Barn Building Update 6

Roofed and Ready

Phase one of the barn is almost complete. The first five posts can be found here – update 1, and here – update 2, and here – update 3, and here – update 4 and here – update 5.

Considering how long the earlier stages of the build took the roof and sides went up remarkably fast, like days instead of weeks fast. 

There was a minor issue with the very last roof panel, in that they had it almost in position and then dropped it and it bent. This meant they had to order a replacement piece, but while they waited they got the metal up on all the sides as well.

Just a few more finishing touches: garage doors, electricity, trim, and a little more fill so the barn doesn’t look like it’s wearing floods.

Where Did The Year Go

2022 – Year-End Recap

I was starting to write a “goals for next year” post and was feeling a bit disheartened by all the things I had wanted to get done this year but haven’t gotten to yet and decided that it would be good for my mental health to take some time to reflect on the many things we did accomplish this year.

Just the decision to bring Leeloo home without having the full barn setup that I had been dreaming of was a big deal. There were many conversations with many people, and a lot of thinking about goals for myself and for Leeloo, before we even got to the starting gate. That process was the main focus of these posts:

Then there was putting the fence up and electrifying it, which took the whole summer. I understand now why people are willing to pay an extra $30,000+ to have a fence installed. The entire fence process is detailed in these posts: (Fence Part 1, Fence Part 2, Fence Part 3, Fence Part 4, Fence Part 5, Fence Part 6, Fence Part 7, Fence Part 8) and I need to remind myself how much work that was or I start feeling like we should have gotten more done over the summer.

Getting the first two shelters, anchoring them, starting to build the third shelter, then deciding that building it just wasn’t going to happen, was also more work and stress than I imagined. It is obvious now that we never could have built them ourselves, we just don’t have those skills yet, but that wasn’t always easy for me to accept. I am very happy now that we opted to buy them already constructed and that for the third one we went with the company that anchors them for you. The drama around the shelters was discussed in these posts: Give Me Shelter – Part 1 and Part 2, Second Interlude, So Much to Do, Mish Mash, Know When to Fold ThemHayshed – Delivered.

Finding and installing the round pen wasn’t part of the original plan but I am so glad we have it! We haven’t gotten to use it for its intended purpose very often but, it was so very helpful when we brought the girls home and has been very handy many times since then; including helping to separate Leeloo and Juniper each morning during feeding time. Though we are currently having some issues with Juniper turning into a picky eater; if it isn’t one thing it’s another. We discuss the round pen in Gate Expectations and the Fifth Interlude.

HAY! I had been a little worried about getting decent hay for a price we could afford. One of my long-term goals is to have our own hay field and I still feel that way, finding quality hay has been a challenge particularly since we also need it delivered. Luckily we were able to find a variety of hay for this year, including several different people who would deliver, though the quality has been all over the place. The girls like the most expensive hay best (of course) but now that we finally have some hay nets and some haybox lids they at least can’t toss it all over the ground and waste it (I’m looking at you Leeloo).  Hay post – Fourth Interlude.

Then there was finding Juniper – I didn’t talk much about that process on the website but it took a while for us to find the right pony, even when her only job is to keep Leeloo company, well and be cute of course. Finding that next mare, who will be the cornerstone of whatever comes next for us, is going to take much, much longer (Looking For a Baby Maker) – but now we’re starting to get into future goals and that is for the next post.

The ultimate goal of all of this work was to bring Leeloo and Juniper (once we found her) home, which we did! I sometimes forget what an accomplishment that is – it is the culmination of decades of dreaming. Here are the posts about bringing them home and the fun that has been: Coming Home, First Two Weeks, Sugar is Evil, Copy Paste, She’s Lucky She’s Cute, First Real Snow, Work Harder Not Smarter, Winter Woe-nderland.

One of the things I feel the biggest sense of accomplishment about (now that it is over) was something that we hadn’t planned for at all; dealing with Juniper’s eye infection. That was a huge, huge deal, both in terms of time and money, and I am so very, very, happy we were able to heal it (First Two Weeks, The Joys of Medicating Ponies, Mish Mash, Copy Paste, Juniper Eye Update). There was a very real chance she could have lost that eye and we saved it!

Though we weren’t able to build any shelters, we did get several building projects done including the six hay boxes (First Two Weeks, Projects Galore, Hay Contained) and the three compost bays (How to Make Compost Bays). The lids for the hay boxes are so close to being all done and hopefully we’ll get a chance to finish installing them during this “warm” period.

We’re once again getting into future goals but taking time to look back over this year has done what I had hoped, reset my perspective on what we all accomplished in the last few months and made me feel better. We got a ton done, pushed ourselves way, WAY, out of our comfort zones, and, more often than not, accomplished what we set out to do (even if it almost always took longer and cost more than expected).

One other huge accomplishment that I haven’t written about was getting this website up and running. I have never done anything even remotely like this and every aspect of this website has been a learning experience and has been the cause of a lot of swearing and a lot of crying, mostly in the beginning – the website hasn’t made me cry in weeks. I am very happy with how it has turned out and am really proud of myself.

Looking forward to another year of adventures. And of course Leeloo will be there to help:


Course Work Completed

And Done Early!

Once again most of my writing energy has been tapped out writing papers and presentations for the classes I am taking so this will be a short blog post. Though I did get both the paper and the presentation done and turned in with two full days to spare; perhaps there is hope for me yet!

As for the farm, we do have several horse/farm projects that are in progress:

Hay net lids for the hay boxes. Someone (Leeloo) managed to break our first attempt at a hay-net lid within an hour.

It looked so nice; the joints at the corner just weren’t strong enough though.

If I have to watch Leeloo put her head in the box and push out all the hay onto the ground one more time, I am going to lose it.

Juniper also does it, but she doesn’t look directly at me from across the field, push out all the hay, then look right back at me like “What are you going to do about it?!” the way Leeloo does. I did stop by LeVahn Brothers (still the best hardware store on the planet) and we think we have a solution for the frame and for attaching it, but they had to order in two more corner pieces for me. I will be picking them up soon so we can hopefully get a prototype made this weekend.

Longer handles for yard tools. My physical therapist has been on me to figure out how to make the handle of the poop fork longer and/or get a second handle on it so that I can stop making my back/shoulders/neck/wrists worse every day I do chores, which is almost every day. LeVahn Brothers again came through with a great solution, however pipe only comes in so many sizes and the handle of the fork itself was either going to be a bit too wide or way too small and we thought it would be easier to sand the handle down a bit and get a really tight fit than try to pad it out and have a fatter pipe. I thought that sanding it down just a tiny bit would be quick; it has not been. We will also hopefully be working on that this weekend. My body would really like me to prioritize this project.

Enrichment ideas for Leeloo. Leeloo has been bored and in need of some more enrichment, particularly since she has started wood chewing again in their shelters (are there any sprays/paints that actually stop a horse from chewing on wood?). We know it is Leeloo and not Juniper because most of the marks are way too high for Juniper to reach.

We did put up a new “toy” and Leeloo once again demonstrated that she is far braver than your average horse. Most horses hear a strange sound and spook, Leeloo hears a strange sound and gets intrigued. I will be looking for some additional options over the weekend – ideas?

Looking forward to a hopefully very productive weekend.

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

How To Make Compost Bays

sounds so much better than poop containment

First – I am feeling much better, though the steroids will be done on Tuesday, and I am going to start doing more of the chores again Monday so we’ll see if I still feel better come the end of this week; but for now, I am happy with my improvement. I have not however made that acupuncture appointment yet. Or the dentist appointment I have been meaning to make for myself since March. However, I did get Juniper’s dentist appointment scheduled. Priorities!

There are many, many projects we need to get done, and all of them will be easier if completed before winter. But the poop does not stop coming so the compost bays keep winding up on the top of the list. Once the corn is harvested for the year we will just spread the poop around the field. I know that’s not a long term solution with my hatred of bugs (poop = bugs), but the one upshot to winter is no bugs! I had hoped to make real compost that would be good for a garden but (A) we don’t have the equipment and knowledge to do that properly – though I’m hoping to learn more over the winter and (B) with Juniper on so many antibiotic and antifungal meds I’m not sure what the impact would be on a real food web which is what I am trying to get going for my plants. The field around our house has been conventionally farmed for years so it doesn’t have a food web to speak of so no concern there. I had really, really hoped, that this was our last year being surrounded by pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. But with the decision to buy the hay shed instead of building it, the money has to come from somewhere and I think it’s going to come from the money that was supposed to go towards planting native prairie-based pasture and hayfield on the land. Which means we’ll probably be leasing it to the farmer for one more year. I’m still not 100% sure that is the best course of action. Nate and I always hide in the house when they are spraying the field with their various chemicals, but I can’t bring Leeloo and Juniper inside. Also, sometimes the well water turns funny colors after they spray and/or plant the field. Maybe I need to start a native-prairie OnlyFans to pay for it…

We did get a decent start on two more hay boxes this weekend and we got some of the mats laid out in preparation for a future muddy spring, but our biggest accomplishment was finishing another compost bay. We have learned from our first two and now have a pretty decent process.

How To Build A Compost Bay

  • Find three pallets, two of which are approximately the same size.
  • Set them up in a U shape.
  • Use scrap wood to screw them together along the back and/or sides depending on how you had to lay them out to maximize your space.
  • Use L brackets in the lower inner corners and possibly the upper corners – or more scrap wood. 
  • Use scrap wood to screw them together along the top on the back side of the U.
  • Line with chicken wire – a staple gun makes this job go more smoothly. It is also easier if you set the U up so the two long sides are pointing straight up and the back is lying flat on the floor. This way gravity is working with you instead of against you.
  • It is easier to build it in it’s permanent location; but where our compost bays reside it is not even remotely level or even, so we decided to build them in the garage and move them. Moving them is not an easy task, the best method has been to slowly “roll” the completed bays from back to front and over again down from the garage to their final location.
  • Make a lid from scrap wood and scrap rubber roofing material and attach it with hinges that are designed for a full 270 degree opening. If you do not use the correct hinges the first strong wind will tear all your hard work right off.

Set up in a U shape – note L brackets in corners.

Scrap wood on the top an the side for stability

We started adding more scrap wood and a big block at the top that we screwed into both the back and the side for more stability

Look at that beautiful lid. With the wrong type of hinge.

Compost Bay Building Tips:

Find free pallets. Ideally, they should be heat treated and not chemically treated and free of any mystery spills or liquids.  If a pallet is heat treated it will have an HT on it somewhere like one of these pictures.

We’ve been getting pallets from a closet design company (they were posted on Craigslist) so I feel pretty safe using them for compost and for under our hay.

If you are doing the compost stuff by hand, then you want to maximize your depth. Getting the poop up high without equipment means shoveling it out of your cart onto the top of the pile which is a pain.

Line it with chicken wire! This was an “optional” thing on many of the sites I saw, but it makes a huge difference.

No chicken wire – look at all that escaped poop!

Hopefully by next spring I’ll have fixed the lid situation which will help in the actual creation of useable compost. Once we get this compost thing figured out, I am sure we’ll have tons to share! 

Know When To Fold Them

Apparently, my body can read my posts, because after the last post where I mentioned that I had hurt myself but wasn’t going to be able to get to a doctor for at least a week I woke up in the middle of the night in a bad way. You know that feeling when you hit your funny bone on something? The radiating, buzzy, pain, like a terrible current. Now imagine that feeling radiating from your shoulder, down through your elbow, down through your wrist, and into your hand; and it won’t stop. That is what I woke up to at 1:30 AM and stayed awake to for over an hour. It was not fun. The next morning I canceled the Get Out The Vote Event I was supposed to run and made a doctors appointment instead.

The doctor is pretty sure I did something to my very upper back/neck when I slipped down those stairs so she prescribed a week of steroids, muscle relaxers as needed for a month, and some physical therapy. If that doesn’t take care of it we’ll do some imaging. Of course now I need to find a new physical therapist because my long term one retired. I went on Thursday to my first new PT appointment, and she was pretty good, I think I’ll stick with her, at least for now. She agrees it’s most likely something in my upper back/neck and assigned some very low key exercises to do for a few days and I will be going back next week. The PT also thought it would be worth going to acupuncture for the increased carpal tunnel issues in my right hand; which have been steadily getting worse all summer and that I have been meaning to do something about but never prioritized. We’ll see if I actually get that appointment made; I’m very good at addressing my horses’ medical needs, not so much my own.

Overall though, I am doing better. This is a combination of the drugs and the fact that Nate has stepped up in a HUGE way in helping with the horse chores. The horses and having a horse hobby farm has always been my dream; one that Nate has supported, but hasn’t shared. I also always said from the very beginning that I knew we both hated physical labor and being hot, cold, buggy, sweaty, and/or tired and that if we didn’t have the money to do this thing right, we wouldn’t do it. Something went sideways on that path and here we are, without the money to do anything even remotely right. Despite that, Nate has continued to be amazingly supportive and helpful getting this whole thing up and running and continues to be.

At some point Nate will have to take care of the horses while I am gone (either to conferences or to Wisconsin to visit family and friends) and he has agreed to do everything but dealing with the poop. He drew the line at horse poop. Which is totally fair because I long ago drew the line and cleaning the toilet. I will clean everything else in the house and do any of the yardwork, but I categorically refuse to clean a toilet. I never have and I never will. I will pay a cleaning service to come regularly to do that one single task for me. Therefore, I was totally understanding at Nate drawing the line at poop. Since the horses came home Nate has helped with all the chores (except for poop) once a week, because having help makes the job better, but also so he would feel more comfortable about taking care of them while I’m gone. As I said in the previous post my pain in my hands/arms was steadily getting worse all week, so Nate started helping more with the chores and did everything but Juniper’s eye meds and the poop on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. But then the morning after that horrible nighttime arm pain of awfulness Nate came out to help as he has been but when I went to start picking up poop, he took the pitchfork away from me and did it himself. I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful of anything ever. Because I’m tall and have had so many back issues, the pitchfork handles are just too short for me, so I have developed a poop picking method that saves my back but is really hard on my hands and wrists, and of all things I have to do that is the task that hurts the most – or rather that hurts the most that I have to do the most. Other things hurt as much but I only have to do them for a minute or two, not the twenty to forty minutes every day it takes to pick up poop.

Between the medications and Nate giving my body a chance to rest I am feeling much better. We did however sit down and have a long conversation about the f***ing hay shed and the fact that my body is just not currently up to the labor and Nate has a fulltime job and we just don’t have the resources here to get the job done in the time it needs to get done. Plus get done the million other things we really need to get done before winter is truly here. So, we are admitting defeat and purchasing another pre-made shelter. Of course the company we got the first shelters from are booked out until the end of December so we’re going with a different company and its not going to match. But as Nate pointed out, the one we would have made wouldn’t have matched either. Plus – PLUS! – this company does the anchoring for you!!! Which is a huge relief, because that process sucked! Of course the money for this hay shed needs to come from somewhere, not sure the Fleet Farm job is going to bring in enough, so something else will probably have to give. 

Now we will turn our attention back to the hay boxes! And the mats, and the mud control grids, and getting the gates up on the soon to be “barn” shelter, and getting the solar light hooked up in said “barn” shelter, and fixing the gate latches on the actual gates (which were cheap work-arounds that aren’t working around that much), and building another compost bay or three, and why did I think this was a good idea?!

At least I have one amazing spouse!

Left Hand Down

Why does my body forsake me?

This will be a relatively short post; though I have said that to Nate before I started writing the last four posts, we’ll see if this one is actually short. This time I think it will be because my hands/wrists/forearms have been really bothering me; steadily getting worse all week and today they’ve been pretty much non-stop pins and needles and achy/sore.

This may be because we running out of room for poop and I haven’t had a chance to go get more free pallets to make more compost bays because all my free time is taken up with trying to build this hay shed plus the working 10 hours a week at Fleet Farm (seemed like a great idea, but wow that eats up more of my actual time than I thought it would!). Anyway – we didn’t have any place to put any more poop so Friday I just had it and decided to unload the oldest poop from the first compost bay so we could line it with chicken wire and start using it again. We do not have any equipment yet for dealing with, well anything, so that meant I shoveled it all into the poop cart, then shoveled it all back out again to its new location.

Of course my hands/wrists/arms may also be bothering me because all these mats and mud-control grids arrived and I started unloading them and placing them in their various homes. We got a super great deal from Cashman’s and with the freight shipping it worked out better getting them all at once than getting some now and waiting and getting more later. I know I will use them all eventually, even if they don’t all have 100% certain homes yet. I am also nowhere close to being done with that project (shocker).

Or the issue may be because I sort of fell down the stairs a little bit on Monday. I mean, it was more of a slip and slide down three or four steps before catching myself on the railing, but it wrenched the heck out of my arm and shoulder.

Regardless everything I do hurts at this point: cooking, typing, playing on my phone, using the mouse on my computer, picking up poop, laying down in bed. I should probably go see a doctor, but I don’t have time this week because I have two shifts and Fleet Farm and I have two days of Get Out The Vote events to run at my regular job at North Hennepin Community College and I’m trying to build this F***ing hay shed.

Remind me again why I wanted to have my horse at home?!

Oh yeah – this is why:

Can’t beat breakfast in bed. Also this is why we need to get those hay boxes built! The hay is for eating Leeloo, not sleeping!

Copy Paste

Stuck in a Loop

First, an update on Leeloo from this post. Leeloo is doing much, much, better. The morning after our scare she was already looking 90% better. I found a giant welt on the left side of her stomach, which was the side where the swelling in her legs was worse, so I’m pretty confident all of her symptoms were a reaction to a bee or wasp sting. Since she was doing so much better, I decided to hold off on the next dose of banamine and wait a full 24 hours. She continued to improve, so we decided not to give any more banamine. I also called the vet and we opted not to send her blood to the lab because that would cost an extra $180 and she was doing fine. Even though it turned out to be unwarranted, calling the vet was the right decision. Her symptoms could easily have been a reaction to something she had eaten and some of the toxic plants or bugs that can work their way into hay can have fast-acting and deadly consequences. I’m happy it was nothing more serious and that she’s doing better, but very annoyed that she had to get stung on a Sunday – of course she had to get stung on the most expensive vet call day there is. 

Now on to our never-ending tasks.

Lately it feels like I am stuck in my own version of the movie Groundhog Day. Every day seems like a repeat of the day before: eye meds, hay shed work, panic about all the other things that aren’t getting done and how quickly winter will be here. It’s hard to see progress being made; I went to take a picture of where we are at now with the hay shed project and you can’t tell the difference from the previous pictures I took. That being said, we are slowly, soooooooo slowly, making progress on this building.

We have one 36-foot, 6” x 6” beam finished and two of the 11-foot 6” x 6” beams finished and all three are in position outside. We are also 2/3 finished with the second 36-foot 6” x 6” beam. Everything takes us longer than I think it should, and probably longer than it would take someone who knows what they are doing, had all the proper tools, and had dimensional lumber. We do not know what we are doing, we do not have all the proper tools, and we are working with rough cut lumber. I’m hoping once we get past this part, creating beams from smaller boards, it will start going a little faster. One of the choke points in the process is the insufficient number of clamps. We have enough to do two short beams or one long beam which means there is a lot of downtime while we wait for the wood glue to set. It is minor, but frustrating.

You know what else is minor, but frustrating? Having to give two different eye medications, four-to-six times a day, that have to be given at least five minutes apart from one another, that I also have to have clean hands to apply.

When you just hear it, or read it in the email from the vet, having to wait five minutes between the meds seems like no big deal. But because we’re dealing with an eye that already has an infection it is important that my hands are clean when I give the medications and it is almost impossible for me to just stand there for five minutes without doing something that invariably causes me to have to go back in the house and wash my hands again: filling up the water, getting more hay, petting Leeloo, who has come up to see if maybe this time one of those carrots in the bright blue fanny pack is for her – because sometimes I give in and give her a carrot because I’m feeling guilty that we haven’t spent any time together since she came home. I do always make her work for it. Our current game is the “go find it” game where I touch her nose with the carrot and then toss it and point at it and tell her to “go find it.” I can’t throw it very far or she gets distracted by grass and stops searching or just looks at me like, “Why you got a be a jerk? Why can’t you just give it to me?” It has however come in handy a few times when Juniper is being particularly possessive of me and cranky at Leeloo; I’ll walk some ways with the carrot, touch Leeloo on her nose and toss it just far enough that she can still find it, but in the opposite direction as Juniper. It usually buys me enough time to get the meds done.

Hopefully this weekend we’ll make some more substantial progress on the hay shed. In the meantime here is a picture of baby Leeloo, because who doesn’t love baby Leeloo?!

Taken at Horseplay Ranch in Corcoran MN when Leeloo was eleven days old.

Mish Mash

What a Week

This week has been a lot. I started two new side jobs in an effort to earn that barn money (anyone sitting on a pile of cash they aren’t using?). One of those is cashiering at Fleet Farm. I’ve had three days of training so far and start my first day as an actual cashier next week. I decided to get a job at Fleet Farm because you get a twenty percent discount (on most stuff) and they sell almost everything I need; from toilet paper, to horse feed, to lumber, you name it, Fleet Farm probably sells it. I’m a little worried about how my back will handle standing for 5-hour shifts but we’ll see how it goes; worse case I’ll just ask for shorter shifts.

The hay shed project is going VERY slowly which has me worried we won’t get it done in time but we’re chipping away at it. One of the 11-foot 6×6 beams is done and one of the 36-foot 6×6 beams is mostly done. We have to fully assemble it at its final location because it would be too heavy for us to move. Nate has declared that we are never building anything ourselves ever again. I chose not to remind him that we still have at least four more hay boxes to make; and since Juniper, Leeloo, and I all agree we need one more horse it is actually six more hay boxes that we need. And we still need a lid for box number two. But at least that FF discount has already come in handy!

Glue and screwed cut-offs to make a big beam

Used bigger boards – went much faster!

On another front – we FINALLY got the last medication we needed to really attack Juniper’s eye abscess. We are treating this thing with three drugs: an oral antifungal, an antifungal eye ointment, and an antibiotic eye drop. The oral antifungal and the antibiotic eye drop came in two weeks ago and we’ve been giving them daily, but we didn’t get the antifungal eye ointment until Tuesday night so this past Wednesday was our official first day of the full treatment plan; which we’ll need to do for six-eight weeks.

The vet says progress is being made. The first picture (on the left or on the top depending on what size screen you are on) is from 9/15, the second picture (right or bottom) is from 9/29. The vet says the blood vessels you can see within the abscess in the second picture are a good thing because that means the body is able to get the things it needs to heal to the site that needs healing, and that overall the eye looks more comfortable than when she was here to see it. We’ll be doing a follow up appointment sometime in the next few weeks.

Taken on September 15

Taken September 29

Juniper remains a willing patient and I am getting better at the eye-drops. Partly because we dropped down to giving an anti-inflammatory just once a day and a tiny bit of swelling came back. This isn’t great, but it makes it MUCH easier to actually get her eyelid open enough to get the drops in and the swelling is very minor. For any horse owners reading this we are giving banamine because it apparently works more effectively on the muscles in and around the eye than bute does; but we’re giving injectable banamine orally with her food since that is a thing you can do. We went this route because the injectable stuff is much cheaper than the paste in the tube and Juniper rears when you try to give her an oral paste. We will be working on the rearing issue as soon as we’re done dealing with the eye. Rearing to avoid stuff is not an acceptable behavior.

Juniper remains a willing patient because we’ve been using the clicker training (treats – with a purpose); however an unintended consequence is that Juniper is getting VERY possessive of me. She is learning that the blue fanny pack that holds the medicine also holds the treats. Nate randomly got an obnoxiously blue fanny pack as a promotional thing, and I instantly stole it to use to hold the various eye ointments and drops and treats. I highly recommend one if you need to give these types of meds because you don’t have enough hands to hold everything and if you put the ointments in your pocket they get too warm and melt, making them very hard to apply. However, Juniper now recognizes the obnoxiously blue fanny pack and comes trotting up to me (which is great) and then immediately pins her ears and tries to bite at Leeloo (which is not great). This is ridiculous on two counts because first – Juniper is wearing a grazing muzzle so that threat is utterly meaningless, and second – if she actually did make contact with Leeloo, Leeloo would hand her a** to her so quickly her head would spin. Usually, Leeloo doesn’t take offense, but it is hard to give eye drops and ointments to a pony who is constantly trying to attack another horse. Which means we’re still having to separate them in the round pen to medicate, unless I happen to have a helper available who can distract Leeloo for a minute.

This will pretty much be my life for the next six to eight weeks. All the normal life stuff I have to do, plus working on the hay shed, working at Fleet Farm, and giving medicine to a jealous pony four to six times a day. Remind me again why I wanted to do this?

So Much to Do!

And so little nice weather and daylight to do it in!

As discussed in this post, having to give Juniper eye medication 4 – 6 times a day has made the need for some sort of make-shift barn more urgent, as has Leeloo and Juniper’s sudden desire to actually eat hay.

Up to this point there was enough grass in their track system (I know the official paddock paradise track system book says there should be no grass in your track, but clearly, we are far from the ideal scenario here) that up until recently when I put out hay, they weren’t very interested in it. Granted I wasn’t putting the good hay out and the roughage hay that I was putting out was the questionable stuff that I knew had gotten a little rained on, so their lack of interest was understandable. However, between eating the grass down over the past three weeks and me finally getting into the hay that had not gotten wet, both Leeloo and Juniper are now genuinely excited about eating hay. This has made the need to get more hay before winter a little more important; yes, I can always find some in winter, but I’d rather deal with it now.

This means we’re finally prioritizing building that third shelter, you know, the one my friend and I were going to build by the end of May (ha!).

I created plans that are loosely based off of the shelters we currently have but also slightly inspired by sturdier overall construction.

We were originally going to create the boards and beams we needed using the white oak cut-offs purchased for my hay boxes by gluing and screwing them together. Last weekend we officially got started and managed to make one of the ten 6”x6”x12’ “foundation beams” we needed to make. Once we added in the cost for glue and screws it turned out to be almost the same price as just purchasing some of the boards and beams. Not the big giant beams, which would cost a small fortune, but we can get buy 2” x 6” x 8’ boards for almost the same price as we could create them out of cut-offs so we decided to just buy the bigger boards to make this process go faster, and use less glue and screws.

The boards arrived late on Thursday so attempting to build this thing will be occupying our time for the next few weeks. The goal is to have it done before our next farrier appointment in two weeks. Please note, we know almost nothing about building and woodworking and if you do those plans above and this list will probably make you mad or sad or both. If you are willing to work for free you can always come over and set us straight, otherwise you’ll just have to watch this train wreck slowly unfold.

(Unrealistic) Goals for the next two weeks:

  • Create the “foundation beams” and a few longer boards out of the 2”x6”x8’ boards
  • Build the 4’x8’ “wall cells” we’ll use to build the walls
  • Set the “foundation beams” out in their proper spot and figure out how to level them (that part is still kind of fuzzy in my mind)
  • Erect the “wall cells” on the “foundation beams”
  • Create rafter beams out of lumber (that still needs to be purchased)
  • Install the rafter beams
  • Install the purlins (that term I do know is correct!)
  • Install the roof (materials source is still TBD, I should probably get on that)
  • Install our temporary siding since long term this will be a bug/summer shelter with only a roof and supports, no actual sides

What are the chances we can pull this off in two weeks and it won’t collapse in on itself the first time we have a stiff breeze?