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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Behind Door Number Two

We were so lucky to receive for our combined birthdays and Christmas, and probably a couple celebrations next year, two storm doors that match the back door.

Max is keeping an eye on the installation of the new kitchen door.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Electric, Man

The entire scheme of the exterior lighting system is to illuminate the future pasture and Max's playing arena. As with everything around here, planning takes a while, arguing ensues, purchasing starts and stockpiling materials begins. Unfortunately the stockpiling of materials impacts my kitchen counters.

I believe the lighting scheme started gaining speed when it was evident that daylight was diminishing daily, rapidly. Coupled with a commercial blitz of a phone app that enables the user to turn lights or cameras or whatever on and off on the Android phone, the plans were solidified.

He had mounted flood lights to trees in the 'little woods' to broadcast light to Max's playing arena. He wants telephone poles but has been unable to locate the right length. Not too short, not too tall. We keep hitting dead ends.

The upstairs bathroom is an awful hell-hole. The ceiling leaked, unabated, for way too long. The tile flooring is broken. The walls and ceiling has serious water damage. The bathtub is horrible and hideous. The tile tub surround is chipped, cracked and broken. There are no electrical outlets in the bathroom. The door is hanging by a broken hinge, the door jamb is missing large pieces.

Recently I said it was my fantasy to completely renovate that bathroom. He said it was not in the planning; we'll never 'live' upstairs, never use it enough to justify the time, effort or money of straightening out that bathroom. We don't need it.

The very next day he decides to rip out the existing light fixture over the sink and install a ceiling light in the same location that a light had previously been installed a long time.

He then installed an outlet with a light switch for the new exterior flood light.

After all that he had to upgrade the breaker box in the basement to accommodate the new generator and circuit breaker box that that came with.

In short order, coincidentally a couple circuit breakers in the barn failed. The mini's stall lights were out of order and the hayloft flood light breaker was 'mushy' and wouldn't consistently work.

This is still a work-in-progress, as things evolve, as we change our minds, get side-tracked to other things, etc.

The quest for telephone poles continues...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October Surprise

Sunday we decided late in the morning (I didn't get up until 9!) to go for a ride. We usually take long rides, so probably not going to have time to do laundry, go to the grocery or anything else. Of course I want to ride!

We sat at the end of the driveway for several minutes, deciding. We are so lucky to have numerous destinations close at hand. We decided to go to the League!

The League was hosting the 4-day challenge, which runs from Thursday until Sunday, the grounds are not closed during this annual event. The numbers are down this year, eleven riders were competing. We have attended, but never ridden. It does live up to its name: Challenge.

When we arrived he noticed our friend's trailer first. It is a 'kid's weekend' and didn't expect to see them there. Surprise!

She was there, without him, with two friends who are apparently timid, slow riders. We decided to join them, and it was a slow, short ride.

I enjoyed her friends - both have gorgeous horses. I am still stunned that they trailered all that way and rode 6 miles - what a waste of a beautiful Sunday in October. I would love to ride with them again, but was sorry to see one of them correct her paint, Sterling, for loping - he has a wonderful lope.

We all had been warned that their horses did not like trains, but when a train came along the horses seemed to not even notice. At the junction we said Adios and went in the direction of the Woodstock. By now it is around 1:30.

We trotted the entire way to the road, crossed and traveled along the rail road tracks. I noticed a rider coming up behind us and was surprised, again, to know it was someone we hadn't seen in over four years. Wendy, on a Palomino (Sunset) came behind us; I knew she has had some serious health issues and is now getting back to riding.

We invited her to ride along with us if she wanted and she did. She was riding alone, but didn't feel totally comfortable doing that, and certainly didn't want to get lost. I also remembered that she was not afraid of speed, so when we were able we stepped up the pace. I promised her we would not get lost.

Another train came by, but we were too far away to see it. Wendy had camped out from Tuesday until Monday but did not participate in the 4-day, although she has in the past. KC was really good, he was kind of bossy with Sunset, and then Sunset untied himself at the Woodstock

- saw lots of deer, too, and a couple Herons and Mallards. We did not get lost.

And of course he had to be the show-off and and say 'you'd better hold your horse back cause I'm going to really go!' I said, 'be careful of the mud." And I got to see him almost fall off of Skip - I know, I know. They hit a mud patch and Skip's feet came out from under him - front end going one way, back end going the other - and Tom listing sharply to the left trying to do a header off the front - but Skip pulled himself out of it and tom got righted and there you have it! He would have gotten muddy/dirty and it was unnecessary. Fairly straight, flat, but it was muddy/slippery. We did have to hurry back because we left the Woodstock Inn at 4:30 ish.

We're back to chasing daylight. *sigh*

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Rabies clinic at Southern States Cooperative. We decided to take Irene, but not April. Both are due for their shots, but April is not doing as well as we'd want her to, and don't think the shot would be a good idea. Max is not due for one until next May.

I also needed a couple things from there, like propane, so I went alone. He was still working on the electrical project, and installing the new circuit breaker for the new 'whole house' generator.

Ironically, the power went out around 10:00 a.m., staying out for over an hour. I don't know why.

It was a pretty day, breezy, and we need the drying air.

I went over to Todd's for hay and had a nice visit with him. We have to buy hay, and not this five, six or seven bales at a time. I want sixty or eighty! The hayloft is bare.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Friday

The unsettled wet weather continued into Friday, with some clearing, drying, and then more rain.

On the way home and on until dark we enjoyed some stellar clouds and weather changes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rainy Night

Rain with thunder and its best buddy, lightning, will make a showing late in the evening. I plan to keep the boys in. I straightened out their stalls, filled water buckets, put hay in.

He worked on the bathroom electric project. Discovering there is only one circuit breaker for the entire upstairs was enlightening. Also finding out there is NO insulation upstairs was disheartening.

It started raining around 10:30, I brought them in and closed one side of the barn. Flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder woke me throughout the night; glad I kept them in.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up - Mid-October

What a great weekend; sometimes things happen, and other things happen, and they string together to make a memorable, awesome experience. Some things you can't plan, or if you did, wouldn't work out the way they actually do. Plans have a way of taking on a life of their own and then you have a great weekend that could not have been scripted.

In the beginning: As I had previously blogged, we had planned on a ride to EW Beck's for a birthday (belated) celebration. This should be an mostly uneventful ride, about 10 miles round trip, a few steep ravines, but nothing that is terrible or dangerous. It's no "Man From Snowy River" excitement. Usually.

Saturday dawned frosty, with a brilliant sapphire sky. I had kept the boys in because it was supposed to be so cold. I slept in; at that point I had a horrible sore throat and a bloody nose. Max wanted to go out at 6:40-ish and Tom took him out so I could stay in bed.

We planned to meet up around 10:30-ish, RTR (ready to ride) at 11:00. I think we pretty much kept to that time frame, the boys were easy to catch and the truck was already connected to the LQ trailer. Easy.

Our friend was trying out new tack for his young mare and took some time to figure it out and put it on. I did not see the new equipment close-up. We headed out the 'side' exit for the shortest way to the railroad tracks and river. Also saw several deer while walking through the woods. We meandered to the bottom of these woods, going into the first open field. At the bottom, at the fork, he said to take the trail into the woods at a trot so he could jump the downed timber.

Titan was first, I was behind Titan, trotting over the downed logs. None are high, logs at ground level. As we got closer to the top of the rise the mud was a little deep and KC came back to a walk; he really does hate mud. Behind me I heard yelling and a kerfuffle. I pulled KC around to the left to see Bree charging up the hill, broken tack and loose bridle leathers flapping all around her. She ran straight through the woods off the trail, stopped next to Titan. Our friend was standing in the woods.

What happened?

We still don't know what really happened. If the tack failed because of her bulk stretching into the shoulder straps or if her bucking (yes, she was bucking like a PRCA bronc) snapped the leather. The metal 'S' at the junction snapped. The bridle was in pieces, too. At the time he thought it best to evacuate, so he baled.

We thought we'd go back to the trailers but he said he had no tack to change into if we did. We all had halters with us for the planned lunch break. I had my 4-knot rope halter and offered to let him ride her in that.

The 4-knot halter is no ordinary piece of equipment. These knots are strategically placed over the nose for maximum pressure, compliance. They really work, too. He accepted my rope halter and unbuckled the loose, broken tack.

We continued on our way without incident, crossing the road, through the Archery Club, down the steep incline, over the railroad tracks, into the river, and down the flat shady single-track trail.

When we arrived on River Road we noticed several guys fishing, wearing hip waders. A couple cars came down the road, mostly respectful. KC doesn't like white cars or SUVs.

When we arrived under the overpass I noticed the shoulder had been bladed off, no more clover! And there were cars parked along the roadway. Hmmmmmmm. There was activity at the Skate Park, too. Hmmmmmmm. I could hear live music. Hmmmmmmm.

My logical brain was working overtime - what was going on? He looks it up on his 'Droid and proclaims it is Sykesville Heritage Festival. O boy. Someone suggested that one go for take-out, while the rest of us stay here in the little Park. Really? At this time we took their bridles off and I got my 4-knot halter back. I didn't think that Beck's was going to be crowded, because there was so much going on in the street.

Main Street on the other side of the bridge was closed, too. Because of water main issues (road torn up) the scheduled parade had been canceled. The place was packed with pedestrians, baby buggies, kids, and other noisy distractions. We attempted to 'take' the bridge but one car decided it would try to weave between the horses (some people are clearly clueless). I did say into the open window, "you're setting a fine example for your daughters." At that exact time, KC swung his ample AQHA hindquarters at the front of her car. Understand what I'm talking about?

We got across the bridge and into the Southern States Cooperative parking lot. KC saw the cows in the pen and gave them a serious eyeball. I kept going on, and he didn't get attacked by bovines.

This is when it gets interesting: I proceed through the parking lot to the sidewalk. We have walked this sidewalk as the route we take to Beck's. What I didn't know is that the rest of them plowed right down the middle of Main Street. Wish I had known that! I walked, with KC right behind me, along the sidewalk, which is right up against brick and stone buildings. Against the sidewalk curbing to the left is canopies, tables full of cupcakes (yum!), vendor booths and flapping tarps and signage. Lots and lots of people. He was perfect. I still am full of joy over his stellar behavior.

We went between the garbage can and the pit beef stand, with its hot, smoking grills, behind the live music stand, making the right turn onto Sandusky. A woman with a child in her arms wants to pet KC's nose. This is his favorite thing in the world. It was at that time, too, that I realized we were alone. Where are the other riders? KC started calling out. O boy.

At this point I am relieved that now KC has on the 4-knot halter. I tug on the lead rope and he stops. He's still calling out, but he is standing stock still. I don't want him to fall off the sidewalk into the electric piano, or the drum kit, or anything.

I turned him around and he's still calling out; I see no other horse. Where did they go? Turns out they went straight through the Police barriers, right down Main Street, on the double yellow line, with Skip following. He claims he couldn't get around them, they stopped to let every kid pet the horses. He said people were walking straight into Skip. A woman in a wheel chair was coming right at them. O boy.

Finally from under the canopies and signs I see them coming around into the intersection, with the crowd. We get together and everybody seems fine, collected, calm. A yellow school bus is stopped up ahead, kids milling around. Another Police barrier, with a Seqway parked at the saw horse. How cool!

We go through the parking lot, jammed, to our usual place to tie up and there is too many cars, just not going to happen. We meander around and finally come up with an alternative and with some Yankee ingenuity we get them tied up and settled. O boy.

Police cones are set around them so cars won't get too close. There are all kinds of activities for kids: Moon Bounce; rock climbing wall; super slide; bigger super slide. It's all good. The generators are roaring. I am so glad that he listened to the Spookless CD when he was younger! That CD is PRICELESS!

There is no wait at EW Beck's. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the outdoor patio and caught up with all the latest this and that. We took turns checking on them, but they were mostly sleeping. The cones were getting moved, too, one was missing in action. Someone had thrown into the little woods up the hill.

I retraced my steps, with him following, along the sidewalk. He kept saying the path was blocked, but it was not. We tacked up at the little park, mounted up and rode out of town.

The ride back was good, the daylight slanting through the trees. While going up the ravine at Gorsuch Switch, KC let me know someone was down the hill. I looked over my shoulder and noticed an archer's bow leaning up against a tree. I laughed out loud when the guy, in complete camouflage, put his finger to his lips. I did not see him until he moved! KC knew he was there. He's a great watch dog.

When we came out of the ravine there was a car parked at the trail head, with a frantically barking dog in the car. The couple said the dog rolled in 'something' and they were hesitant in getting in the car with him, because he stank. O boy. They got out of the way and we rode past the barking, lunging dog.

We trotted up the hill, made the right at the top and cantered several strides from there. Bree was fine with the 4-knot rope halter as a bridle. She never got strong; she did kick up her heels, but not in the way she had earlier.

We got back to the club, lots of folks were spending the night. We had to get home to let the dogs out, and resume our regular lives. What a fantastic day and experience all of this has been!

On Sunday the weather started out great, warm, but then got cloudy, threatening. I did a couple few things then we went down to his job in DC to pick up a sofa. Can't argue with free! In and out like surgeons. We moved furniture around the house, and now it looks like it has always been this way. Yea!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sykesville Street Fair

For weeks we've been planning on riding to Sykesville, to visit EW Beck's restaurant to celebrate my birthday. What none of us did was research what was apparently an annual event in that small town.

What clued us in was the amount of cars parked on River Road, and the skate park, and Main Street, live music, copious amounts of pedestrians, strollers, and balloons. O boy.

I also have a new jacket, Carhartt for Women.


The frost on the pasture was so thick it looked a lot like snow. I had kept the boys in their stalls overnight because it was supposed to be so cold and didn't want to blanket them. I do want them to feel the chill and grow their winter coats. But I didn't want them laying around on the cold ground.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Chill Wind Descends

This morning I scrapped frost off of the car. Tonight a freeze warning is in effect. I might bring them in at last call. Don't want to blanket them just yet; want them to grow their winter coats.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10 - 11 - 12 Second Thursday in October

Cold, clear morning - dark while doing the barn chores. The Fox was in the pasture last night during 'last call.' The boys don't seem to mind his company.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Birthday, Again

These days are clicking by, rolling on down the calendar.

I have to pinch myself every time I pull into the driveway, or stand on the edge of the 'little woods,' looking out on the pasture. How in the world could I be this lucky?

Another year older, and deeper in debt. The price we pay for happiness, and it does have a price tag. Choices to be made, but once you've broken the ice of indebtedness, you just go with it. What's another $100 or $500 or $1,000 dropped onto the pile of debt?

I certainly don't lose sleep over it; I'm too tired to do that. But it is not residing in the front of my brain any longer. It's not like I don't know it is there, but it doesn't hound me like dog. I did get over it and moved on. And that is a priceless gift.

I'm learning to live in the moment, like all my animals do. It's a good place.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Weekend in October

Another whirlwind weekend. This one I started early, on Friday. I took the day off to do some pending items, like renew my driver's license.

I also got treated to lunch, one of my favorite things!

We are always working on projects, but did take time to ride. If you call that a ride! We spent well over an hour trimming and clipping on the trail nearest our house. There were others out and about, too, but the mult-flora rose was horrible. He looks like he fought with a mean cat, and the cat won.

I also managed to squeeze seven bales of hay into the car. We have to seriously buy some hay!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Last night while doing my 'last call' barn chores, I saw a Fox in the pasture. At first I thought it was a Fox, then changed my mind to Possum, then back again to Fox. The way it was moving, ambling around like a Possum, I couldn't be sure.

I've seen Fox in the past, and they usually will slink away, quickly and quietly. Not this one. That's why I thought it was a Possum. Possums are bad news for horses; they carry EPM, which can be deadly.

Recently there have been lots of local reports of Rabid animals: Beavers, Racoons, Fox, Bats, but not in our county. This Fox didn't seem to mind me out in the field and the boys didn't mind either. This freaked me out.

I kept KC between me and the Fox as I was doling out the flakes, and got the hell out of there. He was only three feet from Skip, a foot from the run-in shed.

This morning, at dawn with a accumulating fog bank, Max and I saw the Fox in the pasture, same spot. Max barked, lunged, then got behind me. Brave soul, eh? I encouraged him to bark more. He did. The Fox ran down the hill. That is what they are supposed to do, looked too healthy to have Rabies. I'm hoping he is a healthy one, and help with the resident mouse population.

Another thing about Foxes: if there are Foxes there are no Coyotes. Coyotes don't want competition, will seek out Foxes and kill them. All of our animals have up-to-date Rabies vaccines. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rain, Man

Again, as usual, the meteorologists were wrong about the rain event. We need rain, we anticipated rain, we prepared for rain. What we got was an on-going onslaught of rain.

What was predicted to be around 2 inches of rain turned into seven inches. Hard to believe. The rain gauge doesn't lie.

Before the rain event, he spread more grass seed in the areas of the yard where he had recently used Round-up. He killed the ground ivy, the crab grass, and tried to kill the broad leaf. He then sowed grass seed, which soon after floated into the next county, along with the store-bought mulch.

The basement also flooded, but it was nothing. Got nothing wet except the floor. The rear gutter backed up, over flowed into the window well, which filled up like an aquarium and poured into the basement.

Eventually it stopped raining.

And then the fog rolled in. It's warmer outside than in. Warm and humid, like Florida. Not a whisper of a breeze.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1

Eleven Buzzards sitting on or near the fence. That is an awesome Halloweeny-looking sight. Last week, when he was off during the week, he shot the groundhog that lives under the hay elevator. The groundhog's hole has been a trap for me more than once. I love animals, but these guys are on my list of 'kill them now' and his number came up. Plus their habitat creates a serious safety hazard for horses.

The way it was described, he saw the groundhog on the gravel between the apple trees, eating apples. He was able to sneak behind the tractor, going unnoticed for a fairly clear shot. Unfortunately he did not kill him outright, but he did succumb to his injuries quickly.

The Buzzards now know where he resides. And they've brought family and friends for dinner!