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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And Three To Go!

Stall Mats: On the To Do list from the very beginning, well over a year later and they are finally making a showing. Two sets installed, three more to go. This is slow going because it is a process, but the results are fabulous.

Each stall has been treated differently by its occupant. Lil Fred does tread lightly, but Sprite has made her mark in his stall. She's been much harder on her own stall; she does a crazy 'happy dance' when she's eating. She's created a ditch under her feed bin, displacing stone dust. She also likes to paw and then roll in the loose stone dust. This makes her not only dusty, but she smells like gun powder.

Skip does a spin and twist in his stall. The stone dust is hard as a rock in some areas, loose in others. Plus the two little ones steal into his stall looking for spilled grain every chance they get. Skip is sloppy with his grain - he gets a mouthful then spins and twists, spewing feed here and there. I like to think he's feeding his birds and mice. He has a hay net in his stall. He's good at extracting hay from it, one grass strand at a time. In the past he's wasted hay that was placed on the ground. It would look like a pillow fit in there, with his spin and twist on his flakes of hay. He wouldn't eat it after that, so into the spreader it would go.

While scavenging for bits of feed, the little guys end up eating stone dust, too. Periodically I have to give them 'Sand Colic Remedy.' With these mats in place that will become a rare event, too.

KC is the best behaved in his stall. He'd stand there all day and night, dreaming about sleeping. The little ones have gotten into his stall, too, from time to time. He isn't sloppy with feed, no spewing from him. Methodical eater, he eats hay in the same way. He doesn't waste any food given him. We had a hay net in his stall but he didn't like it. He sulked, wouldn't pull hay from it. We eventually hung it in the aisle for the little guys.

The mats will make stall clean up easier, no more stone dust being literally thrown away in the manure spreader. The shavings smell great and absorb urine. Well worth the money, time and effort.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

Beautiful weekend, for November.

Saturday dawned a beautiful day, cool and clear, so much to do today!

We went to HomeDepot for paint supplies for the hallway project wrap-up and wall mud for the 'blue room' project. Skimming the walls to eradicate the popcorn-look in this bedroom is the easiest way, but any way this is done it will be labor intensive. By far the ugliest room, and because it looks awful, he's been reluctant to entertain the idea of setting up our bed in it. We really can't keep our bed in the living room forever, can we?

Measuring the closet for future installation of doors and closet enhancement features for this bedroom, too, will need to buy mini-blinds eventually. From this room we have an excellent view of the future pasture on the Northeast side, the parking lot and barn. To me this is the best views in the whole World!

After we got back from the stores he started working on the prep for the mat installation in Skip's stall. This created a feeding dilemma. Skip is notorious for his 'site fidelity.'

When we boarded Skip the protocol for that barn was to hand-walk all the horses in and out of the barn. There were a handful of exceptions to this rule and Skip became one of them. His ground manners are atrocious and the barn help was reluctant to handle him. He was even hard for them to catch him in his stall! Early on he broke free of the help and he walked himself into his own stall. From then on they allowed him to walk himself into the barn. He never stopped along the way to snatch grass, he never walked into another's stall or started a fight with any other horse, never did faster than a walk. He was always the gentleman. Go figure, right?

Also on Saturday his mother came out for a short visit. She's allergic to my house, but she did want to see the new floor and the blinds and curtains. She approves, she said nothing this time about the bed in the living room.

After she left I ran out to the grocery store, back in time to feed all these kids!

Saturday evening we brought Skip into the aisle to eat because his stall now is off limits until probably Tuesday after dinner. He was not happy about this arrangement. He was startled by the traffic that he can now see coming up behind him. He also kept going outside to look into his stall. We closed the barn doors, that's the way it is going to be. He's a slow eater and has so much to eat, waiting around for him is a huge time-waster.

We started a Bonfire Saturday night, got so many things cleared out, but not all of the Hurricanes' messes, we still have a couple, three bonfires in our future. Full Moon, mild temperature, beautiful clear night; felt more like April than November.

Sunday he cut the mats to fit with the utility knife; the circular saw was not effective, smoking, melting and burning the rubber. We loaded the pieces, one at a time, onto the wheel barrow, marked the puzzle-piece's location in chalk and dropped them in the aisle. I cleaned up the dry paddock, filling up the manure spreader, again. Those little guys are full of you-know-what!

We then loaded the boys up and headed out to the Patuxent River State Park, parking in the big field on Annapolis Rock. We weren't the only ones with this idea, the field had eight other trailers and cars parked there, too. After our initial sightings of other horses, we saw no one out on the trails.

Even he noticed that KC was calm and relaxed. He does love a walk in the woods and is confident that his momma is the scariest thing out there!

On the other side of Hipsley Mill Road a large tree had recently fallen across the path. This tree is massive, huge. An equally large portion of it had also fallen across the Patuxent River. We figured out how to get around this kerfluffle by going across the river. The bank was steep, but only one stride for the horses, and the river bed is hard and mud free. Getting up onto the bank on the other side was OK for me and KC, but when Tom came into it Skip ended up in a mud quagmire.

Skip was awesome. He had sunk in up to his hocks and his front-end was sinking, too. I know Tom was panicking, but I told him to stay centered, hang on and let Skip get out of it himself. When they came out of the mud, Skip's legs were covered in thick mud. He seemed to be OK, but we walked off a short way and 'rested' for a while. Skip's athletic abilities were able, once again, to rescue himself and rider from a harrowing situation.

We followed a trail up into the side of a steep ravine, winding our way further from the river, onto dryer trails. We came back onto a roadway, crossing it into a harvested corn field. The hand-held GPS was useless, it could not find itself. My phone was slightly better, and KC knew we were closer to home than the trailer. My phone said it was Hipsley Mill, so we skirted the corn field and entered the woods, literally hacking our way down the hillside.

We found a trail that was slightly better than a deer path and followed that until we came upon trails that were very familiar to us. KC knew where we were, too, and headed back to the trailer.

So much potential unrealized in that park, unfortunately. The invasive Multi-flora Rose has taken over and it is horrible. We'll address that when we have more time, so much wasted parkland acreage, given over to non-native sticker bushes!

Friday, November 11, 2011


After his hard work prepping Lil Fred's stall, we pulled the five stall mat pieces into place after dinner last night. We used an entire cube of shavings. April was the first to go in, sniff around and then lie down. She got comfortable quickly. She smells like a hamster now. Then came Fred. We expected him to have an adverse reaction to the improvements. He's been locked out of his stall since Monday and now it's all changed around. But he didn't. He got in there and stood with (I swear!) a smile on his face. Then Sprite joined him, at the threshold she took a big mouthful of shavings, then realized it was not a food stuff. Then she walked in all the way and immediately fouled the stall in every way she could.

Now it's on to the next stall. I believe that will be Sprite's.

Veteran's Day dawned clear, cool and breezy. Not cold enough to freeze the water in the buckets, but cold enough. The breeze picked up later to a stiff wind. The leaves are flying and swirling all over the place. Some trees are already bare.

It's Friday, so let's get this party started! Well, let's get a stall prepped for the mat installation. O boy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mid-Week Update

The vet was scheduled to come out Tuesday between 9 and ten. He took off to meet her. Our regular vet is now on maternity leave, substitute vet was there. They are all up-to-date on their vaccines.

On Sunday KC lost a shoe. The Farrier was out later in the day to replace the shoe. He still does lots of horses at the boarding barn where we kept the big boys for years. He filled Tom in with the latest doings there.

The weather continues to be wonderful, for November. Frosty clear nights, Moon waxing, warmish sunny days. Leaves are falling like snow. He took advantage of this stellar weather pattern to administer sealant to the new patio bricks. He chose a matte finish and it looks fantastic. I think the wet-look would make the other bricks look even more shabby.

The nights are consistently frosty. I am making it a habit to go out around 9 or so to put on their heavy coats. Originally Skip protested. He is famous for his deplorable ground manners. I think this was partly the reason he ended up on the slaughter truck to begin with. He has broken halters, lead ropes and cross ties. Once he pulled his headstall so hard the bit ended up halfway up to his ear, the reins in his mouth. I tied him to the gate with a very short lead rope, but he still tried to nip me or cow kick me. Trust me when I say I don't put up with this behavior. I don't entertain bullies and I'm handy with my elbows.

After a couple weeks of this routine he's been pretty good. Last night I did not tie him to anything, he only dipped his head once to nip me, got caught in the chin with my sharp elbow. He stood quietly after that, but when I walked over to get KC's coat Skip ran KC off. Hate when that happens. I did give Skip what-for.

KC always stands quietly for me, he loves his momma! I do think they both like the coats. If they didn't have them on, they would be spending the night inside their stalls.

The stall mats were delivered last week. Did I tell you how heavy these mats are? Dense and gushy, these mats are the greatest. The trick will be to put them in the stalls. Our stalls are not exactly 10 x 12 - they measure smaller because of the triple-thick walls. The mats need to be trimmed to fit. He started on Fred's stall doing the intense cleaning and prep; this morning the stall still was not dry. We'll also need another load of stone dust to bring the levels up to meet the rails. O boy.

Because Lil Fred's stall is now off limits, I have to feed him in the aisle. He has no problem with this, but last evening I left the pasture gate open. When I came out later to turn them all out, Fred was in the big field, living large. He evaded me only a little; he's learned it is futile. In a round-about way he headed to the gate and got himself on the right side of the fence.

This morning he was calling out, lonely in the dry paddock with Sprite still inside.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Frosty Sunday

This Sunday was the end of Daylight Saving Time. The morning was clear, frosty, the water buckets skimmed with ice. As the morning went on the sun really made a difference. The leaves were falling like snow. Turning into a nice day, we decided to go for a ride!

While I showered and got ready to go, he installed the new kitchen curtains. The mini-blinds were already up; the valance and curtains have embroidered stars, horseshoes and flowers with two different chestnut horses prancing across the bottom on muslin cotton cloth. Makes a huge difference to the room, warm and cozy.

We headed out to the Patapsco River State Park, parking in the trailer parking area at McKeldin. It was evident that this was a busy place yesterday. One truck and trailer was now parked there. Lots of people out, too, with cameras. I think today Skip and KC got their pictures taken more than any other time.

We rode out to the local tavern for lunch. We did see other riders on the trails, but no one we knew. On the way past Granite Quarry, KC lost a shoe. He is so dramatic, limping and gimping the rest of the way.

We heard a train coming, but when we got to the river crossing we could see that it was parked. That's when another train came down the tracks. We sat under the roadway bridge, waiting. The engineer could see us there, and he blew his whistle while red flashing lights were activated and the traffic guards came down. Neither of our guys even flinched, too busy eating grass. When we finally got to the tavern there was no horses tied up. We chose our favorite place to hitch up.

We sat at the bar while the boys dozed at the hitching post. The bikers were coming and going, reving their engines, but the boys were very relaxed, resting near the roadway. A couple of the patrons noticed that, too, remarking that they seemed pretty quiet.

We shared a nice lunch and then posed for pictures with the boys. We headed back into the Park, picking a nearly rock free path and KC was much better with his bare foot. Plus, we were heading in the correct direction!

On the way back we ran into old friends along the trail, stopping for a short break to chat. At this point we saw lots of riders in the woods; where were they earlier? At the trailer we posed for more pictures with hikers.

With the time change the day seemed shorter than it really was. The sun was waning, the shadows were long. I waited until full dark to feed them and even later to put their heavy coats on. It was going to be another clear frosty night. The Moon was rising, the stars shining brightly. They are getting used to the routine of getting their coats on; no more dancing with impatience or trying to nip me. Or maybe they were just tired. I know I was!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Stall Mats Cometh!

The stall mats are finally here. These were on my original short wish list. I wanted to get 'nice' mats; durable, comfortable. We shopped around and picked the best we could. That's why it has taken so long to get them. The good don't come cheaply.

The mats are on a pallet in the parking lot, in front of the truck. Each piece is so heavy we can barely slide it, never mind picking it up. We'll try to slide a section at a time onto the mower deck and have the tractor bring it around. This sounds like so much fun! Right?

The instructions for installation call for clearing all the foreign debris out of the stall, leveling it out and hosing it down. Allow for complete drying, then place the mats in the stall. O boy.

A schematic shows how to place the five mats to complete the 10 x 12 size. It's a jigsaw puzzle with interlocking pieces!

I've been stock-piling shavings in anticipation of the mat installation. If we're not ready now, when will we?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sach's Bridge

Built in 1854 by David Stoner, Sach's Covered Bridge spans Marsh Creek in Cumberland Township, Adams County, Pennsylvania. This county-owned bridge, rebuilt after a devastating storm, is 100' long, and is located not far behind the right flank of the Confederate artillery line, which participated in the pre-charge barrage of July 3, 1863. Portions of the Confederate Army used the bridge to cross Marsh Creek during the July 3rd and July 4th withdrawal from Gettysburg. During the War, the bridge was known as Sauck's Bridge. Sach's Bridge is now in a park and is open for foot traffic only. It was used for troop movements during the Civil War, and it is nearby both the Gettysburg Battlefield Monument and the Eisenhower home.

The Bridge is a favorite spot for ghost hunters, late-nighters, re-enactors and those who like to fish. It is off park service property and is open all night. Claimed to be the most-haunted covered bridge.

The Sach's Covered Bridge was crossed by part of General Lee's Army on the afternoon of July 4th, 1863, as they began their retreat out of Pennsylvania, through Maryland into Virginia. Lee thought that The Army of the Potomac might attack the defeated Army so he split his Army in two, half went northwest through Cashtown, the other portion crossed the Sach's Covered Bridge and headed Southwest to what is now Falling Waters, West Virginia.

The Bridge is about 100 feet long, made of wood. It has been reinforced with steel at the bottom and has also been raised an additional 3 feet from its original position to protect it from floods that may occur in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November One

November came in like a lamb, a lamb wearing a wooly coat. We left the sheets on the boys, I gave them extra hay. Starry clear night.

This morning the car was not frosty, the temps felt mild, for November. Sunny, bright blue skies. We really need a drying trend right about now. Still some snow on the top of the barn roof, most of it is gone, making the pasture 'soft.'

The vet is due out some time soon. They all need their vaccines. The Coggins will expire, too.