Wednesday, November 30, 2016

High Wire Act

I've been trying to teach Connor not to go log-walking.  It's not working.

I worry about him slipping and impaling himself on a branch or slipping and breaking himself.

If I see him starting up a slippery slope and I try to call him off though, he comes to me, but he does it by running forward, farther out onto the ledge.  

I have learned that I should just stand still and be quiet.  I have to call him off before he starts climbing or I just become a dangerous distraction.

One should not distract a high wire act.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bleak Friday Shopping

"What'cha doing Emma?"

"I'm waiting in line."

"Ummm, waiting for what?"

"Well, I heard some of you crazy humans spend all night waiting in line for stores to open after this weird Thanksgiving holiday, which I don't understand 'cause why would you only want to be Thankful on just one day a year?  Anyway, I heard about this and, even though it's crazy, I thought I would give it a try."

"Right.  OK.  What exactly are you waiting for?"

"Jeez Ma, that should be totally obvious don't you think?  I'm waiting for the pasture to open and the grass to turn green.  What else could you possibly want?"

"I'm sorry Em, but I think we missed that sale."

"Oh. Bummer.  I guess that whole Bleak Friday Sale thing is just another Internet scam, huh?"

"Yeah, it is, but you know what?  I think I can still come up with a nice Door-Buster deal for you.  Just let me check the hay-shed and see if I can't come up with a good deal for you."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Good Old Days

Dreaming of better days - as in, two days ago when we didn't have two feet of snow.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Winter Wins

I tried, but Winter won the race.  Winter always wins in the end.

With the usual help, I did manage to finish mowing the fields, get the snow fence put up and create a  windbreak for the bees.

Ben always stands a few steps back and watches these little projects.  I think he is trying to figure out how he ended up here with all these crazy people.

I hope this will be enough for the bees.  It is getting quite a test today.

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees and sunny.  Today....

We could get over a foot of snow by tomorrow.

Here on lovely Hellwind Hill, it has already drifted two feet deep.

The herd are all tucked into the barn and are refusing to come out for the duration.

Exercise consists of shuffling from one hay net to another.

It's a good thing that some people around here like snow because enthusiasm is at a dangerously low level otherwise.

Mr. Enthusiasm, what would we do without him?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wrapping it Up

Over the past twenty odd years, I've had reason to wrap a lot of hooves.  I've tried just about every wrap horse people have dreamed up, including diapers, inner tubes, casts, duct tape, vet wrap and assorted layers and variations of all of the above.  I've had a lot of practice wrapping hooves.

I'm not going to go into exhaustive detail about all of those wraps.  There are as many variations on hoof wraps as there are reasons for needing them in the first place.  Everyone has their favorite and certain situations may require something specific.  However, I have come up with a go-to default hoof wrap that I use as my first line of defense for hoof ailments.

My favorite wrapping material these days is a 2 inch wide Elastikon bandage.

These sell for around $4-5 a roll, which may seem a bit pricey if you have to buy a lot of it.  However, I generally get between one to four weeks out of each wrap I put on, depending on the size of the hoof and the environmental conditions.  Really wet, muddy ground will chew these up pretty quick.  I have had them last as long as five weeks in really dry conditions.

For treating abscesses, bruises, minor puncture wounds or for simply conditioning weak hooves, I like to use Magic Cushion under the wrap.  The stuff kills germs, relieves pain and forms an air-tight, water-proof, antiseptic seal over the bottom of the hoof.

I apply a generous layer over the sole and frog, but I am careful not to get it on the outside of the hoof wall or the heel bulbs.

Wear gloves for this as Magic Cushion is a sticky, tar-like substance that will stick to everything.  At the same time, it will prevent the Elastikon from sticking to the hoof wall.  I want the bandage to stick to the outer hoof wall.

While holding the hoof up, I start the bandage at about the 10 o'clock point on the medial side (toward the middle of the horse) of the outer hoof wall and make a full circuit around the hoof....

When the bandage gets back to the 11:00 point, in front of my thumb, I pull it snug against the front of the toe.  As the wrap comes over the sole or behind the heel, I loosen the tension just a bit so that I do not over-tighten the wrap.  Let the bandage flow smoothly around the hoof without pulling it tight.

I make several, overlapping passes across the sole to seal in the Magic Cushion (which is going to ooze out the back no matter what you do), and form a pad on the bottom of the foot...

I use the remainder of the bandage to make overlapping layers around the foot with half to a third of the bandage folding over the sole with each pass.  Always keep mild tension on the bandage when coming across the toe, but do not pull tight over the heel.  Just let the bandage roll around the back of the foot with neither slack or pressure...

To finish the wrap I bring that last bit of bandage across the bottom of the foot and make sure it ends there even if I have to cut a few inches off.  This ensures that the tail end of the bandage is always on the bottom of the foot and won't come unraveled.

For added durability, this can be covered by a further wrap of duct tape.  The duct tape wears out after a few days, and can be peeled off or reapplied depending on how long the wrap is needed.  Duct tape can add a week or two to the life of the wrap when it is used as a sacrifice layer.

If the foot needs to be medicated daily, then longevity is not an issue and a lighter wrap may be appropriate.  However, if you need a bandage to stay on, this is the best choice.  Wraps fall off because the hoof expands and contracts with every step and every wrap will eventually loosen as a result.  This will stay on because the Elastikon adheres to the hoof wall and flexes with the foot.

If you are treating an abscess, the longer the wrap stays on the better in most cases.  If there is a hole in the foot, this wrap will prevent further injury or reinfection.

From the outside, the wrap should cover most of the outer hoof wall so that the Elastikon has plenty of surface area to adhere to.  However, it is never a good idea to cover the coronet band.  Doing so will restrict blood flow to the hoof and can seriously impair hoof growth.

The wrap should stay at least half an inch below the hair line and if the wrap accidentally extends up too far, cut it back so it is below the hairline.  If the wrap is only going to be on for a short time, it is OK.  However, for a wrap that will be on for any length of time, keep it off the coronary band.

Once the animal puts weight on the hoof, some of the magic Cushion will ooze out the back...

Magic Cushion is great for hooves, but not so good for bare skin, so try to wipe the excess off.  A bit of ooze is inevitable, but won't make too big a mess if the extra is removed after the first few steps.

The 2" bandage works for small feet like Ramsey's.... well as larger hooves.  For a draft horse, I would opt for the 4 inch version.

The big advantage of this wrap, is that it won't fall off.  In fact, it can be tough to remove.  I recommend wire cutters to cut through it.

The wrap will wear away at the toe within a few days.  Unless the toe is where the injury is, don't worry about it.  The rest of the wrap will generally adhere to the sole and the frog, which is where it is most often needed.  It will get ratty and nasty looking, especially in the mud, but you will find clean hoof under it when you peel it off.

The wrap pictured above was on for ten days in a wet environment.  It looked like hell, but was still protecting the frog when I pulled it off.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Racing Winter

In the Spring, there is always a lot to do and a joyful sense of rushing head-long into the new year.  There is a short window of opportunity between the moment that the world thaws out and the time when the overwhelming green of Summer takes over.

In the Fall, there is a real scramble to get as much done before the weather turns and the world is locked down once more in cold and ice.  If you live on a farm, the world still revolves around winter and Winter is coming.

I had wanted to build a garage this year, but it isn't going to happen.  I need more storage space for tools and equipment though. I don't have a lot, but what I do have needs shelter.  After much pondering, I hatched a plan for another of my stone-soup construction projects.  I thought about selling my unused round-pen, but finally decided to re-purpose it rather than cash it in for the few hundred dollars I would get for it. I dismantled it and used five of the panels to form a rectangular "barn".  I had help, of course.

I got the panels set up and spent one afternoon getting them level....

The only good thing about having rocks everywhere, is that they are always there when you need them.

The building inspectors up here are awful tough to deal with.  Just when you think you've got everything covered, one of them comes along to point out the deficiencies.  And, when your back is turned they scratch their butts on the new "building" and throw everything out of whack.

After getting past that hurtle, it's time for the next step....

The plan is to use cattle panels to form a roof and cover the whole thing with green-house plastic. If it works, I'll have a 10x20 foot "building" to store random stuff in.

I haven't gotten past this point though and progress has been painfully, pitifully sloooooow.  It is a race to see if I actually manage to get anything useful done before the weather turns and Winter wins once again.

Anybody offering odds?