Monday, November 10, 2008

Winter Readiness

Our winter months here in Southern Ohio are not usually traumatic. More like irritating. They can be damp, dreary, gray, cold, sunny, warm, pleasant, we usually see a wide spectrum. Nonetheless, we do have to do some winter preparedness for animals and property. This past weekend, Hubby and I accomplished a few of those chores. Actually, Hubby did most of it since the main job was getting all those leaves out of the gutters and I don't like ladders. I was his assistant, as usual.

As I thought about doing this particular job I thought about the other little chores we do to get prepared for winter around here.

A week ago, we installed the heater in the horse's water tank. There is always controversy over using heaters in water tanks. I use one that is submerged at the bottom of the tank. My horses would destroy anything else. The tank holds 80 gallons so they never get to the bottom to play with the heater. Oh, they did once. I had forgotten to fill the tank to the usual fill line, which makes it too heavy for them to turn over. They like to play in the water some days, the water level quickly goes down when they're having water fun. Evidently they somehow managed to turn the whole tank, with the water, over and started chewing the line to the heater. We're not sure, but seems like Bo must have gotten a little bit of a shock, he was the one shy of the tank for a little while. That was the last time they messed around with the line. But they still drink from the tank.

At the stable where I worked, the manager refused to put heaters in any of the tanks or use heated stall buckets. She said she learned in her equine classes that there is a possibility of the horses getting a shock, if the device shorted, and the horses would never go back to the tank, or buckets, to drink again. Well, the barn was her responsiblity and she was the boss, so we quit bothering about the water heaters and just broke ice. I experienced first hand what a pain in the butt it was breaking thick ice on cold mornings in 15 stalls and ourside water tanks. I decided, at my convenience, I wasn't going to do that for my horses. I check the connection and even dip my own finger in the tank almost daily, to see if there are any shorts. So far, I haven't had any problems with the electric water heater and I believe my horses definitely enjoy the warmer water.

Bought a bale of straw last week to put in the dog houses. Our two dogs are medium sized and don't have winter type hair. They have always been outside dogs. Lucy, our newer member, is something between a beagle and God only knows. She decided to show me how much she must have wanted straw in her house by rolling around in my hay building on nice bales of hay scattering the flakes into piles. I don't like my hay messed with! Maggie, the blue heeler, had never done this before but obviously, after being shown how much fun it was, joined in the rolling game. I decided the best way to deal with this was to get them their own bale of straw. Put straw in their houses and also leave it in the hay building so they could roll in that instead of my precious hay stash. So far, that plan has worked well.

I am dreading the day I have to terminate the horses from going out into the front field. There's no grass out there now anyway,but in their minds, they have to try. They also like that field because they can watch activities up and down our dead end country road. Not much activity, but sometimes, there are cars and someone visiting the lady across the road. They are nosey horses so any little activity peeks their interest. Soon, I will see the two of them standing out by the gate that opens to the front field, gazing longingly at their banished field, but I won't open it for them. I won't open it even at the soft nicker Bo will undoubtedly utter when he sees me walking out to the stall.

The front field is our main grass field and we work hard, well we try, to get grass growing every spring and summer. When the ground gets mushy and soft, the horses aren't permitted out there until about May 1st. I suppose they'll get used to being closed out, they have the past 4 winters. Reminds me of telling little kids they can't have the chocolate cake because it'll ruin their supper. Can't ruin your field or you'll have no grass in the summer!

Storing the patio furniture. Raking or mulching the leaves. Well, we haven't done much of that this year. We'll probably pay for that one in the spring because the leaves will have matted together up on the hill and under the fence line, making the job harder than if we'd tackled it a few weeks ago when they were dry.

Cleaning tack. I need to give the saddles a rub down with saddle soap. I use biothane sidepulls now, so they just need to be wiped down then hung up. I'm full up with hay right now so won't be scrounging like we were this time last year. This is the first time in about 3 years we've had our little hay building full of hay and it sure feels good!

I'm not really ready for winter mentally, but I guess I'll plug through it. The dreary days are what get to me. But with the little chores completed, I'll be able to snuggle down in my comfy robe and warm blanket in the evenings, enjoy good books and relax until about March 1.

Gee, feels like rambling without saying very much today. Suppose everyone has days like this!


Linda Reznicek said...

That's interesting about the water heaters. I've always used them, but wondered about a short. Last year there was one that looked suspicious, so I tied twine around the cord to make sure it was up and away from the horses and couldn't get too deep into the water.

This year we're using automatic, heated waterers, which should work out fine as long as the pipes are buried deep enough beneath the frost line! BIG TEST this winter.

I can't imagine breaking through a sheet of ice--last year our's froze so thick where there wasn't a heater, I couldn't break it. Also, some horses will go off water if it's too cold. Yikes!

Good luck with all your winterizing--the only good thing I can say about it is you have time to read some good books by the fire.

LJS82 said...

Those automatic waters must be really cool to have! We've looked at them but my stablehand(that would be my husband!) is reluctant to take the step. He feels my two guys would wreck havoc with one by playing with it. Hope the test goes well for you! Nice to have clean water and heated! Reminds me,I need to clean my tank out tonight.

Yes, I've read about horses going off water if it's too cold. Wonder how they dealt with that back in the "old days" before we had all this information at our fingertips?

I do like to see snow falling. I love the quiet when I walk outside and it's snowing. Other than that, I'm not a fan of cold anymore!

Laura Crum said...

Leslie, Living here in coastal central California, I don't have the cold issues. What I have are mud issues(!)
Thanks again for the reviews of my books in your previous post. I'm glad that you're enjoying them. Cheers--Laura