Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘feed pans

Summer Progress

leave a comment »

The last few days have felt very much like classic summer days. I guess it is right on schedule as we now find ourselves in the Independence Day holiday weekend. Cyndie headed up to the lake with her mom yesterday and I stayed home to tend to our animals. We weren’t successful in securing coverage allowing us both to be away over the 4th of July weekend this year.

One classic sign of summer for us is the sight of our field converted into hay bales.

This year, Brad, who grazes cattle on our neighbor’s land, had his guy cut our hay field when cutting fields adjacent to us. A win-win for everyone as we wanted our field cut and hoped someone could use the hay, it was conveniently located for them to cut and bale, and it gives Brad a little more hay supply than he would have otherwise had.

Meanwhile, our horses have the back pasture for grazing. Yesterday evening, Delilah and I wandered out into the pasture to pull some weeds and the herd showed up to munch nearby.

The sound of the methodical biting of mouthfuls of grass as the horses torque their heads to break the blades and chew is a wonderful summer soundtrack backed up with songbirds, and the calls of frogs and crickets. It provides a soothing, meditative mood that nurtures my soul.

In contrast, serving up pans of manufactured nutritional feed pellets in the dry, dusty surface under the barn overhang can be a little irritating when things don’t go smoothly. I wish I didn’t so frequently find fault with the conditions as being either too wet and muddy or too dry and dusty. The days between those two states are way too few.

Since we allow the horses some autonomy –usually temporarily separating them into two groups of two– they are able to wander over and check out what the other horse was served, triggering a back and forth movement that foils the soothing sounds of contented munching we so enjoy.

Of the four horses, Light is the most prone to stepping into her feed pan, often tipping it rapidly and spilling the contents. In attempt to avoid them trying to eat the spillage out of the sand, which is not good for their gut, we have tried serving Light’s pan on a rubber mat.

I think we’re gonna need to use a bigger mat.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2022 at 9:58 am

Good Behavior

leave a comment »

I maintain a routine (imagine that) in the morning when I walk Delilah and then feed and clean up after the horses. On my own for the last four weeks, while Cyndie has been convalescing after her knee replacement surgery, the horses are showing recognition for my consistent way of doing things.

As Delilah and I round the bend of the back pasture into view of the horses, I always offer a soft verbal greeting to the horses. No matter where they happen to be standing when I make that turn, by the time I pass through the barn to grab the wheelbarrow and open the door under the overhang, Swings will be standing in the first spot by the door to greet me.

It’s a crapshoot whether the two chestnuts will be on “their side” or anywhere else at that point, often a function of wherever Mix has harassed them to be, but not always. This morning, Mia was right where she should be, opposite Swings. Mix was close enough to where she is served her feed pan. Light stood on the wrong side, about halfway down toward the waterer.

My first order of business is to clean up any manure piles located under the overhang. In the early days of this exercise, the horses demonstrated some impatience with my actions delaying the service of their morning feed. Now they remain wonderfully calm and wait politely for me to work at a leisurely pace to get the job done.

When I disappear back into the barn, they know what will come next. I return with filled feed pans. Today the distribution went flawlessly, which is not always the case. Too often, Light will upset the order by ignoring her feed pan and instead choosing to steal Swings’ pan, which triggers what I call the morning ballet.

Swings will switch to eat Mix’s; Mix will choose either of the chestnuts’ pans, which they theatrically abandon. Mia will be the odd mare out and Light will go find a different pan.

When I am able, I put gates between them, isolating the chestnuts. That calms things significantly. It is only when one or both of the chestnuts stay on the wrong side that I am unable to take advantage of using the gates.

Today, as I placed the pan for Swings and then walked over to place Mix’s, I saw Light stroll downhill around the waterer and come up on the correct side to allow me to close the gates and give her and Mia their pans in the usual locations. All four stayed in place and munched away peacefully.

When Light chooses to play along with my intentions, everyone benefits.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 21, 2022 at 9:26 am

Paired Photos

leave a comment »

Yesterday morning I was taking extra pictures to chronicle our morning routine for a photo exercise occurring on my virtual community, Brainstorms. Members all over the globe were capturing their lives in images for four days and posting them to provide a simultaneous glimpse of our varied locals and activities.

Of course, mine involved horses and I came up with two sets of images that work best when shown as pairs.

It was a cold morning that was going to become a warm day, so… Blankets on / blankets off.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I then stepped up beside Light and was taking a picture of her gobbling pellets from a feed pan. She turned to see what I was doing.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

There’s something about a horse’s nose that is just so great up close in a photograph. For all we know, that could be a moose!

Don’t tell her I said that.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Different Problem

leave a comment »

Well, the horses didn’t eat through the bales in the slow feeder boxes in one day, but they seemed to have a different problem with one of the boxes. This is what I found when I got home from work on Monday:

I wish I could have seen how they went about tipping this onto its side because it isn’t just pulled over forward. It’s too close to the wall. It is possible they pushed it backward after tipping it, except there were no drag marks anywhere. It looked like the box had been picked up, tipped forward, and then set down on its side after moving a little back toward the wall.

I reoriented the box and there’s no evidence either box has been messed with since. The one on the other side had been emptied by the end of the day on Tuesday and this one was empty when I got home from work yesterday. It doesn’t seem as though they are having any difficulty eating through the metal grate as the hay disappears all the way down to the bottom of the boxes.

Speaking of different problems, Light has a very annoying habit of stepping on the side of her feed pan and dumping the contents onto the sandy limestone screenings below. It’s not good for them to eat their feed off the sand. Ingestion of sand can build up in their intestines and cause problems.

We’ve tried putting a mat beneath her pan, but she does a pretty good job of kicking that around, too.

The other day, I sat nearby and kept a hand on her pan when she started feeding, moving it each time she picked up a leg to step onto it. I think she then just started stepping more to make a game of it.

It was a bit of a game actually because the horses are constantly flinching and moving legs in response to irritating flies. Sometimes she was stepping to shoo flies and other times she wanted to stomp on her pan.

I eventually tired of my role and left her on her own after she’d eaten more than half the serving.

As I was scooping poop in the paddock I glanced up to find she had moved over to Mia’s pan and had made quick work of flipping that one completely over.

Of course, she then set about eating any leftover pellets out of the sand.

It’s unfortunate that a little nuisance of bad habits could lead to a different problem that harms their health and well-being later on.

When Cyndie gets home, we may take our mitigation efforts to the next level and mount a feeder for Light that won’t be so easy to spill.

“Just wait until your mother gets home!”

Yeah, I’ve been using that line with all the animals for most of the week.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2021 at 6:00 am