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!

Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

Upwind vs. Downwind – It Really Matters

Admittedly, I didn’t grow up in the country, so it’s fair to say that I’ve had a learning curve.  In fact, I’m still learning every day.  But if there is one thing that I’ve learned for sure, it is this —  it is incredibly important to know the difference between upwind and downwind.

When I lived in the suburbs, I never gave too much thought about upwind and downwind.  But now that I’m a country gal and have regular large animal chores, such as mucking out stalls (for my city friends – that’s a nice way of saying scooping horse poop), I’ve learned to pay attention.

Picture it (totally borrowing a line from Sofia Petrillo here) …  It’s a hot, windy summer day.  Dirt is in the air.  Birds are chirping.  Oh, and another fun and pertinent farm fact, the hotter and drier it is, the faster the poo dries out and breaks apart.  Fascinating, right?  Anywho, I’m wearing my pink rubber boots and scooping stalls.  However, I make one fatal flaw when I start.  You guessed it.  Not paying attention to upwind and downwind.

I place my scooping wheelbarrow in front of me.  I get a good big scoop full on my muck rake and go to put it in the bucket, when a Texas-size wind kicks up and blows a big old gust.  My muck rake is poised over the bucket to unload the cargo, but I’m not fast enough.  It’s too late.  The wind covers me in poop particles and dust before I can dump it.  There I stand, muck rake in hand covered in dusty poop particles.  What’s a farmgirl to do? Laugh, simply laugh (with your mouth closed of course)!

It’s safe to say that I fully understand upwind and downwind now, which comes in handy in all sorts of ways in the country.  Skunk smell?  Best to be upwind.  Cows in the pasture?  Best to be upwind.  The bottom line, when in doubt, choose upwind.  You’ll be sure to stay clean, but I’ll warn you, it might not be as much fun.

A windy day.  Great for taking horse picture with flowing manes,  not so much for scooping.
A windy day. Great for taking horse pictures with flowing manes, not so much for scooping.