Farm life, Uncategorized

TSC Pellitized Bedding

Time and money are always in short supply and with the new farm it seems like everything is an experiment on what will work out in our given situation. My latest quest was to find a bedding solution that I didn’t hate.

There is a Tractor Supply less than 1/4 mile from my office which makes it super convenient to use as my major farm supply store.  For the first 6 weeks on the farm, we used their premium pine shavings at $5.48 per bag. It took two bags per stall to get a decent amount of depth. If they were spending the entire night inside, I’d have used three bags per stall.

The shavings were ok. They smelled good, had zero dust and the bags were super easy to store and use. But they were very wasteful and basically required me to strip the entire stall each week to bare mats and use Lyme to help dry them out faster and neutralize any odor that remained. I was making 12 wheel barrow trips each week I cleaned the stalls and dumping in two fresh bags per stall to start all over. It made me die a little inside every time I threw out perfectly good, clean shavings with the bad as they were too big to shift through the pitchfork.

I needed an alternative.

The hubby contacted a local saw mill to check with them. they deliver 18 yards of saw dust for $205. Nothing comes close to that price and the dust is small particle. The issue was that they only deliver during our working hours and storage of that much saw dust. Yeah, we have plenty of empty stalls to use, but the dump truck couldn’t fit inside the barn and that is a ton of wheel barrow trips to transport it from the dump site to a stall. I wanted to run out of other options before doing that.

Which brought me to the TSC Pellitized Bedding. It was on sale for 2/$11 which is basically the exact same price as the premium shavings, so we gave it a go.

Now…don’t be like me. I did zero research and ended up buying way too few bags to start requiring a second trip to the store and I had no idea how to use them so…um…I just dumped it on the floor and shook my head wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to put hard pellets down. Not only is it not comfortable looking, but those things roll around and all I could imagine was a broken leg and a cast horse who fell in the stall.

I use the wheel barrow after I’m done cleaning the stalls to dump the new bag and soak. It looks a lot like grain fresh from the bag. 

Turns out there is a process to using them. Oops. I did research it before bringing the horses in and remedied my error quickly.

How do they stack up?

When on sale the price per bag is the same as the shavings and I have yet to purchase any more when not on sale so I don’t know the actual cost. I think it was $1 off per bag. It took five bags per stall to initially bed it down to the depth I was happy with, so that is an additional nine bags up front cost. They still come in super easy to store and handle bags which is nice and they live in the hay stall.

Pre soaking. This gives yo a reference for how much it will expand. They say online to add a gallon of water er 40 lb bag, but I just use the hose and fill it up. I’ve yet to use too much water, but I am sure you can ruin the entire bag if you do. 

The savings has come in the weekly cleaning. The particles are super fine and basically I feel like I am in a giant cat litter box sifting through for the dry and liquid waste. It even clumps with urine like cat litter does. There is next to no waste which has reduced my wheel barrow loads from 12 down to 7 which is a big time saver as well as reduction to my manure pile (which I hate with an unhealthy passion, but needs to exist until I can save up to buy a manure spreader). Since there is no waste, I can top of each stall when finished picking and have so far only needed one extra bag total a week to do this, which saves me five bags of shavings a week. After two weeks I am already saving money even with the initial up front increase in cost.

After adding an unknown quantity of water. You can actually hear it soaking up the water and watch it grow. Sorta sounds like Rice Krispy cereal in milk. 

It is horse approved as well. Every time I top it off, Pete comes back out of his stall covered in shavings from a good roll. He never did that with the regular shavings. I really like the feel of these as they are super springy and comfortable under my own feet, so I can only image how it feels to the horses.

Old Man Winter coming out of his freshly cleaned stall covered in savings from rolling. 

The only real con I have found is that cleaning the stalls takes twice as long even with the reduced trip to dump the wheel barrow. Sifting through the piles, trying to sift off the excess clean shavings, and trying to locate the pee piles takes way more time than just scooping it all up as before. I thought it would even out with the fewer trips to the pile and less bags needing dumped back in, but the time it takes to soak the stuff before dumping it wastes any time gained.

Not sure if you have to , but i like to stir it all up with my hand and make sure the majority is soft and fluffy. I always end up with some pellets remaining, but not so many that I care. I have read online that people just throw the dry pellets in when they top it off, but ick. 

In the end though, it is worth it. I like the bedding a lot more in general, the horses are happier and it is costing way less money. I’ve used it for three weeks now and will continue for now. I know there are fancier versions of the pellets out there, but so far this is working out just fine and has the convenience of me being able to pick up bags after work n my way home versus taking time off work to meet the delivery guy and spending half a day moving it inside.

Nice fine shavings that pass through the pitch fork easily

4 hooves up for our barn!


2017 Pony Club IPE One Day Event

Trainer enlisted my help as a jump judge for Sunday. The teams scrambled to make four teams of five kids (one from each country) and got a chance to ride their new horses for one hour on Saturday. I’m amazed at these riders. Brand new to them horses and they only had an hour to get acquainted.

The weather was so much better for Sunday. Sunny and low 90s with a cool breeze. The riders all come from countries that are deep in winter so they might not have been so happy with our southern heat and humidity.

Sunday was the first competitive event as each team geared up for dressage followed by a derby type round with four stadium fences followed immediately by eleven cross country jumps. The riders from Hong Kong had never been cross country before. They only ever ride in an arena. So different than here in the US and I was sad I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about how they board and care for their horses.

I was put in charge of the up bank at 13 and the palisade at 14 and thankfully all riders were clear through both. In fact pretty much all riders had clear rounds with only two falls on course and two refusals out of 20 runs. Pretty impressive for only just meeting their horse the day before!

The up bank at 13 had an uphill approach into the shade.
Then they continued uphill with a right hand turn over 14. The horses sounded tired at this point as it was a course of either going up or down a hill but everyone jumped clean

I was so glad I got another chance to participate and help out. Everyone was so gracious about getting to ride and compete someone else’s horse and they all seemed to have a good time.

While jump 14 looked big and intimidating to me, not a single horse backed off. After this they had a very long uphill Gallop to the final fence at 15
I could also see jump 12 which seemed like an inviting enough jump. It came after a long downhill run and then cut sharp left uphill to my two
Such a gorgeous day.
Coming up the bank in the shade.
The view I had of riders leaving the water at jump 9

The rest of the week will be jammed with fun, local activities for the riders including a trip to an amusement park, kayaking and zip lining on the Green River, Tryon Horse Country tour, and a fun night at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (home of the AECs last year and WEG in 2018) until their last weekend which will host the Kangaroo Cup, a 3′ jumper show. I am hoping to make it to the jumper show as well and hope they all have a great week.