Sunny Aldrinos

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since Jul 13, 2016
Central VA
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Recent posts by Sunny Aldrinos

http://yummybeet.com/roasted-garlic-parsnip-white-bean-soup/

this is one of my favorite parsnip soup recipes. I'll also make a mash with 50/50 parsnips and potatoes.
2 years ago
Just saw that you're in Vermont. Year round grass is almost out of the question in that climate, especially if you're having to clear to establish pasture. Horse quality round bales are also much less commonly produced and fed in New England. Maybe you'll find a source near you, but where I grew up in MA (very near the VT border) almost all round bales made by local farmers were cow hay. There's a difference and trying to get by with poor quality hay means a malnourished horse at best and a dead horse at worst. Horses can't eat what cows can.

To back up what K Putnam is saying - right now in my backyard I have three horses that have come to me from novice or hands-off owners. I've taken these horses on to help out their owners who were otherwise out of options. One was crippled and in extreme pain from having been kept out in the pasture with the owner's cows. This was not especially rich grass, but it was still too much for this pony - he became extremely obese and his feet were overgrown. When I saw him on the farm, I cut off 4" of excess hoof and still had more to go, but was reluctant to proceed without veterinary intervention. This type of laminitis can be deadly. The owner was not able to commit to keeping the pony in a dry lot on a diet or able to afford x-rays of the feet. So, the pony came home with me. 6 months later he's ditched the excess weight, but his feet will take at least a year to rehab and will never be normal. In speaking with the old owner, I am going to try to rehome him, but have learned that the pony won't tolerate a grazing muzzle and won't stay in electric fencing, and has also dumped all the kids in previous re-homing attempts. So it's going to be a long road for me to get rid of this thing! The owner didn't have the knowledge to realize how dangerous this pony's "limp" was, and how close it was to being an irreparable condition.  

The next two came to me by way of inexperienced owners causing training problems. One is a young and gorgeous horse purchased because the owner "always wanted a horse and he had a beautiful spirit." They were not prepared for the costs of horse ownership, and it's an absolute miracle she was not injured by this increasingly headstrong, large young horse that never had boundaries set or rules about personal space enforced. I took a chance on him and because of the lack of proper handling, he had developed an attitude problem. Luckily I have not gotten hurt being dumped multiple times (ha!) but even with 20+ years of riding and training under my belt, I had to send him off to another professional for boot camp. He's finally coming around to be a solid citizen. The third horse is a combination of bad training and medical problems - an inexperienced owner started following a popular "natural horsemanship" trainer who is known for their dvd's and bad ideas. The way the theories were implemented by someone who couldn't read horse body language created a horse that now bolts backwards in a panic at the drop of a hat in response to any situation. SO incredibly dangerous to humans and the horse. The horse is now blind in one eye from being tied by someone who said "Oh, she's been doing so much better!" and after the horse panicked and bolted backwards, the snap shot straight into her eye and detached the retina.

Like I said, not trying to be discouraging, but a mentor or lessons or training is incredibly important because horses can kill themselves in creative ways and because of their size and flight instincts, can take you with them pretty easily. I've seen a lot of injuries and dead horses from the "it'll be fine" attitude, which is why I come across a little strong on this topic. I love educating people about horses and always invite anyone to come out and see them and learn a bit about handling and care. Horses are great! You just have to know what you're getting into.

"How much land to clear" depends entirely on your climate and how well you can establish pasture. Look at the stocking ratio for your area as a guideline (acre per horse) and then round up for the fact that it won't be established pasture. You'll still have nutritional needs that won't necessarily be met by pasture. This can mean hay or grain, but the right kind of grain. A fat horse is just as if not as unhealthy as a skinny horse. Research forage types, epiphysitis and laminitis.

I would caution you to take a good hard look at the plan to "socialize" with the neighbor's horses. If you mean they'll be sharing a fenceline and the other horses will always be in sight, that could work. But horses can bond very strongly. A lonely horse is one that crashing through fences and gets loose or injured. Turning them out together only occasionally is also a bad plan - they don't play together like dogs. Herd relationships are sorted out violently at times. A lonely horse crashing through a fence, or a well-placed kick from an irritated neighbor horse can equal a dead horse. And if your plan is to buy a young horse, find a good local trainer for assistance.

I say all this not to discourage you, but horses are too fragile and dangerous to proceed without a good plan.  (This is coming from over 20 years of horse experience, including as a professional farrier, vet tech and part-time instructor/trainer. PM me if you have any questions)
Try looking for someone who will hay the property for you. 10 acres is usually the point where someone will bother hauling the equipment over so if you have 15 decent acres, it's worth a shot. Every area has their own traditions but 60/40 (60% going to them) is a typical split of the hay. If you don't have any neighbors that you know or trust, try asking around at the local tractor place or looking around social media (lots of our local hay guys advertise on FB, including for cutting services). This can backfire sometimes - it's often easier said than done, and you can get caught up in the equipment problems of others, and their own fields take priority.
2 years ago
I had a pair of rude roosters that ended up living here (long story). They would attack people. We fixed that by keeping a snow shovel or broom by the back porch for self-defense. After a few weeks of "be respectful of personal space=eat food vs attack=get walloped across the yard" they fell in line and actually became somewhat friendly. I had no interest in socializing them, but my ex would feed them Cap't Crunch and attributes their conversion from the mean side to that.

I would worry more about him being by himself, and how happy he would be. After we lost Cock of the Walk to a dog attack, Bungholio (the survivor) definitely latched on to us a bit more. He didn't seem too depressed but after awhile started to hang with the donkey. If your rooster doesn't walk the line after some, uh, "discipline" and seems unhappy or depressed by himself, then it's probably time to seek alternative arrangements for him.

Once I figure out how to post pics I'll try and upload the ones of Bungholio riding around on the donkey. Animals are weird.
2 years ago
My ex's brother was bitten a few years ago. He had the tetanus-like symptoms almost immediately, from what I understand. Most of what he remembers about the experience was laying in the ER with everything locking up, having extremely painful muscle cramps and seeing all these different people enter his room while he was waiting to receive the anti-venom. He realized later that it was all the residents/interns being trotted through to see what a black widow patient looked like! As far as I know, he hasn't had any lingering after-effects from the whole experience (and I've been told he can be a whiner so if there was anything bothering him months down the road, we'd all hear about it...)
2 years ago
My anecdata, for what it's worth -
My horses eat hay from local farmers that, quite frankly, I do not know the origins of. They probably use 2-4-D among other things, as far as I know no preservatives, but I'd be shocked if these dudes didn't spray. They are also dewormed using commercial/chemical antiparasitic drugs (ivermectin/praziquantel, ivermectin/moxidectin, etc etc). I use commercial soft wood shavings as bedding. I compost the waste from the stalls and the round bale waste from the fields scraped up at the end of the year.  The two finished piles haven't had too much green matter added to them simply by virtue of not having a running lawnmower most of the time. Despite that laundry list of sins, the compost is killer. Everything I plant in it takes off like gangbusters and it's chock-full of worms. So, don't be scared but compost it further with more stuff in it is the best advice I can offer, and I've had no issues with manure from horses that eat hay that was sprayed at some point.
2 years ago