Is it really Day Four? Today's prompt is to teach everyone something I do well. You know what I do really, really well? Muck stalls. Especially straw. I really, really miss straw!
So, here you go!
The Tools: A straw fork is vital. I like to use a muck bucket as part of the process, and I have a spreader (alternately a wheelbarrow can be used). With a matted stall, you'll need a broom. I will also have a shavings fork handy. Wear a pair of gloves.
The Process: Start with the straw fork, and lift the unsoiled straw from the front of the stall into a pile elsewhere in the stall. Pick out the manure and soiled straw along the front - under the feed tub and water bucket. Sweep out this area, and move the clean straw you've collected to the front wall.
Carry on with the straw fork, continuing to lift the unsoiled straw, and add it to the "clean" pile. Remove the large piles of manure as you go (I use the muck bucket for this). Clear out the wet spot and load into the spreader. Use the shavings fork to scrape the bottom of the stall, once you've preserved the clean. Now sweep out the stall - any "clean" chaff can be swept into the wet spot.
If time allows, leave the stall open to dry until later. With the straw fork, distribute the clean straw you've saved evenly throughout the stall, leaving under the feed tub clean. Get a bale of straw, open, and if you've done a good job (and they horse isn't too messy!) you'll only need a third to a half bale. With the straw fork (or your hands, until you master the straw fork) shake up the flakes, over top of the old straw, for a fresh layer. As you shake, whack the straw with the fork to flatten it, creating an even "mat." Sweep back the doorway about a foot.
If you're bedding for a foaling mare, or you're just an over-achiever, bank the stall. That means shaking up a bank against the walls before creating your "mat." I then go around and, with the back of the fork, push the banked straw against the wall.
I have a photo somewhere of a stall at the track I'd bedded - it was the most beautiful bale of straw, so apparently I felt the need to photograph it! :-)
As this is probably the most boring post you will read on this blog...I'm going to go all the way and not include photos of any sort. I think we're all going to be glad when this week is over!