Thursday, October 20, 2016

Why I'm Going to Talk About Fitness Again

This looks like a workout room to me. Have you ever seen a heavy horsewoman ?       windyhillsheds


    Most of us cruise through life often in sedentary jobs. When we're home, many of us are couch potatoes. Some of us have gym memberships, but we get there once a week or so. When we find we can't do something physically that we might wish to, and that we had done before, we tell ourselves that it's simple aging. But that is not true. Here in the country I know a number of people in their eighties, primarily farmers, who, about four years ago could work me, a much younger woman, under the table !
              I had the same lack of appreciation for fitness that many of you do, until I got horses, about four years ago.  Having horses was a lifelong dream for me. My parents didn't want them during my girlhood, despite the fact that my great grandparents had been large acreage ranchers and practically lived on horses. As a young married, I lived in the suburbs where having horses would have been illegal. Then, as mother of a large family, I didn't have the time or the spare cash. As my children began to graduate college, I realized that if I didn't get horses on our rural property soon, that I would never have them. It took time to convince my husband that I should get one. One quickly became two, because the horse I wanted was bonded to a close friend stored in the same location he had been. Then, although I had heard a lot about how to care from horses from my father, I began the process of learning about their care from reading and from a team of equine veterinarians.  Although I am a registered nurse and I give injections as immunizations to alpacas, dogs, and other animals, giving injections safely to horses is another matter. Fortunately, I had great tutelage from the equine vets in "taking over the reigns" of their care and giving those essential immunizations via injection safely to them, but also safely to me.  There is a lot to horse care. They need their hooves worked on periodically, usually by a farrier, although a good horse owner should be able to keep them maintained between farrier visits, and certainly inspect them daily. They need to be consistently fed twice daily. They need to be kept clean, groomed, brushed, etc.  Their stalls and paddock must be kept clean. Horse dung must be collected and removed.  Worming, immunization, and annual dental must be done. Someone must collect the correct grade of hay and store it because at certain times of the year it disappears faster than you can imagine. Horses need to be turned out to graze, and then, in my neck of the woods where we have coyotes, they should be returned to their stalls before dark.  After a number of months of taking care of my initial two horses, I was offered two more. I absolutely couldn't envision my work doubling. Somehow, I agreed and added two more horses who needed some level of rehabilitation. Now I have four horses !
           I adapted to having four horses fairly well.  In all weathers, I rise each day at four am, and fully armed because of predatory animals who venture here to the farm, often in the dark. I head to the barn.  I empty and scrub out water buckets and then I refill them. I sweep out and muck all the stalls. I struggle with the wheelbarrow to the horse manure compost pile. I mop each stall, and then squeegee it, so no glorious horse slips.  When it dries, I place some pine shavings in one of each stall's corner. I look over each horse, talk to them a little, and sometimes check hooves inside the barn.  Then I am careful not to overfeed them as I measure out their pelleted rations.  Sometimes I tie two of the more dominant horses so that the thin horses get a chance to eat all their food, and the portly ones don't become ill from pilfering food from their friends.  While they eat, I take care of alpacas, dogs, poultry of a variety of types. and barn cats.
           Somehow, a year into all the animal care, I had a smaller waist and hips than I had at fifteen. I could unload forty (yes, forty) bails of hay with thin but more muscular arms than I had before. I can keep up with a two year old (grandson) better than I could with my own last two year old. Better nutrition is one of the reasons, and certainly regular challenging physical activity is the other.  I am also able to pass for much younger than I am.....Not that I care. When some of your children are in their late twenties, lying about your age makes you look as if you had them as a child yourself !
         The important message here is that bad days come for all of us. Sometimes, our general fitness allows us to save another or to save ourselves. In preparedness, sometimes, our lack of fitness impedes our ability to continue CPR or exit a car in a flood, or after a rollover accident in your SUV that wasn't even your fault ! Someday you may have to walk home from work in challenging circumstances.  I urge everyone to gradually make activity you love and healthy eating a regular health habit.  You will feel better, function better and even have a better mood.  Then, you will better meet those emergent challenges.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Reprise: Kennels and Other Types of Dog Housing as Winter Looms

(Photo: Copyright Rational Preparedness 2012)
This is our kennel when it was built. It is designed for seven dogs. Three large ones are housed on the right, and five small or medium are housed on the left. There are interior concrete areas inside and grassed areas within the fenced areas.  The center hall in concrete and provides electricity and a water faucet which can be attached to a hose.  There is also a room to the right, see front, where new metal trash cans keep dry dog food from mice.  The building is electrified and has overhead lighting.     For this climate, the entire structure is well ventilated, and in the back there are doors which could also be opened to allow cross ventilation.    This would be boring for a dog to remain in all the time, so they must be rotated to work stations in order to watch other animals and interact with our family.

I first wrote this post in 2012.  I frequently receive requests to repost it here, and so today I have. The care of our dogs and other animals particularly as winter looms is an important subject.

    On our farm, dogs are very important to us.  They keep foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, coy-dogs, dog packs, rabid animals and human beings away from our alpacas, from our ducks, our chickens, and from other dogs and cats. They let us know if someone is here, and if they shouldn't be. They would be the first line of defense in a break in situation, even before the security system went off, or the driveway alarm were to signal us. If the dogs were convinced that we were truly in danger, they would likely attack  Dogs are not only dear friends, family members and part of our farm police force.    Because they are so important, we have a considerable amount of money and effort expended in them, and in their care.
         In our area, rabies inoculations are not just the law. With rabid wild animals seen in the county with fair frequency, we are very diligent about this.   In addition, we use heartworm preventive monthly for each dog, calculated to the weight of each and veterinarian ordered.  We have annual distemper hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus shots done annually, usually by me, until the vet believes that they no longer need to be done annually.     (Our vet does them every three years once a dog has attained a certain age) We are considering Lyme immunizations which are now available for dogs.  We also had one dog treated a year ago for acute onset Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  The dog is fine now.
        We have a variety of different dogs for different purposes, large, small, with different skills, because they each do different work for us.  When they age beyond their jobs, they are cared for lovingly here for the rest of their lives.  They are also all licensed as a kennel as is the law in our region.
          Proper housing is essential for all dogs.   Since our dogs are working dogs, and we live in a hot climate, what works for us may not be ideal for a colder climate.  Each farm or rural home needs to evaluate what would work best.  Until a few years ago, we kept quality doghouses outside in a variety of "stations" around the farm, making sure there was always tree shade.  The dogs were assigned and often tied to those areas for a few days, and then they would rotate to another duty station.   Sometimes they would be assigned to a region where tying was unnecessary.   This is done not only to provide mental stimulation for each dog, but to rotate them in slightly different roles, as different dogs and different breeds have varying skills.
           About two years ago, we decided we needed a place which could be heated or air conditioned and managed for elderly or sick dogs, including a quarantine area.   This also serves as a great area for dogs to rest in extreme heat, or following neutering or spaying, or during icestorms or other severe weather.   We drew up a plan over a couple of months, and had our builder create a kennel.   It also has electricity and water.  This permits bathing, and also running a radio or music from time to time, which during storms can be quite calming to dogs or to other animals. The back left room has plexiglass walls over wood, so an animal can be quarantined and the area can be cleaned with veterinary germicides afterward. This way, an infection that afflicts one dog, need not impact others.

This might be where one of our dogs may be, when he is "out working"


This is an example of a kennel for one dog.  This allows a cool place with ventilation along with a secure warm and dry area also.  This would be suitable for one or two small dogs or for one larger dog.  Keep in mind, this is not enough stimulation for a dog, and they must have opportunities to exit, run, explore and spend time with you and your family as well.  In this model, you also need to be diligent about cleaning up stool and urine.  Some small dogs will actually use a litterbox.

These are other types of kennels which may provide some ideas for you:


This is a spacious kennel designed for many dogs.  Note the painted floor which makes the cleaning of urine and disinfecting much easier than with a plain concrete floor.


This is another kennel which would nicely accomodate four dogs or slightly more smaller dogs.

The interior of the kennel above.

This is another nicely constructed kennel made for someone's boarding operation.

This kennel accomodates three large dogs.

   We custom designed our kennels  and had them built by the same company that builds our barns and animal buildings.   We were seeking a building which closely resembled the look of our different types of animal structures. However, this is not necessary.  There are many companies which sell complete plans for kennels which you can buy and build yourself, or that you can provide to your own  builder.

These are a few of them:

Keep in mind, costs can be dramatically curbed by building these structures yourself, or by being creative.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lessons Learned: Hurricane Matthew

           This appeared on James Wesley Rawles blog Survival Blog.    It is so important that I wanted to be sure to provide an important link here.   Please read it.
         It concerns important lessons learned during Hurricane Matthew.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Let's Use Some Sense With Storms


      This week, a family with whom I am acquainted mentioned that they are going to Florida on vacation. They had noticed that Hurricane Matthew was coming ashore in Northern Florida, but the wife said, "We set this up quite a while ago, and so we're going no matter what !"  Although it might be nice to think you lead such a charmed life that nothing can happen to you or your family, it is also the height of foolishness.  I have a friend whose entire party died during a trip to Florida during a hurricane. He was the only survivor, and lives with that every day.   Why would anyone choose to take their family in harms way deliberately ?   I know that we can't avoid every hazard and that we certainly can't stop driving, but we can decline the opportunity to take our families headlong into danger.

               As I write, a storm surge from Hurricane Matthew is occurring between St. Augustine and Jacksonville.  Twenty people including children are stuck in a St. Augustine bed and breakfast with rising waters and heavy winds. Pieces of hotels and railings are breaking off in winds clocked at as much as 91 mph.

               There will be plenty of disasters you and your family will be unable to avoid. Please don't deliberately travel to any !    My hopes are that everyone in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas in the path of this storm stay safe.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

An Eruption of the Colima Volcano


     Four hundred and thirty miles West of Mexico City is the Colima volcano.   Eruptions occurred today triggering the evacuation of several villages.  The hamlets of Juan Barragan, Yerbabuena, and La Becerra were all evacuated because of their close location in relation to the volcano itself. The inhabitants of those areas are living in nearby villages for the time being.  Known as the "Volcano of Fire", lava, gases and ash have been spewing from the volcano, burning faces, eyes, and making inhabitants cough. There have been eruptions of this volcano earlier in the year.

     There are far more volcanoes in the world than many us realize.  Most of us don't have a volcano plan.

The following is a video of today's eruption