Archive for December, 2007

We’re in the News!!

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

If you turn to page 2 of Dec. 29’s edition of the Edmonton Sun, you will find a picture of Donna and Caspian mare, Kristull Jehani Texas Lady (the reporter got his stallions and mares mixed up).  We’re quite tickled.  If you go to edmontonsun.com/News/Edmonton/home.html you will also find the story along with a video.  Jordan got some great footage of Talib.

It started yesterday morning when I was delaying going outside for chores.  I started contacting weekly newspapers to see who was around during the Christmas break, thinking it may be a slow time and I might get some press for my Caspian Horses.  I thought I was contacting the Edmonton Examiner, but it turns out that The Examiner is part of the Sun.  In any case, they sent a young photographer out and we are in the paper this morning.

We found out from a phone call from my parents.  A friend of the family is working out of town and phoned to say, I was about the strangest looking Sunshine Girl he had ever seen and I needed a shave.  I’m still working on a comeback to that one.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Texas is coming along nicely on the long lines.  Hopefully, we’ll get her backed before she goes to Kathy Playdon for February.  I think I’ll start Talib  on the lunge and long lines soon.  Illusion will go to Neil Dimmock, as soon as there is an opening; he’s far too hot and smart for me to begin training.  I think I’d be undoing as much as I was doing.  Depending on how Texas goes under saddle, we will be offering an exceptional lease opportunity to get her in the show ring this year.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24th, 2007

We extend a sincere wish for a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season to our family, friends and customers.

We are having a very quiet Christmas at Marsh Haven this year. Our younger son, Mark, came home a couple of weeks back, but he is in the service industry and with staff in short supply and the opportunity to pay off his student and car loans, he will be working over Christmas. Our eldest son, Greg, graduated top of his platoon, in his Basic Officer Training and spent a few days in Cochrane, before coming home with his girlfriend, Kate. They will be with us Christmas Eve and morning to watch Greg’s young cousins open their presents and then they are off to Calgary. We’ll have supper with my brother and his family at my Mom’s. We are going to Christmas Eve dinner with Glen’s mom tonight.

So we are down to the last push to have everything done by our December 31st deadline for Canada/Alberta Farm Stewardship Funding. We are finally able to exhale, with just a small amount of fencing and finishing of the composter, we are going to make it. If I ever apply for so many grants simultaneously again, I need to be stopped before I ever get started. The one bright spot is that we were able to do a lot of things on the farm, we may never have been able to do without financial assistance and it is really coming together.

Here are the latest pictures of the composter. Through this sequence of pictures you can see the front and bays taking shape. Insulation will be blown in between the double walls. Jeremy is constructing the plenum boxes at home. Glen still needs to complete the piping for aeration and install heat tapes through the bins, so we can add frozen manure. We’re going to call on our good friend Mike Kelly with Can-Traffic to bring one or two of the boom trucks to lift the tent domes over the structure.

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Truck Training Pony Style

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

One of our major purchases this fall was a Kubota utility vehicle. It wasn’t on our priority list, but there were a number of factors that pushed it up there. It has definitely proven its worth and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who was thinking of purchasing a similar vehicle, but isn’t sure if they would use it enough.

Shortly before the snow fell, Illusion was busy demonstrating he is definitely a pony who needs a job. About the same time, I was taking Talib for a daily hill walk to replace some of the muscle lost during the trip north. I eyed up the Kubota and now the little guys go for “walk” 3-4 times a week. As I’m somewhat overweight, I had quite a few comments that I should be running with them; NO THANKS and anyway the horses wouldn’t call 911 when I went into cardiac arrest.

The Kubota works great! A dally round the roll bar and your arm is saved from being pulled out of it’s socket when the young boys inevitably misbehave, as it would be when ponying from another horse.

Both boys love it and their ears prick right up when they hear the engine start. The condition is beginning to show on Talib. Illusion is hilarious; he spends most of his time trying to bite the front wheel, roll bar or me (I’ve gotten pretty quick with the end of the lead rope to his schnoz). He reminds me of dog who sees the leash. He can hardly put his head in the halter fast enough.

When I told my racehorse friend, Wendy, she insisted on a picture to show all her colleagues who truck train their racehorses. I’m waiting for a spot to open up at Neil’s for harness training. I think Illusion will go first, as he is just a little too big for his britches. One day last week, he must have worked all night, to work the 1/8 inch of protuding rubber to pull the plug out of his waterer to flood his paddoc.

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Illusion

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Talib

Amy is back from Neil’s now. I have a horse, a harness and a sleigh, but none of them are in the same place. With a strong push, we’ll have enough fence up by Christmas to bring the mares home and “go dashing through the snow!

About the Composter

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I finally have some pictures of the O2 composter under construction. It has turned into a much bigger project than we ever envisioned but we are very excited about it.

It all started about 2 years ago, when I started attending Alberta Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (AESA) workshops. We knew then that we wanted to set the standard in integrated horse care as well as high environmental friendliness. After attending workshops on manure and nutrient management, we knew composting was the way we wanted to go. However, producing good compost is time and knowledge intensive in terms of temperature, turning and knowing when to turn.

Donna also subscribes to a free publication for horse professionals entitled “Stable Management”. That’s where we first saw the ad for O2 Compost. After viewing their website, reading further about it in Karen Haye’s “Perfect Horsekeeping” and checking references, we decided to contact Peter Moon, the engineer and inventor of O2 Compost. The compost is produced through an aerated system and varies from application to application. The price of the unit seems initially high for what you get, but then you realize that you are building a one of a kind facility with Peter’s one to one assistance and engineering. The price of the unit does not include the materials or construction of the facility to house the composter. When all is said and done our composter will have been slightly over $32 000, but we expect it to have paid for itself within five years of becoming fully operational, either in marketed compost, or what we save on bedding and arena footing.

We applied for a Canada Alberta Farm Stewardship grant to help us with 30% of the cost. Initially, Ag Canada was reluctant to approve it, as the intention of the stewardship grants does not extend to commercial initiatives. But upon having a representative from Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Association (Ag Canada) he became as excited about it as we were.

The booming horse industry within the province generally sees horses boarded, or kept on small land holdings, where it is not viable to spread manure. Manure is a slow release fertilizer and cannot be spread yearly on the same piece of land. With each horse producing over 7 tons of manure annually, manure management practices are critical.

We were really lucky to get all the ground work done before freeze up. Now we need to construct and insulate the walls, as well as install the rest of the aeration system and heat tapes. The whole structure 16 x 48 feet will be covered by 2 1/4 Cover All portable buildings. The building is on hold right now in this cold snap, but we have been able to hire some neighbors to help us meet our timelines.

This system is the furthest north installation Peter has designed so some special considerations for cold and handling frozen manure had to be made. It is also the first of its kind in Alberta.

Preparing for Concrete and Electricity

The Footprint Preparing for Concrete Sideview Plenum Box Trenching

After the pour

Concrete Done

You can clearly see where the aerated bays will be be covered by pressure treated plenum boxes