Tuesdays with Tony – Electricity

Tuesdays with Tony – Electricity

First and foremost I need to apologize to all of you, my loyal followers for posting this late. I got caught up in finalizing my Christmas Wish List so my minions know exactly what to get me this year, to ensure I don’t receive the same lame bag of treats…..again (that I don’t even like). So here it goes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Vurgason’s horse, Smokey, at the clinic last week. I couldn’t help but notice a scar right in the middle of his forehead. I asked how it happened, and he told me that a few years back, he reared up and hit his head on a light fixture. Inspired to prevent the same injury in other horses at our practice, I decided to address this issue in my famed weekly blog. 

Barns aren’t always the safest place, trust me, I know……I live in one….and horses are accident-prone. I think we’ve clearly established that. But my staff here at at Springhill Equine does everything they can to keep it up to standard and make sure all of us critters are secure once they leave for those long lonely hours when the sun goes down. When building or rebuilding a barn, corners are often cut to save money. But when the safety of your horses is at stake, you really don’t want to be cutting corners.

Electricity is pretty awesome. I do enjoy lights, heat, and playing with tangled wires on the floor, especially this time of year. But it’s also dangerous. Other things that are dangerous: glass and mercury gas. Combine these three and what do you get? Fluorescent light fixtures! And yet, what do you think are the most common lights we see in horse barns? That’s right: unprotected long tubes of glass filled with mercury. The same that scarred poor Smokey’s face.  

A few decades ago, fluorescent technology was all the rage.  But since then the technology has been far surpassed by LED, especially in terms of efficiency. Plus, the gasses used with fluorescents can be quite dangerous. If you don’t believe me, take a peek at the EPA’s  instructions on discarding fluorescent bulbs. I’m just thankful I have people for that and wouldn’t have to get my delicate paws dirty. With more efficient LED lights, you will ultimately save money, while protecting the environment at the same time! Who doesn’t love that? 

If you have fluorescent tube lights in your barn, I highly recommend replacing them.  Unless you like lacerations and toxic gas…..  If that’s your thing maybe you should consider unsubscribing from my blog.  But if you are concerned about safety, there are things you can do to improve the situation.  If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend at least purchasing tube covers for the bulbs.  Or cages for the fixtures. Relocate the fixtures to above the area where your horse can reach if they rear up.  Or, replace them completely.

Dr Vurgason’s other half can install light fixtures with a solid glass shell protector over the bulb and a metal cage protecting the glass shell.  You can put any bulb into these fixtures, although LED is always the way to go.  LEDs are much cooler than fluorescent lights, reducing the risk of combustion, and they are sturdier since they are made with epoxy lenses, not glass which is much more resistant to breakage. They have a longer life expectancy, are more energy efficient, have close to no UV emissions, will operate in extremely hot or cold conditions, instantly light, and have low-voltage. With this combination, and professional wiring, you can rest at ease knowing your horses (and more importantly barn cats) are safe and your barn is using less energy (which your wallet will appreciate too). You’re welcome. We all know those equids cost you owners much more than us superior felines do. I just don’t get humans sometimes.

So with everyone getting in the holiday spirit (including me and my staff) please keep my wise words in mind and be aware of your surroundings.

Until next week,

Tony twt-electricity

Tuesdays with Tony – The 21st Century Barn

Tuesdays with Tony – The 21st Century Barn

Let me just start off by saying that despite it being the 21st century and all, a barn cat is still the best way to keep the rodent population down.  But there are areas where the fancy gizmos and gadgets of 2016 can really benefit the modern horse farm.  I had always thought that most of this stuff wasn’t anywhere near affordable until I crunched the numbers myself and converted Kitty Coin currency to American Dollars.
Everyone likes barn work (I guess?), but what are the jobs that you just wish were a little bit easier?  Do you get tired of dragging out the garden hose, standing in the sun filling up the buckets, and rolling the hose back up twice a day?  Well for one, I don’t know why you don’t have the water spigot closer to the buckets, but secondly, you could have the water monitored by a ‘smart’ watering and monitoring system.  BTW, calling these automated devices ‘smart’ is just as brilliant as calling an owl wise.  Again, it’s your feline friend that is the master mouse hunter.  But regardless of what we are calling it, smart watering systems are only the beginning.
Ever heard the bang of thunder at 2am and are fighting the inner conflict of laziness verse desire to check on your horses?  Well, you could stay in bed and look at the barn cameras right on your ‘smart’ phone or tablet.
Did your horse miss an afternoon shower and need to cool off?  You can have a misting area in your barn or paddock to cool down your equine friend.
Wondering if that mosquito that just bit you was carrying the Zika virus?  Worry not because you didn’t get bitten, you had an automated fly repellent system.
Traveling the national show circuit but concerned about the retired horse back home who doesn’t like the heat?  Install some new high-efficiency paddle fans.  Don’t want to leave them on and run up the electric bill?  I did say “high-efficiency”, but still you can have them turn on and off automatically when horses are present through occupancy sensors.
Have you ever walked into your tack room and thought you entered a walk-in-freezer?  Or worse, a sauna?  No problem, you can monitor and control the room temperature remotely and prevent anybody but you from making any adjustments.
Kept up at night by the thought of a barn fire or other natural disaster?  That’s why there are smoke, fire, gas, and unfriendly tomcat detection systems that can alert you, as well as fire suppression systems and breakaway gates to minimize damage in such a tragic event.
You left the barn lights on and already got into your kitty print PJs?  No problem.  You have a lighting control system and have a button to shut the whole barn down right in your bedroom.
You have to walk all the way to the corner of the paddock to call one of our veterinarians because your horse cut himself and you don’t get good service at the barn?  Why not install a cell phone booster?  Or hey!  Bring WiFi out to the barn then you can use WiFi calling (check your carrier for rates and compatibility) or browse FaceBook because you still haven’t gotten an automated water bucket and are standing there with a hose!
Ah, the 21st century.  I think I’ve only scratched the surface with the many things we can do that my parents sure couldn’t in their day.  Now if I can just convince the doctors we need a 4K TV in the office….
– Tony