Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pesky Projects

Hot weather, the infamous Ellensburg wind (once the temps finally dropped, the wind came up!), and various responsibilities have all conspired to keep me (and Mike) from doing as much riding as we would have liked these past few weeks.

One of the more pressing issues was getting the yard fenced for Sandy's safety. She is recovering well (no more cone-head!), but confused that she no longer has the freedom to roam. She does seem to appreciate having the run of even the small yard, after having to stay on leash for the last month.
This little gate used to be our access to the horse pastures, and the missing bar in the center box was to allow Sandy clearance to get through (the gate is upside down in this photo). She was frustrated that the gate is now covered by wire:
"Watz the deal, ma?"
Another bit of fencing, for the horses, is this last 500 foot run of cross fencing. Six years ago, when we were starting to upgrade from electric to permanent fence, the guy at the farm supply store convinced me that high-tensile (think New Zealand fence) woven wire (think field fence) was the way to go. "Stretch it good and tight, and the horses just bounce off of it!" Well, that may be, if one's horses run into it, but my horses tend to put their feet through it, and the lighter gauge high tensile wire cuts like a knife. When Amy ran into it as a baby, leaving small scars on her nose and one foreleg, I was willing to write it off as a freak accident.
But when Kate chopped up her back legs last summer, I took the rolls meant for this last section back, and started saving for 2 X 4 inch mesh, that feet can't go through. (I already have it installed in all my paddocks and the arena.) It costs as much for one 100' roll of the 2 X 4 as for 330 feet of the other, but I will slowly start replacing the high tensile stuff, a fence line at a time. I was able to sell some of it on Craig's list for a dog-proof orchard enclosure and for some goats. But I don't recommend it for anyone with horses!

This patch of dirt is a lousy example of one section of my arena footing. Or should I say a good example of my lousy arena footing? I have gotten several loads of free fill dirt, but the last one was full of rocks and weeds and stuff. I've found that a muck fork is really good for picking all but the smallest rocks.
I needed fill because the south end of the "almost-an-arena" dropped off fairly drastically. So I built a little retaining wall and am back filling it.
However, the mesh fence that Mike helped me put up last summer is slightly low for the level I want to bring the dirt to, so I was hoping that he and I could adjust it and finish the back fill. Dog-fence, however, took priority.
Also: the trailer floor has needed work for a while now.
Because I was beginning to question it's safety (the first and last boards were looking pretty iffy) it was time. And I'd like to upgrade to a newer, smaller trailer (if I can ever sell some stock!)and I won't sell this one to someone in less than safe condition. (I can't say "less than perfect", as this homely old girl is far from perfect!)
It was a frustrating process, as I couldn't find the right tool to drill out the heads of all the little (big) bolts that held the floor down. I would try one carbide tipped drill, that would fly through two or so bolts, then be totally dull. Back to town for a different approach...over and over again. We were getting one board pulled up per day and getting very frustrated. Finally got a "deburring tool" that held up for the final three boards. I have to pick up a couple of additional replacement boards, trim them to fit, then we'll be good to go again!
[Edited to add: finished the floor yesterday morning, but don't have any "finished" photos, because I sold the trailer in the afternoon! Anyone out there in the Pacific Northwest know of a two-horse slant for sale?]

Another major chore: we fenced off a "shelter belt" for tree/bush riparian habitat several years ago, but have had very little success competing with the reed canary grass that grows rampant on the canal banks and adjoining fields. So I'm off to mow it down, in preparation of herbicide spraying and then landscape cloth, to try to give the plants a fighting chance!
This is the southeast corner of the property, and probably the most naturally moist area. You probably can't see them all, but there are a grand total of four bushes and four trees in this photo--out of I think 50 that we planted!
The biggest of four quaking aspens (out of 10) from two years ago planting.
One of only three little evergreens (out of 25) that have survived now for four years.
One project that is complete (OMG!) is pruning back the driveway trees, so that Pat can bring her trailer in without the "car wash" effect (also the UPS guy). The willows had really gotten thick between the hybrid cottonwoods, to the point that several little Austrian Pines that I had planted a few years ago were being choked out. All of the back branches of this little guy had been pushed forward--the two white sticks are to try to train them back to the rear.
It's hard to believe all of these cottonwoods were only about 4-6 feet high when we moved here seven years ago! I love trees and it hurt me to cut them back, but they do look much more civilized now.
So, as Grey Horse Matters said: Summer time, and the living is...BUSY!
But I've gotten two little jobs done in the barn this morning (that have been waiting forever) so, to reward myself, I'm goin' for a ride!

1 comment:

  1. Looks fabulous, Evensong. We're busily fencing the pasture this week, trying to create a Goat Resistant Container....also, one that will keep my dogs OUT of the pasture because my mare hates dogs and Jim's dog loves to tease her. You just know that's a vet bill trying to happen, argh.

    Enjoy your ride!

    ficting: (verb) the act of reading a novel while in motion, i.e. walking, jogging, talking on the phone, mowing the lawn or driving the tractor.