Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pasture Maintenance

It's that time of year! Just on the very leading edge of Spring, KC is shedding, bulbs are up, Crocus and some daffodils are blooming, and pasture maintenance has reared it's ugly, expensive head.

Yesterday he met with Todd, the local pasture expert. I've known Todd for decades and buy hay from him from time to time. He has a self-serve, self-load honor-pay hay buffet.

He and Tom walked off the area that we want 'done.' First, he'll dump sixteen tons of Lime on the field to get the Ph level corrected. Corn really takes the nutrients out of soil, no matter how good the dirt. Then he'll use the industrial-strength Round-up to kill every living plant. All the milkweed, all the mult-flora, Foxtail and Dandelions will be dead and burnt.

After that, no-till seeding with Orchard grass and Fescue. Orchard grass because horses love it, Fescue to hold the pasture together since horses won't eat Fescue until after the first frost. The roots will winter over and hold the pasture intact, cutting down on erosion and bare spots.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunny Sunday

The wind died down mid-morning and it actually felt warm! It's all relative, really, without the wind chill factor it was a gorgeous day.

We didn't get going until after lunch so we wanted to go somewhere close by and not do a long ride. We decided to go to Little Bennett, but didn't get there until about 1:00. There were other trailers in the field and another rig pulled in while we were already tacked up.

Some areas of this lovely park are rocky and KC is still barefoot. We also knew that one of our favorite trails is closed due to erosion. We discovered a whole other trail system that is under construction but in excellent condition. Also not as rocky.

KC was on his best behavior, I rewarded him with time spent eating, his favorite hobby. The Sun was strong, a beautiful day.

We got back before dark so he could change the oil in the Acura, finding a note from Todd about the no-till seeding schedule for this week. We're going to do the field that is not fenced in. Going to take some time, seasons, to transition that field from corn to orchard grass pasture. We can't do the pasture the boys are in because they have to get off of it, and there is no where for them to be.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Cold Wind Blows

Arctic blast, Alberta clipper - whatever - the windchill has made the water freeze in the buckets with a ripple. Harsh, horrid conditions, not fit for man nor beast. They are spending the night in the barn, second night in a row. Put them in tonight before full dark. Too cold for them to be out there, the wind shifting direction, can't get out of its way.

While in the hayloft Friday night retrieving a bale of hay, confronted by a large hawk on the stack of hay. Big one, too. A few days ago there had been an obvious fatality up there, but didn't know the hawk was also spending the night. She was not happy that I was intruding.

I locked everybody in, closing all the windows and Dutch doors. This morning the hawk was sitting on KC's blanket that was draped over the stall railing. The song birds were scared. I opened the Dutch doors and she flew out into the sunshine.

I have promised myself a haircut this weekend, been putting it off so long, just have to put that puppy down and do a little something for myself.

It's so windy, the Buzzards have been grounded. The Canada Geese are having trouble navigating, keeping control of their landings. Trash and debris is blowing every which way.

It's so windy, the trees are thrashing around and the dying Maple beside the LQ trailer is creaking and moaning. That tree has got to go, along with a couple others in its vicinity. I would like to get them down before they leaf out and make more of a mess than they already will.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mid-Week Update - February

I am going to be running home again at lunchtime to let Maxx out. He has not had an accident in his crate and I don't want there to be, ever.

Irene is getting very bold with him - I think she's getting tired of being under siege. She slept in the closet again (in the bedroom) - last night Tom was at the computer, Max was sleeping at his feet and Irene had crept silently and now was under the desk - Tom was shocked at what he saw, said Irene's name, which woke Max up and Irene ran through the house before he could react.

I also mentioned that my mother's method always worked, harsh, yes, but definitively worked for the remainder of the cat's life. If all else fails we will set Max up for a staged match with Irene. Irene Scissorhands, the cat with the super powers, will prevail.

After sleeping through the night two nights in a row, he did not sleep through last night - had to go out at 3:30am - Tom took him out because I am not doing it, it was his idea to get a puppy when we have two minis that need starting and Irene still needs to be spayed - my oppositional behavior coming out. He can handle it, right?

I went to CVS in Damascus last night to get my Rx refilled - I didn't know how long I'd be gone because, well you know, so while I was gone Max was being territorial and confrontational with April and while he's said I am harsh with Max I am not going to let him get away with horrible manners at 12 weeks of age! I am not giving him a pass because he's a puppy, or he's had a hard start in life. Not going to do it.

Max was being horrid to April and Tom was using my harsh methods and he said the dog just went limp - he thought he was dead or knocked out! but in fact he was thinking about his actions and the reaction to his actions and he stopped doing it, and was pleasant the rest of the evening. Irene even came up from the basement and all was sweet and lovely. A major breakthrough. Tom got up to use the toilet and he just laid there, like a good dog! It was great!

We just can't have a 12 week-old puppy being top dog - not going to happen. Everybody needs to come first, which makes him last. It's the way of the pack and herd. Just the way it has got to be for having peace and harmony in the household. He's smart, he'll understand, and realize he will never be left out, he'll just be last, each and every time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day

No water while we wait for the well shock clock to turn at least 22 hours. After that the flushing, flushing and more flushing. Still smells like Chlorine, but it's all good. The water is clear and for now we'll say the well is cured.

We had to go to the BIGBOXPETSTORE for puppy stuff (toys, collars, food, a new cage) and of course we took Max and April with us. He got a ride in the cart, April stuck close to me. Lots of little hands wanted to pet the puppy, which is a good thing, but he got tired and slept in the bottom of the cart on his treats and toys.

Another beautiful day, the weatherman was so wrong, again! We took a walk around the perimeter of the property like the Rescue's hand-out says to do. I don't think they realized that is a tall order for a little puppy.

Max is pretty good on a leash and is confident. The boys came to the fence for a how-do-you-do, and followed us around for a while. We ended up picking up trash all the way around. The Utility had mowed their right-of-way and broke bottles in the emerging Skunk Cabbage bulbs. We also saw Winchester rifle cartridges on our property. We don't have a rifle.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Breaking News

We got a puppy! I'm excited but need this like a hole in the head. He's so cute!! What are we thinking! I guess we aren't, really. O boy.

The Well, Shocking!

Shocking the well is the project for today. We did not get the snow that was promised. We got a pretty decent day, mostly sunny.

He has maintained there is something wrong with the well water. When we first got this place the well house was full of leaves, trash, bottles and cans, a golf club, assorting pieces of clothing and general discarded junk. He cleaned it out but never really trusted the water quality. The interior door was broken, taken to the dump just last weekend, and replaced.

On the patio is the exterior of the well housing, he got a well pump on eBay to place over the hole, keeping rain water and debris from finding its way into the well house. Last weekend he replaced the interior well house door.

Over the months he tested the water for contaminants, but the tests were inconclusive. He also recently admitted he hadn't been feeling well for quite a while and blamed it on the water.

I started buying water by the gallon and bag ice. The dog and cat are also getting bottled water.

He's done exhaustive research on the method and procedure for 'shocking' the well. Today is the day of the 'shock.' No water for over 24 hours, chlorine/bleach bath. It smells like a municipal pool in the house. Buckets and jugs of water are everywhere, in the house and barn. It's like camping out!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ivory Caps

From the beginning: As I've outlined in previous submissions, with pictures, the installation of the base for the barn and dry paddock is a Geo-textile material, also known as 'cattle carpet,' from the front edge of the fencing, completely under the barn and past the overhang's pillars and into the far side of the barn.

On top of the cattle carpet is several inches or feet of #2 stones to level, topped off with several more inches of stone dust or 'fines.' What wasn't covered in carpet and fines was left to go to dirt. We even pulled the weeds. This truly is a 'dry paddock,' devoid of any greenery.

Some months ago, along the barn doors facing the pasture gate, I found a strange looking stone, squarish, ivory-colored, with almost coral-looking indents. Because the dry paddock is so clean this object stood out like a bad tooth. I knew it was bone-like but had never seen anything like it. At the time I figured a Crow had dropped it there.

At our old house we have a pond. Routinely I would find pork-chop bones in the pond, left by Raccoons or dropped by Crows. I showed it to him, he couldn't tell me what it was. Like everything else I find I kept it.

When feeding on Thursday night I discovered another of these 'stones' in Sprite's feed bowl. Eureka! It's a baby tooth. To prove it I had to Google the answer and sure enough, I WAS RIGHT!

These are called 'caps' and are dislodged by the permanent teeth pushing up. Sprite is exactly the right age to be losing her baby caps. Usually these are impossible to find because they are lost in the pastures, resemble stones and are easily overlooked. Because the dry paddock is a controlled environment and the minis are not allowed anywhere else I had the rare chance to find two of them. I'll keep them forever.

On Saturday the weather man promised another nice day, for mid-winter. The weather forecast is not always what actually happens, but Saturday did turn out to be a delightful day.

We met friends at the horsey club and took a much longer ride, the ride we should have taken a couple weeks ago but the weather turned for the worse and then hurried home in the rain.

I needed the coat and chaps I had on, but the sunny skies and light breeze made the day a true gift. Some areas did have frozen puddles, still frosty in the shade, but the trails were in fairly good shape.

We headed down to the river, past the archery club, meandering down the trail to the rail road tracks. As luck would have it a train was coming and we didn't have enough time for all of us to get across the rails. We 'parked' at the tree line, still in grass and let them put their heads down.

I waved at the Engineer, he did not sound the horn. At that time Blackie decided to take a leak. He got all stretched out to do just that, completely relaxed, peeing, while the train went by, and when the wheels screeched, Jake spooked and rear-ended Blackie, literally running him over.

I honestly don't know what happened in the next nano-second, but when I looked up Joan was coming off of Blackie, who was running after Jake, who was riderless at that point. Joan held on to Blackie long enough to break the reins, both horses running up the hill, through the woods.

I kept KC spinning circles. Tom wanted to go after the horses, but I thought it better to just wait; sure enough they circled back to us in the next minute.

Martin said one of his New Year's Resolutions was to create a saddle bag with emergency equipment. He was able to fix Joan's reins in less than a minute. Maybe I need to get one of those, too.

When we finally got to the Woodstock Inn the parking lot was pretty full, except there was not one single motorcycle, on this beautiful Saturday. The hitching post was parked in with cars again. We haven't made a sign that says 'horse parking.'

We got situated and walked into an empty restaurant. There were two guys at the bar and the usual barkeep, Cynthia. Boy, was she glad to see us! A train went by while we were eating and Martin flew out to the hitching post, but not a horse moved. I think they were sleeping.

By the time we got back to the trailers it was getting fairly close to twilight. This was a beautiful day and surprised to see so few out in the park on this delicious day in February.

The forecast for Sunday says 4 - 5 inches of snow. I'm not in the mood for that.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mid-February Weekend Wrap-Up

Half way through February, and the incredible weather we were previously enjoying got evicted over the weekend. Arctic blast literally sent it packing and everything got frozen in place.

We made another dump run, finally getting rid of the broken doors from the basement, lumber from the basement demolition, assorted things from around the shed, trash, tile debris and lots of empty feed bags. We still need a bonfire and have plenty for that when the weather is cooperative.

We stopped by the BigOrangeBox, which is very close to the 'dump,' he got a new under-cabinet florescent light for the kitchen and brighter bulbs for 2 of the barn fixtures. I had gone to the grocer on Friday night but we had to stop by Trader Joe's and H-Mart anyway.

Immediately installed the new light under the cabinet left of the coffee machine. Makes a huge difference and now I want at least two more! The new bulbs on the barn are pretty darn great, too.

I cleaned up the barn, pony manure freezes in one little clump! The manure spreader now is full. I put new dust in Skip's stall, he immediately dropped and rolled. I'm guessing he likes this stuff.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow, Sort Of

Snowed overnight, didn't stick much to the parking lot, driveway or road. It was sliding off the insulated metal barn roof at daybreak. Wet, slushy snow. By Noon it was almost completely gone, with flurries and sunshine taking turns most all day. I don't think there is such thing as a Snowbow, right?

We went to Tractor Supply to get KC a new winter jacket. He had finally broken the second belly strap and Spring is not yet right around the corner, darn Groundhog!

Around 3:00 p.m. the black cloud off in the far distance traveled to the house in a loud gust of wind, snow hitting the front windows and door, white-out conditions. The accumulating flurries were getting swirled around in little tornadoes, the horses were spooking, flying around with the snow.

Truly sounded like a Freightliner heading across the corn field. The trees in the 'little woods' are thrashing. Within an hour the water buckets had ice and the mud was frozen in place, thermometer reading plummeting.

It continued to flurry through the night, with new snow accumulating, wind chill making temps in the single digit.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snow? You Call That Snow?

""Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while."" ~~ Kin Hubbard

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
~ Robert Frost

Last night was calm and bright, full Moon. This morning on the weather forecast the predicted snow totals kept creeping up: dusting, 1 - 2 inches, 2 -3 inches. He wanted to take the AWD RAV4, swapped out my purse, the keys, hang-tag, etc., and off we went.

About mid-day it started snowing, lightly. Then it stopped. I heard it was snowing in Gettysburg, the grass was covered, but not sticking to the sidewalks or roadways. It snowed again, this time with gusto. The Federal Government issued an optional closure.

Later in the day the forecasted totals were downgraded. By the time we left work it was barely snowing, sort of drizzling. Nothing was sticking to the roads, the grass was showing.

It had stopped by 7, I let the boys out for the night at 9:15 with extra hay in the shed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Catch-up

Being dark when I leave in the morning, being dark when I get home makes it difficult to take decent pictures of the latest projects.

A picture is easily worth a thousand words.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

Once again, got no dog in this Super Bowl fight.

Got up early, fed everybody but the dog, and promptly went back to bed.

Had to do a few things - go to the old house to put Drano in the kitchen sink and place the cover on the de-humidifier. Why our tenants cannot do this, I don't know. She is obviously expecting a baby, don't know how they are going to be good parents when they can't help themselves out of a wet paper bag with instructions.

He's really tired of her passive/aggressive method of making him jump - and when he does she's unresponsive - like today: not answering email or the phone - he ended up banging on the door - at Noon-ish - and they were sleeping, taking a nap - (that's ok, they can do what ever they want), but you would think that they would be expecting us to take care of the backed-up kitchen sink.

I never went into the house - she came out to give me three 'Florida oranges,' which were actually tangerines, full of pips, more seed than fruit.

A bottle of Drano was left under the kitchen sink at our old house. He asked her if she had it, she's non-committal. She goes into the bathroom, retrieves the Drano, and leaves it on the kitchen counter. In the meantime he had gone downstairs to check out the noise she had been hearing.

She had complained about a strange noise in the basement and also that the knob had fallen off the de-humidifier. She was afraid to place the knob back on because then it might change the setting. There is only one way to put the knob on, and it won’t change anything.

We thought the strange noise maybe was the smoke detector, chirping. She also didn't know how to turn off the de-humidifier and we got a chuckle out of that. I believe the fastest way would be to unplug it, right?

He suggested to her to keep the de-humidifier off until late May, save on electricity and don't really need it now. The noise was coming from the de-humidifier; without the cover it was making a whistling noise. He put it back together, put the knob on. When he got back to the kitchen he saw the Drano on the counter.

He filled up a pot that was in the sink with hot water, poured the Drano in, chased it with the hot water and hit it with the plunger. The sink drained immediately. He filled the bin with the fish food we had picked up Thursday night and we headed to the dump.

While we were in the neighborhood we had planned on a dump run, getting rid of lots of cardboard from our recent closet and hallway projects and a tire still on the rim. The 'dump' is actually a huge recycling center, everything gets recycled so particular care is taken where you actually place your cardboard, paint cans, sticks and leaves, electronics, etc.

Got home and he swapped trailers and we headed over to Todd's in Sunshine to get hay. It was like Grand Central Station.

The big deal today was getting another 60 bales of hay, this time from Todd Greenstone instead of Sunny Ridge Farm. It's like a hay buffet at his place; different grades are in different barns or sheds. A couple trucks were parked in front of the biggest barn, but we decided not to get that hay, we chose another kind.

We had just loaded the last bale on the flatbed, counting and counting again, and Todd pulls up and says, "I showed up at the right time." Yes, he sure did. He said we'd need to tie that load down, and Tom assured him we had lots of straps with us. Todd walked up the hill to another shed to see the others that were there unloading a trailer of fresh hay. Todd also mentioned that the keys are probably in the trucks, so move them if you have to. Placed the check in the box, honor system out here in the country, and hit the road.

Caught up on some laundry, watched some of the Super Bowl and the commercials. When I went out after 10: p.m. to check on everybody Skip was having a lie-down in the shed, sleeping like a dog. Hay all around and to bed for me.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday - Multi-Seasonal Day

We had planned on riding because the weather was SUPPOSED to be clear and in the high 40s, better weather day than Sunday. The weather forecast deteriorated on Saturday morning, starting out clear, but quickly becoming overcast and the temps never getting much past 40. Ride out time was 10:00 a.m.

Martin and Tracy got there first, unlocked the gate. Joan and Filip also were there. After that several more trailers came in.

We had thought, briefly, about riding to Beck's, but none of us wanted to ride to somewhere that we hadn't been before, plus some of the way was on the road.

Instead we rode to the Woodstock Inn, planning on taking a longer way there, but with the weather going South, we made a bee-line instead. On the way we ran into the League's 'official' photographer and he said he had put pictures on his website of us when he last saw us. He had taken a picture of me, taking a picture of him!

When we first came out into the meadow Tom and Skip had a slight missunerstanding, ground work ensued. Tom also cut a stick off a tree, every single time he touched Skip with the twig, Skip kicked out with one leg.

In the open meadow we all decided to canter up the hill and KC decided to buck. I immediately popped him in the mouth with a one-rein stop and he slammed on the brakes. I managed to stay on, miraculously. He was pretty good the rest of the ride.

With the weather going downhill there were not too many bikers at the Woodstock Inn, however, there were bicyclists parked in front of the hitching post. They rode up while we were getting our horses settled in and were completely unaware that that was a hitching post and that they shouldn't park there. Tom thinks he should make a sign and attach it to the post.

The other hitching post recently had the top rail replaced; the horses that are tied up there are eating the wood like hungry Beavers. It won't be long before it's whittled down to nothing, again.

The Woodstock Inn was not busy and service was great! The 'chef' was creative and we really enjoyed our lunch. The weather has not improved, getting chilly. We hurry back to the trailers. I feel rain drops, here and there.

It was lightly sprinkling when we got back to the trailers, we said our good-byes, hugs all around and hear a kerfluffle on the other side of our trailer. It sounded sort of metallic and then we hear yelling. Tom and Martin run over and another rider now is on the ground, yelling. Her horse kicked her in the gut, knocked the wind out of her. Eventually she does get up, but we're all freaking out. Skip in particular is upset about this.

It is raining in earnest while driving home. We put them in the barn with hay and water, running for the house. It then started snowing, huge flakes. Didn't put their blankets on until late in the evening, after it had finally stopped snowing and they were dry. They all spent the night outside.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shavings vs Dust

Rookie mistake. In anticipation of the rubber mat installation we bought 6 bags of wood shavings. They smelled great, and looked good, too. Nearly impossible to sift or sort manure from, and not really absorbent for urine.

When we exhausted the bags we replaced them with dust. These bags are so heavy, I can barely lift them, but take up just as much room on the pallet in the shed.

What a huge difference dust makes! Absorbs the urine so quickly it is not easily detected that it was wet. So much better sifting manure, even tiny pony biscuits.

Why didn't we realize this before? Don't let this happen to you.

Groundhog Day

Overcast, mild and cloudy. I heard that Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow, and lots of news cameras and reporters. Another six weeks of Winter, but we haven't really seen any true Winter weather this season. Our snow-blower is unused and dusty, just like I like it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


February came in like a little kitten - soft and warm. Can you believe this weather?

Too early yet to start truly chasing daylight - we would both have to learn work really early to catch a ride after work. February has the good grace to be a short month, after that Daylight Saving starts and we will (promise!) have good rides through the week.

After we build the indoor arena (haha) that won't be a problem.

Last night he tried to figure out the bio-thane Amish-built pony harness. We honestly don't have the vocabulary for these pieces and parts, the pictures on the internet are not clear enough or not the right angle. Now the harness looks like black licorice whips coiled on the living room floor.

I also noticed some daffodils showing their tops. Wahoo!