Thursday, July 26, 2007

Effects of Drought on Traveller’s Rest.

Though there have been localized rain showers in the area, this particular farm has not seen any measurable rain since mid-April.

The most obvious result of no rain, easily noticeable as visitors enter the driveway, is the dead, brown pasture.

As of this week we are feeding almost as much hay per day as we normally feed in a mild winter. The problem with that is two-fold. First, we are using hay we would usually reserve for winter forage. Second, a larger annual hay requirement translates into a larger annual economic consideration. Obviously, the more bales of hay we buy, the more money it costs.

There is, however, another factor at work. Many area farmers were able to produce only a fraction of their normal crop during the early summer cutting and will not be able to harvest a second cutting at all. This smaller supply of hay will mean higher prices, if we can find adequate supply at all. The lack of tender, second cutting hay will be particularly hard on our dentally challenged Elders who cannot manage the coarse stems and stalks that make up much of a first cut bale. We do have the option of buying bagged chopped forage or forage cubes, but the bottom line remains this same. Basic care costs could be much higher than usual this winter, not only for TREES, but also for all local horse owners. Rescue facilities and sanctuaries can expect increased number of requests to take in horses this winter.

In addition to the grass and hay issue, the dry weather has other effects on TREES’ Elders. The most troublesome problem is that the ever-present dust is causing bronchial inflammation in at least two of our geldings. Jubal and Sonny both have diminished air movement through their lungs.

To combat the dust somewhat, we are dampening bedding and shed floors once or twice a day, depending on drying time. This may help some, but it does not address the fact that just walking across the fields, the horses kick up a little dust with each step. If there is no relief soon, the next step will be to administer a bronchodilator to help Sonny and Jubal breathe easier.

Under the layer of dust, the ground is almost as hard as concrete. As a result, the horses with arthritis and ringbone are experiencing more aches and pains. Stalls and sheds are being deeply bedded to give the Elders more comfortable places to stand or lie down. More pain management medication is required than usual as well.

One up side to the dry conditions is that we are seeing far less mosquitoes that usual. All in all though, we’d take the mosquitoes if they came with more grass and hay.

Please pray for rain.

Now, this is what we'd like to see!

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