An unexpected hurdle – horses

In Yesterday’s Post, I wrote about my life changing yet again and discussed the morning routine with the horses.  This is kind of a continuation.  It’s really a great thing that my work situation changed.  I needed to get a hold of the balance of work and life and an unexpected hurdle.  I’m really not sure how we would have ever accomplished any of it without my gears switching regarding work (by the way, yes, for those who asked, I am still completing that degree.  I slowed progress down a little so it will be finished next year – either in spring or summer, whichever I decide).

In addition to blogging photography again, I wanted to share our projects – much of it involves the horses.  We had a bit of an issue that some may have seen on my Facebook or Instagram.  I’ve been documenting in cell phone pictures, the uproar that we apparently caused with the neighbors over our horses.  We are zoned agriculture.   We made a decision after 10 years of boarding horses, to move them onto our property.  We did not take this decision lightly.  We spent time researching and making sure we were doing what we felt was the right thing, financially and for the horses’ health (as I have mentioned, two are seniors and will be retiring.  Senior horses tend to need some extra personal care especially in their diets).  Not to mention, Pixie is up and coming at 2-1/2  years old and is ready to begin her slow but consistent training as Erynn’s sport horse.  This requires a lot of time, and driving to the boarding barn was inconvenient.horse-head-door-knocker

We thought everything was fine when we moved our horses here.  We knew there were modifications we would have to make as the occasional problem arose, but we did not anticipate what happened.   We had no idea that neighbors would end up calling the county and environmental agencies without even speaking with us (after living here 15 years together), trying to make us get rid of our horses.   After the initial first visit by an organization, we voluntarily had soil conservation come out.  Having horses on small acreage is not looked at as the best choice; however, it is legal and doable as long as you are willing to put the work in and supplement with good quality hay and anything else that the horses need.  The people that have come out have been nothing but wonderful and helpful.

We became proactive and made modifications as quickly as we could to insure that there would be no inconvenience to neighbors even in the worst of weather.  This has taken up over two months of my time.  When I say taken up my time, I mean wake up in the morning and working hard physical labor 12 hours a day until projects were complete.   I’ve developed an AVM in my hand from repetitive motion such as lifting, carrying, and shoveling and have lost so much weight that I am down to what I was about 20 years ago, but I have muscles that I didn’t know I was capable of having!  That was a surprise!

champagne horse

Pixie, the classic champagne paint, in the morning – she is now taller than her momma. She’s a big girl.

 

Unfortunately, neighbors were still not satisfied and brought in the Maryland Environmental Department.  The verdict?  We are legal and they did not really see anything wrong.  We discussed some drainage of loose material (sand and mulch) from the very beginning of our initial project.  A small amount had whisked up and deposited outside of our property during torrential downpours.   While some drainage such as that is normal to occur, we take the stand that we do not want anything leaving our property, so we have more projects to go, but now that MDE has said we are okay, it doesn’t have to occur at superhuman speed!

Have you ever tried to move a 22-ton truckload of gravel shovel by shovel?  I have….. I… um… did.  

(and note… yes, I have a big burly  husband but he has been holding us financially with his job…. someone had to continue to make money!)

So if you have been trying to get in touch with me, I’m BACK!  Finally!  Give me a few days to sort through all messages, but you will be getting a response.


 

polaris-rangerOn another note, there is always something to be done.   I’ve grown to enjoy being outside.  If you know me, you know that I’ve always leaned toward staying in the comfort of my house.  I’ve been accused of being a vampire :) .   Now, I’m out and about – every day, I’m pulling the Ranger out of the garage, and packing it up with everything I will need for the latest project.  Today Dean taught me how to use the emergency battery starter thingy (yes, I’m pathetic with this stuff).


pasture-grassToday, my concern was fertilizing the pastures.  Pasture grass must be treated as a crop, especially when you are working with small acreage.   My grass is not exactly where I want it as of now, but it is coming along rather nicely considering some of the big horse facilities nearby have been overgrazed to the point of nothing left but tufts of weeds.   It is a lot of work keeping green pastures, but with proper management, it can be done.   I have used our composted manure on the pastures, but at this point, we do not have enough to spread everywhere that we need it, so I had to use some fertilizer especially for horse pastures.  Even if neighbors are not happy about it, the environmental organizations stand behind the use of composted manure on pasture as it creates the best nutrients without chemicals.  It may be a bit stinky for a day or two, but living out here in the agricultural zone, horse manure is the most pleasant of smells in comparison to sheep and pig manure.  You don’t want to be anywhere near the spreading of that.

fertizlier-spreaderI had to laugh as I couldn’t figure out why Dean kept complaining about one of our spreaders being broken.  I kept thinking – so what’s the big deal?  We still have another one.   So what, it’s a push one as opposed to the one that you hook up behind an ATV and pull.  It’s like pushing a shopping cart, right?  He again mentioned that he wanted to replace the pull-behind spreader.  I shrugged it off.  Yeah, well, now I know….. I pushed this thing all over the place.  Something about the mechanics cause it to be difficult to push – just enough extra pressure needed that it wears you out.  But it’s done at least.  *whew*


Back to the “new morning routine” that I had mentioned…..  There’s another little task that I do every morning, and it never gets old.  I walk up to our rabbit house and check on the babies.   Erynn takes care of them completely, but while she is at school, I take a peek in and do a head count of the tiniest babies.  Occasionally one will fall out of the nest or become separated from the litter mates and if not caught in time, it will freeze so we do our best to watch for that.  Currently, we have four little ones out of Dolly.

lionhead-rabbit

It’s always worth that extra hike up the hill to see these little faces.  Erynn got a great video of momma with her babies – you can even see her get angry at them and tell them what to do.  Rabbit behavior is similar to horses with the ear pinning.

lionhead-rabbit-baby

 


 

About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.