March 1, 2011
Welcome to Crosswind Farm. We are going to take a unique trip through the process of a mare foaling. Maybe before we start you should know the lay of the land. There are three barns that have different names and functions. The broodmare barn is the old dairy barn that in the early 80s Jay transformed the milking stanchions into 7 concrete block stalls for his mares. The hay and straw is stored overhead of the run-in area of this bam. The second barn is a bit smaller that is called the yearling barn. This is a 9 stall barn with a grain room/tack room and overhead hay storage. The final barn is the foaling barn. This 2 large stall barn is as the name indicates-where the mares are when they foal. The foaling barn is equipped with a time saving feature of a camera and intercom system that allows us to see the mares while we are still in the house. The monitor and receiver intercom are in our bedroom. The three barns are only about 100 yards from each other and our house. The paddocks are to the left of the yearling barn and behind the yearling barn. There is a large field out back of the yearling barn. There is a small paddock in front of the broodmare barn close to the house. All of these are surrounded by 4 board fence-5 feet tall. There are 2 dressage mares, 2 three year olds, one pregnant mare- Honey Bee Mine, and two riding geldings in the broodmare barn. In the yearling barn we have three yearlings- who were born last year and Ace-the stallion pony who helps us tell when the mares come in season and are ready to be bred.
The weather is cold, wet and sometimes raw but typical weather for March. The morning chores start by getting dressed in the overalls, scarf, gloves and mud boots. We have a pretty set routine that helps us save time and be efficient in the process. The yearlings are fed first. The grain consists of 4 pounds of Safe Choice pelleted feed made by Nutrena. Ace gets a handful. Then we go to the broodmare barn, where Jay’s Best Luck and Wilden are stalled for the night. Honey is also in this barn. The five gallon buckets are filled with Safe Choice with a scope so we can place the feed in the stalls as we go down the line of stalls. Each of the horses has their own stall where they eat breakfast and dinner. Each horse is served their own ration of grain depending on their activity level. Adie and Godiva, (my dressage mares), Camp Soto, and Offlee Charming are out in the run-in area overnight. The door at the end of the isle is opened and Adie comes in first, then Godiva, then Charming and last is Soto. Everyone knows the location of their stall and proceeds (most of the time) to it. The doors to the stalls are closed behind them. While everyone is eating, buckets of water are taken to the small turn out lot behind the foaling barn for the two geldings. Also six to eight flakes of alfalfa hay are thrown out for them to munch on all day. This turnout lot keeps them off the fields so they don’t tear up the grass.
Back at the yearling barn, 6 flakes of second cutting alfalfa and some 3 three flakes of straw are taken out to the trough in the yearlings “mud lot”. They too are off the pasture when the ground is soft. Water trough is checked to be sure it is full. By now the yearlings have finished their breakfast and are ready to go out and play for the day. Because the mud lot is adjacent to the barn, the front doors are closed and the back doors are open to let the yearling go into their lot. The gate to the lot is closed and latched. Today, Ace will stay in and not go into his paddock due to the soft ground. The two gelding have finished breakfast so they can go out to their lot. After closing the two gates, alfalfa hay is put out for the broodmares in the “bunker” in the run in area and out side on the concrete “pads”. The water trough is filled about half way so that everyday the water is fresh and clean. The mares are turned out in reverse order. This is done by respecting the pecking order of the mares. If the most dominant went out first the weaker ones would not be allowed out to get the door without being picked on.
That finishes the morning “chores”. None of this is a chore because of the love we have for our horses and what we chose to do. The time it takes one or both of us to do the morning routine varies from a half hour to 45 minutes. If there is snow or ice it will be much slower and harder to get through the routine. That is all for today. Tomorrow I will give you the night time sequence. See you later. The afternoon routine at Crosswind Farm.