Well it didn’t rain all night after all, it snowed. We generally have at least one snowfall before Thanksgiving, and last night was the night. I woke early as planned, and hit the snooze button not as planned. It was dark which confused me because there should have been pre-dawn light. When I let the dogs out I discovered why. During the night we got about 3-4 inches of snow, and it was still coming down. I took my shower, and went out to feed. The gator does really well in the snow, and very seldom do I have to lock the wheels. There wasn’t enough snow to cause a problem so I zipped on down to the barn. Marina was quite perturbed (even though I was feeding earlier than normal), sounding her displeasure all the while flipping her head the way only Arabians can do. It was only 30 degrees out, and they were all starving to death. Eating hay actually helps in the process of keeping a horse warm. Don’t ask me where I found that little pearl of wisdom, it was somewhere on the Internet. The process of chewing, and digesting hay helps to keep the horse warm, that’s another reason I prefer grass to alfalfa. Alfalfa is like candy, and just like little kids they inhale it. They will munch on grass all morning, which is a more natural way to feed. In fact if you can feed three times a day you more closely mimic their behavior in the wild.
I got everyone fed then went to check on the truck to see if the battery was charged enough to start. You can guess the answer to that, of course not. I put the charger on a higher setting, and continued with my morning chores. I was a little later than I wanted, but it really didn’t matter because it took another hour for the truck to start. The cold weather was working against me, and I couldn’t even jump the truck with the Jeep because the hood of the Jeep was frozen shut.
I got to Chuck’s a little after nine. He had a rescue truck he was putting tires on, but nothing more. Tommy got to the truck, and while he was working I called Rudy. It was done likity split. Rudy was surprised, but as I told him it was an easy job. The alternator is right there in front with only a few bolts. I could have done it myself if I had the strength to do it, which I don’t. I went over to the Mercantile after we were finished, and got the biggest round foam insulation they had. You can’t get it in sheets, and I needed to make hoodies for the field hydrants. The guy seemed to think that because they were freeze pipes, I shouldn’t have to worry. I found out last year (if you remember) that just because they are freeze pipes that doesn’t mean they won’t freeze up.
I already had ¾” foam left over from last year, of course the freeze pipes were 1”, but I made it work anyway. I got a little creative, and was able to make a cover for the float using an empty anti-freeze container (yes I washed it very well before I used it). That was Rudy’s idea, and I used the ¾” foam around the hose. Unfortunately, the hose is 10’ long so I couldn’t cover it all. I used two pieces of the larger foam for a hoodie. I had duck tape to wrap around the foam, and that just wasn’t going to work, so I used my stand-by, vet wrap, which worked just fine. I used the duck tape to close the hoodie on top. Both girls (especially Ridalgo the paint) kept trying to see what was going on, and if perchance they could help. Horses are such curious creatures.
I only had enough foam for one hydrant so tomorrow when I am out, and about I’ll pick up some more. Now that I know just what I need to do what I want I can cover the other hydrants. I also have to re-cover the water main. I want to see if I can find some sheet insulation to put on the inside of the barrel we use to cover the pipes. I know if it gets real cold no amount of foam is going to be enough, but at least I can prevent most of the freezing.
It was still early so my next project was to cut more wood. I never did get around to cutting wood. I sawed enough to fill my inside boxes, and enough small wood for kindling. We only have one stove in the computer room, but that should be enough to keep the living room from being too cold. The other stove is in the Utility room where the dogs sleep,. It’s next to the garage, and cut off from the rest of the house so we never use it. The cats are now in seventh heaven with the fire going again. They pretty much stay right in front of the stove all winter long. In fact I have to keep booting them away whenever I need to put in more wood. Grudgingly they move, sometimes that is. They don’t seem to understand that it’s not perpetual heat, and to keep the fire going I have to add more wood. I guess it’s time to bring out more blankies too. They love my quilt, and if the fire isn’t going they are under the covers of our bed. “C” especially likes the quilt. Pretty much all winter long there is a permanent lump in the bed, and it’s not because I don’t make it. She just has to be under the covers.
One more little note, I was reading another blog, and they were talking about Pigeon Fever, also known as river rot, and a variety of other names I can’t remember. It seems a little late in the season for Pigeon Fever, but here is what I know about it. The first time we encountered it I freaked. I ran into the house, and told Rudy there was something wrong with Angel her chest was all swollen. He had never encountered it before so we called Troy (our vet in Auberry). He diagnosed it, and told us to leave it alone, and when it burst to wash the wound out with warm sudsy water, and an Iodine solution. He said it should take a couple of weeks to clear up.
I then called Sandy (who told me the same thing), and emailed other breeders I knew. I also read a lot of articles on the subject. There really isn’t much you can do for it. It can appear on various parts of a horse’s body, but the most dangerous is internal Pigeon Fever. Only then are antibiotics warranted. It is a bacterial infection. The bacterium is in the dirt so there is really no way of preventing it, and there is no vaccine. Some articles say it is only in California, and Texas, which is untrue. We have had one case of it here in NM, and in other states it is called river rot, same bacteria different name. We’re from Arizona, which is why Rudy didn’t know what it was.
It took a few days for the “pimple” to burst, and yes it was gross. We cleaned it twice a day, and I picked up as much puss from the ground as I could find. Then of course we had more cases. Not all the horses got it, but the worst case was poor Sadie, she got it in her udders. In Auberry we had an outdoor sink I could hook a hose up to so we had hot, and cold running water to bathe the horses with. I loved that sink, and so did the horses. I literally hosed out the puss in her udder, and then washed it with an Iodine solution. Finally the infection cleared up only to move over to the other udder, and so it went all summer long back, and forth. I think that was the worst summer of Sadie’s entire life. From talking to other breeders I discovered that once a horse gets Pigeon Fever, they then become immune to it. If you have a large herd, it may take several outbreaks before the whole herd is immunized, but eventually you stop having more outbraks. We are lucky to have a small herd, and until Stormy was about two we never had another outbreak. The minute Stormy swelled up I knew what was happening. It took a long time for the “pimple” to burst, and when it finally did there were actually several pimples all together. The others had several drainage points as well, but they weren’t so close together. Since the wound was so large, it took longer to heal, and it left a scar. His fur is so fine that in the summer you can see it, but in the winter his coat is thick enough to hide the scar. You have to really be looking for it as well. I read all sorts of articles on the subject, some with differing opinions. This was my experience, and how we dealt with it. I don’t freak out anymore, and I consider it a nuisance disease. Luckily we have never had to deal with a serious case of it. For us it has been localized in one spot. Some horses are not so lucky, and can develop sores all over their body or the worst case scenario, they can develop internal sores. Since our horses are now immune, I don’t worry about it, and trust me I am grateful for anything I don’t have to worry about.