Please remember!

The information presented on this blog represents "learning in progress" on my part, a horse owner, who was not satisfied with professional farriers and took matters in my own hands. As far as I am aware at the time of the post, the information presented is correct, but may change with me understanding more about hooves, in which case I will edit or remove the post. In order to follow my learning and understand everything about Molly's hoof, you need to start reading at the bottom.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I must say I like this polar vortex

and I think so do the horses. Interesting, this morning at -20 C, they were very eager to eat and chew on oak wood. This was despite them having unlimited hay. I was wondering if this behavior is somehow ingrained in them, from the millions of years of evolution, where in the cold winters nothing else was there to eat but the shoots from trees...  Pretty much exactly what the deer in my woods are eating right now.


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Monday, January 6, 2014

Surviving the "polar vortex"

This time the weather forecast was correct, the Midwest was hit by the polar vortex at 3 am on Sunday night. For NW Indiana, this meant -24 degree C and this is without the windchill. Public life came to a halt, schools and universities closed on Monday, even our train to Chicago did not run, the first time this happened since we live here.

In our woods it was actually very beautiful, even the hours of snow shuffling were kind of fun. Getting the horse manure from the stable to the pile was a challenge, because we first had to dig a path through the snow, but hubby mastered it for me :-)!

Of course I was worried about my animals, chickens and horses. The horses have been at temperatures around -22 C without problems, but yesterday a small complication was that they were wet due to the snow storm that happened right before the polar vortex hit.  I did not factor that in. But luckily, by the time the polar vortex hit horses had dried up and their coat provided full protection. My horses do not wear blankets ever, so they have a full thick winter coat. The best insulation is provided by the "piloerection" of the hair, where each hair stands up and each one of them traps a little pocket of insulating air. Piloerection is not possible with a blanket on the horses body and in my opinion, no blanket can be as warm as a full natural healthy coat of hair.

So when I came in the barn this morning my horses had icicles around their mouth and nose, the snow made huge squirking noises under their hooves and my shoes, but they were absolutely not cold in any way.

I also had made them big beds of straw in their stalls and put in as much hay as they could possibly want to eat, as eating hay helps keeping them warm. Of course the water is kept from freezing and has a pleasant temperature to drink. But I do not close the stall door. They can go out as much as they want, even in this cold weather, and they do go out once in a while, Gus, mostly to pee! He is a good boy, peeing outside!

So tonight is another cold night, temperatures are supposed to go down to -28 C. I am confident my horses will be fine, and the chickens too! And then, on Friday, this whole thing will be over and we are supposed to get rain! What a mess this will be, so much snow and then rain on top of that. I bet that will make for a lot of horrible ice. We'll wait and see. Midwesterns are hardy people, I heard. I guess we don't have much choice.


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