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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

The true shake down cruise for Frog started after leaving Oregon. We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce information office in Crescent City, CA. Yet another helpful person at the desk insisted that we must see the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. Since I have an unquenchable thirst for anything having to do with the Mountain Man Era (see my book Man Hunt) I decided it was something Charlize and I needed to do.

“You don’t have to go back to the intersection of 101 and 197 to get there. You can take this back road in.” He showed me on a map and I was sold, I hate to backtrack.

“It’s about fifteen miles of gravel but you can make it with your truck, it’s a four-by-four isn’t it?”

“Yeah… sounds good, we’ll give it a try,” I replied.

It was not a gravel road. It was a single lane of mud and dirt, with huge, water-filled potholes and sixteen miles of curves, switchbacks, up and down and around and weaving through massive redwood trees that disdained moving out of our way.

About five miles in a nice lady park ranger sitting in a jeep waved us to a stop.

“There’s a sign back there that says ‘trailers not advised’.

“Whoops,” I responded, “guess I was too busy trying to keep this rig on the road and didn’t see it. Anyplace near where I can turn this outfit around?”

She looked long and hard at Old Blue and Frog, almost forty feet of combined length and shook her head.

“Don’t think so, you best take it slow and easy.”

“If I get stuck or wrecked do I call 911?”

“No use, no cell phone service out here. We’ll find you…eventually.” She smiled sweetly.

“Brilliant… OK…hope I don’t see you again today.”

She smiled again. “Hope not.”

We made it, but everything bounced out of the cabinet above the stove and out of the netted shelf over the sink. All the contents of the drawers were rearranged, but no permanent damage done and all the various systems continue to function.

Inside Frog is efficient, similar to a nice sailboat capable of accommodating a couple of people comfortably. The door is located on the passenger side of Old Blue, in front of the trailer’s wheels. There is a handrail that folds back against the cabin and a pullout stair that enable me to climb in, albeit clumsily.

Through the door, to the immediate right, is an odd sized bed, forty-four inches wide and seventy-two inches long, wider than a twin bed but more narrow than a double. The length fills the entire six feet width of Frog so at a little over six feet two inches I sleep on the diagonal. Originally there were built-in bunk beds with no more than eighteen inches between them. Before I bought Frog I told the dealer I wanted the top bunk removed and they did. The mattress lays directly on a plywood platform, with some rather inaccessible storage underneath. One has to take the mattress out to make the bed. When I get home I’ve got some renovations to do to make the bed and storage under it more accessible and useful.

To the immediate left through the door is the kitchen cabinet. It houses a two-burner LP gas stovetop and a small sink. There are two overhead cabinets, another cabinet under the stove and three drawers under the sink.

Across a two-foot space from the stove top is the head, a very small sink, a shower and a toilet all plastic, all waterproof, all functional but a tight fit for a person as big as me. Across the same small space from the sink there is an eye-level cabinet that houses a combination microwave/convection oven and a lot of Frog’s mechanical equipment; hot-water heater, furnace, clean water tank, etc.

At the back end of the cabin is a U-shaped bench with a small table. The table can be lowered and the back cushions of the bench used to make another odd sized bed for two small people or one normal sized. Charlize is careful to keep clear of me and avoids getting stepped on. It’s cramped but cozy. Our home on the road.

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This behavior is known as “cribbing”. There is evidence that cribbing releases chemicals in the brain known as endorphins. Some horses learn to arch their neck and swallow air without needing to grasp an object with their teeth, but this is rare. Some horses will also get into a habit of chewing wood.

Cribbing can result in several unhealthy outcomes. Grasping and pulling on hard objects can wear down the teeth or damage them. The pulling motion, if frequent and intense, can result in abnormal neck muscle development. Some claim that pain (from colic or ulcers) causes cribbing. Horses that crib do seem to have a higher frequency of colic and ulcers than the normal horse population. However, research suggests that horses fed grain rather than pasture and/or those fed 1 or 2 times per day rather than multiple times, are more likely to get ulcers or colic. I believe colic does not cause cribbing and cribbing does not cause colic, but both can be the result of unnatural feeding.

Cribbing is a compulsive habit, probably the result of boredom and/or anxiety. Not all bored or anxious horses will develop this habit but is most common in horses kept in their stalls, or small enclosures, for long periods without adequate mental stimulation. If a horse cribs, other horses may copy the behavior. Once the habit becomes ingrained, it can be difficult to correct. Because cribbing releases endorphins in the brain, it is, effectively, a drug addiction. As with any drug addiction, kicking the habit is hard. Here are some recommended treatments:

1) Provide mental stimulation, additional exercise, training, etc. Occupy more of the horse’s time.

2) Remove the horse to a more enjoyable environment such as a pasture with other horses. Providing pasture time will usually reduce the frequency and intensity of cribbing, but may not stop it.

3) Paint the objects that the horse grabs with something that tastes unpleasant. This is most effective when combined with providing lots of pasture time. There are a number of products designed for this purpose as well as many home made recipes. Make sure that what you use is not poisonous.

4) If your horse cribs on fences, putting an electric wire along the top of the rails might work.

5) Fit the horse with a cribbing strap. This collar will prevent, or make it uncomfortable for the horse to swell its neck to suck in air.

6) Calming medication, usually anti-depressants, but I don’t support behavior modification with drugs.

7) Fit the horse with a special muzzle that allows it to eat but not to grasp with his front teeth. I have seen something like this but have no idea where to find one.

8) A last resort is surgery to cut the muscles used to arch the neck.

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