I have a horse manure vacuum machine. You heard me right. I vacuum up horse poop. A lot of it. Here is how this happened. I have had to research every aspect of this mid-life horse thing. As a kid with a horse…you did not worry about managing horse manure. That was someone else’s problem. My horse was a “pasture horse” in that he was turned out 24/7, so I didn’t even have a stall to muck out. See how easy it was? That horse lived until his 30’s by the way.
Fast forward 40+ years and I am a horse owner trying to figure out all this out. Manure management is a big topic of discussion. So is turnout versus stalls…blah, blah, blah. Everyone has an opinion, and here is mine (because I know you are dying to know!)…after tons of reading I have come to the conclusion that the most natural and healthy state is for a horse to be turned out 24/7. They are designed to walk and graze for basically 18 hours a day. Stalling a horse is for people! It makes our lives easier, and enables humans to keep their horse’s coats from bleaching out in the sun and things like that. Horses do need shade (we built a shade barn in the middle of the pasture where they can stand out of the sun), water, and hay in the winter when the pasture is dormant. I also feed daily a small amount of grain to give them supplements. I live in North Florida, which means the weather issue is easier for me, but we do get below freezing and I do not blanket my horses. I let their coats grow out as nature intended, and blanketing them would interfere with their natural way of heating and cooling. I do not stall them in cold, rainy weather (unless I am at the barn and grooming), because it is my opinion that as long as they have a shelter to stand behind out of the wind, they are fine. My horses are also barefoot because I believe shoeing a horse interferes with the natural flexing and blood flow to their hooves. I do have them trimmed monthly. If I have offended anyone with my opinion, I am so sorry and will ask you to go to http://www.thesoulofahorse.com and see that I am grateful for Joe Camp’s wonderful experiences and for helping me to “get it”. So to end this little rant, I have built a barn that is great in the summer (each stall has a fan) and winter to get out of the elements when that works for me (see how a lot of what we do with horses is about humans and not horses?). I bring the horses in to feed some days, and some days they feed off from buckets on the fence. During the time they are in the stalls, they poop. Horses standing in poop is not good.
I have digressed. What about this poop vacuum? Here’s how THAT happened. So I am worrying about shoveling poop (not great for the back and horses poop a lot). This horse thing is my deal, and I don’t have a stable boy (I need one) who is shoveling poop every day. Since my horses are not in my barn constantly, when they are and they poop, I just pitchfork it out the back door of their stall into a little pile in the paddock behind the barn. I then can come around on the golf cart with my hitched up poop vacuum and suck that stuff right up. Voila!! No accumulating poop, which is a big deal in fly control. I then go out into the pasture and vacuum up a full load (keeps the pasture poop down until time to drag it). This nifty machine, by Greystone Vacuums out of Australia, (I bought my online through http://www.pasturevacuums.com, an American dealer) is a pasture vacuum. Call me nuts (my ranch manager likes to introduce me as the lady that vacuums up her horse poop) but I like things tidy and it keeps my barn area really clean, and less manure is healthier grazing. When I fill a tank, I ride out into our timber pines and dump the tank where I have manure piles. Back to nature!
Thus the title of this post. My city friends would be shocked to know that one of my favorite things to do when arriving at my farm, is to go and vacuum horse poop. I have been known to be out until sundown, trying to get one more load up before dark. Not too long ago our caretaker drove out to where I was on the golf cart and said “You know it is dark out?!” Well of course I knew that…but I had the lights on! I have been out in the pasture like that working (and the horses always come over to check out my progress), I often wonder what would my “city friends” would think if they saw how I spend a majority of my Friday nights these days? I have to admit there are not many other places I would rather be.