Texas continues to be a completely new and wonderful experience on all ends of the spectrum for me. Coming from a suburb outside of New York City, my new little town of 80 residents is quite a dramatic change. My biggest complaint so far is that I am constantly parched. The local residents all complain about the humidity here but I think they must clearly be insane. Back in New England, I was terrible about drinking enough water, and if I had a glass a day I was doing very well for myself; I never felt thirsty. Here, I am probably going to dessicate and die if I don't really start drinking normal amounts of water. It's been in the 80's every day this week, except for today, when it dropped to a measly 65. I think I could get used to a Texas winter.
Gogo, on the other hand, is not drinking nearly as much as I expected she would in the dry Texas heat, but she is drinking a reasonable amount if you compare it to the drinking patterns of the other horses on the property, and factor in both her wet grain and soaked hay. She has bewitched all of the neighbor's horses with her ravishing good looks, and they spent a large part of their day fighting over who will get to stand closest to her. (The biggest, fattest dark bay gelding wins every time.) Gogo is coming out of heat, and is now playing kissy face over the double fence line instead of nonstop peeing. Unfortunately for me, this means that she is reaching over her safe pipe fencing into the dangerous territory of the neighbor's barbed wire, which is definitely within her reach. She has so far managed to keep all of her eyes and limbs intact, but I can only hope that she will stop being in heat shortly and will lose interest in that side of the paddock. She has been staying out for 8 hours every day, even though there isn't much to eat in terms of grass anymore. She is delighted to be out there, and oddly enough, her legs look great. Surprisingly great. Better than they've looked since this new reinjury. They even look great in the early morning when we first arrive, and she has been standing in a stall all night. I would be lying if I didn't say I was more than a little bit shocked and relieved. Some days, it is even quite cool to the touch.
For all that she is sound at the walk, though, I forget that it doesn't mean that she's actually sound. I watched her trot away from me the other morning when I turned her out, and she is by no means sound. She is not dead toe-dragging lame, but she's lame. Time will tell how much this improves, but I have to keep reminding myself that we're only just a few weeks out from this new injury. All in all, concerning how the leg looks, how much the general swelling in the actual tendon has decreased all by itself, and how good her general attitude is, I don't think I could ask for better at the moment, barring a total miracle.
At the moment, my mind is consumed with the massive barn renovation project. Actually, it's not THAT massive, but it is a bit complicated on more than one end. My main concern is that this piece of land is not my property. I'm technically not even paying a cent for it, as it comes with the job package. Realistically I know that at any moment, something could happen and I could lose the whole thing. (I mean let's hope not, but you never know!) It would be silly of me to put any sort of serious money into this project. My landlord is very cool about these things, so I stand a good chance of him reimbursing me at least in part, but he has other more important projects to tackle (like fixing my washing machine!) and it's the holidays, so I want to get a headstart and fix up all the solo projects I can find.
There are two areas of fix-uppance that need to be addressed before any animal that isn't a cow can move onto the property: fencing and the barn/shed area. In terms of fencing, we have 5 acres that need to be safely fenced. A large portion of the fencline is already safely fenced with diamond mesh and smooth twist high-tensile wire, the lower portions with the diamond mesh and the higher portions with three strands of the thick smooth wire. As a rule, I don't REALLY want my horse in any sort of wire fence that isn't mesh or weave made specifically for horses, but in terms of safety, this is specifically made for horses and is strong, tall and sturdy. The three top strands are high up and quite close together, and there is little chance of her being able to get a foot tangled anywhere. She's never had a problem with fencing of any sort before, but those are famous last words. She's been out in about every type of fencing you can imagine - pipe, post and rail, board, reenforced electric wire, electric tape, PVC board, top board chain link - and the only thing she has ever done was get a foot tangled in a poorly placed stand of electric tape when tapping a hind foot at a horse across a shared fenceline. It was going to happen at some point given the location of the electric tape, it just was Gogo that it happened to. And all she very sensibly did was carefully walk away out of it while getting shocked to death.
Anyway, most of the fencing is horse-safe already, although a few strands of the top wire are sagging and need to be tightened. Part of the fence is pipe, which is very smooth and safe despite how unforgiving it is. It is bright white and highly visible, and is right behind my house (pretty!). The only problem I have at this point with the fencing is that a small section of the house-side fence and one of the side fences are barbed wire.
I don't care that this is the Southwest and EVERYBODY keeps their horses in barbed wire pastures. They're cattle fences and they're NOT SAFE. Gogo is currently in a pipe fence, but can reach the neighbor's perimeter fence (barbed wire) when his horses come over to visit. She has neither sliced herself nor taken out an eye yet, but I think luck will only take us so far there. All fences can potentially be dangerous, but barbed wire is especially so. It has to go.
There are already T-posts in place, obviously, so I think what needs to be done is remove the barbed wire and scraggly saggy perfectly-hoof-capturing-sized woven wire (again, cheap cattle fence) and refence with a horse safe mesh like diamond mesh and something overtop, like a strand of electric braid for visibility. I think electrifying the whole 5 acres isn't going to really be worth my while, but it might be. Pyscholigically, Gogo has been shocked to death by electric before, so she has learned to stay VERY clear of anything like it.
I think that is what I'd like to do: keep the t-posts up where they are, cap the tops of all of them (they are all uncapped, which = lethal spears), tear down the barbed wire and cheap crappy weave wire, install diamond mesh and a string of visibile electric braid across the top, and there you have it! POSSIBLY will be worth it to run a string of electric around the entire perimeter fence, but I dunno. The rest of the fences are VERY visible and there isn't anything tasty or anyone to play with on the other side of the fence. Again though, you just never know with horses.
The other project, which is going to be slightly less major but possibly more complex, is to fix up the barn area and make it horse-friendly. The family that lived here before me kept cattle here, so there is a labyrinth of pens around the barn area that is both complicated and in serious need of repair. It took me a bit of time to figure out exactly what I had available, and even more time to figure out how exactly to make it usable, but I have a plan now that I've looked it over.
At first glance, all you can hope is that you have an up to date Tetanus shot when you go fishing around:
Well that won't do.
There are five useable pens in all, which are pens that can be completely shut in with working gates, and a chute that looks sized for loading sheep onto a truck (possibly what it was originally built for). I toyed with the idea of tearing down all the unusable fence (old and damaged chain link) and redoing all of it, but that seems silly. Also, I really don't want Gogo to be weaving through a maze of pens nonstop... that just seems like an accident waiting to happen. I had to step back and take a better look at the whole picture in order to figure out what I needed to do.
First, view from the outside:
Not good with those rusty old gates. BUT, picture this:
Rusty old gates totally removed, ratty chain link removed from the pipe fence and new chain link installed where need be, other pens closed off and not used, and tada! You have one main pen-area that had shelter access, and don't have to worry about your animal getting tangled in any of the other pens which may or may not ever be usable.
And if I need to lock her in anywhere, there is one pen which will be quite safe with a little bit of refencing that also has a working gate and shelter access. I don't think I even want to think about tackling the interior barn area... there is WAY too much in there that would need to be done to ever become horse-friendly. Having a good shelter to stand under (or be locked into) is perfectly acceptable for an outdoor-living horse.
Some of the current chain link in the pen area is perfectly fine:
And some is not:
I went to Lowe's the other night while out Christmas shopping, just to see what is there, and actually I think this is going to be fairly inexpensive in the end. There's not THAT much to do. Like I said earlier, I am fairly certain that my landlord will reinburse me for a fair part of this project if not all. I can't guarantee that, but it can't hurt to ask.
The winter soltice has come and gone, and now the days are only going to get longer and sweeter. More daylight = more time to play outside!!
I am off to Florida for a few days to visit family for Christmas. I hope you all are having a good Holiday season. Give your ponies lots of hugs and kisses!
The very special Ridgeway weekend
1 day ago