Wednesday 25 April 2012

Old MacDonald had a farm. The place looked like hell, but the animals were healthy. And delicious.

So it has been pointed out to me that my luck is uncommonly bad, possibly "the worst".

I am sure those of you who have horses that have gone lame, or been put down with colic, or who have been hurt riding, can't afford horses at all etc.etc would agree that having to buy your own pine shavings for six weeks is kind of like breaking a nail on the equine bad luck scale, but whatever. Still not good.

It could be because reading about stupid things that happen to people is fun, and this blog is for entertainment purposes only.

But regardless, I am up for the challenge.

Dressage Curmudgeon, what is something in the horse world that you have  ALWAYS had good luck with. 

I would say the answer is... boarding at stables run by farmers. Or people that at some point in their life, maybe not now, but as children or teens or whatever, had to rely on the basic concepts of biology to make a living.

My dream BO.  Please email me if you have found him.

Concepts like...

- If I don't feed my cattle, they won't be healthy, and won't grow properly (or cows / milk - same idea).
- If I don't fertilize my plants, they won't be healthy, and won't grow properly
- If my pigs are miserable, they won't be healthy, and won't grow properly
- If my fences are not secure, my cattle may find somewhere to be healthy and grow properly, but I won't know where the hell that is.

And having healthy, growing things equals money to a farmer.

So, when it is time to care for YOUR animal, they will know how to get the job done.  They understand healthy, and growing (or not growing, when it comes to horses - they understand that "fat" is not "healthy").  Best of all, they won't try to use psychology on YOU to rationalize any stupid decisions they are making that just don't wash from a biological point of view.

Alternatively, someone who has worked too long in an office or service industry for a multinational company has been trained to work in an alternative universe.  A world where having the ability to convince someone that something that is total cheap and useless shit is in fact golden and wonderful is not only good, but promotion worthy.  No health or growth is required, other than on the charts in the shareholder's report quarterly.

Many millions of dollars are spent, and salary bonuses are given, to those who are best able to twist the minds of consumers to believe that:

If it is in a nice package - it is good
If it is sold at a high end store - it is good
If celebrities endorse it - it is good

And so on.

I don't need to go into great detail on this, as we are all well aware of the power of marketing.  I am sure we all have our favourite examples, I think mine right now has to be the fact that people can sell $100 boxes of laxatives that give you explosive diarrhea, and call them "Detox Kits".  That, my friends, is the power of marketing summarized in one sentence.

Now, even people who have not worked in such industries are affected by them, and thus we have many boarding stables out there who put the sizzle before the proverbial steak, and as a result, do a really fancy looking, sexy sounding, shitty job of running their equine business.

Not farmers.

The other thing about farmers is that they have a hard core, no holds barred concept of what constitutes "essential animal care".  Farmers have killed injured kittens by whacking them with shovels, and shot their own dog after it went renegade and killed the neighbour's chickens.  They have had to scoop up dead things with skidsteers, and pull calves using those winch things that go on cow's butts.  They may have ripped the testicles out of day old piglets with a pen knife.  That is how you get the job done, down on the farm.

Because of this time spent in the agricultural trenches, they are likely to focus on tried and tested things to keep your animal healthy.  Boring things like - high quality feedstuffs, fed in appopriate amounts, and regular veterinary care.

They are extremely unlikely to suggest any "alternative modality" bullshit to you, or to tsk-tsk to others when you do not drink the kool-aid of "enlightened" horse care.  They will not suggest that having a $100 per hour acupuncturist poke some flaming corks into your horses spine will be a good use of your money.  Or that water sold for $50 and labelled as "homeopathic" is just the ticket that Stormy needs on his way to GP.  Or that what your horse really needs is a $50 pail of some basic mineral with a tarted up label and name, that you can buy for cattle for a fraction of the price. Even if that price includes the scoop. Or that Lauren Bode has any foggy clue what the fuck she is talking about.

I like to use marshmallows...mmm... that my friends, is called MULTITASKING!

Which in my books, is a good thing.

You can also be fairly sure that you won't come home from holidays to a $50,000 vet bill and your horse in a sling at U.o.G Barbaro style, because "we had to do EVERYTHING to save him".  They realize that animals are animals, and they don't sit around thinking "wow, tomorrow is going to be a GREAT day! Can hardly wait to live to see it!"..but that they live in the moment, and if quality of life is not present, the horse doesn't want to be either. They will make the right choices for you, in your absence.

Now, it is not all rosy down on the agriculturally inspired boarding stable.  Admittedly farmers typically don't put as much time into thinking about things like:

- I am going to Bath and Body works - should I get vanilla cookie or berry explosion hand sanitizer for the tack room?
- Does anyone need Tim's - I am going
- Nice stall plaques lift everyone's spirits
- Wave petunias - now in white!  Do they look great out front, or what.

So if you do board at a hard core farmer barn, you may have to take responsibility for your own aesthetic joy. Your friends may make fun of you when you tell them you have to pee in the stall with your horse.  I suggest that you pack some wet wipes, and keep that part to yourself. Or don't have anything to drink within 3 hours of going to the barn.



  1. I really didn't get the terrible luck comments on your previous post. Apparently not enough excitement on the message boards for someone...

    But it appears you and I have the same dream BO. Yummy!

  2. omg this post made me laugh. So true....

  3. Haha, so, so true! Farmers just get the job done - whatever it takes, they'll do it. They are some of the most down-to-earth, practical, yet caring and conscientious people I know.

  4. Farmers are the best. Jenj summed it up perfectly. :)

    However, I have not had any of this aesthetic bad luck with people from the industrial business trying to run a boarding stable. I've always been to girl farmers, who, as a matter of fact, seem to fit the whole package. They tend to do a few aesthetic things too. :) It's wonderful. Gosh.. If I had a barn... Oh man. It would be decked. out. But then again, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it and then I would go bankrupt trying to buy pretty flowers and installing a heating system in the tack room instead of doing other practical things. Ha. :P

  5. I think because of this post you've become my new favorite blog. Love your no nonsense, no holds barred type of writing. We sell hay and straw to boarding stables, and it's always the self proclaimed fancy-smancy ones that are late paying their bills. Farm raised horse people in general tend to get funny looks from the non farmy ones around my area, mostly because they can never figure out how in the hell we still have any money in our pockets, and how things that need done get finished so quick and efficiently.

  6. Love this! I board at a farmer-run barn, and its not pretty, but we have an indoor, 2 outdoors, a cross country field and a hayfield we use for trot sets. Horses are fed and watered regularly. If we want something for the barn, we just have to ask and help get it done.

  7. I loved this post! All of my horse friends, my boarding stable & coach are all completely grounded, no-nonsense people. Some of my non-horse friends are whack-a-doodles. They buy those $100.00 detox kits, crystals, aromatherapy & cleanses. Good lord in heaven, I couldn't tell you how many times we have had critically ill people in the ED because they have have eaten this poisonous health food or gobbled excessive quantities of vitamins that put them way beyond optimal health and into the toxic category. The "cleansed & detox'ed" crowd are so clean throughout that they need to be admitted for several days to return their electrolytes to levels compatable with life. It doesn't matter if it's horses, people or budgies - if you can tart it up in a nice dress someone will buy it!

  8. Haha! So true, although I've been guilty of paying through the nose for some 'crazy' treatment in efforts to help in desperate times when you feel you have nothing to loose. I do, now, take as step back, think instead of jumping at everything new/amazing. AND I agree-small type farming boarding facilities offer some low key amazing, anti anxiety, anti competitive care. The animals seem to pick up on that as well. Chill. Oh, and that dream BO, wow. I wouldn't mind him around except for the fact I always look dirty/smelly at the barn ;)

  9. I wish I knew of a place like this.
    That BO needs to exist in real life. now, please.

  10. I love peeing in stalls, personally.

  11. Yesterday there was a dead chicken in the arena, right on the landing side of a jump, my horse didn't bat an eyelash. Another benefit to boarding with a farmer that you neglected to mention: The horses get broke to livestock (and not-live stock).

  12. I completely agree with you, and wish I thought there was ANY male related to the horse world who looks like that and actually likes girls. My only qualm with having a Real Farmer BO is that sometimes ag people tend to swing too far in the other direction from fancy-schmancy and animals are worth keeping healthy. Like, "What the hell do you mean your horse needs stall rest for six months? What good is he gonna do you in there? Take him to the auction and get rid of him, for God's sake. Useless animals have no place on a farm." Or, (and this may be close to home) "What do you mean she needs more shavings... what's the matter with what you've got, my cows do just fine like that..." But it sounds like you have found people who are farm-bred AND horsey, which is great!

  13. Ha! I love it.

    I was raised on a cash crop and beef farm. My dad, a no-nonsense farmer, kept me in check about what my horses actually needed and not what the latest horse magazine said my horse needed.

    I miss keeping my horses there. My horses were actually fed quality hay in sufficient amounts, and their paddocks and pastures were maintained so they didn't have to stand knee deep in mud. Pasture/Paddock maintenence is something grossly overlooked or outright ignored at the vast majority of horse stables.

  14. Peeing in stalls?! HA! I just drop my drawers in the out door and indoor arenas or along the trails if the need is there.

    In fact my lack of modesty when the need to tinkle arises caused me to unbuckle my belt at the local grocery store one day with the thought I could just duck between the front and back doors of my crew cab truck........

    Thank gawd I do have SOME modesty left.

    Who needs a stall?

    As for the fantasy BO, the other old ladies and I where I board were thinking of putting an ad on craigslist looking for barn help/eye candy....the ad we worded over beer(s) was pretty damn funny.

    I truly enjoy your blog!

  15. Jeez, I thought you were kidding about the flaming corks, until I scrolled down and saw that picture! Why on earth would someone think that was a good idea?

  16. I self cared most of the time with my horses. I did board at a place in California.. and yeah.. there were the flaming corks and the essential oils.
    I moved to Wisconsin and have been at a few barns, one a HUGE boarding facility, with two indoors, a dressage ring, jump fields, cross country courses.. BUT it was run by a farmer and his two sons. And those horses were well fed, no froo froo shavings and straw.. they used a bedding purchased from another stable that produced its owned shavings.
    If the boarders wanted more, they went and got it themselves.
    I now self care at an old farm with my 78 yr old BO, she bred pinto arabians, now retired. She still makes her own hay. She will use a bag of shavings when needed. She uses her old storage tank from milk as a good place for grain. My horses have a run in, a large paddock/small pasture. The "arena" is a glorified round pen that is more oval or oblong. We trailer to go riding, or I cross a busy hwy to ride the hay fields.
    I wouldn't have it any other way!!

  17. calf jack. those winch things are called calf jacks.

    1. I like that, it is catchy.

      Calf Jacked - can we add this to

      Definition: When you have had such a shitty day that you feel as though someone has pulled you through a cow's vagina with a winch.

      "wow, nothing went right today, I got fired, my car broke down, my dog died..worst of all, had to buy my own pine shavings... I am feeling just totally calf jacked, man"

      When this goes viral, you heard it here first. I think. Unless there is already a country and western song using it out there somewhere that I just don't know about. I will try to work it into conversation today to get the ball rolling.

  18. That's it, I officially have a new expression. Sure to cause an expression of puzzlement on nearly anyone's face!