Around the Farm

Wave Fork Review

 

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I clean a lot of stalls. Like, a lot. So it’s really important to use a good rake to scoop that poop with. There’s nothing more irritating than using a rake with lost tines and dropping manure with every scoop. It takes more of my valuable time to use a bad rake. Lately, I’ve had one too many of those bad rakes. The tines just didn’t seem strong enough to stand up against our Oklahoma clay in the runs of our stalls. Enter, the Wave Fork from Noble Outfitters. Noble Outfitters is a fairly new company to the horse world and their products have been beckoning me at the feed store for several weeks. This seemed like the perfect chance to try one out.

The Wave Fork, much like it’s name, has these nifty wavy tines instead of the straight ones most rakes have.

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They also are much more flexible than my last rakes.

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The tines can separate and come apart. They slide onto a plastic piece that goes along the top. So, if a tine does break, you just replace it instead of buying a brand new rake! You can see how the black and orange tines fit together in the photo.

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Best of all, it comes with a five year warranty! Pretty cool, in my opinion. And since I wasn’t paid to endorse this product, these are all my own honest thoughts and observations! I bought my Wave Fork at my local feed store, but you can order them online as well at Noble Outfitter’s website. They’re a bit pricey, but I’m hoping it will pay for itself in the long run.

Raising Children and Horses

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As I sit here in the last few uncomfortable days of my second pregnancy, I can't help but reminisce about life with my first child and all the memories my husband and I have shared with her. I'm eager to start new memories with our new little girl, but I'm sad to know that this marks the end of our alone time with Gracie. Some of the best times I've had with her have been around our horses. She has always been included in my work out of necessity, but I have tried to share my love of horses as best I can. She's only four, but she has done her fair share of barn work– scraping manure from stalls, feeding horses, cleaning water tanks, and essentially living the first four years of her little life outside, in a barn, despite the weather. My heart swells with pride when she helps me work.
Two years ago I made a resolution to spend more time with her in the saddle. She was getting a first-hand experience caring daily for horses, but her riding experience was limited. Riding horses has so many benefits for children. It gives them the opportunity to learn patience, responsibility, and trust-and how to learn from their mistakes. Here are some of the intentional things I started doing for her that I would also recommend to any other parents seeking to expand their child's equine horizons.
1. I enrolled her in riding lessons. Gracie started taking lessons when she was three years old and I've watched her start from meek beginnings in the round pen to now trotting by herself in the outdoor arena. She is learning important lessons about grooming, handling, and riding horses. Lessons are perfect for young children interested in horses. It should always be the first step in introducing your child to horses and riding in general. Buying the horse can come later.
2. I took her to her first horse show. Personally, I am not a huge fan of horse shows, but one spring we did go to a small local show and let her ride in the lead line class. It gave her a chance to get dressed up, experience what it's like to ride in front of a crowd, and then be judged. Unfortunately, it was an awful show. The weather was downright crummy, and my horses were ill-behaved, but Gracie placed second in her class and she was ecstatic. What seemed like a disaster to me has ended up being one of her favorite memories. If you already have a horse your children can ride, show quality or not, then showing in some capacity is a great experience. They will learn the value of hard work and patience, and they'll learn how to accept a win as well as a loss.
3. I invested in her own tack. This is one part of my resolution that is still a work in progress. Starting on her second birthday and each subsequent birthday, we've given her a new pair of cowgirl boots. She looks forward to helping pick out her riding boots for the year. Hand-picked birthday boots make riding that much more enjoyable. One her fifth birthday she'll be getting her own saddle, bridle and reins. The intention is not to give her an extravagant gift, but to encourage her in her riding lessons and teach her how to care for her own things.
Perhaps you've heard the Old English Proverb, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But if you salt his oats, when you get him to the trough, he'll be thirsty." That is exactly what we're doing with Gracie, and will continue with our new girl. We intentionally "salt her oats" so she looks forward to spending time outdoors, working with animals, and riding horses. Are some days harder than others? You bet. She's still only four. I realize horses may not end up being her passion like they are mine, and if that happens I might shed a private tear or two. That's perfectly allowed for a cowgirl mom, right? More important, we will have helped build a solid foundation built on perseverance, patience, and determination for whatever path she ends up choosing.

Buying Hay With Confidence

I recently attended a hay auction where a woman walked up to me and asked for advice on buying hay. She confessed she had no idea how to distinguish horse quality hay and needed help choosing which hay to purchase. I did my best to give her a quick summary of what to look for, but I'm afraid she still went home empty handed. Instead of feeling insecure about choosing your hay, know the facts so you can buy hay with confidence . Spring is the perfect time to take inventory of what you already have on hand, plan ahead on what you’ll need, set a budget to buy quality hay, and make some hay contacts before cutting season. I’m going to breakdown what to look for in great hay, and how to choose a good hay supplier.
Good quality horse hay should be leafy, fine-stemmed, free of weeds, and have a bright green color. Look for dust or black spots indicating mold. In some cases, you can even smell mold and feel heat inside the hay. Bales should be heavy and dense. They should also be neatly baled with tight wire or twine strands, unless you want to end up with what my family calls "banana bales." This is an excellent time to use your senses. Touch and feel the hay for good texture. Look at the color of the grass, and check for weeds or sticks. Smell for freshness. It is also important to know what kind of hay, weeds, and insects are native to the area you live. Payne county mainly grows prairie grass hay, alfalfa, and bermuda hay. Alfalfa, being a legume, has the highest protein percentage found in these three hays but must be fed with care, due to the prevalence of blister beetles. Watch out for stickers in hay that has been baled in sandy soil. Wire grass, or tickle grass, is also a concern for horse owners in our area. The awns of this weed can become lodged in the gum line and produce painful open sores. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension has excellent information regarding horse hay in Payne County. Use the research they've already done to your advantage! Want to know exactly how your hay measures up? The Oklahoma Extension office also offers forage testing.
There are several easy ways to find a good hay supplier, but the tricky part is learning how to keep them. Ask your horsey friends who they buy hay from, and they're likely not to tell you. Once you've found a good supplier, you'll do everything you can to keep them. We met our supplier at a hay sale, but you can also look on craigslist, the Shop and Swap, and specific hay websites, such as HayExchange.com. Once you find someone fair and reputable who sells hay that is of good quality and at a price within your budget, make it known to them that you will continue to come back. Always pay on time, be friendly, and treat them with respect. In our case, our hay supplier has turned into much more than just someone we buy hay from. Going on vacation and need someone to let the dogs out? We call our hay guy. Need to borrow a gooseneck trailer last minute? We call our hay guy. Stranded on the side of the highway, in the middle of the night, in a different state? Call our hay guy's DAD. Once your kids start referring to them as "Uncle," that's when you know you've reached a new relationship level with your supplier. John has become a great family friend to us and it all started by buying hay out of his barn just like anyone else. Now, hay is the very least of our relationship with him. That's the sort of relationship horse-owner's should strive for with their hay suppliers.
Bad hay isn't just a waste of money, moldy hay can cause respiratory problems and even colic. Blister beetles can cause your to become very ill, and some grass awns guarantee a trip to the vet. The best test for good hay is the well-being of your horse. Body condition and overall health can show you pretty quickly whether a hay is suitable or not. Don't let hay-buying become a chore you dread. Think ahead and plan early who you'll be buying hay from this year and be confident in the quality of hay you're feeding

Trailer Storage Part 2

As promised, I have cleaned out my trailer! It’s going to be an ongoing work in progress, but it is much improved compared to the way we last saw it in my previous “Trailer Storage” post. My dad helped me transform that old metal panel into a nifty wall-organizer. All he did was bend the ends over so they could be slipped into the groove along the ceiling of the trailer. He also wrapped the bottom wire with Styrofoam to keep it from scratching the wall. Then I zip-tied those metal baskets, which I found in the TRASH, and put small items in them so they’re easy to find. The fans will go up in the barn soon, and so they’ll be out of the way. I also put extra saddles on a retired saddle rack. I haven’t filled my drawers with much yet, but I think that’s where I will store my trailer first-aid kit.

The other main project that I haven’t tackled yet, and haven’t photoed are all my horse blankets. I have a lot, and they take up so much room. As of right now they’re folded and sitting on top of the mattress in the goose-neck part of the trailer. I’m hoping to clean them all really well and find some good, cheap tubs to store them in for the summer months.

All in all I think it looks way better than before. I can walk around in the dressing area, which will be important at my first show, and now if I need something it’s easy to find!

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday, God graced us with an enormous amount of rain and snow. We have had an awful drought the past two years, the worst since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, so we welcomed the moisture with open arms. The snow started melting very quickly because of the rain and the above-freezing temperatures. Here are a few pictures of the farm and my family enjoying the weather, before it turns to a complete mud-pit!

This was taken during morning feeding at our north barn. The dogs LOVED getting out in the snow!

 

 

This cutie patootie is normally in the pasture, but slept in the arena for the night to stay warm and dry. He was so ready to get out! I love the brilliant sunlight after a long, rainy, dreary day.

 

 

My little one enjoying a bite of snow. With very cold hands…

 

 

About to go sledding, Rocking E style!

 

 

My little pumpkin and my big pumpkin:)

 

Thank you, God, for the rain. We’re so grateful. I hope you have a beautiful wintery day!

He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' Job 37:6

 

About Allie

About Allie

Welcome to my blog! My name is Allie and my passion is caring for horses. My days consist of feeding, cleaning, and nurturing my two favorite things: horses and my little girl! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in equine ownership and life as a business-owning mommy!