Farmtastic Tips

Hay String Everywhere

If you have horses, or equine of any variety, and you are feeding square bales of hay, you, like Cowboy and me, probably have baling string coming out of your ears.  The problem with baling string is that the stuff is just plain useful, and it makes it hard to part with.  Many a time Cowboy and I have been working on a fence panel or hanging a fly catcher only to find ourselves hunting a piece of baling string.  The stuff is tough.  Heck, it holds weighty bales of hay together.

Now as I’v mentioned before, cleaning is certainly not one my fave farm chore as country life is dusty, but this farmgirl loves to organize and find interesting  new uses for old things.  So for you collectors of hay string, try this one on for size.  All you need is an empty tissue box, or two or three depending on how much string you want to keep.

First, take your string and tuck it (or stuff it) into the box.  You’ll be surprised how much that little box can hold.

Fartmtastic Tip Photo - Tissue box for hay string
Use an ordinary empty tissue box to tuck your hay string into.


Then, when you are ready to pull out a piece of string, simply hold your hand over the opening, and pull out a piece of string.

Farmtastic Photo - Hay string in a tissue box
To pull out string, simply cover the opening with your hand and pull.


Finally, add a box to your tack room or garage to have that amazing baling hay string on hand whenever you need it.  (As you can see from the photo, I’m a farmgirl who loves a container and an organizing system.  No matter how simple!)

Farmtastic Photo - Organized tack room shelves
Tack room shelves – organization complete with tissue box full of string.


From one farmgirl to another, I hope you find this tip helpful, because if you are anything like me, you just don’t need one more thing to trip over.

Farmtastic Tips


My name is Tammy, and I am a porch-oholic. Yes, I admit it. During this glorious time of year before we are are melting under the sunbeams of summer, I am reveling in time spent on the porch. After I emerge from my day job, Cowboy generally asks if I am headed to hang out on the porch. And of course, yes, yes I am. I take a favorite book, pour a glass of citrus sweet tea, and retreat to the porch. In fact, I’m blogging from the porch right now.

When Cowboy and I built our barndiminium, a big ole giant porch was a must. I always knew I wanted a big front porch, but I just did not realize how much I would absolutely, unequivocally love it. It really is one of the most important rooms in our life. We can sit out here, grill out here, eat out here, and just hang with our critters. I can see the horses and donkeys clearly. I am in love.

There is just one itsy bitsy thing that challenged me about falling in love with my porch. And that is simply the costs to decorate it and make it cozy, comfy. This year, we splurged and invested in some furniture with actual cushions, but I wanted to share my top five tricks to deck out your porch on a budget and with your own pizzazz.

  1. Find it and paint it – Let’s face it, outdoor furniture is getting expensive. Heck at the prices it’s going for these days it ought to be front and center in the living room. To help stretch the budget, I love to find odds and ends pieces of furniture and paint them all the same color. This summer I’m in love with Valspar Paint’s Woodlawn Juniper, a National Trust for Historic Preservation color. And the best thing about paint, if you change your mind you can paint again. (But please don’t tell Cowboy I said that, painting is his absolute least favorite farm chore. If you want to see his otherwise good nature start sighing, just hand him a paint brush.)
  2. Repurpose – Cowboy and I love old things, and we often joke we were born too late. But that means we are always on the hunt for cool old things and that we can turn into something else. For example, I use an old porcelain metal top kitchen table for a gardening table, and it works beautifully. And I’ve got that puppy front and center on my porch, painted to match of course. Oh, and vintage coolers and boxes make great storage for gardening tools and seed packets.
  3. Keep it simple – I looked at outdoor dining tables, and holy moly did the prices and the fancy astonish me. I’m not feeding the queen of England, I just want a place where folks can set down their mason jar of goodness and snack away on some fresh watermelon and grilled perfection. Which brings me to the humble picnic table. They are super affordable, can seat six, and when you need a higher perch you don’t feel badly about sitting on the table top. Once again, just slather on your favorite color and you have something really special.
  4. Wind chimes – Part of country life is pure unadulterated peace and quiet. From the porch I listen to birds chirp, hear the hummingbird wings buzz as they flutter by, and relax to the sound of my wind chimes. Investing in a nice quality set of wind chimes is so very worth it. And with our Texas breezes, those things will clamor on a windy night, so you best get clamoring that you enjoy.
  5. Have Fun – If there is one thing you can count on around here, we are not the serious, stuffy sort of folks. Try the unconventional. Plant your plants in old kitchen pots. Decorate your garden with plates. Indulge in those little rabbit lawn sculptures and sneak them in here and there. Find some bright throw pillows. Just have one fun time making your porch your own.

Farm living is the life for me, and porch sitting is a big part of what we enjoy out here on the backroads. I’d love to hear how you make your porch your own and see photos of your favorite spot to sit and relax. It’s okay to be a porch-oholic. You are in good company.







Farmtastic Tips

Extra, Extra

Like a lot of the country, we’ve been riding the weather roller coaster here at the farm.  We had yet another bout of ice, frozen gates, and frozen water troughs this week.  One lesson Cowboy and I have learned on the farm is, like the Boy Scouts, you always have to be prepared.

Now one of the beautiful things about farm life is that it is peaceful and quiet, but that also means the farm and ranch supply store is not around the corner.  Since moving to the farm, we’ve become the masters of list making.  We’ve got grocery lists, Tractor Supply lists, and giant super store lists going all the time.  Cowboy refers to it as “going to town lists.”

Which brings me to the handy dandy list of the extras that Cowboy and I have found that we need to keep at the farm, because let’s face it, the time when you need it the stores will be closed, the roads will be bad, or it will be the middle of the night.

  • Hoses and hose couplings – Horses need water, dogs needs washed off, and plants need watered.  And let’s face it, hoses bust.  But don’t throw out those old hoses. We keep them around for smaller jobs, hence the couplings to create new connections.
  • Plumbing supplies – Sort of like hoses, but a bit more complicated.  When you’ve got water lines running here and there across the farm, you just never know what you’ll need.  Especially if you have one nosey horse like Ranger who found a way to bust the spigot to one trough twice in one week.  (Lucky for Ranger he is my baby, because he was certainly not Cowboy’s that week.)
  • Water trough fills – We’ve always got a minimum of four water troughs running here at the farm.  And unless you want to run around constantly checking to make sure they are full or heaven forbid overflowing, fills are a must.
  • Water trough heaters – Let me say I’ve learned to bust through the ice, but on days when 32 is just a mirage, you want something that is going to have some staying power.
  • Pet food – With the herd of critters at the farm, we’ve got horse food (regular and senior), horse hay (round and square bales), dog food, and cat food.  Oh, we might as well throw in the never ending supply that’s need for kitty litter as well. Cowboy says we can’t get any more kinds of animals because he doesn’t want to have to keep track of one more bin of food.
  • Stocked pantry – Let’s face it, most of the time I’m worried about making sure the critters are happy, but the two-leggeds have to eat too.  We’ve mastered the art of one to use and one in reserve, we call it the extra shelf in the pantry.  No one wants to be in the middle of making dinner and run out of that one key ingredient and make the one-hour round-trip effort to go to the store. By then, you might as well grab something in town.

I learned this extra business from my grandpa.  He was a city boy and could practically walk to the grocery store, but he lived through the Great Depression and was the king of the extras.  I remember when we moved him and my grandma, and it was my job to unpack their bathroom stuff. Never in my life have I seen so many rolls of toilet paper!  I used to think he was crazy, now I realize he was a genius.  (I can hear him laughing up in heaven seeing me put those words in print!)

Farm life has simply reinforced something I learned when I was young.  Trust me, no one wants to go hunting for that farm life must have at midnight and praying the 24-hour wally world has you covered (just ask Cowboy)!

Farmtastic Tips

A Spoonful of Sugar

Farmgirl life is relatively new for me, which means I have lots to learn and that the learning is often amusing, at least after you’ve cleaned off the horse snot, the dirt, and the sweat. For other new farmgirls (and guys), I thought I’d share some tips that are working around Wild Horse Valley.

When it comes to getting medicine in a horse, a girl needs an ace in her pocket. Let me tell you that there is no amount of reasoning, cajoling, coaxing, or sweet talking that will convince a thousand-pound horse to take his meds.  And while some folks may like to cowboy it, horses are large animals with strong powerful heads and necks, so that is just not an option for this farmgirl. Not to mention, it’s just not my style.

Like medicine for children, horse meds come flavored, with the most popular being apple.  Also like medicine for children, the flavor does not help the medicine go down. (Mommy friends, you know what I mean – cherry does not equal ice cream.) Trust me, no one wants to be covered in horse meds sneezed and snorted all over your favorite barn t-shirt.

But as I recall from one of my childhood favorites, a spoonful of sugar does indeed make the medicine go down. Enter molasses!  I keep a a stash of molasses on hand in the barn for those times when it does a horse good. Also on hand in the barn is a jar of bute powder, think Children’s Tylenol for horses.

Photo - Jar of Grandma's Molasses
Molasses – a farmgirl’s best friend when you need to get meds into your horse!

We’ve got an older mare, Sweet Suzy Q, who occasionally needs some bute for an aching joint or minor inflamation. And although it is apple flavored like all good horse meds, there is no convincing her to take it, that is until you mix it with a spoonful of molasses and a serving of her feed.  All of sudden the dreaded medicine becomes the best treat ever.

Learning how to work with my horses for their good, my safety, and our combined happiness is how I get that cowgirl up feeling.  For my next farmtastic tip … it is absolutely critical to label the horse thermometer.  Enough said!