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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: bad weather

This blog has been neglected for a few months. I am now getting back in the saddle again. I thought I might have to give up on the Farmette as pain took hold of my life here. But, after many types of treatments, medications, therapies and a lot of different doctor’s offices, I found a Neurosurgeon that was willing to help repair my damaged neck.

Our Chiropractor, Dr Robert Floyd, had helped as much as possible and the most of anyone in my 2+ years of constant pain. But, in my case, alternative medicine could only do so much. The problem was not one that would ever heal.

My Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gudeman, is not known for his bedside manners, but for being very good at his job. I myself found him pleasant, interesting and happy to answer all of my very particular questions. He was the only doctor in this specialty (that I had met) that had respect for Chiropractic work and other alternative approaches to health care – not reacting to them as a threat. When I found that he also wore Birkenstocks in his free time, I knew I had the right guy. Someone with a sharp mind with an earthy twist was the one to trust to replace a badly worn disc (only 5% left) and fuse two vertebrae together (C5 & C6).

I am still recovering and sometimes have some bad days, but the brunt of the healing is done, just in time for pre-Winter preparations here. We are trying to quickly finish a new equine run-in barn before the really bad weather hits.

Framework for new run-in barn

We will be re-using the siding wood from the old run-in. The original was built in a hurry and has a structural design flaw that is making it slowly bend in half. The new framing is staged next to the garage. We have one more wall and another door skeleton to build. Then we will move the new structure out to the pasture and transfer the covering from the old structure. There will be new roofing material and paint comparable to our top bar bee hive which has a fairly clean (but not manicured) appearance.

Old run-in - in the distance

Since we have a 10 hand high Shetland pony and a 14 hand high large quarter pony/small horse (his proportions are that of a horse), we don’t need to think big on the first stage of this project. It is 8′ x 8′ x 8′ with about 1.5′ extra to the peak of the roof.

Our two equine - Bigs & Rocky

The back wall will be solid and the front wall will be covered to 4′ or 5′ high so that, from the front of our house, we can see the horses inside. Both sides will have a 2/3  door and a 1/3 wall. When snow and ice storms come in, we can close it up. We will also be adding 3 flip up doors on the front wall that will act as shade canopies when open and weather shields when closed.

Run-in Diagram/Sketch

This is the first of, hopefully, many modules that will make up the horse barn area. It will not be too hard to add on to this starter piece. We will eventually have a place for hay and tack/equipment storage, a covered grooming station with cross-tie posts and some individual stalls.

Our lovely & beautiful blind quarter pony - "The Big Man Dakota"

Even though our quarter stallion is blind, he is claustrophobic and knows when he is closed up. On his trip here, I thought he would kick his way out of the trailer. This is the main reason that we will have several different ways to enter and close up the new shelter in the event of nasty weather.

Big Man is very calm in comparison to his arrival here at the Farmette, but we still need to introduce him to some things slowly. We’ll leave the doors open until necessity forces us to keep the freezing precipitation out. Hopefully, by then, he will understand the boundaries of this barn and adjust to the closed space without panic setting in.

Both the Shetland pony (Rocky) and “Bigs” have nice winter coats. Rocky is made for the seasonal changes being that his fur is short & shiny in the Summer and long & thick in the Winter.

Rocky - Head Shot

Big Man has a good coat too, but as much as he likes to stay out pastured day and night, I still worry about him getting cold. North Carolina Winters have days that start off warm and wet before turning to cold and icy. This is the crucial time to keep equine in blankets or in their shelter. Other than this time of year, leaving a barn open and available is a good way to keep your horses happy.

Happy Trails

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We are in our 4th year here in NC and on this property. Every year, we get more snow. Being from the North East, I am happy about this, even though it presents some challenges for our slowly emerging Farmette.

"Rocky" the Grumpy Shetland Pony

Rocky loves his grain...

The Shetland pony is well adapted for snow. He gets a Winter coat like that of a woolly mammoth. But even though our little horse/large pony, Big Man, gets an adequate Winter coat, his personality becomes an issue when the weather gets really bad.

He is a blind yet claustrophobic guy. When we first brought him here, he nearly came out the escape door in the trailer, kicking and yelling most of the way here. It took over a year to get him used to being hooked up to that trailer and the fence posts.

Big Man likes to be out in the open. Maybe it is because he can see a little shadow of movement in the distance through his glazed eyes. He also seems to be able to feel your vibrations in the ground as you approach.

So, it will be nasty outside and instead of staying in the shelter of the run-in shed, he’ll stand out in the middle of the field. Convincing him that the run-in is dryer and warmer with grain bribes helps a bit, but I still worry about the wet in combination with cold weather considering his behavior.

"The Big Man Dakota" also loves grain.

Now, the Big Man Dakota sports a bright orange turn-out blanket. Being a bit concerned about keeping his Winter coat intact, I purchased a 420/70 denier breathable jacket.

In the slippery, cold eye of the storm, I slowly and carefully made my way out to the pasture to check on how it was working in the snow. It looked wet in some places, but when I ran my hand under it next to Big Man’s body, he was completely dry and warm. Water was trapped between the double layers, ready to evaporate – awesome!

Big Man wearing his new jacket

After the ice accumulation overnight, I checked again. The moisture between the layers was gone and our little horse was still cozy and content. He was even showing off a bit, dancing around in the snow. It is hard to tell, but I think that he knows that the jacket provides comfort and that he is making a jazzy, fashion statement.

It was a load of fun to get it on him for the first time – a bit like waving a red cape at a bull. He reacted to the sound of the nylon friction like that of impending doom and got quite spooked. All that I can say is – soft words, praise and treats. These work like miracles in the equine world. Even the grumpy pony that takes great pleasure in kicking and biting his blind buddy appreciates these.

Now that Big Man has developed some trust in us, I think that we may be able to close him in a stall barn/shed without panic setting in. I am working on a plan that could be built with doors or without. Hopefully, we will have the funds for the supplies in the Spring. A scaled down version of what we really want should help it materialize.

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