Saturday, October 14, 2017

Return to the Motherland

Back in 1998, I packed up my things and moved to Tennessee to work on a horse ranch. Stayed there a little over a year before packing up again to move to the NC coast, where I established my adult life, got married and raised my daughter. It was also my first experience boarding my horse at a barn that wasn't mine. The farm I picked was extremely convenient to my house, barely over a mile away and easily walked. However I wasn't a very good fit at this barn. It was a show barn focused on hunters with some dressage thrown in. I made the best of an awkward situation, trying to make friends and get someone to ride the few trails we had, but never had any real success becoming "one of the girls". I started daydreaming about the farm I grew up on and my eventual return. 

I knew I couldn't just pack up and leave. I mean, I could have, but my daughter's priorities came first and I wasn't willing to uproot her from everything she loved just to satisfy my horsey desires. Razz moved to a barn where I did make many friends, and I think he was happier there too. The return to the Motherland was still nagging at me though, so hubby and I started to make plans for a move when the right time came. 

This past summer, kiddo graduated high school & headed to college. She's attending a school in the mountains almost to the Georgia border, the extreme other end of the state from where we lived. I had nothing keeping me at the beach any longer, it was time to move!

So here I am back home, after all the years of first thinking about it, then talking to others & planning. This has finally happened and it's a bit surreal. 

home at last


It's also been a lot of work. First of all, I'm up here without my husband. He stayed behind to sell the house and keep a good paying job while I came up to get everything ready and learn to live on wages half of what I'd been making. The farm is located in the northwestern corner of the state at the foot of the first row of Appalachian mountains. It's also the fifth poorest county in NC with a median household income of less than $40,000. That figure is for a double income family. Ouch.

The house and barn were both built by my grandfather back in 1938. He was a master carpenter and everything was built super solid. The house has been rented out since Grandpa passed in 1991. The bachelor that lived there the past five years was not a good housekeeper and I have been dusting, scrubbing and sanitizing every day for two weeks straight. The farm consists of 100 acres total, most of which is leased out to a beef cattle farmer. Other than maintaining the fence line, he hasn't managed the land well at all. The whole farm needs bush hogged something terrible. The barn hasn't been used for livestock in decades and has required a total remodel. It hurts my heart to see this place so run down, my folks always kept it immaculate. 

But I have been chugging right along, going to my day job, then coming home to work on the barn for a couple hours a day til we loose daylight, then going inside the house and cleaning. My body is tired. My mind is tired. It won't get done unless I do it, so I keep on with the end goal in mind. Dad has been great throughout the whole thing. Working in the barn during the day while I'm at my day job. He's 72 and out there busting his ass like he's 40. I worry about him hurting himself or something worse, out there alone all day.

After two weeks of intense labor it's starting to look like a home again. The house needs the trim painted and a new bathtub but is otherwise done. I also have Razz's pasture up and the barn is ready for him. We still have a lot to do in the barn but for now it's horse safe and ready enough.

So how about some progress pics?

move in day

block garage was added on in the 1960s,
along with indoor plumbing

I finally have the front porch
I've always wanted! just need
nicer furniture

view I get to enjoy from front
porch, complete with cold beer

driveway, the main road is along
treeline in distance. pasture on right
will get fenced off for my horses for
riding and grazing once it's cleaned up

the barn. brush & weeds still need
cleared away out front

directly to the right of barn,
new fence I installed separating
horses & cows

barn is a bank barn & crib barn,
I'm learning all about old school
Appalachian building styles 

upper pasture, walnut trees need to
come down so I can sew some grass.
I'm a little sad about cutting trees

barn aisle, had to bring in dirt to
level out. discount building materials
came pre-decorated with phallus.
the nuts were cut off so anyone who
sees it now thinks it's an arrow hehe.
tack room will be in the back where
boards are temporarily nailed up

inside Razz's stall. buckets have since
been hung, and the original stall door
was trimmed to fit & hung in the window
on the block wall to keep weather out.

It's nowhere near done, but ready for Razz to move in on the 29th. Originally he was moving in this weekend, but the end of the month will work out much better with my schedule. I can't wait to get him here and ride around the property. Even though the cows are here I can still ride it all, and you better believe I'm gonna!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Autonomy

Things have been very different 'round these parts for the last month. Adjusting to a two person household hasn't been as bad as I previously thought. I can take my time in the mornings to sip coffee and watch news/read blogs for a little while longer than I was able to before. I don't have to get tied up in any school traffic or extra curricular schedules. I don't have to plan my day around someone else. We get take out more often. I do miss my daughter terribly, but she's having a wonderful time, and life feels new and refreshing in so many ways.

I have one week left at my job of 16 years. It's been stagnant for a few years now, as I have reached the top of the ladder there. A new job is already lined up with the move. I found a fun part time position with a small but growing graphics company back home. Three days a week there will ensure a certain amount of income and allow time for me to focus on my own small business venture.

And speaking of the move, that's probably the most exciting thing we have going on. My little herd is packing up and moving to the mountains! I know I've mentioned it a lot on here, but it's finally happening!! We are moving onto my grandfather's farm. It's been in my family for over 150 years. It's where I grew up and learned to ride. And I'm sure it will inspire a large handful of future blog posts across a variety of topics. I can not wait to get the place set up my way and look out the window at my horse farm. But until then...

Packing up the current house has been bittersweet. I'm sooo ready to go, but there have been so many memories made in this house that it's impossible to move without feeling like I'm leaving a part of me behind. Hubs and i have joked about taking the house with us. Wouldn't that be nice. 

In other, horse related news (because that's what you're here for anyway), I am now the owner of a 2015 Triple C 2 horse trailer. It's small and simple but I've never had anything this nice and I am in love. We brought it to the farm straight from the dealership to get Razz's opinion on things. He took about 35 minutes to make his mind up that the trailer was indeed awesome and that he would travel in it without protest. Well, other than his pawing. During his maiden voyage we went on a roughly ten mile around the neighborhood trip and the panelling looked like this when we got back:


There were zero marks on the panelling when we left :/ Razz will be on the trailer for more than 300 miles (over 5 hours) when I move him in a couple weeks, so obviously something was gonna have to be done about this. Initially I looked around town for 1/4 inch rubber matting sold by the foot. No one in town carries the stuff, not even tractor supply. I didn't want to drive over an hour just for the matting so husband came up with the bright idea of using some of the extra carpet we had in the garage. We put new carpet in two rooms a few months back, part of the upgrades made to maximize home value, and I scoffed at the idea of putting it in the trailer at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought "why not"? It was only gonna be temporary, I could replace it after my first real outing (that was fast approaching in a couple days) and it was only in the front so pooping on it wasn't going to be a problem. We put it up, I made sure the screws were smooth and flush, and the trailer now looked like this:


Just as planned, my real outing came a couple days later. Saturday morning (last Saturday) I got up bright and early, loaded the boy and his cheeky pal, and travelled about an hour and twenty minutes to a campground designed specifically for horses. Barn mate and I set out to explore their huge network of trails. Turning onto the driveway from the main road all you see is a muddy, low lying livestock pen that was kinda gross, and barn mate & I looked at one another in a questioning manner. We'd never been here before and that lot was very off putting. It was all smooth mud, no hoof prints of any kind, I figured that counted for something, and once we passed the lot, we drove through a stand of mixed hardwood/conifer tree growth and into a clean, green, manicured campground with full facilities, nice arena, fishing pond, swimming pond, and well maintained trails. Razz and company came off the trailer happy and not sweaty. We rode for a little over an hour with no idea of where we were going. The trails were all marked with signs and individual names. We just meandered along. "Let's turn here", "Just stay straight", "wonder where this one goes?", "I think I see some water, go this way". We did see water, it was a small man made pond and it looks like they dug it just for pony swimming. We waded in, Razz only went so far because he hates ponds (why horse?) and we took a more narrow, winding trail away from the pond. This trail was in another stand of hardwoods and I enjoyed the ride through trees we don't really have in the Croatan. Once we came back out to the parking area, we loosened girths and had some lunch and water, I made the boys some alfalfa tea to entice them to drink. 

rig lookin' good

almost ready to head out

We had a very pleasant little break. One in which I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed looking at my horse tied to my rig. It made me wish I'd had this trailer much sooner. 

I do have another trailer, had it for a long time, but Razz hates it and it got to be such a hassle to get him on, I just said fuck it. Last time we took it out was for delivering a screen printing press I sold. 


Anywho, barn mate & I finished our lunches and prepared to head back out on the trails. I had just put my bridle back on when barn mate walked around the trailer holding up her bridle to show me her bit was broken. It's a western version of a french link style, and was broken on the center link. It was carelessness that led to the broken bit, and neither of us had an extra, so that was that. Bummed because it didn't have to happen, i rode over to the arena and had a 20 minute lite schooling sesh with Razz that I came away from grinning ear to ear. He felt so loose and willing after being on the trails. I'm sure the newness of the ring played a part. After 20 minutes i called it good, took my time untacking and grooming. We loaded up and came back home safely. No sweaty ponies, no injuries. The trailer hauls great, Razz likes it, couldn't ask for more.


so happy to be back home with bestie.
gonna break my heart to separate 'em for good

The autonomy is great, being able to pick up and go whenev. I was supposed to be on another fun trip today, but an outer band of hurricane Jose ruined those plans. I'll take it, no complaints, compared to the weather some have had to deal with. As far as the carpet is concerned, it held up perfectly. As in you can't even tell I hauled a pawing horse. He only paws when we stop or almost stop, and his barefoot hoof just glides over the fibers. The screws are all still smooth and flush, so I'm leaving the carpet til we get moved. Hubby's crazy idea worked great!






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WW: Goldilocks

Meet the newest member of the family! I call her the Goldilocks trailer, because she is just right!! She joined the family yesterday and I can't wait to throw Razz in there and burn the roads up :)











Saturday, August 5, 2017

An End To Limbo

I'm not exactly sure when the nagging feeling began. It's been at least a few months. Big life changes were coming, and I prefer routine. Predictable. Comfort zone. I'm not opposed to change per se, as long as I know that the changes will be positive and the transitions smooth. It's human nature to feel this way I'm sure, these feeling are only amplified by the fact that I'm a mom. I had my daughter young at 20, and the overwhelming urge to provide, protect, guide, expose, assist, teach, love, etc. has been engrained into my very being. 


just kickin' it, wishing the new paint
mare would come over and say hi


But the world never stops spinning. Somehow 18 years have come and gone, and my duties as a mom are changing. It's time to let go so she can find her own path. I've done my best to pass along my values and a few street smarts. Letting go is sad and not having her around will be huge. I will always be a mom,  But that's not what I'm uneasy about...


loving that fan



Every two weeks I get a paycheck. I can just about tell you how much it will be before I get it. Knowing you have $x coming every other Friday is nice. It's comfortable. Just the way I like it. However, I want to work for myself. I'm planning on making a real business out of my side hustle. My booth is always well received everywhere I go, and I really believe I can make it work. That doesn't take the fear of uncertainty away, but no risk, no reward.

Additionally, we're putting our house on the market and I'm gonna try and sell it myself. We bought our house back in 2003. When I moved to the beach I always knew one day we'd be returning home to the mountains, and this house has always been viewed through the "long-term temporary" lens. 

All these things have been looming on the distant horizon, leaving me feeling as if I'm in some sort of limbo. My comfortable normal soon to be over, yet not quite the time to begin transitioning. I wanted my daughter to enjoy a stress free summer in her childhood home.


razz's good pal, he has perfected the beg


This morning the contents of her room are all organized, boxed, stacked and labelled, ready to go. The empty shells of her remaining furniture already obvious. Later today we will load everything in the car and she will leave this driveway one last time. 

With her move comes the end of my limbo, the first tipped domino that gets the rest started. I'm ready to turn the page and start a new chapter. I can now focus on my own goals in a way I never have before in my adult life. Horses are a big part of those goals. Maybe I can make a real horse blog out of this page in the process!! Stay tuned :)



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Supplements

This unofficial blog hop showed up at a relative time for me and Razz, so thank you to whoever got it started. We are in the process of switching supplements in an effort to be more effective. 

Razz is an 18 year old, 16.1 tb/appy cross. He's an overall healthy guy, and doesn't show any soundness issues at present (please, to the powers that be, don't let me jinx myself by saying that), however at this stage in his life daily support certainly can't hurt. I've been feeding the Tractor Supply Dumor joint suppliment for a little over a year. This was simply out of convenience. Where I live, Tractor is the only place to shop for horse supplies. The next best shopping experience is about an hour and a half inland. Ingredients and dosages run the gamut across brands. I chose the Dumor after comparing ingredients, weights, and prices on the different options. It was also nice to not have the commitment to a Smart Pak subscription since this is all I wanted at the time and a simple joint combo wasn't enough $ to ship for free.


pc: Tractor Supply

I focused on three main ingredients-glucosamine, chondroitin, and msm. A scoop of Dumor contains 5,000 mg glucosamine, 250 mg chondroitin, and 1,000 mg msm. It comes in a 2.8 lb tub for $30 and an 8 lb tub for $70. I've purchased both sizes, but mostly the smaller one. It works out to .66 a day not counting the initial loading dose. Not bad...

But when all the heat and humidity set in and actual barn time cut back, I started spending my time doing more horse focused reading and research. Turns out the recommended dosage for 1,100 lb horse (depending on work load) is as follows:

Glucosamine  6,000-10,000mg/day

Chondroitin    1,250-5,000mg/day

MSM              up to 20,000mg/day

Again the Dumor provides 5,000, 250, and 1,000 respectively. Razz was being cut short, even for a horse in light work. It shouldn't reflect on TSC in a negative way. I'm happy with the products I buy there. And in general I believe supplement combos of all types come up a little short if you only feed the standard dose. I wasn't satisfied with a little short, ya know? Thus began a point and click extravaganza across all sites that offer supplements. I wanted highest efficacy for the best price. After a couple hours I came to the conclusion that there was nothing that met both my price point and desired recipe. But I could buy the individual ingredients myself and make my own, and that's what I've done.

Animeds is a company I'm sure most of you are familiar with. I picked up the Glucosamine 5000 powder for $22 and the MSM powder for just under $7 from Amazon Prime. 

pc: Amazon

pc: Amazon

The packaging I received had updated labels on them with metallic ink and actual horse images.

While on Amazon I also found UltraCruz Chondroitin pwoder for only $9. Razz was well on his way to having a custom mixed joint combo.

pc: Amazon

Between the different size packaging and varied doses, I now have to stay on top of things and know where I'm at with each one, versus a mindless single scoop a day. Who cares?! It's about what's best for pony, not convenience, so that argument is pretty much a non starter. 

My new, personalized dosage for Razz consists of 2 1/2 scoops glucosamine, or 6,250 mg/day. One heaping scoop chondroitin, or 2,000 mg/day. And one scoop MSM, or 14,000 mg/day. For a quick comparison chart:


                          old          new

Glucosamine      5,000       6,250

Chondroitin          250        2,000           mg/day

MSM                  1,000     14,000


It feels great having my boy on a suggested, customized dosage. The MSM and chondro was upped dramatically (IMO) and I consulted with my vet about it. I explained what I was doing and why, and where I ended up. Her only question for me was who is making the things I chose. She said Animed and UltraCruz were both legit sources, and that I shouldn't worry about the increase in dosages. She also told me that the only joint supplement on the market with proven, studied results was Cosaquin ASU. I ask her if this was due to the parent company (Nutramax) having more money than others to fund a thorough study, but it is the combined effect with avocado soy extract that pushed the rest of the ingredients into the "proven" corner. Their recipe is their own, no replicating that. But my recipe was still good in my vet's opinion, and she's anxious to hear how it works out for me when I see her next.

In addition to the joint stuff, Razz gets an electrolyte during these hellacious months. If the horse is sweating just standing around in the pasture, then he needs a scoop of Apple-A-Day on top of his feed. I pick this up at TSC for $13. Easy peasy, and it smells like cotton candy!!

pc: Tractor Supply

During my spring shots and check up I was discussing how hard it is to maintain a top line on Razz and the vet recommended Omega Horseshine. I get this at TSC also, $47 for 20 lb bag. This is an all around supplement for skin, coat, and hoof with additional benefits of increased conditioning, joint support, psyllium replacement, the list honestly seems too good to be true. But both vets at my practice sing it's praises and I've seen several other bloggers using this as well, so there must be something to it after all. Recommended serving is 1/2 cup up to one full cup daily for average sized horse. I'm feeding 3/4 cup a day. 

pc: Tractor Supply
Every one of these supplements is a powder. The chondroitin is especially fine, it's basically dust. I don't expect my barn owners and their staff to scoop each one of these, and frankly I need to be in charge of the doses because half scoops and heaping scoops are subjective. The cheap resealable plasticware found at any discount store works great. I'm guessing mine are one cup in volume because the 3/4 cup horseshine followed by all the rest almost fills them up. 




And the stats on where I ended up? Initially I was spending .66/day on sub par support that probably helped a little but not all that much. In April I began Omega Horseshine at .78/day bringing me to $1.44 total per day. Mid May I started electrolytes at .16/day bringing me to $1.60 total per day. 

The new recipe breaks down to: glucosamine .78/day, chondroitin .10/day, and MSM .22/day for a combined total of $1.10 per day. That's a productive buck and ten vs. a meh .66 on the old regimen.

That's also a lot of mg. noted and a bunch of math I wouldn't have done if not prompted to do so by this post. Kudos to you if you've hung in there with me this far. I'm spending $2.04 a day on supplements for my faithful sidekick. If it keeps him happy, I'm more than happy to spend it on him. Tailoring individual levels of each ingredient with the help of my vet also makes me feel like a more educated and proactive horse owner than the mindless scoop. 

If my combo seems to be working out after the first month, then I will invest in the 5 lb bucket of glucosamine rather than the 2.5 lb, which will save me a few bucks and put me back on track to spending closer to previous totals. And that's when you know you've won, by spending the same amount and getting more. I will probably keep Razz on the electrolyte year round from here on out. I plan to ride a lot more going into fall and winter, so he should be sweating more and the electrolytes cost beans anyway. And of course cotton candy hehe!!