Saturday, January 27, 2007

Heide comes to the farm!

Last month I placed an ad in a local paper searching for someone to help with barn chores six to eight hours a week. I must have received 50 calls but I only interviewed two people face-to-face. The second person got the job. Heide, yes, spelled with an “e” at the end, is a recently divorced single mother of four boys ages 4-13. She is strong, has a good sense of humor, a solid work ethic, and balances taking initiative with making suggestions for what the barn needs. She’s a crack shot with the pellet gun and has significantly reduced our pigeon population. In addition to cleaning stalls twice weekly and straightening the barn, she tops up water tanks, stacks square hay bales, fills feed bins readying them for feeding and, when there’s time, she’s begun stripping out old wooden planks on the side of the barn where we’re going to put in four new stalls in the spring. Heide told me she wanted the job because she loves being outdoors and that shoveling horse poop helps her to focus on what’s important and the flexible schedule would allow her to be home with her boys when they are not in school.

We have assembled and placed eight of the 11 cabinets we will have in the kitchen. The photos of these base units are not that exciting, but the fact that we are progressing is! While Ian worked on consulting projects, Heide and I spent two afternoons assembling IKEA cabinets and we got darn good at this! The next steps are bolting the units to the wall and then cutting countertop bases from plywood and cement board. The countertops will be ceramic tile, as will the walls in the cooking portion of the kitchen. We won’t begin these steps until we return from the horse show in Arizona. We’re looking to head to Scottsdale somewhere in the February 8-10 window, weather permitting. Heide will look after the horses daily and keep an eye on the house while we are gone with Donna as her back up.

Ian and I bought six 1800-pound round bales of hay from a local farmer to feed the seven horses that live outdoors (they have a run-in shed for protection). At $35 a round bale this is a less expensive way to feed hay then square bales, which weigh about 50 pounds each, cost $2.50 per and the seven can easily eat five bales daily. There’s also a round bale placed in the pasture for the three mares that come in at night. Knowing this hay is available to them all day I feed less hay inside at night. In the winter healthy horses generate heat from foraging, which they can do naturally almost ‘round the clock, and having access to temperate water. Each horse drinks 10-15 gallons a day. All three of our 100-gallon stock tanks have heaters to keep them from freezing and the barn mares have heated 5-gallon water buckets in their stalls. Of course all 10 have heavy, rug-like winter coats and even the hard-to-keep Thoroughbreds have put on weight and are looking very healthy.


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