Horse Life: Helps & Hacks

Published 8:13 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

Like most people with water troughs, I dump and clean mine regularly and, between cleanings, remove the inevitable hay bits, leaves, unfortunate bugs and anything else that ends up in there. For years I’ve used pet-store fish-nets for that chore, although they aren’t ideal. First, their shape is rectangular, which isn’t great for oval or round troughs, and second, the netting is so flimsy they really don’t last very long.

Then I broadened my knowledge of kitchen utensils as barn tools! First my sister gifted me a “skimmer” from a restaurant supply store (pictured in trough). Its total length is 22 inches and its shallow basket is 9 inches in diameter. At just under one pound total, it’s sturdy enough that you can use the edge of the basket to crack ice on your trough and use it to scoop out the pieces. And my sister’s been dealing with New Jersey ice in her trough so it should be able to handle anything we get in the Carolina foothills. (As I’m writing this in August, the idea of ice in a trough actually sounds refreshing.)

Shortly after getting the skimmer, I was in the Charlotte IKEA’s dishware and utensils section and came across a handled sieve (hanging on left). Its basket has a finer mesh than the skimmer does so it’s great for dipping out the tiniest bugs, remnants of beet pulp and, I swear, even floating pollen.

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My sister bought the skimmer at a New Jersey restaurant supply for $3.50, and I paid $2.99 for the IKEA sieve. Both have handles that lend themselves to loops of hay-string so they can be hung on a post to dry. 

Note: We’ll be running Horse Life Help & Hacks regularly in Appointments, so please share those you’ve dreamed
up or borrowed by email to