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GoldRush 02-03-2010 12:16 PM

A Beet Pulp Safety Warning...
 
Beet Pulp Safety Warning (aka the famous squirrel story)

People that are into equine nutrition are notorious for spending their time doing the oddest things. While everyone else has normal nightmares about finding themselves riding in the World Equestrian Games stark naked past the press corps, nutrition people fret over whether their carefully thought-out recommendations will make the difference between Muffy the Superhorse winning his next competition in fame and glory, or falling into a dead faint somewhere between being saddled and the starting line. In the end, the finer points of nutrition often make zero difference, however, because you generally find out that:

a) Muffy won't even touch your carefully crafted ration, much preferring to eat his bedding, the vet's fingers and anything from the Taco Bell menu;
b) the moment you finish calculating the Perfect Equine Ration featuring Aunt Tilly's Super Horsey Yums Yums, the feed company goes out of business or is indicted on environmental pollution charges;
c) it's all irrelevant, anyway, because the barn manager's favorite phrase is "Well, we've always fed this way for sixty years and hardly ever lose more than a horse a month to colic", and steadfastly refuses to feed anything at all other than His Very Own Secret Recipe, featuring lawn clippings, glazed doughnuts and something that smells a lot like latex.
However, evey now and then, you stumble across a feed that horses actually like (at least, after that initial suspicious, "You're trying to poison me, aren't you?" look), is wonderfully nutrititious, cheap to feed and still Obscure and Mysterious enough that people feel like they're really on The Cutting Edge in feeding it to Muffy. Beet pulp is like that, and for a long time I thought the only disadvantage to it was the minor inconvenience of having to soak it before feeding. Some folks skip that part, but others revel in making sure everyone else in the barn knows just how conscientious and detail-minded they are about Muffy's nutritional well-being.
However, eventually I knew the true downside to beet pulp would show up, and thought it only fair that I pass it along...
This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of exactly how much they expanded in volume during the soaking process. Academic types are like that, pathetically easy to amuse and desperately in need of professional help. I knew they expanded quite a bit, because the first time I'd innocently added water to a five-pound bucket of beet pulp, I'd come back later to find my feed room practically awash in beet pulp, providing a breakfast that every horse within a five mile radius still remembers with fond nostalgia. So in the interest of scientific curiousity, I trundled in a bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Research in action.
Well, in our ongoing quest to turn this house into Noah's Ark, we have not only four horses, three dogs, four neurotic cats, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads, we also have William. William is a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a blind and hairless baby two years ago and whom the vet promptly handed off to the only person he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle of Esbilac into her bookbag. Actually, the trick wasn't in keeping such a tiny creature warm, fed and clean---it was keeping a straight face and looking as mystified as everyone else when William woke up hungry and started pipping for his bottled like a very small, slightly muffled alarm clock. Invariably, this usually occurred while I was standing in line at the post office, picking up a pizza for dinner or on one memorable occasion, taking a final exam in biochemistry. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since.
http://www.shady-acres.com/susan/squirl1a.jpg And for those of you that think A Squirrel's Place is In The Wild, don't think we didn't try that...his first Christmas, we thought we'd give him his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel by letting him play in the undecorated Christmas tree. His reaction was to shriek in horror, scutter frantically across the floor and go try to hide underneath the nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy's shirt and peering suspiciously out at the sinister world.
So much for the re-make of Born Free in San Dimas. So secure is he about his place in the world that on more than one occasion, I've caught him sitting on his fat, smug little bottom, making faces out the windown at our neighborhood (very frustrated) red-tailed hawk---like as not clutching a cashew in one paw and a bit of mango in the other.
Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will go to to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving him a handful of almonds to go happily cram under cushions and into sleeping dog's ears was sufficent entertainment for the afternoon. After all, when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her I Have Almonds And You Don't. So much for blind optimism.
http://www.shady-acres.com/susan/squirl2a.jpg Apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets became fair game and I can only imagine the little rat finding that great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to hide away All That Food. The problem isn't quite so much that I now have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every corner of my house, it's that as far as I can tell, the soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is going to stop it.
So when I come back from the grocery store, not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly Fulfilled squirrel sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house smells a lot like a Jamaican feed mill and virtually every orifice is crammed full of beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink drain, the fish tank filter, in my undie drawer, in the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the pockets of my bookbag. Not to mention that in enthusiastically stuffing beet pulp into the air holes of the little box that hold live crickets for the toad's dinner, William managed to open it up and free several hundred crickets into the living room. It's not that I mind crickets springing to and fro, it's just that it sounds a lot like an Evening in the Amazon Rain Forest in here. The cats, on the other hand, have never had such a marvelous time steeplechasing after stray crickets back and forth over the furniture, crunching up the spoils of the hunt (which wouldn't be so bad if they would just chew with their mouths closed), and sicking up the more indigestible parts onto the rug.
I simply can't WAIT to turn on the furnace and find out what toasting beet pulp smells like.
The good news is that in case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of this stash, I get a hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that I'm ruining all his hard work and now he's going to starve this winter. (This is despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows how to open the macademia nut can all by himself and has enough of a tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)
So in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living room full. I'd write this new data up and submit it as a case study paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the practical applications may be limited.
Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again. Copyright Susan Evans Garlinghouse 1997.

dressagebelle 02-03-2010 03:51 PM

Lol nice. I was actually reading a nutrition book, as I'm interested in making sure my horses get the right food, in the most natural way possible, and it actually said that beet pulp does not actually need to be soaked as it does not spend enough time in the stomach to expand and cause problems, as long as the horse is fed right. It did surprise me, because I had always been told that beet pulp had to be soaked overnight or the horse would end up having serious digestive problems. And of course the "people overgrain their horses" which I'm sure is true, I did it with my Thoroughbred under the guise of "she needs all that in order to keep weight on". On a different note, but still related to your article, I used to have a rat that I would let run around my room and her favorite place to hide things was under my dresser. I can remember always wondering where in the world half of my stuff went, crayons in particular were her specialty, and after she died, and I rearranged my room, I found so many things I forgot I even had lol. I would have moved the dresser sooner, but much like your guy, as soon as I tried to move the dresser or grab stuff from underneath, she would get quite upset. Do you have any more pics of your guy. I'd love to see them.

Indyhorse 02-03-2010 06:08 PM

OMG *cracking up*

I have bottle raised a couple squirrel pups in my day and can readily identify. Lovely story - thanks for posting it!

Walkamile 02-03-2010 06:08 PM

GoldRush, if you are not currently employed as a writer, you should consider it! I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack! I am talking full out arm waving , head shaking, gasping for breath reaction!

Thanks for the laugh of the day!

(hope William forgives you for cleaning out his stashes!)

wild_spot 02-03-2010 06:13 PM

I saw this a few years ago - Hilarious!

ShutUpJoe 02-03-2010 07:07 PM

That was pretty good. lol

thunderhooves 02-03-2010 09:42 PM

that was awesome!lol! now i want a squirrel........... :) haha

Plains Drifter 02-03-2010 10:14 PM

OMG!! LOL! I loved it!

snoggle 02-04-2010 01:15 PM

Oh my god, that is hilarious.

I saw that it was copyrighted, where did you find that?

GoldRush 02-05-2010 11:32 AM

My sister is a friend of Sue's, and sent it to me. Sue is a hilarious horsewoman, and she writes great articles. Google her name, and you will find lots of different horse forums she writes for!


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