Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Stills

Ritchie and Leo

Chance and Grand

Cuffie and Maisie

Silky, Dolly and Lily; one of my favorite pictures I have taken recently

Donneur and Asterik

Flyer and Gus

Wiz and Renny

Trigger, Moe and Levendi

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More on the Truck Debate

(Post by Jason) We thought our truck blog from Tuesday would probably elicit some strong opinions and we were right ! I will back down and say that in certain situations a full size half ton pickup is probably (barely) adequate to haul one or two horses locally. But I'm not backing down completely on the subject and I will attempt to explain why. Most American trucks and SUV's have plenty of engine power and torque to haul any sort of horse trailer, loaded or not. This isn't a question of engine power. This is a question of braking, handling and mechanical wear. 

The first problem is braking. In an ideal world heavy duty trailer brakes would be de rigeur on every horse trailer and the brakes on every trailer would be set up in such a way that the trailer did most of the braking. Not only should trailer brakes come on slightly harder than vehicle brakes, they should also come on slightly sooner. Unfortunately the brake pads/shoes on most trailers are far from heavy duty and I'd say it's likely that trailer brakes rarely get serviced. In addition, a lifetime of experience in dealing with them would suggest that most brake boxes aren't set up even close to correctly. Thus an inordinate amount of braking gets done by whatever vehicle is towing the trailer. Most SUV's and full size half ton trucks have light duty brakes that are designed to stop the vehicle in question. They are not designed to stop the vehicle in question PLUS a loaded horse trailer weighing several thousand pounds. 

The same thing can be said of transmissions. Despite the hype on TV commercials, SUV's and light duty vehicles have light duty transmissions that are designed to tow minimal loads on an infrequent basis. Hauling one or two horses fifty miles once a month probably qualifies. Hauling two or more horses hundreds of miles a month probably doesn't. You may get lucky and not experience problems with your vehicle. However I promise very few people who are mechanically in the know are going to want to buy your used SUV or 1/2 ton pickup if they know it's been used to tow a horse trailer on a regular basis. There is a big step up in transmissions, drive lines, oil coolers, and perhaps most importantly, brakes when you move from a 1500 series half ton to a 2500/3500 series 3/4 ton or one ton. 

I also think frame of reference is important. In most cases the vehicle most people haul horses with is the largest vehicle they've ever owned, and because of their frame of reference the vehicle feels more than adequate when hooked to a trailer. I've had lots of people tell me that their half ton gas truck felt HUGE. Back in the day, the only hauling I did was in a semi-trucks or trucks that were one size smaller.....think International dump trucks for a size reference. These trucks had power to spare, air brakes (thus brakes to spare) and were designed to haul heavy trailers all the time. Thus the first time I hooked onto Melissa's horse two horse trailer with my 1/2 ton gas truck I was appalled at everything about the experience. Relative to my previous frame of reference my new truck and trailer combination felt ridiculously small, had no power, no brakes, and was dangerously unstable when turning any corner.  I still feel that way with our 3/4 ton diesel and two horse trailer, but less so. For towing anything larger I would not feel comfortable using a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel pick-up truck.

We're curious to see what sorts of comments my rebuttal brings. Bring 'em on ! 


Trigger sunbathing while Leo strolled over to say "hey man, are you ok?"

Levendi and Moe

Hemi and Apollo

Bergie and Donovan

Murphy, Africa and Johnny

Faune and Flyer having an early morning grooming session; Gus is grazing in the background

Walon, Oskar and Clayton

Lotus and Gibson

Darby, Alex and B-Rad

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We Disagree About Trucks

(post by Jason) Melissa and I have a running argument about what is adequate in terms of a towing vehicle where horse trailers are concerned. She regularly points out to me that folks are hauling trailers the same as ours or heavier with what I consider extremely light duty and/or often very inappropriate vehicles such as F-150 or other half ton trucks. I feel such a truck is suitable for a small trailer going on short hauls in mostly flat areas, but outside of that scenario I personally want more truck, and I especially want heavier brakes.  Most trucks can pull a trailer without issues, depending on the circumstances stopping them could be a problem.  (Jason argues that our Duramax Diesel isn't heavy enough to pull our two horse gooseneck trailer. I happen to disagree. He thinks a small Freightliner is appropriate for the job).

The other day we were at the vet clinic and Melissa pointed at a two horse steel trailer being pulled with a Dodge Durango (Melissa also pointed out she wasn't going to haul her horse in that rig!). The Durango's rear end sat so low that it must have scraped the road periodically and the front end was so high I couldn't figure out how the driver could see the road to steer it. In my opinion that wasn't nearly enough vehicle for the trailer it was hauling. 

Melissa correctly points out that in Europe people haul horses around in euro style trailers (different from our North American trailers) with their VW Jetta's, small SUVs and the like.  Thanks to Canada's high gas prices I had a VW Jetta diesel as one of my cars when I was selling feed. It got fantastic mileage....upward of 50 mpg.....and it was a peppy, well built little car. I put over 350,000 trouble free miles on it and I really can't say enough good things about it. That said, I can't imagine any circumstance in which I would feel safe hauling any horse trailer....or indeed any trailer of any sort.....loaded or not....with my VW Jetta. If I was hauling horses in Europe I'm confident I'd be showing Melissa into the cab of my 5 tonne Mercedes diesel or my 20 tonne Scania horse box (Melissa says let's import the Scania horse box STAT). 

I think there is much truth to the statement that one uses what one has and this is doubly so if what one has is paid for and what one wants is not. For a couple of years Melissa and I hauled horses to and from the vet in her two horse trailer with a tackroom, pulled with our paid for Chevrolet 1/2 ton. The key word in the previous sentence is paid for. The truck came with me from Ontario. When I bought it the only purpose it had was to haul me to and from the coffee shop, our local grain elevator or our local farmers co-op. I never intended it to haul trailers or any real weight....I would've bought something pretty different if that was the case. We made this vehicle work for awhile for very sporadic, very short hauls.  Melissa thought that it really didn't have enough engine or transmission to haul her loaded trailer up hills and I certainly didn't think it had enough brakes to stop it adequately if one were going down hill. 

We pretty quickly traded it in for a six speed manual shift Duramax diesel crew cab (Melissa again, I have to admit I liked my Ford Powerstroke diesel better than the Duramax). The Duramax likes to nickel and dime us to death, however it has enough engine power, braking power and a heavy enough transmission for our two horse trailer. If I were going to move up to a four horse trailer, or if I was going to be hauling any trailer some distance on a regular basis, I would be very tempted to step up the truck from a light duty 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel truck to a medium duty Freightliner/International or something similar.  I would definitely consider air brakes as well. These trucks aren't any more money than a 3/4 or 1 ton and the design life is twice as long as a light duty truck.  

I don't expect this is an argument that we're ever going to resolve, at least until I get my baby Freightliner, but I sure am curious as to the size of your trailer and what you haul it with. (Melissa here one last time: no I don't see us resolving this any time soon.  I stand firm that a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel truck is sufficient to haul a two horse trailer!).



Johnny and Clayton

Murphy, Dutch and Sam

Walon and Toledo having some playtime . . . 

. . . Donovan came over to watch . . . 

. . . and then he decided to join in the fun as well

Homer and Moe

Sebastian and Johnny

O'Reilly and Noble

Miss Lyle has not jumped out . . . lately

Rip and Ritchie

Bergie, Kennedy, Oskar and Donovan totally ignoring me as I called them for breakfast

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Stills

Maisie and Traveller

Donneur and George

Murphy, Dutch, Lighty and Renny

Fabrizzio, Lucky and Bruno

Merlin and Duesy

Johnny and B-Rad

Tony and Baby

Leo and Chance

Elfin and Grand doing some synchronized rolling

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Buck Toothed Doe

I have mentioned before that the number of deer that call our farm home is impressive. It has gotten to the point that they aren't even scared of us anymore. We can walk past them, drive past them in the car, or ride past them on the tractor and they hardly flick an ear as we pass by. "Oh, it's just them again."

There is one doe in particular that we see pretty regularly. Or maybe I should say we know we see her regularly because of her identifying features. She has a really long nose, quite an underbite, and also appears to have some pretty significant buck teeth. 

Jason first noticed her last fall. He was having a bout of the stomach flu courtesy of the world's cutest vector, Carter. As is the case when you have the stomach flu, Jason was spending more than his share of time sitting on the toilet (truly a magnificent mental picture you have now, right?)  Anyway, as Jason was ensconced on the toilet for another extended session he was passing the time by looking out the window located near the toilet. A doe wandered up and basically looked in the window at him. 

Jason excitedly called me into the bathroom. "Melissa, Melissa you have to come here and see this!"  From the excitement in his voice I was thinking he felt it necessary to show me that he had finally had a solid bowel movement after two days of  having exactly the opposite. The last thing I was expecting was for him to be jabbering away as he sat on the toilet about a deer. He went on about a deer with an underbite and buck teeth while pointing out the window. Unfortunately she had moved on by the time I made it to the bathroom (I thought I was going to look at a #2 so I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get in there). However Jason had other opportunities to show off his deer to me and whenever we see deer on the farm we always check to see if "our" buck toothed doe with the big underbite is among them.

I had another sighting of her tonight as I drove along the driveway towards the front barn to medicate a horse for the last time before it got dark.  Several deer were grazing and slowly meandering their way across the driveway.  As I sat in the car waiting for them to pass one deer stopped right in front of the car and looked at me for a minute. I knew who she was right away as I saw the long nose, underbite and buck teeth. 

She had two fawns with her and after she had acknowledged me (I think we have a tentatively friendly relationship with her at this point) she led her family to the creek for a drink. I'm pretty sure the fawns have her same identifying dental features.  Apparently she breeds true to her type. Paradigm Farms is not only home to the World's Cutest Fainting Goats, we are also the home to the World's Most Buck Toothed Doe With An Underbite. 

Gibson and Lotus

Cuffie and Norman


Sebastian and Sam

Duesy, Bruno and Merlin

the peanut gallery that was watching us

mares running in V formation; L-R Maisie, MyLight, Cinnamon in the lead, Calimba and Dolly

Africa, Darby and Alex

Thomas and Apollo

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Father's Day Reflections

With Father's Day being this past Sunday I have been thinking about my father a lot the last few days. This is my second Father's Day without him being around. If you looked up the definition of "Daddy's Girl" in the dictionary you would probably find my picture there as an illustration. When I look at my life today there is not a single facet of my daily life that does not trace back to him in some way. 

My parents sometimes wondered where the heck I came from. I was horse crazy from the moment I could talk and all I ever wanted was to be around them. Neither of my parents had spent any time around horses and innocently began to take me for weekly riding lessons when I was very young. As my dad always said, those riding lessons were the worst financial decision of his life. 

I begged and begged my parents for my very own pony. For any number of perfectly logical reasons they refused: horses were expensive to buy, horses were expensive to board, they knew nothing about horses, etc.  One night I was crying myself to sleep. My dad heard me crying and came into my room and asked me what was wrong. I tearfully told him "daddy I want a pony so badly it hurts." Three days later I had my very first pony, Miss Daisy.  

my Dad acting as the minister at the wedding of my pony Miss Daisy

Before my parents knew it not only did they have a pony, they then found themselves with their very own horse trailer. Eventually I outgrew my pony and they found themselves buying horses. Their weekends were consumed by horse shows and other horse activities. By the time it was all done my parents had wound up buying 100 acres, building a barn and putting in an all weather arena. I could never thank my parents enough in my lifetime for all that they did to support my love of horses.

When it was time for me to go off to college of course I wanted to take a horse with me. My dad made it clear that he would not be financing a college education and paying for a horse. He then made a deal with me, if I got a full scholarship he would pay for a horse to go with me. When my parents visited potential campuses with me we not only toured the school, we then proceeded to go tour the boarding facilities in the area.  Needless to say I secured a full academic scholarship and left for school with a horse in tow. My dad lamented to me many times how financially stupid he had been in regards to horses again when he made that bargain with me. 

driving his dogs around on the Gator

I basically gained a college education in working with and caring for horses all through my adolescent years and it has served me well in countless ways. My dad also taught me that I needed to be a person of my word and do whatever it was I said I was going to do.  My dad had zero tolerance for people who were all talk and no follow through. He believed in action, and he believed in never, ever making a promise you weren't going to keep.  As a result I tend to be a person that just gets up and does things and doesn't sit around waiting for someone else to do anything. Jason always says I am just like my dad and that inertia is not my friend.

miss you Dad

Having someone in your corner that truly believes in you is a very powerful thing. Everyone told me you can't make a living with horses, you can't make a living boarding horses, you can't do this, you can't do that. On the other hand my dad told me to go for it. He watched me sell a very successful company because I wasn't happy. He did talk with me about the realities of giving up financial security, yet never once tried to talk me out of the decision. When Jason and I built up a business, bought this farm and built everything from the ground up no one was happier or more excited for us than he was. When everyone else was saying you can't, he was standing there all along saying you can.  

Although I am a couple of days late saying it with this post, happy Father's Day to you dad. I can never thank you enough for my wonderful life.



Rip and Elfin

Fabrizzio and Noble

Clayton and Kennedy

Renny, Johnny and Sebastian

B-Rad and Alex

O'Reilly, Lucky and Lightning

Traveller and Lily

Gibson, Flyer, Silver, Faune, Cocomo and George

Silver and George