I hope that by the time this issue comes out, we'll be on the road heading west. We'd planned to be gone from the cold, snowy north in November, but sometimes best-laid plans must be put aside for family obligations. It's now February, the snow is piled high, and the temperatures have been very low.
I keep checking the temperature out in Arizona, where we were last year at this time, and I groan as I see it in the 60s. I've been busy helping other folks plan their vacations. On a computer disk, I have places to stop overnight on all the major highways going west. If you're planning a trip and need horse-friendly places to stay along the way, let me know which highway you'll be traveling on, and I'll e-mail you a list. (Our email address is below.) Just remember that when we're on the road, I don't get a chance to check email every day. But I'll answer as soon as I can hook up the laptop.
Last fall, Garth and I did some work on the trailer. Our horses were biting each other, so we made a divider out of plastic snow fence and installed it on the top part of our metal straight-load divider. The fence divider is lightweight, easy to remove if necessary, and cost efficient.
We also closed off the horse area, as I was getting nervous about all the stuff we'd put on the floor and in front of the horses' heads. If we had an accident and the trailer tipped, all that stuff would fly around, possibly injuring a horse.
To create more room to hang up our possessions, we put in a plywood wall, and I coated it with polyurethane. With the new wall in place, we not only have more places to hang our stuff, we also have a mid-trailer tack/bathroom area. To finish the area, we added insulation and paneling to the ceiling and two outside walls. Now we have a place for the potty chair. We use the kind that features a bucket and seat set on a metal frame with hand rails. It's easy to clean - we just carry the bucket, lid on, to the camp toilet and dump.
Now I want to install a cowboy shower - that is, one that takes very little space when not in use, can be used anywhere, and doesn't need to be hooked up to water or electric. We've looked at a ZODI model, which heats water with portable propane tank. With a four-gallon water-storage container, a battery-operated water pump, and eight-foot shower hoses, you're set for a 10-minute shower. The price for this shower is around $130.
On the other hand, Kmart sells a battery-operated water pump and a shower hose for $20 in its camping department. I have a big enamel four-gallon pot and a one-burner propane unit. With this setup, it'd take a little longer to heat the water but the end result would be the same - a hot shower! And when the shower isn't in use, we could store it in the pot. I decided to go this low-cost route.
For storage, I bought some vinyl mesh bags at the Dollar Store that are designed to hang in a shower stall. I hung two in the closet - one for Garth, and one for me. I also put one on each door in the tack area to hold brushes, hoof picks, fly spray, etc.
I found a larger hanging storage bag at Old Time Pottery that holds soap, shampoo, a razor, and a towel. If we're at a camp that has shower facilities, we can just take the bag with us, and everything is handy.
I also bought two popup mesh laundry hampers at the Dollar Store. They take up little space when folded and are lightweight. They work great for toting that load of dirty laundry to the laundromat. And when the laundry is done, you can fold the clothes, stack them neatly back in the hamper, and tote them back to the trailer. I also use one to carry our dogs' food, toys, and leashes.
Lastly, I bought a small popup container made for kids' toys. I use it in the car to store maps, a flashlight, dog and people treats, etc. Everything is contained and won't roll around under the seat.
Before I sign off, I want to apologize to Valerie Pieper who was mistakenly identified as Natalie Pieper in the March/April '05 issue. I don't know where that came from - there must've been gremlins in the computer. TTR
Kathy Rumsmoke, 67 Stewart Rd., Horseheads, NY 14845; (607) 594-2191; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.garthandkathy.com.