Yesterday, two of the horses that had gone without water for a few days looked really thin. So today, I brought them to town....
I was ballistic over the lack of water situation. Nothing enrages me more than pure and simple laziness. That was the only reason all those horses went without water for more than 24 hours after the sub-zero weather and blizzard conditions we had on Sunday. My brother swears he opened water and everything drank on Monday morning. I got to the ranch on Wednesday afternoon and everything was froze solid. So nothing had drank from Monday morning until late Wednesday afternoon. Dumb, dumb, dumb!!!
However, to alleviate a bit of the colic concern people stated. Horses that don't have access to open water and have no additional roughage supplied to them, almost never colic in the pasture. The simple reason is that they usually quit eating very much and try to lick snow to get moisture. That's where I get mad. When it is 10 to 20 degrees below zero and a horse won't eat, they lose weight fast. For the majority of our herd, this doesn't create a health issue if it is just for a day, but it is just not good animal husbandry practice. For horses that don't have the weight to spare, they get thin REALLY fast. As was the case with the two I brought to town.
The tanks do have float systems on them with aerators to help keep the water circulating. All my brother would have had to have done on Monday morning to keep the tanks working properly was to break the ice and make sure the float had the freedom to move up and down properly. Because he did not break all of the ice out of the tank(just drink holes)-the ice got thick enough in the middle to inhibit the float system. Once I cleaned all of the ice out of the tank and took the float off to chip the ice off of it-everything worked fine. It's not a difficult job...just one you have to do to keep things working like they should. Two winters ago, a blizzard hit and we had sub-zero weather for 10 days straight. I could not keep the floats from freezing, so I had to bucket water from the house to the horses, all 20 head, until the weather warmed up enough to keep things open. It's just what you do in these climates. It sucks, but it is just the way things are. If you are going to have livestock, you have to get out and take care of it in the worst of weather because that is when it counts the most.
Moon is a horse that just doesn't handle extremes too well. I took him to the ranch for a bit of pasture time(he really gets grouchy being cooped up) and specifically sat down and had a discussion with my brother..."Keep an eye on Moon. If he looks like he is losing any weight, CALL ME and I will come get him". Sounds pretty straight forward right?
Well, luckily once he got a good drink yesterday and this morning, he didn't look so bad...
Not great, but better than I thought yesterday. Rage has a way of making everything look worse. He'll get a chance to fill up on hay and has heated water to drink. I'll give him a week before I start adding grain to his diet.
My little bay mare, Okie is not going to fare as well. This is the responsible part of ownership that becomes shades of gray. Okie has always been lame in her left hind fetlock. We managed it and used her lightly until we moved back to South Dakota. Thinking that she would do fine as a pasture pet, I turned her out. From there her fetlock deteriorated to where I could tell it hurt her more often. I wanted to put her to sleep about 4 months ago, but my mom thought I was being premature on my decision and convinced me to see how she wintered. She's not! The frozen ground and snow and ice is difficult for her and her hip has dropped now to compensate for her foot. It's time!
And on a completely unrelated topic, look at the hawk Megan and I found in the road ditch today...
Full bird-frozen in this pose. It was directly under a high line wire. It looks to me like he was sitting on the wire and got a zap. I can't imagine that he would have sat there through the blizzard and froze to death...what do you guys think?
He is beautiful. I can't wait for him to thaw out so I can pull his tail feathers.
I don't know what kind of hawk he is, but I sure have been seeing a lot of them around lately. I wonder if they got pushed here by the arctic front?
**I suppose I should mention that I am a "card-carrying" Indian, I am allowed to have predatory birds and certain endangered animals without proof of how I got them, since they are a cultural item.