Saturday, April 21, 2012

In which an "adventure destination" is pretty tame (and yet, strange)

I spent two days at a library conference this week...and the conference center just happened to be located across the street from a BRAND-NEW GEAR STORE:

Of course, I had to go take a look at the "REI for Rednecks" shop!

These yabbos were guarding the door.  

"Welcome to Cabela's.   We are paid to look serious at this kiosk."
It was like trying to make the guards at Buckingham Palace smile!

They sneered at the thought that I might be packing heat.  I took their picture.  I think that makes us even.

Looking welcome, but slightly out-of-place beside the normal Cabela motel-paintings, a sun figure carved in the NW Coastal style:
Artwork in Cabela's is usually stuffed dead animals and bad landscape prints,
 but their contract with the local landowning tribe stipulates Native Art
made by real natives who are really artists.  Hooray!
And then we got to this:
My first thought:  "Dang, I'll bet the storytimes here are REALLY  exciting!"
Then there's the toy area, which made my feathers all go the wrong direction:
True, the truck hitch will never reach that trailer ball without major custom mods.
 But that wasn't my main objection.

Closeup of the figures.
The center horse's left front leg is weirdly too long.
But that wasn't my objection, either.
How is it that the big logger-looking guy is in the scene with the horses?  Do these people not know anything?  
This is the toy deemed appropriate for girls.
As a kid, I played endlessly with my brother's (distinctly non-pink) Big Jim Sports Camper...

but I swear (and my mom will back me on this) that Big Jim and all the other dolls stayed in the box.  The "person" driving that camper and stuff was ME.  

There were other clues that I am not quite the "target female demographic" for this store:

Seriously?  No man would buy this.
Pink camo gift wrap is for ladies who are killing time while the menfolk
are checking out storytime at the Gun Library.

BAH HA HAH hah ahah ahahaha!
Trying to think if I know anybody who would wear this.
Funder?  Wanna volunteer?
There's some decent gear here.  The boots look sturdy enough (even the women's boots), and they had some sturdy-looking rain gear.  

But some stuff just seemed designed to make me laugh.  

So, I laughed.
A camouflage mobile device cord.
 Because you don't want your prey animals to know where you charge your iPhone.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In which I take a lot of "ears at the bottom" pix to tide me through

Fee's spay surgery is scheduled for a week from today...and now the reality is starting to sink in:  

I won't be able to ride her for a month.  

A month.  In springtime.   

It's entirely possible that I could die from lack of dragontime.
Springtime in the Swampland:
Salmonberries are flowering, alder trees are budding
I've got to prepare myself by advance innoculation!
Duana understands the need for on-the-horse-time. 
In other words:  I've gotta get out and ride while I still can.

Even in the rain, obviously.

Long raincoat w/hood that fits over a helmet.
Purple gortex rain chinks.
Synthetic half-chaps.
Waterproof, insulated boots.

Even when rain isn't actively falling, the foliage is very wet.
My camera decided spontaneously to shoot one photo from inside a raindrop:

I wish I knew what happened in this photo so I could do it again.
But the remainder of the pictures are pretty normal...and many feature the classic "ears at the bottom" we all love so much.

Here, Hana shows how deep the mud is on a short pony:
White socks?  What white socks?
The mud doesn't seem nearly so dramatic on a long-legged dark-brown horse.  So I took more pictures of dragon ears instead.
Dragon ears in shade.

Dragon ears in sunshine.
And a little video.  I think I'm going to put this video on "continuous loop" for a month until Fee is able to return to work.

Sunday is the last "riding day" on the calendar before the surgery.  

I think we'll make it a long one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In which the miraculous nature of beet pulp is discussed and lauded

Jane's horse Hudson is having tummy troubles.

Jane, and Hudson's former owner Bella, have always done right by Hudson, but his manure has been loose for years, and he's not masticating thoroughly enough now to process his food properly.  After a visit from the vet AND the equine dentist, and supplementing Hudson's feed with some electrolytes, he's back to his old feisty self...

but he ain't getting younger, and Jane suspects that adding in some easily-digested feed may help her big guy.


4 cups of dry beet pulp pellets

Beet pulp is the "stuff" left over after the usable sugar is extracted from sugar beets.  It's extruded into pellets or shreds, bagged up into 40-pound sacks, and sold as a livestock feed.  

Beet pulp is commonly fed to endurance horses.  The soaked feed is easy to chew/swallow, easy to digest, and supplies only slightly more calories than good quality hay, and fewer calories than an equivalent weight of oats.  Beet pulp contains about 10% protein, .8% calcium and .5% phosphorus, making it a more balanced source of energy and fiber than wheat bran.  

Researchers have found that beet pulp can comprise up to 50% of a horse's healthy diet.  Fiddle (who is not an easy keeper) prefers beet pulp to hay, and she eats a huge amount of beet pulp compared to many horses:  
8 cups of dry pellets + water = 2.5 gallons  for breakfast, 
and the same amount for dinner.  

(For reference purposes:  Fiddle is 10 years old, 15.3 hands, about 1100 pounds, and does 10-20 miles of trails each week, plus a dressage lesson.  She has a huge engine, and requires a lot of fuel to keep her engine going!)

The high fiber content of beet pulp seems to normalize fermentation in the horse's large colon, resulting in more efficient digestion overall, which is why many hard-keeper horses (like Fiddle) thrive on beet pulp.  It's relatively cheap, stable, easy to store, easy to feed, and horses actually like it.  Amazing, I know.

HERE is a rational-yet-readable description of beet pulp, penned by equine nutritionist Susan Garlinghouse DVM.

Close up of beet pulp pellets

The pellets we buy as animal feed have had the sugar removed--that's the first use for raw sugar beets.  Pelleted or shredded beet pulp is actually a secondary product of the sugar-making process;  therefore, the feed has a very low glycemic index.  Be aware that some feed companies add molasses to pelleted beet pulp in order to increase palatability.  A bag of unsweetened beet pulp will smell slightly sweet; a bag of sweetened beet pulp, by comparison, smells like a Jamaican rum factory.  

If you are unsure if your beet pulp is sweetened (the tag on the sack isn't always helpful), soak a cup of it in a gallon of water.  If the water turns brown, there is molasses added (you can throw the brown water out and add clean water--beet pulp sweetener rinses away very easily).  

If your horse turns up his nose at unsweetened beet pulp (rare), consider adding a SMALL amount of molasses to the mix at first.  If glycemic index is a concern for your horse,  mix in a cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of molasses.  Gradually decrease the "candy" additive over a week, and you will probably find that your horse will soon be licking the unsweetened bowl clean.

Beet pulp famously soaks up a phenomenal amount of water, which the horse takes in as part of the beet pulp feed.  Since hydration is a major concern for hard-working endurance horses during competition and training, any feed that will get water inside an endurance horse is considered a Good Thing.

High-tech, custom-designed beet pulp hydration device
(If you have never soaked a bucket of beet pulp, please visit THIS LINK before reading further on this post.  Ladies of a certain age are cautioned to urinate before reading the Famous Squirrel Story).

When discussing beet pulp feed on public forums, it seems there's always some well-intentioned but mis-informed person who bleats out some old and bad "research" that "proves" how horribly dangerous beet pulp (especially dry, unsoaked beet pulp) is as an animal feed, and how it soaks up water from the horse's intestines until the horse explodes.  Proper research has disproved this.  Beet pulp can be fed dry, but soaked beet pulp is better if hydration is an issue for the horse.

Beet pulp by itself is not a cause of choke; however, if your  horse is prone to choking on other feeds, by all means heavily soak your beet pulp, serve it in small amounts, and consider adding some two-fist-sized rocks to the horse's feed pan to keep him from gulping his food.  

Soaking beet pulp isn't a complicated process:  
  • take a SMALL amount of pellets, 
  • add a LARGE amount of water.  
  • Then, stand back.  

8 cups of beet pulp pellets, soaked in 2.5 gallons of water for an hour.
Looks like the stuff inside the pencil sharpener.

The feed should expand enormously and reach the consistency of soft pencil-shavings in 30-60 minutes.   

I generally mix up the morning ration of beet pulp and water at night, as soon as I finish feeding the animals their dinner.  For the evening ration, I throw it all together in the covered plastic bucket as soon as I've fed breakfast.  

I *do* cover the feed while it soaks to keep vermin out.  At the barn where I boarded in past years, beet pulp was soaked without a cover, and the barn rats were enormously fat.  (So were the barn floofs consider beet pulp a   rare delicacy!)

In a warm climate, I would probably mix up the beet pulp closer to mealtime to avoid it going "sour."  That's rarely a problem here.  Alternately, you might mix up batches in ziplock baggies and stash them in a refrigerator for barn staff to feed, if you are in a boarding situation...has anyone done this?  I often mix beet pulp inside a gallon-sized ziplock bag to send to vetchecks during a competition, so that part works fine.  

As with all new feeds, add beet pulp to the diet gradually, in small amounts.  A half-cup to a cup of dry pellets plus water could be fed once each day for a week.  Increase the quantity slowly.  

Pro tip from Hana:  Throw in a carrot or two to encourage your horse to explore the new feed all the way to the bottom of the pan! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

In which Madeline's pup comes for a visit and we reveal her name

Ryan delivered a horse to Fish Creek Farm this morning, so he brought along Madeline's Puppy so we could tell her how adorable she is!

"G'head.  Tell me I'm cute...or get away from the truck."
Really, REALLY adorable!
"This iz my best side:  my OUTside!"
The weather was...typical....
Have I mentioned that I really like the Carhartt rain parka?
but the puppies didn't mind.
Dory's pup Poppy meets Maddie's pup
There was puppy fluffiness everywhere.   And now, it's time to reveal the name of the puppy.

Maddy wants us to name her "Paisley", which is a nice name. 

However, Maddy lives 3,000 miles away.  And Ryan and I like to tweak her sometimes. 


We named the (puppy) Monkey Jack.
A few seconds of charming puppy time: 

Visible in this quick bit of film:  Monkey Jack (of course), her sister Poppy, her mum Bailey, and Jessie the farm dog, plus some various legs, feet, and pieces of farm equipment.

Not pictured:  the rain.

It's good to run into a barn on a day like today.  It's good, it's good, it's good.

In which we celebrate spring and a birthday and sunshine and flowers

Photobomb:  bald eagle, top left
 My birthday was last week, so we used that as an excuse to go visit the tulip fields up north of Haiku Farm.

It used to be that folks would pack a picnic lunch and take bicycles out on the rural roads to visit the various tulip farms and take photos of the pretty flowers.  
These days, the private growers have "no trespassing" signs on their fields, and the two largest growers have all but invited Disneyland to set up shop during the month of April: the formerly-humble tulip farms now offer gourmet ice cream, face painting, kite flying, and an indoor plant vendor.  The traffic (especially on weekends) is prohibitively scary for bicyclists.

But the flowers are still pretty. 

My parents met up with us for the day, and Mom and I walked around the big tulip fields, taking photos and talking.
The artist adds to her collection of inspiration.
 My mom is a watercolor artist; she started taking classes several years ago, and is amazingly talented.   
This was my birthday card:  my mom's flower picture!
 I fully expect to see a new batch of paintings featuring watercolor illustrations of tulips.  I can hardly wait.
 We messed around with wide-angles and close-ups.

Another photo-bomber: this time, a spider

 This lonely flower, off by itself
 reminded us of Twelve, who looks like the others but is distinctly individual in character.

Then we saw these rogue daffodils
Can flowers run away?  These daffs appear to be fleeing the captivity of the field
 on the edge of the tulip fields, evidently heading south without authorization.  Can plants migrate?  Hmmm.

 After the flowers,

the cake.

And (you know this, right?):  it was GOOD!