Sunday, July 20, 2008

What the Hay?

Yesterday was farrier day and man, was it HOT. My tie-up spot is partially shaded, but Jon, who is always running behind, didn't make it until close to noon, so it wasn't much help. The Boyz had their pedicure, then a treat of cold watermelon rinds. I hosed them down and they immediately had a nice roll in the sand. What a good day to be a pony. I didn't work them because Nita was supposed to come today to continue teaching me to longe.

video

When I first got Poco (late fall 2006), I was buying hay from the feed store 4 bales at a time. That's all we could fit in our pickup and all that would fit in our little shed. Last winter, we again opted to use square bales for a couple of reasons, the main one being we didn't have a ring, nor do we have the necessary equipment to move or store round bales. Since we don't have a barn, we would only be able to deal with one round bale at a time. And then there's the waste factor. We get our hay from a guy (Robin) across the road who keeps it in his barn for us. It's clean, beautiful, densely packed 70-75 lb. bales. They are still nice and green even though it's last year's second cut. Whenever we needed some, we filled the stock trailer with about 30 bales, marking the amount on a tally sheet. We'd just store it in there, parked next to the loafing shed. Although convenient, I never was crazy about this idea: if there were an emergency that required transporting one of the horses to the vet, we'd have to unload the trailer first. Still, it was the best option we had.

Mike and I had originally figured we'd need 90-100 square bales to get through last winter. Robin put up 150 for me (I don't know which one of us misunderstood), which I paid for as a measure of good faith. Our original estimate was accurate; we had 49 bales left, which Robin needs us to get out of there to make room for this year's cut. This poses a multi-dimensional problem for us.

As you can see from the pictures, my horses are well fed. I can't even remember the last time we brought hay over for them. Those fat bellies are from grazing the five acres and a miniscule amount of grain, just enough to make their supplements (daily wormer, Source, grass minerals) palatable. The grass is down to nubs and it never gets a chance to go to seed, so it's thinned out quite a bit this year, allowing for more erosion on this sloped property. Giving them hay would be of marginal help to lessen the impact of grazing, but neither horse needs any more weight, especially Jazu, which is so ironic. So basically, I can't use this hay right now. Yeah, there are places we could stack the bales to help with erosion, but the horses would still eat it and I'm back at square one, and this hay is way too nice to waste like that.

Another one of those things you don't really think about horsekeeping until it becomes a problem:
we've GOT TO lay some seed this year, and of course we'll need to keep the horses off it. It's July in Texas, which means we have no right to expect any rain whatsoever for months. We'll get a stray shower or two if we're lucky, but not enough. What we have is indigenous grasses and common Bermuda, which thrive in hot temps, so although sparse, what we have is the greenest it gets. We've decided when the time is right, we'll sow some winter rye, then sow common or try starting some coastal next spring.

I've come up with what I think is a perfect solution: I'm bartering that hay with Heather in exchange for keeping Pokey & Jaz at her place when we sow. We took the first batch of it up there late yesterday afternoon. There, we ran into Jon again, who worked on 4-5 of Heather's herd. Jason, Nita and Jim were all there. Nita and I stood the bales upright and dropped them onto the hand trucks (dollies) Mike and Jim used to carry them into the barn. Had Jon not been working there, we could have backed into the barn and just shoved it out the back of the trailer, but what's a few more gallons of sweat among friends? Nita and Jim are moving out to Heather's (all their horses are already out there) and they are bringing me their hay ring. And Robin says he'll help us get round bales over here this winter.

Found out Nita is not able to make it today, so I'll need to decide if I want to work the horses (hot, hot and HOT), or which one, and what I want to do. I may opt to ride Jaz in the round pen, and depending on whether we see sweet Pokey or Psycho Gelding...well, I'll just decide later.

OT, but still relevant, my regular exterminator guy didn't show up this week and I found out it's because he's been in the hospital in a coma for three weeks. They didn't think he was going to make it. He got tossed from his horse. He's awake now, but it's going to be a long road to recovery for him. People, WEAR YOUR HELMET!

2 comments:

sidetracked said...

Wow, lots going on in Texas right now. I've always wanted my horse at home but it never was right or the set-up would be impossible. My old house with "G" was all woods and would be horrible to cut and stump. So I have always boarded Possum. Sometimes I like it because you don't have to worry about hay and supplies and going away and such. But nothing beats the feeling of walking out your door to see your horse greet you from over the fence. Looks like you figured out the hay situation which is good and good luck on the grass situation. Up here in Maine it's been really hot as well but we're getting rain all this week. I'll wish that a little comes your way.

Leah Fry said...

I love walking out the door and there they are!! It's been triple digits here. I rode Jaz on Sunday and although we didn't go that far (just a walk) and we shared a Gatorade, I was literally shaking from the heat. I hosed him down for longer than usual and took a cold shower myself. I didn't feel quite right for the rest of the day. Even working or riding in the morning or evening isn't much help. Rain would be good.

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