horses respect it far less than our heavy duty CenFlex, it is serving its purpose well and has given our original pasture much MUCH needed time to recuperate.

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Remington awaiting his grain patiently in the new pasture.
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Though we were worried Finnegan wouldn’t respect the 4′ tall wire fence, he seems to be accepting it just fine. He greatly enjoys simply standing with his head resting just over the top with ease.

Though many headaches were involved in its completion, we are at least satisfied with the end result and the additional room for our animals. After all was said and done we did end up with a reasonably priced pasture as well. Materials were just under 1/2 of our cost, coming in around $1750 whereas labor was $3 per linear foot, coming in just over $3000. If our fence holds up even 5 years, it will have been worth the investment.

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Our resident senior, Sundance. He doesn’t seem to mind the change in fencing one bit, he just enjoys rolling around and otherwise doing his best to keep dusty.

Here’s to unexpected “adventures” in the world of home renovation! Have a delightfully delicious story of your own? Comment below!

Ciao!

~Christy

When the situation changes, queue the back-up plan…

Morning everyone!

It seems like only yesterday we were walking the acreage as we mapped out the locations for future horse facilities on the farm. As our horses are only stalled in inclement weather, planning out the location and size of our pastures was our first priority.

I am delighted to report that we have been positively ecstatic about our CenFlex pasture that was completed mid-summer last year. It has proven itself a very reliable and horse-friendly material. But in retrospect I have found only one fault, its size.

Let us consider this from another viewpoint: Cause & Effect.

By permitting too many horses to be kept on a pasture that was not large enough to accommodate them (cause), I found myself facing off against overgrazing of the pasture whilst hemorrhaging funds to supply additional feed to balance out dietary needs of the horses (effect).

Now then, how did my Type-1 OCD self go from carefully planning out every conceivable detail from day one to now feeling the nagging pressure of having a secondary pasture installed as soon as possible …a year ahead of our budgeted schedule?

Such is an excellent question with an imperfect answer.

It began with taking on a fourth horse in which, given her physical condition, I simply couldn’t walk away without bringing her home. Eighteen hours later this seemingly emaciated mare, with ribs so prominent it was hard to look, foaled a beautiful little filly that was by some sort of miracle – perfect – .

Life is far more bizarre and fantastical than fiction at times.

So from three horses, in which our pasture was adequately sized, we had gone to four and suddenly five in the course of 24 hours give or take. And as life tends to trend towards the realm of unexpected, not soon after I found out a friend’s horse was in an unfavorable boarding situation where the “facilities” available were run-down and damaged. To make matters even better, he was bullied off of the communal round bale leaving him rather thin. Naturally, I offered to have her horse brought to our farm. (To that respect, I’ve not doubted the decision once. Watching him fill back out, his personality return, and him become relaxed once more has been worth it!)  However, herein lies our problem because Houston, we’ve now reached six. Double the number I’d anticipated when planning everything out.

Now I have been asked why having six horses versus four  on our pasture is an issue. I will happily elaborate on that question now:

The basic rule of thumb is that when pasturing a horse, you will need a minimum of 2 acres per horse in order to provide enough forage to meet their dietary needs. Now you can have a minimum of only 1 acre per horse IF you supplement hay and grain to their diet.

Now fair is fair. By that logic I should have ideally had no more than 2 horses on 4 acres however, though we had 3 initially on a 4 acres, I have been supplementing hay and grain twice a day to meet dietary needs. So while not perfect, it would be adequate until our next pasture was installed (originally scheduled fall of 2018).

So when one considers that 4 horses on a 4-acre pasture would be the maximum (with additional feed supplementation) and we have 6 horses on 4 acres, you can see where problems might arise.

Ironically, a pasture can become “stressed” due to overgrazing. Horses have a knack for avoiding weeds and nibbling just those precious stalks of grass, going so far as to tear the root from the soil at times. As I neither wanted to increase fructan levels nor have a 4-acre parcel of dirt, being able to rotate pastures moved to the top of our priority list.

As this was going to happen outside of our budgeted time frame, I was forced to consider alternative fencing options to my preferred CenFlex. I know that some folks will argue for days that barbed wire is perfectly suitable and I have heard the same for electric fences, to keep it simple, I’ve had issues with both in the past while boarding our horses and those are experiences I’d be just fine never repeating.

With that in mind and knowing CenFlex was leaps and bounds outside our current funds, we elected for a mesh-styled ‘no climb’ wire fence with a polymer coating along the top of each spool. I am entirely the person that said I’d never have wire anything on my property but necessity outweighed personal preference in this case.

We knew the location, size, shape, and materials we were going to use for the fence…the next step was getting set up with a fencing company and having it installed. To think the fun hadn’t even begun yet…

Stay tuned,

~Christy

Where perfection has to settle for practical: Ready, Set, …no??

Evening all,

       Apologies for the absence in posting but as we all know, life just keeps on happening. Darnedest thing, that. So…the short of it is that we’ve done quite a great many projects over the past months and I am at least three months behind in writing this.

Moving on! …or is it forward? Let’s settle for onward!

(See…I just -knew- there had to be a compromise there.)

For those of you that may have forgotten my rough canvas, and I use that word very very very …very literally, here it is once more, what I had to work with:

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The easement along the side of our barn. Please note: My glorious throne still remained at this point in time. Let us have a moment of silence for its relocation.

The to-do list: (does anyone else make like a zillion of these a year? #guilty)

  1. Determine primary material for stall walls / front.
  2. Determine stall size.
  3. Reinforce existing wooden beam structures.
  4. Determine preferential material for proper footing and drainage.
  5. Level out area for new footing.
  6. Assemble!

Man, …why is it to-do lists make it seem so bloody simple? I ALWAYS think it’ll be just that simple. I delude myself every time. #characterflaw And yet, …we press onward!

As you may recall, one gelding that absolutely requires being stalled during the day throughout the Spring and Summer seasons is Gambit. Gambit is also the same gelding that hates being stalled. Hate being an entirely appropriate word in this situation as he once thrashed about in a steel frame stall lined with oak beams until it broke. Case and point, he hates stalls.

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Exhibit A. Meet Gambit, he looks so deceptively calm and yet he is the “contain me if you can” gelding of nightmares.

SO THEN, how to keep him in one? And that was it, that was the moment when that glorious light bulb goes off in your head, when you know it may all go sideways but hey, it’s something, so you just go with it! That’s what I did.

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The round pen.
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Ironically it originally served as a temporary enclosure for Lilah and her foal until Ember was old enough to be weaned.

For example, I’ve noticed that he’s never held any hesitation, discomfort, or issue of any kind with the round pen I use to ride him in whenever he needs a refresher under saddle. With that, I had my starting point. So I left him in the round pen all day / night and fed him there / moved a water trough inside. So far, so good, aside from him whinnying back and forth at our other paint, Finnegan, of which the pair are a touch inseparable. The following day I added Finnegan to the round pen with him. (It’s 60′ in diameter so plenty of room for the two chaps for one day.) The whinnying came to an abrupt halt and the two hung out leisurely for the remainder of the day.

Task one completed. Gambit was willing to respect the lightweight corral panels that comprise our round pen. My best guess is that due to how open they are, that he can still see everything around him, is still outdoors, and not cooped up inside he accepts that the shade is quite lovely.

Next up was figuring out how to fit stalls into our very unique space. Ideally I wanted to create three 12’x12′ stalls which would require an overall 12′ (D) x 36′ (L) space to work with. Instead, what I had was 12′ (D) x 38′ (L). You would be amazed at just what a pain those silly little two feet can be…

Corral panels come in three sizes at our local TSC store. Either 10′, 12′, or 16′ options. Already, my extra 2′ were becoming a nuisance. Better yet, corral panels are not produced as ‘stall fronts’ so in order to have corral ‘gates’ to use as mock stall fronts, I had the option of 4′ or 6′ wide gates. I cannot even begin to tell you how many different strange shapes and configurations we jotted down trying to be the most efficient with materials from both a cost standpoint and a means of making everything fit beneath that shabby little easement but at last we decided on the following:

(Psst, here’s where perfect meets practical)

Back row of stalls: 12′ panel – 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 12′ panel
Sides / Dividers of stalls: 12′ panel – 12′ panel – 12′ panel – 12′ panel
Front row of stalls: 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 4′ gate & 10′ panel

I’ll be honest, the only stall that is a perfect square is the center stall measuring at 14’x14′. I had to waste a 4′ corral gate on the back row of stalls to accomplish this…but, while not as cosmetically appealing as I’d like I try to remember the bigger picture here: these are temporary stalls while I rebuild the inside of the barn and fix the ventilation issues next spring and I need to be able to reuse all of the materials I’ve purchased so far. So all in all, a 14’x12′ – 14’x14′ – 14’x12′ setup.

Next task on the agenda, repairing the existing wooden beam structures. Ironically enough, as they look pretty darn pitiful in that photo above. Structurally, they were sound, no wood rot, no insect damage, I literally only had to scrub away years of cobwebs, re-hammer in one nail, and knock down a few vacant wasp nests. HUZZAH! Sometimes it really is the little things…like not having to tear down the barn easement and rebuild a new one. Phew!

So where does that leave us? Right, footing. Here in the south we have this very pretty but essentially useless red clay soil. With our stalls being kept just alongside the barn we wanted to ensure we had solid footing to avoid any lameness issues as well as proper drainage for the all too common flash flood type rain we get here. To this end, it was quite easy as we pulled a few notes from one fencing post adventure.

One of our neighbors, who is an exceptionally kind and incredibly generous human being, found out about our predicament and offered his assistance. He drove over, in his Bobcat no less, and promptly began digging out the 12′ x 38′ rectangular space 1′ deep.

Once we’d evened out the freshly dug out pit, we spread out 6″ of large “drainage” gravel to help with heavy rain. This layer was then topped with a mixture of 80% sand and 20% finely broken up gravel which we then packed down tightly and smoothed out.

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Final layer completed and half of the stall mats laid out.
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The one and only stall mat that refused to lay flat…though to be fair, this was due to the fact it is resting atop the edge of the concrete block the existing wooden beam was cemented into.
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All 18 stall mats finally laid out and ready for stalls to go up!

Once the ground was prepped and ready, we carefully laid out our rubber stall mats across the entirety of the space to help keep the sand from shifting as well as prevent sand from mixing in amongst cedar shavings. It should be noted, never ever…ever underestimate just how painfully awkward it is to carry a 4’x6′ rubber stall mat, let alone how HEAVY they are! We used 18 total, 6 per stall, and it was sheer agony trying to carry those suckers approximately 40′ from where we’d had the pallet stored to where the stalls were being built.

No one who has not laid rubber stall mats before can understand the struggle. The struggle is real folks.

Finally the moment had come, assembly of the stalls. This truly was the unspoken champion of the material we selected for when I say lightweight, I mean it. We could easily lift and put each panel in place in a matter of minutes by ourselves. The flourishing touches were merely added after which included: slow-feed hay bags for each stall, cedar shavings to coat the mats, black rubber water troughs, and a fly trap hung amongst the rafters between each stall.

It should be noted, they worked like a charm too! I was able to go the remainder of summer without masks on any of the stalled horses.

In conclusion, do they look beautiful, the way I envisioned the stalls would be when I got ’round to designing them? Sure don’t. Not even a lick. However, they function beautifully for what I needed. Our two sunburn prone paints had healthy unblemished skin in just a week’s time of being stalled during the day, we had no further issues with overheating, and while Gambit and Finnegan in particular tend to get overweight in the summer, their weight was maintained easily while kept stalled during the days.

Practical isn’t always the perfection we hope for or expect to see, but seeing how much more comfortable our boys were…how much happier they were? Worth it.

Cheers!

~Christy

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.

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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.

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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.
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My VERY rough canvas of what I have to work with…

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

Stay tuned!

~Christy

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

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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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

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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*

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Horse Fencing 101: SCIENCE …errr PROGRESS!!!

Morning y’all, don’t mind me … between what feels like two-full time jobs and 5-7 hours a day in the harsh sticky heat of the South I find myself jiving my inner Bill Nye the Science Guy.

It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted photos of the project’s progression from gently rolling weed-filled acres to a proper horse pasture. Now I’ll be straight with you, since I’ve still only access to our battery operated …you heard that right… push mower, it is still very much weed-filled acres, even higher than when we started however. (Lookin’ at you, rain!) BUT…all four sides have every third post set and concreted in place, all the corners posts are concreted in as well as our pasture access gate posts.

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Posts going down to the edge of the southeastern side of the pasture.

Now before I get too excited, as pictures can be quite deceiving, for maximum strength and lowest strain placed upon each individual post, we elected to space our posts 10′ apart. So right now, every 30′ there is a post. So it looks like we’re ready to attach fasteners and start unrolling the CenFlex but alas… I’ve still a solid 60 posts to set and backfill with our gravel/sand mixture.

Now that…THAT in itself is the right bugger of this project. On average once loaded up with backfill our wheelbarrow weighs about 50-60lbs. Hauling this up and down a 4 acre hill is a terrifyingly spectacular thing to witness…at least when I’m the one doing it. A few trips ‘down’ and I start envisioning myself just tipping over or the wheelbarrow tire going flat. A dozen trips ‘down’ and I start to imagine sitting on top and magically riding it down and squealing to a stop just before the post hole. Like I said, I spend a lot of time in the sun doing a simple but very tedious task over and over and over. Your mind starts to wander.

…to be continued.