This past week was very busy out at the ranch! In addition to everything being very hot and dry, we did a LOT of physical labor getting the ranch ready for winter!
The owner of the property helped us improve the driveway last week by first smoothing out all of the ruts with his tractor. Then this week we had several yards of crushed gravel delivered and rolled onto our driveway so we would be able to drive up and down the hill during the wintertime. This took two days, but we are hopeful it will survive the heavy rains that are anticipated this year.
Usually the road becomes close to impassable when it rains, and it’s impossible for the hay trucks to get up to our hay shed to deliver the hay. For several years we had been using our neighbor’s driveway (which is paved) when it rained, but our neighbors moved, and the new neighbor has asked that we no longer use that driveway for any reason, so it was imperative that we create a safe and secure way to access the ranch and ensure deliveries could continue safely and consistently.
Last winter’s rains in So Cal made it very rough for us at the ranch. With so much rain, we also faced a lot of erosion, and it became clear that we needed to build up the stalls so that they were safer and more comfortable for the horses. We were very thankful that the owner of the property was able to use the tractor we rented to complete the driveway project, and helped us move some dirt into the stalls and flatten them out some, because it was a huge job! We filled in the bottom of Sierra and Ollie’s stalls, and we also put dirt into Raven, Ruby and Tillie’s stall. We also put some dirt into Garnet and Rylee’s stall, as well as the arena and the round pen.
Even though the owner did a lot of work with the tractor, there was still so much physical labor involved in flattening out the dirt. We had to take the stalls apart in order to put the dirt in (which was difficult enough) but then had to later rebuild them. Additionally, we only had the round pen and arena available for the horses to go, which meant that we could only work on a few stalls at a time.
First we put Ollie in the arena and Sierra in the round pen for a day while the owner used the tractor to build the stalls up. Then, we had to manually flatten out both stalls using shovels and rakes, and rebuild the rear areas, so we could move Ollie and Sierra back into their new-and-improved stalls.
Next it was Raven, Ruby and Tillie’s turn to be out of their stalls so we could work on them.
To make matters more complicated, the large Mulberry tree in Raven’s stall meant that the tractor had to literally go through the round pen to access Tillie’s stall, which meant that we had to take the round pen and Tillie’s stall completely apart.
We put Raven and Ruby into the arena, but because the round pen was completely destroyed, we didn’t have anywhere to put Tillie. We finally decided to build a small stall INSIDE of the arena for Tillie, and gave her a hay net and some pellets to keep her content with living there for a day while we worked on her stall.
On Sunday (the next day), we had a much smaller (but very mighty) crew help flatten out the dirt and rebuild Raven, Ruby and Tillie’s stalls. It was such hard physical work, but it was very gratifying when everything was completed and the horses were back in their new stalls. They rolled in the new soft dirt multiple times, and it was obvious that they very much enjoyed their new digs!
Our next step in Raven, Ruby and Tillie’s stalls is to put in some DE and gravel underneath their mats so the mats will drain well during the wintertime. We will probably do this at our next work day so we can get those stalls completely winterized and the horses will be able to be dry and happy during the upcoming winter storms!
So Many Thanks
There are so many people to thank for these projects- in addition to the AMAZING volunteers who worked SO HARD both Saturday and Sunday. We also owe so much gratitude the owner of the property for helping us with both putting down the driveway as well as helping to winterize the stalls.
We must also thank Lori B. and her husband for coordinating the order of the gravel and tractors, as well as being on-site and working to spread and smooth out the gravel.
We are hopeful that our efforts now will help to ensure that this winter will pass much more smoothly for the horses!