Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012

As in the past I make a list of things I want done in the coming year. My original list for this farm has only ONE thing crossed off on it. I will continue to make the list so I have documented the fact that anything I plan is not done, but we certainly did get lots done this year.

The MAJOR ITEM was we got a PUPPY! I needed that like a hole in the head, but coincidentally on his first birthday, December 1, he seems to have straightened himself out. I might not have needed him, but he needed us. One of these days he's going to be a fantastic dog, it is just not today.

We did manage to FINALLY get Irene spayed. Her personality has not changed one single bit, even though she was going on two years old when it was done. She didn't hold it against us or act mad in any way. She's a great cat, a Tiger.

The BIG TICKET item this year was the future pasture rehabilitation. Coming back from corn is a huge undertaking. Corn is brutal on its environment. We used 6 and a half TONS of Lime, bags and bags of fertilizer, bought an antique spreader, and had the Orchard Grass Mix drilled into the field. It looks good, even with snow on it. In my fantasies that pasture is fenced in. Next year that will be the big ticket item. I am estimating that will cost about $10,000 to fence. And that is with us doing all the labor. Ouch.

When that is fenced in, and the fencing is tied into the dry pasture, everything will come together. We can 'rest' the pasture the boys now are in, grow some decent Orchard Grass there, and rotate between the two. And cut back on hay consumption.

I also want to get new glasses.

We'll see how many of the things I want done and things that come up actually get done instead in 2013.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Again with the Snow!

Every three days it seems to snow! Argh!

When the snow was done, the wind picked up and turned the slushy snow into black ice. The boys spent the night inside, again.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Last Full Moon For 2012

Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 5:21 a.m. EST. The full moon of December is called the Oak Moon. Other names are Frost Moon, Winter Moon, Long Night’s Moon, and Moon Before Yule.

The full moon rises around sunset and sets around sunrise, the only night in the month when the moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snow, Again

Today was first day back at work, supposedly. The time between graining the barn kids and taking a shower it began to snow.

I was giving him instructions about what to do when it started raining, and it was snowing!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Christmas

Unexpectedly we had a white Christmas. I think lots of people wanted one, so lots were pleased. Here we got about two inches overnight. The roads were slick, it got foggy after the snow stopped. Made travel plans interesting.

Fog cleared off, and Christmas day was nice.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Wind chill or 'real feel' is a mathematical equation. Chicago was experiencing some wintry weather and it was headed straight for our place. The snow part was not arriving but the gusting winds were promised.

On Saturday we celebrated with family. Driving up to Gettysburg he had to keep both hands on the wheel, the wind gusts across the roadways were trying to yank the wheel out of his hands. I would hate to be pulling a trailer on such a day.

It remained clear and sunny, but the 40 to 60 mph wind was horrible.

The waxing moon was lovely, but the wind persisted. Consequently the boys stayed in three nights in a row.

The weather front blew in with snow and sleet. O boy.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Before Christmas

I've been lucky enough to have some days off from work, however, the weather hasn't really cooperated for riding.

We took the best day of the holiday to ride at the Agricultural Farm History Park in Derwood. We used to board off that park, are familiar with the trails and developed some of them.

The Park has been working on bridge installations and planting 110,000 saplings. When I first heard of the tree plantings I believed it was a misprint. There really are that many trees planted in those meadows. In five or ten years it will be an incredible sight.

Most all the snow was gone, and it was in the mid 40s.

Friday, December 21, 2012


No one likes to fall. This is universally human nature. We sometimes like the 'feeling' of falling, lots of amusement rides give you that same feeling. But mostly we don't like to fall.

I have lots of stories about falling; from horses, down the stairs, over the dog, into a ditch... the list could go on. I do my own stunts.

I fell in the barn. Nothing serious, but it happens so quickly you really don't have time to catch yourself.

I was tucking the boys in for the night, getting hay, cleaning up manure, filling water buckets, and like that. The Ford tractor, manure spreader, and lawn mower are parked in the middle of the barn aisle.

I had a full bucket of fresh water, a five-gallon bucket weighing about 40 lbs. Yea, I'm a heavy lifter. I tripped or caught my toe on an electrical cord while moving forward. The big tractor tire was to my left, the hayloft metal ladder to my right, the area to land was not wide.

I managed to realize I was not going to catch myself and swung the bucket forward, spilling the entire contents onto the floor while falling onto the now empty bucket and my knees. The bucket prevented me from a face-plant into the stonedust floor now puddled with five gallons of cold water. Now my knees were wet and my ribs were dented. My right hand was still wrapped around the bucket handle, which I fell directly onto. Ouch.

I was wearing my heavy coat and insulated leather barn gloves. Glad for that extra padding. My hand immediately started to swell. O boy.

Sprite spooked at the sight of a large puddle directly outside her stall door. It eventually soaked into the dust and gravel.

Let's not do that again.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Historic Gettysburg Thursday Before Christmas

Thursday before Christmas I drove to Gettysburg for the day, and enjoyed lunch with my beautiful Aunt, who does an awesome impression of Maxine.

It was cloudy and rainy, off and on, but the trip was great!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Testing 1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 2

Just kidding! 12-12-12 is supposed to mean something, to someone, somewhere. To me it means mid-week December.

The weather has been a serious roller-coaster - mid 60s, then 30s, up to high 50s, back to mid 30s. Crazy weather.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday, Sunny Sunday Ride

I got up early with Max, but after my little chores were done I got back into bed, sort of, and slept til 9!

The fog was seriously thick at sunrise, the power lines were nearly invisible and were crackling from the damp.

Eventually the fog burned off, so we started out late - 11:30 or so - we chose to park at the trail head in Marriottsville eliminating a little over an hour of riding - we needed that extra time because as it turned out with the clouds moving in, it was getting kind of dark by the time we got back to the trailer at 4:30.

On Saturday I walked out into the pasture to get the coats off the boys. They stood still for this. Sunday I pretended to do the same thing. I had no rope with me, but KC thought about leaving, hiding behind Skip.

I took off Skip's coat, so he was lulled into believing that is all I was there for. I heard him at the gate and told him to STOP. KC was still standing there, so I moved on to his coat. Skip never moved off, so after I dropped KC's coat I held onto his halter, and got Skip, too.

I led them both up the hill. GOTCHA. They both loaded easily onto the trailer.

Had transfered all our equipment: saddles, bridles, etc., out of the LQ and into the Glick. We had to re-install the mats and add sawdust, too. All this takes time. While I was pulling out his chaps the Wahl trimmer came out, too! Yea! The battery is dead, but I have been looking for this thing for months.

We parked at Marriottsville, in the lot with one other car. The back end of the Subaru was plastered with bumper stickers. The best one: 'Freedom Isn't Free, so quit your whinning and pay your fair share of taxes.' While we were tacking up another car pulled in. It had a single bumper sticker: 'Taxed Enough Already.'

On our way to the Woodstock, after crossing the Patapsco River, I noticed a cell phone on the trail. I knew it could not belong to a biker or hiker, because neither ever comes down to the river at this point. The gas pipe line is too steep and the river is too deep to cross without getting soaked, might be a plan in July, but not in December.

I hoped off of KC and picked it up, noticing that the battery was getting low. Also, it was password protected so we couldn't use the phone to call the owner.

Since we did not park at the LOMH we didn't know how many horse riders might be out and about in the park. The entire day we saw 5 horses and two mules.

After we got home we charged the phone up, and well after dark and chores and laundry the 'found' phone rang. He answered, turned out the Aunt of the owner was calling. He googled her name and number: she's a detective with the MPD! and was Cop-of-the-Year last year. Wow. The phone owner was riding on Saturday with his uncle and 'lost' his phone. Soon to be re-united with the help of USPS.

After dinner I took the charged Wahl trimmer out to the barn and trimmed KC's nose, chin and ears. He really likes that trimmer! I next did Skip's face and ears. When I was putting KC out he wouldn't move off to the hay flakes out in the pasture. I turned on the trimmer again and laid it on his face, between his nostrils. He loves that trimmer!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sick as a Dog - Max's Version

Max has been 'sick.' I think he feels alright, but he has diarrhea. We were lucky to get away with it on Thursday, but Friday not so lucky.

I had planned on going to the grocery on Friday night, and we stopped on the way home to fuel up. Plans have a way of getting changed, right?

We spent the evening cleaning up after Max, mopping the floor, hosing off his feet, the patio, his crate, etc. He did not sit in his crate after the episode, so I am imagining he was exhausted by the time we got home. I thought we'd have to bathe him, but he was completely clean, except for his feet. Poor Max.

I really felt sorry for the guy. All evening and into the night we took turns taking him out. And he was exhausted. Slept most of the day, too.

The internet is a wonderful tool: Google says to not feed a dog, at all, and offer electrolytes instead. Pedia-lite, grape-flavored, is what he got. And lots of rest.

One thing we learned is that he is house-broken. Seriously. He doesn't want that in the house, or on him, or anywhere he might step.

Hay, Man

We slept in - Max was not feeling well so we both have a sleep deficet.

We got a call back from Corey at Cedar Lane Farm and dropped in mid-day. We got 60 bales on the flat bed and loaded all of it into the hay loft. I do have to re-arrange some stacks up there and get more of this great hay.

Friday, November 30, 2012


In the last batch of hay, 40 or so bales, we had five or six bales the horses would not eat, at all. The latest opened bale is still in stall #5 – and in intact flakes in the field and the hay net – won't eat it. I felt badly, too, because it was a cold night (couple nights ago) and didn’t know none of them would eat it, all night long.

Then LAST night, after their dinner, KC was at the gate – looking at me through the kitchen window – that hay they also would not eat. Argh! He hand-picked each bale, climbing up into the barn, high in the stacks, but some they would not eat.

We only have a couple bales left, so it is imperative we get hay this weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


We're had a long stretch of cold nights - the frost is glistening in the field, on the car. Keeping fresh water for horses is very important and when it freezes in the buckets they are challenged to get drinking water.

We have electric heated buckets, in the stalls and in the pasture. We've had the boys' bucket turned on for almost a week now.

We have a 50 gallon trough, which we used at first but no longer. We got the heating element for it, but we change out the water so frequently that it was a waste of time and water. We use a 10-gallon bucket, changing out the water twice a day.

This summer there were several fatalities in the bucket. Birds and a ground squirrel. Hate seeing that, hate fishing them out. Skip won't drink out of the bucket after a fatality unless it is scrubbed out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Beaver Moon

November's full Moon was called the Beaver Moon because it was the time to set traps, before the waters froze over, also called the Full Frost Moon.

We don't trap Beavers like that anymore, mostly, and lately has been frosty. Sometimes the day time temperature is mild, for November, but still chilly.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Holiday Wrap-Up

It's always about the weather, and whether or not we can ride. Thanksgiving day would have been a fantastic day to ride, but we ate turkey instead.

Friday was a beautiful day, got into the mid-60s! We went late to the League and met up with friends that we haven't seen in ages. All are far-flung, from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and elsewhere.

We had not planned on riding with them, they have 'gaited' horses. When we ride with gaited horses we tend to ride fast, and sometimes recklessly. We had planned on going to the Woodstock Inn, but we did not.

I wish I could say it was uneventful, but it was not. Skip hates to ride with a 'large' group; anything over four horses is large in his mind. He gets totally wound up and excited. Plus the gaiting horses were moving quickly and he was determined to keep up with them.

In most "gaited" breeds, an ambling gait is a hereditary trait. I have only ridden one in my life and she was smooth, smooth, smooth. You would never have to learn to 'post' if you rode a gaited horse.

Other horses can have a smooth trot, but you still will have a 'bump.' Not with a gaited horse, the fizz will still be in your beer, and you won't spill a drop.

We never did get lunch on the trail, learned a new trail, got lost only once, and Skip bucked Tom off. He has the bruises to prove it.

Saturday started out nice, but the wind picked up, really blustery and cold through out the day. Worked on this and that around the house, then went to his mother's for Thanksgiving dinner #2. I fed everybody early, which surprised them, but didn't have to ask them twice.

By Sunday the wind had diminished, but still cold. Never got above 40 and we never got around to riding. Even with my flannel-lined jeans it was too cold for me. I hear 'snow' in the weather reports for the coming week.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve 11.21.12

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has long been my favorite day of the year. I look forward to this day, right before my favorite holiday. This year we have so much to be thankful for, and thankful for what we don't have. Honest.

The weather has been delightful, for November. Last night was a serious frost, the buckets were again iced over, the grass was sparkling white. Scrapping the car with it's hard coating was difficult.

Today is supposed to be in the mid- to high 50s, or even into the 60s! The boys were shocked to lose their coats, but they need to get some sunshine on those backs. Skip immediately dropped and rolled in the dry paddock.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mid-November Weekend Wrap-Up

On Saturday he finished up the on-going electrical project and it is working flawlessly! I did the housewifey stuff; laundry, bathroom cleaning, kitchen cleaning, changed sheets, etc.

On Sunday we rode at Union Mills - great day for a ride, clear and sunny but chilly.

We rode out at 11:00, didn't get home until dark! It was a great ride, most trails are wide logging roads, with some single-track through the woods. There is also a short stint on pavement that goes over a metal bridge. Yes, a metal bridge.

For a long time this bridge was out of order, unless you were a balance beam gymnast. To cross the river you had to go around the bridge pillars, into some deep, soft sand. The sand is so deep there that my stirrups were picking up sand. KC hates to be in deep anything, and it is not exactly safe for them. They can pull a muscle or a tendon, panic at being trapped, etc. I was relieved to see the bridge finally completed, but it is METAL. The sound of shoed hooves was like a shot-gun blast. BOOM BOOM BOOM.

We haven't been there for a while and he was hesitant at putting his foot on the bridge, the transition from pavement to concrete to metal are intimidating to a horse's brain. And the metal floor has holes drilled in it. You can look through the holes and see the water. Ugh.

His first step was loud, BOOM, and I could see him process this information for a 1/2 second. I rubbed his shoulder and he took the next step and we walked the entire length straight down the middle. Nina was fine, too, but he jumped off Skip. I understand anxieties, but Skip was fine, too.


We rode up the gravel road to the next turn, there was a large horse trailer parked there. Getting into that parking space took some skill. We didn't take the loops that wind through the park, opting instead to go the usual route to the far parking area. We saw some deer in the woods, too. At the next stop there were about a half-dozen trailers parked there.

We stopped there to eat our apples and Nutter-Butters. Yum. The feral cats are still there, too. Well-fed feral cats.

We rode across the road into the small loop that skirts the remote-control airplane club. They have a nice set-up, with bleachers, an excellent grass runway, windsock, and other necessary accoutrements.

We resumed our ride back to the trailer, seeing a Red-tailed Hawk on the flat. It was still kind of muddy down there, still evidence of Hurricane Sandy's rampage. There is some good elevation changes in this park, and we had plenty of opportunities to ramp up the speed. KC behaved himself, too.

By the time we got back to the trailer we were starving. We called ahead to J&P Pizza in Taylorsville and stopped in on the way home.

We put Nina in stall #4. She was startled by the minis (ha!) and the boys still couldn't get enough of looking at her. She is pretty, and she knows it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Happy Veteran's Day! If nothing else, hug a soldier.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cover Me

To blanket or not to blanket, that is the question.

Back in the day only high-dollar horses had blankets. If they were for sale to the mainstream, I did not know where I would purchase one. Fast forward to now and practically every horse has a blanket. They come in patterns (zebra-stripe, peace signs, plaids, etc.) and a rainbow of colors. Even 'safety-orange' for hunting season.

Skip is a hard keeper. Six months out of the year I give him 'weight-builder' to keep some meat on his bones. It was suggested to us while we were still at the boarding barn to blanket him to help keep his weight up. Shivering uses calories.

We got blankets for the boys. Skip was ok with wearing his, but he'd rather not have anything on. KC had never seen one in his short life and was spooked by the sight of them hanging in the racks in the barn aisles. And at first KC didn't know he could roll or lie down in his, so for weeks it was pristine clean. Eventually he figured it out. He was leery about having it put on him, though, for a quite a while. The barn help needed help putting it on him.

The last year we were at the boarding barn we had to replace their coats because they were shredded in the continually shrinking 'big' field.

We like to let the boys grow their winter coats before we begin blanketing for the season. I watch the weather, as I always do, to make sure they have enough hay to eat overnight. If the low temp is significant I bring them in to spend the night instead of blanketing.

This year we had one night in early October that had a decent frost; the buckets were skimmed over with ice, and the pasture looked like it had a dusting of snow. They both spent the night inside with no blankets.

By late October the nights were getting to be too chilly, and I didn't want them to stay inside every night. I pulled out the blankets and shock them out. Stink Bugs had invaded the coats! Ugh!

As I was flapping and shaking the coats out, Stink Bugs flying, Lil Fred was his usual freaked-out self, and was bolting this way and that in the dry paddock. Sprite was totally unconcerned.

These coats are heavy, I have trouble carrying both at the same time. I really can't afford to blow out my elbows again. The straps are flapping around, too. I hate getting smacked with those!

I flung the coats over the fence rail near the gate where the boys were standing. I put KC's on first; I was amazed at what a good boy he was! He stood stock-still while I swung it over his back, continuing to brush off the Stink Bugs.

Skip was another issue; I had to retrieve a rope to tie him to the gate - he tried untying the rope and kept biting the air around my head. He never actually bit me, but he does let you know that he could positively do this. I used my elbow, over and over, to catch him in the face, and he kept smacking his lips, over and over.

I got the coat on him and he seemed happy about it, in the end.

Now I have to watch the weather to make sure they have them on or off, depending on the high temps for the day, the wind speed, low temps, freeze warnings and rain fall. It really is all about the weather.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I realize that this blog was dedicated to building a working horse farm, from nothing to actuality. There are still so many things that need doing. We have plans, we’ve made lists, we’ve revised lists, added, subtracted, underfunded, abandoned, and modified our plans.

You make plans, then find out the sequence of events must be changed or it will have to be undone, redone. Or something else comes up, not planned for, that needs to be dealt with. And we always need to find time to ride, that’s why we are doing what we’re doing!

Back in the day I had a green, ‘spooky’ horse. Spooky doesn’t mean he’s dark, or a scary guy, it means he was afraid of lots of things, so many things I couldn’t even keep track. Several times things scared him and I ended up on my back, under him. Not a good place to be with horses. The goal is to stay on top, keeping the horse between you and the ground. He was raised in an isolated bubble and it was my dream to have him be fearless, like me!

I definitely had my work cut out for me! I first had to build his trust in me; he needed to prove to himself that I could be brave for both of us. This takes time, if you don’t have the time you will not be successful.

Along the way I will admit I was lucky to escape without serious injury. I didn’t say I was injury-free, just that it wasn’t ‘serious.’ And he was getting better, all building blocks to lay the foundation and build up his resume.’

One great product I found was a CD of spooky noises from Clinton Anderson. I am not a paid endorser, but this CD saved my ass, literally. The CD has 58 or so random noises that we all take for granted, but to a young horse this is all new sounds, and potentially life-threatening. You can’t explain it to him; he has to figure it out for himself. What doesn’t kill him makes him stronger. No truer words were ever uttered.

This CD has the sounds of gunshots; roosters; cows; pigs; sirens; air brakes; motorcycles; parade noises; air horns; diesel trucks; lawn mowers; chain saw; turkeys; children loudly playing; fair grounds; fireworks and fire crackers; and many more. This one item prevented me from sending him to a trainer.

I still have that green horse, but he's not green any longer - he has grown into an awesome nearly bomb-proof horse. I don't stop him from 'looking' or 'thinking' but he has learned to trust me instead of falling back on his basic instinct of flight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Perfect Storm

Last time we had a 'storm' was the derecho at the end of June. The area was without power until at least July 4th. It's been a busy storm season; Hurricane Sandy is setting its sights on the Mid-Atlantic region. We are that bull's eye.

Earlier in the month he purchased a new generator. This thing is massive; takes the two of us to get it out of the shed, and it has wheels! It will power pretty much the whole house, but more importantly, it will power the well pump.

Saturday was a beautiful day, I visited a friend in the morning to relieve her of some of her veggies: Arugula and assorted greens, broccoli, beets, and like that. I had gone to the grocer on Friday and did my usual shopping. The store was busy, but not a mad-house, although not a case of water to be had.

I also went to Todd's for more hay. I straightened out the stalls, he spread manure, and did all the pre-storm stuff: batten down the hatches, stow the whatever. He turned the patio tables upside down. He moved the truck and big trailer to the middle of the parking lot, away from any trees.

Sunday was mostly cloudy, rain starting around 6:00 p.m., but not a lot. Didn't want to bring them in too early, if they are going to stay inside for a long time. I delayed this as long as possible.

He worked on getting the second storm door up, in the front of the house.

This is a fabulous addition to the place. Irene likes it, too.

The breeze was picking up, gusting strongly from time to time. I closed one end of the barn, which did help. They all seemed happy to be in the barn, eating hay and listening to the radio.

We got word that the Federal Government was going to be closed Monday. The weather maps were quite impressive. Uh Oh.

It rained off and on, mostly on for most of Monday - the boys were in. I made sure the stalls were cleaned up regularly, fresh water and hay administered.

The worst was Monday night, with NOAA clocking the winds at our place at 76 mph.

I had closed only one end of the barn, keeping the little ones free. He had brought the manure spreader, the tractor and lawn tractor into the barn. The wind picked up and by nightfall the rain was now driving into Skip's stall, had soaked Lil Fred's stall and feed bin and was coming in from the hay loft. I had to close the other end or Skip would get soaked and wind-blown.

We heard a loud bang during the wind/rain storm, but couldn't figure out what it was. There were downed limbs, but none had hit the house. In the light of day we realized that the Clevis, the electrical connection to the house was pulled off, hanging literally but a thread.

The wires are hanging in the yard, you can reach them easily.

Uh Oh.

I now had closed both ends of the barn, keeping the little ones in but their stall doors opened. The wind kept shifting directions and my rain gauge was unable to keep an accurate reading. We started to take on water in the dining and living rooms. Uh Oh.

The wind howled through the night, and the water continued to trickle into the seven buckets in the dining room, and the one in the living room. The wind sounded like a small airplane trying to land in the attic, over and over and over. I did a late night check on the guys, refreshing water buckets and hay. The rain was coming across, horizontally in driving sheets.

In the end we got around 8 inches of rain, more or less.

Tuesday morning it was quiet, still sort of raining, misting, slight breeze. The Federal Government was again closed. Trees down on area roadways, METRO was closed, flooding in some low-lying areas like Old Town, power out in large local areas. But no more water hitting the buckets. Quiet.

Tuesday, mid-morning, he let Skip out into the dry paddock. Pandemonium ensued. Quickly he decided to let Skip and KC out in the big field. Both had been in almost 36 hours straight. Horses are not meant to be kept like Veal.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Door Number #3

The front door installation:

Just in time for Hurricane Sandy.