Monday, February 4, 2008

Ice Storm

On Friday (Feb. 1), we had an ice storm. In our current, impoverished circumstances, that's one of the things I dread hearing outside, because we don't have proper shelter for all the horses.

The young horses in the back pasture have a run in bay to the barn that they can go into, to get out of the rain.

The mares in the front pasture used to have a big run-in shed---one of those large, curved tarp sheds on a metal framework. But the destructive power of a bunch of large horses, plus the ferocious winds we get on our hilltop ripped the thing to tatters in the course of a year.

This summer, when it became a hazard, we tore it down, planning to build a real wood run-in shed before winter. We paid our neighbor come with his backhoe and level out the spot where we were going to put it.

Then the drought hit, hay prices went up, and horse sales plummeted. The money we had planned to use to build the shelter had to go instead to just barely manage to feed the horses. So now, whenever it's cold and rainy, I run out and open the gate to release the mares into the big pasture, so they can go find shelter among the thick cedar trees.

If the weather is just cold, or just wet, the big horses aren't bothered by it. But on Friday it was pouring rain and about 34 degrees (F). They are big, hefty girls, so they were not chilled or shivering, but they certainly weren't very happy with the situation.

We fed them early and extra, so their bellies were full to help them produce body heat, then they ran around a bit to get warm, and then they went and stood under the cedar thicket.

My one comfort was that I had seen that the weather was supposed to be getting warmer and warmer, so I knew they wouldn't be cold for much longer. Now today, it's nearly 70 degrees!

I'm looking forward to getting our herd down to the 5 fillies we plan to keep, because then they can all easily share the run-in bay that is attached to our barn, and I won't have to worry about the weather so much. Maybe someday we'll be able to afford to put up that shelter in the front pasture too.

At the moment, I just have to concentrate on selling the last few horses we have for sale. We're feeling the financial pinch again. I really need to earn some extra money in the next couple of weeks to buy more hay, since Ken's paycheck is stretched to the limit already.

Time to start listing a few more things on EBay, and to finally get around to advertising my fleeces for sale, and anything else I can think of to keep us going until the last few horses sell.

If I can just keep us going until summer, our sheep sales should generate enough money to buy our winter's hay and get us through another year.

Of course, the other thing I dread about the wind and rain and ice storms that come through here is that the house's roof leaks in my upstairs office. The winds are so fierce, they've torn off a lot of the shingles (which, of course, were installed as cheaply as possible by the house's former owners).

We had someone come out and price how much it would cost to redo the roof with new, high-quality architectural shingles, and were given a quote of $27,000! That is so ridiculously beyond any price we can even remotely foresee being able to afford, we had to just laugh, because otherwise we might cry!

I know there are other options for fixing the roof that are less expensive, and we will have to look into them when we can. But at the moment, we're concentrating on trying to raise enough to just pay the electric bill and buy hay to feed the horses, so the roof will have to wait.


mommymommyland said...

call out and get more estimates, we just got prices for a new roof as well and found the prices between contractors differed as much as $20,000 for the exact same roof. Also try pricing metal roofs, then you don't have to worry about some getting blown off!

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Go with metal Nancy. Much better and longer lasting in the long run. Better in storms too---and it should make your insurance cheaper (though not by enough to pay for their selves).

P.S---you could "do it yourself". We did once--our first and only time so far---and it was hard hard work. We didn't have any money though---so it was worth it in the end.

Nancy Chase said...

Yes, we knew we probably wanted to go with a metal roof. It'll last better in the wind, it's more correct (so I'm told) for the time period of the house), and besides, I love the sound of rain on a metal roof.

We only got an estimate from these expensive shingle people because they had a booth at the State Fair, where you put your name in the bowl to get a free estimate.

We knew we couldn't afford to get the roof redone this fall anyway, but we figured we'd at least start getting an idea of how much we'd need to save up to do it.

I have thought about reshingling the roof myself, as I have shingled a couple of roofs before. But the majority of the sections of our roof are high, steep, and not easily accessible without professional scaffolding. Plus I'm not as young and nimble as I once was, to be crawling around up there.

Also, I know that there may be carpentry repair work that will need to be done once the old roof is removed, before putting the new one up. And THAT I want to leave to the professionals!