Archive for November, 2009
Allergies are a common problem these days. I never had an issue with allergies until I became diagnosed with Diabetes. Now, it seems that Spring and Fall bring out the worst in me. Always feeling congested with headaches.
So why do I live and work on our farm? The answer is so simple, because it makes me happy. I am the happiest here with my animals and the outdoors. I lived in the city for 15 years and will not return if I can prevent it. I only suffer from mild to medium cases of allergies, just enough to make me miserable but, my partner suffers from Asthma and allergies and has major issues. But, more so than me, he would not trade this lifestyle for anything, He has lived and worked here all his life and loves it.
There are so many allergies out around the barn and outside in general. Just like us, our animals have allergies also. For their symptoms we give them livestock supplememts similar to our own supplements. It helps them through their suffering and makes it easier for them to deal with the tearing, congestion, sneezing, wheezing and coughing.
Some of the things we face are pollen, mold and dust. When hay season is in full swing, you can pretty much bet we are tearing up and sneezing. Benadryl really helps.
My Jack Russell has major allergies and has to have an injection every year. She just cries continuously otherwise.
So to answer the question that was asked of me, yes, there are allergies on the farm and OUT AROUND THE BARN.
Livestock represents the backbone of most family farms. While there are some farmers who specialize in corn, wheat, soy beans and various other plant life, it’s likely that he or she will keep a few animals around as well. Cows provide a valuable source of milk, and steers are often raised for beef. The winter is a popular time for slaughtering pigs, especially as that traditional meal of Christmas ham approaches.
Perhaps most popular of all livestock, however, is the chicken. These birds take up minimal space on the farm, can live in close quarters together, and provide so many useful services. Nothing beats waking up in the morning and collecting the eggs that have been yielded overnight. Many farmers choose quality livestock supplies that are specially formulated to feed chickens for various purposes. Some protein and grain combinations are meant to produce better eggs, and others aim to plump chickens up to produce quality poultry.
Today, 11/12/09, we mourn the loss of our Belgian, Duke. He was one of the most gentlest, big horses I have ever known. He had a long life of 20 plus years and had competed in many horse pulls. He was what I would consider a “Big Teddy Bear” of horses.
My 2 yr. old niece, Kalissa, rode for the first time on Duke, as well as others over the years. Allen’s daughter used to ride Duke and I have seen him with 5 young riders on him at one time and not even care. He was that gentle. Allen would just place his hand on the side of his jaw and he would go wherever, most of the time Duke would just follow him without any halter or lead rope at all and the kids just sat on his back without fear.
When I first began being around the horses and livestock after an absence of 15 years, I had some fears to face. I do not mind saying that Duke really intimidated me and it took me a couple of months to realize that he would not ever intentionally hurt me. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t need to be cautious but, I could, at least, ease some of my fears. Here we are 8 yrs. later and having conquered some of the major fears, I can now feed every animal on the farm and feel confident. I do not, by no means, throw caution to the wind but, I do keep focused when choring and working with the animals. Having Duke helped me conquer that fear, mostly because of his personality and his size. I learned to work around him and therefore, it helped me with the rest of the livestock. Now I am out there everyday and loving it, for that reason alone, I’ll remember Duke and his gentle way.
In the past year Duke’s age really began to show. He acquired arthritis in his joints and there were days that he struggled to get around but, he continued on. We supplemented his food with joint supplements and vitamins and I believe that one small part of his diet kept him up and going. We knew the day would come yet, had not expected it to come so quickly. A few days ago he got down and didn’t come to the barn. Allen went out and helped him up and brought him to the barn. His appetite had decreased some but not so much that it concerned me until two days ago. I don’t have the insight that Allen has with animals and I believe he knew the worst was coming. Two days ago it came to the point that he did not have enough strength to get up and even with help, he could not accomplish that one task. It was then that it sank in, it would not be long before he just gave up and he did. He just closed his eyes and slept, peacefully without pain.
So, now he is in Animal Heaven and we will miss him but, we will keep him in our hearts.
Anyone who has spent time on a farm can attest to the nuisance that gates can be. On large ranches, you may have to stop to open two or three gates before you even reach the stables. Recent innovations have, in large part, eliminated the need for traditional swing gates and locks.
There are many easy-to-install, versatile drive through gates available today. Unlike conventional gates, these models “pop” open and close quickly behind you, eliminating the need to get out of your vehicle or dismount from your horse. You can even find models that have adjustable lengths, so they can be utilized in a variety of applications.
You would think that a horse would not shy away from water simply because they are outside animals and it seems natural that a horse would go through water just fine. Most of the time that is the case but, there are some horses that have a difficult time.
I had one such horse, she was a Paint mare named Dallas. She was 8 yrs. old and approximately 15 hands high. She was beautiful and I was so happy when I got her that I never dreamed we would have so many problems. She was my dream horse, always wanted a Paint and now I had Dallas.
When I first started working with her we had some issues. I figured it was me because I had been away from horses for a while and I was tense. So I did a lot of ground work. I, then, rode her in the round pen and we got along well. Oh, we had several instances where she seemed to forget everything we worked on and I would have to start over but, I thought I was making progress. The day came when we needed to check cattle so I went into the tack room and got my saddle off the saddle rack and saddled Dallas and Allen saddled Bubby and we went in search of our herd. She seemed okay with everything until we came to the creek. She stopped then and there and would not budge. I finally was able to get her to walk along side the creek but could not get her feet in the water. I did this for about 20 minutes and finally we touched water. That was all it took, she bolted and threw me, then ran for the barn. I was lucky that day being in a wooded area and trees all around. Too close for comfort when I landed within inches of a tree.
I had read several articles, been to demonstrations and watched horsemanship shows on television telling us how to remedy this problem. The advice was:
- keep calm
- walk the horse along the edge of the water
- go back and forth several times
- each time getting closer to the water
- allow the horse to step in a little at a time
- Do Not Rush!!!!!
- if this does not accomplish the task, dismount and walk with the horse
- do the same as mentioned above
- continue this pattern until the horse will venture in and get their feet wet
- you don’t have to be in deep water to accomplish the task at hand
- after getting feet wet, walk out and do it again
- repeat several times before mounting
- once mounted, repeat the steps again before continuing your ride
This should help your horse the next time. You may need to work on this several different times before your horse is comfortable crossing water. Even though it may seem natural, horses have fears just like us and they have to be addressed accordingly.
I did not have the chance to try to get Dallas to cross water again. She was at the barn when I returned and would not even allow me on her. My partner tried to ride her and calm her down but, she did her best to try to dismount him, she did not get her way there. I decided after she had thrown me several more times that she was not the right horse for me, so I decided to find me something with a calm disposition and broke to ride.
You cannot always tell by looking or even riding if a horse will shy away from something or has a fear of something until you are faced with it together. Always be cautious when riding a new horse, you both will learn a great deal from each other.