Happy Earth Day – April 22nd. A great day on the West Coast and spend a lot of it in the dirt! Because I was home gardening, not because I “hit” the dirt!!
With so many articles on the net on how to make your barn more green and have less of a carbon “hoof” print, I am not going to rehash all of that information. But here is a little bit of what I do at my barn.
I have the energy efficient light bulbs, yes they stay on all day, but at least they last longer and energy efficient. I have a recycling box and everyone recycles – or I pick their cans/bottles out of the garbage because I have to take it all home to dispose of. I recycle the paper grain bags – (I sometimes wonder what my garbage/recycle man thinks – where the animals are that are begin fed this food? since I live in a suburb, not an agricultural area).
I have tried to compost manure, and well, there is just so much manure that I don’t think I made a dent in what still gets sent out. But I do know that what gets sent out is put in a composting dumpsite. We try to do our laundry all together and in the summer we can hang things up rather than put them in the dryer.
For weed control I use vinegar, the stronger one for pickling. Does a great job of killing weeds and is non-toxic. However, you have to do it when it is going to be dry for the next day or two or the rain dilutes it. You can use it diluted with a bit of water, but I use it full strength. Weeds stay away for a while, not as good as with chemicals. But this is cheaper and non-toxic!
Vinegar is also a good cleaner and good for cleaning buckets etc. Also a good bug repellent which are full of horrible chemicals. That is if you don’t mind your horse smelling like fish n chips. Other non-toxic things you can use are citronella oil to keep bugs away, tea tree oil for anti-fungal and anti-bacterial problems, and Bert’s Bees bees wax products instead of petroleum jelly for bit rubs.
Of course, a lot of the non-toxic more “natural” products are not as strong and may not work as well as the other products. So sometimes I still use things I know are not that great for the environment like bleach – diluted with water in a spray bottle is still my number one cleaner for stalls and my trailer for new/strange horses. It is also does a pretty good job to dry out thrush in your horses feet when it is really bad. Otherwise iodine and sugar works well, as does tea tree oil! On the “Wet West Coast”, we are all used to having to deal with thrush and scratches/mud fever.
I still use other hoof hardening products which MUST be full of bad stuff, which you can only guess by the smell. I also still use zinc oxide – for the bad mud fever. And if you can’t get bedding in bulk, you still have to deal with the copious number of plastic bags.
Happy Earth Day. Even if you make one small change in your life, it is still a step in the right direction.