Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thinking Ahead

 When you are completing your chores, working with your horses, or just notice something with, on, or about your property, WRITE IT DOWN.

Note changes you would like to see even if they are not feasible right now. Maybe there will be a time to make the upgrade later and then you can refer to your notes.

For instance right now one of our horses likes to push on one side of his stall to get closer to his neighboring horse. We have thought about moving him further away, or placing concrete footings to keep his stall in place, but neither is something we can do at this time.

We have created a computer document that we continue to add thoughts to whenever they come up. If and when we think of another thing we can do to fix the situation, we add it to our list. And of course a great thing about a computer document is that we can list several things and then go back and add to the first one and do things "out of order".

In addition to being a good way to think about things before you do them, it can be fun to look back over things you have listed before. Did you end up doing everything you thought about? Did you later think of better ideas? It ends up becoming a bit like a journal of your slice-of-ranch life. :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dust, Dust and more Dust!

 This week we completed the big job of cleaning out and dusting our tack room. We were just putting away some clean towels and found rat and mouse droppings on a high shelf prompting the self-appointed assignment. Our goal is to sweep out and clean the tack room on a regular basis, but when the rats and mice move in we realize we have waiting a bit too long.

We have found it most efficient and effective to take everything out so we can clean the walls and shelves of the tack room. This allows us to see everything and remove as much dust as possible. If you have room, move all the items clear of the door so you can sweep without getting all your items dusty again. Or you can use a vacuum if that's possible for your set up.

Once everything is out and the walls and shelves have been cleaned, we begin the process of putting everything back in its place. As we touch each item we decide if its something we want to keep then we decide where it should be stored and why. 

Do we use it all the time? Or is is seasonal? We don't give our horses baths in the winter because its too cold, so the shampoo can be put away in a less easy to reach place during the late fall and winter months. However, we keep the soap close to the front so its easy to reach when we need to clean our hands or wash a piece of equipment. 

Medical stuff, especially the items for humans, should always be easy to find and clearly labeled. Think about sending a non-horse person to get the medical kit...could they find it? Bandages and wraps for horse injuries should be stored, but they can be put away and clearly labeled for the eventuality of a horse injury.

In total it took somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours to take everything out, clean it all, and put everything back that we decided to keep. 

Now that its all clean and reorganized we know right where everything is and what we have. We even added a few things to our list to buy. The items we use all the time are easy to see and access...it makes us more efficient and effective with our time.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Enjoy What You Have!

 There are so many "versions" of ranches or ranching that it can be easy to wish for what you don't have instead of thoroughly appreciating what you have right now.

If you have one horse, you may wish you could have a second one or you may want to add a goat or a mini. You may have an acre but wish you had just a little more room for a larger arena. Maybe you don't actually have a horse yet and would love to find just the right one for you. Well, these are all great, but if you can't make the change right now you might think about learning a bit more about it. You can do research online and find an article like this one from Horse & Hound entitled "6 things you discover when you get two (or more) horses". You might read some blogs by ranchers or people with larger properties to see what challenges they face. This can give you some insight ahead of time. Especially if you think you want a different animal all together, its always a good idea to read up on it. After reading that book about how to take care of goats, you may decide that another type of animal would work better for your situation, or be more exactly what you wanted to begin with. Learn as much as you can and this will set you up for even greater success when you go to make a change.

Then when you aren't reading or researching, remember to spend lots of time with your horse (or if you don't yet have a horse, enjoy being able to spend all day with friends or at the mall and not needing to be home to feed your animal). Meet up with a friend and go on a trail ride...or a hike, or take some extra time and give your horse a long brushing or complete bath (if weather permits).

Remind yourself that when you end up adding another animal your time will be split between them. :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Imperfect Food Delivery!

 It's always fun to try new things and this week we decided to order a box of fruit and vegetables for the first time. There are several different services like this available, so we shopped around a bit and found one that would deliver to our place.

We began seeing the commercials for Imperfect Foods several months ago. The great thing about Imperfect Foods is that they take foods that have been rejected by restaurants or grocery stores because they don't look perfect enough. The mission of Imperfect Foods is to eliminate food waste while still delivering quality produce and other foods to their customers. (www.imperfectfoods.com)

When we made our order we added a special note asking them to ring the doorbell when they delivered so we would know when to bring the food inside. Sure enough they rang the bell and when we opened the door we waved to the delivery person and our pink box was sitting on the front step. 

All the food was in the box together meaning no extra packing or additional waste! Everything we ordered was pretty hardy so we didn't need to worry about bruising too much. The most fragile things we ordered was peaches, but they aren't quite ripe yet.

We see the small imperfections on the food, but it makes us feel good to know that we have saved the food and will enjoy eating it instead of it being thrown away. Plus, everything tastes great. We tried a new kind of cabbage and it was yummy! 

The food really makes us think of how food looks when you grow it yourself!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Solving Issues

When repairs need to be made, or an issue needs to be solved, it can be a great time to stop and think. What is currently happening? And how do you want this to be different? These are important to know before you just jump in to "fix" something.

There are probably many examples of this, but here is one we recently handled.

We are currently training a young horse (for our training adventures see www.TrainingHorsesHelpingPeople.blogspot.com) and we have begun noticing that she is rubbing a section of her mane completely off. As we pause and think through things, we realize that though its annoying to see the bare spot instead of her mane, at least she isn't injuring herself. Now that we know this, we can take out time to solve the issue.

At a local home improvement store we found some lightweight wire and heavy-duty wire, but neither one were quite the right size or exactly what we wanted and they were kind of expensive. So, we decided to keep looking.

A few weeks went by while we thought of some additional ideas before deciding against them because of their potential to cause the horse injury or at the least, prove to be ineffective.

Then this past weekend we tried another store and actually found exactly what we wanted. It was exactly the right size for the side of the pen where our horse is pushing her head through and exactly the right color to match the pipe fencing! Plus, its about half the price of the "not quite right" wire we almost bought the other week.

We'll keep an eye on the new wire to be sure it ages well and doesn't cause any additional issues.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

What's A Ranch To You?

When you think of a ranch, what comes to mind? Is it wide open spaces? Horses? Cows? White vinyl fencing? Maybe the word conjures up a place you used to ride or even a specific horse. For some people its about wood and western decor.

Whatever comes to mind you can use those thoughts and images to create your own slice of ranch. Let your imagination flow and see where it takes you! 

You can do something as simple as hanging a western-style picture, maybe one of you and that horse you rode, in a wooden frame. 

If you are limited on space it may not seem possible to have "wide open spaces", but do you have part of a wall available? Consider shopping online for a background. Prices vary, but there are many design and color options and in some cases you can even order a custom size if you don't mind waiting a bit longer. This can be an especially great option if you are in a rental situation and aren't supposed to permanently change the walls. Command-style strips can fasten your "wide open space" to the wall of your choice with no holes.

How do you create your slice of ranch? Please comment below.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Land: Flat vs. Hilly

Is flat land better than hilly land? Or is it better to have hills? This is a great question with a variety of answers that we will discuss.

Flat land
One thing that comes to mind about flat land is that all of it is usable for pretty much anything. If you want a larger tack room, or want to add a guest house, you have a flat area to use. Its also easy to see across your land. If a horse gets loose or you hear something at night, its much easier to locate your horse even if he's on the other side of the arena, or check on the horses from a distance, if you have a clear line of sight across the expanse.

Hilly land
While you can't always use every square foot of hilly land it does provide some variety in training atmosphere. You will want to give your horse some practice on going up and down hills before you take them on that fun trail ride, and having a few hills available where you work and ride can be a great help in getting your animal ready. Hills, and therefore valleys, also provide a chance for breezes to travel across the land following the elevation.