Monday, April 23, 2007

Tiny-Scale Hay Making

A few days ago, we made hay!!! And, it was not hard at all. I have been curious about how medieval peasants, for example, used to make hay without the equipment big ag relies on today. Reading stories about modern peasants in Ukraine and other places, where people don't have much room but use every square foot of garden they have and harvest grass from roadsides for their cows, etc., and how they managed to produce over 80% of their country's total food supply, in their spare time, after their day jobs, just fascinates me.

So, I did some research, and found cool articles like this one, and discovered that at it's most basic, the principles of hay-making are, well, basic!

1. Cut grass at the right stage of growth.

2. Leave it out to dry (which means rain is not good!) for a couple days, until it reaches the right stage of dry vs. moisture. Don't dry it to a crisp, of course.

3. Halfway through the drying, fluff it up and turn it over. This is called "tedding." Think of it as turning a pancake over so the heat spreads evenly through it.

4. When the hay is dry, store it in a covered, dry space until you need it.

Of course, these are very basic tips, and people can and do write huge books about haymaking techniques, but don't get overwhelmed! I think experimenting is fun, and nothing has to be "perfect" when you're learning. :-D

So, we cut a bagful of green grass, and spread it out to dry for a few days. A day and a half after we cut it, we "tedded" it. (I keep thinking of a teddy bear's fur, for some reason!) About a day after that, I compared it with the baled grass hay I have, and sure enough it looked, felt, and smelled "done." It is not great hay, but it's not bad either!

Here is a picture of our Tiny Hay Bundle:

I think it is really fun to experiment with things like this, even though Mira's teeth do not really allow her to eat much hay. If I had a younger horse I could conceivably have made a lot more hay than I did, and that would allow me to supplement its diet considerably with this lower quality hay, giving it more roughage and less sugar, and saving money - as well as not being nearly so vulnerable to the current feed shortages/price increases/droughts that keep happening. Plus, we all want to help the planet!

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration if you have ever wondered if it was possible to grow some of your own animal feed without buying expensive machinery and doing hours of hard labor!

And, please tell me about experiments you have done along these lines!


More on Tiny-Scale Sustainability: Management-intensive Grazing, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New video with unreleased song!

This is cool - my favorite musician, Todd Agnew, is coming out with a new CD called "Better Questions" this July, and here is a preview video with one of the songs! The video includes clips of the photo shoot for the new CD.

(It's amazing, isn't it - a NON horsey topic today! ;-D Er, except I just realized that's not quite true... dogs and fishes and donkeys aren't exactly horse-related though, right?!? Anyway, just go watch it!)


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just a Quick One

Hi there,
I haven't forgotten to post, really I haven't! Just been waayyy too busy this week - Hopefully I'll have time to get caught up tomorrow!

Mira has been VERY happy to start going on rides again! It was cute to see how excited she was to get out and just GO someplace finally. I have not ridden her yet, just my siblings, but I plan to in a few days. Yes!

Oh, and WE MADE HAY!!! Yup, we learned how to make hay. Less than 1 paper bag full, but it looks, smells, and feels like good quality hay! I plan on doing an article soon about Tiny-Scale Hay Making and our experiments so far, so stay tuned. :-D


Monday, April 9, 2007

Am I Crazy???

Or am I crazy?!? Seriously, my head is spinning here! I definitely had a weird-but-great day today. The vet came this afternoon, right on time. :-) I told him the whole story of "Mira and the Scary Pasture" and how she was stiff afterward but seemed to recover well - except that her fetlocks kept looking weak, and sagging when she moved. Then brought him up to date about finding that swelling on Thursday, and how she was really favoring that leg for a couple days, although the icing helped and she is a lot better already...

So then the vet examined Mira and had her walk up and down the hill, and then trot up the hill. He said the swelling in her leg was just the periosteum, no tendon or ligament issues, (Is an inflamed periosteum the same thing as getting a splint?) and that I should definitely put her back in light work, i.e. 1-2 hours walk/trot per day!!!!!!


"Okay, so just ignore me, I'm the goofy, always-worried first time owner..." (Rolls eyes at herself) I know I was not imagining the fetlock issue, but the funny thing is after he said that, I watched her moving for awhile, and sure enough, her fetlocks do seem a LOT stronger. Like, almost back to normal!! I guess I've been so worried about the swelling that I haven't been watching her fetlocks the last few days, but they do seem much better...

See why I feel like my head is swirling?

Mainly, I am just SOO glad that I'll be able to ride her again! I'm going to start by letting my little brother ride her for a few days, just to make sure she can handle weight again, but, while she may have a weakness in her fetlocks, and I do plan to keep an eye on that, she just might be up for a lot more riding before she has to retire!
Yippee yay! :-D Thank you God! Now, if I can just learn how not to be such a worrywart, I'll be all set. Tee hee, that'll be the day.

Well, come back soon, more articles comin' down the pipeline!


Sunday, April 8, 2007


Happy Resurrection Day!!!

I pray that this day has caused you, like me, to stop and take another look at Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection, and what it means to you. In a word, "Everything."

I was really struggling with some issues the last few days, and I have been thinking so much about why would God love me? I mean, really, it is just so incredibly hard to fathom, yet I know that He does love me, even when I'm being rebellious...

There were 2 people baptized at my church today. What a perfect day to be baptized!!! It was beautiful.

Just thinking out loud here, so this is short and sweet. Any thoughts of your own on what this Easter has been like for you, or what it does (or does not) mean to you? (Honest skeptics always welcome here!) :-D


P.S. More photos of Mira tomorrow!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Good Friday Meditation

"Today we look back on Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Oh how quickly things changed. How quickly the crowds turned on Him. The very one who had healed their hearts and lives with His touch of love. The one who gave them hope. The one who gave them their very life. Their abundant life. They spat at Him, pulled His beard, jeered, poked, humiliated and rejected Him. They killed Him. This beautiful man who did nothing but give. They took from Him. They took His very life.

If the value of something is determined by what you would pay for it - then the value of your life is Christ.

Ponder that and fall on your face in worship and thankfulness. Our God reigns! And the day is coming where every knee will bow, every tongue confess, every heart know that Jesus Christ is Lord! Lord of all! And He lives! My God, you are wonderful!"

Taken from the Todd Agnew music boards. Click here for the full link - it is a good thread, there is a lot more there...


How is Mira Doing?

Well, unfortunately, I do think the Spoiled One strained her suspensory ligaments in both hind legs. That was exactly what I was afraid of, and I have been really up and down with my emotions lately. But the reason I have not excercised her at all, is that whenever she moves, her rear fetlocks kind of sag with each step. Nothing dramatic, but she also did develop a small swelling on the right rear cannon bone 2 days ago. We'll see what the vet says.

She probably would have needed to be retired in a few more months anyway, (and I've been expecting it, which is the main reason why I'm always so hypervigilant about her movement) but it's upsetting to have it happen now and in this way!

It is funny though, because she always loves to show off for the other horses and literally "strut her stuff" for them, even more when she is under saddle and going past strange horses. It's like she doesn't want to think of herself as being "old" yet! So, I hope to get her pasture sound and then be able to take her on handwalks down the road and stuff. She just really likes exploring and seeing what's around the bend!

Other than that, she will enjoy simply being a pasture ornament now. :-D The plan has been to get another horse in about 4 months - my schedule and job, etc. probably won't allow for another horse before that. I could start asking my friends for rides again, but most of the people who have enough time to let me come over live too far away for me to go there often. So who knows when I can ride again. Mostly, I'm sad that she got injured and had to be retired already, and even more sad that I was responsible for the "incident."

On the other hand, this has been an absolutely fantastic experience with her so far (worrying aside!). Keeping an older horse healthy, and ideally rideable, is a huge challenge, but I have learned so MUCH during these last 8+ months! I hope she stays around a long time more, so I can keep learning and so she can teach the younger horse I plan to get. The alternative is too frightening, so please God make her recover quick!

Also, muchas gracias to everyone who has commented lately! :-) Sorry if I sound depressed, but I can't help it - I am depressed. My family and best friends are all being very sweet and encouraging, but I just can't help worrying. I will be posting some more cheerful links and stuff soon, though...