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.
THOSE METAL AND PLASTIC TARP-LIKE BUILDINGS YOU SEE IN CATALOGS
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…
ANOTHER ITEM FROM FARMTEK
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.
THINGS I WISH THEY WOULD INVENT INVOLVING WATER
“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 JUST HAD TO POST THIS…
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!