Category Archives: Things They Should Invent

Things that Involve Water for $100 Please… Musings on a Rainy, Nasty Day.

As I sit here and listen to the torrential rain and wind outside, I cringe when I think about going out into it.  Ugh.  I mean, I know we need water in California but Jimminy Crickets, can’t we space it out over a few years instead of all at once?  Sigh.  So instead of wallowing, literally, in the despair of new mud, I decided to think positively about good things having to do with water.

At the moment, I could only think of three things…  If I think of more as I write, I’ll add them to the bottom.   Here is my list:

First up, shelters.


A few years ago, Hubby and I had to temporarily live in Santa Cruz.  I decided (a bad decision) to take 5 of my horses with me.  Well, it really wasn’t a bad decision at the time because we thought we were moving into a 20 acre ranch in Salinas.  Well, we did move into it.  And, just after the tail lights of the moving vans and horse transport vehicles flickered off into the moonlight, we discovered mold.  Black, dark, ugly, nasty sickening mold.  Basically, we had about no time to move right out since the mold was making us sicker than we had ever thought possible.

Yup, here we were with 4 dogs, 5 cats and 5 horses and no where to live.  Long story…  Suffice it to say, attractive rental horse properties are hard to come by in that area.  I looked at over 100 rentals.  100!  Another long story.  Our final decision was to rent a regular property with acreage that we converted into a horse property.  Don’t try this at home.  Another Bad idea. (After putting in the fencing and all other ancillary parts of owning horses, it would have been the same cost to board them all for 22 months…  Live and learn.) Anyway, installing permanent fencing on a rental property was about as far as we were willing to donate to the property.  So, when it came time to think about shelters, I really didn’t want to spend much money and I didn’t want to make the shelters permanent.  And at about that time, I had a very synchronistic experience.  I needed a shelter and I accidentally stumbled upon one on Ebay.  Wha?  Uh huh, Ebay!  I was looking for a small shelter for Aladdin and I found this grey tarp metal structure on Ebay.  The shipping was cheap so I went for it.

The box housing the housing came via UPS (another plus) and I opened it.  Well, the instructions were easy and I could have done it myself.  But, I didn’t.  Hubby and I put it together in about 20 minutes.  Et Viola!  We had a shelter.  I think it cost $299. Unfortunately, the size I got was exactly one horse sized which was a bit claustrophobic for Aladdin.  He would either stick his head in or his other end in, but he never put his entire self inside.  So, I learned on that one.  We ended up using it as a motorcycle garage, hay silo, storage shed, cat shelter and numerous other applications.  All in all, it was a very good investment.  And, of course, once we moved back to our ranch, we just struck Aladdin’s tent and brought it back with us.  Here it stands, empty right now.  But, it is willing and ready to participate should we need to call it into service again.

Now, back to the original story, because we had 5 horses to house on the rental, we needed a larger shelter.  Since the plastic tarp building was almost a good idea for Aladdin, I decided to step it up a notch and seek a larger plastic tarp building (now called fabric buildings).  At about this time, another synchronistic event occurred.  I received my first FarmTek catalog.  Hmmmm.  I opened it up and alas, what is their specialty?  You got it… plastic and metal structures!  You can get them for lawnmowers, farm animals or warehouse buildings.  Any size, no worries here.  The four color, old-style newspaper print catalog has every shape and size of these buildings that you could wish for.  And, if you wanted something they didn’t have, they’d make it!  OK, sounds good.  Let’s see which style is on sale, shall we…  And, that is exactly what I did.  I found the style that could still ship via UPS but was big enough to house 4 horses.

Hint:  FarmTek has two categories online that you should check out.  The first is MONTHLY SPECIALS and the other is STEALS AND DEALS.  You will for sure find fabric buildings at close-out costs in either of these headings.  Also, if you just want to do research, you can look under “garage buildings” for the most simple buildings available, if that is what you would like.  But, again, the Specials and Steals and Deals are a great value!!

I decided upon the wedding tent/car storage building concept that was on the sale page.  Luckily, they had a green version because I didn’t really want a white wedding tent outside in the pasture.  Although, in hindsight, it might have been festive if it wasn’t constantly muddy.  Anyway, you could order it with ruffles and clear plastic windows.  I loved that but decided to keep it simple and just order the standard, kinda boring, wedding/car storage tent building.  Now although I didn’t foresee using them, it did come with two zip-up ends.  I guess I could have closed one end, but I really wanted the run-through ability of two open ends.  I could just see the horses deciding to fight in there and taking the whole building down with them.  So, open ended, green with extra long spikes that go into the ground. (As you can see by the above photos of my little grey storage structure, I used the green zip-up ends of the wedding tent to fortify it during a storm.)

It arrived rather rapidly.  Yay!  Hubby and I, well really only Hubby, erected that thing in about 3 hours.  Unbelievable.  It was up and the horses were standing underneath it shortly thereafter.  Success!  Not only did they like it, they used it.  The wind and rain howled through there that winter and the horses lived under their own little big top.  And, when it was time to move away, we packed up the horsey tent very easily.  Now, that same structure lives in my back pasture.  I cannot see it from the house and that is just fine.  Like a diligent soldier, it stands there storm after storm.  It never moves.  I love that thing!  My horses love it as you can see by the muddy trail leading in and out.  And, in the summer, they hide in there.  If I wanted, I could put up hay feeders but I don’t want to walk that far to feed them.  And, that’s fine.  They are OK with eating under a tree as long as they don’t have to stand there in the rain/sun all the time…

So, my thought for you today is that if you don’t mind how they look, and you need an inexpensive or portable shelter, buy one of these fabric buildings.  Mine have been standing through the wrath of Mother Nature for many years now.  And, they are easy to find.  You can get them on Ebay or through FarmTek or any number of outlets online.  I think they are lifesavers. Browse the FarmTek options online.  You will be amazed at the variety!

Oh, and I’ve also used the boat and car shelters that you see at Home Depot… You know the kind.  You get all the supplies there and assemble them yourself.  To those, I added panels to the back and sides so it was more like a regular run-in shelter.  But, to be honest, the tarp building looks better and is bigger for the price.  I think I paid around $900 for a 4 horse fabric housing structure.  Not bad…


While I was researching the above link, I remembered that I had dog-eared a page of my recent FarmTek catalog.  I get their catalog often.  They like me…  And, truth to tell, I like them.  I find several farm friendly items every time I look through the pages.  For me, this industrial farm catalog may be over the top for my little ranch, but the good news is they have ‘been there done that’ with just about any kind of farming.  So, if it is in the catalog, it generally works pretty well.  I like that.  Having learned the hard way on many ranch items, I do value the Farmer John aspect of this bible of products.  And, if I’m confused, I can get Farmer John (or his equivalent) on the phone through their 800 number.

Anyway, back to the water item I marked.   It is something not that unusual but I don’t have one.  I picked it because it was really inexpensive.  SALE!  It is a Double-Tuf Industrial Sprayer & (no water running down your sleeve as you wash a horse) Boom.  Have you see these?  It routes your wash rack hose (or car wash rack hose) up the wall, across the ceiling and down so the sprayer can be grabbed overhead and pulled down.  It is like those hoses you see at the do-it-yourself carwash places.  Anyway, it is selling for $89.95 and I thought I would put that on my birthday list.  I would love to never have water running down my arm and pooling in my armpit again!  Ugh.

So, check out FarmTek. Even if you are just comparing prices, or getting ideas for projects, it is a great farm resource.


“No, the weather isn’t nasty” Spray

I wish they would invent some sort of “it ISN’T really howling or windy out here” spray for the horses.  I wish that when the weather was awful and windy and rainy I could just go out there amongst them and dodder around like I usually do.  But no, I’m taking my life in my  hands when it is storming.  OMG you’d think these horses had never seen water coming down from the sky.  And the wind must carry in it the command to run like a crazy possessed horse, slip, fall, crash and pile-up or do whatever unsafe thing you can think of while Mom is in here with you.  Sheesh.  I would like to go outside armed with the spray (maybe it is a boombox that shouts out a lullaby only horses can hear…?) and point it towards the crazy bunch of wet, muddy, insane equines in front of me.  Ahhhhh, such peaceful relief…  Oh, and it would wear off when it was met with sunshine or birds chirping.  That handy item I would buy by the case!

The Ultimate Rain Suit

OK, next, (see, I did think of another thing) since I had to go outside twice today to feed and once to take photos of my green and grey buildings, I pondered why there isn’t a rain outfit designed for people that need to actually move in the gear, turn their heads and be able to perspire without suffocating .  I wish they would invent a rain ensemble that was:

  • head to toe
  • made of a fabric that repelled hay – even wet hay would slide right off
  • had built-in gloves (with removable fingers) and boots
  • had a hat with a visor that turned with your head (we’ve all had the hood that doesn’t turn or that flies off with any gust…)
  • moved like cotton, breathed like cotton and smelled like cotton
  • came off and washed easily

As I was writing that, I got a vision of some guy on an oil tanker.  I thought that perhaps these suits did in fact already exist.  So, I went online to check.  Nope.  All I could find were those yellow, take me in flight wind balloon slickers or motorcycle badarse, stiff rain suits.  I’m sure there are some HazMat (Hazardous Material) suits out there that could work but I doubt they would be very comfortable.  And they probably don’t come in petite sizes with fashionable colors or fabrics.

All I want is ease of movement, a breathable water proof fabric, functionality, with a hay repellent in my choice of a variety of fabrics and fashion colors.

Is that too much to ask on dreary, rainy, rotten days?  I think not!



I’m guessing you all saw this tiny horse in the news today.  But, in case  you missed it, here are a few pics.  He weighed 6 pounds when he was born.  Wow.  And so cute!  His name is Einstein.  You can read about him here.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Amazing Ranch Birds, Broodmare Hint and Things I Wish They Would Invent.


Here in California, peacocks abound in temperate rural areas.  I live in a temperate (well, not this month but usually…) rural area so our neighborhood has several peacocks, both male and female.  Have you ever seen a peacock up close?  Usually they run (yes, run) away.  But, Bud and his ladies are fairly tame.  We also have Chuck, and he sometimes rides with Bud, but Bud is the definite male to respect around here.  He is a beauty!  And, he knows it. (He is camera shy but here is an OK photo of Bud.)

There are good and bad things about peacocks.  The good is their prehistoric beauty and their devotion to each other.  As far as beauty, well, I think the males are the most awkward and incredible birds to ever hang around horses and cattle.  I mean, really…  you’d expect ravens or turkey vultures, but not peacocks.  And, as far as devotion, our little flock of peacocks does their patterned orbits around the local ranches every day.  They always, hopefully, have all of their clan (hens, babies and juvenile males) together as they peck and jump their way through their ritual routine.

The bad?  Well, have you ever heard them?  Yikes.  What was the Creator in the sky thinking?!  Their squawk always reminds me of that story about Mary Pickford.  Here was sweet and beautiful Mary Pickford, the darling of the Silent Screen.  Then came TALKIES and her career was over.  ‘Nuff said.  Anyway, if you ever hear a peacock — as we do every morning around sunrise — it sounds like an old woman being crushed by a piano, HALLLP!  HULLLP!  HAYAH! HONK!  (people never seem to imitate the honk part)  HUUALLP!  If you speak to 911 Officers, they often say that they respond to newbie neighbors who call in about some poor old woman yelling for HALP.  Uh huh.

Anyway, yesterday, to my amazement, Bud, the very superior male, was cruising around my front yard.  For some reason, Bud hadn’t noticed that Dexter (my Australian Kelpie) was off of his lead rope.  Dexter is on a lead when I am outside and don’t want to police his work (don’t ask about his “work”…) Usually, Bud can taunt and harass Dexter to his heart’s content.  But today, for some reason, Bud was caught off guard.  Dex slunk down really low and stopped breathing while he silently padded up to the gorgeous (and easy to grab) extended Bud tail feathers.  Just as Dexter’s mouth was opening, Bud must have heard the saliva pooling and he jumped up like a gazelle and flew right over my head and about 200 yards away into the neighboring cow pasture.

Now, I have seen peacocks jump up and fly before.  But, usually, they fly for about 10 feet.  Or, they jump up onto a fence.  Peacocks seem to prefer walking, as do I.  So, for Bud to fly over my head for 200 yards was BREATHTAKING.  I thought I was in the movie Avatar!  To see his wings spread, his little head feathers blowing and that tail… ooohhhh that tail.  It was awesome, awe-inspiring and unbelievable.  Too bad I didn’t have my camera.  But, if you were to look inside my eyeballs, I could replay it for you. (These last two still shots I found on the Internet.)

So, I got on the Internet and tried to find any video of peacocks flying.  Nope.  There wasn’t one good one out there.  No one else has ever had their cameras ready either.  Well, there are a few very lame-o videos, but NOTHING like what I saw yesterday. Incroyable!

I did go down to where Bud sat, quaking, and thanked him for his wonderful display.  I suggested he should fly over my head more often but perhaps mostly when I have my camera with me.  He glared at me with his dinosaur eyes and replied with a simple, “honk.”  I think it meant “Happy Easter”  but I’m not sure…  ;)


Well, I know we are well into foaling season.  Sorry I’m so late in thinking about this.  But, if you have a mare that retains her placenta, I have a great remedy.  Vitamin E and Selenium at least 4 weeks prior to birth and 8 weeks is better.

My mare retained the placenta on her first three births.  Ugh.  The first time, it was a nasty infection and it was awful.  The second time I was prepared with the oxytocin.  Poor girl.  After she didn’t pass the placenta I gave her the injection.  It worked but I hated to see her go through labor all over again.  The third birth was a repeat of the second. 

Yuk.  I hated having to do that for my mare.  A friend told me to give her daily Vit E with Selenium 3 months before she’s due.  I asked my vet at the time.  After all, we know that selenium can be toxic.  Well, he said that there is no scientific proof that Vit E and Selenium helps with passing the placenta.  Hmmmm.  My friend, who runs a large mule operation, swears by it.

The next pregnancy, I read up on selenium and decided to try it.  Three months before her due date, I started her on a daily dose.  As time passed, she didn’t explode or anything.  In fact, her coat and feet looked great!

When she foaled, I was there holding my syringe just in case and wondering if all would go differently this time.  Lo and behold, out pops baby and immediately afterward, out pops placenta.  WOW.  I was amazed.  I put my syringe back in the fridge and set about my business making sure everything else was OK.  And, to be honest, my mare was in such better shape for not having to give birth twice in one night that I swear she looked at me with the, “Wow that was easy!…” look of amazement!  She has given birth two more times and each was a breeze with the selenium.  So, I’m a believer.

I got the Farnum brand like this.  But, I am sure you can find other brands that might have other additives that you might also need for your mare.  Or, while I was searching about, I saw some that looked really interesting .  But, I only tried the Farnum, so far.


1)  Snarling Dog MIB Forget Spray

Y’know how in the Men in Black movie, Tommy Lee Jones takes out a pen from his pocket and flashes all the witnesses so they forget that they just saw an alien?  Well, I want that — with a saddle attachment, of course — to use on those snarling dogs that come out of nowhere and are determined to eat your horse.  All it would take is one spritz, this stuff is high powered so you don’t even have to aim well while your horse is dancing the Igottagetouttahere rumba, and the dog freezes in place.  He sits down and wags his tail as you pass by.  In fact, the relaxed dog has a much better day because he has totally forgotten his misbegotten rage around the equine animal.

2)  Bandolero Shoulder Wrap Hands Free Pack

I hate fanny packs and anything around my waist when riding.  However, I hate having my horse run off with my trailer keys even more… So, I want a more celebrated and ceremonious yet functional way to carry my keys and phone (and other stuff) while hands free and mounted on a horse.  I have come to the conclusion that the bandits of earlier times had it right with the bandolero style ammunition holsters.  I want one of those except I want the bullet compartments to be modified to fit my phone, my keys, my info, chapstick, sunscreen, water bottle and snacks.  I’d also like the underside to be a very breathable and soft fleece or some microfiber.  This way, my stuff would be much easier to reach, I wouldn’t have to look down and I wouldn’t have the stigma of wearing a fanny pack with now crushed power bars enclosed.  (I don’t know about you, but if I have a granola bar in my fanny pack, it becomes cereal in no time.)  So, I want a Bandolero in a flowered print or a rich, buttery leather.  S’all.

3)  Stroller Blind

No matter how many infant strollers my horses see on the trail, it just doesn’t compute to my poor frightened out of their wits horsey minds that this metal thing with whirling colors and noisy moving parts is not going to eat them.  Especially when we get up close and see that it actually IS alive with a screaming/babbling/fussing humanoid thing.  So, I need some sort of blind for my horses when they encounter baby strollers.

This device could be simply a shield that pops open as soon as a stroller is identified and puts a high pitched gamma ray out there that modifies the visual and audial input for the horse.  There would be a few models to choose from.  You could get the stroller to boulder version, the stroller to bush version or the ever popular stroller to bale of hay version.  Your horse will not only be comfortable when passing a stroller, he may even try to eat it.  So, you’d have to be careful about that.


One of you fabulous and talented reader sent in personal photographs of peacocks from her ranch nearby… Isn’t Leslie talented?  She caught one flying!!  You can go to her website here.

But, she was lovely enough to let me add these to my blog for today.  Enjoy!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!