Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunny Saturday - Last in April

Beautiful Saturday - we chose to ride!! We have so much going on this weekend, but know that we can't do everything. We have our priorities.

We rode out from the League in Marriottsville, riding to EW Beck's in 'downtown' Sykesville. I had packed some baler twine because there is no guarantee that hitching up is going to be easy. The parking lot is wide open with a buffer of Locust against the steep hillside.

There were several campers at the League, someone was painting the men's room, but saw very few people, a couple dogs and one horse. Everybody was out riding! We went out the side, into the woods, the trees are really leafing out, finally.

On the way we had to ride down River Road, on pavement, approximately a mile. Most everybody is good about slowing down and avoiding us, but KC has an issue with white vehicles. The Postal truck was too much for him! We met this truck at the thinnest part of the roadway: sheer rock wall, probably 30 feet high, no shoulder, and a guard rail on the other side, no shoulder, right on the river. He tried to turn around and go back where we came from, but I managed to turn him back and we proceeded past the scary white truck.

We dismounted in the little park on the edge of Main Street, walked through the very busy Southern States Cooperative, and onto the side walk, which is very thin, two people can not pass on the sidewalk, with the stone building right on the sidewalk. He stays on the sidewalk, walking quietly behind me as cars and bikers drive on by. We tied them up in the stand of trees on the back corner of the municipal lot.

We ate on the patio, but from this courtyard-style arrangement could not see the boys. If they had 'run off' they would have come right down the roadway in front of us, retracing their steps like horses do. Neither would leave the other, so it would have been both of them.

While there we saw several very noisy motorcycles and one seriously 'hoopty' truck, jacked up so tall I know I wouldn't be able to gain entry.

When we came out of the restaurant I said to him, "I see too much of KC, I shouldn't see his rump in the parking lot." He said, "Do you see Skip?" Yes, I can see his legs, he's still there, but KC was tied up close to the tree. He made sure he didn't have enough rope so he couldn't step into the tie.

Apparently that was not the case! KC was actually ground-tied to a raspberry branch, snagged with the thorns. The baler twine was broken. My little pony didn't go anywhere! For that I gave him a cookie.

On the way back we went up the destroyed roadway that used to be Gorsuch Switch, but now is a very rocky, overgrown road bed, with a natural spring running down it. Into the big meadows and past the BIG Poplar tree that is hundreds of years old and has populated the surrounding forest with Poplars.

When we got back to the League more people and horses were there and KC was looking right and was startled, spooked by two horses that were being hand-grazed. I didn't have my hands on the reins and his spook immediately turned into embarrassment because he was not paying attention, neither was I.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pink Moon

Last night the full Moon was so big and bright and PINK, until it got clear of the trees, then it turned a normal buff yellow. Not a cloud in the sky, a perfect early Spring evening.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

Spring had a slow start, with snow on the Monday before Easter and more days colder than normal than normal. Consequently blooming trees are also unfurling leaves almost at the same time. The grass is trying to catch up.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


We had a nice ride in the park, but parked our rig at McKeldin this time. We started out later than expected and saved a good bit of time by parking at the Park headquarters.

We rode on some trails that we haven't been on in some time, criss-crossing some that we had been on recently. Things are really greening up, finally. Very few people in the park, only saw three riders, twice, and they never noticed us.

It was Bike Fest, first of the season, at the Woodstock Inn. He was sure we wouldn't get a beer, let alone fed, but for some reason they really had their act together, and we were there only a short time. There were more bikers out front in the sunshine than inside the restaurant.

On the way back we decided to go through Granite, and into the pipeline and open meadows, going a little faster. KC has been so good in the past month, that I didn't feel I had to hold him back or drag his head back up. Hopefully he has outgrown his 'bucking' stage. I ain't getting any younger.

We saw a lone deer on the pipeline and Tom wanted to chase it off the path, but he didn't and all of us stood there, eating the new grass.

I always ride 'ahead,' looking left and right and forward for any thing moving that could potentially spook KC. Winding our way down to the path, seeing no one, not even a bicyclist, we sped up where the terrain allowed, and on the flat opened up a little through the slalom-type track. Changing leads has always been difficult for KC, he is definitely right-handed. Some of the corners were muddy, slippery, but mostly dry and solid. Always looking ahead.

That's when I saw the red fox running from us, to the left and up the steep incline, away from the flat flood plain. I wanted to see where she went, if she stopped to watch us pass. I pulled up level with her trajectory, to see how far she would travel or if she stopped to watch us.

As I was stopping (it takes KC a couple strides to come to a stand-still) I thought I heard our echo in a downed tree root ball. We stopped and I heard it again, which could not be an echo because we were now quiet, stopped. Inside the uprooted tree, which created its own crater, was a dug-out burrow, and I saw a small rodent-like creature, making a weird squeaking noise.

A stubby tail, a smooshed-in face, grey fuzzy ball of squeak was trying to climb out of the root crater. At first I thought we had disrupted the fox's meal procurement, but then realized it was a baby! OMG! how cute is that! Closer look revealed it looked more like a Pomeranian pup.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This And That - Mid-April

All week we've been doing this and that: Applying another coat of paint to the laundry room, he mowed the lawn, spread manure, and used the tractor to cut the blooming weeds on the PEPCO right-of-way. We didn't pay thousands of dollars on store-bought grass seed to have it infested with weeds, right?

The oil-base paint in the laundry room takes so long to dry and the odor to dissipate, but it is coming together and will be completed over the coming weekend. I also need to re-paint the dining room ceiling and some newly-installed moulding in the rear hallway.

We are also enjoying (NOT) an invasion of Stinkbugs. Both dogs like eating them. Ugh.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Walk In The Park

We had a very nice ride, on a delightful spring day! Not as many folks out as last weekend, though the temps were mild and everything was blooming. The leaves were morphing as we rode beneath them.

As we sat in the window at the Woodstock, with the boys tied to the hitching post out front, we saw several people visit them. One young lady approached KC while her boyfriend watched from a safe distance. Young brave (allegedly) men are scared of horses. They are comfortable standing well away while their lady friend puts herself in harm's way. Males will do dangerous, risky things with bikes, cars, skateboards, climbing on anything, using firearms, fireworks and explosives, but get a horse in their proximity and their true colors are revealed. It's hard to be cool when you are obviously petrified. This still cracks me up after all these years. How exactly was the West won?

On our walk (and run) in the Park we saw numerous deer, squirrels and two red foxes. The foxes saw us, too, and quickly got well away from us. In the swampy pond by the rail road tracks the downed tree limb had at least eight juvenile snapping turtles basking in the sun. Lots of birds: Bluebirds, Robins, Wood Thrush, Red-tailed Hawks, Crows, Mockingbirds, and Buzzards.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wasted Daze

After raining on Friday evening, the morning dawned clear and calm. A gorgeous spring day!
He’s been searching high and low, all the internets, etc., for a tractor to be used and kept at our place in West Virginia. Did not visit our property one single time last year. Maxx has never been there. He wants a tractor, able to mow large amounts of grassland in short order and not get stuck in the soft spots, so we can trailer up there on a Saturday morning with our LQ trailer and the boys (dogs and cat) and camp out for the weekend. I have not been keen on this idea because there are so many things to get done here, like fencing in the northeast pasture and putting a cover over the landscaper's bins.
In West Virginia there is a two-stall shed row and four 10x10 uncovered corrals. There are also two barns on the property, but no house. Nothing is fenced in, we use upgraded portable corrals because KC would rather take the hit and walk out of it, then stand in mud. Can’t blame him, right?
We have never brought the boys up to West Virginia since construction of the shed row and corrals. The corrals are unfinished, the electric is incomplete to the shed row. We have another couple Saturday’s worth of work on this project before it would be ready for prime time. Time being the operative word, since we don’t have any.
He’s gotten this Bee in his bonnet about using the property (we pay minimal taxes and electric) and hosting weekends of riding with the group. There are other camps in the area, but we’ve never stayed there because we have our own place adjacent to the George Washington National Forest, with miles and days of riding.
We got a tractor when we originally purchased the property. This was before the internet was invented, Craigslist and eBay were not even a thought, much less a possibility. The want ads were few, if any. With this kind of purchase you need to be an insider, and we were not. We could not find a tractor anywhere, had no choice but to buy new.
He spent lots of time looking for the perfect tractor for our place, which needed lots of work. We got a Ford 1320 with a front-end loader, a brush hog, and a box-scrapper. I immediately purchased a flat-bed trailer to haul this and the implements.

Fast forward to now:
The internet is full of tractors for sale, with a good share of scammers. Poorly produced pictures, selling for a friend, don’t know anything about it, etc. One thing we learned is that our 1994 Ford 1320 is worth almost what we paid for it.
On Saturday we traveled to Taneytown to look at a John Deere with a 6-foot mower deck and Ag tires. We took the dogs with us, too. The price had dropped three times. Unfortunately will never get those lost hours and diesel fuel back in my life. Could have, should have gone riding instead. The tires were shot, which would have been a $500+ value and he didn’t offer to bring the price down.
After all that I went to the grocery store and then applied another coat of DryLock oil-based paint to the laundry room walls because I want to go riding on Sunday. He gave both dogs a bath, too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April Showers!

Rain was predicted for Friday, we need the rain, looked forward to it. Our new dog, Lexie, apparently is the kind of girl that announces thunderstorms. Been a long while since we've had a dog that did that for us. This house is so quiet, never hear anything going on outside. She let us know at 5:40 a.m. that it was raining.

Not supposed to rain much or for long, but heavy at times, flood watch and like that. Skip did not want to go back out this morning after breakfast. Wanted to wait until it stopped raining. Oh, well, we all can't have what we really want.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Laundry Room Project

Highly recommend UGL's DryLok oil-based waterproofing paint.

Wall penetration for dryer exhaust and washer water exit. The wash water is not emptied into the septic tank; it waters the lawn.

Wall penetrations complete, window restored.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Three Days of Summer

April did start out rather chilly, but this week has been almost HOT - and we are certainly enjoying it.

The trees and flowers are making up for lost time, too. It is like the first days of summer.

Water? Where?

Have been surviving a water issue in the barn for months. It has been too cold or too wet to work on this project. Because the hydrant is leaking we have to turn the well pump off and on, adding trips to the basement and a constant reminder written on the bathroom mirror.

Finally the weather turned SUMMER with highs in the 80s (can you believe this!?) and now the fix is all going quickly to cr@p.

While digging up the hydrant inside the barn door, a brass fitting failed. Now using hoses from the house to fill buckets. Wonder why my shoulder hurts....

To remedy this new development he's going to dig a three foot deep, three foot in diameter, hole inside the storage space. This displaces that much cattle carpet and stone dust, too. What a mess! What a chore! What a life!

Lesson Learned: Don't buy anything mechanical from Tractor Supply. These hydrants failed within two years, not a good value.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ride Like The Wind And The Dust

Made plans to meet friends at our horsey club. Haven't been there in at least six months, parking at the bottom of the hill next to the train tracks, which cuts off probably 45 minutes of riding. The place was packed! It was an excellent weekend to camp out; I stayed up half the night before with a blazing bonfire.

We also saw other friends there, and they joined us for the ride. We were headed for the same old destination: The Woodstock Inn.

We got there past our anticipated ride out time (RTR) so we decided we would go the shortest route and travel the fastest we could. It's been so dry lately that all the old mud holes are powdery dust, taking the slick out of the corners.

After getting down off the hill, crossing the river into the park, past the serpentine parts of the trail, we booted it quickly down the path, slowing only for pedestrians here and there. KC was fairly amped up, and I kept his speed down as best I could. Later I would and did let him open it up. He is fast but out of shape (winter has a way of doing that to everybody!) and a mere Quarter Horse.

There has been some trail maintenance since we rode there two weekends ago. Unfortunately there are so many downed trees, and big trees, too. What a loss for the park. We got to the Woodstock Inn in record time, the horses were also ready for break time.

We picked another, different path back, going the longer scenic route through Granite, the old land fill, and down into the outlet for Liberty reservoir. I was hoping for a photo shoot, but the place was teaming with dogs and pedestrians. The paths were dry and stable, so when we got going there was no worry of sliding, slipping and falling on the curves. We also were kicking up some dust, I'm sure people were getting dusted as we ripped past them. Damn horse people!

(according to the GPS: average speed 3.2 mph; maximum speed 21.2 mph)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Burn, Baby, Burn

Finally, the wind died down on a weekend night to have a bonfire. So much tree debris from the Cherry Tree Purge and the Hurricanes (Irene, Lee, and Sandy) and the occasional breezy days that send branches down into the yard. So much has built up, we have to get things cleared out.

Started before sunset, burned all night, with me in attendance.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cold, Cold, Cold

April can be an 'iffy' month, cold, rainy, etc., and this particular one is doing a fine imitation of February. Frosty mornings, windy with substantial gusts, and just plain cold. Mid-morning is now just 37 degrees.
Spring flowers and cherry blossoms are delayed because of the chill. Last year, with not a single drop of rain in March, the blossoms were dried up and spent by this time.
Consequently, we've spent more time in the basement, where the climate is much better. The dogs really like it, too. Was once a 'no-go' zone for them, Irene was the only one allowed. We need to find furniture, but that will come in time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1

After a rainy Easter Sunday, April first dawned calm, chilly and foggy. Going to turn into a nice day, the boys have shed their heavy blankets, and hopefully spring will come to stay.