My Tunes

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A broken fence and hay ramblings.

I was feeding the mustangs the other day and I had a bit of a surprise. I was about to leave when I happened to notice the fence between the two mustangs was broken. The corrals had stood up to cows and fighting bulls for about 35 years. But these mustangs have really worked them over. I hate keeping horses in corrals because they get so bored and pick up bad habits. They have chewed up the boards despite the fact we have tried a few different products to stop them. Now one of the boards was broken. I think Wildairo was rubbing his bum on it and it was already weak from all their chewing and it gave way. I got a rock and hammered in the huge nails back in the give it a temporary fix. The boys had their heads buried in their hay buckets so they were good for awhile. Brad fixed thing's better when he came home with some more hammering. He noticed the posts were pushed out and about to go (because of Wildairo throwing himself at them) so he strung up some of that white electric tape.

When I got home I fed the chickens and the ducks, filled the cows water trough and fed Foxsun. That's when I got another surprise, a worse one. I put Foxsun's feed in his bucket and went in the house when he started eating it. When I looked out of the front window I saw him standing very oddly. He had his back to his uneaten dinner, which scared me, and he had his neck stretched out like he was sniffing. He walked slowly around like that. A couple of times he lifted his front hoof like it hurt. I started to get really worried. I almost reached for my phone to call the vet and I remembered the other times I over reacted and he'd been fine. Foxsun shows every little discomfort and has even groaned in the past when he hasn't felt good. So I took some deep breaths and watched him. I could just hear myself telling the vet, "Come quick! Foxsun's walking about sniffing instead of eating his dinner".

I went out there and stroked his head. He went back to his dinner but he didn't seem right to me. But I remembered an old man telling me years ago that if they have their head down eating they're alright. He had a drink after his meal and walked back to the cows, stopping to eat grass along the ditch bank. I saw him put his years back and move a couple of cows out of the way. He didn't act like he had a belly ache and wasn't standing like he had laminitis but when he was walking in to get his dinner he did cough once.

Maybe he still has the Pigeon fever in his system. His barrel is very round (like a barrel) but his top line is more boney than it should be. He's only 22 and has looked really good until this summer. The vet I had out here to float his teeth and look him over didn't seem to be too concerned. I think I'll bring him in and put him with Echo, (he beats up Wildairo), and give him some of the really good alfalfa hay. I think he bites Wildairo because Wildairo walks up to people and other horses with his ears flat back. They weren't deep bites, just the kind that takes hair off.

We put up three kinds of hay this year. The hay from the meadow is orchard grass, with a tiny bit of alfalfa in some of it. This Spring Brad seeded alfalfa in the draw, with a cover crop of peas and oats. The horses don't care for it much because the pea vines are a bit tough, but the cows love it. Echo had some once and very carefully sorted all the pea pods out to one side. Unlike Wildairo who always cleans his plate. I bet his mum told him about starving foals in Africa. The second cutting in the draw was just pure leafy fine stemmed alfalfa. The good stuff. I give a little to the mustangs every day and they seem to have more energy and act less hungry. The problem is there's not much of it because Brad had to put it up when the conditions weren't good. So, according to 'the all knowing' Brad, not much of it is suitable for horses. If it's put up without a dew on it, the leaves shatter and fall off. If it's too wet it goes moldy. Cows can eat pretty much any kind of moldy hay it seems. I hope there's enough of the pure alfalfa to last the horses through the winter because they really seem to do well with a bit added in their orchard grass hay.

We can get three or maybe four cuttings of hay a year here. We have to irrigate it. We lease out most of our crop land to another farmer so Brad can have the time to work at his business. We just have 30 acres we put up for own cattle. We did sell a bit this year and I was shocked at what you can get for hay now. I think we sold ours for $200/ton. I can remember when we farmed the whole place ourselves we were doing good to get $70 to $80/ton. I think rained on feeder hay was about $50 to $60/ton.

It seems the hay prices are high because it's in short supply. Other commodities were higher and farmers took out their hay stands to put in other crops like wheat. For example last year wheat was up around $15 a bushel and now it's down to about $4.50 a bushel. When a crop sells for a high price lots of farmers will plant it and that will bring down the price of that crop. I think with hay prices so high and wheat lower more farmers will seed back into hay and that will bring the price down.

We move our cows and Foxsun around to different places on the ranch. Right now they are in the hay meadow which is about 15 acres and they seem it be getting enough to eat there for now, although Foxsun gets extra. In the summer they were on the bluff and have a fenced off route they can take back to the corrals and the other pasture, so they hundreds of acres to graze. Once they run of pasture they will go over to the pasture with the feeder and be fed hay for the rest of the winter. Foxsun stays with them as long as he is doing OK. I will put him back over at the horse barn and pasture when the cows are at the feeder.


Linda said...

I hope you're right about the hay. I've also predicted a lower price, but not with such an educated opinion--just because commodities in general are down.

I have the same problem with the horses eating through my wood. However, not Beautiful, she doesn't eat wood.

I have a Palomino cribber. Lovely. She's like a beaver. So, I never lock her into the barn or she'd chew down the main support beam.

We put that dark, paint on, tar-like crud on the boards, but the horses reach over to play with each other and have gotten it all over their necks.

It does work to keep them from chewing if you can stand the discoloration. I won't use it again.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Could Foxsun have been choking? That would explain the funny neck and the cough.

arlene said...

Thanks for the advice. The electric tape is keeping them from the fence right now, poor things. I saw some metal mesh in the roofing department in the Home Depot and I thought it could be bent and stapled over the top of the fence posts to keep it safe from wood eating horses. When we get new boards I will try both methods.

Thank you to. Now you mention it I think he might have coughed something up and then tried to eating his food down too quick. He's been fine since.