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pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:43 PM
We buried my mule in a pasture June 24th of this year. I just walked out there and it's caved? in about a foot. There are horses out there and tracks all over it and I have a horror of the whole thing caving in and having to try to drag a horse out!! I need to do something?? What?
More dirt? Rocks? The last few weeks we're getting the only real rain we've had since we buried him so I guess that's added to it. Dang I hate this!

Laurierace
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:47 PM
Its supposed to settle, thats why you see fresh graves with big mounds on them. I would add quite a bit more dirt and keep an eye on it regularly to see if it needs more.

Simkie
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:48 PM
Did you mound up the dirt over the grave, or did you level it out?

It's sinking because the carcass is decomposing. As it does so, it really decreases in size, so the dirt over it drops to fill the space. You'll need to add more dirt on top.

pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:52 PM
Did you mound up the dirt over the grave, or did you level it out?

It's sinking because the carcass is decomposing. As it does so, it really decreases in size, so the dirt over it drops to fill the space. You'll need to add more dirt on top.

I wasn't there when they buried him (stayed with him til then but couldn't handle the burial) and was very upset because they leveled it out and I didn't know the exact spot. Now I do for sure. Does anyone think there is any danger of a horse stepping on that and it falling on in? My husband said they buried him VERY deep.

monstrpony
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:53 PM
This is normal. If the backhoe guy had much experience, he would have mounded up the grave, and then warned you that this would happen. In fact, mounding doesn't prevent it entierly--they always miss the exact spot that it will sink to some degree. But it WILL NOT cave in entirely, so don't worry about that. You probably want to fill in some dirt on the sunken part, but it can wait till spring, or at least better weather. The other animals will not sink, nor should they be inclined to dig or anything like that.

This happens because the decomposition gasses and bodily fluids have left the carcass and dissipated into the ground (which filters out any bad bacteria very effectively, so don't worry about that, either). It does not mean that there is an empty cavity in the ground, because all of the solid matter of the carcass is still there. Because of the depth that it is burried, and the fact that it IS burried, this is a completely natural process and there is nothing harmful about it as long as it isn't in an underground spring, or close to a water source or anything.

Hope that helps, and isn't TMI.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:53 PM
Something I remember from a 7th grade field trip is you can find old graves where the wooden marker has rotted or where there never was a marker by keeping an eye out for grave sized depressions.

Soil which has been dug out of a hole and then replaced compacts more than undisturbed soil, so you end up with the depression. Which means I really doubt you need to worry about the horse falling through. Though if you think I didn't squawk at the person who drove the tractor over the fresh (Sept) pony grave in my field, picturing the horror of exploding pony carcass, you would be wrong! I'm pretty positive that we're both safe, mind you, but it is a vivid badness to imagine!:eek:

pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 12:59 PM
Thank you all so much. These posts make me feel much better. I was pretty upset when I saw that it seemed to drop like that so quickly. Thank heavens for this group, you are very appreciated.

Watermark Farm
Dec. 16, 2008, 01:12 PM
Please fill in the depression with more dirt and rocks if you have horses loose in the same area! I am going to tell you a horror story......The first horse we buried at our farm, we did not mound the dirt properly. That winter, after tons of rains, I was trying to find the grave, and stepped on it, and SUNK almost to my waist in the loose mud/dirt of the grave. I screamed bloody murder. Someone pulled me out. My boots are still down there. We then topped the grave off with several feet of baserock as we were worried about a horse getting stuck. Now we mound the graves! So sorry about your mule!

pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 01:23 PM
Please fill in the depression with more dirt and rocks if you have horses loose in the same area! I am going to tell you a horror story......The first horse we buried at our farm, we did not mound the dirt properly. That winter, after tons of rains, I was trying to find the grave, and stepped on it, and SUNK almost to my waist in the loose mud/dirt of the grave. I screamed bloody murder. Someone pulled me out. My boots are still down there. We then topped the grave off with several feet of baserock as we were worried about a horse getting stuck. Now we mound the graves! So sorry about your mule!
I will take the horses out of there for my own peace of mind. What a horrible thing to happen to you. I stepped on this grave just to see and didn't sink any although we've had lots of rain and the grave is on a flat that is at the bottom of a slope. It wasn't muddy..just sunken. I'll go gather rocks (we have plenty of those) and then when the weather is better mound dirt on it. I WISH they had mounded that when they did it. My dh Probably told them not to..probably thought it would look better. Thanks. Thank you for the sympathy, too. It was hard. I'd had him thirty one years, since he was two.

pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 01:51 PM
Just went and talked to the guy who did the grave for us. He said if it's not raining tomorrow he will come with a bobcat and dig some dirt and put it on the grave.
I'm thinking mess here but at least it will be taken care of.
Thanks to everyone again.

4whitefeet
Dec. 16, 2008, 02:27 PM
Just so that you will be aware that it could be a year or more before the grave settles completely. So it maybe a good idea to put up a temporary fence so the horses will not walk over the grave and cause further damage. :no:
We just buried my 35 y/o asb mare last month and I will leave the fence up surrounding her grave untill at least the spring of 2010. :cry:

I am sorry for the loss of your mule.:(

SmartAlex
Dec. 16, 2008, 02:51 PM
We buried my mom's broodmare in the yard between the barn and the arena. The following fall, the three year old I was riding got silly over the mud puddle at the gate of the arena, whirled around, headed for the barn, and fell in the soft grave up to his stifles. I rolled off unhurt, but he was pretty badly strained, and he still favors one stifle now and then. So, fill it with rocks and dirt. They are very soft for a year or more, and you don't want anyone getting hurt.

pj
Dec. 16, 2008, 03:26 PM
Just so that you will be aware that it could be a year or more before the grave settles completely. So it maybe a good idea to put up a temporary fence so the horses will not walk over the grave and cause further damage. :no:
We just buried my 35 y/o asb mare last month and I will leave the fence up surrounding her grave untill at least the spring of 2010. :cry:

I am sorry for the loss of your mule.:(
I'm sorry for your loss of your mare, too. It's hard anytime but especially when you have them for so long. Guess you get to thinking they'll be there forever. :(

Smartalex, I'm really glad you weren't hurt and your horse wasn't hurt too badly.

My husband suggested that the bobcat guy could get dirt from another pasture where it's piled up from where he had a pond dug. It'll take longer but I guess that will be best. there's lots of dirt and we won't be digging around in a pasture. I think I'll get him to really make a pile. Would really like to forever be able to know exactly where my John is. I know it's silly but it really did upset me when I couldn't tell the exact spot where he was. I just wanted to know.

draftdriver
Dec. 16, 2008, 03:32 PM
Just so that you will be aware that it could be a year or more before the grave settles completely. So it maybe a good idea to put up a temporary fence so the horses will not walk over the grave and cause further damage.(

This is exactly what I did. I've left it for a couple of years now. Next spring, after thaw, I plan to level the area.

My sympathies on the loss of your mule.

caballus
Dec. 16, 2008, 04:10 PM
Just for info ... should always pile up a mound that is high/deep enough so it would cover your horse's body if it were on top of the ground. Seems pretty big at first but then it will settle in nicely.

goodhors
Dec. 16, 2008, 09:40 PM
Our mound was over 4ft high on the grave, sank in a foot deep by spring. We added more dirt above level and drove the machine over to pack it well.

I was also worried about how sticky the dirt would be, ours is mostly clay. I could just see someone stepping on it, sinking a foot or more into the dirt!! No one was turned out there for a long time. Dirt did grow in well after being seeded for summer and stayed firm.

Sorry about your mule.

LLDM
Dec. 17, 2008, 07:47 AM
Although there is a little weirdness factor, it's a completely natural process. That doesn't stop it from bring up all your emotions again though.

I had my pony club horse for almost 30 years too, so I know what a huge void it leaves in your life. But darn, how lucky were we? 30 years - no one gets that, you know. <Hugs>

SCFarm

pj
Dec. 17, 2008, 10:40 AM
Although there is a little weirdness factor, it's a completely natural process. That doesn't stop it from bring up all your emotions again though.

I had my pony club horse for almost 30 years too, so I know what a huge void it leaves in your life. But darn, how lucky were we? 30 years - no one gets that, you know. <Hugs>

SCFarm
You are right!! Those of us who are able to have our guys and gals for many years are blessed! I have to laugh when people tell me John will be waiting for me at Rainbow Bridge.
He loved the trails and going so much that I'll bet he hit the bridge at a gallop and hasn't slowed down yet.
I picture him taking in all the wonderful sights and going and going just like the energizer bunny. :) Go, John, go.

pj
Dec. 17, 2008, 03:15 PM
Just to let those who responded to my plea for help with the sinking grave know I think it's okay now. Guy just left with the bobcat and he hauled LOTS of the dirt (which is mostly clay. The kind that turns to brick when it's dry) from the pond site. He'd put a load and then pack and pack it. After he did that several times he started just piling it on. Not a pretty mound but that's okay. I feel like a load has been lifted. Thank you all again for making me feel better and for pointing me in the right direction as to what I needed to do.
PJ

Mallard
Dec. 17, 2008, 07:59 PM
Thank you for this touchy...but timely...topic.
Two weeks ago we buried a horse in the back of our summer pasture.
Hubby could not push all the dirt back in as the ground was too wet, and it was snowing like crazy.
The mare is well covered, but there is still a big pile of dirt to be pushed back.
The ground is now frozen and will stay that way until late March/April. At that time he'll go out and finish the job.
We don't usually let the horses out on this field until mid June, but I will really make sure he piles it high and uses lots of rocks to mound it up if necessary.

SGray
Dec. 18, 2008, 12:47 PM
consider composting instead of burial -- these problems don't occur

rosiegoat
Dec. 18, 2008, 03:01 PM
My dh and fil dig graves (ones for people, in cemeteries) and even with the cement vault, the graves sink significantly. It's just what dirt does when it's dug & put back. Like everyone else says, they mound quite a bit up and then wait and level after a few months.

Susan P
Dec. 18, 2008, 09:11 PM
It's been over a year since I buried my dear old horse. I think I'm very lucky that my horses didn't get in trouble there or no one else did. That's so scary. Something I never thought about, having the ground be so soft that you can sink so deep in it. Though the ground did sink and they didn't mound it like it sounds that they should have, perhaps they did pack it hard enough. I know there are horse footprints on it. He was buried Oct. 07 so I hope it's safe now. We've had so much rain lately. Do you think this could effect the grave site as far as still being a hazzard? :confused: I sure don't want my other horses to get injured or worse.

Susan P
Dec. 18, 2008, 09:14 PM
How do you do that? This sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, we are rarely prepared for their deaths. It sounds crazy but I wasn't prepared as I thought I would be for my 36 year old to pass when he did. He ate his dinner well the night before, then he was just gone.



consider composting instead of burial -- these problems don't occur

SGray
Dec. 19, 2008, 07:00 PM
How do you do that? This sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, we are rarely prepared for their deaths. It sounds crazy but I wasn't prepared as I thought I would be for my 36 year old to pass when he did. He ate his dinner well the night before, then he was just gone.


it's very easy to do - you basically just cover them up - a deep layer

best to have something around the body to hold in the cover material

you can cover with shavings or with used material from stalls

as with all composting the material heats up and then decomposes, killing germs, etc in the process -- with deep cover you have no smell and by the time the material starts to break down the heat has taken care of odor - within a few (if I recall correctly it was three) months all materiial has broken down (even bones will crumble)

there have been quite a few discussions before - on off course and/or horse care forums

I have posted several links to articles on large animal disposal via composting - it is very environmentally friendly; safe and easy

not again
Dec. 19, 2008, 07:20 PM
You can do an emergency cover pile with a load of manure if you have a spreader. We have also put a big bale on top of the pile to keep the four legged explorers out.

Mallard
Dec. 19, 2008, 07:25 PM
But...would composting work in winter?
We're in Ontario and considered doing this, but a few people said it would not compost well due to temps being so cold.

Plus, I'm not quite sure what would make composting more 'environmentally friendly' than digging a hole and burying the animal? The buried animal 'composts' under ground.

Tiki
Dec. 19, 2008, 08:54 PM
Actually, they are still finding pre-historic bones that have been buried. Composting completely decomposes everything - bones and all. The remains of the horse will be completely undetectable in 3-6 months time. Even in Canada, up north whar 'tis cold, the heat of the compost pile - if constructed and maintained properly - should do the trick.

SGray
Dec. 22, 2008, 11:08 AM
and composting is much less likely to leach any unpleasant things into the watertable

pj
Dec. 22, 2008, 12:04 PM
I don't think I could stand composting. I'd worry all the time that critters would get in and uncover and then I'd have to see and deal with it. I honestly wouldn't have a problem with hauling an animal out into the timberland, far from anything and leaving them. Forty years ago we had a colt to die on the back of our back pasture. This was really the boonies then and I couldn't find anyone to bury him for me. After two weeks I went back there and there were only scattered bones left. It was really pretty clean.
LOL I really would like when I die to be dumped in a wilderness somewhere. Just lay me down and say goodbye. Lots cleaner than being buried or composted....

SGray
Dec. 22, 2008, 04:17 PM
when covered to the appropriate depth there are neither sight nor smell cues to mauraders as soon as the pile begins to heat - which is almost immediate so that shouldn't be a problem

RiverBendPol
Dec. 22, 2008, 10:00 PM
We buried our pony in a corner of our riding area. One day as I was cantering my horse around, his whole hind end fell out behind me. I went back to have a look and found the grave was sinking. My backhoe man had me run the hose down into the hole for a couple of hours, to completely saturate what was left in the area. He then came up, stirred things around and added a whole lot more stone dust to the hole. Tamped it all down carefully and then drove the eback hoe over it for good measure. No more sinking.