Saturday, July 30, 2011

July's Last Saturday

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Been brutally hot, and today was no exception, however, the humidity was 29%. Unheard of in these parts. It rained Friday evening, got windy and the lower humidity moved in. Delightful!

Nice ride in the park, rode out at 10:00 a.m., got back to the trailer at 4:00 p.m. Where does that time go!? Awesome ride, good footing, wildlife sightings. Perfect day. Hope Sunday is just as nice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Last Wednesday in July

This month really did blow by, too much time hiding from the heat. I love summer, wait so long for it to be here, then have to hide from the long, hot days. Darn.

Last Wednesday in July, the day started off kind of chilly, considering. Very refreshing.

After we got home from work we took the boys out across the road, around the corn and bean fields to the old Wilson Warfield homestead. This property was deeded to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and there are lots of farm buildings, out-buildings and falling down structures in the woods. Looking forward to exploring this part of the Patuxent River State Park when we have more time and more daylight.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot, Hot Weekend

Saturday morning feeding time: 6:15 a.m. – Lil Fred BIT ME! I had on my housecoat and flip-flops (I know, I know) and he reached down and bit me on my leg, near my ankle – I have a bruise there now! Argh, that little shit!! I kicked him, because I had the feed buckets in my hand and couldn’t slug him, and broke my flip-flop – argh! That little shit! I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for him.

Saturday was brutally hot, again. This weather pattern is really draining, on me, the horses, the dog, the grass, the pasture, the trees, my attitude. The high heat with little to no rain is not good for any thing.

In the morning we went to ‘town’ to get dog food and a gallon of paint at the big box stores. The paint is for the house exterior; Tom wants to put paint on the peeling/chipping paint. We’re hiding from the Sun.

Also, next year I’m getting ‘fly predator™,’ promise.

We hid from the Sun for most of the day, venturing out for the shortest amount of time, running back in. Brutal. He hoses the boys off with the hose, they liked it. The radio announcer says its 100 degrees in southwest Washington – great! Tom washed the windows on the outside, using the hose, eZAll cleaner and a squeegee. The screens got cleaned, too.

Sunday dawned nice, considering, but I didn't want to ride today, too hot for my little baby. Tom made other arrangements, agreeing to meet Martin, Tracey and Maddie in the park around the corner from our place. It's hard to remember that Maddie is EIGHT-YEARS-OLD.

We parked in what little shade the pasture parking had to offer and tacked up. We headed down the trail, Tom having an ulterior motive: circle back to our place for a beverage. I didn’t think this was a good idea, the trip being longer than acknowledged.

We were barely into our descent, just getting close to the river, when Maddie’s Paint pony, Shine, jumped a downed log and Maddie popped off. She was not hurt, but commenced crying and wanted to walk back to the truck. She did immediately get back on, but cried the entire way back to the parking area.

We should have left then, too, but we started back down the trail. It was heating up now, and I brought two bottles of water and no food. I hadn’t thought we’d ride for long, considering how hot it was predicted to be.

His plan was to ride home from there, and we did. It is a longer ride than he wanted to admit and now he knows. He also knows that I was mad about it, because I knew how far the final destination was.

The trails on this side of the Patuxent River are in terrible condition. I spent lots of time sitting in the saddle while he hacked and clipped and sawed his way through to the other side. Once we crossed Annapolis Rock the trails were pretty darn nice. Except for one place.

Tom fell off of Skip on Sunday afternoon. We were stopped at a waterfall – I was taking a picture (didn't get the picture) and Skip started stomping his back foot, then took off! I think he got stung or bit by a fly, bolted past me and Fluffs, ran down the trail (Tom did not have the reins in his hands) and a downed branch was hanging over the trail - Tom had to really duck to miss it (barely) then he was hanging off the saddle so far that he just slithered off - lost his hat on the limb, too. He was not hurt, neither was Skip. When Tom made the unscheduled dismount, Skip stopped. Because it was late by this time we didn’t do anything about that limb that was hanging down into the trail.

We hadn't marked our detour from the main trail and naturally could not find it. One of these days we'll learn to mark our own trails! Eventually we found it, but the boys were getting tired, I was cranky because I had no water and no food since breakfast and it was now getting close to 4:00 p.m. And it was blazing hot.

We got back home, untacked, put the boys in their stalls with a misting shower and some hay. Drove the car back to the truck, came home. I ate most of an entire watermelon and fell asleep. I woke up later to discover it was raining! We need the rain, but now it was even more humid, if that was possible. Thick and just as hot as before.

Tom mowed some, he's always got something to mow. He later complained about the groundhog mounds. That was what I wanted to do after our ride, if we had returned at noon like I had planned. I wanted to blow those free-loaders up! Didn't happen. Another time, right?

I look forward to summer, then it arrives and is blazing hot. I spend too much time hiding from the heat. What a waste.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Time for a New Rant!

I wanted to share a recent article in our local paper. Apparently horse ownership and what we do with those horses is not known. And let’s not let an opportunity to bash the Government for meddling and spending our money go unanswered.

Occasionally on the trail we’ve been asked if our horses are race horses. That is the only thing people associate horses with today, thanks to ESPN and NBC Sports. Our horses are related to Quarter Horse race horses, but ours are trail and camping horses.

In our state we have over 2,000 horse trail miles. How could this be possible? Decades of lobbying on behalf of the horse industry to preserve established trails during and after suburban development, volunteers to make sure the trails are in good condition and sharing the trails with hikers/bikers.

A Reverse Barometer

By John J. Walters
JULY 14, 2011
What is it about working in the government that makes politicians that seem so sensible in private conversation so prone to terrible decision-making? Are they actually this bad with their own finances, or do their seemingly-compulsive bad investments happen only with other people’s money? It seems like every time I turn around, I am reading another article about a bad investment the government has made, or is at least considering.
Yesterday’s news brought two great examples of how the government is a perfect “reverse business barometer” (that is to say, whatever they want to do, as a good investor you should do the opposite). Since they are both part of the subscription content on The Daily Record, I will summarize them for you.
The Maryland Horse Industry Board (part of the Department of Agriculture) has decided to test the waters on a “state horse park.”
Quick summary: We will soon be committing almost $80,000 to studying the viability of a state horse park in Maryland -- an idea that we are borrowing from the state of Kentucky. We don’t know how we can afford to pay for the project yet, but we are already anticipating that it will bring over $9 million dollars into the state each year as tax revenue.
Why this is a terrible idea: Three reasons.
1) The thoroughbred racing industry is already dying in this state. We have spent millions upon millions over the past several years trying to prop it up, and to no avail. I can tell you whether or not this is a good idea, and I’ll do it for a lot less than $80,000…
2) The fact that we have no idea how it would be paid for is a good sign that we shouldn’t be considering such a project. This is like car shopping when you know that you have no down payment and no available credit. Pointless, and potentially very bad (if you can’t control your spending -- like our government).
3) Starting a big project like this one simply because you saw it somewhere else is not always a good idea. If our politicians went to Disneyworld, would they decide we need one here, and spend taxpayer dollars to build it? Even if people show up to our MD horse events, we may have just spent lots of money to shuffle them from there to here. We wouldn’t be creating any extra wealth at all.
Maryland officials are working on restructuring the debt for the Hippodrome Theatre so that they can continue operations.
Quick summary: The Hippodrome Theatre owes $1.8 million in debt service each year. The deal that the state struck was that the theater would contribute $800,000 annually from ticket revenues and then the remaining $1 million would be kicked in from the General Fund (your tax dollars, yes). But ticket revenue has fallen all the way to under $400,000 last year, leaving more slack for taxpayers to pick up.
Why this is a terrible idea: The government needs to admit that it is a horrible businessman. This, like Rocky Gap, is another failed venture that should have been taken over by the private sector a long time ago. Especially given the fact that we are facing perpetual deficits, it seems like it would make a lot more sense to sell off these underperforming assets and stop throwing money at them. But we never really do that, do we? Instead, we “restructure” -- spreading the pain out for longer and longer each time, but never really solving the problem.
I wish it wasn’t so easy to look at what the government does every day and say, “That’s ridiculous.” But it is.
I appreciate John's comments and it shows me that the Maryland horse industry & myself specifically have much work to do to educate and inform our fellow citizens as we embark on plans to grow our industry and in this specific case, to explain plans by The Md. Horse Industry Board to revisit the concept of building a Md. Horse Park.
First, even though the Md. Horse Industry Board is a program within the Md. Dept. of Agriculture, and we are proud of that fact, we receive absolutely NO government funding. Every penny we receive in funding comes from the horse industry itself, mostly through the Feed Fund Assessment program. Every time a Maryland horse owner buys a bag of horse feed we receive 15 cents. That is our primary funding source, as well as fees that we receive from licensing approximately 600 Md. boarding, lesson and riding stables.
So we are ENTIRELY Industry funded and as Executive Director, I am answerable to an 11-person board comprised entirely of horse industry professionals from various disciplines such as horse shows and events; trail riding; horse rescues, etc. We have one representative from the Thoroughbred racing segment of the industry on our board.
Every five years MHIB sponsors a Md. Horse Summit. At the last Summit, held in August, 2009 and attended by over 300 industry representatives and stakeholders, attendees at a town hall meeting and through post-Summit surveys said that the No. 1 project that could move the industry forward was building a Md. Horse Park.
This idea had absolutely nothing to do with state government, but came from industry stakeholders themselves.
That is exactly why our Horse Industry Board is taking up the idea of building a Md. Horse Park. To NOT do so would be derelict in our duty to the industry that we represent and from which we receive our funding.
The original idea for a Md. Horse Park was generated as far back as 1999, a year after the Md. Horse Industry Board was formed and gained traction at the first Md. Horse Forum in 2004. At that time the Maryland Stadium Authority joined in the process and conducted an extensive Feasibility Study that showed the viability of such a facility. A site at the Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills was selected, but because of political considerations, the plan at that site was dropped.
Now we are re-visiting the Horse Park concept because that is what our industry stakeholders and constituents have asked us do.
We realize economic conditions have changed drastically since 2006. We realize that if we have any hope whatsoever to obtain any type of government funding, if there is any available at all, and for that matter, any private funding, that as an industry we have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the viability of building such a Horse Park.
That is why we are proceeding very cautiously and conservatively, and to this point, have only approved Phase I of a study to determine if building such a facility is still viable under current conditions. The initial $8,000 of that cost is being borne entirely by the Md. Horse Industry Board from our industry-derived funds. Not one penny from government funds is being used. Depending on the outcome of that study, we would then move to Phase II.
We will need additional funding of $70,000 to conduct that study and again, the burden is on us to prove that this is an economically viable project.
One comment here about the Md. Horse Industry.
Horses are an extremely viable economic engine in Maryland involved in a lot more than horse racing, although that gets most of the media attention. Racing only accounts for about 40 percent of the overall horse industry picture. The other 60 percent is recreational horse riding and horse sports and that segment of the industry is thriving and extends to every county in the state, including Baltimore City.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service conducted a very thorough 18-month Md. Horse Census in 2010. The study found there are 79,100 horses in Maryland; 16,000 places where horses are kept; that 587,000 acres of Maryland land is owned and/or controlled by Md. horse people and their families, green space that serves as superb filtering mechanisms for the Bay; that total equine related assets in the state amount to $5.6 billion; and that Marylanders' total annual operating and capital expenditures for their horse operations amount annually to $512 million. Other studies and surveys show that there are 65,000 Marylanders involved in the horse industry and that 28,000 full and part time jobs are attributable to the equine industry.
The majority of these assets and expenditures are NOT racetrack dependent.
Horses are used for work (such as mounted police units, carriage companies, extensively for farming in southern Maryland by the Amish); in manufacturing (such as equine pharmaceutical company Nutramax, located in White Marsh); entertainment (such as Medieval Times); tourism (the Assateague ponies); agriculture (Maryland horse people spend over $80M a year on horse feed, hay & straw, much of it locally produced); education (there are 22 Pony Clubs and over 1,500 youth involved in 4-H work; the U.S. Naval Academy formed its own 52-member horseback riding and intercollegiate show team this year); therapy with over 50 therapeutic riding organizations in the state helping citizens with all types of disabilities from autism to anorexia, abused women, wounded vets, etc.
There are over 2,000 miles of horse trails, a dozen organized foxhunting clubs preserving thousands of acres of open space; world-class riding facilities and events; and accomplished individuals like Tiffany McClure, the World Champion barrel racer from Upper Marlboro and Olympic Grand Prix Jumping hopeful Marilyn Little from Frederick.

I could go on and on.

Time will tell as we thoroughly discuss this issue whether or not there is solid ground to build the Horse Park facility. This is not a racetrack. This would be a facility devoted to the history, recreation, therapeutic and holistic value, the arts and enjoyment and magic of horses.

Perhaps we already have enough excellent horse facilities in the state to serve the needs of our horse-loving community. But perhaps we do need a central location for national and international competitions and horse entertainment venues; and for visitors and tourists and our citizens to enrich their lives through the experience of being associated with horses and to grow our industry.
The Maryland Department of Planning projects 25 percent growth in population in Maryland by 2030. That’s 25 percent more Marylanders looking for leisure activities for themselves and their families and for ways to spend their disposable income.
We would love for them to discover the joy of horses.
Ross Peddicord, Exec. Dir., Md. Horse Industry Board
posted by : Ross Peddicord on July 20, 2011 at 03:39 PM

Friday, July 15, 2011

Full Moon - moonlit rides

With the waxing Moon and the cooler, unseasonable weather we're enjoying, we've been going for rides after work. Very romantic. So what if the place is in shambles, the weather is perfect and the horses are ready!

We've been trying to create a circular trail system that we can do with very little time, from our own place. We are also using the GPS to see if we are in park or private land. The electric utility's power lines also come through here.

I am certainly enjoying this country life! I have to pinch myself when I get home in the evening, seeing my guys at the fence and the big picture. This is what makes life really worth living. Having a dream is one thing, having pie-in-the-sky goals can be crazy, but when you obtain your version of the dream, it takes a long while for it to sink in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heat Wave & Stone Dust

These past few days have been hot. Hot Hot. The kind that buckles roadways and the train rails. Scary, really. So hot that I can’t be outside much later than 9:30 a.m., not venturing out again until after 9:00 p.m.

I’ve been delaying outside chores because I can’t handle the heat. I’m melting, my legs feel like they are lead-filled. I can’t lift my boots. Being held down by the thick atmosphere.

Too hot to ride after work, the boys are wet just standing in the shade.

We still have a pile of stone dust just outside the big gate into the dry paddock. It’s not going to move itself, surely, so it is not going anywhere without assistance.

After hiding inside for the evening, we ventured out in twilight to move the stone dust into the fifth stall. First, he had to empty the stall of all the waste hay, hay that comes off of each bale that I do not then feed my kids. There is a small sheet of plywood under the hay, preventing the hay from lying on the gravel. The lower layers have molded. He piles the top layer into the smaller water trough that we don’t use, the rest into the manure spreader. He empties the spreader in the field, I start shoveling stone dust into the wheel barrow.

Everybody is in, munching hay, so we can come and go through the open gate. Wheel barrow after wheel barrow, we take turns filling it and dumping into the fifth stall. I have on jeans, leather gloves, flip-flops and a wife-beater t-shirt. He says I look ‘hot’ but I know my hair and shirt are wet, my jeans are stuck to me, my belt is wet; I’m melting!

We work until after 10:00 p.m, the stall is now full to the sills. We want to get stall mats and the foundation level has to be brought up, not too high, not too low. This farm work is hard! Especially in the heat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Independence Day!

This year the fourth fell on a Monday, a three-day weekend! As usual, we had plans, made a list, got things together, groceries, caught up with laundry, changed sheets on the beds, etc., in anticipation. As usual, things did not work out as planned, but I did get the laundry done and we ate pretty good.

Our plans centered around my Godson, Mario, coming for a visit. It has been far too long since we last saw him and we were anxious to have three days with him at the farm. We made a long list of activities that he could participate in or help us with. Everybody gets to work around here if staying more than an hour or two.

Tom had off that Friday and my job promised to leave early. He got a lot of things done during that day, running errands. Tom also bought a window air conditioner for the ‘cowboy room.’ He put it in the window, set the thermostat for 86 degrees and the unit ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. By the time I got home you could hang meat in that room. The unit was still running. Thermostat is defective, has to go back. Argh! Hate when that happens!

Tom mowed well into dark, a chore on the list where Mario could have helped.

I didn’t leave as early as I had wanted to, but early is early and I was on my way to pick up Mario when I got a text from his mother saying she was sick, had been sick and was too sick to get picked up. I circled back home.

On the list was getting hay. We need hay, wasn’t going to last much past the weekend, so we have to move on this. Two hay vendors are located in our immediate neighborhood. This year’s first-cut is pretty nice, coming out of a wet spring. Saturday morning I texted her again.

I also needed to go to Mt Airy to get grain for everybody. SouthernStatesCooperative closes at 7:00 p.m. Skip now has no grain left. I could pick them up, circle back and get grain. I don’t hear from her, so I text her again and cancel the whole weekend visit. Hated to do that, but we had so many things that needed doing, inserting two three-hour round-trips in the weekend would prevent some things from getting done.

Now we drop back to Plan C. On the long list was trail clearing. We each routinely carry a hand saw and clippers on our rides. The trail clearing we have been working on started on Day One of ownership. Because our place borders on the Patuxent River State Park we want direct access into the trail system located there. We want to ride out the back, circle through the park and come back onto the front lawn. All this is possible. All this is not easy.

Out the rear of our place is a decent entry into the park, but in between our sporadic trail work someone has placed obstacles in our paths. Aircraft cable is not something usually found in nature. We did find a hunter’s encampment near there, but we don’t ride there on the days the hunters are in the woods, and this is not hunting season. We scouted out several different ways into the park, but the presence of someone putting barriers up between the trees is freaking him out.

Out the front is a far better way to reach the other end of the loop. The terrain and the downed trees make it a serious challenge to meeting up with the well-established loop, but the distance is shorter. Sounds like it would be easier, but scouting it out can have its own challenges. Deer paths can be a good start, but time is wasted clipping and sawing, and then it turns out to not be a good way.

As usual, I had packed horse treats, NutterButters and apples for the boys, a couple bottles of water. No lunch because we weren’t going to be gone that long. Famous last words. It is getting like ‘Lucy and the football.’ I must be an idiot to fall for this, time and time again. I need to work on taking care of my own interests, not assurances that don’t work out. SouthernStatesCooperative closes at 7:00 p.m. Skip has no grain.

We get to an impasse in the trail, so many large downed trees, we can't get around them in the trajectory that we need to go in, our choice is to turn around and go back or go straight up the hillside. We eat the NutterButters and the apples, sharing some with the boys, but eating most of it. Beats starving, right? Up the hillside we go. It is rocky, rough and this path would cause erosion. Not a good idea, but we gain the top of the hill and can see where we need to go. We pick our way around more downed trees and rock outcroppings and find another deer path. This might have been a viable path at one time, but the Multi-flora Rose has taken over and it is not good. KC hates stickers and will stop him dead in his tracks.

We finally get out onto the Power Line right-of-way and decide to go home from there. We are back in about 15 minutes, but have no keys to the house, they are in the trailer where we parked it earlier in the day. We untack and put the boys in the pasture. It's now after 5:00 p.m. SouthernStatesCooperative closes at 7:00.

The weather lately has been delightful. I don't know where we are stealing this weather from, but it is unusual for the humidity to be so low, the nights almost chilly. We've been sleeping with the windows open. The living room window over our bed is unlocked. I get a ladder out of the unlocked shed and Tom does a somersault into the bed. April is like, "Whaa?" We get the keys, drive down to the trailer parking lot and now I'm on my way to Mt. Airy for feed.

The next day we work on clearing out the garage/shed. There is construction debris stored in there from the demolition of the apartments, 2x4s stacked up with drywall screws and nails. We haul lots of stuff out of there and onto the patio. A dump run is going to be in my future, but there is still more on the list that we need to get to. He also had picked up two new shelving units. We put those together, one for the garage/shed, one for the basement.

The day heated up and we literally hid from the sun. I did laundry, changed sheets, vacuumed, scrubbed the floor, and all those wifely duties. Waiting until later in the day to venture out again.

Got up early on Monday, the Fourth of July! and made arrangements to pick up hay. Literally around the corner is a hay vendor that was selling for $4 a bale, if we picked it up. We got the flat bed hitched up, meet him over at his barn. The hay looks nice, fresh first-cut, the bales are lighter in weight than the bales we got earlier in the year in Hanover.

The hay elevator was wrapped in its tarp and getting those knots undone was not easy. We hadn't used it in a while so a wasp nest was being constructed under the tarp. Tom got stung before we knew they were there. We used the Bee/Wasp killer and that stuff is effective. 25 feet spray, shoots them out of the air, dead before they hit the dirt. A bird's nest was also inside, cleared that debris out. Now were ready to buck some hay into the hayloft!

Didn't take long to empty the trailer and the truck bed, now on to our next adventure. More trail clearing! This time, Mr. Weed Whacker is invited to join us. We went out the front, meeting up at the same spot that failed us on Saturday - and now we're through! We have to go back to clean it up, pretty it up, but it is done!

I put everybody in for dinner and left them in until almost 10:00. Skip had been stall walking/weaving for most of the evening; his stall looks like the tide came in then out. He was hot and agitated, and I honestly could not catch him in his stall. I got Tom out of bed to help me get him out and into the pasture for the night. The other three didn't care about the fire works and bottle rockets.

The weekend blew by, not getting to the bonfire, the groundhog eradication, window washing. We could have gotten more done on these items if Mario had been here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Posse plus Brown Church Road

Saturday: Brown Church Road

Brown Church Road is another access point with trailer parking for the Patuxent River State Park. In theory you can travel all along this river park, in actuality you can cross roads, end up in swamps with impassable sections or generally not be able to move forward. I’d like to see these negatives corrected.

Brown Church Road is a dead end road between Mt Airy and Damascus. Easily overlooked with a handful of new and old houses and farmettes, a couple employment centers, ending in the park as the road deteriorates.

Brown Church Road is also the place where recently a young girl was found decomposing in a shallow grave by hunters. This is not a well-traveled road, and everybody is watchful but friendly, waving as we drive by.

We park in the parking area, tack up and head down the roadway, which gets thinner and thinner as we travel. There is little ‘head room’ and we pull out our clippers. The boys pick their way into the woods and immediately come across the River, but it looks more like a ‘crick’ at this point. We cross the ‘crick’ and follow the trail up a slight hill and we are now at the trail’s crossroads.

We opt to go left, and it is well-maintained and easy to follow. Horses have been on this stretch just this morning, having gotten three inches of rain just the evening before, it is easy to see their hoof impressions and fresh manure. We continue on, coming to more crossroads, choosing to go this way or that as we feel. It is a beautiful day in the woods.

As in all our trail explorations, we can see that no one carries clippers, choosing to go around a downed limb than get off their horse and remove it or clip it. We end up doing maintenance on some of these downed trees. We’re clipping as we move along.

We come to a clearing, which turns out to be quite large and planted with saplings in their plastic jackets with netting positioned over the ends, preventing deer from defoliating the tree before it has a chance to grow. This open area also has jumps and fences. We figure we’re on private property and move on after eating some excellent red and white clover.

We canter through the open area and get back into the woods, retracing our steps, then turning left again.

We love this park, and look forward to coming back again soon. So close to our house, on our same park, it is like being home! We eventually make it out of the woods, the last section of trail is straight up and down the hillside and it must have been a horrific waterway the evening before. A gully-washer, surely, so many trees down we end up bush-whacking through the woods, zigzagging around downed trees, holes and rocks. KC is stellar, really listening to me.

We emerge onto a bean field and soon enter a clearing and the roadway. A marker stone is placed on the site of the Brown Church. Our trailer is parked on the other side of the small woods. We made it!

We saw evidence of other riders but saw not a single soul while we were out. So quiet out this way, off the beaten path. Obviously easy to dump a dead girl, without the slightest hint of being spied. The wrong person knows this place is secluded.

We get back in plenty of time to load the car with the garage/shed debris and junk from the patio and make a dump run. Later on after dark we start a bonfire and we burn 2x4s and brush until almost midnight. The moon is waxing. It's beautiful out here.

Sunday, Sunday:

We had planned for a 10 am ride out, getting there around 9:30 ready to go except for tacking up. Don’t you love plans? Agendas? Clear-cut direction? Sometimes doesn’t work out as planned.

I got up early, 6:35. That’s early for a Sunday, right? Fed and watered everybody, then pulled KC out to the aisle to clean him up, trim and braid. I wanted him to look like a fine example of a backyard pampered pony, not the product of a crazy person that has too little time for anything.

He LOVES getting straightened up for a ‘show.’ He was yawning, and ‘down-dog’ stretch, too, while we listened to the radio with everybody in on this quiet Sunday.

I also put several flakes of hay in the nets for the small trailer. Moved tack from one trailer to the other, buckets, fly spray, all that jazz. Previously I had stated that living with the boys would make us more likely to be on time for a ride because we didn’t have to catch them in the field (they now always come to the gate) or know if they are dirty or have all their shoes on, if they’ve been fed and like that. I need to add a disclaimer for self-sabotage.

Tom joined me in the barn, cleaned up Skip and we left everybody in, with the fans running. I didn’t want to clean him twice. Showered, dressed, made breakfast, filled my saddle bags with horse treats and an apple. We needed to stop on the way at the local KwickyMart for bottled water. He filled the little cooler with freezer-packs and a few bottles of beer. It was now 9:23.

He went out the door with the cooler, I went out the door with my saddle bag. Neither of us went out the door with keys to the house or truck. He thought he had keys, couldn’t find them. There were no house keys in the truck because they hadn’t made their way back since we locked ourselves out a couple weekends ago.

All of our doorways are keyed alike. We have five doorways. Each lock set came with 2 keys. We each have one, I gave one key to my Aunt and there are two on a small ring that usually resides in the truck, which has a keypad. Where are the rest of those keys?

Long story short: I texted everybody we were supposed to be meeting up with that we couldn’t make the ride. Surveying the windows revealed that none were unlocked, the shed was unlocked. He tried prying a basement window with a chisel and the glass cracked. He finished the window pane off with the sledge hammer from the unlocked shed. He slid through the opening that we had wrapped with a moving mat, diving into the basement feet first. With the circular saw he cut a piece of plywood to fit the window, screwed that into place. It was now after 10. The boys were still in the trailer, munching hay.

I received texts back informing us that they were going to ride, but would circle back to meet us. We stopped for bottled water and bought diesel, too, being cheaper than high-test gasoline: $3.65.

We got there around 11:00 a.m. Everybody was there, waiting for us. We do have some great friends, really.

We quickly tacked up and headed down the drive. It was certainly heating up, but felt like air conditioning in the woods. Saw lots of deer, little ones, too, and a fox. We seemed to mostly have the park to ourselves. A train came by, too, blowing its horn, rattling and squeaking, no one paid attention at all. While crossing the river Skip lost a shoe.

The destination was our favorite biker bar, The Woodstock Inn, which has hitching posts out front. I brought my thin rope halter and the long, skinny lead rope in my saddle bag. The boys love going there because it means at least an hour of standing around doing nothing. They like doing nothing. They put up with the bikes coming in and out, the occasion train coming through, because they can stand there and do nothing.

There were a few good stretches for cantering back to the trailers. They were rested, dried out and going in the right direction. Asking them to hurry was no big deal. Willing and able. Staying in the shade on the winding woods trail, keeping my knees in on the slim parts, we made good time getting back, around 4:30. And not one single hint from him about wanting to buck. My little man is growing up!

Now we have to deal with getting a replacement window for the basement and buying at least two magnetic key-minders and figuring out where the rest of our keys are. We can’t be getting locked out of our house, we live too far out there for this foolishness.

Bees, Keys, & Fire

Sounds like a set of plagues from the Bible or something.

Just because you own something doesn't mean that Nature won't take it over. You need to be using it constantly. Anything left alone for a period of time, short time, becomes fair game for squatters; birds, bees, mice, whatever. Snooze you lose.

A conflagration of construction debris from the demolished apartment was an awesome sight, and cleared out some areas that have been dead space, used up by junk and trash. We need the space and the fire needed to burn. Win/win!

Twice within ten days we locked ourselves out of the house. No matter that we had two house keys in the truck and the truck doesn't need a key to open the door. We are Losers, period. Can't wait to get old; if this is how we are acting now, it will be one big daily adventure. We need keepers or something.