Sunday, July 25, 2010

Horsekeeping questions part 1

So the Probable House is on a slight hill and it's completely sand. Deep sand. Dixie has great tendons, but I worry that 24/7 deep sand would be stressful for her - and what about future horses?

I had a great time talking to Kurt Lander, the Renegade founder. He is a fellow Hoof Nerd to a huge degree and he was perfectly happy to talk with me forever at Robie Park. He suggested the ideal desert footing would be a layer of big gravel, a layer of smaller gravel, and a couple inches of pea gravel or sand on top. Does that sound good to yall?

(Remember: it'll take ten years of compost to even think about grass. It's just going to be a huge dry lot.)

Has anybody run hotwire in arid conditions before? Do I need to do that two-wire system? I think the ground's just too dry to properly ground one-wire hotwire.

What's your ideal horse feeding area? Dixie eats just a handful of pellets and mostly hay - I want it on or near the ground, and it'd be nice to be able to drop a couple of flakes a distance apart, rather than just a whole pile of hay in one spot.

Do any of yall compost your poop? What's the laziest possible way to compost a lot of manure? I really don't want to have to turn my piles once a week. That's fine for kitchen scraps quantities, but... horses are BIG.

Tevis post next, I promise!


  1. Questions, questions, questions!

    I would think if you start adding either "regular" small gravel, or pea gravel to the sand, it would start giving it some a more solid texture. I'm slowing bringing in more and more gravel, both for the sake of mud control, and for natural hoof wear.

    Yes, probably a two-wire system is your best bet.

    I built hay slow-feeders this last winter (find "A cure for busy beavers" in Feb. on the blog) and I really like the concept. The only thing I don't like about mine is the fact that, tho their heads are low (more natural) they have to twist to the side to pull out the hay. I'm thinking of trying the small mesh hay net idea in my one paddock that doesn't have a feeder. You can either hang them, or make "throw pillows" and set them on the ground.

    I have developed a pretty good composting system--makes beautiful dark "soil"-- but with six head (or more) I definitely have to use the tractor to turn it weekly. I just do my big weekend muck (I pick during the week) in to the tractor bucket and take it out to the pile and incorporate it in the turning process. (You would probably have to add water regularly, too, in your arid climate.) I have taken it by the tractor-bucket full to create planting areas, but most of it I spread on the pastures in the fall, with a little 50 bushel New Holland spreader. It's pretty equipment dependent.

    Interested in hearing your Tevis experience (non-riding tho it was).

  2. I originally started with seven horses. I now have four, however the muck pile doesnt get any smaller!

    So here`s how I manage it! I dont turn it, I dont even try to do anything with it, except put it on the field for my veggies!
    I Start the heap as a long level layer, the add another,and another and so on. By the time its suitable for use, on the field, the layers have composted nicely.

  3. I recently put hockey nets in my two hay feeders rather than the grid wire I had before. The mesh is smaller and I'm really pleased with it. If I were to do it all over again I would simply put some eye bolts into some posts and go with fine mesh hay nets on a carabiners about 18" off the ground...cheaper and just as good as long as the horses aren't shod. Rubber mats under to keep them from eating too much dirt.

    Are you going to get a tractor?

  4. YEA!!! You may have found a place?!

    ...IF I had my own place...I would do what DP does for feeding with the rubber matting under where you as not to sand colic the horses..and maybe try the "sand clear" feed through stuff,every so often anywho.
    The rock laying sounds like and arena already have the sand... I like the pea gravel idea.

    Tracker! I would turn it and water it...make some nice garden mulch and eventually...field beginnings!

  5. Keeping in mind that I live in a Swamp rather than a Desert:

    dp is right: rubber mats under the feeding area...make several feeding areas, perhaps? Invest in psyllium. Trust a canadian to use hockey nets. >g<

    When I worked at a boarding barn (13 horses), the manure pile was my garden. I labelled it in three sections: "this year", "last year", and "garden". It rotated--no stirring, no shoveling. I grew potatoes, peas, beans, and GIGANTIC pumpkins, and never had to water, weed, or fertilize--the vegetables outgrew the weeds. The birds and bugs got some, but there was plenty for everyone.

  6. i would wager (can i say "i reckon"?) i have the most labor intensive manure system of anyone on earth. here's why: no tractor, only a shovel and my two arms.

    we had to make our manure box watertight, cuz we live in a water conservation district. so i dump the manure in under the top layer tarp, cover it again tightly, and in a couple months the box is full. then i take it out by the shovelfull into a wheelbarrow and roll it out somewhere to spread it. by then it is composted.

    everytime i do this i think, "am i the only person who spreads manure with a garden shovel?"


  7. DP, link me the pics of your hay feeders when you have time? I kind of remember them. I do feed a 20% alfalfa mix and Dixie loves the leaves, so I'll want some kind of tray or mat to catch the leaves for her.

    She gets psyllium once a week, but I will switch to one week a month when I move her. I'd love a tractor, or at least a gator, but there's too much other stuff to fix first. I will join Lytha's shovel brigade at first.

    I've seen some clever manure boxes made from pallets. If I can find enough, I will make two or three. The compost will go to a raised-bed garden and decorative plants first. This place has one tree, and that's the extent of the landscaping!

    Right now I'm thinking of getting just a corner of the paddock done with rock. Maybe 100 sq yards, get it scraped and filled with crusher rock then pea gravel.

    If work is slow I will get part of the Tevis story up today. Horse willing, who wants to come crew for me in, say, 2013?

  8. If you're starting from scratch, maybe you could create your first compost piles IN your future raised garden boxes? Then at least you wouldn't have to transfer it to another spot (ala Lytha). The intensive turning does speed the process up, but as Aarenex pointed out, you wouldn't necessarily need to do anything--just wait a little longer (with regular turning, my pile from just this last winter is ready to spread right now, tho I won't 'til fall).

  9. Here the consevation district tells us to use those PVC pipes that have holes in them in our manure pile. That way needed air gets into the pile without turning. The only problem with that is you have to think about how you're placing those pipes as your pile builds because you sure can't add them in later. If you put them crosswise you have to be sure the ends are not blocked off or the air won't be able to get into the pile.


Feel free to comment!