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Tell you something you don’t already know, right? 😆

No, really, in this case, I kind of am. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. :mrgreen:

Somehow, this is turning into a chicken blog……. the days are consistently soooooo busy that so much has flown by without an update. Much of my life day revolves around chickens- letting them out, cleaning the coop every morning while I check chooks, collecting eggs, counting heads after they go to bed, etc.

As you might remember, I’m currently overrun with boys, which I love for the most part. Part of the ooey gooey fun is knowing that when the girls go broody, if they are really mean or determined, you actually can slip some eggs under them and see what happens……. 😆

Back in January, one of our Silver Spangled Hamburgs {aka “the polka-dotted chicken”} became the meanest broody we’ve ever seen. Fortunately, we got her nest moved from the tippy top of the hay loft to the nesting boxes without losing fingers or eyes. 😀 Because it was winter and male fertility is down, I figured we likely wouldn’t hatch anything out. And besides, she was eating her way through the eggs…..

Fast forward to the second coldest snap of the winter, and one baby freezes to death hatching out of the shell. {You can see where this is going, yes?} Well, that’s not ok. On the rare chance more hatched, it was safer to move them into the house. This has kind of been an issue since we moved here, because we left the fantabulous brooder Hunny made back at the other house. Well.

Last year when we got the bantams, we put them in the stock tank. We had a few on hand, but thought we’d get one bigger for the horses, which we could use as a brooder in the meantime.

I mean, honestly? There are all kind of uses for stock tanks. We haven’t made the leap to hot tubbinghottub

 

or swimming in them {yet} swimming, but using as a brooder?

 

Pshaw. At least it’s ag/barnyard related. 😆

 

 

We started with a regular new black tank.stocktank2

 

 

 

 

That went pretty well. It was the perfect size for the bantams.  blacktank1

 

 

 

 

Then it was time for the large fowl chicks, and that presented a bit of a dilemma, since we had not completed the coop. After looking around for a bit, I settled on- you guessed it- another stock tank. This one was the loooooonnnnnggg variety. It took some doing to even get it INTO the office.

tank1.2

Once it was in, it was the perfect habitat for babies. 😆

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tank4

And, of course, you know we added the guinea keets at some point, too.

The stock tanks, however, are not what makes me a redneck. Maybe a hillbilly, but pretty sure not a total redneck.

Nope. What vaults me into that category is salvage/repurposing all stuff. In this case, I needed a new brooder.

But wait! I know what you’re thinking- didn’t all my chicks less the new hatchlings in the other metal stock tank grow up already?

Why, yes, I’m glad you asked. They did indeed grow up! 😀 Because my girl to boy ratio is so low and I am loath to give up my boys if there is a way around, the way around it was to get more girls. :mrgreen:

A trip to my local Tractor Supply Co found me staring at a stock tank full of brahma pullets. Well. I didn’t have those. And they have FEATHERY FEET!

How could I say no? 😆

A call to my hunny resulted in a reluctant green light, and I made a mad dash home with 6 more new chicks. Yay! 😀

It didn’t take long once I was home to realize I was facing yet another quandary: where was I going to put them? We had taken the smaller metal stock tank,  which really was marginal, for the mama and her 3 babies. I made a hardware cloth divider and went outside to wander around and see if I had enough scrap wood.

Well. Lo and behold, there was an old dresser our friends had outside our little house, waiting to be transported to the dump. A quick text confirmed what I suspected- the dresser was about to become my new brooder!

I think the hardest part of this project was getting my chicken-project-hating-teenage daughter to stop rolling her eyes and moaning. I was very sure I had enough glee for both of us, but she wasn’t having any of it.

All told, grumbling included, it took about an hour and a half to get things cut and put together. brooder1

I slapped on a coat of paint that night and by the next afternoon, it was good to go.

brooder2

I’ll have to unscrew the light post to get it out of the room, because as it is, it’s too wide to fit through the door.

I was really pleased, though. It didn’t take long; it saved a trip to the dump, and it was free to me less the paint and screws. A month later, it’s still doing the job as well as any other brooder.

I do a lot of reading and talking about chickens {I know you are shocked!  😯 }, and one thing I hear a lot of is that folks don’t have the money or the resources to build a brooder. I say, get your redneck on and think outside the box!

Our first brooder was the bookshelf section of one of the kids’ old computer desks that was also working on finding its way to the dump. I know folks who use plastic totes. I know folks who have chicks in their bathtubs. I know folks who use the plastic drawer stacks.

I am pretty sure I’m not the first one to use an old dresser. I surely hope I won’t be the last. I am also pretty sure I’m not the only one who gets a little rednecky from time to time, especially when it comes to chickens. The key is to think safety first. Don’t be daunted or put off of getting chicks because your “coop isn’t totally built,” or you “don’t have the right equipment.”

They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” and chicks and/or chickens are no exception.

What are the most creative brooders you’ve used? :mrgreen:

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Of goodbyes. Really. Usually, I’m not. There have been a few times when ‘goodbye’ meant ‘good riddance,’ but those episodes are few and far between.

Sometimes, goodbyes come suddenly; unexpectedly. Sometimes, they come after a long period of languishing; dragging feet to delay the inevitable.

This episode falls into the latter category. *sigh*

I really, really did not want to have to. And I’m sure there’s a part of me that will always remember that sadness lingering, as it does today.

Ya know, another thing in this category is change. Change is not always good. I don’t mind change when I know about it; when I can plan for the variables. Sometimes, though, things change in the blink of an eye and there’s not a darn thing a person can do about it.

This episode falls somewhere in between those two poles. *sigh*

The thing that gets me, though, is when that change means saying goodbye, especially when you’re not ready for it. I’m not a fan of that. At. All.

We’ve been through a lot together in the last 17/18 years. I’ve shown my love; I’ve done my fair share of cursing. I’ve stayed up all night, making things right.

And last week, I had no choice but to sadly, say goodbye. 😥

My sewing machine died.  😦   😥

A few years ago, I began having problems with bird-nesting on light-weight cotton fabrics. I cleaned. I oiled. I changed needles. I diddled with tensions. I read and researched until I was cross-eyed. And then I put it away out of frustration.

If you’ve been reading along, you’ll no doubt remember that I’ve sewed some curtains since we’ve been here, and I thought my sewing issue had pretty much disappeared. So much so that I made plans to make curtains for every window in the house, and got the fabric for the living room.

Well.

Ahem.

Last Saturday, I got my machine out because desperate measures needed to be taken, and in a hurry. You can image my frustration when not only was I bird-nesting again, but then my bobbin casing popped out and refused to stay in once reinserted.

After several hours of cussing and praying, it was apparent the inevitable had arrived. And I was not ready.

Looking at my machine, I remember all the things I’ve made- pillow cases, throw pillows, bed sheets, other bedding, curtains, more curtains, and still more curtains, and baby clothes, etc. *sigh* And I was not ready to let it go. I have plans, after all!

I briefly thought about getting it repaired. As I learned, anything over ten years old is technically considered vintage, and not only are many parts not made anymore, but if replacement are found, they are usually salvages, which means at some point, they are going to wear out because they already have some of the life used.

Plus, I really didn’t have time to wait. No, really. My chickens needed clothes, and they needed them NOW! 😆

Ok, really, it’s only the girls that needed something.

Ok, well, not really ‘something’ in general- something in particular. My girls needed saddles!

If you’ve ever done an internet search for ‘hen saddles,’ despite the feathery ones, I can tell you, those are not the right ones. Besides being for fly fishing, they are much too small. 😀

While I personally prefer to call them “aprons” or “capes,” saddles is more appropriate. As in,

“Move ’em out, head ’em up,
Head ’em up, move ’em on.
Move ’em out, head ’em up:
Rawhide.
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in,
Ride ’em in, cut ’em out,
Cut ’em out, ride ’em in:
Rawhide!”

Ya. That kind of saddle. :/

Have I mentioned I have 12 crowing boys? Yep, I do. The suggested ratio is 1  male per every 10/12 females. This is not to prevent the boys from fighting. It’s to prevent the girls from getting worn out.

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Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel

My head roo-in-in-waiting (he’s not quite a year yet, so he’s not “officially” a roo), Jumbo, is a gentleman. He is very gentle with the girls, and they adore him. He does his morning ‘hello,’ his evening ‘goodnight’ and in-between ‘just so you don’t forget me’s.

One of my silkie girls is terribly smitten with him, snuggling with him on the roost when she’s not broody. 😆 And he, bless his heart, tries to be accommodating to satisfy her loving desires. So far, he hasn’t killed her, but it is hilarious to watch, if not a bit concerning. 😆

Sparkles is another handsome cockerel, but he’s really nice, like Jumbo.

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

Sparkles, Silver Spangled Hamburg, and Jumbo, Silver Laced Wyandotte

They often hang together, and can be found tag-teaming the girls during the day. We have no run, which means unless they are in bed for the night, they are free-ranging.  Together, they take the large groups of the girls out and about, which is fantastic to watch.

I think one of the real culprits, though, is Snowy, our Easter Egger cockerel.

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

Snowy, Easter Egger cockerel

You may remember the Mayhem in the Coop many months ago, which left both he and one of my Cuckoo Marans with cross beaks.

While his cross-beak is not as severe as Betty’s, it does interfere with his extracurricular activities, because he can’t hang on with his beak very well. This means he uses his feet *a lot* more, which is rough on the girls. And, he likes loves them allllllllllll. 😆

In addition to our three large fowl boys, we also have a plethora of bantam boys; 9 more, if we’re counting.  The worst culprits are my pair of black Cochin bantams, Bob and Snickers.

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Black Bantam Cochins Bob and Snickers; Birchen Cochin Bantam, Coconut

Despite having mostly large fowl girlies, I can say without reservation that these boys are successfully fertilizing the big girls, because my newest hatchlings have feathery feet and 4 toes, which means it’s most likely that one of these boys made it to home base. 😆 And yes, while the mama is a Silver Spangled Hamburg  {same breed as Sparkles; aka “The Polka Dotted Chickens”}, she is a large fowl bird, even though she’s the smallest large fowl breed we have. Make sense?

So anyhow.

My girls are getting too much love, and are starting to look a bit rough. The problem is that once those feathers are gone, there is no protection from toenails or spurs, and numerous hens have been laid open by super-duper amorous boys.

The fix is to provide them with some protection, a la hen saddles. I prefer to call them ‘aprons,’ myself. There are gazillions of patterns out there; most of them are free. Of course, there are lots of folks selling completed aprons, too, but because I know how to sew and had all the required materials on hand, I figured I’d give it a shot.

In a pinch, I had tied a scrap of fabric shaped like a bandana around one of my girls, but obviously, that’s not ideal. I wanted to find an easy pattern that wasn’t labor-intensive, because I had a lot to make.

In my wanderings, I found a thread on the BackYard Chickens forum that had a pattern. The poster originally found it on http://www.homesteadingtoday.com, from “Wisconsin Ann”.

It looked easy enough.

Hen apron or saddle pattern

Hen apron or saddle pattern

But when I got started, not only did I start bird-nesting, but then the bobbin case came flying out and refused to let me seat it back in, despite unscrewing the lever to keep it in place and then tightening it down again. The icing on the cake, though, was when my hand wheel got jammed.

Since you know I research everything, I asked on Facebook 😆 , knowing all my sewy friends would help me out. In the meantime, I researched, and narrowed down what features I wanted.

I like a top drop in bobbin as opposed to a front loading bobbin. Computerized machines just leave more for me to break, with my magnetic personality and all. 😆 That meant mechanical for me. I also like stitches, because even though I don’t use many, I like to have the option. It goes without saying I wanted the one-step buttonholing, because I do actually use that.

I found a brand that came highly recommended, but the nearest retailer was 70 some miles away. 😦 Then, because even though we’re in a much more populated area, it seems there are not a lot of sewing/crafty stores here. That left me with big-box stores like Wally World, Target, etc. The following day was Sunday, so I knew Hobby Lobby wouldn’t be open.

And, since I don’t really want to buy a sewing machine from Wal-Mart, despite the large selection (including Singer, Brother, and Janome), JoAnn Fabrics had one of the models I had settled on; at least online.

Thrilled to find it open on Sunday, I did a quick looky-loo at Wal-Mart before heading there. I was surprised to find a single brand in-stock; the others had to be ordered online. The one I wanted was in-stock, and even on sale! So home I went, with more fancy stuff than I really needed, and a DVD to boot.

It took me a few days, and we had some rain, so the chickie kids weren’t as active, which meant I didn’t get to it until yesterday. I made my template from a cereal box, and got to work.

This pattern called for heavier fabric, but I wanted to use cotton. I thought, though, I would try a few other things first before using the pattern. Using the general shape, I did a single layer. I also made the elastic a lot longer, because it just didn’t look like it would fit

FAIL! The general shape was ok, but too short, and a single layer was not going to work because a breeze would flip the fabric right up.

Several other patterns I had seen called for doubling the pattern; folding, and then sewing. I gave that a try and tweaked the elastic length.

In the end, I made another template from the other side of the cereal box, kind of sort of using the original dimensions. I lengthened the end-to-end length by about an inch, and added about 1/2 an inch to the side lengths. I made 4 of those, tweaking it as I went, and adjusting the elastic to fit some of the smaller, large fowl birds, like my Lakenvelders.

The biggest difference was that I doubled the pattern; folding it over on the neck line. This made the fabric heavy enough to defy the wind; but not so heavy as to be hot. We are in the South, after all. 😀

My total was 16; 15 are on birds now; another we’ll have to do in the morning. Initially, I read it would take about 30 minutes to make one. Yesterday, while I was still diddling with the fit, I was cutting and then sewing each one. This time might be about right.

Today, I  traced and cut out all the fabric ahead of time. Once I got to sewing, it took me about 10 minutes per apron. I will say, though- this are not professional grade. 😆 Had this been for people, I would have taken more care to carefully watch my seams, etc. I knew I had to get them done and on my girls, so I was blowing and going. 😀

The fabric I had on hand was last used making baby dresses for my oldest daughter. 🙂 I knew there was a reason I had saved it all these years!

aprons1

On that neckline, be SURE not to sew the elastic stationary. When you put the wings in, you’ll want to slide the neck piece to the side; particularly on the second wing.

The elastic piece was 10 inches for my big birds; 9 3/4 for the Lakenvelders. I think it probably would have been ok, but I didn’t want it too loose on them. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking, “There’s NO WAY that is long enough!” but I promise you, it is. 🙂

One of the first girls to get one yesterday was one of my Silver Laced Wyandotte ladies. pink1

pink2

Snowy in hot pursuit!

Snowy in hot pursuit!

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flowers1

purple1

yellow1

yellow2

I wasn’t planning on a fashion show, but there you have it. :mrgreen:

While I don’t like saying “goodbye” most of the time and this was no exception, saying “hello” to my new sewing machine got me back on track, and got my girlies covered before they got scabby backs. Totally worth it, in my opinion!

Because life is a soundtrack, I’m going to leave you with two songs that are stuck in my head. {Ya, can you hear that mash-up? 😆 }

Not quite the Frankie Laine original, but I love me some Clint!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShOiHPrwtHk%5D

And, because I can’t part with the old sewing machine….. {don’t laugh, you know you do it too! 😆 } and of course, it goes without saying I love me some Jon BonJovi, too!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifm00JEjSeo%5D

 

:mrgreen:

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It.

I’m using *it.* 😆

If you know me, not only am I not prone to falling victim to fads, but I also research things endessly, which often puts the kibosh on something I might think is a fad. I like to give new ‘things’ the benefit of years of existence and research before hopping on board.

In this case, once I started researching, I learned that it’s actually been around for a while, but is only now coming back into fashion, as backyard chickens have become a new “in” thing.

I heard the rave reviews. I read about the supposed “benefits.” My curiosity was piqued. BUT. I remained skeptical.

I mean, if this was as good as everyone was saying it was, why is it not mainstream news? Apparently, I’m a bit ahead of the curve, because I’m writing about it, too, since there are so many who have not yet heard about it.

Seriously, though, I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’m not the first to discover it; and I’m certainly not the first nor probably the last to write about it. I figured, though, I would write and share my experience in the event anyone finds it interesting and/or useful.

The “it” that I speak of is fermented feed for my chickens. I know, right? {Go ahead, roll your eyes. I’ll wait. 😆 }

When I first started reading, I read all the kinds of way to ferment food. I read about all the the various tools/containers/apparatus “needed” to ferment. I read about all the ingredients one “must” have to ferment.

And while I was fascinated, I thought, “This is definitely not for me. It’s too complicated; too time consuming.”  But I kept reading because I couldn’t understand why folks would do this work unless the results were miraculous.

And then, I stumbled across a thread of the Backyard Chickens website, that got me thinking maybe- just maybe- it wasn’t all that complicated after all. Maybe it would be worth losing a bucket of feed to try.

I mean, after all, who wouldn’t want to feed their feathered friends a super-food full of probiotics; one that makes it’s own new vitamins, and that not only makes their poo smell less and gives them awesome glossy feathers, but one that actually cuts your feed bill?

I love my chickens, but just the thought of a less stinky coop combined with a lower feed bill? Well, that was enough to convince me, especially since I read about a way to use a single container and have a never-ending-bucket of feed.

I read about two-bucket methods, whereby you drill a hole in the one which allows the SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria) to drain out the bottom of the one bucket to be used in the next batch; etc etc etc. Not only did this seem labor intensive, but it sounded messy and involved. I am all for easy. 😀

When I read about a lady using a cooler, I knew this would be the method for me. She had hers outside in her coop, and a while later, she moved it inside because her SCOBY had gone dormant in the brutal winter temps. I knew I at least needed to get my feed fermenting inside.

I brought my 60 qt wheeled cooler into the mudroom.  cooler I added my feed and ***water.  {***You’ll want to dechlorinate your water so it won’t kill the good bacteria. If your water supply is chlorinated, as city tap water is, you’ll want to leave the water you plan on using for your fermented feed- out in the open, so the chlorine can evaporate; which usually takes about 24 hours. }

For good measure, I threw in some apple cider vinegar (ACV) {unpasteurized, and yes, I know it’s better with the ‘mother’ in it- it was all going to ferment, and make new mother anyhow, so I wasn’t worried. 😉 } I use ACV anyhow; I figured a few glugs couldn’t hurt.

And then I waited.

I stirred a few times a day.

I left the lid cracked so the stuff flying around in the air could inoculate my feed with all the goodies {this is an anerobic process in an aerobic environment, this fermenting and getting the SCOBY}. I knew that my feed would grow in size; basically doubling, so I was cautious and watched to make sure I would have some trying to escape. I’ve read of folks who used glass jars, screwed on the lids, only to have them explode from the gas build-up in the jar. {Fermenting food will create gas, so if you hear burping, things are going well.  😆} I also know of someone else who is keeping her feed in the shower, in the event she has another mess. 😆

About 4 days later, I decided my feed had adequately fermented and was ready to use. 20131208_162208

In my reading, I read about folks whose chickens didn’t like the fermented feed. Surprisingly, there are people who tell you their chickens won’t eat things like watermelon or spaghetti, which blows my mind. But that there were some whose chickens didn’t like fermented feed, well, I think they were probably just picky chickens.

I have never had picky chickens, and I wonder if it’s because of their free ranging time. I mean, when they are out eating everything, something new is nothing to eschew. It gets inhaled in minutes, before they have time to think about whether or not they should try it.

{And while we’re talking about diet, I will tell you- they are NOT vegetarian in their normal habitat. They will eat anything that moves if they can catch it. Don’t be bamboozled by “vegetarian eggs.” I’m pretty sure that’s an impossibility, because you cannot tell me there are no bugs where the battery hens are.

My chooks have eaten moles, voles, mice, frogs, bugs, horse food, snakes, and prolly tons of other stuff I’m forgetting about. They’ll also eat scorpions and black widow spiders, too. The point is- they’re natural omnivores and should be eating darn near everything- and mine do.}

I did keep some regular food out once the fermented feed had been gobbled up, as a means of making a slower transition, but honestly, they never gave it a second glance. Now, when I take their feed bowl out, they rush me. On the one hand, it’s hilarious to hear a flock of chickens stampeding toward you; on the other hand, it’s a bit disconcerting, and makes me glad every single time that they aren’t bigger, because I know *I’d* be on the menu, too {Good golly, don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall!!}. :mrgreen:

Because hanging feeders are designed for dry food, I got the idea to try my redneck feeder, which is a $6 10ft vinyl gutter cut into sections with end caps on the ends.20140116_090403

I needed something everyone could eat from that would also be portable. We cut 4 sections; 3 of which we regularly use. I also leave the bowl out because even if it’s empty, they still peck at it.  20140116_090352

So. What have I observed in all of this?

DEFINITELY their feathers are glossier. My birds have always looked really good; nice, shiny feathers. But with the fermented feed, they are downright glossy, and they all have a gorgeous sheen.

The poo smells marginally better. It makes a HUGE difference with the guineas, though, which compared to the chickens, the chicken poo is like smelling daisies. So that’s another win in my book.

I have always had very healthy birds {knock on wood} so time will tell if it has made them healthier. I will say that they have weathered the surprising winter weather marvelously, although we are very much looking forward to spring.

Where I’ve noticed the biggest difference is in my feed bill. No kidding, y’all, I’m saving a boatload of $$$ on feed. I’m documenting so I’ll know for sure for sure, but at this point, I know for certain I’m saving 2/3rds on feed. What I was going through every two weeks,  is now taking 6 weeks. That is *huge.*

I’m going to continue to document and observe, because I think there may be something to the thinking that there is a subtle difference in between pellets {which I use for dry food} and crumble {which makes a mess and is more wasted dry, imo} because of the binding agent to make the pellets. I’ll update once I know for sure. At this point, there is a difference in volume in the bags, and when I use more crumble, they don’t eat as much. Because I’m using my winter feed mix, come spring, I can isolate and figure out if it was crumble that made the difference or if it was the protein.

One thing I have noticed in my reading is that some folks are convinced you need a ton of ingredients {like pickle juice or sauerkraut, for example, or even apple cider vinegar} to get the feed to ferment. I knew the theory behind  the lack of need for these things, but hadn’t actually tested it myself. Because WE HAVE CHICKS!!!!  SQUEE!!!!, I went ahead and fermented chick starter just for them. I used ONLY their feed and water; again, left the container cracked to get the floaty air-borne stuff, and I’m happy to report it has fermented just fine, and smells just like the stuff for the big kids.

The biggest thing I love is how easy it is. Yes, that’s what I said; easy. 😆 It is a bit more involved that shoveling food into a dry feeder, but overall, it takes minutes to make up a new batch. Once I get down to the bottom of the cooler and have just a layer there, I add my feed and my water, mix it up, and I’m good to go.

Because I have a layer of SCOBY already, I can see the bubbles {aka fermentation} starting as I’m mixing in the new feed. It’s that fast. Depending on how cold it is {they eat more when it’s cold}, a typical  batch lasts 4 days. I just give it a stir to mix it back up before feeding because there’s the drier, thicker, fluffier stuff on the top, then a layer of the liquid, which needs to get mixed back in. Scoop it into the bowl and take it out.

I cannot say how impressed I am. I will NEVER go back to traditional dry feed. I am pretty sure the feed manufactures don’t want this secret getting out because their profits would take a dive. But ya. NEVER. GOING. BACK.

If anyone asks you about fermented feed, you can tell them you know a user. :mrgreen:

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Are you?

Granted, I haven’t been watching the news like I generally do, so maybe I’m just missing it.

I know there are lots of things going on. The government shutdown. The Kardashians. Miley’s twerking. Miley’s naked ball romp. Etc etc etc.

But seriously- this one has my head and heart spinning, and I cannot understand why there is no coverage on this. As of today, I’m finding sporadic coverage, and mostly only the ag sites are really talking about the real losses. Today, I’m seeing a few other sites starting to report on this, but where is the media when you really need them?

“The situation right now in western South Dakota is dire,” Christen said. “We have ranchers who have nothing left, literally nothing left.”

The snow storm Atlas has resulted in the loss of 20-50% of some herds in South Dakota. I’ve seen a write-up from a lady who lost 10 of her 13 horses.

I’ve seen comments on some of those sites by people saying the loss of cattle was due to humans being irresponsible. And that just makes my blood boil.

REALLY?! So, you think that tens of thousands head of cattle lost were because ranchers don’t care about those animals?

That tells me that the folks making those comments are flat ignorant.

Calves going to market {which would have happened soon} bring in about $1,000 a head. Grown cattle bring on average about $1,500. We’re talking about HUGE numbers of cattle. We’re talking about people’s livelihoods-  not just money lost from selling this year, but breeding stock which is an investment for the future.

And to say that the ranchers don’t care about their cattle is as stupid as it gets. They don’t get paid if they don’t care. You can’t survive if your means of income is dead.

Ranchers will haul out water over thousands of acres during dry years. Ranchers will pay to have hay dropped during storms when they cattle get stranded. If ranchers can prevent harm from coming to their cattle, they will do whatever they can.

So what was so bad about this storm that caused all these animals to die? I mean, surely, South Dakota is no stranger to winter storms, right?

Um, you know this is still early October, yes?

While parts of Canada see winter year round, 😉 South Dakota wasn’t quite ready for a storm of this magnitude.

To begin with, this one snuck in under the radar. There were no warnings that this would be as bad as it was.

First came the rain- 12 hours of soaking rain.

Then came the snow. 4 feet of snow in 48 hours. That’s an inch of snow every hour, for 2 days.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the wind was blowing, too. Winds  were clocked at 60 mph, with 70 mph gusts. Y’all, that’s nearly hurricane force winds.

If you’ve not experienced a lot of snow, let me tell you why that’s a problem. Snowfall is bad enough, but when it blows, you’ve got drifts of snow. Many of those drifts were measured to be 7 to 8 feet high.

This is how houses get buried.

This is how animals get buried.

If you’re still wondering why so many animals died from this storm and yet manage to stay alive during the winter, let me fill in the blanks.

Grazing lands are rotated. Winter grazing lands are usually closer to other structures, like houses. They are often on higher ground, too, which makes getting to them easier. These animals hadn’t been moved to the winter grazing lands yet because it’s October.

The other key element of this is timing. Another two months, and the cattle and horses would have been equipped to handle this storm. Soaking rain causes more problems than just snow because it lowers body temperature more rapidly.

The bigger factor, though, was that because this came in early October, the animals had not yet grown their winter coats.

If you have a dog, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Horses and cattle are no different. They grow winter coats just the same and shed out come spring. They didn’t have their longer winter hair. You try standing out in freezing rain and then snow without a coat and see how long you last.

And yet, somehow, these ranchers, who’ve now lost their livelihoods for years to come, are somehow responsible for a freak storm courtesy of mother nature???  😡

Adding insult to injury, this storm couldn’t have come at a worse time, what with the government being shut down and all. There aren’t even any relief agencies available to help out right now.

Thousands of people are still without power, although they’re working on it.

So while most folks are  busy watching the news and talking about fluff and the government, life and devastation are happening for people who need help and aren’t getting any because news outlets are too wrapped up in junk to report actual news.

I’m pasting in some pictures below. Be forewarned that they are graphic and heartbreaking. I’ll put them in after the other links for more information on this devastating storm.

Rancher Relief Fund

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association have established a fund with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to assist livestock producers devastated by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7.

To donate visit. http://www.giveblackhills.org and search “Rancher Relief Fund.” Checks can also be mailed to Black Hills Area Community Foundation/SD Rancher Relief Fund, at P.O. Box 231, Rapid City, SD 57709

Northern Ag Network: graphic pics and updated information

Rapid City Journal: Governor tours ranches devastated by blizzard

The Weather Channel: South Dakota Ranchers Seek Help for Cattle Lost to Winter Storm Atlas

“The situation right now in western South Dakota is dire,” Christen said. “We have ranchers who have nothing left, literally nothing left.”

The Blizzard that Never Was

WeatherUnderground: Winter storm Atlas

NBC News: Shutdown worsens historic blizzard that killed tens of thousands of South Dakota cattle

AgFax: South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1,000s of Cattle

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South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle
South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle
South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle

I am from Wall, South Dakota and we had a horrible blizzard here October 4, that killed thousands and thousands of cattle and horses. There has not been any national coverage or help. Our state needs help in finding our animals. We are all in heartache as this is how we make a living, and is also how everyone else in the United States eats. Our own President hasn’t even acknowledged the natural disaster we are in. This picture is of some horses my family lost in the storm. We lost 10 out 13 horses and are devastated by the loss, which doesn’t even count the thousands of cattle that was lost by some of our neighbors.”

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*sigh*

I know loss is part of farm life, and I accept that.

I also accept that the safety of the animals is my responsibility. And it irritates me to no end to have a loss that could have been prevented.

At this point, we’re up to 4 losses that could have- SHOULD HAVE- been prevented. 😥

Last month, I went to let them out in the morning and found one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} huddled by the door and near frozen solid. It had gotten cold overnight, and while I didn’t think she had gotten her foot stuck under the waterer, I really had no other explanation for her being by the door instead of up on the roost.

I brought her inside right away, and got a water bottle full of hot water to help heat her up.

chicken1

She sat on my lap all day.

chicken2

chicken3

By evening, it was clear she was not doing well, despite out efforts to feed and hydrate her. Early the next morning, with my daughter sitting with her, she convulsed and died. 😥

I am not sure what it was, but it might have been something she ate that got stuck in her crop, even though I couldn’t feel anything there. It didn’t seem to be a contagion, and I was sure hoping it wasn’t. {It wasn’t.}

I accept that sometimes, these things happen. It is absolutely never easy, though.

We also lost 2 cuckoo marans over a month ago. We had moved them outside to the coop, but because the run wasn’t done, we weren’t letting them out. After finding 2 of my girls trampled and plucked inside the coop, we cut the pop door and let them out, finished run be darned.

Did I mention that this has become The Coop That Would Not Be Built? Yep. And it’s a source of irritation to me, to say the least.

That right there is the bulk of the issue, as I see it. Hunny doesn’t think we need a run (or the expense) and once we had to let them out, it was easier to just let them free-range the entire time.

Then the guineas got out about a week ago. 3 were out all night because we couldn’t catch them. 2 found their way back in the following morning, but the last one we found dead on the horse path between the two pastures. Here again, I am convinced that if we had the run, it would not be an issue because they would be contained while we let the chickens out.

It goes without saying that by far one of the worst predators is the family dog. Have I mentioned that we now have 5 dogs?

We moved here with 2 dogs that completely left the chickens alone. We gained another border collie, and then in both July and August we gained dogs that had probably been dumped. That’s a whole ‘nother post for another time. Having 2 unaltered male dogs- even though one is a weiner dog- was not on my agenda.

But I digress.

Up to this point, we’ve done pretty well keeping the dogs away from the chickens. {You know where this is going, don’t you….} Both Buddy (short-haired Jack Russell terrier) and Oreo (border collie) are about a year old. You may know that border collies are well-known as the smartest dog breed there is.

Case and point- Icee (our blond merle border collie} knows how to open the bedroom door in our RV; and Oreo not only knows but has taught Buddy how to open the outside door. We can’t do an eye-hook because then whoever is outside can’t get back in. Not to mention, she’s working on the dead bolt, too. We are trying to remember to take our keys outside with us every time……..

The bigger issue is not that they can open the door when they are both in and outside, but that I don’t want the cats to get out.

Did I mention we’re up to 6 cats now? Yep. One of these days, I’ll write up the story of the kittens, which were not planned but totally loved and adored.

Bottom line- I just don’t want them getting out. The older kitties are declawed because we don’t want them outside. The kittens were planned on being outdoor barn kitties, but after bottle feeding them and having them inside because they are too little to be left outside to fend for themselves, well, we’re smitten with them, too, and will get them declawed and fixed so they can be indoor kitties.

Anyhow.

Last week, Buddy got a hold of my favorite silver silkie, Silver. We got to her in time before he killed her, but he sliced her chest open and punctured her in a few places. I kept her inside overnight, and then the following day (when I had company, of course), I used some EMT gel {for animals} to glue her back together and sent her back out.

You need to understand- I’ve been crazy about keeping the dogs away from the chickens. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed. At some point, Oreo got scared of them, but I knew it wouldn’t last, particularly if she was out there with Buddy. I’ve seen them essentially hunt/play together/in a pack.

Now, Hunny and the kids think they are playing with them. Buddy with go after them when there’s squawking- like when the boys are sparring and when they are grabbing the girls. He thinks that she was chasing her and went to nip as border collies do, and got carried away.

I didn’t see this event, so I don’t know what happened. What I do know is that Oreo killed one of my polka-dotted chickens {silver spangled hamburgs} and that I am really very upset.

This dog is smart, and she knows better.

I am loath to give up an animal- any animal- particularly when it’s a rescue and I’ve invested money in it. I cannot, however, abide by the “it’s just a chicken; there’s no reason to get upset” kind of thinking some of my kids are dishing out.

I. DO. NOT. CARE. IF. THEY. THINK. THAT.

IT. IS. NOT.” JUST”. A CHICKEN.

I love my chickens, even if they don’t.

I have a responsibility to keep the animals in my care alive.

And so, I’m annoyed. I’m upset. I’m not sure what should be done.

There are those that tell you that once a dog kills once, they won’t stop. Normal dogs, I would agree. Border collies are so, so smart.

My other border collie blew out both cruciate ligaments in her knees- both of them, at the same time. If you know border collies, you know they have a HUGE work ethic; in that you often don’t know there is anything wrong with them until they just don’t get up the next day.

And that is what happened with her. She just couldn’t get up one morning and was in huge amounts of pain.

The normal fix for this injury is surgery, at $2,500 a knee. 😯 Our vet thought, given how smart she is, that we could try something else first.

He suggested we explain to her what happened and why we had to crate her. If she could stay immobile for about 6 months to give the ligaments time to heal, we could avoid surgery. It was a long shot, but we thought we’d give it a go.

It’s been over 5 years later, and we never had to have surgery. She wasn’t thrilled with being crated, but she accepted it. Her knees are a bit arthritic now, and we think she can’t see too well. She’s been kicked in the head by one of the horses, but the head injury didn’t kill her, either.

She was smart enough to listen {and yes, I’m sure she knew what we were talking about- ask anyone with a border collie and they’ll tell you}. Oreo is just as smart, but she’s only about a year old and very headstrong.

I don’t know if she will WANT to learn.

I don’t know that I can ever trust her again.

I don’t know that the kids will actually LISTEN to me and NOT let her out unsupervised. I am sick of hearing how much they hate the chickens (with the exception of daughter number 2). When they say that, they are basically saying they hate me, and that bothers me. I don’t ask them to love them the same as I do, but gollee, it sure would be nice if they could care about living things a little and have a little regard and respect. And a little thought about keeping them safe.

I need other options.

I just don’t know what they are yet. And, with life in flux right now, I’m not sure the answer is going to be forthcoming, either.

I’m so annoyed. I’m annoyed with the situation, and I’m annoyed because there are no easy answers.

Stay tuned.

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Here’s another one to fill in the blank on.

The haters would say I’m gullible. They would say I’m part of the problem. And then they would call me names, as I’ve seen them do numerous places to numerous other people.

Let me just say this: I am not writing to debate the issue of what I just did. I have NO regrets. I might even do it again, if I felt led like I did this time.

I am NOT the problem. I’m not even PART of the problem.

In fact, for this particular one, I am the answer.

You don’t have to like it. But don’t think you are going to come here and b***h me out like you do everyone else you don’t agree with. I won’t let that garbage come onto my blog. {And no, I really don’t care what you think- your opinion doesn’t mean spit to me.} 🙂

Why all the vitriol? Why am I coming out of the gate swinging?

I’ll tell you why.

I saved a horse.

Not just “a” horse.

I saved a horse in the kill pen; scheduled to go to slaughter.

Trust me when I say that when I did this, I had absolutely NO idea how hateful people are with regard to this topic. And somehow or another, a certain set of folks tie this to the soring I’m seriously against and have ranted about.

Let me tell you how our new Tennessee Walking Horse came to be part of our family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was on Facebook. No surprise there. 😆

A friend of mine pasted information and a picture of a horse on my wall and said the info came from a friend of hers. If I paid vetting {less than $100}, I could have her. Did I want her, or know someone who could pay for the vetting and save this mare?

I did a quick hop over to the page with her picture and her stats and very quickly decided that no, I didn’t want her. While we have a Quarter Horse {what our emaciated horse is} already, we have totally fallen in love with gaited horses.

I went to the main page of the site offering her info, and started scrolling and reading. Because I was moving fast, there was only a single horse that gave me slight pause.

What I came away with was this:

This was a group that was taking the horses in the kill pens and evaluating them- the ones they thought would be good for people, they would post on their site. People could sponsor one of the horses; they could fund raise for the horse, or they could “direct bail” the horse.

After a bit more reading, I discovered that all these horses are in Pennsylvania. No way was I going to deal with that! It’s $$$ having to ship a horse.

I also realized that while the organization would provide the mandatory Coggins test {which you pay for and is included in the vetting fee},  you still need to get a health certificate to travel over state lines.

To get a health certificate, the horse needs to be quarantined somewhere for a period of time so that a vet can determine it’s healthy enough to travel across state lines.

It was too complicated. There was no way I wanted anything to do with that.

😆

That was my quicky looky-loo in the morning. And then, I went about my day.

Afternoon came, and I sat on my bed for a break. I got on my phone, and went back to the horse shared on my wall. The whole thing was interesting.

I mean, I knew horses went to slaughter. The town I just moved from was going to have an equine slaughter-house nearby.

On principle, I think it’s abhorrent; the business of eating horses.

I had very strong feelings about slaughter before we had horses, too, but now having 5 horses was really bringing it home that it’s just an awful thing.

Horses aren’t stupid. Not only can they smell blood, but they can sense fear and panic. {If you’ve ever ridden one, you’ll know what I mean. 😉 }

Since I was taking a break, I thought, what the heck, I’d go back to that site just for grins and giggles.

While we had decided that my Saddlebred mare was going to be a project horse and we were in the market for a dead broke horse for me, an auction/slaughter horse was not even a kernel of an idea.

And then I saw him.

He was the horse that had caught my eye earlier. I did more looking and found a few more pictures of him. I saw the video they had of him being ridden bareback. At the end of the video, I caught a glimpse of his eyes.

Smart eyes.

Fearful eyes.

Sad eyes.

Pleading eyes.

I went back to the main page and his info had been posted again, this time with an urgent plea.

This fella had 3 hours to be saved.

!!!!!!!!

Have I mentioned that I research things? Not only do I research things, but I like to ponder them. Our two other gaited horses were “grab ’em before someone else does” which we hate. We got both of them knowing we could resell them and at least break even on them if we needed to.

But this boy only had 3 hours!

After having the girls watch the video and agreeing with me, I sent the info to Hunny. I flew downstairs and got to work.

I had to know what was going to happen if we direct bailed him. I mean, where would he go? He couldn’t come home with us right away because he needed to be quarantined in order to get his health certificate. How the heck was that going to happen?!

Turns out, the organization had a list of people who were willing and able to take some layover horses. They also had lists of shippers, so I sent out several emails to get quotes on shipping.

In the meantime, Hunny had gotten home. Saying he was less than thrilled was an understatement. He also likes to take his time. We had decided that the next horse, we were going to ride ourselves before committing.

Well. 😆 That was not going to happen if we got this horse. I didn’t even know how we were going to get him home.

Down to about an hour now, we were both feeling pressured, although most likely for entirely different reasons. 😕

He gave me the green light and by the time I got the paperwork done and payment done, we had something like just over 5 minutes left. Fortunately, I was messaging the broker folks and were in pretty good communication.

I decided on which layover I wanted to pursue {another “don’t ask me why”; I just felt like she would be the one to check into} and sent her a text.

By the time I heard back from her, the broker folks had already contacted her and gotten the ok to send him to her. All told, those two weeks, she took an additional 14 horses; 9 that one week alone.

That was Tuesday. I didn’t sleep well. There were so many unknowns and things to get settled.

Because the auction house only has the vet on Monday, does that mean he’d be stuck there until the following week to have his Coggins done?

When would he be transported?

I had a lot of work to do and details to get sorted.

In the early part of my research, I learned there is an underbelly to this whole thing. And while I had even looked up the organization on GuideStar Charity Check, I was not prepared for the amount of garbage I found.

I found a link to a newspaper article that said their offices had been raided by the FBI. I read horror stories about people who got the wrong horse; people who were all upset because they didn’t get the health certificate; people who donated for a specific horse and then never got any information about what happened to the horse after that, etc.

It was at that point I was really worried, wondering if we’d been screwed. Wondering if the horse we had direct bailed was going to be healthy. Would I get the right horse I paid for? Did I just lose a significant amount of money?

Originally, we thought he was going to layover Wednesday; but there was some confusion from the layover farm that was getting several that day. No news.

Thursday rolls around and I learned that horses didn’t get there the night before; they should be there Thursday pm. Because it wasn’t Monday, he didn’t have his Coggins drawn, which was already paid for.

I went back and forth with the rescue folks. If I didn’t get the Coggins done, I needed that fee refunded.

The layover farm was going to have their vet come out the following Tuesday because we needed that health certificate. And I still had transport to find.

A friend who is active in domestic pet rescue put the word out, and she spent several days going back and forth with people, to see if anyone had a trailer we could use. I had other options, of course, but I like to explore them all thoroughly before making a decision.

And I was still reading. I learned that there is an FBI agent {or some other LEO} wanting people to contact him/her for their ongoing investigation, if they had problems with this group.

There are also other groups around that ‘discuss’ this particular broker group. I guess you could call them hate fans. They are really keen to shut this group down, and anyone who disagrees with any of their positions is called names, complained about and generally verbally abused.

There are blogs dedicated to slamming this group broker group.

Let me just say– if you can’t talk to people in an adult manner without name calling and bullying, you automatically lose credibility with me, even if many of your points are valid. I know you are passionate about this issue. Calling people names who have dealt with the broker is not going to solve the problem. It does absolutely NO good, except to turn people off from hearing your message.

The brokers are not the problem. I’ll put my two cents in at the end.

Anyhow. 😆

So now I’m freaked out, wondering if I’m even going to get a horse; wondering if it will be the right horse and then wondering what kind of shape it’s going to be in.

Thursday evening, I get confirmation that the horse is on its way. I asked the stable owner to send me some pictures when he got there, to make sure it was the right horse. She was more than willing. I was relieved that when the horses were unloaded at the stables, he was there. He looked ok.

Each day, I texted her to get an update. E was very patient and put up with all my questions about it. It’s hard to stay on the fringes looking in, wondering and hoping your animal is ok.

Monday came; the vet came, and  by the evening, we were cleared for the weekend transport. At this point, I was still not sleeping well and sweating bullets. A lot could go wrong during the week, and then there was transport to think about.

Hunny was not thrilled about having to make the drive and we still didn’t have our chicken coop done, which is very much needed. Diverting from that project for a whole weekend was not ideal.

Have you ever tried to make hotel reservations the day before you need them- on a holiday weekend? Ya, it’s * a lot* harder than you’d think. 🙄 I texted back and forth with stable owner E, trying to find towns along the way to stay in. She offered to let us stay in her popup trailer on the farm if we couldn’t find anything. 🙂

Finally, Saturday came. We loaded up and started the trek to Pennsylvania.

As were were driving through downtown Washington D.C., we were thinking we should have waited another 2 weeks and spent the $$$ to have him shipped. The traffic was brutal, and not just in Washington. Once we hit the area around Richmond, Va, traffic came to a complete standstill. I mean, really- were were being passed on the highway by butterflies for goodness sakes!

Fortunately, the hotel was ok, and we did manage to get some sleep. Sunday morning we headed out for the 35 minute drive over the border to Amish country in Pa. We saw several horse and buggies, and an Amish woman walking down the road. In fact, the stable’s neighbors were all Amish, and they do a lot of raising horses for the Amish.

Our boy was not thrilled to get loaded onto yet another trailer, but he didn’t do a whole lot of protesting. He was sad to leave his stable buddy.

As we waved at Johns Hopkins Hospital as we drove through downtown Baltimore, we thought again that we should have had him shipped. 😆

He traveled amazingly well, especially for a slightly underweight horse. At our first stop in northern Va, I crossed paths with a longtime friend of mine. Since she was on the phone and we needed to get back on the road, I called her when we were back on the highway. I laughed about that all the way home! She lives about 100 miles away and was planning to visit ever since we moved.

It certainly is a small world!

The one time we stopped for gas, we had several people come over to drool over our Blaze. One woman from NJ brought her daughter over to see him. The daughter was around 12 or so, and had never seen a horse. She, the mother, had only seen a horse a single time as a child.

Another couple saw us back at the rest stop and came to tell us how handsome he is. ♥ They had been following us for a few hours, and thought it was great that we were transporting a horse. 😆

When we got him home, I was wondering how well he would transition. He came right off the trailer, and went racing from one end of the paddock to the other, kicking up his heels and whinnying. Then he rolled on the ground, got up, and did it again. I was crying by this time.

I’m telling you- this boy was *overjoyed.* He KNEW.

He knew he was safe. In hindsight, I wish I had videoed it. While it’s a memory I won’t ever forget, I wish I had a copy to share with anyone who thinks horses are dumb and don’t have feelings.

It took the other horses about an hour to figure out he was there, and then they all came racing over to see him. It’s important to introduce horses to each other slowly, especially if one is underweight. Because we have another gelding who still has his stallion mindset, it’s particularly important that we let the boys get to know each other without the girls in the same space.

Sometimes, geldings get along just fine; sometimes it’s disastrous. Our good friend has a gelding that cannot be in the same pasture as any other male. The last time he was, he chased the other gelding into some trees and broke his leg, which made euthanasia necessary.

The layover stable owner had told us Blaze wasn’t too keen on mares, but did well with a gelding buddy. We figured Halo, the formerly emaciated Quarter Horse, is the sweetest and most mellow out of our mares, so we wanted to try her in with him.

Well. All the girls were in heat. 😆 She chased him mercilessly. 😆 And he was like, “Can someone help me out here, please? I’m really not up for all of this!”

Halo came out, and he settled in for the night in the peace and quiet.

Early on, we had decided that we’d wait several weeks to ride him. By Wednesday, he was antsy. He wanted to go! Halo had been saddled and was out in the side pasture, and you could tell, he wanted out there, too! Once Hunny got home from work, we saddled Blaze and off we went.

Honestly, he is probably the best horse we have! He is SO calm, and has a fantastic gait.

Let me give some parting thoughts:

While I don’t know that we would try to go this route again, I have to confess I’m completely satisfied.

We got the right horse. He got his Coggins. The layover was fine, and the absolute perk is that he IS dead broke, which is just what we were looking for.

People want to gripe that the brokers are making hundreds of dollars off these horses. When a person bails or sponsors a horse, the kill buyer pockets the extra money which he then uses to go buy even MORE horses to send to slaughter. They say that if we don’t buy these broker horses, we would shut down the kill buyers and they’d have nothing to send to slaughter.

They also say that tons of horses can be found for cheap, or on Craigslist for free.

I’ve checked Craigslist in my area for several months. Not a single free horse. Other horses were listed for even more money. I figure, if I’m going to risk on a horse, why not get one for whom death is imminent?

They say, all the horses are sick and/or skinny and euthanasia- not slaughter- is what they need. I’m sure that may be true for some of them.

Our horse was not seriously underweight. He needs maybe 100 lbs. Something to know about horses is how quickly they can lose weight. Stress and/or travel and dehydration can result in a horse losing 50 lbs in a single day. I was not too worried. We have been down this route before- we know how to save a starving horse.

As to the group I went through and the kill buyer/auction combo- here are some numbers:

This particular auction house has auctions once a week. The average week sees 250-300 horses going through. The kill buyer needs 30 horses to ship to slaughter in Canada. I have no idea how many are saved through the broker, but something is surely better than nothing.

They say these brokers create drama to guilt people into saving the horses, by using tactics such as, “This horse only has hours left!”

I acknowledge that our new horse came exactly with that kind of plea. But does this guilt people? I didn’t bite because he only had hours left to live- he was the kind of horse with the kind of height and age I was looking for. I passed over numerous other horses until I saw this boy.

Honestly- it wasn’t my fault I only found the broker and the horse that morning!

People complain about the profit being made on these horse that are picked up cheap or free at auction, etc, and then resold for hundreds of dollars.

Let’s talk about money.

Do y’all realize how much money is made in horse racing? And not just the big Triple Crown stuff, either. There are racetracks all over the place. And typically, the horse of choice is the Thoroughbred. One of the most prolific breeds going through auction are Thoroughbreds. If they don’t earn enough or get too old {I’ve seen 6 year olds considered “too old”}, they are thrown away. Literally.

Same goes for Saddlebreds, Tennessee Walking Horses, etc etc etc.

The money wrapped up in the horsey world is astonishing.

The brokers trying to save some of these-even if they are making a profit- are not the problem. The people buying the broker horses are not the problem.

The equine industry at-large is the problem. Breeding and breeding and breeding horses to pick out the best ones to make money with- that’s the problem.

Racing horses; showing horse- anything where money is tied to performance- that’s the problem.

The other end of the problem, obviously, is the business of slaughtering horses. Here in the US, there’s been a hold on that practice for a number of years, but it looks like it’s not going to be illegal much longer, unless something changes. Just last week, NM Attorney General Gary King put an end to a slaughterhouse’s bid to open right outside of where we used to live.

Here’s the thing- we can’t legislate other countries. We can only legislate what going on in the US. Make auctions have a reserve of several hundreds of dollars so that kill buyers can’t snap them up for cheap. Make breeding large numbers of horses illegal. Offer neuter programs, so those that find stallions can have them gelded for cheap.

Eliminate the huge purses and profits associated with racing and other equine industry money makers.

So. Here’s my advice if you are looking at getting a horse through a broker.

  • Don’t donate to save a horse unless you don’t care where the horse really ends up.
  • Don’t fund-raise to save a horse, particularly if the horse does not have a home offer.

Here’s why- if the horse doesn’t leave and go home with someone specific or to layover, you have no idea where that horse is going to end up. I’ve heard about horses getting sponsored and then just disappearing. Where did they go? Did they go to slaughter anyhow? I have no idea.

There was a lady who had donated $25 after we direct bailed our boy. I asked but never got an answer as to whatever happened to the funds she donated for our horse, but it didn’t affect the price we paid. I really hope they applied it to another horse.

  • Make sure you or your shipper has the Coggins IN HAND when the horse is picked up. The broker I worked with was very organized, but it’s not their responsibility to make sure you have the test results on the specific horse when that horse is picked up. In fact, this is one thing they actually mention time and time again.
  • Bear in mind- you’re not getting a Health Certificate, which is legally required to cross state lines. The broker I worked with didn’t say they would give one, yet that is one of the biggest complaints I have seen from people. I have no idea if the verbiage was changed recently or not, but I didn’t pay for one nor did I expect one.
  • You are not guaranteed registration papers. Nope, you’re not. And when I read the website, if the horse had papers, you only got them if you direct bailed. I have seen a lot of people up in arms about not getting registration papers. I didn’t see any posted, so assume he didn’t have any. And by gollee, I haven’t gotten any. You don’t see me whining. 😀
  • Follow through. I confess I’m a bit of a nag, but I was scared silly I wasn’t going to get the horse I paid for. The shipper verified and then we verified once he was at the stables.
  • While they are very good about noting any visible defects, you aren’t assured a dead-broke horse or even a ride-able one. Watch the video if there is one and see what they are able to do with the horse. Ask to see pictures of the teeth. The folks I went through had a website with pictures posted.
  • Know the variables to get the horse to YOU. This is not up to the broker to do for you. While the folks I dealt with were extremely helpful, I’ve only done it this once, so I have no idea how other brokers are.

The bottom line for me is this: We paid less for Blaze than we would have paid for another horse pretty much any other way {because as you’ve read, I didn’t see any freebies anywhere near me!}. We didn’t get registration papers, but I really don’t care. I just want to ride.

I’m sure I’ll get hate mail for this post. I’m sure I’ll be called names.

But let me tell you this: For this ONE horse, we made a difference.

And that, my friends, is all I can do today.

Yes, I can write and contact my local congressional folks. Then it’s up to them.

But this? This I could do. I could use the money I would have spent on another horse- getting this boy a good home with me.

Look at these pictures and tell me this wasn’t a good thing! 😆

blaze1blaze2blaze3blaze4blaze5blaze6blaze7blaze8

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Oh ya. I am totally trapped by him. There are days he interrupts what I’m doing and I fully fall under his spell. And then I have let him take over, which tanks me again for a while.

*sigh*

It all started today from going back and reading another post and discovering that a linked video had disappeared. The hunt was on to find the missing piece.

And one of the very first things I found was Michael.

Oh. My. Stars.

I had forgotten about him singing this one.

Wait. What? What am I talking about?

Not what. WHO.

Michael.

Michael Ball.

*le sigh*

If you don’t know who this is, let me hold up your rock so you can crawl out from under it. Don’t beat me for failing to educate you, because I’ll do a little to get started. 😀

It’s not just that I’m a sucker for curly hair and dimples. Nope. It’s not just that.

I am very sure I was crushing hard before I even got a look at him. That was just frosting on the cake.

Have you heard him sing?

The man has serious {and I mean SERIOUS} pipes. *sigh*

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHJ6EHlWuAg%5D

See what I mean? *sigh* I’ve watched this one at least 5 times today.

And it’s not even one of my most favorites. They’re all my favorites, but there are some I especially ♥♥♥.

You may remember he was the original Marius in Les Miserable. I’m sorry, but no one compares to him. Except maybe Ramin. But I digress. I’ll get lost in Ramin later. 😆

{If you’re a geek like me and totally get sucked into this stuff, here’s a good comparison of the various Mariuses: [youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMGarX9-WHg%5D

See where I’m coming from? Good, but not quite the same…..}

So. Michael. Marius. Les Miserable. *sigh* {I’m sorry, but Nick Jonas as Marius in the last anniversary special was just, well, terrible. No offence to Nick, but music theatre is just not his forte.}

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSzHAOkCDNU%5D

Obviously, he’s done all kinds of stuff, including another one of my favorites, Aspect of Love.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnLE0N87T6k%5D

In 2013, he received a Whatsonstage Award for Sweeney Todd.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quctDawu_bo%5D

Even in this grim show, his dimples betray him. ♥♥♥ 😆

The kicker is that he followed with this role after his Olivier Award-winning spin as Edna in Hairspray, which I think is hilarious.

This year, Michael is again nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. And, while he continues to rock on with different roles and keep me trapped, I still have to say my favorite role was Marius. *sigh*

Well, I might as well move on with my day and try to enjoy escape to doing something productive. I’m pretty sure the kids are sick and tired of playing ‘name that tune’ with me. 😀

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