Favorite Barn Tools

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Every barn has some standard stall cleaning equipment. There will be a broom or rake for the aisle floor, wheelbarrow or small dump wagon to lug manure in and of course, a manure fork.

Manure forks come in many versions. They can be all plastic or they can be a combo of metal and wood. The tines may be closely set or they may be farther apart. That setting may vary with whether you are cleaning up after draft horses or miniature horses.

The reality is that you will spend some time virtually every day with your pitchfork. You may barely get to say hi to your horse after you feed and water him and turn him out but you have a steady date with that fork. Every day without fail you will be hoisting manure out of the stall.

We have two manure forks. One was a Christmas present to me that has bright red metal tines. The point was that we would then have two manure forks so both my husband and I or the kids could do stalls at the same time. I like that fork ? I truly do. And I thought it was a clever gift idea.

But my heart belongs to the other manure fork. The metal tines have long lost any glossy paint. It is not rusted ? simply the patina of many, many years of wear and work. The wood is smooth under my hands and just ?feels right.? The other fork has lighter colored wood and feels nice too, but it is just not the same.

?My? manure fork and I have spent many hours together. We have cleaned up after horses at my parents? house in Massachusetts and now my small farm in upstate New York. I have scooped up manure from my first horse - a wonderful part Arabian - to a top event horse I was loaned and many others in between. The fork didn't discriminate between my crazy but talented Thoroughbred mare and my beautifully trained Morgan/Appaloosa cross.

Currently the fork helps me with an Arabian, an Appaloosa, a Quarter Horse, a donkey and a miniature horse. I even use it to strip the sheep and duck stalls. It is balanced perfectly for me despite some aging (mostly on my part). I have never gotten a blister form my fork or at least not that I remember.

Together we have spent hours doing what often serves as a stress reliever for horse lovers ? simply working in the barn. At times messy stalls may seem overwhelming; especially in the dead of winter. Still, the feeling of satisfaction when you bring a horse into a freshly cleaned stall with clean bedding is immense.

Funny, I have never gotten attached to my vacuum cleaner and a clean house just doesn't do the same things for my soul that a clean barn does!