Well yesterday the blizzard hit us here and went through much of today. I really don't know how much snow as the 40 MPH winds drifted the snow to several feet in some places and the ground almost bare in others but we figure around 14inch .
I brought the horses in yesterday before it started , they love going in their cozy bed rooms as we call them as our stalls are very large. This time it was different in that they were frantic, almost in a panic to go in and the storm had not even started yet. They knew it was going to be a big one and they wanted no part of the great outdoors when it did hit.
I heard Dave today when he came to the barn chatting with the horses and telling them how lucky they have it and I know that came from some of the poor things we both see in our travels and when hearing him say this I thought about all the horses that had to struggle through this kind of weather.
For us here this is when we really kick it in and make sure everyone has everything possible they need, being are full in their tummies, dry indoors, music to drowned out the sound of the wind beating at the walls and content in that they are safe.
It's the most fulfilling feeling in the world to me when the weather is the toughest and they need us the most we can do everything in world to make sure it's not a burden or stress for them.
Another nice surprise for the day was a big Beautiful long haired white cat with pink eyes came into the barn from the storm. Looked healthy and although would not let me touch , it would meow back at me every time I talked to it . The horses all seemed very comfortable with it being there knowing it must need shelter. It was nice to have the guest and we put out some treats , I hope it hangs out for awhile as I love cats but don't have any because of the coyote problem in that they become dinner.
It's also that time again folks need to winterize but also do safety checks also as we have already in the state had several tragic barns burnings with live stock lost and in most cases these don't need to happen if folks just do regular inspections of their facilities.
Every year we hear of fires started by heat tape or poor wiring and it's not the wiring or heat tape that's the problem in the existence of it, it's the human error in not being responsible in using heat tape properly and checking it's still in proper working order on a regular basis.
Also once a year turn off your power at the breakers and remove outlet and switch covers and blow the dust that builds up. When one can, replace any electric receptacles with GFI's, this is an important safety feature and especially with heat tape and tank heaters or heated water buckets.
Check your wiring for rodents damage or wiring coating for rubs which eventually can expose bare wire. If one can replace wiring such a Romax with wiring run through conduit, which we did in rewiring all the buildings here , this prevents that kind or damage. Yes it's a lot of work to do and pulling wire hanging off scaffolding and ladders is not my favorite job but doing it with friends and having a good electrician friend such as our friend Viv, the job can be fun and she kept me from electrocuting myself.
Save some money and energy use with insulated water tank boxes. We do not use automatic waters here as I am a firm believer in monitoring each horses water intake daily. Dave has built some very nice insulated boxes this year with doors in which the tanks can be removed and sanitized to keep them drinking good clean water, which they are more inclined to drink more than dirty skunky water I have seen in my travels at other facilities. Dave figured the cost of the materials to build these boxes will be recovered in 3 month in energy cost savings as tank heaters take a lot of energy to run.
When using my tank heaters I also run the cords through 2 inch PCV pipe so the horses cant get to any wire and attach the PCV to the fencing posts so the horses cant play with that either. Seems like anything that moves horses see as toys. Always plug tank heaters into a GFI receptacles, as they can go bad in time and short out, no one wants to electrocute their horse!
If I need to create a bend in the PCV I use a simple propane torch and heat it up slowly and bend softly so I don't collapse the pipe and create a crimp in the PCV pipe.
Keep them drinking to in this weather just as in hot. In collage which seems a million years ago now, we were taught that a horse can not get it's daily salt requirement from a block, I'm not saying to not keep salt blocks available but loose salt should also be offered daily. The average horse requires 2oz per day and I feed this individually after their morning feeding.
Also often in cold weather some lighting such as florescent don't work. Save money and have lights that always work in the coldest of weather and bright like day light, we put these in Dave's shop also as he can now do his saddle carving without using supplemental light for that job any more. We purchased energy efficient lights by http://www.equinelighing.com/ . It's been 4 years using them now and not had to replace a bulb yet and they are very reasonable in cost, durable , with good strong covers and easy to assemble.
I love ranch work, growing up on them and creating several of my own over the years now. I build my own stalls, round pens, arenas, fencing etc. You would not want me to build you a house as it may not be pretty but it would hold a horse, no problem! It's where I'm at home and a hard days work keeps me fit and happy. After 4 years working and creating this ranch Dave and I feel we are finally getting it to where we envisioned it. This winters project for me is building obstacles and designing an obstacle course for the field around the outdoor arena for our workshops.
Growing up in the horse community here in MN we never stopped in the winter, we even had indoor shows at the 242 arena and Rabines, played broom ball in the snow. People did not have their own indoor arenas back then yet the trainers still trained outside year round and I did to and now even with their own indoors to use it seems most go into a kind of hibernation, times have changed I guess.
Happy winter everyone, it can be a lot of fun even on the seemingly worst of weather days.