Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mud Management

So the mud management webinar suggested cutting my paddocks into small 1 acre single and double turnout paddocks with gravel footing to use as sacrificial areas...... not sure if I actually like this idea. It means that many of the paddocks around the barn would be dirt year round and that horses who cannot go out in the big field because they don't get along would never have any grass.

Notes from the webinar:

Green Horse Keeping: Mud Management
Equestrian Professional
April 19, 2010
Speaker: Alayne Blickle - www.horsesforcleanwater.com

Issues associated with living in mud:
  • Scratches
  • Mud Fever
  • Rain rot
  • Thrush
  • Increased insect problems (mosquitos, filth flies, midges)
  • Hypothermia
  • Weight Loss & General Unthriftiness
  • Sand colic:
    • Ingestion of dirt, sand and soil particles
Issues for owner convenience and efficiency
  • Difficult to do chores
  • No fun to catch horses or clean for a ride
  • Looks bad!
Environmental impact:
  • Mud, erosion and run-off of sediments deteriorates nutrition of the soil and can cause problems for aquatic life
What is mud?
  • Fine organic material + soil + water = mud
Fine organic material is key because it holds 200x its weight in moisture.

Mud Buster Options:

  1. Establish a sacrifice area
    An area is sacrificed and understood that grass will never grow in that area. It should be on a high, well-drained area with vegetation as an absorption buffer area below it because as this area becomes hardened there will be a lot of run-off.
    This is where horses are kept on the winter when pastures are dormant and soil is soft. Prevents over-grazing. 
  2. Pick up Manure regularlyA horse produces about 50# of manure on a regular day. Manure is the basis of most mud because it provides that organic absorptive material.
  3. Use footings for paddocksSacrifice areas need footing: gravel, sand (can be dusty, do not feed on sand, in sloped areas, sand can migrate; but, horses love rolling in it), hog fuel (large chipped wood product – be sure it’s non-toxic). 
  4. Use footings in other high traffic areasHigh traffic areas: watering areas, in front of gates, walk ways.Options: Stall and trailer mats, used conveyor belting
  5. Install gutters and downspoutsCapture clean rain water and keep it clean and out of the mud.Roof rain runoff can be routed directly to a water trough for watering horses. 
  6. Use trees as mud managersTry to always use native trees and shrubs.Evergreens are great because they do not go dormant in the winter and continually use water. Rows of trees and shrubs can intercept run-off.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reflections on Progress

The mothers last night, particularly Cathy, came up to me glowing and said "Erika! This is a real barn now! It's a real business!"

Meredith and Zoe were two of my first students here at Painted Bar Stables. They have been around almost 2½ years now and they remember when it was just me teaching a couple lessons after work with my horses.

At the point when I bought the stables in early 2008, the barn was a mess because the previous owner was unable to keep up with the repairs and also apparantly unable to keep the liqour bottles out of the barn. At the point the girls started riding here there were only 5 stalls I had cleaned out the rubbish, repaired the doors so that they could close and lock, and made them safe for horses to live in. It took me so long just to get those stalls ready.

At that point the fences were in complete disrepair except for a couple just near the house. I was amazed that horses even stayed in the back field. I was still collecting tack beyond my personal saddles and it was insufficient. I'd probably also say that my teaching was rudimentary at best at that point, simply because I didn't have time to keep up with my research and own knowledge.

Moreover, I had no help. It was just me and I was also working a full-time job in Ithaca.

The past couple of months (not to mention the couple years before that) there has been such amazing progress! Yesterday, Cathy walked into the new tack room for the first time and  her jaw hit the floor. Every saddle was clean, organized, repaired and maintained on it's own rack. Every horse had not only an adult western saddle assigned to it, but also was assigned to kid saddles and English tack as well.  She saw all of the volunteers working like clockwork and she was impressed. She saw that I could actually focus on the kids in the lessons and know that no horses were waiting for me because Lisa was running such a tight ship for the evening shift. And she saw how clean and put together are farm is, how organized we are, how we have everything worked out. 

I could not have done this without everyone. Our farm has reached an amazing level of success and acheivement because of each person that contributes. And what is amazing is that we can still go even further!

So thank you to our volunteers and motivators, past and present:
Tia Bernagozzi
Sabrina Bruso
Sylvia Cadwell
Deb Chapman
The Champion Family
Lyn Gerry
Andrea Jacobs, who has for some reason put up with me and my endless neediness since I first met her 3 years ago
Victoria Katz
Dakota Landon
Kerrigan Long
Sonny Pagliaro
Ryanne Phillips
Jenn Schmid
Christian Thompson
Dani Van Orden
Linda Van Orden 
Missy Van Orden
Lee Welles, who motivates me more than she realizes
even Amber Schorpp, who taught me many many lessons

And of course our latest additions:
Lilian Balasanian
Alaina Christine
Ashley Tieppo
Rachel Cronin
Dorothy Sherrill
Jen Schrage
Lily Oxley

I especially want to thank:  
My parents, Dean and Barb Eckstrom, for simply putting up with me and giving me such amazing opportunities and pep-talks.
Lisa Birch for her enthusiasm, hyper-organization practices and her amazing ability to motivate our volunteers.

Oh... and Colin for making sure I wake up every day, don't have a mental break down, and ensuring that I might actually eat lunch on a clean plate and have a couple pairs clean socks, even if I took them out of his drawer.