‘You Can Lead a Horse to Water…

But you can’t make him drink’.  This old adage is probably known by every horseman around.  It has consumed life out here at Blue Rock Horses & Farm over the past nine days.  We have been “leading our BR to water” nearly everyday since he choked badly last Tuesday morning while eating his grain.

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‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’.  Nor eat for that matter.

 

 

Having a senior horse is tricky.  Just like the ‘old dog who won’t learn a new trick’, senior horses will not be told what to do!  So do a good job of handling your horses before they become seniors.  BR was foaled over twenty-nine years ago on Mom’s farm.  He has been with us his whole life, and what a good life he has had. This PFO inherited him and three other Littles over two years ago.  Retirement has been good to him.

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BR & his momma.  He was foaled on mom’s farm over 29 years ago.

This past week though has been tough on him.  The veterinarian came out three straight days in a row.  Dr. Rhode and Dr. Jordan from Clarke Equine Wellness & Performance were professional and polite in handling BR.  Their assistant, Tracy, was excellent as well.  There is always much to learn from a good vet.  The biggest worry was pneumonia.  Since he could breath (though it sounded like air going through a water balloon), the first visit was four shots and instructions for this frazzled PFO.  A severely choking horse is a fright to see.  Stay calm, quiet,and collected in manner and tone.  Stay very observant to horse’s condition and actions, which is a huge help when the vet arrives.  Know how to take the temperature of the horse, and write it down.  Though he has choked before, this time was severe.  He was in obvious distress.

 

The following morning began with no improvement over the saliva draining from both nostrils. Drainage from one side or both sides is another important thing to note to the vet, Dr. Rhode instructed us,  as it indicates location of material stuck in throat. The second visit, BR was tubed, and the obstruction flushed down into his stomach.  Wow. A remarkable procedure to witness.  The doctor described how it was done so well, that the understanding helped with the anxiety.   Third visit was more shots, and medications for us to administer in the days following.

 

So, how is little BR nine days later?  Improving steadily everyday.  One thing for sure—a horse will eat and drink when he is ready and not before, dang it!!

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He is improving steadily.

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There are advantageous to getting well—grazing outside of the pastures!  

 

A Snowy Morning Feeding

Last two months have sure been odd as far as weather goes.  It seems February traded with March and visa versa.  Right now there is 4-5″ of cold, blowing snow out here at Blue Rock Horses & Farm and ice is on the driveway.  While windows were open for fresh air all night on several nights in February!  Trees were starting to bloom far too early.  That has surely slowed down during these past several very cold days and nights.  This morning broke at 17^ with very gusty, cold winds.

 

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The cattle all ready and waiting for feed.

 

Needless to say the barn animals were very happy to hear the dogs happily barking for breakfast and lights coming from the house.  They know they are next in line for food.  So with extra grain for the cattle and loads of extra hay for everyone, we enjoyed our snowy morning feeding.

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 Waiting and watching.

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Earning their trust takes patience, and time.

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Now it is time for this PFO (and the husband who is taking these pics!) to eat.

Vermiculture

Vermiculture, just one more little thing going out here at Blue Rock Horses & Farms.  Have any idea what that is?  Worms.  Plain and simple, composting with worms.  Red wigglers specifically.  Eisenia fetida is their official scientific name.  Known to most everyone as the lowly little earthworm.  What a giant of a critter it is!  Talk about being a good (no, GREAT) steward of this earth, these guys win the prize!

This PFO is just a beginner in this new adventure, but has already learned to appreciate the worms and the great value they have in land, soil, gardening, compost, waste management, etc, etc.  The list seems to go on and on as more is learned about them.

 

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Separating the castings from the red wrigglers.  See the little worm just under the left side of stick? 

Black gold.  Thought it was oil in Texas?  Yep, so did this greenhorn—NOT.  It is the castings the worms give that is the real black gold.  The castings are actually the poop of the worms.  What a powerhouse of goodness it offers to those that are interested in improving their gardens, soil, plants, and compost piles.  It naturally fertilizes the soil.  It leaves chemical fertilizer incompetent for the nutrients it offers.  All this goodness from feeding kitchen scraps to the lowly worm!

 

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First harvest of ‘black gold’.

 

The first harvest was taken this week. The learning curve over.  Next time will go faster and smoother, so as not to stress the worms.   A book that is full of fun, interesting and helpful information is, The Worm Book-The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms, by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor.

There are so many fascinating options open to the vermicomposter and worm farming.  For now, one big bucket has been worked into the garden.  This is going to be a fun adventure.  Ever heard of anyone ‘talking’ to their worms?  Make a visit out here to Blue Rock Horses & Farm, you may overhear this happy, worm farming PFO saying, “Good Morning, Wormies!”

 

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This bucket of nature’s fertilizer was worked into the garden.

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 Red wrigglers gently set into their new home to work their magic again!

Feedback has Come

All the beef has been sold.  This is a good thing.  Unsold beef would have caused this PFO (Primary Farm Operator) to seriously reconsider raising any more.  The feedback is the icing on the cake:

“Best Beef EVER!!!!! The kids even said it made the vegetables taste better!!”

“The steaks are delicious.”

“The beef is very good.”

“Next year we want to buy a whole one.”

 

This is a tough business in many ways, yet it is remarkably satisfying in many more.  There is joy in raising animals in the best possible way, watching them thrive, being the creature God created them to be.  So much can be learned through quiet, keen observation of the animals.  A lot has to be ‘let go’ and left to the animals instinct. They know a lot.  Smart farmers would have added the new round of steers in with the old ones before they left the farm so the young could be taught by the older ones.  How would these new, young steers learn by themselves?

 

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Feeding at the same time of day, and in the same order.

Being consistent and persistent goes a long way.  That means ‘calling them in’ in the same way, feeding at the same time of day, following the routine in the same way (feed, then hay, then fill the troughs), and feeding the various animals in the same order.  The order does not matter, it is doing it the same way every time that matters.

 

So, how have the new steers been in this little bit over a week here at Blue Rock Horses & Farm?  Before the week was over, they were patiently waiting for breakfast!

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In less than a week they were waiting for us to feed them breakfast!

It is this time and attention devoted to them that ties us to them.  They are easy to tell apart for the observant, as they are all unique.  This is good animal husbandry.  A righteous man (or female PFO!) regards the life of his animal.  A good parallel is this:  When making biscuits it is said that ‘a tender hand makes a tender crumb.’  This is true in the cattle world as well.

This coming year is going to be good.