Friday, September 30, 2011

Green Acres

Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, 
just give me that countryside.


I came across this mailbox on a trip through the mountains. 
I'm thinking the owner has tractor envy and is dreaming 
of country living!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Love Learning Something New....Sometimes!

I learned something new today. I learned that an abscessed tooth lowers the pH of the surrounding tissue and it becomes acidic. Local anesthesia is alkaline. It is neutralized and is not absorbed into the tissue. This means anything around the abscess doesn't get numb.

Experiential learning in this instance is not a good thing! Trust me!

Today I began the implant process by having the damaged tooth removed. It was not a pleasant experience with incomplete numbness. However, the good news is that now that the infection is cleaned out I am experiencing less pain than when I first left the dentist's office.


Oh well... and to think... I could have gone for a cruise instead!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Leaves They Are A Changin'


Aspen trees are turning gold in the mountains.

Where In The World Has Dreaming Been Hiding?

Not hiding... just busy.

First my brother and sister came to celebrate my dad's 90th birthday and his giving a commitment ring to his 'girlfriend'!

Then, I dropped my sister off at the airport and picked up a friend of old. Marjie has come to visit for a week. Marjie and I met when our oldest boys were three and attended the same preschool. Our children were practically raised at each other's houses. On any given weekend either Marjie's kids or my kids would wake up at the "other mother's" house.

So what has kept us so busy?

Marjie on a not-so-fiery steed!

 At the Brats, Beer and Bands festival.

 A mountain view from horseback.

 The garage gets organized.

We have also:
  • gone to a friend's house to dig up daisies, day lilies, lavender, grape hyacinth, blue delphinium, roses and bee balm from her garden. Then we found places to plant them at my house. I'm so hopeful that we have enough nice weather for the plants to acclimate and then make it through the winter. But... if not, my friend has invited me back to get more in the spring!
  • been letter boxing! It took some doing, but I found my stamp and journal. I found clues to two boxes to show Marjie how it works.
  • found Denver Fabrics - a discounted fabric warehouse. We took home some samples and returned to purchase yardage for my dining room chairs and an upholstered bench the next day. I also bought some sheer fabric that will find a home in the living room. 
  • eaten! We have gone out to dinner and we've eaten lunches out. We have indulged in some of comfort foods that we both love. We visited Ikea for Swedish Meatballs and returned home with goodies for breakfast and dessert. 
  • driven through the mountains with a few other leaf-lookers. The aspens are turning and the leaves look like gold medallions.  
  • visited a Beer, Brats and Bands festival. We enjoyed a brat and some beer while listening to a delightful duo sing songs from my younger days.
  • had hay delivered. It was so much fun to see the men hauling and stacking the hay instead of wrestling with it myself!
  • caught up on all of the essential, and some of the non-essential, details of the lives of our children, their friends, our friends and family.
We have a few more days...oh, what more shall we do?!

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Retro Post: Goofus and Gallant

    This is proving to be a very busy week. My family is in town to celebrate. We are raising a glass to my Dad and to his new 'girl'. Last night he gave her a commitment ring! We are also celebrating Dad's 90th Birthday. We all thought it was mighty cute to commit to a gal when one is 90 years young! 

    With trips to the airport and meals out and the usual running around I haven't had time to write a new post. So I offer an oldie but a goodie. Those of you who have become loyal readers may be able to sort out  which of my boys is Goofus and which is Gallant!

    Remember these? Highlights Magazines were the only thing that made going to the dentist at all bearable when I was younger! (Hmmm, maybe if my new dentist had Highlights I wouldn't mind the implant as much!) Well, heck, I still like the hidden picture puzzles!

    In thinking about my boys I've realized that they should have been named Goofus and Gallant, for they truly epitomize the characters:
    • Goofus grabs huge hunks of hay, then tries to take more from Gallant.
    • Gallant chews his hay slowly and only gets mildly annoyed by Goofus' thievery.
    • Goofus pushes the stall door open and escapes into the barn if given the opportunity.
    • Gallant stands patiently in his stall, door open, while his owner brings in hay or water.
    • Goofus upsets the grooming bucket and mouths each tool.
    • Gallant stands for grooming, even if not tied.
    • Goofus paws with impatience and has been known to stamp his size 2 hoof to add an explanation point to his statement.
    • Gallant cocks one hip and waits ever so patiently.


    Can you tell Goofus and Gallant apart?

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Choices...OR... No Choice At All

    I could have this:

     BIH- Eagle Carriage

    OR

    I could have this:

    A new concrete parking area for our house
    (the old one sunk 6 inches by the corner of the house and has major cracks in other areas.)



    OR

    I could have this:

    Hawaiian cruise for hubby and me,
    including airfare!


    For just about what it is going to cost me for this!!




    A little more investigation following the 'strained periodontal ligament' episode led to the discovery that I have a chronic infection at the tip of the root of this tooth. The infection has probably been simmering for years.  I had a root canal and a post and crown put in a long time ago. The root of the tooth seems to be an unusual shape and the root canal was not complete. Because the root is short and because of the post, redoing the root canal and putting on a new crown is not an option, it would only buy me a little time before I be would staring an implant in the mouth. 
    So, imagine a pin popping my ballons, my wishes! No carriage. No concrete. No cruise. Just one lousy tooth.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Stylin'

    I can't leave that boy tied up for five minutes without him getting into trouble!

    What? Who me? In trouble?

    Shyloh, Pippin's blogger girlfriend marefriend, has adopted the 'one-earred' halter look too! Apparently it is all the rage among Haffies! I must admit, this look is terribly cute! These horses are stylin'! I usually make a braid around Pippin's halter to help keep it in place, but this time I had to dash out as Tucker had escaped from the yard! When I returned, with the captured pup, this is what greeted me! How can you get upset with a face like this?!

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Having a Jolly Good Time


    The boys are playing with their deflated jolly ball. They had been playing tug-o-war for a while when I finally grabbed the camera. Unfortunately, I was zoomed in as far as I could go. As soon as I went outside they dropped the ball and turned their attention to me. 

    But, it's still kinda cute!

    video



    Friday, September 16, 2011

    My Consolation Prize - The Gambit

    I couldn't seem to have babies. I had miscarriages instead. After my fourth miscarriage I was ready to give up on having children and I bought a horse. That was my consolation prize. A friend of mine was in a tough spot. She had acquired a young horse and had no place to keep him. At the time she was renting a small house and had the horse tied out in the back yard like a dog. He was not fed well. He was starving. My hubby (have I ever said how wonderfully supportive he is? And, how he sometimes goads me on?!) said to rescue the horse and give him (the horse!) a decent home. So, I forked over $200 and coaxed another friend to trailer the horse to her barn. My little horse walked right into her trailer. She worried that he wouldn't be able to handle the 30 mile trip to her barn. He was really in poor shape. We had to go up a steep hill to negotiate a bridge, and she was quite certain he would slip and fall in the trailer and not be able to get back up. He proved her wrong.

    I had forgotten just how awful 'my horse'
    looked when I first acquired him.

    My little bay roan was a registered quarter horse. His papers declared him to be 'Two Eyed Tammet' (grandson of Two Eyed Jack). I called him Gambit. First step was to have him gelded. After sedating Gambit and gelding him, the vet cleaned his truck and went on to clean the vet box on each side of his truck. I later learned that he only does this when he is worried! Gambit wasn't metabolizing the anesthesia as he expected. He wasn't sure that my horse was going to get up again. Finally, my little guy raised his head and worked at getting his legs under him.

    Over the next year I worked on training my horse. He had never been ridden before I purchased him. We did a lot of work; walk, trot and canter under saddle, and a little jumping. Gambit didn't particularly care for jumping! He didn't particularly care for going fast. "Whoa" was his favorite gate... not "go"! One time I participated in a western riding clinic. The clinician asked us to jog. He told me to pull Gambit back a bit. Yes! That's it! Gambit ambled on in a beautiful, Western pleasure horse jiggity- jig. Then we were asked to lope. Again, the clinician suggested that I pull Gambit back. Soon he was executing the perfect Western pleasure lope; cad-um, cad-um, cad-um. If he went any slower he'd fall over sideways! He was born to be a Western pleasure horse!

    Gambit - one year later

    After some medical intervention and refinement of my innards I became pregnant and carried the baby to term. I was the proud mama of a baby boy! Of course I can manage a baby and a horse! Why not?! Who wouldn't be able to?! I planned my rides around the baby's schedule. Shortly before his mid morning feeding I'd head to the barn. I would carry the playpen and the baby monitor and the diaper bag into my friend's house. Oh, and don't forget the baby! I'd nurse my baby, put him down for a nap and sprint for the barn. I'd grab Gambit, tack him, head for the arena and put the baby monitor on a fence post. Gambit and I would begin our warm-up. Within a few laps of the arena the baby monitor would begin squawking. Baby was awake. The ride was over. I would get rides in after school hours when I could coerce the barn owner's daughter to watch the baby. But then,  maternity leave was over. It was time to head back to work. I couldn't afford to own a horse if I wasn't bringing in a pay check. So now I had to juggle baby, horse and a job. I discovered something. I could be a horse owner -or- I could be a mom -or- I could be a teacher. I could do one of those 'jobs' fantastically well. (Did you notice being a wife didn't even enter into the equation?!) I could do two of those 'jobs' passably well. I failed at doing all three. Something had to go. Since I couldn't give up the baby, and I needed the job, Gambit lost out on this deal. Or, maybe he didn't! He was sold as a Western pleasure horse, something he had proven to be very good at doing and something he liked far more than the English work I was asking of him.  And I went on to be a mom of not one, but two healthy boys!

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Owner's Manual

    Congratulations on the purchase of your horse. To get the most pleasure from your equine we suggest that you thoroughly read our manual of instructions. 

    Part I

    Buttons:

    Horses come equipped with a number of 'buttons'.  Operating the buttons in the appropriate manner will result in different actions on the horse's part. Please refer to the diagram and read more about the buttons and their functions.


    1. Position your hand in front of the muzzle to make the lips move and twitch. This can also be used to get the horse to open its mouth and bite. Please use caution to avoid injury.

    2. Brush the forelock to cause the horse to lower its head. shut its eyes and perhaps even make noises of pleasure.

    3. Scritch just under and slightly behind one ear to make the ears move in abnormal, awkward positions. You may even notice that the horse goes cross-eyed.

    4. Push on the point of shoulder to cause the horse to move backward. Caution: This button may have varying degrees of sensitivity. 

    5. Tap or push on the side of the shoulder to cause the horse to move laterally using the front legs. See cautionary note above.

    6. Squeeze or kick with legs at this position, also called 'on the girth', to increase the speed of movement of the horse.

    7. Tap or push on the hip to cause the horse to move laterally using the back legs. See cautionary note on  #4.

    8. Lift one rear hoof or the other and the horse will break wind, (pass gas, poot, fart, cut the cheese) in your face, guaranteed!


    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Old Broads' Foxhunting Rules

    Today reminded me of a perfect perfectly awful day for fox hunting. It was cool and grey and shifted between mist and rain. (Did you hear that?! Rain! I guess I can stop whining about the drought... at least for a few days!) In my youth I participated in a number of hunts, several in weather like today. What fun! I'm not sure I'd relish the chase now with as much abandon as I did then!
    Things change as a person ages! I found this set of rules a few years ago in the Aiken (SC) Hunt program and copy it, with permission, for your enjoyment.



    Illustration Plate from Hunts With Jorrocks
    Illustrated by G. Denholm Armour
    1908
    1. We DO NOT need to show up with our hair combed, make up on and wearing a clean shirt. We do wear hairnets, of course.
    2. Moaning, groaning and complaining about aching muscles is perfectly acceptable, as is taking Motrin/Alevel/wine or a stiff drink prior to hunting.
    3. Helping someone on or off the horse does not mean the rider is an invalid. It only means the horse got taller overnight.
    4. No one will comment about how big someone's butt looks in a saddle.
    5. Everyone will wait, patiently, while someone dismounts and adjusts equipment. Everyone will also wait, patiently, until that person remounts and is ready to move on... no matter how long that takes.
    6. When a horse is acting up we will accept that the horse is just having a bad hair day and it is not the rider's fault
    7. Mentioning it is too hot, too dry, too humid, too wet, or too buggy to hunt is considered self expression, not whining.
    8. Wanting to be first, last, walk, or just stop does not mean the foxhunter is a wimp. Sometimes it is necessary to teach a horse who is in charge.
    9. We will take the time during checks, or while hounds are working, for that matter, to discuss the important issues of the day like who is dating whom, who is cheating on whom and any other relevant information which needs to be passed on.
    10. Not keeping your horse in a frame is not a Federal Crime. With all that is going on today, the FBI has too much on it's plate to follow us around.
    11. We will acknowledge that horses are very strange animals and sometimes for no reason at all we fall off of them. If this happens to any rider, the other riders will ascertain that the person is okay and then not mention the incident to another living soul, especially husbands and significant others.
    12. We will acknowledge, without apology, that riding more than two and a half hours increases our grumpy level far more than any ego benefits we may get from hunting longer.

    How I Happened on Haflingers; or How I Did Everything Wrong But it Looks Like it Might Have Been Right!

    I bought my beautiful boys two years ago. It was a freak accident. I didn't go out looking for Haflingers. In fact, I had really only seen a team of Haflingers up close and personal one other time. That was when my family and I went to an 'Old Time Farmers Horse Gathering'. What fun! There were teams of stately draft horses plowing, harrowing, doing 'old time' chores and pulling wagons.  We hopped on a wagon ride with some beautiful looking, but rather small horses. A man on the wagon asked the driver what kind of horses he was using. He chuckled and said, "These are Haflingers. They do all the work of a draft horse, but they are half the size." That stuck with me. It was filed away....someplace on a dusty shelf in my brain.

    A few years later I was volunteering at a therapeutic riding center and they were looking for horses.  (I think every therapeutic riding program is always looking for horses!) The instructor had found a young Haflinger, but the Board would not let her purchase it as the horse was 'too young' for the program. The founders of the program felt that horses needed to have quite a bit of experience to be reliable horses for the program, and thus wouldn't consider any horse under 10 years of age. The instructor talked to me a bit about this breed of horse, explaining about their versatility, their work ethic, their level-headedness and so on. Haflingers are the perfect size for a therapeutic riding program because they can carry weight, but are not so tall that it is a challenge to assist riders who are astride. She commented that Haflingers, in general,  have a great disposition and that they would be perfect for the program. I did some research about the breed to learn more, so I had more to file under 'H' in my brain. If not for the instructor throwing in the towel and giving up her job with the program, I might have been a half owner of the Haflinger. We talked about buying it together, schooling it and then selling it to the program once it was proven to be a good match.

    I love draft horses. I love their solid build. I love their huge feet. I love the way they move. I also love driving. For years I have envisioned myself behind a team of Percherons, or Clydesdales, or Shires. I never pictured driving or riding Haflingers! I had the chance to attend a clinic and to work with Percherons and Belgians. I'm not sure if I ever really got the backs of the Belgians clean! I couldn't see! Even standing on a milk crate I could only reach so high... Hmmm.... I wonder....
    Harnessing the beasts was interesting. When I grabbed the harness, slinging the breeching over my shoulder, followed by the saddle with the tugs entwined, then grabbed the hames and pulled it off the hook, I felt like I was sinking under the weight of the harness.  I felt like a telescoping leg of a tripod that wasn't tight enough.  That harness was H-E-A-V-Y!! It took two of us to get it up on the horse's back! Hmmmm..... maybe...
    Horses generally eat 1.5 to 2 percent of their body weight in hay each day. OK, so the Belgian I was working with weighed 2400 pounds. Doing the math, he'd eat, at minimum, 36 - 48 pounds of hay a day - almost a bale! Oh, and don't forget that the food is processed and comes out the other end... in bigger piles! Hmmm... perhaps....

    There is a wonderful draft horse and mule auction in Colorado. It is so much fun to attend any one (or all) of the auctions held each year. They have all kinds of things up for auction: Big horses and little minis. Driving horses and saddle horses. Saddles and harnesses. Carriages and wagon parts. Bric-a-brac and tools and junk. There are usually at least three different "rings" going on simultaneously. Attending the auctions is something we do. Sometimes we come home with something; a cast iron bird bath, a shovel, a blacksmith vise, or bird houses. Sometimes we come away without having raised our auction card one time. Then... there was the year I came home with a team of Haflingers!

    WHAT?!!! I screamed at myself? One never, NEVER, NEVER buys a horse at an auction... let alone two of them! That was my long held tenet. The purchase of a horse should include a deliberate, carefully executed plan. One should get background information about the animal(s). One should have the horse(s) vetted. One should get x-rays of the inner workings! One should engage in a proper trial of the horse(s). But, my heart trumped my brain. Oh, and the auctioneers kept telling me to bid... they'd say, "Come on, you know you want them." and my hubby kept urging me to keep going! Finally, the gavel fell, "Sold"! I was the instant owner of 2 wonderful Haflingers!

    The boys being driven at the auction

    It hasn't always been a cakewalk. Things haven't always gone the way I anticipated. But, the horses are sound and healthy. They have provided me with wonderful experiences and great memories. If I had a CTRL-Z* function for life, I wouldn't undo my purchase. Absolutely not!

    * hitting the CTRL key and Z will undo key strokes on the computer

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Finding Fall

    In just the last few days
    I've seen changes... 
    Fall is on its way!

    Ready or not, here it comes!

    The rose hips are still green
    but they are fat as can be.
    Perhaps this variety doesn't change color in the fall.
    Time will tell!

    The leaves on the Maple may still be green,
    but if you look closely, the stems are beginning
    to show the promise of red.

    The animals are all shedding summer coats.
    We have hair flying all over the place!
    The horses have actually begun to grow their
    coarser winter coats.

    Last week you couldn't see the crab apples for the leaves.
    But our cool nights and shorter days have signaled
    that it's time to change color.

    Are you finding fall too?
    What signs have you seen?

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    And They're Off


    The horses believed
    It was the first day of fall.
    They'd had just enough
    Of standing in stalls.
    They wanted to get out
    In the cool morning air.
    Out to the pasture
    With nary a care.
    So hurry up, please,
    Get the gate open, quick.
    And off we will gallop
    With a buck and a kick!

    video

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Why I Love My Haflingers - Reason #25

    That's mine?

    Can I eat it?!

    We went to an informal carriage show. The boys were shown in a ground driving obstacle course and a cones course. They did a fabulous job of hanging around with all kinds of activity going on around them! I'm a proud mama!

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Meet the NEIGH-bors

    This is the lay of the land around here. We have lots of horse neighbors. To the northwest we have two delightful girls. One is a grey Arab. Her real name is Samara, but they call her Sam for short. Sam really likes me - but then again, why wouldn't she! I'm one handsome dude! I think she goes for us chunky guys! She lives with Maggie. Maggie ignores us. When Sam comes to stand at the corner of the fence to make moon eyes at me, Maggie will be nearby, but she is usually eating. She really is a girl I could get to like! I bet she'd love to go on a date to some nifty green pasture some place!


    We learned the names of the mares because our Mrs. Owner noticed that Sam was lying down a lot the other day. Sam would lie down on one side. Then the next time our Mrs. Owner looked, she'd be lying on the other side. She got up and hobbled a few paces, and then lay down again. Sometimes she lifted her head... maybe to look at a fly on her tummy. Then she'd put it down again. Our Mrs. Owner was a little worried about the grey mare. The man who is always hanging around her is some sort of computer genius. He figured out the phone number of the grey mare's Mrs. Owner and called her. That Mrs. Owner was very thankful. She called back later and introduced herself and the horses. It turns out that Sam likes taking naps, but that hasn't been her usual behavior lately. It also turned out that Sam may not have been feeling all that great because she wouldn't eat for a few hours. (I can't even imagine not wanting to eat!) But, then she felt better and ate some. So, I guess everything is OK.
    Click to Bigify

    Due north of us there are usually three horses. We haven't been introduced to them by name, but we know them. We can sniff over the fence. The young gal is pretty sweet on Doc. She's a beautiful bay. She likes to come and show off her feminine side to him... if you know what I mean! She is usually escorted by an older, bigger chestnut. I think he might be her chaperone. He doesn't particularly care for either Doc or me. He'll try to wedge his big self between the fence and the cute young thing and then shows his teeth at us.  The other brownish, chestnutty, muddy horse is kinda standoffish. He rarely bothers with us. These three horses actually live over with the mare and her kid. We get to watch the kid play. He jumps and runs. Rears and tears around his mom. He hasn't been let out in the pasture where we can meet him nose to nose. Maybe some day he'll come over to visit. We've heard a lot of whinnying going on the last day or so. We're thinking that maybe the people owners separated the mare and her kid. Poor things. 


    We have spotted guys east of us. When we first moved in there was only one spotted guy. He's retired. Then one day I thought I was seeing double. There were two of them. It seems that the new fella was a teacher, like my Mrs. Owner. He hurt his leg and can't be used in a riding school any more. So he gets to retire, too. 


    There are some kinda strange animals beyond the spotted boys' pasture, across the road. They are the size of young foals. We can see them once in a while. Even though we sometimes can't see them, we know they are there 'cause they laugh all of the time. They laugh really loud. They say, "Hee-hawww, hee-hawwww-hawww-hawww!" Our Mrs. Owner loves to hear it... but we just think it's weird.

    We also hear a lot of whinnying to the south of us. There is a big huge barn there with lots and lots of horses. Sometimes they put some of them in a pasture across the road from us. Once in a while we'll talk to them - but usually we are too busy eating. Oh, and next to them there are three more horses. They have funny spots on their rear ends. It looks like the Magpies have left lots of dookies on their hinies, instead of the one or two that Doc sometimes gets - hee hee! We really don't know much about them 'cause they are over the road and through the pastures away from us. 

    Then, to the east of us, there be cows. 'Nuff said about them!


    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Goodness Snakes Alive!

    Another tale from life in the Carolinas....

    One night I had settled in for a long winter's late summer's nap when I was rudely awakened from my slumber by the ringing of the telephone. I waited for my husband to answer, but the phone kept ringing.... and ringing... and ringing. Alright, already! I'll answer it.


    Have you ever experienced that mind-befuddling confusion when you first wake up and things just don't quite make sense? This was one of those times. My husband was on the phone. He was calling me. But wait... he was in the family room watching TV, wasn't he?


    But no. My husband asked, "Could you please come down and turn on the porch lights?"


    What??? (Again, this is still not making sense to my sleep-fogged brain!)


    It turns out that my husband had gotten a call on his cell phone. At that time our cell phones only worked reliably if we were outside the house. So, he stepped out on the front porch, in his bare feet, to talk on the phone. As he was finishing his conversation our dog trotted up - but stopped and backed up with his hackles raised. Hubby wasn't sure what was going on, but as he turned to look where the dog was staring, he could see the silhouette of a snake in the light coming through the glass of the front door.  Hubby was trapped. He wouldn't walk around the house in his bare feet to get to another door as he had once stepped on a snake in the dark. He didn't particularly care for that feeling and didn't want a repeat performance of the "Oh, my God, it's a snake" dance. He couldn't go through the front door. His only recourse was to call me.


    Once the lights were turned on my husband discovered why the dog had reacted as he had. The snake was one of our local colorful characters... a copperhead. We figure the copperhead was drawn to the light of the door because toads congregated there.  The toads found easy picking as moths were attracted to the light shining through the door. The food chain in action! Sadly for the snake, my husband was even higher up on the chain than he.



    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    A Different Perspective




    Hay, Pippin, look at this!

    Look at what?  I  can't exactly 
    tell what you are looking at?
    It's not like you have a finger to point!

    Look here, where I'm looking.
    Did ya see what our Mrs. Owner and the guy 
    who always hangs around her have done?

    Uh.... they  cut a hole  in the wall?

    Yeah, duh. Any fool could see that.
    But what I'm seeing is ....
    an indoor bathroom!

    Oh, man, this is freakin' awesome!
    It's fantastawonderfulistic!
    No more going outside,
    especially on a rainy night! 

    No kidding! We are livin'
    high on the horse!

    Not too many horses can claim 
     that they live in a suite;
    We have a roomy master 
    bedroom AND a bathroom.....


    That's a sweet suite for sure!

    The stall bathroom after one night!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Which is Witch?

    It's reining....


    No! 
    wait... 
    I mean

    It's reigning!


    No! 
    that's not right....

    It's raining!
    There... I got it right!


    It seems like we haven't had rain in months
    but I guess we've had a bit here, 
    and a bit there. 
    Not enough.
    A quick 'flash in the pan' type of storm. 
    But most storm clouds have passed us by.
    This evening we have enjoyed a nice, slow drizzle.

    The sound of rain on the roof is so soothing.
    The chill of the storm is refreshing.
    The smell of moist earth is heavenly.

    Ahhhh.....

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Labor Day... You Better Believe It!

    We labored on Labor Day. Actually, we labored most of the weekend. I haven't felt this utterly, bone-weary, foot-tired, sore-muscled in a while. It actually is a very satisfying feeling! I know I have accomplished something!

    It began innocently enough on Saturday. We went to a food festival. Nothing tough about that. But, on the way home I called a farmer whose number I had found on Craig's list. He had hay in the field, ready for pick up. We stopped by and loaded 22 bales on our truck, and made arrangements to return the next day with our flatbed. So, our warm-up for Labor Day consisted of unloading and stacking the 22 bales.

    Sunday dawned cool and sunny. A beautiful day to head back to the hay field - but this time we loaded 85 bales. Oh, and did I mention that the bales weigh about 60 pounds, on average? That's 2 1/2 tons!! Thank heavens the farmer helped us load and stack the trailer! Our barn doesn't have enough storage space the way it is currently configured so we put a series of tarps over the hay, leaving it on the trailer. That was mildly entertaining for the neighbors as there was a nice breeze which tried its best to make kites out of the tarps! We finally got them tied down.... and then I began to worry. Are the tarps too tight? Will the hay sweat? Will we lose some of our precious commodity to water damage or mold? Is the moisture content of the hay too high? Will it spontaneously combust? Dear hubby, by this time, was working on our fencing - trying to undo some damage caused by Pippin. (uh...sorry about that..) I wandered over and mentioned my concerns. He sat back and thought for a moment. We had talked about building a 10' X 12' storage building.... but no, he decided. That really isn't the solution to our hay storage issues. He packed up the fence tools and headed to the barn. "Let's put in the doors to the stalls. Then we can use part of the run-in area for hay storage."
    This is the barn layout as it currently exists. The garage area is used for some hay storage (62 bales at the moment), grain bins, tack, harnesses, a carriage and a forecart, our tractor, various odds and ends, Mama Boots and her bowls and litter box, some bedding, and snow tires. It is a catch all and has caught a lot of stuff in the few months we have lived here!

    The run-in area has a sandy floor. This opens into the boys' paddock. They can go in and out at will. We did wire a panel with a gate into the doorway so we can hold the horses inside if needed. The horses share this area with 2 pigeon families. We hope they don't have to share next year!!

    The stalls are not very user friendly in their existing state, at least not the way I keep my horses. The stalls have dutch doors which we can see from our house. The stall on the right does have a window. The stall on the left has a bit of translucent fiberglass paneling high on the wall which allows limited light from the garage to enter the stall. The stalls are totally lined with plywood. They are basically plywood boxes inside.


    The dutch doors open onto a 4' concrete 'sidewalk' and from that, onto a gravel driveway to the garage. We really can't put runs in as we wouldn't have access to the garage or to a paddock area beyond. If I stalled my horses for part of the day or night, I could lead them from their paddock into their stalls, but there is no way to give them access to go in and out at will. This is something they were used to at their former barn. The horses were used to stalls with bars on two sides. They could see what was going on around them. They could see each other. Not so with our new barn.

    So, we began to execute our plan to put a door from the back of each stall into the run-in area. Let the labor begin!

    First we had to take off a 4' X 8' X 3/4" piece of plywood. That's when we discovered that the barn had better construction than the house! There were 40 loooonnnnnggggg nails holding the piece of plywood in place. Uh... no, the horse won't be able to pull this off! Then we discovered, and cut out, 6" thick insulation. Oh... do you want to know about the mouse/rat tunnels and/or the mouse skull I discovered in the insulation? Didn't think so!



    On the run-in side, we had some pretty decent , heavy gauge tin we had to take off, then another sheet of plywood with more than enough nails holding it up.


    Here Mr. Hubby is cutting the last 2" X 6" cross beam. 


    This is a rare shot of Dreaming! I am screwing pieces of 2" X 6" boards in the spaces between the wall.


    "Pippin, what is this? I don't remember a doorway here... do you?

    There was a lot of snorting when the boys came up for dinner! They don't know what to make of the changes! The water that you see in the foreground is from the automatic waterer that is accessible from either stall. I used my magic toilet brush to swish the waterer and then had to let the water flood out of the drain plug. That was just about the most disgusting, stomach churning thing I've done in a long time. The waterer had black, yucky stuff in it. It smelled. I believe the yucky stuff may have been hay that fell into the waterer when last used over 5 years ago. Bleech! I let the waterer fill and dumped it 2 more times.... flooding both stalls. Then, I stopped the waterer from filling completely and added a little bleach. It sat over night and was rinsed out and refilled the next day.

    Finally it was Labor Day. Time for the work to really begin! First, I took one of those extra spreaders we found in the barn and spread some grass seed in a sparse area of the pasture. Then, I spread the hay chaff that I collected at our old barn over the seed. (I had been storing 6 lawn and leaf bags of hay chaff in the stalls. That was one thing I could dispense with and not have to store.)  I put up two strands of electric wire to keep the boys out.  Sadly, the 6 bags didn't cover as much area as I hoped. But... we will have better grass in a teeny tiny bit of our pasture next year! I spread out a hose and let our 'rain train' go to work. I had to rescue it twice when it got bogged down in the clay.

    Then, hubby and I set out to get yet another truck load of hay from our new-found farmer friend. So, we loaded another 22 bales and off loaded it and stacked it in the garage part of the barn. Then we began working on the door for the second stall. By COB (Close of Business) at the end of labor day, we had removed the plywood from both sides of the opening, as well as the tin. Tomorrow we'll be ready to cut the 2X6 cross beams and put 2X6 pieces in the sides. We have headers to construct and some more 2X6 pieces to install under them.

    Eventually we'll build sliding doors for the new stall doors. We are going to build doors to shut the end of the run in area. We'll use some extra panels to block off an area in the run-in for storage... and my 85 bales will have a safe, secure and dry area to hang in.

    Whew... it's been quite a weekend...and we still have a ways to go. But... it's so exciting to see the changes!

    Food for Thought



    Friends are the most important ingredient in this recipe of life.



    Thanks to all my friends for adding flavor to my life!
    You make me smile :-)  
    You make me cry :(
    You add spice to my day!

    I have some new blog friends I'd like to introduce!

    Allison writes Adventures with Shyloh. Shyloh is a Haflinger - so you know I already have that connection with Allison. Shyloh sometimes writes on Allison's blog - Doc & Pippin have already taken note of another mare in the blogger world!

    To Catch a Pony is one of Antonia's sites. Antonia rides in Glasgow and creates beautiful art - using horses as her subjects. She tells about her riding and shares some of her art on her blog. She has another web site that shows more of her art work. I am impressed (if you've followed my blog for even the last week you've seen my attempt at art!!) 


    Another of my new blogger friends taught me a new word! Euthymic is from the Philippines. I learned that euthymic is being a state of mind that is neither depressed, nor overly excited! How cool to find friends in such far places, and still be able to connect so easily! Mona and Ed are both free lance writers. It sounds like they have had many opportunities to write in different arenas. 


    Sherry writes Russ-stickacres. She and her husband live a life I envy. They farm 40 acres and live a simple life in norther Michigan. In many ways her life reminds me of Thoreau's experience at Walden pond. 


    That Special Friend...


    Years ago my son started attending a new preschool. We had a fundraiser for the school, and I ended up meeting and working next to a very nice mom. While we were working, I began to have a feeling that we had some sort of connection, a connection that went deeper than most. Practically overnight we became best friends. Our kids grew up together, spending untold nights at each other's houses. We worked and partied together. We laughed and cried together. We went on trips and went shopping together. My friend moved away 13 years ago - but we have continued to keep in touch and visit when we can. We laughingly blame my friend for our having bought our project house! I was visiting her last year and my hubby was bored. So, he poked around on the Internet and found this house! Well, now my friend wants to see 'her' house, so she is flying in for a visit in two weeks. We'll have long coffee chats in the mornings. We'll go on adventures. We'll sit down and sew - she said she wants to help me make some curtains for 'her' house. We will pick up where we left off without a hiccup - friends do that!


    Do you have a life-long friend too? Do you have a friend whose heart is bound to yours by strong, deep ties? 




    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    Waiting for...

    Finish the sentence:

    Waiting for.....

    What did you come up with?

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .


    My first thoughts included:
    • the water to boil
    • the train (bus, plane)
    • the Doctor
    • the light to change
    • the dryer to finish
    • the dough to rise
    Then a search on Google came up with...
    • Godot
    • Superman
    • Tonight
    • Hockney
    • Armageddon
    • Christmas

    Oh, but I have to be different! 

    I'm not waiting for any of those right now.

    This time I am waiting for.....

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .


    POOP!


    It's time to take a sample to the vet....


    Alright.... who did it?!!!


    Wouldn't you know the minute I turn my back this happens?!!
    Geesh! Guess I'll have to wait some more!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Black Gold

    When we moved into our new home we discovered a decrepit pile of bags stashed in the garage end of the barn. At first we thought they contained material for a water filter. Then someone told us he thought it was landscaping material. Finally I looked at the stuff... felt the stuff... smelled the stuff.

    It was gold!
    Black gold!


    The bags contained small pellets or crumbs of rubber. 
    We had enough bags to spread one alongside each panel in the round pen.


    I'm so happy.... I could sing:

    The wonderful thing about Haffies
    Is Haffies are wonderful things.
    Their round pen is made out of rubber
    Their hoofies can act just like springs.
    They're
    Bouncy,
    Flouncy,
    Trouncy,
    Pouncy,
    Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!!!
    The wonderful thing about our round pen 
    Is it's so much fun to run!
     (My apologies to Disney!)

    Pippin struts his stuff



    Foggy Morn



    Doesn't phase him in the least....


    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    The Power of Positive Thinking

    We haven't had rain since the beginning of July. Well, a drop here and a drop there. But not enough to wet the ground. We've had storms go to the south of us. And there are storms that go to the north of us. 


    But nothing here.

    We often see dense, purply black clouds,
    and even beautiful rainbows east of us. 


    But nothing here!

    We sit on our porch and enjoy watching
    Mother Nature's fireworks shows. 
    We get to watch rain fall in the distance.


    But not here!

    Perhaps if I put up a post about rain...
    And think positive thoughts...


    Maybe we'll get some rain here!

    Scene Along the Side of the Road: Farms

    Our drive through central California seemed long and frankly, boring. However, the monotony was broken by observing the produce along the s...