Saturday, November 24, 2012

Training Wild Rabbits

Each morning, I set out hay for the next two feedings. A couple of months ago, I started to train the wild rabbits that try to sneak into the hay stall while I have it open when I am working out in the barn. Each time a rabbit came into the barn aisle, I would walk towards it purposely. If the rabbit did not move off fast enough, I would up my energy and speed until the rabbit moved with the speed I wanted, and moved far enough away. After only a little while, the rabbit population started to thin out. A few stubborn ones kept trying. One was smaller, a youngster--probably a teenager rabbit--and would only move off with an attitude, if it could be said that a rabbit has attitude. I started throwing a hay net at him to get him moving off better. I also kept after him further outside the barn, forcing him to move back further away. This week, there have been no rabbit attempts to come into the barn while I am there. I did stroll outside to see them sitting way up the hill watching, but not coming any closer.
So, yes, wild rabbits can be trained. It is all about pressure, release and intent.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Feeding Stations

 Autumn Wind enjoys his breakfast. We used railroad ties to hold the stall mats in place and mounted the plywood to the outside of an existing shelter. The bag is tied to a ring on the plywood.

 Lil'Red's station is mounted on an existing corral panel on one side (shown here) and to the roof shelter legs on the other side. We used 4 x 4 pieces of lumber to hold the stall mats.
 Here is a close-up of the ring used to tied the bags. We got these at Home Depot.
 Yes, the roof truss is wavy! The entire thing was lifted away about 10 years ago in a very strong Santa Ana wind event. It flew over 100 feet away and was only stopped by a pepper tree. It took a tractor and two of us to get it back in place.

 And here is Spirit Seeker enjoying his breakfast. The fly mask shows normal end of season wear; I usually have to get new fly masks every year--sigh.  The plywood for this station is mounted on a free standing roof shelter. The mats are held in with concrete footing.

These feeding stations were built last June by my contractor/handyman and a helper. I am very happy with them. They keep the hay off the ground, which around here is granite, decomposed granite or sand. The SmartPak nets are holding up well and keep the hay where I put it. Nothing slows down these horses much, but the bags have increased eating time by about an hour (going from 2 hours to 3 hours to finish every scrap).
Except for the rings, everything else was "found" material--ie. it was already on the place in the workshop or sitting somewhere, not needed for that job anymore. Alas, we did use up the last of my stashed creosote on these. I bought 5 gallons of that now banned stuff right before it was banned. It is nasty stuff and needed banning, but it sure did its job well here.
I do sweep the sand off the mats a couple of times a week as they kick it on & track it on. That is a very easy job. The plywood, in part, is held to the corral panels by drilling holes in the wood and tying them on with baling string, which is free and plentiful. That stuff lasts for years and as it gets old, I just cut it off and put on new.
The horses like the stations just fine and they sure answered a lot of problems I had.