Hay shed – Delivered

someday something will go smoothly

I had to cut my Thanksgiving visit with my family in Wisconsin short in order to be home for the delivery of our hay shed (the cost of which still needs to find a budgetary home: third horse budget or pasture/hay-field planting budget?). The ground has been solidly frozen for a while, since that unreasonably cold weather set in right after we finally got a decent amount of rain. Though that has made the actual paddock track area pretty hard to navigate for both the girls and the hay and poop carts it also meant we were confident that when they delivered the hay shed they would be able to make use of the former corn field to back it in to place. That option would have worked great on any morning other than the morning the hay shed was actually delivered. Every other night it has frozen enough that the field would have (probably) been sufficiently firm except the night before they delivered it the weather stayed mild and the field didn’t refreeze; as soon as they drove their truck fully into the field it got stuck. Yay.

The driver got out of the truck and asked us what we had available to pull him out and the answer was “nothing.” We have one electric riding lawn mower and two cars purchased for their small and easy to parallel park size and good gas mileage; towing or pulling anything isn’t even in an adjacent realm of possibility much less this one. We do however have some amazing neighbors. After several frantic calls, we were able to come up with a skid steer and two pick-up trucks and it took all three to get the job done. First, they unloaded the hay shed from the truck’s stuck position and used the skid steer to get it into place. That part went fairly well, a few dents notwithstanding. The getting the actual truck and trailer out of the field was much harder and ultimately required two different pick-up trucks to get it out. Our yard and driveway took some collateral damage but they have never been particularly great so in the grand scheme of things that was not that important. I however missed almost all of this drama because in order for one of our neighbors to come over and help I had to go to their house to watch their two grandchildren who were a little too young to bring along; being only four and two. So, while skid steers and pick-up trucks were in use at my house, I was playing restaurant, and make-up party, and fairy princess house, and sleep-over party, and several other games whose premises I was never clear on but we switched gears within five minutes so it didn’t really matter.

I was able to return in time to see the truck and trailer finally pulled from the field and watched as he anchored the hay shed in about 15 minutes. All six anchors in 15 minutes! Let that sink in. It took Nate and I several full weekends to get our anchors in; unquestionably worth it to have him do the anchoring. Now we have our full complement of sheds: shelter shed, soon to be “barn” shed, and hay shed.

We also got a fresh load of free pallets that I didn’t even have to go get! In a fortuitous turn I had contacted the foreman of the crew that built our house about something totally unrelated and right at the end of our conversation he asked if we needed pallets because he had some he had to get rid of. Yes, yes we would! We almost have enough for two full layers of pallets, and we probably do have enough once we can get to the ones currently in-use in the “barn” shed.

Still deciding what to use to block the elements a bit from the two “stall” ends of the “barn” shed. My original idea was to use rigid foam insulation boards or possibly some plywood, but one of our neighbors has used some clear plastic stuff for a door of sorts for her goat shed and feed room I am intrigued. More research will be done i.e. texting as soon as I remember at a time I can actually text; as in not when driving past their house and thinking “I really need to text her about what she used for her goat shed.” Hopefully we can get it all done before it gets super cold again. There is also the complicating factor that one of the “stalls” is currently housing close to 90 bales of hay and Nate and I are still in negotiations about whether that hay will stay there until we use it up in the normal course of things or if it can be moved sooner so I can have my full “barn” shed.

There are still many more projects I would like to get done, but finally feeling like we’re actually getting close to having the full Plan B up and running!

She’s Lucky She’s Cute

The Tasty Bits Are On The Bottom

These last two weeks have been ludicrously busy and once again proved that I have one of the best spouses in the world.

Last week I had to attend the AMATYC conference in Toronto. The one that I needed the two presentations for; I did manage to get them both done, and not just on time but with two full days to spare! This meant I was gone from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday afternoon so Nate had to do all the chores. Of course that also happened to be the one week all year he had to work in-person for four days, including the only in-person Friday of the entire year. He had to get up ridiculously early to get it all done, but he managed and once again demonstrated how awesome and supportive he is.

I got home safely from the conference, despite delayed flights and hotel reservations that apparently didn’t count (when my friend and I finally got to the hotel at 1:00 AM Thursday we were informed that they didn’t have a room for us – we were not happy). I got two full days at home and then had to travel to Wisconsin to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I tried to do as much as I could before I abandoned Nate to the horses again so I spent Wednesday afternoon trying to pick up as much poop around the hay boxes as I could. Which of course is challenging when much of it is still frozen to the ground. I had also brought the hay cart out to fill said hay boxes and was reminded once again why trying to multitask with horses is never a good idea. I finished cleaning up around the one hay station and filling those hay boxes and pulled the poop cart over to the other hay station. As I walked back to get the hay cart Leeloo decided it would be great fun to push out the rest that was still is the cart and then knock it over for good measure.

Once Leeloo walked away Juniper had to see if there were any tasty hay crumbs left.

Apparently Leeloo agrees with Juniper that the tastiest bits are on the bottom.

Perhaps I just need more mentally stimulating enrichment activities for her – any ideas?

Where Do the Weekends Go?!

Always more things to do than hours to do them in

We got a lot done this weekend, though not enough, as always.

Friday we took full advantage of my 20% employee discount at Fleet Farm and loaded up on some winter socks and gloves and I was able to get this coat I had been eying from the cash register all week and it was on sale! 30% off, plus my 20% discount, plus we were able to use the $5 off of $50 coupon from the popcorn you get for free when you get gas from the Fleet Farm gas station (which I sadly do not get a discount on). Clearly this is the start of an application problem for my next Math Literacy class.

Saturday however was not as productive. We were able to move some stuff off the driveway in preparation for the snow plowing that is sadly right around the corner. But our attempt to hang the gate on one of the shelter bays in the “barn” shelter ran in to some snags almost as soon as we moved all the tools and such from the garage down to the shelter. Namely the drill bit we had wasn’t the right one to make the holes needed for the gate’s J bolts and the latch for the other side of the gate did not actually come with hardware for the post, despite the fact that the package clearly said “hardware included.” When I double checked on the website there was some small print about hardware to attach it to the gate was included but hardware for the post was not. Thanks. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go get those missing things right then because the farrier was scheduled to come at 3:00 PM.

This was our second farrier appointment since bringing Leeloo and Juniper home and though the first one went okay overall, I was worried how this one would go. Leeloo hasn’t been her normal sweet and well-mannered self the last few weeks and it has gotten noticeably worse since the corn was harvested. I’m not sure if it is the change in weather and the fact that she still doesn’t have her normal winter coat yet, if having the corn gone has made her whole space feel too open and exposed, if with the corn gone she can hear/see/smell the neighboring horses better, or if the neighbors up the hill happened to get a new horse and the timing matched. She is almost always looking in the direction of the horse farm just north of us on high alert, pacing and calling and staring. While Nate and were moving the stuff off the driveway she was clearly agitated and did a little mini rear while staring off at that farm and I was concerned the quickly approaching farrier visit was not going to go well. I grabbed her halter and brought her into the round pen; my plan had been to make her walk and trot a little bit but mostly change directions a lot to get her mind on me and off of whatever was stressing her out since it was too cold and the ground too hard for anything else. The moment I took the lead rope off and stepped back to ask her to move she took off doing at this huge extended trot with random canter strides thrown in and a little bucking for good measure. When I asked her to switch directions she would do these ridiculous sliding stops and spins, including one pretty decent canter pirouette. I never did anything more than step ever so slightly in front of her and say “change directions.”  She clearly has a lot of pent-up anxiety and energy and I will need to do better about finding time to work with her. I just wish we had a better place to do it in. She of course managed to ding up her left heel bulb with one of her absurdly unnecessary moves, but she wasn’t noticeably sore on Sunday and she seemed a bit more relaxed – she even laid down for a little while (in her rolling/sleeping hay pile of course). Though that may be me seeing what I want to see. Regardless it was worth it because she was pretty good for the farrier when he got there. We had one moment when she was being rude, trying to put her foot down before the farrier was done with it, and when he let her know she couldn’t be rude she had a mini meltdown. We just circled a few times until she realized all we wanted was for her to stand still and then the rest of the trim went fine. The crappy weather (going from wet and muddy to immediately freezing) has made the footing everywhere awful and has made everything we have to do that much harder, the stress from not having everything done yet, plus Leeloo’s clear anxiety and general unhappiness with her current living situation has all combined to make me feel like maybe this “Bringing Leeloo Home” idea was not a good one. But the farrier said Leeloo’s feet are looking better than they ever have in the entire while he has worked with us – so I’m holding hard on to that.

We did manage to get the gate up on Sunday after a trip to LeVahn Brothers (the best hardware store ever). There were still a few challenges of course, mostly because Nate and I are fairly inept when it comes to anything regarding skilled physical labor, particularly when power tools are involved. Using a reciprocating saw without hurting yourself and actually cutting what you want and no more and no less requires way more skill than picking up poop does. The final cuts aren’t exactly straight and didn’t go exactly where they were meant to, but no injuries occurred and the gate is up, so we’ll count it as a win. We also had a visit from Juniper’s former owner when she dropped off Juniper’s cart. I haven’t driven a horse or pony in ages, and even then, I was never more than a novice; but I am super excited to refresh my memory (maybe take some lessons over the winter?) and hopefully try out driving next spring.

Just need to keep those positive thoughts front and center during these next few cold stupid months!

And we did get that gate up

Stupid Weather

Honey-Lemon-Ginger Tea Time!

We seem to have sped past fall again and jumped into winter with its blustery, cold, icky weather; and though the rain is very much needed, going directly from muddy and gross into frozen is not going to be fun. Leeloo still doesn’t have her full winter coat yet either, so she has been extra grumpy to everybody. To make up for this I fed them some hay in their shelters which they proceeded to make a giant mess of. This is why the hay needs to go in hay boxes! (Still working on the last six – and still trying to figure out a hay-net-lid solution.)

I have been making up for the cold weather chores for myself by making honeylemonginger tea since those ingredients can supposedly help with all sorts of health things – and it tastes good and warms me up after being wet and cold. Here is my very inexact “recipe”:

  • Fill a mug with water and then put that water in a small saucepan (What size mug you ask? Whatever you have on hand – I did warn you this was an inexact recipe)
  • Add the juice of half a lemon (don’t worry about the seeds you can fish them out or just ignore them)
  • Grate in some ginger using a microplane (I keep my ginger in the freezer and just grate off however much I want and I don’t bother peeling it). How much? However much you feel like, if you put in too much you can always add more honey, if you don’t put in enough you can always grate in some more as you drink it, if you use the microplane you don’t need to cook it to get the flavor
  • Simmer for 5-10 minutes
  • Let sit in the saucepan to cool down to somewhere around 105-100 degrees (and if you wander away and forget for an hour or two you can always reheat it and let it cool down again, not that I do that of course)
  • Pour it all back into the mug and add local raw honey to taste (some of the good things in raw honey can be killed by temperatures much higher than 105 degrees which is why you want to let it cool down first)

When I am actually sick and my throat hurts I really up the honey, when I’m feeling fine I use a lot less honey and up the ginger.

We haven’t gotten much done this week because I have been focused on getting my presentations done for the AMATYC Conference in Toronto next week. I did manage to get them done with four days to spare! That means this weekend can be dedicated to projects (just like every other weekend – someday we’ll be caught up)


Where There’s Smoke

On a scale of everything is fine to the corn field is on fire

– how have you been?

We have been leasing most of our land to a neighboring farmer who plants conventionally grown corn and soy since we moved in. Technically two neighboring farmers because the first guy got out of farming after the 2019 growing season. The current guy has been ever so slowly encroaching on our yard. In 2020 and 2021 we didn’t really care because it meant less to mow for us; but this year we knew we were bringing the horses home, so we actually reclaimed not just the previous yard but some of the field itself. When they planted this spring we weren’t anywhere close to having our fence done (or started for that matter) so we put out stakes and markers to show where it was going to be. At one point during the initial planting process I sat in my kitchen and watched the farmer hit every single one of the markers with the end of whatever large piece of equipment he was using. They all bounced right back up again, being flexible driveway markers, but I had a vision of him doing that to the not so flexible fence and needless to say have been worried since then. Having the fence get taken out by a tractor and Leeloo and Juniper getting loose was not something we wanted to deal with so as harvest season drew nigh Nate and I were getting more and more anxious about how it was going to go.

Well, we were apparently right to be anxious but for the wrong reason. Most of the work Nate and I do is task based, not time or people based, so if needed we can take a break and deal with whatever happens to be going on; but of course the day they came to harvest the corn around the house both Nate and I had meetings that we could not miss. When they arrived I had about 45 minutes before my first meeting started and I only noticed their arrival because their first entrance into the field was right next to the fence, startling the ever-living daylights out of both Leeloo and Juniper and their minor panic attack drew my attention. However, after that first scare Leeloo just watched all the equipment vigilantly as they otherwise went about their business. Nate and I of course were still concerned about the fence itself so we kept taking turns at every possible break to go out and look to see where they were in the process and if we still had an intact fence.

For those of you unfamiliar with the corn harvesting process there are several pieces of equipment involved in the process. At one point the machine that the corn gets put into was full and went to unload and the other machine went along alone for a bit but then stopped and was hanging out.

And hanging out.

And then very quickly, far faster than normal, was hauling over to the edge of the field by the road where all the other equipment was. The driver got out and went to consult with someone on the ground, then we noticed the smoke.

There was kind of a lot; yet no one looked particularly panicked or was running over to our house, and then a police car pulled up. Unfortunately at this point I had to go back to my meeting and I thought I was going to die from the combined mix of anxiety (is our field on fire?!) and curiosity (what is happening?!).

Nate was able to sneak out at one point and came back to report that three more cop cars had shown up and a pickup truck from the fire department; but the smoke seemed to have stopped. He had tried to get Leeloo and Juniper to at least move closer to the house instead of being right in the midst of everything. But they got bored quickly and went back to the shelters (which are right up next to the corn field).

Then an Xcel Energy truck showed up.

That is when we took a closer look at the road itself and realized that something seemed to be missing. Namely one of the short power line poles. Oops.

Short powerline pole between the white building and the taller pole

Short pole is no longer there!

Apparently when the one machine came back to unload the corn, the driver just tapped the pole (his words when he was chatting with Nate a few days later) and it fell over. The smoke we saw was the live power line being unhappy. The full Xcel Energy crew showed up within a few hours to replace the pole and got everything back in order. We never lost power, not sure about the neighboring police station.

Thankfully the fence itself survived the entire process of harvesting and plowing and Leeloo and Juniper were relatively unruffled by the entire thing (other than that first panic). Which I expected from Leeloo, who is unusually brave for a horse, but was surprised Juniper did as well. Of course, now that the corn is gone we are very exposed and Leeloo has been on high alert for danger pretty much nonstop which has made her a total crab to everyone. I’m hoping she settles back down soon, but it’s another reminder that we really do need that third horse, who will hopefully help share the watching out duties so Leeloo can get some rest.

No Rest for the Wicked

or for those of us who chronically overcommit

This has been one crazy week. I did manage to get both my papers written and turned in on time for my classes, though that last one was submitted with less than two hours to spare. Of course, the class itself keeps on going so I still had more readings and assignments to do for Wednesday of this week.

In addition to taking these two classes, I am also the Get Out The Vote faculty coordinator for our campus this fall and I had two Get Out The Vote events to run this week – one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. The Tuesday event was on and off all day so I had to shift one of my two normal Fleet Farm days to Monday. I hope everyone reading this who is eligible to vote has already voted (you can still vote early through Monday if you live in Minnesota, not sure about other state’s early voting options) or will be voting on Tuesday.

Image is from this article about why every vote matters


Both events went relatively well though turnout was lower than hoped for; if nothing else I hope the invitations to them and reminders about them got people thinking about voting and when they will do it.

In addition to the Get Out The Vote events both Juniper and I had dentist appointments this week. They both went well though my teeth are in much better condition than Juniper’s. Juniper needed a lot of work done and some of what they vet found has probably been causing her a fair amount of pain for who knows how long. Though nothing was seriously wrong in terms of long-term dental health she does apparently have a few quirks that will require annual dental work (she’s lucky she’s cute).

We’re hoping that some of the issues with her teeth were the cause of (or at least part of) her hatred of receiving oral meds. The way she expressed those feelings was to rear which is not safe for anyone. I’m very glad I waited to work on that because we have hopefully eliminated some of our issues. We hadn’t started that process because I wanted to get through the eye meds before we dealt with anything else but we’re in the homestretch on the eye so hopefully we can turn our attention to that soon; being able to give oral meds is important and I can’t have a pony who rears the moment you put anything in her mouth. This of course is also a good reminder that horses/ponies are never naughty or unsafe just because, there is always something more going on that is the real cause of the issue.

I also had what will hopefully be my second to last physical therapy appointment for my neck issues from the slip down the stairs. Overall, my arms/hands/wrists have been doing much better but I still need to figure out a way to extend my handles on, well the vast majority of our yard tools, but the poop fork in particular. Any suggestions for how to extend my handle?

Lastly I had a meeting with a new group for a side job I did this past spring writing feedback for math homework questions for an online homework system. The first time around I felt like the amount of time I put in to writing the feedback was disproportionately high compared to the amount of pay I got. Thankfully those in charge took our feedback and this new group is putting together what will hopefully be a far more efficient and consistent process that will make the amount of work proportionate to the pay.

All of this coalesced this week to make me realize I really don’t have the time for two days a week at Fleet Farm. Ten hours a week doesn’t sound like much, but with this other side job starting back up for the sake of my mental health I need to cut back on something so I’m cutting back to just one day a week at Fleet Farm – though I did agree to be flexible and work on whatever day of the week they needed me most at whatever time they needed me – you just can’t beat that 20% discount!

Now I just need to get through the rest of the semester with these two classes, balance this new side gig with everything else, and actually put together the two presentations I will be giving at the AMATYC conference in Toronto – which have to be done and submitted by November 14.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Maybe I can work on the presentations while I’m waiting in line to vote…

This image taken from this article on why voting matters for racial justice – GO VOTE!