Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Irony Of It All

1. Online pop-ups offering to help you get rid of online pop-ups advertisements.

2. When your Seeing Eye dog goes blind.

3. Needing to pay someone to help you pay your taxes.

3. Wondering if you are entitled to the deep sense of loss you feel when a celebrity you admire dies.

4. That Valentine's Day was placed in February, just in case single people who have recovered from the loneliness that Christmas and New Year's Eve induced.

5. That even the fanciest restaurants suffer from pest-control problems.

6. Wondering who was rude enough to leave an empty roll of toilet paper and then remembering it was you.

7. Tipping the bartender for handing you a bottle of beer, but giving nothing to the guy who pumps your gas in the pouring rain.

8. That we judge balding men by the choices they make in copying with their baldness.

9. That finding your roach traps empty only adds to your fear that they don't work, instead of reassuring you that you don't have roaches anymore.

10. That all good things come to an end, but some mediocre things seem to last a very long time.

11. When you wish, as you blow out the candles, is that this be the last birthday you spend with the people around you.

12. Cults that build up huge arsenals, refuse to pay taxes, and complain that the FBI is watching over them.

13. People who refuse to see a psychologist because they don't need to pay someone to help them out with their issues, but will gladly spend $100 a week at a tanning salon.

14. What most telescopes are used for.

15. When your fear of overpacking causes you to underpack.

16. Paying a toll to cross a bridge when you know you're going in the wrong direction.

17. The fact that many old people are forced to live out the remainder of their lives in formerly good neighborhoods.

18. Paying three bucks for a cup of soda that's 70 percent ice.

19. That the most intense laughter you have usually comes at the least appropriate time.

20. That you wouldn't have the faintest idea if your accountant was ripping you off.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm...

If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The numbers '172' can be found on the back of the U.S. $5 dollar bill in the bushes at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

President Kennedy was the fastest random speaker in the world with upwards of 350 words per minute.

In the average lifetime, a person will walk the equivalent of 5 times around the equator.

Odontophobia is the fear of teeth.

The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottles represents the number of varieties of pickles the company once had.

In the early days of the telephone, operators would pick up a call and use the phrase, "Well, are you there?". It wasn't until 1895 that someone suggested answering the phone with the phrase "number please?"

The surface area of an average-sized brick is 79 cm squared.

According to suicide statistics, Monday is the favored day for self-destruction.

Cats sleep 16 to 18 hours per day.

The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalms 46, the 46th word from the first word is shake and the 46th word from the last word is spear.

Karoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.

The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 B.C.

Rhode Island is the smallest state with the longest name. The official name, used on all state documents, is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

When you die your hair still grows for a couple of months.

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.

Isaac Asimov is the only author to have a book in every Dewey-decimal category.

The newspaper serving Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, the home of Rocky and Bullwinkle, is the Picayune Intellegence.

It would take 11 Empire State Buildings, stacked one on top of the other, to measure the Gulf of Mexico at its deepest point.

The first person selected as the Time Magazine Man of the Year - Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

The most money ever paid for a cow in an auction was $1.3 million.

It took Leo Tolstoy six years to write "War & Peace".

Monday, September 28, 2009

So, who invented the paperclip?

When Johann Vaaler patented his paper clip in 1901, therealready were similar designs on the books. William Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut patented his design in 1899. Cornelius Brosnan of Springfield, Massachusetts patented his Konaclip in 1900.

The paper clipSo, who was first? Well, it is thought to be Johann Vaaler. Drawings of his design date to early 1899, but since Norway had no patent law at the time, he had to seek patent rights in Germany and the US in the following years.

Johann Vaaler was born on 15 March 1866 in Aurskog, Norway. Known as an innovator in his youth, he graduated in electronics, science and mathematics. He was employed by the owner of a invention office when he invented the paperclip in 1899.

Several designs followed the original. Only a few remain, such as the Ideal, Non-Skid, Owl and Gem.

The first double-oval clip, the Gem, was launched in early-1900 by Gem Manufacturing Ltd of England.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tips

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #1

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #1 As winter approaches, gradually lower the mowing height of your mower. Winter should begin without any young, tender growth that makes your lawn more appealing to winter diseases.

Besides, new growth on the lawn is vulnerable to dry out after the first winter winds come through, which will give you a brown winter lawn. So for the sake of lawn maintenance, as winter approaches, begin to gradually reduce the cutting height on your mower, until you are almost, but not quite, shaving the lawn. However, be sure to do this in several steps to avoid suddenly removing all the green leaf tissue and damaging the turf.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #2

In late fall, be sure to give your lawn a final fertilization. Inactive during winter, your lawn won't use the fertilizers immediately. Much like mammals bulking up for the cold, your lawn will store these nutrients in its root system and take full advantage of them at the first signs of spring.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #3

Clear your lawn of any debris like logs, toys, or gardening equipment. Once snow comes, these objects can smother your grass, damage your turf, and leave your lawn more vulnerable to diseases.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #4

Be sure to aerate your lawn before the first freeze. Thatch will only get worse with the affects of winter. A good aeration, along with a round of fertilization, will set the stage for bountiful spring growth.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #5

Winter is a great time to learn more about your garden and your lawn in particular. Take this time to buy some lawn maintenance books and research the Internet for tips on how to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cutting Horses

Have you ever dreamed what it would be like to be a top-notch cutting horse rider? Can you imagine the feeling of riding a good horse when its working a tough cow?

I'll tell you, it's an experience that is absolutely thrilling!

Once you ride a cutting horse and experience those big stops and hard turns, there is no going back. You are "hooked". And I mean totally... hook, line and sinker.

I remember well the first time I ever rode a trained cutting horse. It had such an impact on me that I'll never forget it.

At the time, I was working for a huge cattle ranch as their colt starter. I was just
beginning my career training horses and I really didn't know much. But, I had a burning desire to succeed at my chosen profession and worked hard to learn
all I could.

This cattle ranch was always short on cowboys and one day the cow boss asked
me if I would work with the cow crew that day because they needed extra hands to help with gathering and sorting some cows and calves.

I said sure, I'd be happy to go along but I wouldn't be much help riding one of my
2 year olds. He pointed to a palomino mare out in the pasture and told me to use her for the days work. He also warned me she hadn't been ridden for over a year.

I caught the mare, saddled her up and turned her loose in a pen to see what she'd do. She crow-hopped a bit but that was it. So, I climbed aboard and away we went.

The pasture that we were to gather, contained around 200 head of mother cows
plus their calves. The plan was to drive the whole herd into a corner, then separate
the "dry" cows (these are cows that didn't produce a calf) from the "mother" cows.

Separating or "cutting out" the dry cows from the herd this way was a tricky business. One wrong move, one mistake, could spook the herd and send them scattering in all directions. Thus wasting all the time and effort it took to get them rounded up.

Because of the skill involved, it was usually the "cow boss" (foreman) who did the cutting.

On this ranch, the cow boss was a man named Walter Matlock. What a hell of a hand! To this day, Walter is still one of the best all-around hands I've ever seen. His horses would rope, head or heel, cut cattle, stop on a dime and spin like a top.

The man knew horses and he knew cattle.

Walter was also the best "marksman" with a bullwhip that I've ever seen.
At will, Walter could either "sting" or "cut" any part of a cows body with
that whip. He could easily hit the cow's left ear, right ear, the nose or tail.

One day, I jokingly said, "Hey Walter, there's a horse fly pestering my horse. Get him with your whip".

In the blink of an eye, Walter's whip literally "exploded" the insect off my horse's back. It sounded like a high-powered rifle shot. He got the fly and didn't even touch the horse. (I'm not exaggerating here. You had to see it to believe it).

Anyway, I'm getting off track. Back to the herd of cattle.

I watched Walter quietly enter the herd and ease out a dry cow. When the cow would turn to get back to the herd, Walter's horse would counter each move with a "bigger", "faster" move and contain the cow in one small area. It was mesmerizing to watch.

After watching Walter cut cattle for 20 minutes or so, he asked me if I'd like to give it a try. You betcha, I was dying to! Trouble was, I'd never done it before and didn't have a clue. My focus had always been on learning how to train a reining horse. I didn't have much experience working cattle.

He told me, "just ease in and drive out that "brindle" colored cow. Once you have her clear of the herd, drop your rein hand, sit relaxed and keep both your eyes focused on the cow. Trust the mare and let her work on her own".

Well, I did as he instructed and when I dropped my hand to signal the mare that she was on her own, man o' man, what a ride.

This little palomino mare dropped straight down on her belly, crouched and ready to spring. Each time the cow moved, the mare would leap through he air and then drag her butt in the dirt, blocking the cow's every attempt to rejoin the herd.

By far, it was the most fun I'd ever had on the back of a horse. Actually, the word "fun" doesn't accurately describe it. "Exhilarating" would be more like it. I was so excited by the experience, I could hardly sleep that night.

I learned later, that palomino mare had competed at the NCHA futurity a year earlier. She had done well, made the finals and placed 5th. No wonder she was so good..

Over the years, I've met a lot of folks who have experienced riding a cutting horse and gotten "hooked" the same way I did. Unfortunately, some of them haven't had the benefit of receiving good instruction. They encounter problems when riding their cutter.

In reality, learning to ride a cutting horse isn't that difficult. If you can master a few
basic principals and practice those principals until they become "muscle memory",
you will have success pretty darn quick.

Below I've listed some of the most common mistakes new cutters make.

Biggest Mistakes Made by Cutting Horse Riders

Trying to Learn to Cut on a Green Cutting Horse.
If you are a person who loves frustration, then trying to learn to cut on a green horse is definitely the way to go =o)

Seriously though, cutting is one of the most challenging show events you can do on horseback. During a cutting run, you have three separate "beings" to deal with... yourself, the horse and the cow.

When you're new and just learning, its hard enough just to concentrate on YOURSELF. Let alone a cow and a horse that doesn't know his job.

Its far better to learn on a fully trained horse that really knows his job. You will learn much faster if you do.

Now, let me make this clear. I'm talking about "competition cutting" here.

If you just want to have some fun by working your horse on cattle, by all means, have at it. You'll have a blast and gain some valuable experience. However, if you are serious about competing, then go get help from a top cutting horse trainer.

Rider's Body is Tense & Stiff Instead of Loose & Relaxed.
Its imperative that you ride with your body totally relaxed.

Trying to ride a cutting horse while your body is stiff is the most common fault you will see in the cutting arena. It's also one of the worst faults a cutting horse rider can have.

Why? Because body stiffness causes a MULTITUDE of problems.

Here are just a few...
A. Causes the horse to miss the stop.
B. Causes the horse to round the turns and leak up the arena.
C. Causes the rider to fall forward and lose his balance.
D. Causes the horse to lose his form and style on a cow.

Bottom line, if the rider can't sit in the saddle relaxed, nothing goes right.

Failure to Make a Clean Cut in the Middle of the Pen.
In other words, cutting on the run. If the run doesn't start right, it usually doesn't
finish very well either. Ideally, you want to cut a cow in the center of the arena
with your horse "faced up" and "even" with the cow.

This means before you drop your hand, the horse needs to be looking directly at the cow you want to cut and be positioned on the cow correctly. Not placed out-of-wack, too far to the right or left of the cow.

Many beginning cutters will experience "tunnel vision" and get focused on running cows. What they need to do is slow down and focus on the cows that want to stop and stay for their horse.

Rider Takes His Eyes Off the Cow & Looks at the Horse's Head.
This is the quickest way I know of to get thrown off the back of a cutting horse. Many beginning cutters are unable to "feel" the position of the horse's body so they take their eyes off the cow and look at the horse to check what he is doing.

This is a huge mistake. See, the rider's "timing" and "balance" comes from watching the cow. Whenever a rider takes his eyes off the cow and looks at the horse's head, he is no longer aware of when the cow is going to stop and turn.

I've seen plenty of riders hit the ground because they took their eyes off the cow just as it stopped and went the other way. The horse went the other way too but the rider didn't. Usually, the rider isn't even aware of this problem.

The Rider Not Correctly Sitting the Stop.
This one mistake is responsible for cutting horses "missing" their cattle than any other thing I can think of.

When the cow is running across the pen and then stops and goes the other way, it's imperative that the rider sits down in the saddle to help his horse. This "sitting down" does two very important things.

1. It tells the horse that its time to stick his butt in the dirt and apply the brakes.

2. It also allows the rider to maintain balance during the hard stop and turn.

The "sit down" consists of the rider rounding his lower back, tucking his pelvis under him and trying to sit on his jean pockets. It's also important for the rider's shoulders to be positioned directly over his hips... Not leaning too far forward or too far back.

Unfortunately, many riders "hollow out" and arch their back. Making their spine rigid. The result is usually the horse not stopping in time with the cow and the rider losing his balance by falling forward.

The Rider Leaning His Upper Body Towards the Cow.
Okay, this is the rider mistake I see the most at the shows. And it's a mistake that MUST be corrected if the horse is ever going to work correctly.

See, a horse will "follow" the rider's body weight. If the rider is leaning towards the cow, the horse will travel towards the cow. This causes the horse to round his turns instead of sitting down and coming over his hocks.

This leaning will also cause the horse to "leak" up the pen and lose his proper position. Leaning can also cause a horse to get out of sync with the cow. All in all, this "leaning rider syndrome" causes some pretty ugly stuff to happen.

What causes the rider to lean in the first place? It can be a variety of things. Maybe the rider doesn't trust that his horse is going to turn with the cow and he is leaning in an attempt to get the horse to turn.

The leaning can also be caused by just plain old nervousness or fear. Many riders have "stage fright" when they first learn to cut.

The cure is to condition your "muscle memory" to keep your body relaxed, loose and centered while you ride.

The Rider's Lack of Essential Horsemanship Skills.
A lot of people think that because cutting horses work on their own, all the rider has to do is just cut a cow and hang on. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Yes it's true, cutting horses do work on their own but the rider has a HUGE influence on how well that horse works. A cutting horse rider needs to be more of a "jockey" than a mere "passenger".

That means you will have a lot more success cutting if you are a knowledgeable horseman. The rider who knows how to stop and turn a horse over his hocks and position a horse's body with leg cues, will have a tremendous advantage over the rider who doesn't.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bermuda Grass Upkeep

MAINTENANCE practices for Bermudagrass depend upon the variety and purpose for which this grass is chosen.

Golf course and athletic fields are the highest maintained areas. These are usually the hybrid Bermudas that were specifically developed for this kind of activity and in the past were only sodded. Seeded varieties are now opening up the field for home owners to achieve a better Bermudagrass lawns than previously possible.

The Basics Of Bermuda Grass Maintenance

WATERING: Golfing greens, athletic fields of all kinds need a particular watering schedule (usually irrigation) to maintain the highest degree of growth that can be obtained with grasses. Over watering can bring about fungus and invitations to insects. Trained groundskeepers time all maintenance to conditions and season. Lawns that are not highly maintained can use the drought tolerance of this grass to their advantage. In most average rainfall seasons little if any water may be needed. Although Bermuda grass is drought tolerant it does responds well to watering and fertilization if the desired density is not sufficient or if it is slower growing than usual during peak seasons.

WEEDING: This is an aggressive grass and can usually take care of weeds on its own once the sod is established and well managed. A regular mowing program helps control weeds. The same goes for pastures.

FERTILIZATION: Although Bermudagrass generally requires lower amounts of fertilizer, usage will determine how much "fuel" this grass will need. Under intense wear, mowing and watering schedules more of the fertilizer will be used or leached into the soil. Bermudagrass used in average lawns and erosion control situations generally needs less fertilizer.

MOWING: Lawns planted with this grass can be mown much closer than other warm season grasses. Once more this information is according to the variety and cutting heights range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. The closest mown Bermudagrass are the most improved varieties which include the vegetative as well as the newer seeded varieties. The newer seeded varieties can be maintained as low as 3/8 in. while the hybrids can be mown down to 3/16 range. Low mowing of Bermuda will generally require daily mowing during peak growing seasons.

DISEASE / INSECTS: Pearl Scale is a big problem on Tifgreen and other sodded Bermuda grasses.
Unfortunately, there is no good method to control them on some of the improved vegetatively established Bermudas. The pearl scale feeds on the roots, so getting insecticide down in the soil where the insects are is difficult, and insecticides are not that effective against them. The best option in turf infested with pearl scale is to plant seeded Bermudagrasses which are naturally resistant to them. No one knows the mechanism of resistance in the seeded Bermuda grasses to pearl scale - they just never get infested with it.

OVERSEEDING: Why overseed, when to overseed, how to overseed and with what grass, does one overseed with? These are the questions that can be answered at the lawn forum. A short version at this time from us is that overseeding accomplishes many goals for improvement, continuous green look, and is the prime example of human ingenuity over Mother Nature. Grass coverage is now (more than ever before) an erosion control factor. Once in place we yearn to keep the cover as green as long as possible. Overseeding warm grasses with cool grasses in the transition zone has succeeded with this goal. Athletic fields and golf courses led the way with a demand for grasses to provide a year round playing field.

  • Perennial rye grass is the number one favorite to overseed Bermudagrass. The perennial ryegrass will not compete as aggressively with the Bermuda and will die back as soon as the temperature rises. Also it germinates quickly and has good disease resistance and high traffic density.
  • Annual rye is also used in a lot of lawns because of the price and ease of overseeding. Sometimes the annual may return in weed form and cause problems later.
  • Overseeding also thins the Bermuda turf and over a period of time this results in having to overseed with with more Bermudagrass seeds. This is an excellent opportunity to add newer varieties to improve the old lawn's characteristics. The best advice for overseeding is water according to directions and keep off the grass until it is growing sufficiently. In the spring you should start a transition program to encourage the Bermuda to grow while forcing the ryegrass to die out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Going Green - Insect Repellent

Bug sprays with the chemical DEET—the most active ingredient in insect repellents—are considered safe in small quantities by U.S. health and environment agencies. However, some studies have shown that DEET exposure can cause headaches, nausea, and psychological problems in people who use the chemical often.

But with a wide array of plant-based repellents now on the market, you may want to go the natural route—unless you're traveling to an area where serious insect-borne diseases are a real threat.

Active Ingredients: For most of your backyard barbecues and hiking trips, you can keep mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects at bay with products containing plant oils. Many products contain geranium, lemongrass, and peppermint oils. Citronella and oil of lemon eucalyptus are specifically recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Picaridin and DEET are also recommended by the CDC.

What they kill: Bug sprays aren't a one-size-fits-all product. Most protect against mosquitoes, but read labels to make sure the product you purchase fits the right bug problem, such as ticks for long hikes or sand flies for trips to the beach.

Usage Tips

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, closed shoes and socks in areas with high mosquito or tick populations.

  • For added protection against ticks, tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants.

  • Wear light colors. There is some evidence that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors than light colors, and light colors make any ticks that might crawl on you more visible.

  • Avoid being outside when the bugs are worst, generally dusk to dawn.

  • When walking in tick-infested areas, stick to the center of the path and avoid brushing against grasses, where ticks wait to hop a ride.

  • Check for ticks at the end of each day, paying careful attention to your head and warm spots such as underarms, behind the knees and between the toes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes appearances are everything!

Taken from Fugly Blog

I’ve frequently talked about how important it is to look at what you put on your farm’s web site with an eye to how the world will see it, if you are intending to sell horses or stud fees or training or pretty much anything. (If your site is just for fun and is Suzie and her three rescue geldings, oh heck, do whatever makes you happy…glittering flying horses galore.)
You don’t need an expensive, professionally done site, but you do need to ensure that the pictures you put up show your horses to their best advantage. This means posing them properly, bathing them, clipping them up, and displaying them properly. If they are loose in the field, the field should look appealing with no junk, scary fence, etc. in the background. If they are haltered, use a properly fitted halter that does not look like a terrier puppy has been using it as a chew toy. If they are ridden, use properly fitted tack and a rider who is decently outfitted for riding (i.e. no midriff shirts, bra tops, shirtlessness on guys, shorts, flip flops, crocs). You are riding a horse, not feature dancing at the Spearmint Rhino – no one wants to see your nipples. Seriously.
It’s true for rescues as well as breeding farms and trainers, which is why I went out to help SOS Equines with their spa day on Saturday…we got some horses cleaned up and took much better pictures of them.
Which picture makes you want to give this rescue horse a chance? Same horse but with a bath, a detangled and conditioned mane and tail, a bridle path and his ears up, he looks like he has so much more potential. (Yes, we should have found a more uncluttered background for the “after” shot, and the halter is still not properly fitted. But it’s an improvement.)
(This attractive gelding did find a home, but FYI they have a super cute La Saboteur daughter who needs a place to go right now…click here)

Especially in this economy, if you want to place or sell horses, they need to look good. So I’m always a little confused as to why I see breeding farm web sites with pictures like this one. Look, it’s Furball McShag. Putting a show halter on a horse you haven’t bothered to even clip a bridle path on is like putting on a cute strapless dress but forgetting to shave your pits. It looks ridiculous. Then there’s the fact that the halter is hanging down so low that it’s almost over his nostrils, and it’s paired with an old cotton lead instead of a show lead.
The immediate impression of lack of professionalism is further enhanced by the web site’s copy. Apparently he is “out of” World Champion sire Troubles A Brewing. Ooookay. That I’d like to see. Ouch. Come on guys, how confusing a term is “out of,” anyway? OUT OF. I am pretty damn sure he came OUT OF a mare. If not, call Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
They claim their other stud is OUT OF Zippo Pine Bar. Well, not only I am certain that’s not physically possible, but Zippo Pine Bar was foaled 2 years after I was and therefore I’m equally certain he does not have any five year old sons running around. I was so interested to find out what the actual breeding here was that I spent the $3 to look it up. Well, ZPB is his great-grandsire. He’s actually by a Jack of No Trades called Ima Commander Zippo. Uh, false advertising much?
Don’t get me started on their sale page where you can buy the Zippo’s False Advertising horse for $2500 with a truly hideous “conformation” shot or a “versitial” Arabian for $1000. And why is the fugly-necked paint foal parked out?
For those who think I am too harsh on breeders like this, let me give you an analogy. Let’s say you opened up your Sunday paper and there was a dealership with a Nissan for sale describing it as having a 12 cylinder engine, anti-latch brakes, a DC player and power storing. After you got done laughing, my guess is your first thought would be “what a bunch of idiots” and “how can they be in the car business if they don’t know anything about cars?” That’s my point. The horse business is a business and if you can’t conduct it with the same level of professionalism and demonstrated knowledge of your product that we’d expect in any other business, you shouldn’t be in it. This is just another example of someone breeding stunningly mediocre horses that have a high chance of ending up in a kill pen. You’d really think that by now, given this economy and how difficult it is to sell young stock that aren’t high quality show or race prospects, people would be starting to get the message, but linnks to these web sites keep showing up in my in-box…
By the way, I’m having a very amusing back-and-forth with AHA regarding my recent blog about them. Apparently Kenna Ashley was just an innocent admin who accidently forwarded around an internal memo (don’t you hate when that happens?) and is concerned about all the skeery internet people e-mailing her about the pro-slaughter crap. So please, stop e-mailing her. I think you should e-mail the dude I’m going back and forth with if you don’t agree with AHA’s pro-slaughter stance. His name is Dan Lawrence and he’s their Director of Marketing. Remember, threats are never acceptable (other than the threat to stop paying membership fees and showing at their events – that’s fine!) – opinions are, and strong opinions are understandable given the subject matter but a profanity-free, logical letter is always best!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rapid Rain @ Oklahoma State Fair - 2009

The Rapid Rain booth at The 2009 State Fair of Oklahoma is located in Oklahoma Expo Hall #3 near the West entrance. Come say hello to some of our team members and learn more about our product. We are having a drawing to win one of our Rapid Rain 625 models. Come Sign Up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Overbrook Begins Dispersing Horses At Keeneland

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) One of Kentucky's top horse farms has begun selling off nearly its entire stock of horses at Keeneland.

Overbrook Farm, home of the former top stallion Storm Cat, is beginning its dispersal by selling around 50 yearlings at the Keeneland sale this month.

Through the early auction on Monday's opening session of the sale, a Storm Cat colt sold by Overbrook fetched the highest price of $360,000.

Keeneland has catalogued 5,189 yearlings for the sale, which goes through Sept. 28.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The State Fair of Oklahoma

This year, Rapid Rain will be at The State Fair of Oklahoma in The Oklahoma Expo Hall. If you get a chance, please come out and say hello to some of our team members. Here is a little bit of history on the world famous State Fair of Oklahoma.


A tradition that can trace its roots to territorial days, the State Fair of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City attracts thousands to its fairgrounds every autumn. The first fairs in present Oklahoma occurred the eastern portion, or Indian Territory and, like most fairs, centered on agriculture. This served as an opportunity to educate American Indians on "modern" farming and also proved a social occasion that pulled isolated rural residents to the urban setting. In western Oklahoma, after 1889 and the development of Oklahoma Territory, newcomers soon staged fairs and expositions. Oklahoma City held its first of these activities in 1889, five months after the Land Run. By 1892 Charles "Gristmill" Jones had spearheaded the Oklahoma Territorial Fair Association, which sponsored the Oklahoma Territorial Fair. Other influential Oklahoma Cityans active in the association included Ed Overholser, William McClure, James Geary, H. G. Trosper, and D. F. Stiles. Under their direction the organization purchased a parcel of land and erected, among other structures, a half-mile horse racetrack. As the region's economy faltered and Oklahoma City's population declined, the fair discontinued after 1894. In 1898, as the agriculture markets improved, the city hosted a street fair, which was repeated in 1899. In 1902 Charles Colcord organized the "Oklahoma City Fair and Race Meeting."

Old Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, OKC 1925

Prior to statehood, in January 1907 Jones and Colcord led in the organization of a state fair association. The organization located a new fairgrounds on the city's east side and held the first State Fair of Oklahoma in early October, a month before official statehood day (November 16). Agriculture remained at the forefront, with prizes offered for crop and livestock competition, as well as several farming and ranching exhibits. Horse racing served as the biggest draw, and the grandstand at the half-mile track accommodated fifteen thousand fans for the Oklahoma Derby. The first fair also held the usual carnival attractions, including a midway and vaudeville acts. In November 1907 Henry Overholser arranged loans to pull the association out of debt and guided the organization through the next five years. During this period expansion and improvements abounded, including the construction of several buildings, new rides, telephone and electric connections, and a large Livestock and Horse Show Pavilion. In 1913 the state legislature banned gambling on horse races, souring one of the fair's popular attractions. But the public's interest in automobiles and air flight was exploited as the fair held car races and, sponsored hot air balloons and beginning in 1912, air shows.

By 1917 the fair faced a steadily increasing debt and competition from the Muskogee State Fair, which the legislature had endorsed as the official state fair that year. To continue the Oklahoma City venue civic leaders proposed to sell the fairgrounds to the city, which would in return rent the grounds to the fair board for thirty days each fall. This was based on the "Dallas Plan," which the State Fair of Texas had been using since 1903. In May 1917 Oklahoma City voters approved a bond to fund the purchase. The fair slowly expanded and continued to provide patrons with agricultural education, entertainment, culinary treats, and glimpses of new technologies. In 1927 the fair board renegotiated its agreement and assumed maintenance responsibilities for the grounds, earning the profits from renting the facilities throughout the year.

The Great Depression took a toll on the association's budget and curtailed some of the bigger events, including car races. By the late 1930s a movement to place the fair in a different Oklahoma City location emerged. The old site was deemed unsuitable due to the proximity of the Oklahoma City oilfield, frequent flooding, limited space, and lack of parking.

During World War II several state fairs, including that of Texas, closed, but Oklahoma's remained open except for the 1945 run. The wartime fair used the opportunity to educate the public, to raise civilian morale, and to exhibit the U.S. armed forces' equipment and prowess. The relocation plans became a reality in 1951, when the city acquired 440 acres in its western section to accommodate the venue. In 1954 the first fair held at the new fairgrounds attracted 416,000 visitors in a period of nine days. The move and the construction depleted the board's funds, and the subsequent two fairs lost money. By 1957 a weakened fair board allowed the city to take full control of the fairgrounds for all but one month of the year. Also in 1957, the Semi-Centennial Exposition was held at the fairgrounds from June 14 to July 7, in addition to the normal fall State Fair.

In 1962 the fair board elected Edward L. Gaylord as president and ushered in a new period of development. In the 1960s and early 1970s the board constructed several new buildings, including the Transportation Building, the Women's Building (later the Home Arts and Crafts Building), the Made in Oklahoma Building, and the Agricultural Building. The construction of the Fairgrounds Arena, which opened in 1965, proved the most significant, allowing rodeos, basketball and hockey games, and other entertainment to be staged in a comfortable environment. It also would be an off-season income producer. Other significant facilities opened during this period were the monorail, the space tower, and All Sports Stadium, which was home to the Oklahoma City 89ers baseball team.

In 1975 the fair's attendance eclipsed the one-million mark for the first time. The annual "school day" attracted thousands of students from across the state and has always been one of the busiest days. The State Fair continued as a successful institution through the twentieth century. Since 1917 the Oklahoma City residents have supported the fair through the political process, which continued with a portion of funds in the 1993 MAPS plan and with a hotel tax in 2004. This raised the Oklahoma City hotel tax 3.5 percent, with 3 percent of the increase tagged for fair improvements. In 2001 the name changed from the State Fair of Oklahoma to the Oklahoma State Fair, and in 2004 the length of the fair shortened from seventeen days to eleven.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to Go Green: BBQ

Barbequing in the United States has become a national pastime, but almost all regions of the world embrace the tradition in one form or another. So whether you're grilling pork ribs Southern style, breaking out the tofu dogs and veggie burgers, or switching it up on a Japanese-style Hibachi or preparing Indonesian Satay over charcoal, we've put together the info that will help you green your grill time.

Ready to start the fire? Before you invite the guests, buy the burgers, and spark the coals, take a moment to consider what goes into--and what comes out of--your usual celebration. If your vision of good eatin' includes a greasy guy in a red checkered apron standing in a smoky haze of sweet-smelling soot, while nearby picnic tables are strewn with plastic wrap and disposable paper plates, plasticware, and cups, it's time to wake up and smell the grass-fed all-beef hot dogs.

Instead, picture this: You're in the backyard, surrounded by neighbors and friends who have supplied their potluck concoctions in reusable Tupperware containers. While you prep the grill by rubbing it with an onion instead of dousing it with chemical spray, your guests sip micro-brewed organic beer from glasses (how civilized!), poured from ice-cold growlers from your local brewery. The picnic table is primed with recycled-plastic durable dishware, reusable bamboo cutlery, and fresh salads made with seasonal ingredients picked up from the local farmers' market. The garbage can is near empty though the recycling bin and compost pile have a little extra girth.

While you're not afraid to tuck into some responsibly raised meat, you know the environmental and dietary merits of cutting back, so the bulk of your preparations revolve around vegetarian recipes. After sampling the Portobello mushrooms and chickpea burgers, broccoli rabe corn bread, and fresh ginger cookies, your guests happily head out, leftovers in tow, and walk (or bike or skateboard) home.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oklahoma Horses

The horse population is growing within the state and is approximately estimated at 326,000 horses. All types of breeds are found throughout the state with a large number of horses being wild and found on preserved land. Oklahoma is ranked 4th in the US because of its horse population. Oklahoma City is well known to be the horse show capital of the world. This is due to most major horse shows being hosted by this city all year round. The local economy welcomes tourists and horse enthusiasts from all over each year especially for the equine industry.

To the North of Oklahoma the Lazy E Arena is located here and it is recognized as the largest indoor rodeo arena of the world. Some of Americas top horse ranches and breeding programs are also home to this state. One of the major horse shows this state hosts is the Oklahoma horse fair which is held at 2 locations being the Stephens County Fair and the Expo Center in Duncan. The fair features competitions, clinics and shows which are open to all horse breeds.

Pauls Valley is to the south of this state and is a large natural habitat for wild horses. These horses and their burrows now roam freely on this public land and they are recognized as a living legacy of the Wild West. An adoption program has been enlisted and horse enthusiast is now able to adopt the wild horses of Pauls Valley. Interested people are able to view the adoptive horses in their natural habitat before purchasing.
Paint Horse

20 Years Ago On This Date

Twenty years ago on this date
On September 10, 1989, the strong tropical wave that had moved off the coast of Africa the previous day acquired an organized circulation at the surface and began building a concentrated area of heavy thunderstorms near its center. A new tropical depression, the eighth of the season, was born. Moving westward at 20 mph, the depression brought strong, gusty winds and heavy rain showers to the Cape Verdes Islands as it passed to the south. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted that the steadily organizing tropical depression would strengthen into a tropical storm within the next day or two. The next name on the list of Atlantic tropical storm names for 1989: Hugo.

AVHRR visible satellite image of Tropical Depression Eight taken on September 10, 1989. Image credit: Google Earth rendition of the NOAA HURSAT data base.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fun Facts About Horses

The average horse weighs about a half a ton, its brain is the size of a baked potato.

A horse's hoof is analogous to the human fingernail. Horses stand on their middle fingers!

Some of the equine family's closest relatives are tapirs and the rhinoceros.

A horse can poop up to 14 times a day!

Horses cannot vomit.

Most of the time, a horse's ear points where the horse is looking.

Horses can lock the muscles in their legs so they can go to sleep standing up and not fall over.

One of the first horses was called a Hyracotherium. It lived about 50 million years ago and was as tall as a fox. It had toes!

Camargue horses are completely white as adults. Their babies are pure black when they are born.

There is a breed of horse from Russia called Akhal-Teke. It can go for days without food or water.

You measure a horse's height in hands. Each hand equals four inches. If you say a horse is 16.2 hands high, the 2 stands for 2 fingers.

You can tell how old a horse is by how many teeth it has. A horse gets all of its teeth by the time it is five years old. After that, they just get longer.

A female horse is called a mare. In the wild it is the mare that decides when the herd moves on to another spot to find food.

A male horse is called a stallion. Usually only one stallion will stay with a herd.

Any marking on a horse's forehead is called a star, even if it is not shaped like a star.

Horses and ponies feel safer when they are in a herd.

Mustangs are one of the few breeds of horses that live wild in North America. They are related to the horses that the Spanish explorers brought to North America 400 years ago.

Horses can communicate how they are feeling by their facial expressions. They use their ears, nostrils, and eyes to show their moods. Beware of a horse that has flared nostrils and their ears back. That means it might attack!

A hoof is like a fingernail. It is always growing and needs to be clipped so that it won't be uncomfortable for the horse.

A farrier is a person who makes horse shoes and fits them on your horse. They also clip hooves to keep them from getting overgrown.

A horse can move in four ways: walk, trot, canter, and gallop. A gallop is the fastest gait.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Topdressing the lawn

Top-Dressing to Improve the Soil in Your Lawn

A nice, thick lawn requires healthy soil as its base, but it’s difficult to make changes to the soil once grass has been established. Most gardening recommendations include “working” organic matter into the soil through digging or tilling prior to planting, but this can’t be done once the grass has grown. So what’s a homeowner to do with an established lawn that’s in need of some serious help?

If done properly, the technique of “top-dressing,” or adding a thin layer of soil over your lawn, can improve the soil without killing the existing turf. Top-dressing addresses some common lawn problems, including:

  • Low spots due to rotting tree roots, settling after underground pipe or cable installation, or erosion.
  • Uneven terrain caused by winter freezing and thawing, water runoff, tunneling critters, or general soil settling over time.
  • Compacted soil in high-traffic areas or low-lying places where water pools.
  • Bare spots from variations in soil texture and nutrients, heat, drought, or other environmental damage.
  • Depletion of nutrients due to leaching, neglect, or repeated use of chemical fertilizers.

Top-dressing gradually improves soil over time. As organic matter breaks down, it filters through the existing soil to improve texture and overall health. Top-dressing can:

  • Improve drainage and drought-resistance
  • Even out the terrain
  • Reduce the need for supplemental fertilizers
  • Transform your lawn into organic, low-maintenance, healthy turf

When to Top-Dress

Ideally, do it in early fall or spring since you’ll want to give your grass time to grow through 3-4 more mowings before severe heat or cold, especially if you are overseeding. It can be done all at once, or in stages. I know one meticulous gardener who top-dresses small patches as he finds them, whereas I brought in a truckload of top-dressing mixture and had an autumn marathon.

Top-dressing involves some physical labor, but the process is really just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Aerate

Lawns should be aerated every 2-3 years, and if yours is due, start with a nice core aeration. Core aeration removes plugs of soil from the ground and leaves channels for air, water, and our top-dressing mixture to penetrate the surface. For more information, see our article on Adventures in Aeration.

Step 2: Prepare Your Top-Dressing

You can make your own top-dressing using a mixture of:

  • Sharp sand (not sea sand which contains lime)
  • Loam or topsoil (a fine crumbly soil that is neither clay nor sandy)
  • Peat (or compost if your soil needs a nutritional punch, but be prepared for sprouting weeds!)

For average loamy soil, mix these three ingredients equally. For applications on clay soil, reduce or eliminate the loam/topsoil. For sandy soil, reduce the sand. Your ingredients need to be dry and sifted until there are no clumps larger than ¼”.

Another option is to purchase high-quality top-dressing mixture or bagged lawn soil. Check with your local landscape supply yard – they often have a blended topsoil mixture on hand. While you won’t be able to guarantee the proportions, it’s economical and sold in bulk.

Step 3: Apply Top-Dressing

Now you’re ready to get started. Working a few square feet at a time, shovel out a small mound (maybe 2-3 shovelfuls) of mixture onto your lawn.

Spread the soil using something flat, like the back side of a heavy garden rake, working it into aeration holes and covering low spots. Make sure the top-dressing is no more than 1” deep (preferably ½” or less) over the existing grass.

Keep working the mixture until your grass peeks through and the depth is even. I like to flip the garden rake back and forth from the flat side to the tine side, carefully combing the grass to get the top-dressing mixture settled on the soil surface.

For low spots requiring more than a couple of inches of top-dressing, first remove the existing sod to prevent underground decay that can damage new grass seedlings. After filling in the low spot, either replace the old sod or re-seed the area. You can also address deeper spots by adding a couple of inches of top-dressing each year, slowly building it up over time.

Step 4: Water and Adjust

At this point you’re technically finished, but in my experience a good top-dressing mixture does some settling. I would recommend watering the area well (or top-dressing before a nice rain), letting the mixture settle for a day or two, then go back with your rake and smooth out any little hollows or bumps that may develop.

Step 5: Plant Grass if Needed

Now you can replant grass in any bare spots. Existing grass should be able to grow through as much as an inch of top-dressing.

How Often to Top-Dress

Trouble spots may need repeat applications, but regular, uniform top-dressing does not need to be an annual tradition. Keep in mind that you’re adding soil, which over time will raise your grade and affect thatch breakdown and soil ecology, so don’t go overboard. Plan several light applications for troublesome yards, rather than one deep one. For overall organic soil amendment, a very light application of top-dressing brushed into aeration holes can improve the soil without raising the grade.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

United States Drought Information - September 1, 2009

The Atlantic Coast States: Rain was heavy enough to eliminate dryness (D0) from Florida and reduce coverage in Georgia. In contrast, persistent dryness in northwestern South Carolina resulted in a slight expansion of moderate drought (D1). In Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, summer (June-August) rainfall totaled just 6.28 inches (50 percent of normal).

The Western and Central Gulf Coast Regions: Rainfall in the central Gulf Coast region resulted in the removal of abnormal dryness (D0) from much of southern Louisiana and southwestern Alabama. August rainfall totaled 8.01 inches (165 percent of normal) in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 10.18 inches (164 percent) in Mobile, Alabama. At the same time, dry conditions developed across parts of central Louisiana and neighboring areas. In Alexandria, Louisiana, August rainfall totaled just 0.42 inch (10 percent of normal).

Farther west, only minor changes were necessary in the core drought area of Texas. However, enough rain fell in parts of Deep South Texas to result in an improvement from exceptional to extreme drought (D4 to D3). Brownsville’s August 30 – September 1 rainfall total of 1.14 inches surpassed its 0.76-inch sum during the preceding 93 days (May 29 – August 29). Elsewhere in southern Texas, summer records for average temperature were established in locations such as Victoria (86.6 degrees F; previously, 86.2 degrees F in 1998), Corpus Christi (86.8 degrees F; previously, 85.9 degrees F in 1998), San Antonio (87.8 degrees F; previously, 86.2 degrees F in 1980 and 1994), and Del Rio (88.8 degrees F; previously, 88.7 degrees F in August 1998). San Antonio also completed its driest two-year period on record, with precipitation totaling only 24.83 inches (38 percent of normal) from September 2007 – August 2009. San Antonio’s former standard of 30.23 inches was established from August 1954 – July 1956.

By August 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 54 percent of the rangeland and pastures in Texas were rated in very poor to poor condition. The Texas drought was also having an adverse effect on crops such as corn (39 percent very poor to poor), sorghum (39 percent), cotton (31 percent), and rice (21 percent). In Louisiana, nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of the sorghum crop was rated in very poor to poor condition.

In southern Texas, storage in Lake Corpus Christi (Nueces River basin) fell below 75,000 acre-feet on September 1 for the first time since August 31, 2001. The lake’s storage was above 200,000 acre-feet as recently as September 2008. Elsewhere in Texas, September 1 water levels in the Colorado River basin near Austin were about 20 feet below the historic September average on Lake Buchanan and more than 33 feet below average on Lake Travis. However, the lakes’ average surface elevations, 632 feet above sea level on Lake Travis and 991 feet on Lake Buchanan, were still above the record lows (614.18 feet in August 1951 and 983.70 feet in September 1952, respectively).

The Midwest: Additional rain in the upper Great Lakes region’s core drought area helped to cut the remaining region of severe drought (D2) into two pieces. The area of dryness and moderate drought (D0 and D1) also decreased in coverage, especially in Wisconsin and Michigan. In fact, dryness (D0) was completely removed from Lower Michigan. Coverage of dryness (D0) was also reduced in western Ohio.

During the two-week period ending August 30, rain helped the percentage of rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition fall from 26 to 13 percent in Wisconsin and 23 to 15 percent in Minnesota.

The Plains: There were only minor changes to the depiction. Heavy rain reduced the size of the abnormally dry (D0) region in Kansas and Nebraska, and moderate drought (D1) was removed from the latter state. In northern Oklahoma, further analysis of previous rainfall resulted in the removal of moderate drought (D1). A small amount of dryness (D0) was added to south-central Oklahoma and north-central Texas due to continuing dryness.

The West: Monsoon activity remained disappointingly light across the Four Corners States, resulting in further expansion of abnormal dryness (D0). In southeastern Arizona, Tucson completed its second-hottest July-August period on record, with an average temperature of 89.4 degrees F. Only 1994, with a July-August average of 90.3 degrees F, was hotter. From June 15 – August 31, rainfall in southern Arizona totaled just 2.12 inches (46 percent of normal) in Tucson and 1.31 inches (38 percent) in Safford. More than three-quarters (80 percent) of Arizona’s rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition on August 30. Rangeland and pastures in New Mexico were also suffering in some areas, with 39 percent rated very poor to poor.

In late August, there was a marked increase in Western wildfire activity, mainly in Utah, western Colorado, and the Pacific Coast States. By early September, the largest active blaze in Utah was the 11,000-acre Mill Flat fire near New Harmony. Meanwhile in southern California, Santa Ana (102 degrees F) posted a daily-record high on August 26, the same day that the Station fire started in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles. By early September, the Station fire had consumed more than 125,000 acres of vegetation and nearly 100 structures. Other triple-digit, daily-record highs in southern California included 103 degrees F (on August 27) in Long Beach; 107 degrees F (on August 27) in Fullerton; and 117 degrees F (on August 28) in Palm Springs. On August 29, Santa Maria (104 degrees F) registered a monthly record high, previously established with a reading of 103 degrees F on August 28, 1962.

Farther north, some moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) was added in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, following a closer examination of streamflows and long-term precipitation deficits. Additional dryness (D0) was added in western portions of Washington and Oregon to better match with long-term precipitation shortfalls. Portland, in the abnormally dry (D0) area of western Oregon, received a precipitation total of 26.63 inches (75 percent of normal) from October 2008 – August 2009. In addition, Portland’s year-to-date total of 22 days with highs of 90 degrees F or greater was very close to its 1987 annual record of 23 days.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Another week of generally quiet weather in Hawaii resulted in no change to the drought depiction. On Maui, a wildfire just north of Kaunakakai charred nearly 8,000 acres of timber, brush, and grass by early September. Farther north, heavy precipitation continued across southeastern Alaska and developed in east-central Alaska. Therefore, all remaining dryness (D0) was removed from southeastern Alaska and trimmed from the eastern portion of interior Alaska. In southeastern Alaska, Yakutat’s August rainfall reached 17.50 inches (132 percent of normal). Meanwhile, Puerto Rico remained free of dryness and drought.

Looking Ahead: During the next five days, moisture associated with the remnants of eastern Pacific Hurricane Jimena will spread northward into the Four Corners region, generating scattered showers. Farther east, showers and thunderstorms will gradually shift from the eastern Plains into the middle and lower Mississippi Valley, while rain will linger along and near the southern Atlantic Coast. Dry weather will continue for several more days across the North and the Far West, but rain will arrive across the Pacific Northwest.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for September 8-12 calls for near- to above-normal precipitation nationwide, except in the Northeast. Wet weather will be most likely along the southern Atlantic Coast and in the nation’s mid-section. Above-normal temperatures can be expected along the Pacific Coast, in southern Texas, across Florida’s peninsula, and from the Great Lakes region into the Northeast.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Science of Dressage Arena Repair

How to water a dressage arena correctly to keep the footing from releasing dust

The most common complaint among dressage riders is dusty footing, great billowing clouds of the stuff. It's kicked up with every step. It hangs in the air for what seems like forever. It gets on your clothes, your tack, your horse. It makes its way into the lungs. Even an outdoor arena with a breeze doesn't offer much relief. And when the dust gets so bad that the arena requires frequent watering to hold it down, the footing compacts as it dries. Out comes the harrow to break up the compaction, but that releases dust. Out comes the hose, but that restarts the compaction process. And the cycle continues. Common causes for dust include interior stalls, old bedding, hay and the arena footing itself. In this Equisearch segment, Brian J. Fahey explains how to water a dressage arena correctly to keep the footing from releasing dust.

How to Water Your Dressage Arena--The Math Behind Moisture Content
It's possible to determine how much water an arena needs by utilizing a mathematical formula known as the "watering increment principle." Here's how it goes: For every 1,000 square feet of arena surface--where the footing is three inches deep--apply 19.5 gallons of water for a 1 percent increase in the moisture content. That's fine, you may say. But I want to reach 10 percent moisture content. How do I figure out how many watering increments to add?

For that, you first have to know the percentage of moisture content in your footing. Thankfully, it's easy to determine. You know those probes you use to measure the moisture content of hay bales? Stick one in the sand about halfway down, and read the result.

Perhaps your footing contains 3 percent moisture and you want to increase it to 10 percent. That's seven watering increments or 136.5 gallons per 1,000 square feet of surface area.

Since most folks don't have a flow meter on their hoses or sprinkler systems, you'll probably need to figure out how many minutes to water per watering increment. You can do that by setting up your hose the way you normally do to water the arena. Take a five-gallon bucket, turn on the hose to its normal flow rate for watering and count how many seconds it takes to fill the bucket to the brim. (For sprinkler systems, put the bucket in the arena and let it fill.) Now divide the result by five to determine seconds per gallon. Take the reciprocal of that number (the reciprocal is either of a pair of numbers whose product is one, example: 2/3 and 3/2) and divide it into one to find gallons per second. Now multiply by 60, and you have gallons per minute. Divide that number into 19.5, and you have watering increments per minute.

Once you know how many watering increments you want to add, divide that number of watering increments by the watering increments per minute and you have the number of minutes to water per 1,000 square feet. Divide the total square footage of your arena surface by 1,000, and multiply that by the number of minutes per 1,000 square feet you just calculated. And there you are. Whether by hose or with a sprinkler system, you now know the total watering time.

Knowing how to water your dressage arena is only one component in correcting footing problems. Some are easy to figure out and fix. Others are complicated and require a deeper understanding of how and why things happen to your arena. In the November 2001 issue of Dressage Today Brian J. Fahey gives hands-on strategies you can use to restore the footing in your dressage arena.

The Rapid Rain is the highest rate horse arena watering and dust control tools on the market. Stop by our website today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Protect your home during wildfire season.

Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Home During Wildfire Season

The state of California is adopting new building and fire codes, effective January 2008, that will primarily affect new construction. But homeowners with existing homes to worry about can take independent action to safeguard their dwellings in the event of a wildfire — an eventuality that is, or ought to be, top-of-mind for those who own or live in housing vulnerable to such a catastrophe.

Homeowners can increase the chances that their houses will be left standing after a wildfire with the right information, some advance planning, and regular maintenance, says Steve Quarles, wood-durability adviser for UC Cooperative Extension and an affiliate of the Center for Fire Research and Outreach at Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station.

Quarles has identified six priority areas for making changes to existing homes in fire-hazard zones. He suggests homeowners start with the roof, the most vulnerable part of the house in a fire, and then continue in order with vents, vegetation, windows, decking, and siding.

First things first: Roofs and vents

Ignition-resistant “Class A” and non-combustible roofs — such as concrete tile and asphalt composition shingles — have become the norm in California since the late 1990s, when new laws passed requiring all new homes and all roof replacements in very high fire-hazard-severity zones to be Class A. Nevertheless, many older homes still do not have Class A roofs.

“The importance of the roof covering cannot be overstated,” says Quarles. “If you haven’t already done so, you should make an upgrade to a Class A roof your first priority.”

The East Bay’s hills are covered with flammable plants, as those who survived the 1991 firestorm (above) discovered. (Jonathan King photo)

But don’t stop there. Many homeowners realize a false sense of security after installing non-combustible roofs and siding simply because those are dominant features on any house. There’s much more to do, says Quarles, who specifies vents as the second item on his priority list.

Most building codes specify vents for crawl or attics to prevent a buildup of moisture, which can lead to mold growth and decay. But vents also offer embers and flames an easy entry point. “Embers that slip through attic vents can ignite debris and items stored there, and subsequently construction materials, setting the home ablaze from within,” Quarles points out.

In addition, most codes require that vents be covered with, at a minimum, quarter-inch mesh to minimize plugging and reduction in air movement. But that’s inadequate to keep flames away from the inside of your home, says Quarles. “This is an example of conflict in code preferences between building and fire officials. Quarter-inch mesh cannot stop embers and flames during wildfires. Smaller-mesh screens would do a better job of keeping them out, but they plug up more easily.”

The importance of vents in wildfire resistance is leading to such innovations as the development of vents specially designed to limit ember intrusion while still allowing sufficient air flow for ventilation, and construction designs and procedures that permit unvented attics to avoid moisture-related problems.

Quarles suggests homeowners frequently check their vents to make sure there is no buildup of debris, such as highly combustible dry leaves and pine needles. For added protection they can make vent covers out of plywood or another solid material that can be quickly installed over vents when wildfire approaches.

Leggy and succulent

Next, suggests Quarles, examine the vegetation on your site, with the understanding that it can be both harmful and helpful when it comes to home fire protection. Plants close to the home — under eaves, in inside corners, and near windows — can be major fire hazards, but trees and shrubs farther away can serve as buffers against radiation, convective heat, and flying embers. “Trees might have a bad reputation because of the potential to spread fire in the crown, but that is seldom a hazard to structures,” Quarles says.

In addition to noting where plants are located, Quarles suggests careful attention be paid to plants’ innate fire resistance. Bushy junipers and cedars, for example, can be a poor choice for those seeking to minimize fire hazards. For landscaping close to a dwelling, select leggy plants with succulent leaves — the smaller the plants the better, especially near windows and in the parts of the home designed to give the house architectural interest, such as inside corners, where heat builds up much faster than on open, flat sides.

Whatever plants you choose, they should always be well-maintained, says Quarles: “Any plants near a house should be pruned, regularly watered, and kept free of dead material within the branches and on the ground.”

Well-tempered windows

The next priority should be windows. Research has shown that by far the most important factor in determining the vulnerability of windows in a wildfire is the glass, not the frame.

“It’s a good idea to install dual-pane windows with tempered glass,” Quarles says. “With dual-pane windows, the outer pane protects the inner pane. The inner pane heats up more slowly and uniformly, and therefore may not break even though the outer pane does.”

Tempered glass is much stronger than regular glass, so it provides more protection against breaking. The relevant chapter in the building code going into effect in 2008 requires at least one pane to be tempered glass. Since the type of frame doesn’t make much difference in a fire, it can be selected based on cost, aesthetics, energy efficiency, or other factors.

As is the case with vents, homeowners can fabricate window covers out of half-inch plywood or another fire-resistant material. Cut them to size and mark them clearly so they can be installed quickly over windows before evacuating the home when a fire breaks out.

A backyard deck is not a top-of-mind hazard for many in wildfire country, even though an ignited deck is often adjacent to large windows or sliding glass doors, both of which can break from a fire’s heat, permitting flames to enter the house.

“In general, the thicker the deck boards the better,” advises Quarles. “Boards an inch or less thick release heat much faster, and are therefore a higher hazard. Be especially mindful of the gaps between the boards and the house and decking. Combustible debris can build up in the gaps and corners, and flying embers can get lodged there and begin smoldering.”

For replacement, consider any material — plastic, plastic-composite lumber, fire-retardant-treated lumber for exterior use, or lumber — that passes the state test procedure approved by the California State Fire Marshal’s office. Tests conducted a few years ago showed some composite-decking products capable of resisting fire as well as solid wood, though none were better; Quarles says he expects new decking products to come on the market when the 2008 building code goes into effect.

The sixth priority is siding. In research trials, good-quality sheathing — which is installed underneath the siding — was a key to protecting the home’s studs. Non-combustible siding, made of stucco or fiber-cement, can be installed over the sheathing. Combustible siding — such as wood panels and clapboard — should be inspected annually for gaps, making sure that any are filled with a high-quality caulk to prevent hot embers from taking up residence and beginning to burn.

Even beyond these six priority areas, other elements and structures in and near your home (e.g., fences, garages, and gutters) can be improved to keep it safer in a fire. For further information, consult the “Homeowners Wildfire Mitigation Guide,” co-written by Quarles and Frank Beall, a retired professor of environmental science, policy, and management at Berkeley, at