Sunday, October 14, 2012

There's a hole, there's a hole...a barn disaster

The last few days have been stressful for us and the horses. What should have been a simple sawdust delivery turned into a barn disaster. An oversized dump truck attempted to back into the barn to dump the load and proceeded in cracking two crossbeams and taking out the front third of the aisle as its back end went through the barn floor.  They weather allowed for the horses to stay out Thursday night since it was not too cold. But by Friday, the temperature was supposed to drop down into the twenties.

Temporary jacks and catwalks at corners
Temporary jacks shored up the cracked rear beams, but it meant the horses had to come in through the dairy cow entrance--an earthen ramp eroded years ago with a giant step up into the barn and through a narrow door. Access to tools, tack trunks, and blankets was via boardwalks cornering across the chasm. The horses would have to pass just behind the plywood "wall" we put up next to the hole.

Entrance through dairy door
The two old men jumped right up like it was nothing. Rolex didn't seem to bothered either--catfooted girl that she is. Harley stumbled around before figuring it out, and Ruffy, not sure she liked this idea leaped through the door and stood there shaking. Taking them out the next day was dicey too. We needed to build a safer way to get in and out.

John got out of work early on Saturday to start building a ramp. First, he created a platform coming out from the barn. This was completed in the near dark. We ran out of daylight, and with no power in the barn, we had to call it quits.  Once again, the old men walked up onto the deck and in. Rolex, again, went gamely through. Ruffy  balked a bit, but jumped up. Harley though, was having no part of this. It became a contest of wills, so I put on his rain sheet, turned him out, and went home, praying the rain would hold off until Sunday.  I had a rather restless night, worrying about how I would get my stubborn boy into the barn. Around three a.m., it started to rain and that made me more restless. Was he warm enough? Were there enough leaves on the trees to give him some shelter? What if I couldn't get him in tomorrow night too? By six, I was up, drinking coffee, listening to the rain, watching the temperature (a chilly 40 degrees), and fretting. With no power, the barn would still be dark, and there was no point trying to make him go into a "cave". John and I gathered up our tools, warm clothes, rainwear, carrots, etc. and headed to the barn by 8 a.m. There was Harley, at the top of the hill, looking for breakfast. We decided to give it another try, now that he might have had enough of the rain and be hungry. No go--he still balked, although I got him close enough to sniff the deck. That was it--he'd need a sedative to convince him to walk in. Off I went to get some acepromazine from the vet.

Nearly completed ramp
Help arrived when a fellow boarder and her husband showed up. The guys muckled onto a chunk of the fallen flooring with some chains and pulled it out of the hole with the trucks so we could use some of the lumber for the ramp. Two trips to the lumber yard and 8 hours of hard manual labor later, John and Les had built a safe ramp up to the entry.

Gator snorted a few times and looked at it while I tapped him on the rear to "step up", which he did in a gentlemanly manner. Vance walked right up too. Rolex clattered her way up, but even with sedation, Harley started backing away. John brought Ruffy in next to him and she balked as well. The two just stood there as we tried to coax them up with carrots, grain, sweet whisperings in their ears, and gentle urges.

John told Beth to bring Rolex back out and maybe they would follow her back in. No such luck! Rolex stood on the platform as if to say, "What's the matter with you two? Come on, I'm hungry!"
We tried this twice to no avail. By now Harley looked like he was half asleep, but not so woozy that he couldn't still try and back up. We began to make a little progress with John waving his jacket behind him and me urging from in front. He clattered his way up, then stood inside and snorted. We made it! Now, it was just Ruffy. We tried the same approach--jacket flapping from behind and me on the lead rope. I think Ruffy realized that it was o.k. at this point, and clambered up too. They both got lots of strokes and carrots for their bravery, and finally, dinner. Let's just hope we don't have such mule-headed behavior tomorrow now that they've been up the ramp. We'll have to practice. I realize it was all new and scary, and patience was what worked in the end. This will be our only alternative until the floor is rebuilt. In the end, it will be good experience for them all, but I'll be happy to have a solid floor and easy access again soon.

With everyone in for the night, out of the drizzly rain, I know I will sleep tonight, as will Harley!


  1. That is horrible about your barn. I fear this every time I get hay. The delivery guy I use knows not to pull inside, but sometimes new people drive right in. Ugh!

    Good luck with the horses - hope they all do better now.

    1. John and I saw a sign in a drive that we wanted. In big red letters: NO HEAVY TRUCKS! Have to find out where they got it. :)

  2. Oh my goodness, what an ordeal and what a nuisance to have to live with until its fixed. Hope silly Harley gets the idea that the ramp is not actually a portal to Horse Hell.

    1. Yes, quite the ordeal, and extremely stressful.
      Last night, they all went in with a lot less trouble. Harley realized it wasn't the path to Horse Hell, just a detour to dinner. Ruffy was a bit unsure, but did go up it. So now I'm waiting for a glimmer of light on the horizon (it's 6:25 a.m. and quite dark) so we can practice this routine again. It will most likely be a couple of weeks before things are somewhat semi-normal (electricity and some new flooring). But I'd like to give that truck driver a dope-slap!


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