Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day

Last day of 2011, honestly, none too soon. Not as rough as 2010, but glad to see the back end of this year exiting, too.

Willis did come out, but it was noon not 8:00 a.m. He did a bang-up job, buried all the debris, topped with dirt. Looks wide open now.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Year End

Looking in the Year-View Mirror

And it's always about the weather, right? 2011 was slightly better than 2010, weather-wise. We still had a good solid amount of hotter-than-normal, drier-than-normal, followed by wetter-than-normal, an 5.8 earthquake with two named hurricanes thrown in. A couple of these events cut into riding time, too. KC colicked in the heat of Memorial Weekend.

Had a great vacation in June in Cook Forest - although wasn't as prepared as we could have been for that - physically KC and I could have been in better shape, but neither of us had the time to get out there before hand. We had a great time and taking Irene with us was a huge hit, too.

We got so many different things done here but still remaining is the 'lid' over the landscaping bins. This foundation WILL make a great shed, we just haven't had the time nor money to concentrate on getting the roof constructed.

Also remaining on the original list is fencing in the Northeast side and another run-in shed. He has spent so much time and Diesel mowing these fields and the boys could eat it instead. This is going to take another large chunk of time and money to accomplish. We haven't even decided on the type of fencing that we'll apply. We could really use the extra acreage fenced in. We'd then save money on hay, too. Have to spend to save, right?

Saturday Willis is scheduled to help us move the debris piles out of the way, bury it in the tree line - Maybe after that we'll have another bonfire. Those two events will really free up some 'space' around here!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cold, Continued Cold ...

Two nights in a row the boys have spent the night inside. On Tuesday it was chilly, with sustained winds. They do have their heavy coats on, but the wind was fierce, this would make the wind chill unacceptable for my guys to be out all night.

After feeding them I turned them out and prepped their stalls. Fresh water, hay and shavings. When I went out after 10, they were sheltering in the run-in shed. I asked them if they wanted in and they rushed the gate! They were ready to come in.

Immediately Skip urinated in his pile of shavings. Darn! There's some advice somewhere about pissing in the wind. I believe Skip knows this, too.

Wednesday continued cold with the sustained winds. He gave them more hay during the day and I fed them as soon as I got home. Skip didn't really want to go back out after his dinner.

Again, they were more than willing to come in for the night. I closed every portal except one against the wind.

Thursday morning KC had shavings in his tail. I know he enjoyed his lie-down in his stall. He loves to take a load off.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winding Down, Full Speed Ahead!

I've been feeling poorly and he's been working like a maniac.

He's gotten so many things planned, started, done - I've lost count of all the things that have been accomplished in the last few weeks. Here's a recap:

1. Electrified the garage/shed
2. installed breaker box
3. installed light
4. installed switch with eye-sensor timer and quad outlet
5. Installed stall mats
6. Installed Pergo in the rear hallway
7. Replaced back storm door
8. Installed 2 interior doors (bedroom, coat closet)
9. Replaced the stairwell lamp
10. Hardwired the stairwell sump-pump
11. Removed 'popcorn' finish in bedroom, skim-coated all the walls
12. repaired the hole in the wall where the old bathroom door was located
13. Rebuilding the closet with doors
14. Installed new closet doors
15. Replaced the amber lights on the Tractor
16. Removed 35,000 pennies from their wrappers (and found my house keys!)

I can't remember anything else! I've been feeling poorly since last Thursday - stomach ache/head ache - this makes me move slowly and Monday night/Tuesday morning was the worst of it, apparently. I'm better, but ALL food is suspect.

He had also gone to the County dump, got rid of a car load of stuff - the patio looks so big (again) now! There's also a load of stone dust dumped at the gate. That's not going to move itself, surely.

Monday, December 26, 2011

christmas wrap

Willis showed up, late, but the stone dust was delivered on Friday before Christmas while he was working on the new rear storm door installation (in cranberry). The 'blue' room is no longer blue and new closet doors are on-site! We're going to paint the 'blue' room a great new color; 'Straw Basket' has been selected.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas, we’re out in the barn
Blanketing horses to keep them all warm
They’re eating their dinners, tucked in cozy stalls
Not aware that it’s Christmas or any special day at all

They can dream of spring pastures from their pine-scented beds
No visions of sugarplums dance in their heads
But we people are thinking of merry parties and such
Maybe feeling a little sad at missing so much

This season is special but the horses don’t know
We’ve got work to do before we can go
We finish the chores and head on inside
To get ready for dinner and our own yuletide

It’s nearly midnight, the carols are sung
I remember a story I was told when I was young
How at midnight on Christmas Eve
The creatures of the barnyard can speak to us with ease

I am called to the barn, I wade through the rain
I know I must go, I can’t really explain
I slide open the door, pause for a while
Then slowly walk down that dully lit aisle

A nicker from Casey, a wink from JD
Sleepy old Alibi waking to see
Tucker rustling his bedding, a snort soft and light
Each horse gave a greeting as I walked through the night

I thought about parties bright lit and warm
The ones we don’t go to ’cause we have the barn
And vacations and holidays that we don’t get
When we’re working long hours for bills to be met

Walking all the way to the end of the aisle
I stop to stroke Bonnie, it brings me a smile
She snuffles my face, hot breath on my skin
It starts me to thinking about my horses, my kin

I could be at parties with laughter and mirth
But where I am right now is the best place on Earth.

~ Sandra Williams

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12-21 Winter Solstice

The longest night of the year, this December has been warmer than last year. Except for Halloween, no measurable snow. Today it is a little wet, but temps in the 60s! This could easily be April. Dandelions are blooming in the pasture.

They have their light jackets on to help block the breeze, but it is a very mild day.

Quickly counting down to Christmas. Last night he finished cleaning up the 'popcorn' in the blue bedroom, vacuuming the lead paint chips in the cracks and crevices around the floor and moulding. He also 'buttered' another large section of wall. Diminishing blue! Looking better every single day.

We have some serious considerations to take into account if we are to, in fact, move the bed and bedroom furniture into this room. Going to be a slim fit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Before Christmas

What we thought was 'green board' in the blue room turned out to be lead paint. Great! He did have a mask on, it was dusty, but you can still taste that stuff. Makes your tongue buzz. Also you lose brain cells. Not what I need!

Willis is supposed to come out on Friday, sometime, with a load of stone dust. We also need propane. I cook outside as often as possible, even in the rain or snow. He installed the stockade fence so that I could grill out of the wind.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Before Christmas

Whirlwind weekend: on Friday afternoon my beautiful Aunt and I went on a road trip! We traveled to Roanoke to meet my nephew, her great-nephew at the Airport. He's home on leave from Army Basic training! It was a surprise to him and we had a nice visit, then hurry home before dark. On the way we experienced flurries and rain. When we arrived home he had strung Christmas lights in the Dogwood tree and there was snow on the grassy areas. It was cold and windy, had to turn on the water heaters in the outside buckets.

Laytonsville Fire Department was hosting a 'Breakfast with Santa' in the fire hall. We went. The food was surprisingly good but i didn't see Santa. There was a line and I'm not a kid, so I didn't clog up his lap.

The air is cold, smells like snow. The fast-moving clouds look like they could produce a snow shower or flurries. He asked me if I wanted to ride or scrape the popcorned blue room. This is going to be a project in itself: scrapping/mudding the walls, dust and debris flying. Moving books/shelving/clothes.

I feel I have no choice, really. Would love to ride but I have so much to do before the family descends on us next weekend. The kitchen is a wreck, the recycle bins are full, I need to catch up on laundry and my wifely duties. And it's cold and windy.

While moving, sorting junk, I found two Starbuck's gift cards. One for $25, the other $20. I feel rich!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hawk - In Three Acts

Hawk in the hay loft, actually. Last night the hawk was sitting on a small mound of loose hay, with his head tucked under his wing. So cute, in a Raptor sort of way. I tried tip-toeing past him, but that didn't work. He woke up, screeching!

Speaking of hay: our hay supplier's hay shed burned to the ground on Tuesday night. The shed was a large one, also housing farm equipment. Estimated amount of loss: $1MILLION. He has the best hay, too. No one was injured, but a tragic loss to the local barns.

The following day I did not see the Hawk in the loft at all. I was disappointed. I was hoping that he would stay and patrol the barn. We have mice and a flock of House Finches. These two groups are occasionally found in water buckets. They are not good swimmers.

I get a text from him first thing Saturday morning - the Hawk has been found dead in the hay loft on a bale of hay. Darn.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cold, Cold, Cold

Sustained cold temps but no rain since last week. Breaker needs to be turned on every night to keep the water troughs clear of ice. Everybody is staying out, all night. The Moon is waning, but still very bright.

After he wrapped up the latest electrical project we went for a quick ride. We trailered a mile to the Park, crossing Annapolis Rock in the direction of Mullinix Mill.

In the parking lot, which also had a large frozen puddle in the center, was a busted up recycle bin. I knew it was our missing bin, turning it over confirmed that it was! Our house number had been written in Sharpie on the bottom. How it got down here I'll never know. This is the second one that we've lost, darn it.

Our county has been dubbed 'the Nanny State' and for many good reasons. One is the recycling program. It's free and compliance is pretty much mandatory. It's cheaper to recycle than to haul it somewhere, land being expensive and at a premium. Everything is recycled: magazines, boxes, bottles, cardboard, plastics, metals, newspapers, appliances, junk mail, tires. Consequently, our genuine trash is minimal.

We got across the roadway and into the planted Pine watershed. So quiet in there! It wasn't long before we came across a downed tree, which had taken a couple other trees with it. We have saws and clippers and cleared that. The recent flooding caused some undercut to the river bank; he cleaned up a 'go-around' so that we weren't on the very edge of a hollow path!

With all the leaves gone it was easy to see the definition in the park, and realize how thin it is. Seeing houses and barns so close to the boundary was interesting. Some people are very lucky to be able to walk out of their house and into this beautiful park.

We continued through the park, planning on riding home, picking up the trailer after that. The trail was mostly in good shape, only a few obstacles that were easily dealt with. It was soft or slippery in some places, iced over in others. Frost was still lingering in the meadow that is always in the shade. We saw Deer, Crows, assorted local song birds, Squirrels, and a Red-Tail Hawk.

KC remembered our turnoff to head home and immediately we were confronted with downed limbs and branches. This obscured our path to the river crossing. We have to revisit this section when we aren't chasing daylight.

Hunters had obviously been back here, using our new path. They left beer cans and a deer carcass. A tent was also left in the power line right-of-way! Looks like "Occupy Power Lines" and the boys were not happy to see this hulk on their path.

We were back home in no time and retrieved the truck and trailer before dusk.

Later I was up in the hay loft, getting a bale of hay - and there is a HAWK up there! It was still there this morning (still dark when I was there, too) and could hear it screeching. I was surprised at 10:pm to see that up there! flying around, trying to escape, but all the windows up there are closed.

It can stay up there, don't care, wish it would eat some mice while he's there.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Let There Be Light & Electric

Frozen buckets on the inside, glad I turned the breaker on for the bucket heaters, the ice was fairly thick this morning, the full Moon was still up, high in the sky.

He wrapped up the electrical project in the shed, hanging the fixture from the wall above the window, instead of the ceiling. The ceiling's integrity is in question, the wall is cinder block. Easy choice, right?

The switch is located by the door, it has a timer built in and an 'eye' that knows if you're there. If no activity within 30 minutes it shuts the lights off. Under the switch is a Quad-outlet. A new breaker box is now installed and completely wired in and wire run in the conduit, inside and out.

With all the rain we had the trench collapsed just right! To correct the exterior basement step light's deficiency, he bored through the wall and corrected the faulty wiring, installed a new light that matches the lights in the stalls. And now the sump pump is hard-wired into the house, no more extension cord!

With the newly installed electric in the shed, he'll move forward with installing the overhead light on the exterior, illuminating the front yard. There has never, ever been a light in the front of this house, ever.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lisbon Ole Fashion Horse Parade

A delightful event in a local town, small town America. Mules, ponies, mini-donkeys, the local hunt club, Goshen Hunt with their hounds and horses. Riding clubs, rescues, 4-H, school barns, drill teams, school equestrian team, a wonderful turn-out with holiday costumes. Lots of Santas, elves, reindeer antlers, buggies, wagons, carts. There was even a pinto colt from the Chincoteague Island Pony Auction: Lacey's Saltwater Taffy aka "Salty."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thursday, Second One in December

No Snow. Thankfully the snow did not materialize as predicted by the Weather Man. What a relief! It was cold, the mud was mostly frozen, the patio was dry, the wheel barrow had little over three inches of water.

Everybody stayed in last night, the door and windows closed. I went out later in the evening, after they had time to dry, and brushed them out. Skip particularly liked it. KC always does, so that doesn't count!

I also put their heavy coats on, temps were dropping like a heavy stone. Dawned a beautiful, sunny day, but won't get as warm as promised. The organized ride at one of our horsey clubs was canceled due to muddy trails.

The local parade is still on, I want to go!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Tuesday in December

Rainy, but warm - last night it was 53 at 10:10; this morning it was 58 at 6:10, sprinkling. A beautiful Spring day in December. Calling for snow later in the week.

He decided to stay home today. I only heard from him once and it was nothing informative. He's known to be cagey, redirecting questions.

He went to Frederick - to Lowes and HomeDepot (and Roy Rogers) for materials to underground the electric from the house panel in the basement, out the house wall, skirting the basement steps, across the yard and into the corner of the garage/shed.

Eighteen inches deep (US Electrical Code calls for 12 inches) trench, he ran the pipe that will hold the electric cable and it is now installed! He got a proximity reader so that you just walk into the garage/shed, no light switch to flip - turns on the lights automatically - using the light fixtures that he did not install in the barn - yea! I use a camping lamp now, but the porch light shines in the window and its not pitch black in there anyway.

This is a great improvement, a huge leap forward, and I thought since it was raining he would work inside - but it was in the 60s and he didn't get horribly soaked, so its all good and that's behind us now. He is tremendously motivated, always has been. And always wants to do it himself, with as little help from anybody (including me) as possible. I'm the #1 cheerleader.

Clint, our neighbor and furnace technician, came out to look at the furnace, again. Occasionally the furnace will not light, the 'electric eye' sees no flame, shuts down, smokes the basement with unburnt Diesel fuel. This can also happen when we are not home. April and Irene are house pets, they shouldn't be kept in a smoky house, right?

Clint replaced the 'nozzle' and got a tour of the barn. He'd only seen it from the parking lot, never walked into it. He was impressed, as he should be! Everybody was in, looking at him looking at them. Very cozy in this barn and roomier than it looks from the parking lot. He liked the overhang, too. So do the little guys!

As you might recall the furnace was damaged, vandalized, by the previous owners. Clint was instrumental in getting it back up to running order, replacing the copper tubing and cleaning it up last year. Hope that it's working now for the long haul of Winter.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunny Sunday!

Beautiful Sunday, continues cold at night, frosty, but warmish during the day. When I got back into the house, he'd already showered and made coffee. And was working on the hallway walls.

He'd taken the big picture off the wall in the hallway, working on mudding the wall imperfections, which were from the door being moved; sanding and re-mudding. We already have paint for these walls.

He then moved onto the barn, finishing up the stall mat installation prep, I picked up lots of bottles, cans and trash along the roadway. People are pigs and thoughtless, really. I could also see were the Utility had been there recently cleaning up brush under the power lines, leaving the cut saplings and branches. I also picked up a spent cartridge and a golf ball, scared out a deer in the process.

I noticed someone in the woods, he was cutting up fallen timber down at the creek. If he saw me he didn't pay any attention to me. I unloaded the trash, going into the barn to tell him someone was down in the woods. I said I was going down there and introduce myself but didn't want to go by myself. It is easier to meet people out in the woods or yards than bang on their doors, right?

I know he's busy, but this won't take long. We both went down there to see who it was. It was Mr. Curtis - 'Curtis of Bootjack' - a close neighbor, and we find out he owns a dog-leg of property that abuts our place. He was very nice and told us lots of things, couple things we had already heard. He also was the guy I had seen earlier in the fall with the dogs in the woods. He also is mistaken about property lines.

He wrapped up leveling and prepping the fifth stall, we got the mats in place and are DONE!! Glad that is history. Sprite had to inspect, but the sight of it made Lil Fred run for his life. What a case that guy is!

We went for a ride at the Ag Park - rode to Pope Farm nursery, saw a great beaver dam and marsh and KC was a horrid brat - he bucked several times and I almost fell off one time - I gave him what-for, let me tell you - only saw ONE DOG on a leash, all others were free - only one was controllable, the others didn't know their names and like that.

The one that was controllable did not see us coming. We had just gone through the tunnel, I was in front, up the slope and the big yellow dog was going at a good clip, sliding into KC around the blind corner. It was pretty funny, the dog making a hasty retreat back to his owner. He was the best dog, sitting immediately on command. Not a peep out of him.

We got home at deep twilight, another beautiful sunset on Annapolis Rock.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

First Saturday in December

Another beautiful day, with thoughts of riding in the woods. I kept those thoughts to myself. KC is now barefoot. That was not what stopped us. We had too much planned and not enough daylight.

I got up before the alarm, actually before my usual time to get up. I don't get up that early during the work week. I was up and ready to go! It was still quite dark.

Irene is in heat and was crying, yowling. We have got to get her spayed! We are bad parents, honestly.

I fed them before the usual time, put in a load of laundry, straighten up the kitchen, and turned them out before the sun came up. Then I made coffee.

Once he was up he started working on the baseboards. This took a good part of the day. He broke up this task with working with the minis and prepping the fifth stall for the mat installation.

Another day gone, another gorgeous sunset on Annapolis Rock.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Has Arrived!

Beautiful, sunny day! And cold, darn it! It's hard to realize that another year is coming to a close. This one went particularly fast. We monitored the weather, dealt with some natural disasters, power outages, downed trees, and another record heat wave. Only thirty-one days left for this special year.

I've already started working on my to-do list for next year. One of the items that was transferred from the old list to the new list was getting Irene spayed. Just this week Irene went into heat again after not doing that since July. She's obnoxious and only Tom can deal with her. We have to get her fixed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

We had a nice ride on Sunday at the Agricultural Farm Park (AgPark). The weather is incredible. We hadn't been there in some months and heard that the trails were in bad shape because of the two hurricanes. The reports were true; lots of downed trees and branches, multi-flora rose has done very well and the wineberries are taking over. We spent lots of time clipping, sawing and moving tree limbs off of the path or creating go-arounds.

I did not participate in Cyber Monday. I didn't spend any money at all, except for $1.90 for coffee at the Cafe'.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday After Thanksgiving

And today is opening season for firearms. Already can hear 'blam, blam, blam," in the park behind us. Run, Bambi, Run! I can see a guy on a lawnmower in the corn field, blaze orange. It's barely daylight! The boys knew he was there, they pointed him out to me.

It was chilly last night, but not a hard frost. The buckets weren't iced. He worked on the door installation project and the floor transitions. He also spends time on the internet, researching exactly how to do this.

Back in the day you'd have to learn from a family member or friend. Or the library! Now information is easily available through the phone, with pictures, graphics, schematics. No reason to keep owner's manuals, everything is downloadable online. 'Downloadable' wasn't even a word, now it's a verb and a noun.

He's also taking this time to address the basement door moulding issue. The moulding apparently was broken so a new piece of wood was placed on top, upside down and not door moulding, and the empty space was loaded up with wall mud or plaster. All this was then painted. He pried it off, trimmed the upside down moulding and will repair it with drywall.

We also seem to have a yellow tabby cat hanging around the barn and run-in shed. I really don't want to leave food out for him because I'd also be feeding the skunk, the raccoons, the mice, etc. How do you feed a feral barn cat? My Google finger is not broken, I'll have to look that up on the internet, too!

While installing the marble threshold on the bathroom doorway transition from Pergo to sheet vinyl he broke the end off. He had already made one trip to the Big Orange Box earlier in the day while I shoveled out the kitchen and the barn. (not much difference between those two, really). When he decided to go back to get another piece I went with him.

We also got a bucket of gray porch and deck paint for the 2-horse Gooseneck. The flooring paint is starting to peel, better to attend to this now than buy wood later, right? This trailer is now 22-years old.

Installed the new marble threshold, looks great. The new bedroom door looks great, too. He had to repair the door latch area with Bondo, then put the door knob assembly in. Irene is a little put out that she is restricted for the first time in this house.

Later after dinner he walked into the bathroom and broke the marble threshold. It's going to stay broken. He filed off the rough edge, and that is that. It still looks great.

The temps were mild and the day was delightful. I hope the hunters had a successful and safe day. The sunset was spectacular on Annapolis Rock.

Friday After Thanksgiving

In the morning he worked on the door. We had made plans to meet friends at the Horsey Clubhouse, but one thing led to another and they were unable to meet us. We rode on our own, going once again to the Woodstock Inn. On the way, KC lost a shoe in the mud.

After all this rain, should I mention it was muddy? And the Patapsco River was high, too. It was not muddy in the rivers and creeks, but there was evidence of seriously high water. It must have been quite the scene, roaring down the hillsides.

When we arrived at the Woodstock we met up with other friends that were just leaving. It was nice to have a short visit with all of them, from far and wide, three different states.

After they rode off, we enjoyed a couple beers, while watching our boys from the window. Several noisy (are there any other kind?) motorcyclers came and went, a train also came through, blocking traffic and blowing the whistle. All the while the boys dozed at the hitching post.

After that we were chasing daylight, being about an hour and a half from the trailer. The boys were in a hurry to get back, too, and we got there just as the sun dipped down past the trees. Unfortunately, KC is now completely barefooted. Ugh! And he's a limpy, gimpy guy when that happens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day Before Thanksgiving

Rained over night, this was the first time the boys spent the night inside with their new mats and shavings. We allowed the little guys free run of the barn. In the morning she was covered in shavings. She loves these shavings.

Short day, slim staff at the job, just glad to be home on a finally sunny afternoon. Promises to get cold later in the evening.

He spent his free afternoon spending money. He went to the Big Orange Box, buying two doors: one for the blue popcorned room, one for the living room coat closet. Both are missing. There was only one door in the entire house that was not broken; we moved that to the downstairs bathroom. All the other doorways had either broken or missing doors.

Our short-term goal is to move the bed into the blue popcorned bedroom by Christmas. I don't know if that will happen, but getting a door on it is certainly a start. And it's a nice, wooden door.

He had to repair the door frame and some of the framing to realign the moulding. He used Bondo to repair where the latch had obviously been kicked in. This house has so many issues like that. This is just one small item.

Also in this room is where the former doorway to the bathroom was located. There is now a doorway-sized hole in the wall that will need to be drywalled. We have drywall stacked in the basement. He also has a 5-gallon bucket of mud to skim-coat the popcorn. This room will not be blue.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday, Foggy Monday

Mondays come around so quickly, darn it. Short week, counting down to Thanksgiving. So much to be thankful for, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday before Thanksgiving

Another beautiful Sunday, I got up earlier than usual, fed the gang out back and headed to the grocery. Got gasoline and coffee, too. I was back by 8. I can't get over how nice the weather has been, for November. September was a lousy month; rained almost every single day. November is trying to make up for September's shortcomings.

After breakfast we headed out to Elton Farm Road, a trail head to the Patuxent River State Park. This park also borders our own place, but we like starting out at different trail heads. We hadn't been there in well over two years, maybe three.

Elton Farm Road is off of Howard Chapel Road. It not only dead ends, the roadway diminishes into a rutted single gravel lane. There are horse farms and McMansions, an old Manse and bungalows from the 30's on these roads. A few are for sale, too. The same run of power lines goes through here.

We passed no one on these roads but when we got to the end of the lane the parking lot was full, no horse trailers. There were field trials for Search & Rescue dog teams, even the police with their K-9s were there. We did see other riders, and several mules, but no riders parked at this trail head.

While we were tacking up at the trailer a large group of riders came near. They also had a dog with them. The dog came over for a visit. Several of the riders were on Mules. We were surprised by the number of Mules in the group. For some reason Skip thought KC had joined the group and proceeded to have a melt-down. He tried to break his halter, which he's been known to do at will. He also treated Tom like a marionette. Skip was vibrating and calling out. I dragged KC over to the trailer door and Skip immediately calmed down, exhaling loudly. Tom got a little skinned up while being air-lifted by Skip.

We saw an eight-point buck, several woodpeckers, and flocking bluebirds in the bean field. The buck was so top heavy he ran from us with his head way down so his crown wouldn't get stuck in the brush. The doe he was with ran straight away with her head held high. The corn is in but the soy beans are still in the fields. There are few leaves left on any of the trees.

One of the Horsey Clubs that we belong to recently had an organized ride on these trails. We did not participate but figured the trails would be in good shape, wide open with minimal trees down. We were mostly right and had a great ride. We both brought clippers and hand-saws and did some minimal trail clearing and moving of dead wood off the trails. We saw evidence of Beaver damage, too.

We ended up criss-crossing trails we'd previously been on years ago and discovering new single track trails, open meadows and crop fields.

While we were getting them ready to get on the trailer I noticed a tick crawling on Skip's leg. Turns out he had 45 ticks on him. KC had some, but not like Skip. Plus he had thorns imbedded on his face and nose. Ouch.

The rain held off until we were in the truck heading back down Elton Farm Road. Perfect timing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stall Mats - Part III

Saturday we had little things on the list, I got up early, did the horsey maintenance thing; cleaned stalls, the dry paddock and like that. Then I moved on to laundry, bathroom, vacuuming, sweeping, kitchen duties, etc. Boring, right? Yea, I think so, too.

He got himself busy finishing up KC's stall prep, moved on to Sprite's. Two stalls are prepped! Wahoo! Around 4 o'clock my nephew stopped in, with four friends in two cars. Tom continued cutting stall mats while our visitors made them selves at home down the hill. They love to target practice here because I don't charge like a firing range, but I do collect 'fees.' I insist on hand-delivery of my favorite coffee: Illy, whole bean. He brought me two cans.

The mats, from Humane Manufacturing Company in Baraboo, Wisconsin, are made from recycled tires. The slip-free surface is easy to keep clean. The interlocking dove-tail design, like a jigsaw puzzle, prevents the pieces from separating and folding over.

The schematic shows how the pieces should be placed in the stall and each mat is given a number corresponding to the schematic. The trail-and-error method of cutting the mats resulted in using a utility knife with a straight edge. That straight edge is the Mahogany level. We've had that level for many, many years. It was recommended by a neighbor in West Virginia when we were building the first barn there. He called it a 'mahiginee,' which we still refer to it as that, but when we were looking for this in the hardware store we weren't sure what we were even looking for. I had never heard Mahogany pronounced this way, neither had he. It's been the best buy, too, unlike the metal levels, the 'mahiginee' will not ever twist or bend.

Marking them with white chaulk, drawing a straight line using the 'maghiginee' and using the utility knife to cut through the thick mats; slow going as it got cooler and harder in the dark. Did I mention that only 1411 didn't need to be cut? That particular mat weighs 105 lbs. Ugh. Lifting that mat onto the wheel barrow was hardest, but made some of the others feel light. It's all relative, right?

We started laying the mats into KC's stall, then Sprite's. It got dark in the meantime, we were working with a work light on the driveway. Got them both done before their dinner, but we didn't eat until 9:00!

KC was a little distressed over the sight of his stall conversion, but he remembered that his feed was in the bin. After blowing a hard breath he jumped into the shavings. He likes it!

Sprite likes hers, too, but we haven't put shavings into it yet. She hasn't fouled the stall yet, either. Skip and KC were literally relieved to have shavings in their stalls. Glad they feel comfortable and relaxed, right? No more mopping up urine with wasted hay and throwing away stone dust.

The fifth stall has the mats cut but not installed. I don't know what we'll do with the cut pieces of rubber. I've known it to be used to line stalls of stall-kickers or 'cribbers,' but we don't have any cribbers or kickers.