Thursday, January 30, 2014

Funny Filly

This video of a thoroughbred filly acting out in her stall sums up how just about everyone I know feels about this winter. This racing fit filly is actually having fun and simply attempting to let out some pent up energy as she had only galloped one day out of the last five (she had been getting daily turnout though). If this were a video of me I would be throwing myself down on the ground doing my best imitation of a toddler having a full blown temper tantrum. My video would feature me kicking and beating my hands on the floor while crying and screaming at the top of my lungs. This filly's video is much cuter and more fun to watch. I realize others have had it worse as we did not have the winter storm that many areas of the south had.  Supposedly we are going to have more "normal" weather for the next week. I think I have forgotten what normal feels like at this point . . . 

Enjoy this funny video!



Wiz and Renny

Flyer and Gibson

Rip and Homer

Trigger and Moe

Apollo and Thomas snoozing in their shed

Noble, Slinky and Walden

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weather Update + Choosing Feed

(post by Jason) As I begin to write this blog the mid afternoon temperature at the farm is 18 F. This may or may not be a record…it probably is but I’m too tired of the cold weather to bother checking. The thermometer on my weather station has an unhappy face which appears whenever the temperature goes below freezing. Interestingly it exactly matches the look on Melissa’s face whenever I mention the weather. January has been a very cold month. Even TEMA, normally quick to pounce on any chance to declare a cold weather emergency is strangely silent this time. 

Technically we are still under the same State of Emergency as last week which they never allowed to expire despite being almost 60 F on Sunday. Apparently they could not be bothered to issue a new one this week. Like most of the rest of us maybe they have finally quit caring. People have even stopped stocking up on milk, bread and eggs. There were ample supplies of each in the grocery store this morning and no panic buying that I could see. At this point warming up to seasonal norms in the low 50’s would feel like a tropical heat wave. Now I will move along to a topic other than the weather.

Today’s blog is going to seem like a bit of a cheat on our part because we are going to ask you to do much of our work. I am curious as to what criteria you use when choosing a grain or supplement for your horse. To prompt you I will share what I was thinking about when I designed our current feed.  

1. Most of the nutrients in our horses’ diets comes from pasture or hay. We regularly test both for energy, protein, fiber level, mineral content and vitamin content. When designing a grain the first thing on my mind is that I want the nutrient content of the grain to roughly equal the difference between what the forage provides and what is required. 

2. Many of the older horses here have poor teeth and/or poor gut absorption. Thus I want our grain to be as energy and nutrient dense as possible. The most energy dense ingredient is fat but it is also relatively expensive compared to starches. As a general rule feeds with high fat content (8-10%) are found more often in higher priced premium products. 

3. Bioavailability in minerals is also important. As a general rule mineral chelates/proteinates are the most bioavailable form, followed by mineral sulfates, with mineral oxides being the least bioavailable. Thus mineral chelates and proteinates tend to be found more readily in premium products. 

4. Low sugar/starch – Since so many of our clients are IR or are being treated for Cushings it is important that anything we feed not be exacerbating their condition. Thus we achieve energy density from fat rather than starch. We also like to make sure there is significant fiber in our grain. This helps in two ways. The first is by aiding in saliva production which acts as a buffering agent. The second way is by slowing hindgut digestion. Slowing hindgut digestion gives some of our elderly horses a bit more time to absorb nutrients across the gut wall.  

5. Our hay and pasture is of moderate quality for most of the year. There is no great difference in nutritive value between pasture and hay except perhaps briefly in April when the warm season grasses are at their peak quality. Generally warm season grasses are considerably lower in sugars and starches then their northern cool season counterparts. The further north one goes the more massive this difference becomes. At the Canadian border the difference between energy content, fiber levels, sugars, starches and protein in peak quality cool season grasses and moderate quality grass hay is HUGE. 

So now I’m curious about what you are doing ! Please tell us what you’re feeding for grains and supplements and why you chose the feeds you did.



Gus and Lofty


Ritchie and Leo having fun

Lighning and Noble were also being playful

Clayton, Toledo and Rocky were having fun together

Elfin was napping in the sun

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Stills

Cuffie is so cute here he almost looks like a plush toy

Wiz and Dutch

Lucky and Lightening

Miracle, Sparky and Griselle

Tony, Baby, Thomas and  Moe were just hanging out

Apollo and Levendi

Trigger shaking the dust off after a good roll

Africa, Sam and Johnny

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Same Status Different Day. You thought I was going to use a different word didn't you?

I know everyone is anxious to know what TEMA has to say about our current status. To save you the trouble I checked on the TEMA website and we are business as usual, in a kinda/sorta State of Emergency. Technically we are in Level IV - elevated, so a step down from actual State of Emergency. However Executive Order #35 from Governor Bill Haslam is still in effect. You will recall this Executive Order from the last blog:

"Additionally, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued Executive Order #35 today declaring a State of Emergency in Tennessee to exempt federal Hours of Service requirements in the state for transporting propane during this period of cold weather."

I think TEMA is going to have blown through their budget and spent more time in Levels III and IV than they ever thought possible before this winter ends. I guess I am glad they are remaining ever vigilant during our record breaking winter. Actually I wonder what the heck they are doing in their elevated status. I mean, it hasn't even snowed. It is just unseasonably cold. Are they going house to house and offering to repair people's frozen pipes? What will they do if it actually snows, shut down the whole state and tell us we are all doomed?

Of course the tractor battery is still residing in our pantry which is now its home away from home. I went with only two layers of long underwear instead of three but I won't be making that mistake again tomorrow.  It will be back to three layers tomorrow and squeezing myself in half as I attempt to button my pants. I am consoling myself with the fact that it is supposed to be pleasant this weekend, into the mid 50's on Sunday (which would be more normal for us).  

However I will be crying myself to sleep tonight since, according to our latest weather forecast from NOAA, we will be having our third polar vortex starting Monday night and ending Thursday morning. Shoot me now. Have you noticed these polar vortex events all seem to last sixty hours, or am I the only one counting?  Jason keeps telling me this weather really isn't that bad, it is sunny and pleasant and that as long as you are working it isn't cold. I will give him that it has been sunny, but I can't put on enough clothes to be warm. I could go run a marathon in my three layers of long underwear without breaking a sweat in this weather. I've tried really really hard not to complain about winter this year, you have to admit I have done way less whining than usual on the blog this winter.  However that ship has sailed and I have pretty much given up on the concept of embracing winter as of today. I had a lot of unpleasant things to say about the weather today, I was pretty much a never ending stream of negativity.

Oh, and I realized today that I am down to my last two packets of hand/toe warmers. My case is almost empty (yes I buy them by the case). I am seriously concerned about being able to buy more of them anywhere local. If I find myself without my hand and toe warmers in polar vortex number three I will be in a huge major massive epic State of Emergency. 

I hope everyone is staying warm . . . and I don't want to hear from anyone in Florida or California right now!


I always enjoy this view during the winter when the leave are off the trees

at least I have had some pretty sunrises to look at the last couple of mornings; when I look at them I momentarily forget that I am freezing

Donneur, Romeo and Lotus

Walon and Johnny

I could not tell who this was with their head buried deep in the hay . . . 

. . . it was Chance


Lily looked relaxed and happy


Murphy and Lighty were having a grand time . . . 

. . . cue me screaming "LET GO OF THE BLANKET!!!" . . .

. . . Johnny joined in the fun for a few minutes . . . 

. . . Lighty looks like he is screaming "hi ho Silver" or something

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State of Emergency . . . Again?

I actually managed to get off the farm for a little while this afternoon to have lunch with my mother and also get a (desperately needed) hair cut.  As I was chatting away with Julia who cuts my hair she mentioned to me "I just heard on the radio that Tennessee was in a State of Emergency." I happened to be taking a drink of my water at that moment and found myself snorting water out my nose as I half choked, half laughed when she said that. She gave me a quizzical look that said "did I say something wrong?" 

So I explained to her that we had actually already lived under a state of emergency a couple of weeks ago. She was as blissfully unaware of our state of emergency as Jason and I had been.  I should explain here that we have some more extremely abnormal weather forecasted for the next few days. One night is predicted to hit a low of 9 degrees with daytime highs just below freezing.  Like our last State of Emergency we are looking at a period of about 60 hours where the temperature will not go above freezing. The good news is that it isn't supposed to be nearly as cold as a couple of weeks ago but still . . . this arctic cold nonsense is getting old.  Really old.  Hello, isn't this the south?? This State of Emergency business was weighing heavily on mind so when I got home I decided to take a quick look at the website for TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) to see what the official statement was. 

I breathed out a huge sigh of relief (sarcasm) when I realized that in fact we were not living in Level III - State of Emergency. Instead we were only living in Level IV - Elevated. This time our governor and TEMA decided that we are only kinda/sorta in a state of emergency. Here is the official statement:

"The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has activated to a Level IV – Elevated status to monitor weather and road conditions, and to manage any local requests for resources or assistance due to the approaching cold front and sustained period of subfreezing temperatures.

Additionally, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued Executive Order #35 today declaring a State of Emergency in Tennessee to exempt federal Hours of Service requirements in the state for transporting propane during this period of cold weather." (the bold emphasis was theirs, not mine)

So there you have it folks, the official word. This time it is anticipated that most of us are going to live, and in fact there were not even any dire warnings that "being outside for even a short period of time would be extremely dangerous." Those were TEMA's words in our last state of emergency, not mine.  

Jason and I have done our usual preparations. I say usual, but we've never done any of these things before this winter. We plugged in our truck. Given that we had never, ever used the block heater on our truck before this year the first time we plugged in the truck was kind of an adventure. All of the horses are in either their medium or heavy blankets, a few of them are double blanketed. We ended up triple blanketing (!) one horse a couple of weeks ago.  It is too soon to know if that will be necessary again. 

Guess where our tractor battery is?  Yep, you guessed right. Open up the pantry door and you will see the tractor battery nestled in there again. I am learning so many things winter. I now know where the block heater is on our truck. And I am now living with the freaking tractor battery in my pantry for a second time. Jason and I have been doing this farming thing together for almost a decade now. Until this year he had never felt the need to gently tuck the tractor battery into the pantry. He has now done this twice this winter.  I can hear the conversation now when we have house guests. 

House guest:  "Hey, do you have any potato chips."

Us:  "Sure do. Just look in the pantry right next to the tractor battery."

That is an actual conversation we could have in our house right now. Maybe it is just me but that really seems wrong.

I have all of my long underwear also at the status of Level IV - elevated. It is all clean and ready to be layered. I am thinking this time I might be able to get away with just doubling up the long underwear instead of tripling it. At least that will make buttoning my pants slightly less painful.  I have my case of toe warmers sitting in the mud room and ready for use.  My friend Wren gave me this great suggestion of putting toe warmers in between my two layers of socks. It worked like a charm during our go around with the polar vortex! It is good to have friends that are as cold natured as I am. Canadian Jason is not all that helpful in how to dress for cold as he is somewhat impervious to cold. 

In all seriousness I will be thrilled when these next 60 hours are over with and I can try to be warm again. Aside from the fact that I am totally not built for cold weather I really hate living through big weather changes with horses, bless them and their overly sensitive GI tracts.  Here we go again . . .


Merlin and Walden were being super playful

Then Fabrizzio decided to join in the fun

Johnny and Alex


Gibson and Cocomo

Sebastian and Lighty were having some play time

Dutch and Wiz

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Stills

the Pony Power Club hanging out; Cuffie, Traveller and Norman

Dolly and MyLight relaxing

Cinnamon and Silky

World's Cutest Fainting Goats, Mina and Miss Lyle and . . . 

. . . Jo

Stormy hiding behind a tree (I think he was scratching his nose) and Oskar

Largo, Rocky and Donovan 

Griselle and Miracle

Thomas and Baby