It is Done

Only just under 2 months after expected delivery date!!!

Since I’m so excited, here it is from a variety of angles!

Looking at it from the barn. (I have some trimming work to do, but I still consider it done because it is usable.)
Looking at it from the barn. (I have some trimming work to do, but I still consider it done because it is usable.)
And the other side
And the other side!
And from the deck
And from the deck!

O-M-G I am so excited!! I was becoming so excited and giddy, I started singing while dragging it, but luckily no one was harmed because the tractor noise drowned it out.

If only it hadn’t been late and getting dark when I finished, I would have rode immediately. I need to catch up on my riding.

Speaking of things that are delivered late, I just got a shipping notification for this item:

Capture

That expected delivery date is MARCH. I know all of you know this, but since apparently the company does not, it is SEPTEMBER now. Not only do I not need the gown anymore, I specifically contacted them when it failed to arrive, and then canceled the order. I guess they decided I needed it anyway, and now they are going to force it down my throat.

Since I’m sort of a collector/hoarder of evening gowns that I most certainly do not need (especially at those prices!!), I’ll probably end up keeping it, but I’ll definitely be complaining about this company the whole time, especially when I’m ordering more clothes from them.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, maybe this is some kind of sign that I need to have a fancy ball to celebrate my new ring. Why else would these two things happen on the same day?! The universe is trying to tell me something, and I am listening.

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The Saddest Face in the World

I have been slow to update, but I don’t have anything to talk about anyway. I didn’t even have a lesson this week because I had to go to a work meeting. Dang work, always interfering with my riding.

So all I have been doing is working on my arena (and sleeping). Last weekend, the arena was finally level enough to begin stage whatever, and I rolled out geotextile fabric, and that’s when Dave found me, covered in dirt and about ready to give up on life.

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Save money on makeup by doing your contouring with dirt!

Before the textile is unrolled, they weigh at least 100lbs. Obviously they get lighter as they go, but let’s be serious, I’m a woman with questionable strength so any weight is pushing it (it could be a pun because I was literally pushing the fabric out!). This was the hardest part of arena building so far, and it was made far, far worse when my stone dust arrived, because when the trucks dumped it, it created wind that blew all the fabric out of place. Womp womp.

Wrinkled fabric now has 50 tons of stone dust on top of it. Don't think it will be smoothed out anytime soon.
Wrinkled fabric now has 50 tons of stone dust on top of it. Don’t think it will be smoothed out anytime soon.

I tried to keep up with the stone dust delivery, but it came so fast that the piles snaked out into my pasture. Then it started raining, so I called off the delivery, as the trucks have to drive through my pasture to get to it, and things have a habit of sliding down my hill. Unfortunately, another truck arrived after I called it off, so they had to dump it in my front yard, where it’s lived for the past few days. I’m feeling pretty redneck right now.

You might be asking why it now lives there (or maybe not, but I’ll tell you anyway.) The bobcat had to be returned on July 29th, so now it’s just me and my seemingly puny tractor, that only has 1/3 the capacity to hold stuff in it’s bucket. It’s going to take a while to move all that stone dust, and I just haven’t felt up to it yet. So I guess what it comes down to, I’m really lazy. And really, every day, sleep just seems so much better.

In other news, I lost three chickens in the past two weeks. I think the universe heard me saying I had too many chickens and decided the best course of action was to rid me of some lovely hens instead of the excessive amount of roosters I have. A moment of silence for three sweet hens:

She's a casual chicken though, you can just call her Dora.
Dora, gentle hen that was always in the mood, if you get my drift. Hopefully this is not what caused her death.
Respoof, a silkie I never really made friends with because she's too shy. But she was always with her rooster love, and now he wanders alone and it's the saddest thing ever.
Re-Spoof, a silkie I never really made friends with because she’s too shy. But she was always with her rooster love, and now he wanders alone and it’s the saddest thing ever. Her name was ironically from another silkie I had that was killed named Spoof, so she was the new Spoof. It’s time to official retire Spoof and all variations of Spoof.
Nessie, who is missing feathers here because she used to have an abusive jerk of a rooster, but we got rid of him. Alternately friendly, and then scared of life. Behind her, the late Dora's fluffy little butt.
Nessie, who is missing feathers here because she used to have an abusive jerk of a rooster, but we got rid of him. Alternately friendly, and then scared of life. Behind her, the late Dora’s fluffy little butt.

And now a moments anger for my tiny jerk rooster who should have sacrificed himself for any one of these hens but did not, and instead chooses to attack my shoe.

IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU!!
IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU!!

And to give it a positive spin, Fluffers is still reigning Champion of Living, and is still the oldest hen I have, from the first group of chickens I ever owned.

I'm also pretty sure she could make it as a chicken model. There must be someone somewhere that needs to advertise something chicken related.
I’m pretty sure she could make it as a chicken model. There must be someone somewhere that needs to advertise something chicken related that’s not chicken flesh. Or she could do editorial!
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13 Hours in: The Arena Saga

It is time.

I decided to build my riding arena in July due to work obligations in June. On July 1st, my skid steer was delivered.

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It just wants to feel included!

Step one, which was by far the most annoying step because I hadn’t considered it prior, and it took the most physical labor, was removing all the random objects that accumulated in the arena over the past two years, things like jump standards, poles and a mounting block. It must have taken me at least 15 minutes to move it!

But it ended up working out, because since one of the horses had destroyed a portion of fencing months ago, I needed a way to lock the horses out of the work area.

My highly technical debris fence.
My highly technical debris fence. Pony mournfully watches me. Until now, I never knew how much they wanted to be in this pasture, as indicated by their constant staring at me over the fence.

I wasn’t able to start on July 1, because the skid steer had a password that they I didn’t get until later. July 2 and 3, I worked a total of 13 hours. It’s hard to work continuously on it, as the jerking motions and vibration of the handles make my body ache.

After one of my breaks, I headed back down and swarmed by chickens.

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The chicken swarm

Maybe you’ve been thinking to yourself, “I wonder what has happened to the teenage chickens that Courtney has?” Well, wonder no longer! I collectively call their group, The Khakis, even though two of the members aren’t khaki, but they don’t seem to mind. They are super sweet little things that run to me when they see me, and follow me around the yard.

Even to dangerous areas for chickens, like a construction site.

Khaki's investigate the arena.
The khaki’s investigate the arena.

The area above is where I spend nearly all of July 3, building a drain. The ground is especially hard to dig through there, but it’s so important to have proper drainage, so I suffered through.

And now…The Reveal!

The Before
The Before
13 hours in
13 hours in

To explain the picture fully, here’s a quick list of what changed:

  1. Scrapped down the left side hill to make a smoother, even edge
  2. Brought the far end of the arena back another 15 feet, put in a drain there
  3. Moved at least a ton of dirt to the right side of the arena, bring it out 15 feet on the far end, and 3 feet closer
  4. Scraped the grass off the top.

It doesn’t seem like a whole lot of progress, but to put it in perspective, I spent 50 hours (as measured by my tractor) building the arena in the first place. So we will see just how long it takes to build this.

Additionally, if you are thinking about doing this yourself, you should know that my terrain is terrible to work with. I literally cut into a hill to make this. If you are starting with flatter land, it really doesn’t take long. I’ll explain this further when I get to the stage where I’ll level out the arena.

Happy 4th everyone!!

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The Construction of the Riding Arena: Preliminary Research

I decided this is the year I will finish my riding arena. I do not enjoy having to ride on bare dirt and grass when I want to school my horses. Plus, rocks come out of the soil like weeds. How they emerge from the packed dirt, with no noticeable holes left, is a mystery to me. Perhaps they are being flown in and dropped like tiny bombs by the buzzards that like to hang out here.

When I first moved here, I searched the internet for advice on building my own riding arena. I found some, was confused by a lot, and slightly frustrated by a lack of personal accounts. People might have said they did it, but they described how they did it in a single paragraph, which left so many questions. I want to give a full story of what it takes to build an arena, all DIY.

The Backstory

When I first looked into this, the main thing I got from my research was that I needed a bobcat, and I needed to move a lot of dirt. I didn’t know how to operate a skid steer, but I went ahead and rented one anyway. I spent approximately 18 hours digging, and about 24 hours stuck in mud because I slid down a hill. Once I figured out how to (very easily) unstick it, my time with the skid steer was over. After that, I did about 50 hours of moving dirt with my little tractor. Using a skid steer is much more effective.

I got really sick of moving dirt, so eventually I declared the arena finished. We seeded the ground, and hoped for the best. I think this strategy was about 50% effective. I do have a flattish place to ride, but the ground is hard with it’s dry, or muddy when it’s wet, which drastically cuts back on my riding time. There is no fence around it, so I cut off one long side of the arena significantly, because my horses have no fear of trotting off into the oblivion. They think it’s amazingly fun to jump up and down the slope there.

So for all these reasons, it’s time to build a super serious arena.

Materials and Financials

The main reason for DIYing this, is definitely the cost. Last month I had a contractor come out and give me an estimate to finish the arena. He estimated 25k, and that did not include a fence around it. As much as I wanted to announce he’s hired and sign a check, there’s no way I can afford that. But when you break down the costs, it’s not an unreasonable cost for what he’s providing. The money I save will only be from the labor of doing it myself. Here is my breakdown of what I will need.

Stone Dust for the base: 180 tons at $37.99 a ton: $6,838.20

Skid Steer One Month Rental: $1370 + delivery cost +fuel

Railroad ties to keep in footing: Price seems to depend on if I can find free ones.

Geotextile Fabric: 3 rolls at $378.50: $1,135.50

Minimum total for materials: $9,343.70

The Negative Nancy

I think the benefits are obvious – a usable arena and a lower cost. But there’s always a downside. I will have to do the majority of the labor all by myself. Which, with a skid steer, isn’t that bad, but it’s still a consideration. I would only have the skid steer for one month, which puts me on a tight deadline. The majority of these materials must be ordered in advance, which means I have to trust that I can move all the dirt in a certain number of weeks, and be ready to accept the shipment of stone dust on a certain date. If the arena is not ready for stone dust, I’ll end up with a huge pile of stone dust in my yard, which will be time intensive to move. The geotextile fabric will have to be laid out before the stone dust gets here too, and I don’t even know how long it will take me to roll that out. AND I am positive the arena will be of lower quality than something a professional did, simply because I have limited experience with this.

It’s tempting just to tell the contractor to do it.

Conclusion

I want to do this in June. I will be checking into the logistics of making this a possibility and then I will update on when it’s going to happen.

Has anyone else built their own arena? Or perhaps tackled an extensive construction project?

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