After nearly two years of living in the barn, I felt I was ready to strike out on my own. When a nearby farm that abuts a County park with seven miles of trails went up for sale, I quickly signed on the dotted line. And so Copper Penny Farm became a reality.
My friend, Phoebe decided to board her horse, Deja on my farm. Phoebe became my indispensable right hand since she was raised on a horse farm. I truly couldn’t have gotten my farm and boarding operation up and running without her.
|Putting in the base for the tractor shed|
|My farm fleet|
3. Holy Sh..! An average horse will produce as much as 50 pounds of manure a day or nine tons a year. I have four horses on the farm so that's -- oh heck, I don't want to even think about all those tons of poop!
For most of the year, we pick (clean) the fields daily to reduce internal parasite contamination, eliminate breeding habitats for flies and maintain pasture availability (horses won't eat where they've pooped!). There are only two stalls in the barn but if Queenie and Deja have been in for 24 hours, it can feel like I'm cleaning 20 stalls.
They are sort of the Oscar Madison and Felix Unger (The Odd Couple) of the horse world. Deja politely leaves her piles and urine in one corner of the stall. Cleaning her stall takes about 10 minutes. After a night in the barn, Queenie's stall always looks like there's been a manure explosion. Queenie has Cushings disease so she drinks a LOT of water. Since what goes in must come out, I have to remove buckets of wet sawdust after Queenie spends the day in her stall. On average, it takes me about 30 minutes to clean her stall.
4. Smokin! We dump the 200 pounds of poop a day in a compost pile in the back pasture. I like to use the tractor for cleanup because it's much easier on my back. However, there are many muddy days when I can't use the tractor so we pull several muck buckets with about 100 pounds of manure out to the compost pile.
Google "composting horse manure" and you will find lots of articles such as Nine Steps to Composting Horse Manure. NINE? I use the "dump, turn, decay" method. We dump the manure in the same pile for several months. I use the tractor loader to turn the compost regularly.
Depending on conditions, turning the compost can result in a LOT of smoke due to the heat generated by the decay process. My son was in the barn one day when I used the front loader to turn the compost. He thought the tractor was on fire!
5. Neither Rain nor Snow nor Gloom of Night – This well-known saying for the Post Office definitely applies to horse farm owners. In 2018, however, I need to amend the motto by adding, “Nor Mud.” Record rainfall created swamp-like conditions in many areas of the farm.
|A tunnel from the house to the barn after the 2016 "Snowzilla" storm|
|Deja and Queenie snuggled up for a snowy night.|
6. To Each His/Her Own -- Diet, that is. Every horse on the farm has different dietary needs, including supplements and medicines. There are times I feel like a mad scientist, mixing different feeds, medications and supplements and making warm feed mashes in the winter. Queenie gets three medications, two supplements and two types of feed. Thunder is on two medications, three supplements and two types of feed.
8. "Horses are born. Then they spend the rest of their lives trying to find new and interesting ways in which to commit suicide." As any owner will tell you, horses have an uncanny ability to injure themselves. You can take every single precaution and a horse will come in from the pasture with a gash on a leg or a swollen eye. And there is an unwritten rule among horses, that they will injure themselves or become ill on a weekend so that the vet's barn call fee is nearly twice as high.
|I've taken lots of precautions to prevent Queenie from breaking out of her stall again.|