Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Barn Cleaning tutorial

The fact is, I have had many starts and stops to blogging in the past few days.  Many of the starts were based on negative feelings, and basically, it the blog would be one giant negativity.  I find when I am in a bad mood, caused by who knows what, I have to work through it, sort of like a cramp, and when it's finished, then go on, and be sociable again.  Otherwise, I have less patience for others, and for instance I am just no fun on the phone ;)

Lots going on at my work life, and that has weighed heavily on me.  I know things will be okay, but big change is not something I like, or deal well with.  I have to literally work through it minute by minute...  So, this is why I have been absent of late. 

Back to normal programming... The snow finally all disappeared yesterday, and this morning we have another at least three inches of snow, up to about six inches expected... It is very slippery out there. All schools are closed, and I am sure the kids love it.  Those were the days...

In preparation for the storm yesterday, I decided to do my weekly barn cleaning.  It takes almost an hour, using a pitch fork and muck bucket.  Back in my days of working with horses, I did a LOT of stall cleaning, both with shavings and straw, and I hated straw.  We used straw only for mares and foals.  It is good though, that I have worked with straw, because there is a technique to cleaning it, so you can save the good straw and get rid of the bad/soiled.  I doubt anyone really wants to read, but I will share...  You first pick up anything that is on top (droppings).  Then, you go and throw the top clean layer toward the perimeter of the room/stall.  Straw is used for bedding because the wet will go to the bottom, and dry stays on top.  Hay stinks for bedding because the wet sits on top.  Anyway, after you have thrown the clean top area toward the perimeter, you look for wet spots and clean them out.  Then, you lime those areas.  When finished, you take the straw that you had thrown up along the perimeter, and evenly distribute it around the stall.  Then, you get your new bale (remember, wheat straw works better than rye) and if tied with wire, take your pitch fork, stick a tine or two in there, and twist- this will twist one of the ties off and then, grab the other wire and kick with your leg and out pops the new straw.  You can also un-wind the wire, but this way is much quicker.  The straw will be in flakes (pieces) and you pick each flake up and pull it apart/shake it throughout the room/stall.  Be sure to bank up along the edges a bit, and the end result should be a clean, non-smelly room with straw thick enough to be half way up your calf.   Horses stalls should be done daily, but sheep, depending on the number, should be done as often as needed, based on density (number in your flock and size of room).  I do the sniff test, pretty much.   Ammonia (which is in urine) is very bad for animals, especially neonates (lambs/calves/foals etc).  High Ammonia levels sets these guys up for pneumonia.  So, bottom line?  Use good straw bedding, keep it clean, and if you can smell that ammonia, imagine how a baby lamb feels laying right  next to it.  Now, there is no way to keep the barn completely clean at all times, but the goal should be as close as humanly possible... I do want to mention here, that there is the deep bedding approach to cleaning, which is just add straw as needed to keep the wet down low.  That approach is done if you can get heavy equipment in the barn, every spring to clean.  I can't do that; it's just me and my pitch fork...

Well, that's it for now.

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