Sunday, October 2, 2011

Efficiency, Safety, & Growing Pains

TREES is growing! With all growth comes a few growing pains, learning what fits and what might need to be taken in or let out. As we try to implement new programs and our schedule becomes busier, it’s time to see how we can make daily chores more efficient, in terms of time, manpower and funds, allowing more resources to be devoted to new activities. We still want everyone’s time at TREES to be a low-stress, enjoyable experience, but we also want to get as much done as efficiently as possible as we reach for higher goals.

In that vein, here are a few reminders or changes to bear in mind. Some are meant to make more efficient use of our time, some are aimed at conserving resources and some are safety reminders (in no particular order.)

• When we have a lot of stalls and sheds to clean, or when we are shorthanded, don’t get caught up picking at every little crumb in one stall or shed. Better to have all the stalls and sheds clean rather than have one or two immaculately sanitized and the rest untouched.

• Place muck buckets, forks, carts, or other objects where they won’t restrict access to gates, doorways, alleys, or stalls.

• If you need to get a fork or cart from another barn, please put it/them back when you finish so the next volunteer doesn’t have to search the whole farm for what he needs.

• When cleaning stalls, think of a cat’s litter box. Not everything will be sitting right on top, readily visible. You will need to sift a little to find both manure and urine. Then, just as you would in the cat’s box, remove manure and wet bedding, but leave as much clean dry “litter” as possible. Don’t throw out a whole forkful of shavings to get rid of one road apple.

• We need to get back to picking up the fields and paddocks more often than once a week. Leaving it all for the Sunday crew is not fair to them, not an efficient use of everyone’s time, and seriously outside our parasite control protocol.

• Don’t dump full water tanks that may only have a few shreds of beet pulp or one quid floating on top. Dip out the floaters and as long as the water is clear, leave the rest until the horses drink more and reduce what will be lost if dumping is needed. The large tanks hold 100 gallons and we don’t want to pour that much drinkable water out on the ground.

• If horses are frisky, whether due to new arrivals, changes in weather, or a bug hiccupping in the next field, leave them alone or put the one you want to work with in a stall. DON’T bring more people into the setting to occupy the other horses while you work around one in that situation. Adding more bodies to the space only increases the risk that one of those bodies may be stepped on.

• Don’t rake dusty sheds or paddocks. Neither you nor the horses should be standing in a cloud of barn dust. Especially anyone, horse or human, with respiratory difficulties, like Ambrose and Jubal. IF you feel the area must be raked for some reason, please please thoroughly dampen it first.

•Let us know before you come to the farm if its not a previously scheduled work day.  Always.

• If you are scheduled to volunteer and wake up that morning with sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so you can’t rest type symptoms, just give us a call and let us know you’ll be staying home that day. (In other words, don’t risk spreading the love to the other volunteers.)

• Ask for help when you need help. Protect your back and other body parts rather than trying to prove your super human abilities. You can’t help heal the horses if you hurt yourself.

• Finally – let us hear your ideas for increasing efficiency, safety and widening the road to program development!