A short re-wind to yesterday first: I was feeding Cookie her evening meal when I saw steam coming from the new round bale I got on Tuesday. At first I thought it was dust, but when I kept pulling the hay, more and more came wafting upwards and dissipating. I pulled off my glove and shoved my hand in between the layers to find very hot hay. I became alarmed because I have always heard there is a possibility of hay spontaneously combusting. Moving into alert mode, I put a call in to my hay supplier, my sister, and the fire department. The temperature of the hay (that I could reach to test) was 115-120 degrees. I decided to do a google search and though some of the information was a bit conflicting, in general that temp is O.K. but if it rises to 150 degrees, you've either got a fire in the middle of the bale, or it's on its way to becoming one. Rather than take any chances, my neighbor helped me roll this 1000 + lb bale out into the open, away from trees and structures so it could "sweat" and prayerfully not catch on fire. I'll continue to monitor it today and will continue to do so for the next several weeks. If you didn't know, hay can take months to "cure" or stop sweating completely.
Now on to today. I had to think about how I am going to handle this situation because Cookie has open access to this bale of hay. I have an exit plan in place should there be an emergency so that takes a small load off of my mind. The other issue I face is with Cookie. Keeping an eye on her so she doesn't colic or founder due to being able to free feed off of this bale. The plan I have thus far is to exercise her every morning when it's cool, bring her in and hose her off if she gets hot and wait about 20 minutes before turning her loose so she won't just go and eat right after exercising.
This morning it wasn't all that cool. The humidity was quite high and the temperature was rising quickly so our workout was kept to just 30 minutes. We walked down to the lot we use and thankfully a breeze was blowing. Well, on one hand it was wonderful, on the other it made Cookie high as a kite. lol
We started out walking in both directions and then up to a trot. I didn't want her to get overheated so we didn't go any faster although the blowing plastic bag didn't help keeping her in check. Then we walked over to the ditch to walk up and down the ditch and something caught her eye. A cat. It was down the street, quite a ways from us and I suppose she thought it was a huge monster making its way toward us, and instead it kept going on its merry way in the other direction. Then her ear and eye caught a man down at the end of another street on a lawn mower. As you can tell her concentration was 0 at that point.
I asked her to move forward and instead she pinned her ears and backed up stomping her front feet. Ugh! <sigh> Ok! Take a breath, relax. I asked her to "come up". She came up and I asked her to move forward towards the ditch. NOPE! Ear pin, back up, and stomp feet. Grr... Ok. When I stepped forward towards the ditch, she took off across the ditch like something had popped her butt. When she got to the other side she caught sight of these cement blocks on the side of a building and started blowing at them. We walked across the street, down the ditch and right up to them so she could smell what they were.
I asked her then if she was alright now and could we get back to work before it got hotter. lol! Back across the street and I pushed her forward and around me. Now we got down to business for 3 full circles. Then comes the plastic bag. (Inert face slap here.) She wanted to jump straight up when it got closer to her and she did flinch a bit. She stuck her head down to that bag, smelled it and just stood there while it blew all around her legs. I could tell she didn't like it, but she wasn't about to move. Finally the bag went on and we finished our ditch work with 2 more circles.
When we got home, Cookie wasn't breathing hard or really sweating (even though I was drenched) but I took her splint boots off, hosed her down, and lunged her at the walk for about ten inutes both ways until her breathing was completely normal and her skin was cool to the touch. She was still wet from the hose, but I put her fly boots on and turned her loose anyway, so that she could roll or eat or whatever she wanted to do.
I re-checked the temperature of the hay, made sure Cookie had cool water, and then went and sat down to cool off myself. All in all, it's been quite the eventful day.
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