Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Recovering from 'Rona

Hey ya'll. Sorry if I've dropped off the face of the planet for the last week on social media/blogs, but I had a good excuse. Tuesday afternoon I got incredibly sick, and Wednesday I tested positive for coronavirus (or covid-19, or sars-cov-2, or whatever you want to call it). I got it from DH (thanks honey), who tested positive the day before me after getting sick over the weekend with what his doctor initially thought was a tick-borne illness. We were both incredibly lucky in that while our symptoms were bad, they were (relatively) short-lived, and that our jobs have emergency sick leave for this situation. It also helped a bit that we got sick in a staggered fashion, so I still felt fine when he was at his sickest point, and by the time I was at my sickest point he was already on the mend. Because, of course, the animals on our farm don't understand covid and still expect to be fed in a timely fashion ;) 

We did manage to finish putting up the winter's hay before both getting sick, so that was a small win. 106 bales of delicious alf for Jack (and Trigger), 400+ bales of grass hay for everyone else, and round bales are being dropped off regularly from the neighbor's now that we have a tractor to move and stack them. 
Last year's leftover round bales for the goats in the foreground, nice new net-wrapped bales for the horses in the back (substantially bigger this year!)

DH is off quarantine today, and I'll be off by this weekend. I was already set up to telework, since I've been doing that since March, so I just tried to keep up with work as my symptoms allowed, but also knowing when I couldn't do it anymore and needed to crawl back into bed. Most of last week was pretty bad, with me not doing much beyond working and sleeping, but by the beginning of this week I was starting to feel a little more human again. Aside from a lingering inability to taste anything (which is getting REALLY OLD), and the fact that I tire far more easily than I used to, I seem to be relatively on the path to recovery. I overdid it a little yesterday, but still managed to scrape up the energy for a hack out after I finished working -- even though I had to take a breather to recover after tacking up, that's how easily I tire right now :(

The best bay mare TM

She was super excited to be out, and I was super excited to use our new Pearlescent Pony browband haha

We walked around the arena for a while and then she dragged me to the gate repeatedly

So we hacked out and checked out the new sights -- DH has been working on getting our winter supply of firewood replenished (this pile is waiting to run through the log splitter).

He was moving some round bales as we finished up so we had to go check out the tractor, Ruby got cookies for marching up and touching the scary thing with her nose. 

It's starting to look and feel a lot more like fall. 

I'll admit to being more than a little annoyed any time I opened up social media last week to see people acting like we aren't still smack in the midst of a global pandemic, especially knowing how hard DH and I tried to avoid getting sick and all the precautions we have and will continue to take... But I guess that's life right? At any rate, hopefully we are through with the first bout, our precautions hopefully prevented anyone around us from catching it from us, and at least we should have some immunity against reinfection for at least a few months. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tack Review Update: Two Horse Tack Buckle Nose Halter

Wayyyyy back when in the winter of 2017, I was contacted by Two Horse Tack about reviewing one of their items. I picked the buckle nose halter, in teal (naturally), and have been using it ever since as Ruby's main halter. (side note: that was the last time I accepted something for free to review, because I was concerned about affecting my amateur status which continues to be relatively irrelevant at this time as I am STILL not a USEF member but SOMEDAY haha)

Photo from... summer 2017 when she moved into the new barn? Actually no idea. 

At VHR when I spent the weekend trail riding. 

From our vet day this spring -- I just grabbed a handful of random photos posted on the blog over the years :) the only time I don't use this halter is when she's in her grazing muzzle, that's on a different (breakaway) halter. 

It's been on my to-do list pretty much since 2017 to buy more for the rest of my horses -- despite some minor QC issues (noted in my original post), I do think they're great halters for the price if you're willing to roll the dice on the customer service and sizing. Every time I've gone to the website with the intention of ordering them at full price for the rest of the horses, that's been what stopped me. But earlier this month, they ran the buckle nose halters as their deal of the day for a reduced price -- it was also the same day I got a contact lens rebate from my eye doctor, so I threw caution to the wind and went ahead and ordered some. Cinna was still using a (formerly) teal nylon halter I bought new for Topaz (so like, 2014? 2015?), Jack's Horse of Course halter was looking pretty rough, and in for a penny, in for a pound, right? New halters all around! Well, not for Ruby, because hers looks fine!
Cinna was fine with hamming it up. 

"Plz get my good side"

I went ahead and got Cinna an identical halter to Ruby, just in a size down (horse, instead of warmblood) -- which, another side note... their sizing is still the dumbest, LEAST intuitive thing I've ever seen, ugh. It fits as expected -- she's on the tightest hole in the noseband (seriously I want to see the horse that wears anything other than the tightest hole in the noseband, all four of mine have theirs done all the way up). She's got space to go up or down on the crown, and I got it in the generic 1" width, as she doesn't have a particularly refined head. I mean, I guess it's a little refined compared to some of the honkers you see on Iberian horses, but nothing crazy. 

I briefly debated getting teal halters for everyone, but then I realized that would probably make things a bit confusing when hanging them up together for turnout. So, Jack got his in royal blue -- which is a throwback to the nylon halter I got for him when I first bought him in 2006 (oh you sweet summer child, it didn't even have a chin snap haha). I went ahead and stuck with the horse size (only because a friend ordered a cob for her very very standard cob and it was way too small), but I went ahead and got his in the 3/4" width because his face is pretty refined. 

Not here for my photos

He would be really cute for approximately .3 seconds while I tried to step far enough back to get his entire head in the shot, then flop his ears... haha. 

"Give me that cookie in your pocket and GO AWAY"

Since Trigger "belongs" to DH (I mean let's be real all of the horses expenses and his basic management falls to me, lol), I let him pick out the halter color for Trigger. He has been wearing a hunter green one that looks pretty sharp on him (and somehow didn't fade nearly as badly as all the other nylon colors I've ever tried) that's a smidge too small in the chin. After reviewing all the colors, DH picked the merlot/maroon. Went with horse size for him too, in the 1" width, which seems to have been a safe choice. The only thing that concerns me is the chin snap takes a little finagling to get on and off (it's like the opening of the clip is just a smidge too small for the ring it needs to clip over?), so we'll see if that gets better or if I have to attempt to deal with their customer service. Fingers crossed it resolves on its own, lol. 

Will pose for cookies

Ruby wanted in on the action too -- as you can see, her halter still looks fine. 

Trigger, perpetually annoyed by my shenanigans (unless there are cookies. there were)

At any rate, if you're looking for a durable, fun-colored halter that can take a licking and keep on ticking (seriously I leave mine out to bake in the Midwest sun/freeze in the Midwest winters and Ruby's has had exactly zero attention other than getting rained on since I got it), this is not a bad option. I know there are other sellers out there with biothane, but I still love the buckle nose design and haven't found anyone else offering that. My horses are all pretty standard cob/small horse (minus Ruby who is more large horse/OS) and the regular horse size for everyone (except Ruby) seems to be a relatively safe bet. These ones feel a little nicer right out of the bag than Ruby's, so I hope they're as durable!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Tack Shed Renovation: Hanging Artwork

I know, how much longer could I possibly drag this out? Not much further, I don't think, as I am basically out of wall space to hang things haha. Had a few extra minutes last night so we went ahead and hung up the last of my bridle hooks, the harness hook I use for my surcingle, and some of my Charlie Mackesy artwork.

This is up over the papasan chair at the moment, so not super accessible, but eventually it will be once I get the piano out of there lol. 


I hung my Spanish/show halters on the left, and then my nice leather halters for special occasions on the right.

I love these smaller ones over my bridle rack -- these were some of my favorite drawings. 

Every time I ride I need to grab something from that rack, and I'll look at these and smile.

It's hard to get a good photograph (because of how much light comes in through the french doors) but I hung 8 of the bigger ones over the doors. 

I got probably 2/3 of the artwork hung up -- I still have a handful of frames, but not really a good place to put them yet! Hopefully eventually when the piano and buffet are out of that back corner, I'll be able to utilize that space haha. So for now, we'll go ahead and call things "done-ish". 

It still makes me so happy just to walk through the doors, and to finish a good ride and then go tidy everything away into it's proper place. It was a long time to wait to have a nice tack room, but so worth it!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Feral Cat Friday

It's been an exciting couple of days for the feral cats around the barn! Aside from our (fixed, vaccinated, and friendly) barn cats Tom and Lady, we also support some feral cats.

Tom is a scrapper. Despite being fixed, he likes to get in fights with all the males who show up looking for Annie. Lady looks just like him, only not so beat up haha. 

Annie was born shortly before I attended Rolex in 2017, to a friendly tabby who showed up one day missing a tail that we started calling Bob. Annie had a cute little black tuxedo brother we called Elvis (both names in homage to my aunt who passed away the day before I left for Rolex). Unfortunately, feral cat life is dangerous, and both Bob and Elvis disappeared. I'm sure I have photos of them, but the amount of effort required to go through three years of cell phone images looking for cat pictures is beyond me on a Friday, sorry, lol. 


Annie hung around though, even occasionally letting me pet her (mostly while I was filling her food dish lol). Unfortunately, being a female cat, Annie started having kittens. I caught her first litter last year around the time we started construction, and since I was so busy, my mom took them in for some socialization before we rehomed them, and ended up falling in love and keeping one. Unfortunately when I caught them, one escaped, which is how we ended up with Puff (when he was young he was so white he looked like a little cotton puff).

The older he get the darker his stripes get! When he was a kitten he just had some dark hair on his tail, feet, and ears. Now he's tiger striped :)

We started making efforts to catch Annie after the first litter, to try and get her spayed, but unfortunately she was far too wily for the live trap. So she continued to have kittens. She had 11 this year alone -- a litter of 5 this spring (4 of which I caught, socialized, and rehomed) and then 6 more shortly after (all of which I caught, socialized, and 4 have been rehomed so far). We redoubled our efforts to try to catch her. I set the livetrap every day for a week and managed to catch Puff twice, a raccoon, and a possum... Sigh. 

One of the two kittens I still need homes for. 

Both boys. Both PRECIOUS. 

Puff, the first time I caught him in the live trap. 

Wednesday night we were sitting in the hot tub and I looked over to see a completely new and strange cat nosing at the empty food dish. Five minutes later, we heard the unmistakable clang of the livetrap closing.

New Kitty

New Kitty with Puff investigating -- he still hasn't learned his lesson about live traps haha. 

There is a place about 40 minutes from us that will do low cost spay/neuter, and also takes feral cats (a lot of vets won't mess with them). They have a $25 special for ferals that includes a rabies vaccine and ear tipping. Since it's a pretty good drive, we decided to try to nab somebody else to take along with new kitty (since we have so many that need it, ughhhhh). By this point, Puff had wised up that the humans were trying to catch him and he wanted no part of that. I needed to start working, so I went back inside and left DH outside armed with a fishing net, some wet food, cages, and a lot of Acme-cartoon-level ideas about how to try to catch the cats haha. Amazingly enough, he did manage to catch Annie finally -- a can of wet food inside a wire crate, fishing line tied to the door, and he hid in the tack room and pulled the door shut once she ventured in. 
Why yes, that's a bucket on a stick with a string tied to it... *head desk*

Mad Annie

We called up to make sure they had time to add two ferals to their surgery day -- it's one of those things where it's hard to schedule appointments for this because there's no guarantee you can catch them on any specific day, haha. But then we got thrown another curveball -- they will only take ferals if they're in a live trap. We only have one live trap, and New Kitty was occupying it. So DH called around and managed to locate one at the neighbors, and he ran it over (and also helped DH transfer Annie from the wire crate into the livetrap -- glad I didn't have to help with that, lol). We squeaked them in under the 10 am surgery deadline, and now we are looking at a kitten-less future! 
Based on their estimates of New Kitty's age, and his coloration, I suspect that he is the missing kitten from this spring's litter that I couldn't catch. 

New Kitty in his "recovery crate" in the garage. The clinic likes you to keep the males crated at least 24 hours post op, and the females 48. They recommend you leave them in the live traps, but DH couldn't stand that idea (the live traps are pretty small) so we CAREFULLY (in an enclosed area) transferred them from the live traps to bigger cages. 

She definitely hates us right now haha. 

Hopefully someone in the not-too-distant future I'll be able to catch Puff and Gray Kitty (who also hangs around the barn, but I don't have any good recent photos of) and run them up to have their balls chopped -- then I should be completely free of cat reproductive organs on the farm ;)

If you're feeling charitable, the organization has a donate button on their website: When I paid for these two, I went ahead and made an additional donation, and will do the same next time I take ferals up there. There is a huge need for their services and every dollar helps to break the cycle of overpopulation, particularly with feral cats. I got to experience firsthand exactly how many kittens an unaltered female can produce and it was only luck I was able to catch and place the kittens into good homes. I can't imagine how many more I would have been stuck with if we hadn't managed to finally catch her!