C&O Canal

April 14, 2021

We had one of the first truly amazing weekends and my friend Val had the day off. It was seasonably warm and sunny with a slight breeze. Simon and I met up with Val and Babyface. We shuffled trailers and ponies around and ended up with both ponies and one rig parked at one access point, Lock 34, and the other trailer parked at another access point, Brunswick. It is notable that the Lock 34 parking area in Harpers Ferry involves driving under some train bridges with lower clearance. My bumper pull fit with about two feet of clearance.

Before we got mounted, we enjoyed a chat and some adult lunchables, ie. a portable charcuterie board compliments of Val’s husband, Jon.

If you have not ridden, biked, or walked the C&O, you might not be aware that it is long, flat, relatively straight graveled trail that was original a tow path. It is wide enough for comfortable two way traffic. To one side there is an active train track, and to the other side is the Potomac River. The C&O, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, starts in Cumberland, Maryland, and runs to DC covering 180 some miles.

We parked near Lock 34 on the west end of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and rode to the Brunswick, Maryland parking area. We clocked just about 11 miles. There were busy areas where we were crowded in with hikers and bikers, and there were other areas that were wide open that we could let the ponies kick up their hooves and cover some ground. We stopped to let the ponies dip their toes in the river and get a drink while we enjoyed the scenery. Val and I both were thrilled to continuously point out all the turtles along the trail sitting on sticks, rocks, and logs in the over flow water. Who doesn’t love a turtle.

Truly a lovely day, and such a nice change from my usual rides in mountains, with climbs, rocks, low hanging branches and knee knocker trees. I still love the National Forest, but the C&O is a real treat.

Non-Horse Post: Smart Blanket – You Want One!

March 16, 2021

I have a great future invention idea and I need some computer science smart person to get on it and I’ll be the first person to jump on the kick starter. 

A Smart Blanket. 

Think about it.  Wouldn’t it be great if on cold winter nights your blankets were warm when you slide in?  Yeah yeah you can use an electric blanket/mattress pad for the cold nights but what about the hot summer?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to slide into nice cool blankets, and have them stay cool? 

This imaginary Smart Blanket takes its smartness to another level too.  It heats and cools throughout the night, so you stay the perfect temperature all night.  You won’t need to kick off the blankets when you get all hot and sweaty, and then pull them back on when you cool down and are still sweaty and get cold.  You won’t have to stick one foot out to regulate your temperature. 

My Smart Blanket will learn your preferences and maintain the temperature around your body to perfection to optimize your slept. 

I think I will produce it in a large sleeping bag format.  Perfect for full body cooling at home, and perfect while camping.  I would also produce it in different blanket sizes.  The queen and king sizes will have an optional duel side smart system so two people can share the blanket and have their own side operate for their own temperature needs.  But ideally, and for optimal temperature immersion, it would be a single user blanket. 

Ideally my Smart Blanket will also be weight adjustable using some sciencey gravity technology that probably doesn’t exist yet. At least not in a marketable to the general public existence. This rolls out from the currently trendy weighted blankets which are marketed to be soothing and create a sense of security. So why not, my Smart Blanket will also be weight adjustable.

Next time you are sleeping and you get hot, or cold, or sweaty imagine what my Smart Blanket can do for you. 

Review: Century Hay Ring

February 16, 2021

Forever hay problems.

I have hay barrels hung in trees for my ponies to eat out of. This requires filling them everyday. Which sometimes is fine but other times it is not fine. Time and mud are my biggest adversaries when it comes to filling the barrels. Mud tends to be plentiful in the winter (and sometimes the mud freezes into a topographical map like structure that is hard to walk through) and time tends to be very short. Especially if you like daylight while you schlep through that mud.

I also like my ponies to have free choice hay in the winter, but not too free choice.

To sum it up I do not want to spend the time wheel barrowing out hay everyday in the dark, a lot of the time its too muddy to get the wheel barrow near the hay barrels, and while I want them to have a constant supply of hay, I want to slow their ability to eat it.

You see the problem here?

Solution #1, I bought a hay ring. I got the Century Livestock Feeder hay ring for $280 locally, already assembled. Tractor Supply does sell these, and ships them, but to get them shipped, even shipped to the store, you have to pay a substantial shipping charge on top of the $300 price tag. So I found one locally at our Farm Choice store, and it was even priced a bit cheaper.

Design – It is made out of a polyethylene piping. This makes it light weight, about 100lbs, which I can roll around and flip back and forth easily on my own. It is 8 foot in diameter so fits the round bales I get just fine. And it comes with a 7 year limited warranty.

They have three different styles. I wanted the taller style which runs a bit more expensive, but I could not find that one locally, and well, the one I got is more affordable and was ready to roll out in my field that day.

Ok, so now I have a way to have hay out 24/7 but the two pig-faced ponies I have can just stand there and suck hay down non stop like giant hairy vacuums.

Solution #2, I already had a giant round bale hay net I found online the previous winter for $50 on sale. Ridiculous right? It has to have issues right? Well sort of. It fits over a bale just fine. And I get some pretty substantial round bales. But the holes are tiny. Like really tiny. 1.5 X 1.5. The first time I attempted to use it the poor ponies thought they were being tortured with food RIGHT THERE that they couldn’t get out. I would not buy holes this small for a round bale again. It was just too hard for them to work the hay through the holes. Eventually they managed to get some nose sized holes busted into it which equalized the game. It slowed them down, but allowed them access. It also prevents them from throwing hay all over the place, stopping waste and mess.

I am pretty sure I got this net.

I decided to try this set up a few different ways and see how it went.

Trial 1: I rolled the round bale into the net, and then flipped the ring over it. It was easy and pretty clean. It took about two and a half weeks for the ponies to finish it off.

The bale and net in action as described in Trial 1.

Trial 2: I just flipped the ring over the bale, naked of the net. It took about 2 weeks for the ponies to finish it off. It actually lasted longer than I expected and the ring did keep the waste and mess down. I was pleasantly surprised.

Trial 3: I saw a funny photo floating around on the interwebs of a pony standing in this same hay ring, inside a net attached to the bottom of the ring. This made me think, why don’t I attach the net to the bottom of the ring. Then you just flip the ring over the bale and it puts the net in place for you. I am all about making life easier.

This photo was plucked from the interwebs with no idea where it originated. Whoever you are – thanks for the idea, and your pony is hilarious, so thanks for the laugh too.

Unfortunately my net would not open quite wide about yo attach it to the ring. Boo. I suppose I’ll just have to continue to manually put the net on the bale like some chump. – really it’s not that bad.

I’ve been feeding with this net and ring combo now for a few bales and I am pretty darn happy with the purchase. I give it two thumbs up. 👍 👍

Checking in 2021

January 27, 2021

As everyone already knows, the past year was different, and it is continuing to be different in 2021. Lucky for me I live rather rural and have my ponies at home. So I have continued to get lots of outside time and have not had to worry about a barn closing. I am able to say that my life has not changed terribly much due to Covid. I have still gone into work everyday as normal, I just start the day with a temperature check and I wear a mask all day.

The only major change in my life has been the lack of games. I usually take part in at least eleven multi-day competitions and 2-3 weeks traveling over seas as the trainer/manager for the MGAA games team every year. This also involves all of the planning, packing, practicing, and conditioning that goes with serious competition. Meaning games eats up gobs of my time.

Now that I have all of this unscheduled time, you would expect me to have filled it with new projects. Maybe something like taking up baking or writing a novel. But not me. I have no idea what is keeping me so overloaded but apparently I have been too busy to put much time into this blog.

I did make it to one games competition in November. I have some new gear that I would like to review. And I have a coming 3yo pony that is growing daily. So really, I still have plenty to write about. I would also like to start sharing some of the other aspects of my silly little life that do not necessarily revolve around my pony, but that maybe fit into my pony-crazed existence.

So let’s do this!

Chicken Coop Extension

March 29, 2020

I love chickens. I really like my chickens to be able to run loose. They eat up bugs and break up the horse poop, and it’s soothing to watch them clucking around grazing and doing their thing. But when they are loose they are prey to fox, coyote, and hawks.

My flock would be fine for a few months and then one would get snatched. They loved to be loose and I loved them being loose. But I also do not like them dead. And locking them back up after they have been loose and enjoying freedom is painful.

This winter I decided I was going to start fresh with some new peeps. These would not be allowed loose. I also planned out and purchased the materials to build them an extension on their coop so they would have plenty of space.

Mean while, other than the new peeps in the coop I was down to one good laying hen, which was my Last Americana, and a lavender hen that had begun acting like a rooster about two years earlier when the flock was attacked and left with no rooster. My fake-rooster crowed and no long laid eggs. These two were loose and living the good life. That is until a few weeks ago I heard my fake-hen get snatched at about 730 in the morning. This left my Americana on her own. So I snatched her up and chucked her in with the peeps – now adolescent pullets.

With that little bit of background, lets focus on the actual building of the coop extension.

My plan consisted of using 3/4” PVC pipe to build a 10×10 frame that’s 5’ tall. I started to construct this Friday after work.

You can see some nesting boxes in the background that are intended to be put into the coop.

Saturday Rich and I added in a frame for the top and glued the entire frame together. Then we added T posts to the four corners and zip tied the frame to them. Our final step for the day was to add a T post for the door frame. We will hang the door on this.

Sunday after the morning rain cleared we put up the chicken wire, hung the door, and cut an opening to attach the main coop.

The wire was wide enough to have to run it around twice and that gave some over lap and a bit to stick up at the top.

The door I hung with two pieces of old broke rope reins and then used the one intact snap on them to be the closure.

The very fancy but perfectly function and free!

The American immediately ran into the coop. She later flew up to the open top (which I may cover with chicken netting. I’m still deciding).

I ended up clipping her wings hoping that will keep her in. Right now she’s our only layer and I really do not want her to be Fox food.

The other chickens took a while to move out and check out the new run. But once they did they seemed very happy. Unfortunately every time I attempted to get their photo happily clucking around in the new run they would flee back into the main coop.

We still need to move the nesting box in and I would like to add a roosting rail. Those might be projects for next weekend.

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