Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunny Day and Plumbing Puzzle.

Good afternoon everyone.  Today is a beautiful sunny Sunday. We're getting a little tease of early Spring. Sorry I never posted yesterday.  It was a full day of lessons despite the cold, gray drizzly day that finally gave way to some blue sky about four o'clock.  We were so busy at the farm, I actually fell asleep sitting up before ten o'clock last night! 

On a rainy day, we do barn lessons for the hard core kids who want to be here no matter what the weather.  A barn lesson can be anything from cleaning stalls, to cleaning tack, to giving a horse a haircut.  Yesterday was haircut day. 

The kids learn how to use the electric sheers.  They trim up the horses' whiskers, faces, and bridle paths.  The bridle path is the place just behind the ears where the crown portion of the bridle goes.  It not only looks better trimmed, it helps the bridle make better contact with the head for clearer directions from the rider.

I don't keep my horses in a full body clip and blanketed like show horses.  So, they look like fuzzy tear bear-style horses in the winter.  It's what God and nature gave them to stay warm.  Why mess with it? 

My mentor, RW, always poses the question to me, "What does nature say?" That's how he judges what to do with a horse in a given situation. Nature does not say to body clip a horse in the winter. But, it does help the horses look nicer to trim-up the extra hair on their heads that, by this point of the winter, has grown to look like a fringe around their jaw line.  Today, everyone is looking sleek and handsome as a result.

It's my Sunday to work.  Bart and I have already fed horses, dogs, cats, and the rabbit.  We finished in time for an early lunch of breakfast food.  Bart being the restless soul that he is, is out working on a gate now.  He's also got plans for one of the spigots in the barn that's leaking and causing us quite the plumbing puzzle.

My barn was built when I was mid-divorce.  I was responsible for the design, which is actually modeled on RW's barn, but the building was done by contractors.  There's a problem with having contractors work unsupervised by the designer.  Things get done a little differently than the designer--ME--had in mind.  The plumbing in the barn was done after the exterior was complete but before the interior walls were built--which was necessary.

The plumber decided to put in large, sturdy handle valves on the six spigots in the barn.  Well, ok, that's good.  There's nothing protruding for a horse to catch himself on. They sit flush against where the interior walls were later built. They aren't in the way of the tractor or the truck when we bring them through. It's great...until one of those valves starts leaking and needs a washer replaced.

When the spigot is sitting flush against the wall, guess what? I can't screw off that handle valve to replace the washer inside of it.  Why not?  It's too close to the wall!

In order to screw off the handle valve, I have to remove one of the planks in the wall to have enough room to turn it.  This is the part that, had I been more available and spending less time getting divorced, maybe I would have seen it coming.  Maybe I would have had the sense to say, "Let's move that out a few inches from the wall, boys."  Alas, I wasn't here that day.

So, this doesn't sound bad.  Just pull out that plank and be done with it.  It's just a few nails after all--that's what Dod thought yesterday.  No, Dod, my barn is really well built.  My interior walls are tongue and groove.  For those who don't build--that means the planks are slid between supporting posts in a fashion that allows them to stack on top of each other forming the wall.  It's a wonderful way to build...until you need to take just one plank out.

To fix this leaky spigot, we're going to have to take a stall door out, move the support post or simply slide every plank up 15 feet and unstack a whole wall of planks until we get down low enough to screw-off that valve head.  Geez!  The things you don't think of when you're building!  The plumber didn't think of it.  The barn builders didn't think of it.  My cousin who was supervising every thing for me didn't think of it.  Nope, no body thought of it while I was off in divorce court.  Oops!

No, we're not going to do the "real" fix today.  Bart is looking for a sprayer to put on the hose that's attached to the valve head to stop the dripping.  Why not make it simple and just put a bucket under it?  Foot entrapment.  A horse's greatest fear is foot entrapment.  As a prey animal, horses rely on being able to flee danger.  Although there's no real danger here, they still have prey animal moments that cause them to cut and run.

Knowing I've got a farm full of prey animals, I have to keep buckets, ropes, anything that could entrap a foot off the ground or the barn floor.  One foot gets caught in a bucket handle and buddy, you've got a 1,000 lbs of panic on the other end of a rope.  One thousand pounds of panic is really not a good thing.  When a horse is panicked, he's likely to hurt himself. and you, too, if you're close by.  He won't mean to hurt you, he'll just be trying to get away from that bucket that's eating his foot--that's how he'll think of it, at least.

This is one of the many things I deal with on a daily basis.  It's seeing the world through the horses' eyes as much as possible.  If I look at the world from their point of view, I'm more likely to see where danger or potential problems may lie.  If I can see those potential issues, I can head them off to make life safer for the horses, my staff and my students.  It's something I'm forever trying to teach my staff.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  The quickest way to make me mad is to carelessly leave something around that could hurt a horse or leave a gate or door open allowing them to wander into danger.

Horses are curios by nature.  As soon as you think they can't or won't get into something, they will.  Maybe tomorrow's post should be about some of the things Tar has gotten into?  It would amaze you.

Ok, I'm going to check on Bart.  Pip is confined to the garden now.  I'll tell you that one later, too.  I promise.  There are just more stories around here than can be told in one sitting or maybe in a lifetime.

Go, enjoy your Sunday.  Maybe watch the Super Bowl.  Maybe it's a pretty day where you are and you can just get outside a little while.  Do it.  The sunshine and fresh air will be good for you.  It'll make you feel better!  Whatever you choose, have a nice day and thanks for reading!

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