Preparing for winter in Scotland

The media has been reporting that winter is coming!. Bit obvious that, and snow is due here within a week. Well last night it was 11C overnight and down to 8C by sunrise. Luckily we haven’t had any frosts yet although sure that will happen now.

Every year we suffer with frozen water pipes in the stables and have to cart water. It’s a hard thankless task. Our stable troughs hold about 20 litres so at the worst we only have to top them up twice a day. This always happens when the weather is at it’s worst and we can put horses out.

So this year we have made a determined effort to put insulation on all our water pipes. Theory being if it does get cold we won’t have to cart water and if we do it may only be for a couple of days.

It is fiddly job using everything from No More Nails to gaffer tape and cable ties. It has been a fine fill in job on wet days!

The insulation we chose was the 15mm thick stuff and two sizes to cope with the main water pipes and the smaller down pipes. Used about 200 metres in all for the two stable blocks and the farm workshop area.

Lets just hope it works, so watch this space for when the white stuff arrives.  16th  October

 

Shelter

At last we have just about completed our field shelter.

Luckily the weather this last week was dry and we got the topsoil spread over the hard standing. The shelter is made up to two walls forming a T shape. So they have shelter from any direction that the wind may be blowing. We have used old telegraph poles buried 3 foot into the ground to support the 7ft high walls and the horses rubbing against them. The wooden panel wall is a division wall between two fields.

Key to something like this is drainage. We have put in a 6 inch diameter pipe down each side of the shelter and filled the trench full of stone to get maximum effect. Hopefully this will keep access area dry during the worst of the winter. I hope you can spot Nash taking in the sun and helping guide the fall of the pipe. If you can’t see him look again!

3rd October

Muck away

What do you do with your horse muck?

We have tried to turn a problem into a benefit at Toux. The muck is barrowed out to our muck heap and we empty the heap twice a year. Each Autumn and Spring time.  The muck is left in heaps and turned over every so often and composted. Usually the heap will get up to about 66 to 70C temperature and this should kill all the unwanted bugs etc over a few months.  As you can see our heap has gone and has been spread onto one of the paddocks. This saves having to buy fertiliser to feed the grass. And while the muck is absorbed into the ground it gives us the chance to sort out the old fences. We usually leave the field empty for about 2-3 months depending on the weather. We spread it with a tractor and old Zetor muck spreader and it is just an afternoons work.

Generally we have enough muck to treat only one field at any one time. So each field gets a covering every 2-3 years. Before you know where we are the heap has started to grow again!

the finished product doesn’t really smell and is just like the dark brown compost you see in the garden centre. The old hay is rotted down and there is no way of knowing it was horse muck. It is hot and a lot of steam is given off when it is spread. So there really is money where there is muck.

20th September

Change in the air at Toux ~ September

September brings the end of the stud season. Our last visiting mare left us yesterday. Six mares this year and five confirmed in foal, all on their first covering. We hope to get the scan pictures soon.

Caerba Legacy, Kyle to us, is looking forward to being ridden again, not that I expect he realises it yet! We are fortunate to have very close by fantastic hacking country. Not just up and down tram lines but 1200 acres of forest with plenty of tracks and very rarely do you have to come back the way you left. Several of the surrounding roads are quiet and have wide verges. As you may expect we meet lots of dog walkers, huskies in training, cyclists and of course other riders and the odd tractor or two.

With the change of seasons we occasionally get unfriendly fur beasties about. Especially as harvest is nearly completed around here and they no longer have the crop to shelter under. As the say if you have mice around the farm you don’t get rats and visa versa. At the moment we don’t seem to have either. Talking to our Presly Pest Control man he reckons the last winter really sorted them out and that is why we don’t have them at present. However here is some one who always checking to see if anything is about.      5th September

 

Toux Field Gate Ways

Some weekend high winds and torrential rain!

I expect your horses like ours gather at the gateway ready for IN and their tea. So as the winter goes on the gateways get like a mud bath. So we strip out the top soil and put in about 6 inches of stone and cover with about 3 inches of top soil.

 

 

 

 

One of our mare loves to paw at the heap of topsoil and ended up with a pink nose after licking some of the stone!

The culprits who did the work. 

As the forecast was for heavy rain I didn’t bother to spread the top soil. Hopefully that will get done later this next week.

Field shelter is coming on and as with the best of plans it is not quite what I had envisaged, but someone is bound to appreciate it.

29th August

 

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