Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Week that Was (or, The Fun Never Ends)

As always we've been eyebrow deep in things going on - including my travels for work. Ginger has been so kind to take some time to share some of the events around the ranch:

We recently finished a very successful summer for our newly established Summer Horse Camp. We tried to start slow (maximum 6 kids per week) to work out kinks and get it running smoothly. Soon, there were 7 or 8 kids per week. We finally bumped the maximum to 10 kids after we added our new horse, Missy. Camp got so popular that by the end of the summer we were filling the weeks and actually had to turn a few kids away! (Check out our Camp Photos)

It was nice to have the success, and much needed income, but the days were long, hot, and exhausting to cover all the chores necessary to run the camp. So we were looking forward to a little breather (like, maybe, 12 hour days instead of 16 hour days) before ramping up again to get the kennel going. That was not to be. Monica has been traveling a lot lately on her “day job,” and was gone to Montana the whole week of August 29th. There was so much to be done, it was hard to prioritize, but the pasture irrigation was paramount because we only had a week left to get our 4 days of water from our ditch.

Weed Control. We’ve had a very dry summer and our pastures are becoming overrun with weeds due to lack of water and the horses keeping the grass grazed down to nubs. A particularly aggressive and tough weed we have a lot of is called “wild marigold” and it stinks to high heaven.

I called a weed-spraying company guy to come out and give us an estimate for weed control. He gave us a weed management plan and then suggested we should buy a tank and sprayer for our tractor and do it ourselves to save a lot of money because 10+ acres would cost us a lot for him to do it. He said to spray with a broadcast 3 times a year, but do one spraying ASAP before we ran the irrigation water. So, we ordered some of the suggested chemical, Dave borrowed our neighbor Tom’s sprayer, and he started spraying the bigger south pasture. He made a couple passes on Saturday the 27th and then we had a 10 minute rain and he had to quit. Of course, the chemicals need at least 6 hours to work before they can get wet, so that may have been a waste!

Sunday morning, Dave got the south pasture sprayed and it didn’t rain. Our weed control “consultant” told us to follow the label recommendations regarding how long we had to keep the horses off of the pasture - but the label on the stuff didn’t say anything about it. Dave researched the internet like mad, and found many conflicting reports. We couldn’t find anything definitive, so had to wait until Monday to call the manufacturer. When I called, I was surprised to hear we had to keep the horses off for “at least a month!” I asked why and he said because that product isn’t labeled for pasture use with animals!! So, I called our weed control consultant who had told us which product to use, and he said our Co-op sold us the wrong stuff!! The co-op told Dave it was the same as the one our guy recommended! But apparently it was only labeled for landscaping and not pasture. Our guy told me it was “probably” the same chemical composition as the stuff he uses for pasture, but that the manufacturer didn’t spend the money to have it labeled for pasture use, so they have to stay on the safe side and tell you not to. Our guy told us the weeds should be withering already after 24 to 48 hours. Here’s a photo of our “lovely” marigolds 4 days after spraying.

They still look pretty lush, green and healthy don’t they? (10 days later, Dave says they are finally dying back - in fact he said he could see all the areas that he must have missed during spraying - oh well).

At this point we were in a quandary, because the chemical manufacturer told us not to put the horses out for a month. We have only our smaller pasture and Welcome Pen to put horses in when they’re not in the barn, and 11 horses...



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