Monday, March 23, 2009

Economic Barometer

Follows is an email I rec'd from a fellow riding club member. The Machickanee is a 6000 acre county forest just one mile to the south of our home. I'll spare you the graphic pics:

Please be warned these pictures are graphic. These horses were found in the Michickanee on Sunday March 22 by a man walking his dog. They were discovered about 100 yards off the road on North Stiles Tower Rd. I took these pictures in an attempt to identify the horses and bring the executioner to justice. I was told they were shot but it was all I could do to take the pictures, I could not bring myself to look for the bullet holes. I can tell you that judging from the scrapes on the little sorrel he had been dragged. I believe the sorrel was rolled over by police and that is why he is so dirty. I am both saddened and outraged by this act and I am asking the everyone help me to identify these horses. They both look to be yearlings but could be 2 years since it is clear they were not cared for. The sorrel has a star and the tip of his tail appears to be black. The little paint should be easier to identify. She is a tri-color paint with black on the end of her tail, black above the socks on her front legs and black on the top of her mane and forelock. I will follow up with the Oconto county Sherriff tomorrow and I will make every effort to inform the public of this crime. If you have any information please contact me.

Thanks. Patty W.

A sign of our troubled times? As shocking as it is, I'm not really surprised. As jobs are lost and pockets go empty, and with nowhere to go with their uncared for animals, what option does the average backyard owner do? Surely I'm not justifying this, but just trying to view it from a practical standpoint.

We are a society that was raised to live beyond our means. For many, horses are one of those "little pleasures" that folks think they need to have. Along with their mortgage, payments for the truck, the boat, the Harley, the dinners out three nites a week, life comes to an abrupt halt when that paycheck stops coming every week. And the little pleasures have to get cut out of their lives.

Are you prepared to handle keeping what is near and dear to you if the economic broadaxe swings your way?

If you are local to the greater Oconto/Oconto Falls area and think you could help in identifying the owners of these horses, send me an email.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poor Hank

Hank is fat.

It happens every year. I don't ride enough in the winter, Hank eats enough in the winter, and the inevitable happens: Fat horse.

Sara has commited him to fat camp. We're starting with 15 minutes of long trotting every day. She'll probably increase that as needed. It's easy to get him back to good weight.

Miss Honky Tonk Girl is fat, too. I'll have to get started on that fat pen as soon as the frost is out of the ground. She is not amused.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Ever have anyone ask where you'd see yourself in ten years? Maybe it was on one of those emails that bounce around or maybe it was during a job interview or maybe it was just something a friend asked you. We all have heard it from our parents at one time or another. Anyway, this question came to me the other day as I was kneeling outside at 6 am in below zero weather picking frozen horse apples out of the bunk feeder.

If asked that question ten years ago I would have never come up with that specific answer. Not a chance. Ten years ago I never really thought we'd own our own farm. The dream was there, but it was just a dream at the time. We've somehow managed to make this dream come true, and with that dream has come all sorts of interesting happenings.

Why do my horses poop in the bunk feeder? They eat from it, thereby keeping their back ends pointed away from the bunk. At what point do they feel it's a good time to turn around and use the feeder as a depository? Cleaning out the frozen turds isn't a hard job, but they all stand there looking at me with what I'm positive is silent amusement.

And while we're at it, why do horses poop in the water tank in winter but not in summer? Why do they do it when the water tank is full, and why do they do it on the coldest days? Again, they stand there looking down at me, sniffing every bailed bucket of dirty water and crinkling their noses at it.

Why do horses break things? If I just built it, it's sure to get broke. But if it's already old and broke, they won't look twice at it. If I'm fixing it, why do they think they are helping by snatching tools from my back pockets and running of with them to show their friends?

I guess that's just all part of the dream. One thing is for certain however: If asked where I see myself in ten years, I'm sure I'll still be picking frozen horse apples out of the bunk feeder.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eeeeeek! A Rat!

Yep, we got us a new dog. Meet Austin.
To our best guess, he's a Rat Terrier, about 1-1/2 years old, and a Big Schweetie. We've been looking for a new playmate for Luci since the loss of Freddie last fall. This little guy fit the bill. Sara found him at Furry Bottoms Rescue, where he was living with his foster mom near Sheboygan. We filled out the adoption paperwork, had a volunteer come to our house for the home inspection, and took a ride to meet him. I liked him as soon as I met him. There was something about those smart eyes and those alert ears that said he'd be a good dog. He and Luci got along right away and played and wrestled at his foster home. We decided to make him a part of our family on February 22nd.

He's smart. He knew how to sit when he came home, and within two days I've taught him to lay down and to not jump on people. He goes into his kennel without a fuss, he stays by your side when you're in the yard, and he's completely housebroken.

He has settled right in, already hogging the pillows.

He luvs his new sister.

He luvs his rope toy.

He luvs his winter jacket, but it's more fun to play with than wear.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The New Barn

Well, here it is....
60' x 104' Walters Building with 14' sidewalls. This size of a building allows for 12' x 10 stalls, a 12' wide aisle, and a 60' x 80' riding arena.
Construction finally began in early September. We were delayed for ten weeks because of the weather, scheduling conflicts, and a delivery mishap. But it eventually started and the barn began to take shape.

The shell was completed in early October, and I've been plugging away at the interior since then.

The first task to complete was to line the arena walls. The posts were set at 8' on center, so lining it with 4' x 8' sheets of OSB was easy. We put a treated 2" x 6" on the bottom, boxed out the top with another 2" x 6", then applied the OSB. Gus and Sharon graciously loaned us their air nailer which has been a great help. Sara and I got the arena lined in just a few hours. We slopped a few coats of white paint on the OSB to keep it looking neat.

After that came the concrete for the aisle and stall areas. Our neighbor just happens to be a concrete finisher and gave us a really good price for his crew to come in. This was a portion of the building that went as smoothly as one could hope for. He took care of every aspect of the concrete project; from the measuring to the ordering of the cement to the hiring of the crew.

The framing for the floor of the hayloft was the next project. We installed support beams across the width of the barn, nailed the floor joists onto the beams, then fastened the plywood flooring to the top of the joists.

Sara and I framed up the tack room next. Little by little it is all taking shape. The stalls went up easily and I really like how they turned out. I decided to use electric conduit for the bars to divide the stalls and we're happy with how it looks. Not too sure how it will stand up to the horses, but they seem quite secure.

The arena sure has earned it's keep over this winter. Sara rides at least four times a week if it's above 15 degrees. Which didn't happen often in January....