How To Let the Horses Out…A Guest Post by Ciara, the Goat

First of all, make SURE the power cord running to the electric fence charger is OFF!

Believe me, I tried this once while it was plugged in and the results were painful.

electric fence chargerNext, make sure there is at least one horse paying attention to what you are doing.  If not, what’s the point.  There’s lots of other stuff to do!Horse NoseAfter you’re sure the electric fence is off, and  you’ve got at least one horse paying attention to what you’re doing, then it’s time to get started.

First, jump up on the fence and attack it.  Bring it down as far as you can.goat jumping on fenceThen, just do whatever you gotta do to keep it low so somebody can step over it.  Remember, the horse is supposed to be paying close attention to what you’re doing.  Don’t let any humans see you do this though or they’ll probably run over and plug the fence in.

That will hurt.Now, be careful not to get yourself too wrapped up in the fence in case something goes wrong and you have to get outta there fast.  For safety reasons it’s probably best to do this if there is only one horse behind the fence.

In this last pose I about had it down when BOOM!  The next door neighbor shot his shotgun and scared the herd of horses into a mad gallop and I jumped so high I pulled the whole thing down.  But, I ran really fast and I don’t think anybody saw who did it.

I think they blamed the horse.

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Straight Talk Phones From Walmart…Seems To Be a Good Deal

It’s been about 3 days since I got my new Straight Talk phone from Walmart.  I didn’t want to post about it too soon in case it turned out to be a bad deal, but CG and I both have one now and so far everything is working out great.  We get good coverage here at our home.  It’s not perfect, but it’s at least as good as Sprint was.

We got two phones that look and act much like a Blackberry.  They have the typewriter style keypad, large viewing screen, internet connection, etc.  Our “plan” includes unlimited texts, minutes and internet use, plus free 411 calls.  (Ever been out of town without a phone book and needed a number?  Happens to me all the time, and Sprint charged $1.75 per call!)  We pay $45 per month per phone.  That is about $40 dollars less per month than Sprint was charging us, plus we didn’t have to sign a contract, with no early termination fees.  The phones were each $109, which is the regular price.  Not the price after mail in rebates that take a year to get, or the inflated prices we’d have to pay if we wanted to change phones before our contract was up, in which case we’d have to sign yet ANOTHER two year contract!

Have I mentioned lately that I was EXTREMELY  dissatisfied with the service we had gotten from Sprint?  Well, now I can breath a sigh of relief knowing there will not be any mysterious charges on my bill each month.

If we didn’t need all that in a phone we could have gone with the lower priced plan which is $30 per month and you get 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and 30mgb of internet usage, which they told me was equal to about 30 pages.  The lower priced phones were about $39 dollars.  The $39 dollar phone is a nice flip phone with a large phone key pad.  Very easy to see and use.

So, that’s one less thing to stress about.  Course, I still haven’t really figured the phone out yet and have not set up my voicemail…so if you’ve left a message, I’m afraid I have not got it yet. You may have to send me an email or comment to this post!

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Sprint Phone Service=Very Poor Phone Service

Lately, I’ve been commenting in my blog about Sprint‘s phone service not being all that it is cracked up to be.  It was really just one of those things we can’t do much about, but last night, when I saw Sprint’s CEO come on national TV doing a commercial about their new, “unlimited everything” plan for about $69 dollars I nearly fell over.

A few weeks ago I got a call on a Saturday from a Sprint Phone representative informing me that I was in danger of having my service canceled due to using too many roaming minutes.

In my contract I opted for the “unlimited” roaming minutes due to how much time I spend traveling.  I suppose I didn’t read the fine print, or maybe when I signed my initial contract, it wasn’t in the contract.  I don’t know, but “unlimited” roaming does not actually mean “unlimited”.  Depending on how many minutes you are paying for, in my case it was 1500 per month, your roaming minutes cannot make up the majority of your minutes used.  For me I could not go over 800 roaming minutes.

I have rarely been under 800 roaming minutes.

Let me step back a little.

A couple of years ago, living in a different area than we live now, I suddenly stopped getting service at my home or within about 10 miles of it.  I did not have a house phone.  I called Sprint many, many times to try and figure out what was happening, and they just continued to tell me that I was not in an area that got good service….when only a week before my service had been fine and I had NOT been roaming.

They could not do anything about it, and I had just gotten a new phone, which extended my contract another TWO years and they would NOT cancel me without charging those ridiculous early termination fees.

They did not care that suddenly I could not get service at my own home. They would not help me at all.

But now that I have moved to a new area, I get great service!  I’m constantly roaming on Verizon towers and get most all of my calls.  Nearly everywhere I travel to I’m also roaming and get pretty good service.  I wasn’t complaining.But, we had strangely high bills some months.  While living at the old house, my youngest son lost his cell phone privileges and so I took back the phone he had that I was paying for.  They would NOT take it off my account for TWO MORE YEARS!  I would have to pay the extra money for a line I was not using, and couldn’t even get service on either phone when I was anywhere close to home.

We decided at that point that CG would use my extra phone and we would cancel his account, that way we could talk to each other anytime we wanted without using any of our anytime minutes.

Friday night a Sprint rep. finally explained it to me in English I could understand.  If we make calls to each other, and one of us is roaming, (mostly always me)  it pulls minutes from our anytime minutes, and our free mobile to mobile was no longer free.  So, I was using over 1000 anytime minutes a month…and not really talking to anybody for any length of time except CG.

Talking to the Sprint people, this was never explained to me in a way that made any sense, so we just kept paying the bill.  It was usually just $20 or $30 dollars over a month…not that big of a deal I guess.

Well, when Sprint called me a couple of weeks ago they offered to let me out of my contract with NO early termination fees, plus pay a portion of one months bill.  Now, at this point, living in this new area, I’ve been fairly happy with the coverage I’m getting…I’m at least getting to make and receive calls from my home.  A week later they sent me a follow up letter stating that I was in violation of their terms and subject to cancellation if I did not voluntarily limit my roaming minutes to under 800 per month.  Basically, I could no longer use my phone as I was constantly in violation of their terms or using too many anytime minutes while talking to someone on my own line of service!

They didn’t offer me their new “unlimited everything” plan.  They could not offer me anything, except to pay more money per month or risk getting canceled and having no phone service at all.

The story ends happily for me though…I’m no longer with Sprint, and I do have a new phone with the same phone number with another carrier.  I’ll post on that a bit later.

Has anyone had this same problem with Sprint?  Why would they want to get rid of customers they’ve had for years? Why does the term “unlimited” have a limit?  Isn’t that a contradiction?

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Cooler Than Normal Temperatures

When I checked the thermometer in the bedroom this morning, it read 65 degrees….or some ridiculous number like that.  Our thin cotton blanket certainly wasn’t adequate for those temperatures, and my feet were frozen.

I immediately thought the fire had gone out.

Then I remembered that it was July, and we were in the middle of a heat-wave!

Saturday night CG commented that one of the outlets in the bedroom was on a separate breaker from the rest of the house, so we brought in an old window unit I’d had when I lived in the city and installed it in one of the bedroom windows and plugged it up, carefully duct-taping around any potential bug-entry sites.

This morning, unbelievably, it was still running, and it was COLD in the bedroom.  But, it was soooo nice.

I had stopped using the thing years ago when we bought a bigger unit and then moved to a house with central air.  I kept meaning to throw it away.  I can’t believe it even works!

Well, I have to say, it made a world of difference to our comfort level yesterday evening and last night.  It doesn’t cool the whole house, but I found a few more fans in the garage and so the rest of the house has been more comfortable too.  So far we haven’t blown any breakers.  We didn’t think we could run an air conditioning unit with our current wiring still in place.

I need an extra freezer for milk.  I guess I could put that in the bedroom too?

But wow.  How nice to sleep comfortable all night, (despite needing a winter blanket).

It’s true, it really is the little things in life that make it less miserable!

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Heat Index of 105!

I burned myself opening my car door.

Three of my lotions exploded in the car.  Ummmm, I knew I forgot SOMETHING yesterday…they are supposed to be stored in the house!

The water is evaporating out of the troughs faster than the animals can drink it.

It’s not going very far though.  You can see the water vapors hanging in the air.  Stick out your tongue and get a drink!

The dogs have buried themselves under the house.  They aint coming out for NOTHIN!

I have to stuff my bra to keep the sweat from dripping down my chest and making me itch like crazy!

The horse flies are dazed and confused…even more than normal.

All the cows I pass in pastures are standing in the middle of their ponds…if they are lucky enough to have ponds.  The rest of them are dead.  Or appear to be anyway.

My eggs are going bad before I can get them out of the nests…going bad or turning into chicks…not sure which is worse upon opening them.

The chickens are walking around with their wings stretched out and panting.

Even the cats are panting.  Seriously.  It’s THAT hot!

CG’s truck broke down on the way to work this morning. He had to have it towed out of an intersection.  The only thing wrong with it was a BURNT wire!  Imagine that.

Life with no air conditioning might not be life at all.

I’m on the fence about that one.  If I fall off I hope it is into a swimming pool.

My computer is overheating..

My phone was working a little, but soon as the temp. rose to above ninety, it stopped.  I drove 60 miles out of my way to pick up CG at the auto shop.  But, he’d already gone…burnt wire replaced.  Funny thing is my phone worked when he called and said the truck died, but wouldn’t work when he tried to call and tell me he got it fixed.

I got a new phone, but it’s refusing to activate itself.  It keeps switching to sleep  mode.

Or maybe the humidity is getting to it.

The clothes on the line aren’t drying.  And I washed our blanket.  I had to buy a new thin cotton one.  Hopefully  the bed will seem less like a sauna bench tonight.  Although if the blanket doesn’t dry….heck, I don’t know, maybe we’ll just sleep outside.  That’s what people back “in the day” used to do on their sleeping porches.

I doubt our back  porch would hold the two of us.  It’s a little, um, rickity.

The computer is slow as molasses in January.  The buttons keep lighting up.  Don’t know if that means overheating explosion about to happen or what.  Don’t think that I’ve seen that before.

We have to keep off all the lights in the house to keep it under 90.  It didn’t work out so well last night.  We had to have the lights on to chase the wasp and horsefly out before we went to bed.  Last time I looked at the thermometer in the bedroom it said 90.5.

I refuse to look at it again.

The goats have almost stopped producing.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before.  That’s how I know it’s hot.  The goats never drop production except in extended periods of rain.  The good part was I didn’t have to milk before market this morning.  The bad  part is….well, the bad part is that as long as their production is down I know it’s MISERABLY HOT.  And I’m ready for some cool about now.

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Living With Wildlife

I do love wildlife, but frankly, I’ve had enough for a while.

This morning when I went out to the garage/barn/shed to get feed, this possum was lying beside the feed bags, looking at me.  I got a shovel and attempted to scoot him out into the daylight, but he fell over in the shovel.

I thought he was playing possum.

What do I know?

I got him outside and noticed some areas on his side and back that were…well….gross.  It appeared he had possibly gotten hit by a car, and then decided to come inside where it was more comfortable.

I meant to get a picture this morning while he was still alive, but honestly, he wasn’t any cuter then either.

dead possum, road kill, marsupial animals

possum, epm, road kill, possum tails
Nice tail don't you think? His little feet are kind of neet too.

Those blue things under his tail?  Far as I can tell, they are his testicles.  I don’t know anything about possum testicles, so I’m only guessing. They could be guts.  He was missing some of his insides.  I guess he was really hungry and ate himself because my worthless dogs wouldn’t touch ANYTHING dead…except if it’s cooked, or possibly if it’s a deer.

I want swans, and elk and deer and the occasional bear, and buffalo…okay, maybe not buffalo, but where are all the beautiful animals?  We’ve got more spiders than I knew existed, mosquitoes, super duper man-and-horse-and-goat eating horseflies, ticks, a yardful of toads that look like rats running around at night, possums, snakes, and bugs that I have never seen before and that probably don’t exist anywhere but here.

I’m wondering what I’ll find next.  No, I’m not.  I’m praying I won’t find anything else at all!

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Where Have All the Eggs Gone? Well, Now I know!

For all these hens we have….still free roaming of course….(I have been meaning to confine them at least to a “chicken pasture),” the eggs are few and far between.  Granted, some of the hens are a little older than the rest and lay fewer eggs,  (I only assume this as I have no idea who is laying what).

Well, last night I found out what was happening to at least some of those eggs.  This was an old egg.  One the dogs had missed, and was in an egg box the chickens don’t use.  I was glad to see my buddy in there, keeping copperheads away.  Still, he startled me a little.

black snake, egg-eating snake, chickens, homesteading
By the time I got my camera from the house, the snake had turned it's head away from me. You have to look close, but it's got a very large egg in it's mouth.

This snake has decided to grace our farm with it’s nearly constant charm.  For about a week I was able to see it daily, underneath the feed cans which are set up on pallets.  This snake makes me feel somewhat safe from copperheads so I want it to stay.  If it eats a few eggs, that’s fine.  So far, it hasn’t touched my chicks.  If it did, I might have to carry him away.

I need a name for this snake.  I don’t know if it’s male or female, so maybe something generic would do. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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Ticks Contribute to the Loss of a Cell Phone

Even though our spring here in Va. dawned wet and tick filled, I haven’t had a tick on me now almost all summer.  I have been praising the chickens for doing a marvelous tick-removal job.  Yesterday however, I decided I needed to move some goat fence to open up another section of good browse for the goats.

Great idea.  Wrong time of year!

About the time I realized I had my hands on not a tree, but on the leaves growing out of the poison ivy vines growing UP the tree…I started itching.

At first I thought it was the poison ivy…but it was a little soon for that.  And it wasn’t my hands that itched, it was my stomach.

I pulled up my shirt and found that while traipsing through the thick underbrush, I had come across a nest of teeny, tiny baby ticks and they were all over my stomach, crawling into my pants at the waist, on my arms, my back, my chest, and in my hair.

tick-infested underbrush in virginia, weeds for goats
The goats adore this thick underbrush, and we have quite a bit of it, but it's a hot spot for all kinds of things that creep and crawl! For some reason, the goats do not seem to have much problem with ticks. I've probably only found 3 or 4 ticks on the goats in the last couple of years. The ticks LOVE humans, horses and dogs, however!

They were a little too small to gross me out, but I could see that this was going to be a problem, so I finished putting up the fence so the goats wouldn’t be all over the front porch and came up to the house to figure out what to do.

I really didn’t even want to go into the house, and although I know the country laws out here are a little more relaxed than in the city, especially since we only have one police officer, I really didn’t think I wanted to run around naked outside, so I went in and took my clothes off in the laundry room and threw them straight into the washing machine with plenty of home made laundry soap and bleach.

After that I went into the bathroom and tried to get as many of the ticks off of me as I could, which was hard because they looked like grains of sand and my near eyesight isn’t all that good anymore.

About the time I got most of the ticks off and decided to take a shower, I realized I didn’t know where my cell phone was.  Hmm, I thought maybe I’d left it in my pants pocket of the pants I’d put in the wash.  I checked, but nope.  So, I looked everywhere else and couldn’t find it and I was really itching at this point so I decided to look in the bottom of the washing machine and BINGO!  I found it! I had been in such a hurry to wash my clothes I forgot to check my pockets!

Nope, it doesn’t work anymore, so if you need to call me, go ahead, but leave a message.  I can call and get my messages.  Or send me an email, or leave a reply on this post.  Or come to my house and tell me how sorry you feel for me. Or, if I know you, I can give you CG’s number and you can call him.

By the way, “Off” tick repellent DOESN’T  kill ticks if applied once they are attached to you.  I don’t think anything kills them at that  point.  Except fire.  We put them on pieces of toilet paper and flushed them down the toilet.  Poor CG, he spent about an hour pulling those things off of me.  Did I mention they are hard to see? I think they made a country song about that.  I’ll have to find it for him.

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Caritas Loses a Shoe

When we put the EVA shoes on Caritas, my glue gun had gummed up and would not work, and it was getting dark, and I couldn’t figure out what to do about gluing, so we opted not to glue.  I had a feeling that the shoes might not stay on without the glue.

If Caritas had a more bell shaped foot, or more distortion in it, the shoe probably would have held on just fine, but his feet have a pretty good shape to them now, and so this morning I looked out the window and there was his right shoe, lying beside his food dish.  Darn.

CG needed to get to work, and since my casts turn out better when I have a helper, I opted to duct tape it back on.

Unfortunately, the shoe would not go back on his foot, so I put an easyboot glove with a 6mm pad on him instead, just to even him up. I’ll have to wait until CG gets home and then we’ll reapply the EVA shoe with a new cast.  Probably a 3 inch with glue this time instead of the 2 inch.

easyboots, natural hoof care, eva shoes, hoof casting
An EVA shoe on the left front, and an Easyboot Glove on the right.

Hopefully I can figure out how to get these things to stay on for at least a 4 week trim cycle.  I think they really are a very valuable tool, especially for foundered and laminitic horses.  The combination of thick padding and the casting, which reduces chatter and damage within the hoof wall during periods of inflammation, is just a great idea.

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