Enhancing the horse property landscape with native plants promotes native wildlife, helps to control erosion, provides a visual buffer, and filters pesticides, fertilizers, and nutrients. Native plants are extremely adaptable and there is a diverse palette of natives to choose from—no matter where you live! Here are some ideas for how native plants can enhance your property and work for you.Read More
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Filtering by Category: mud management & drainage
Recently, we have tried different options to deal with areas in one particular paddock that have gotten really soupy. We’ve used all the usual techniques for dealing with mud: daily manure management, gravel footing, diverting rainwater, etc. Yet the soupy messes remained.Read More
Now is the time to get ready for winter, before cold, dark, and wet days make chores extra difficult. Here are four quick tips for getting ahead of the issues many horse owners face during the winter months.Read More
For a horse person it’s hard to get excited about winter unless you are ready and set up for a chore-efficient season for you and your horse. As it is with almost everything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are a few key tips for things you can do now to help ease you through those tough times ahead when you least want to deal with winter’s little (and big) surprises.Read More
Horses for Clean Water has many wonderful educational opportunities available throughout the Pacific Northwest this summer and fall. I hope you’ll plan to come join in on the fun, learning, and horse’n around!Read More
On a horse property, winter can mean different things for us horse owners: less riding, difficulty doing daily chores, perhaps more indoor time to clean tack or plan for special outdoor projects next summer. In a year like the last, it can also mean record mud to deal with during spring break-up (the time-period in between winter and early spring, when things begin to thaw).Read More
Trying to create an enriched confinement area for your horse is frustrating when battling mud issues. Mud is nobody’s friend; it creates an unhealthy environment for horses by harboring bacteria, fungal organisms and other pathogens that cause abscesses, scratches, rain scald and thrush. Plus it’s a breeding ground for annoying, disease-carrying insects such as filth flies and mosquitoes.Read More
Like many people these days you probably struggle to weave chores, work, riding and family time into your life's fabric, leaving leisure activities behind in the dust. This month, we're making a case for attending an equine class or event—why it can be worth the effort, and why so many people have thanked us after they made time to attend one.Read More
Have you wondered if there’s something more you can do with your farm or small acreage, something innovative and fun, that might help with a little extra income? If so, then you might be interested in agritourism, ecotourism or geotourism, a key focus of a Horses for Clean Water event in early May in Snoqualmie, WA.Read More
Boot-sucking goo makes chores a pain and can make horses' lives miserable as well, setting up conditions for serious health issues along with a dust bath for you every time you brush your horse.
Here’s four combat tactics you can do right now:
Dealing with snow and ice on horse properties is worrisome, especially if you have older horses, horses shod all the way around, or reining horses with slide plates – of which we have some in each category. The other complicating issue is accomplishing chores while skating around with a manure cart in tow. Or picking up frozen-to-the-ground manure. Even things like getting the farrier’s truck in or negotiating a hay delivery is a production in a winter like this with all thick ice everywhere.Read More
Exercise is always a challenge during the winter. Just having a good place for horses to roll (snow, an indoor arena, a round pen, a soft paddock) can help. Rolling alleviates boredom, relieves tension, is a social behavior, and can stretch and align the muscles of a horse's back and hindquarters.Read More
It’s gratifying when our readers share their stories. What’s working on their farm? What are their goals? What tidbits have they learned along the way and what issues are they currently facing? Hearing their stories can be a great way to view our own experiences, both our successes and our failures. Sometimes from a different vantage point we can assimilate fresh ideas to help out on the farm.
This month we travel to Urban Cattle in Thurston County, Washington, a farm whose owner has been attending Horses for Clean Water classes and tours for over ten years now. Here’s what she shared with us:
HCW: Can you tell us why you initially set up your farm, and what your current objective is?
This farm has served to recharge me from a demanding career. I work to raise seed stock Herefords cattle that pose desirable genetic traits that can be measured by DNA testing and expected progeny difference (EPD’s), which is based on ancestry. It is fun to choose from the array of Hereford bulls with leading genetics and then see how the offspring turn out.
HCW: What new skills have you enjoyed learning?
Working to be a good steward of the land and my animals has taught me a lot, from carpentry skills and rumen function to dung beetles and birthing calves. Horses for Clean Water got me launched into best practices with their great practical information, especially dealing with the rain and manure issues that come with raising livestock in the Pacific Northwest.
HCW: Can you tell us some of the improvements you’ve made that have helped you manage your cattle and your land?
I have implemented a number of practices. One of the main improvements has been constructing a winter confinement area that is free of mud. Manure is collected daily; I have also constructed a manure composting building that is conveniently located nearby it for chore efficiency. For the composting system, I pipe forced air into the bins and occasionally turn it with the tractor to augment the rate of decomposition. In addition, I use a lightweight rototiller to break the drier, composting manure into smaller pieces to further speed the process. Often I have paid people who have done some small job for me with organic compost at their request.
Another improvement is that I now utilize both pasture rotation and strip grazing via portable electric poly wire fencing and step-in posts. By setting the electrically charged wires high, the calves can pass underneath and graze the best grasses, with the cows to follow when the fence line is moved. Most cattle people will tell you, they are really grass farmers.
Additionally I add nutrients to my pastures as needed, and it seems that liming is always necessary for my soil type. Dung beetles break up the manure enough such that I have not used my harrow for a few years now. I stay away from worming medication and fly control methods that could hurt the dung beetles.
Flies are controlled with wasp predators and Rescue® brand fly attractant bag traps. I also use a fly spray for the horn flies - different types of flies are killed or trapped by different methods. No one method kills all species.
I have enhanced the property for wildlife by providing plants, water sources and shelter for a variety of animals. A progression of native pollinator plants have been planted and provide nectar and pollen for bees, from when they first emerge all the way through fall. I have purchased plants at Conservation District and Native Plant Society sales.
Also, I have installed about a dozen bird houses that are usually inhabited by tree swallows. Snakes have rock warming areas and the rough skin newts have logs and other woody debris in the forest to utilize. The list goes on - this year I am going to try a moist mineral container for butterflies.
HCW: Any last comments or achievements you’d like to share with our readers?
Realize that making your place the best it can be is a process that takes time. As much as we want it to happen overnight it doesn’t, but there are benefits to going slower. I think you will make a better choice on your upgrades when you have the time to think them through. Attend farm tours so you can get ideas about what might work for you. I encourage everyone to get the infrastructure done first before purchasing your animals. Then when you have the animals you will have more time to enjoy them.
Recently I have been awarded a Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Grant from The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. I would recommend and encourage others to check out this program.
You can read more about Urban Cattle in our photo corral.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw that I posted my annual Winter Solstice test on chore efficiency in mid-December. I have an admission: this year I flunked my winter solstice test. My place was NOT chore efficient on Winter Solstice. My horse’s paddocks were a muddy, mucky mess. About that time they were alternating between being frozen hard and not draining (which mean urine and snow melt were pooling on top and freezing - yuck!) or partially thawed out and muddy, making it difficult to pick up manure.Read More
Footing choices are just one weapon in a horse owner’s arsenal of tools to combat and win the battle against mud and dust. To learn how to make sure that your footing investment is money well spent, and lasts you more than a few months, check out our tip sheet: Say Goodbye to Mud and Dust. Better yet, come see in person what others are doing to combat mud; consider attending one of the many upcoming workshops, tours and events listed above that are offered this spring from Horses for Clean Water and our partners!
Here's a 'reader's choice' list of footing materials, plus some advantages and disadvantages for each:Read More
Review your horse health routine with your veterinarian. Good dental care, a vaccination program and regular parasite control are important components of a regular horse care routine, but with the start of cold weather when your horse may have trouble maintaining body weight or condition, they are even more important.Read More