Water is scarce all over the world, never mind in South Africa alone. When it comes to keeping any livestock or running a farm, the availability of water is of paramount importance.
Collect run-off rainwater. Place water troughs, tanks or containers at the bottom of a drain pipe to collect run-off storm water. Rain barrels are increasing in popularity. A rain barrel is a large cylindrical container that has a tap at the bottom, which can be opened to release the water when necessary. Use leftover rainwater to wash cars and feed buckets, or water arenas, paddocks, flowers and plants around the yard. Test the water for any traces of pollution before considering giving it to horses to drink.
Collect arena water. If your arena has been correctly constructed, there should be a perimeter drainage system in place that runs the water from the arena, down a gutter and into a catchment area. Today’s leading arena manufacturers also construct arenas so that run-off water can be stored in a reservoir, and the water can then be used to water the arena, which runs back into the reservoir and so on.
Make the most of leftover water. Use any water left over in stable or paddock water buckets to refill dogs’ or cats’ water bowls, water small plants or veggie patches, wash grooming brushes, wet grass, or add to concentrates. You can also use the water to give your horse a sponge bath instead of a full hose-down after work.
Put nozzles onto hosepipes and set them to create a jet spray instead of letting the water run out at full pressure.
As unappealing as the idea is to most, a yard environment is the perfect place to have a compost heap. You can buy a compost heap container at just about any builders’ or gardening outlet. Place your compost heap away from the actual stables, but usually wherever you store old shavings is a good place. Make sure any excess water that seeps down can drain away easily.
Put the right stuff in. Good things to chuck into the compost heap are fruit and vegetable waste or peels (including apples or carrots that have gone off), teabags, plant leaves, prunes and grass cuttings. These all provide nitrogen and create moisture. However, try to add scrunched-up old paper, dry leaves, crushed eggshells and old carton boxes (such as for eggs or takeaway cup holders). They will not rot as quickly, but they do provide carbon in the compost heap and encourage the formation of air pockets.
Products to avoid putting into the compost heap are dog or cat faeces (including old litter), baby nappies, diseased plants, or any meat or dairy products. These will lead to pests and rather unpleasant smells. Remember not to put in any plastic, glass or metal materials – rather recycle these separately.
Take good care of your compost heap by ‘turning’ it regularly. It’s a smelly job – but we promise you’ll reap the rewards later. Turning your compost will help to aerate and mix the waste, which will then lead to faster composting. Chat to any nursery about suitable worms to add to the compost – they love the dark and moist environment and they’ll play a vital part in breaking down the compost. You can also add a compost ‘activator’ to help turn the waste into compost in half the time.
You’ll know that your compost is ready when you have a dark brown soil-like layer with a spongy texture at the bottom of the container. Spread the compost onto resting paddocks, flower beds, bushes, shrubs or any other vegetation around the yard.
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