Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Busy weekend - get up early to get as much time as possible for all the things that don't get done during the week. Chasing daylight is futile now. Tom brought home the 'new' hay elevator from York Springs. This will certainly make life easier!

Saturday we worked on setting the gate posts in concrete. Cleaned the stalls and the little guy's areas. Tom drilled the remaining post holes in the corner. Not too much rock and getting by the roots of the Mulberry was easy. Worked on packing more dirt into the trench, that is going to take time for that to settle on its own.

We also heard about a 'neighbor' whose horse was shot to death while standing in his field near the roadway. I'm glad our pasture is way off the road and not easily seen. We also padlock all of our gates.

Sunday we spent working on tying in the electric conduit into the basement wall and putting in fence posts. We are not done with the fence post installation, but a lot closer than we were! Seven left to do - not including installing the gates.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rainy Wednesday

Last night we worked on the trench, knowing it was going to rain. Tom put concrete in the base of the hydrant at the pasture trough because he thought the hole would be compromised with the rain.

While I had them in last night for dinner, KC was getting hot, just standing in the stall. So warm, it is like a little hurricane: windy, driving rain. I let them out and didn't bring them in for the night. I don't know if it was thundering, April never woke me up to let me know. This house is so quiet...

Glad we did the little bit of work we did, it really did rain and the pasture is muddy. Have to work on more sculpting with dirt to get the low spots out, and more stone dust would help, too. Also, Lil Fred's electric fence was compromised - two latches were off, one was broken, apparently stepped on. The box was not secured to the grounding post, which also was not set in the ground. The corner post was not upright. Hard to say what really happened, but somebody might have gotten shocked after it was all done.

With this warm rain and the strong breeze, the leaves are done for. It didn't take long for them to go from green to colorful to bare limbs. We are not only chasing daylight, we are racing weather. I hope the fence post holes aren't too hard to work with this weekend. So much to do, so little time left.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Steady as She Goes...

Last night, chasing fading daylight, hurried home to feed the boys and turn the little ones out to stretch their legs. Dinner, too, Tom bulldozed dirt into the trench hole, pulled the wire through the buried conduit and continued the electric installation. It is so great having water at the barn and pasture trough - so convenient!

It is getting dark at around 6:30 or so, working in the dark with work-lights burning. When Daylight Saving stops it will be worse! We'll be driving home in the dark. The weather is fantastic, warmer now than it was on Saturday. I know that's going to change, too.

Tom will reuse the fuse panel that is in the garage/shed for the barn. Recycle, right? Another item we don't have to purchase. We won't need the amperage in the shed, we are not planning on putting the apartment back together, ever!

Tom is also looking into a hay elevator. He found a used one in Sinking Springs on We can't always have David show up and heave 40 or 60 bales of hay into the barn. One of these days we have to fully stock up for the winter. And the kids need to have a vet check...

Life on the farm isn't for sissies. Or poor people.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On the 7th Day: WATER & ELECTRIC

Tom worked well into dark, but dark happens around 6:30 now, just seemed a lot later than it actually was. He used the tractor to push the dirt into the trench and the truck to tamp and compress the dirt - not finished yet, but the trench is buried, no worries about cave-ins anymore!

Cornish hens on the BBQ - yum - another weekend is finished, just like that.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Weekend is Here!

The weather couldn't be any nicer - really - beautiful sunrise, delicious day, perfect conditions for working outside all day. It would have been a great weekend to ride, too, but not enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

Housewife chores get in the way, too, but somebody has to do the laundry, and clean the bathroom, and vacuum. That would be me. Tom worked so hard on laying the water line in the trenches and installing the water hydrants - one in the future wash stall and one near the gate where the pasture trough is now located. It is fantastic having running water! No more hoses from the house to the barn, across the parking lot. So modern and convenient!

Up early Sunday, feed and water the kids, then off to the grocery. There is a Starbucks in the store and I have a gift card... No body there, including staff. One cashier - o boy! Beautiful watching the sun rise on the way home from the store, another gorgeous day dawning. House water is turned off for the hydrant installation. The PVC piping joints have to cure. Glad I finished laundry yesterday!

Cleaning stalls, dumping manure, pulling electric line through the conduit in the trench. Another busy day!

We had visitors, too. Paul and his daughter, Annie, stopped by to inspect the new barn and then our neighbor from the old house came over.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Trench Warfare

The trenching job - electric/water installation - is slow-going - argh! Tom is home again today, trying to finish it before the 8-inch wide, 30-inch deep gash in our driveway and yard collapses = argh!! and we still have to put the fence posts in! so much to do, so little time - daylight is fading quickly now....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Here we go Again!

Tom spent yesterday morning going from Home Depot to Loews, collecting materials for the water and electric supply installation. So much valuable daylight is spent searching these stores, such a terrible time sink. Later in the afternoon he started cleaning and clearing the trench.

When I got home, after feeding and watering the boys, I let the little ones out for exercise and grass. As usual, chasing daylight, I walked down the short hill to pull more sticks and limbs from the area we had been working on. The chain saw was still down there, too. I pulled sticks and logs until it really got too dark to see, bringing Lil Fred with me to the barn. Sprite didn’t want to be left behind, so she was waiting by the gate for me. They are getting with the program. They learn a routine so quickly.

I used the wet-vac to get the loose dirt out of the trench. Don’t want any more dirt falling into it, and it’s about 8 inches wide; getting a shovel into it is nearly impossible. A pick-ax is about thin enough to get in there.

Tom had also gone to the grocery between Big Box stores, so he made PIZZA. He also bought different coffee, so I had that – YUM! I turned the kids out of the barn and wet-vacced until about 9:15. We put the equipment and tools away and straightened out the barn, got hay down from the loft, picked the stalls, filled water buckets.

Tom was afraid the coffee would keep me up. Not a chance. I hayed the horses around 10:00 and was in bed by 10:20 – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz April woke us up around 4:00 a.m., thunder and rain. Still not cold, I didn’t move the kids back into the barn. At 6:15 I moved the big boys in to feed them, and Lil Fred was wet, so I brought him in, too. Sprite called out so I got her in the barn. All is quiet. So happy to be together, munching hay.

The trench runs from the corner of the house to the corner of the barn. It also intersects with another trench trajectory going to the corner of the pasture. The parking lot is completely torn up, and could be hazardous if you didn’t know where you were walking. Plus the twenty-one fence post holes, it looks like the aftermath of ‘Caddy Shack.’

Being Tuesday, I know that by Friday, if not sooner, the trench will be buttoned up and working. This will make my life easier. When the fence is finished Sprite’s life will be pretty darn perfect. She will be able to have a larger area to run in all the time. Because she doesn’t respect the electric fence, she must be kept in the 10 x 18 run-in all the time. This will come to an end fairly soon. The battery for Lil Fred’s electric fence has died, but he acts like it is still live. He’s a true joy to have around the place.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

Another whirlwind weekend on the farm. My nephew called Saturday morning to say he was going to be about an hour late. Shortly after his call the roofer and his son arrived.

Saturday morning I got up at 6:10. I was already awake, Irene must have been cold, she climbed under the covers well before the alarm was set to go off. Still dark, I got my head lamp on, dishing out sweet feed and hay stretcher. Tom is usually a late starter, but we had so much planned and so little time to get things going.

Came back in to straighten out the kitchen, turned the dishwasher on and cleaned the bathroom. I was back at the kitchen sink when the roofer showed up. Action-packed day has begun.

Lewis, the farrier, called to say he was lost! but in the neighborhood. He was surprised to see my new horses were LITTLE HORSES. He trimmed Lil Fred first, easy and not much hoof to come off. He then moved on to Sprite, at first there was a wrestling match, but he was able to get her on his side. She had a lot of hoof to come off and said she did not have Thrush, just long hooves. We're good now!

David, Gia and Angelina showed up around 9:30, while Lewis was working on Sprite. First things first, meet the family! Four horses, no matter the size, is a lot going on. Tour the house, too, and Tom ran out to get the emissions tested for the car.

We ate lunch and as soon as Tom got back we fired our .22 and David's two 9 mm pistols. We all got a chance to shoot at the targets. It was loud and really fun! I would love to have one of those pistols, but not this year.

After that they went over to Tahill Farm to get hay. Forty bales of hay, loaded into the truck, 2 bales in the back seat! A mishap on the way back; two bales left the back end and landed on the roadway! YIKES! Bales retrieved, hurry back home! Apparently David is allergic to orchard grass. David literally threw 37 bales of hay up into the loft. I can not thank him enough! Within minutes all the hay was out of the truck and into the barn. If we had to do this ourselves, it would have been in the shed, again.

Then the real fun began! Angelina really wanted to ride a horse, so we saddled up the big boys and Tom threw her up on Skip's back and we went for a ride around the cornfield, onto the PEPCO right-of-way, and back up to the barn. Then Gia has a chance to ride, I ended up ponying her around the same track. David was the next victim, and he did really well. Skip was a great sport, and KC was a good boy, too.

A full day, a fun day.


Got up at 6:10, Irene was again under the covers with us. April never once got in the bed. Tom surprised me by getting up with me and coming out to the barn while the boys were eating. It was still dark. Turned the little guys out while the big boys were in the barn.

Tom made breakfast and we went back out to cut down some trees in the pasture. Two Cherry trees and several other trees were chopped and hauled to the fire pit. We'll have a bonfire around Thanksgiving. It will be HUGE!

After noon Willis came over with his Bobcat and drilled the 21 post holes and also trenched from the house to the barn and from the barn to the pasture for water and electric. This is HUGE and it was a lot of fun, too. I also managed to do three loads of laundry, sweep the floors and make dinner. Do I have to tell you I'm pooped? I am.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday, Finally!

Have so much planned for the weekend, but making a list doesn't always work out. Sometimes the list isn't even addressed, things come up at the very last second and everything changes.

1. Hay
2. Roof at 7236
3. Fence posts
4. Grocery store
5. Feed Store
6. Laundry
7. Spread gravel

Monday, October 11, 2010

Onward Monday!

Today is Columbus Day and a Federal Holiday - Post Offices, government agencies and banks are closed. Tom is off and I am at work. Traffic was light, and I got to the office in record time! Tom was hoping to get a load or two of stone dust today from Willis. Willis is ALWAYS late.

Willis has also agreed to drill the fence posts for us with his bobcat for $200 - approximately what the rental would cost! Yea! He'll do this sometime this week or Saturday afternoon. My nephew is planning on coming over on Saturday and I had threatened to put him to work, requesting that he bring a change of clothes. I'll find something for him to do, for sure.

On our walk-about Saturday night I was disheartened to discover that one of the ground hog holes that was bombed is once again active. We'll wait til Saturday so my nephew can help destroy it, again. Don't feel sorry for the ground hogs. There are plenty more where that came from and they are known to injure horses with their living arrangements, so they all have to go - one way or the other. Piling manure on them and stomping feet have not persuaded them to vacate, so bombs away!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunny Sunday!

We started measuring out the 8-foot lengths between posts, cutting the cattle carpet, and did get the near corner gate post installed with a little concrete. We continued measuring all the way around to the bottom of the dry paddock, worked our way back up to the top for the other gate post. We got the auger back on the tractor, Tom started drilling and came to an impasse about 18 inches down. Darn it, rock solid-ish. Being Sunday, the rental place is closed, so we went for a ride!

Got the boys in the trailer and headed off to buy Diesel fuel in town, not knowing exactly where we were headed to ride. We ended up going to Little Bennett. Beautiful day, lots of trailers already parked there. Went for a short ride, didn't cross the road for the longer ride that we are known to usually do.

Along the way we came to a 'dry' crossing. I noticed a wooden mounting block, KC eyed it suspiciously. It was not there before! We guessed it was for Park Police because the parking lot there is closed to traffic. Across the wooden bridge is another one!

We continued on our way, down the steep paths and abandoned roadways of this park, meeting hikers and walkers with dogs along the way. Had good run - STAMPEDE! - up the Tobacco Barn Trail and the boys were just stellar.

The next dry crossing is an elevated bridge that has an angle in the middle as it goes across the ravine. There are no 'hand rails' on this one and it would be an ugly incident to fall over the edge of this bridge. There is a mounting block on the trail and I now realize that the mounting blocks are for the riders that can't get their horses to cross a bridge, and the rider is unable to get themselves back on their horse! KC eyed this block, too, but he'd rather go across any kind of bridge, even a shaky one, then get his feet muddy.

There is a sign next to this bridge requesting avoidance of the marsh at this point. In the past I have seen evidence of riders going around the bridge. Unfortunately, this is the main reason that horses are banned from parks everywhere. Our horses don't need to go around, we just need bridges to carry our weight. Horses don't weigh as much as the general population think. Even the State Trooper a few years ago wouldn't let us down a roadway that had a 5 Ton Limit - he thought that horses weighed about a ton a piece - yikes! These aren't elephants, they weigh roughly 1,000 lbs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Whirlwind Week!

So much going on this week - whew! The roof replacement for our old has is rescheduled for this Sunday and he came out to the farm to see about the roof leak. We need to get that done, too.

The barn was delivered and it is just plain AWESOME! It really changes the atmosphere. The barn definitely has a presence! We have to wait to stain it, the boards have to 'age' so we'll concentrate on putting in the remaining posts and boards to pin the dry paddock in.

And we have so much more work to do. The roof at Grandin will be done on Sunday, we don't need to be there. We have to install the fence posts that we already have to enclose the barn - to create another barrier from the 'outside world' for the horses. The barn is spectacular, they did a good job, and Steve the Amish dude said we did a good job, too, with the site prep (all that gravel!), and not to paint or stain for at least 2 more weeks.

Tom isn't 100% happy with the concrete pillars - the posts don't hit each one dead-center. He didn't know they could be that off and still be ok - now is sorry that we didn't do it ourselves for the $$$ it cost. its done, right?

Clint, our neighbor and heating/A/C guy, fixed our furnace so the house is always warm now. Carroll Fuel stopped over to fill the tank and we'll be good for many months now! Just throw money, right?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

1st Barn Piece Has Arrived!

It has been a long time coming, and the drama has really played out, the ups and downs, but the first piece was delivered yesterday and it looks great! It is obvious we need to get on it right away - staining and sealing this fresh wood and pinning in the dry paddock. We have the lumber on-site for that, so many time-consuming things to do while the weather is decent.

Anyway, so I'm in the shower - glass enclosure - also no curtains - and I see headlights hit the new barn piece! It is like 6:35am, still dark outside! The barn installers are here! It is kind of dark so I have the lights on in the bathroom - yikes!!! the Amish dudes sure got here early!

Also, Clint the Heating and A/C man came over last night! We have real heat! The bad news is that the heat pump will not work, and parts will be nearly impossible to get because of the changing technology. Tom ran out to get heating fuel and the heat came on! Clint is confident that the fuel consumption will be good because the unit is not a 'guzzler.' The tank holds lots of gallons and I see a big $$ bill in the near future.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Barn Delivery - Today!

Tom worked late into the night, after dark, smoothing out the gravel and stone dust that was delivered earlier in the day. It looks great, like velvet, like the black beach on Maui. Luxurious living for our kids!

Penn Dutch will be out today to drop the bottom third of the barn - the 3 stalls with Dutch doors. Tomorrow the crane, 2-stall and tack-room piece and top piece will arrive. I do wish I could be there to watch, to video this bittersweet event, but can't be there. Thursday they will put the roof on and the over-hang. Should be finished by the afternoon on Friday.

Tom ordered muck boots! I can't wait to throw those sneakers away, the sole on one of them is smiling, and it ain't funny!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday's Essay - Reprinted for all you Dads (and Moms) Afraid Your Kid Will Get Hurt by a Horse

A Father's Explanation of Why He
Had Horses for His Children
- author unknown

My daughter turned sixteen years old today, which is a milestone for most people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future. As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop-outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self-esteem. The parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses so my daughter can ride. I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation's "slacker" label on my child. I don't think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no "days off" just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you must do first.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within his natural world, he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money. Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or Farrier visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own. She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions. She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regardless of who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she has to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1,000 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.
Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and buildings. And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a four-horse trailer on a hot day. When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses. I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday is Here! and so is October

The rain finally stopped, got another 2 or more inches overnight. There is no standing water, but there are some turfed up soft spots. Lil Fred and KC were bucking and running around this morning when I went out with hay. it was dark, but I could see those ijits out there, slinging mud.

Now that the rain has stopped, we can better assess the water management issues in the field. We will have plenty of cattle carpet, so the best plan is to put a good bit down at the gate and also under the water trough. With gravel, stone dust, it will always be firm and mud-free.

We did not lay any more cattle carpet last night - it was raining too hard and what we did put down was blown to the north. We have to re-set the original run and finish putting it down tomorrow. Maybe we'll get gravel on Monday; the first part of the barn will be delivered on Tuesday. We have to be ready.

I went over to our friend and neighbor's last night to get two bales of hay. I also saw Irene's brother and sister. Irene is smaller than both of them. The sister got on the hood of my car while it was parked in the barn and she slipped then fell off of it. I must have a sick sense of humor, but that was pretty darn funny. Maybe watching too much '60s television with pratfall jokes gave me this brand of humor, I don't know, but it was funny to me.

Getting hay is on the agenda for Saturday. Tom also has come to the conclusion that he needs some new articles of clothing and boots that are waterproof. He never really needed this kind of stuff before because we could decide to not see the boys if the weather was bad, or not go outside - just ride inside. We no longer enjoy that option. They need attention on a regular schedule, weather can't be a factor. Waterproof is the way of our future.

It's getting dark so early in the evening now, we have to rush to get things done. We are using the 'head lamps' that we got for night riding, using them for things around the barn and field. The horses are used to us looking like specters.

The newly installed sump pump in the exterior stairwell worked like a champ! No water in the basement and the ceiling in the upstairs bathroom finally stopped dripping. I see a blue tarp and roofing tar in our future.