Saturday, November 30, 2013

November's Last Day

November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

Friday, November 29, 2013


Skip has been 'off' so no riding in the immediate future. We need hay, the sun is shining, so we'll knock that task out.

We head over to Todd's with the old horse trailer. Todd himself is there, giving us a tour of all the hay that he has in the various locations. We end up getting the hay the horses like best out of the big red barn. The hay in the green barn is lovely, but we don't need them to get used to that expensive kind.

We have plenty of help at first, then when nearly done the help along with Todd vanish. He never stated the price, the board is ambiguous and we decided we would pay $6.50 a bale, but we also lost count of how many bales were in the trailer. I make no secret of being math-impaired and knot-impaired.

He wanted to have it divide by $6.50 so the amount could be believable. Makes sense, where is the calculator?

Didn't take us long to get the hay into the empty 5th stall. This much hay will get us into mid-January, but that is when hay is scarce. We'll need to get more real soon.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Favorite Day

My favorite day of the year is Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I like it better than Christmas, New Year's Eve, and July 4th.

When I was in school we would get out early, at the job the office would close. This is the day that everyone comes home for the Thanksgiving holiday; before the arguments start, the bird gets burnt, the potatoes won't mash right, and the pie is a disaster.
Before 9-1-1 is called. When everyone is just glad to see everyone else.

This is the best day of the year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It warmed up to rain - started out sprinkling, with some sleet and ended up raining. Still cold but not freezing.

I worry about my boys, especially KC, being out in the elements. They are blanketed after they grow their winter coats. If it is cold during that time they spend the one night inside. I like to keep them unblanketed until mid-November.

One of the problems is rainRain will soak their jackets and make them ineffective. Skip has been known to not allow KC access to the run-in shed. This was the cause of his hoof isses mid-year. The mister put in geo-textile cattle carpet and stone dust at the openig of the run-in shed so that he doesn't stand in mud. He is still getting wet, but not soaking his hooves.

Today he got them new blankets. I had protested that they didn't really need new coats. I shouldn't have wasted my breath.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cold, With a Vengence

The COLD blew in - with 35 mile an hour gusts. O boy

He still hadn't emptied the manure spreader and we've reached critical mass. Too cold and late in the day to dump it now, so I moved it around, did what I could and brought them in. They wanted in.

Did a few things around the house, house-wifery stuff, then went to the grocer for his mother. Brought back a trash bag full of recycle paper that is too heavy for her to carry down to the street.

The wind is frightful. And it is cold, not just a wind chill, but cold, cold, cold. Like eleven. The buckets are crusting over.

Why does November hate us so much?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Last Saturday Before Thanksgiving: Ride Time

What a beautiful day! I sleep in until almost 8, what kind of farmer am I! Have housework to do, but the weather is delightful (for November). Let's ride instead!

We head over towards Marriottsville; it is now closer to 11:00 a.m. so decide to park at the trail head. While we are taking up, friends drive by, yelling at us to come on up to the League. So we finish tacking up and load the boys into the trailer. They are confused. I really enjoy messing with their minds!

We trailer the extra mile up to the club. We notice several trailers, some obviously camping out, and some belong to people we know. We're tacked up ready to go. Now there are four of us, and we head out to our favorite destination: biker bar!

Most of the leaves are down, visibility is great. We can see lots of wildlife, and defiant deer not wanting to walk away from their hiding places.

For a biker bar, this place doesn't do a very good job being tough. There is a kid's menu, and kids having lunch with their parents and grandparents, the clientele is friendly, the bar keeps are personable, and the food is pretty darn good. By the time I get back from washing my dirty hands in the ladies loo a tall Ginger Ale is sitting on the table for me.

The clouds move in, the breeze picks up, but still a warmish day (FOR LATE NOVEMBER). We now are six, with a really green gaited horse, that is an established kicker. O boy.

Fairly uneventul, the green horse gave KC a shot, but missed. In the open meadow KC decided it was a good place to buck, and when I pulled him around he bucked while stopped. One of these days....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Trespass

Friday night, sort of balmy for November. The leaves are mostly off the trees but it is high 50s with a slight breeze. I could get used to this!

He has recently installed several survellience cameras, some with memory cards, around the barn. We can see, in pretty close to real time, anything that happens, like a tail swish, or a fox walking across the pasture.

Last week he sent me a note. Skip was down. So? He's still down. He's sleeping. He is flat. Want me to go home? See, I knew you were worried, too! No, I'm trying to make you feel better. Never mind, he's up.

Sometimes too much information can get you. I have a friend that has a boarding facility, and lots of his fields border a busy route, his number is posted on the farm signage. He gets calls from time to time about dead horses in the field. No one bothers you when you go to bed, right? Horses need to take a load off, too.

Friday night, just by happenstance, he turns on the camera monitor. He sees a bright light in one of them. Wha? We are in the flight pattern for BWI Airport, but none fly this low. Let's go see what it is!!

We jump in the RAV4, lights remain off. By now the vehicle has made an arcing turn at the bottom of the hay field, now coming back through the power line trough. I turn the headlights on, but they are already at the roadway, turning left. Darn it! We drive down but see nothing amiss. Maybe a hunter was dropped off for the night?

We need to put better signage down on the right-of-way. There is a 'no trespassing' sign, but who thinks that applies to them?

Monday, November 18, 2013


Never, ever, has there been a light in the front of the house. When the house as built in 1949 there was no electricity available and the house was constructed without outlets or light switches.

By the time electrical ruralfication occured, the owners had been in the house a number of years and judiciously chose outlet locations and porch lights. None were installed on the front of the house.

I've gone on, and on, about the lack of outlets and odd placements throughout the house, like in a closet. There were no outlets in the hallways or bathrooms. There still is no exterior lights in the front, not on the porch or even a lamp post. No street lights on the road, either. When it gets dark, it is really, really dark.

Yesterday he installed a lamp that we've had for years on the front of the shed, facing the front yard/roadway. The house is transformed. What an huge difference. The lamp is green, a style that is found on barns, old gas stations, and new restaurants. What is old is new again.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mixed Bag

Friday night it rained, the boys spent the night inside, without their jackets. It was 'warm' but wet. By morning it had cleared out, but remained cloudy and foggy all day.

Packing our lunch, we decided to check out a new location to ride. In the same county, but way up county in Boyds. There are many farms and forested areas in this area and the land owners got together to create a wonderful trail system. Mostly open meadows, signs say to stay at the fence line or on marked trails. The corn and wheat fields link together into a lovely three or four hour ride.

Parking at the 'Pony Club' parking lot we headed out, leaving our lunch in the truck because it won't be that long a ride, follow the signs. The deer, although plentiful, are rather shy and vanish quickly from our view. We find deer stands all over the place, outfitted with ladders and lawn chairs.

We don't encounter any railroad tracks, but we hear the trains announcing for Boyds at-grade crossing. It takes us longer to get back to the trailer than we thought it should, getting a little lost here and there, we eat our lunch at the truck closer to 3:30.

On Sunday we head over to the League, choosing to go to Sykesville. This was a mistake. Earlier in the week he got an email from the ranger thanking him for the information concerning the blocked trail. The ranger said his crew had worked on removing the tree. We were excited to go back through the restored trail, the 'go-around' was awful, scary, and causing serious erosion. I deemed it dangerous, period.

We came upon the trail section and immediately saw the sign designating that horses go this way, bikes that way. We got off to investigate and interpret the signage and the choices. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!

I had a melt-down. Not proud of it, but am holding my ground. I am NOT GOING DOWN THAT HILL again. The first time was horrible, the second time I thought it would be better. It was not. Not going to be a third time. No. Way. Ever. Again.

The trails that were installed by bench cutting with a MacLeod tool were not horse-safe. The trails are sited along the edge, and will cause erosion and probably a mishap. The soil is not stable, full of Mica and sand, it shifts and nothing, not even the trees, will stay rooted.

We turn around, a rare occurrence for us!, and on the way back to the trailer we seek out two new trail routes. The first one needs a little bit of work, but has potential. We stop at the top of the 'cliff' to watch the train going into an 'S' curve through a narrow trough of the Patapsco River.

The second route we had been on about a year ago, but didn't stay on it to the end because we believed it was not going to end up where we wanted to go. It was obvious someone (horse) had been on it recently, tagging with orange tape and cutting downed logs. I think this might be the better way to go from now on, less erosion and better footing.

Nearer the trailer we saw probably close to twenty deer, some with good-sized antlers (6 to 10 point bucks) and unlike yesterday's ride, they did not want to move on or even get up.

Going without lunch because of our trail re-route plan, we stopped by a place in the closest strip-mall to our house and got fried chicken and fixings. Yum! We ate in the truck at the Annapolis Rock cow pasture.

Then we pulled the boys out of the trailer, saddled up and rode out again. We had little daylight left, and being foggy with a low ceiling dark was rapidly descending. We did a short loop, getting turned around and ended up riding on the road.

I ride 'ahead' and saw the motorcycle coming before he did. The crunching leaves made it impossible to hear, but I let him know the cycle was headed our way. He pulled out his phone and turned on the strobe light, the biker saw us and slowed down, we waved to him from the side of the road. It is getting dark.

We encounter another car, meeting the SUV using the strobe light. This really does work! We find the cut in the fence and take off up the hill towards the trailer. Getting darker every minute, but it is only 5 o'clock! Mild and humid, but the daylight has left us.

Weekends go by so fast!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fox Chase

Saturday night the boys stayed out all night. Mostly, lately, they've been in because it has been cold/wet/windy and it is better to have them in. When they want in, they want in.

Around 10:00 p.m. I go out to 'throw hay' and check water. I usually put the hay in four different places, near each other, but far enough away so they have room and Skip can move KC off of a pile of hay, and KC can then circle back to another pile. While I was in the process of doing this, had five flakes of hay in my right arm, had KC by the halter with the other, I noticed the fox pretty close up to the designated drop spots.

The lighting has been much improved lately, and can see the black stockings, and the white and black on the tail. Since the Skunk has been dispatched, the fox have resumed their original haunts.

As I'm walking towards the drop spot the fox starts up the hill towards me! I'm sure I squeaked, wouldn't you? I toss the flakes towards the fox, KC pulls loose from my grasp on his halter and charges towards the fox, head down, ears pinned. Yikes!

The fox does a dainty roll-back and goes to his original locations, proceeds to scratch his ear, then picks his butt. KC comes back to me and puts his head into the pile of hay. I'm freaked out at this point. I go into the run-in shed, peering out of the window to see what the fox is doing. He's ignoring the horses, and they are ignoring him.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cold Patch

Been cold around these parts lately, breezy and freezing. The boys are making it a habit to stay in the barn overnight. With their winter coats on. Yes, THAT cold.

Frosty mornings, windy nights, they really need to come in. And they ask to come in, so how could I say 'no.' He put their blankets on Tuesday, and they wore them until Friday morning. Friday morning it was 29 degrees, but warming up to high 50s during the day.

On Tuesday he got a good supply of sawdust, in plastic bales, storing in the shed. This could last most of the season, because they don't stay in every night. Sawdust is easier to clean up than shavings.

Also have closed the top of their Dutch doors, while keeping the barn aisle door at one end wide enough for Sprite and Lil Fred to come and go as they want.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't You Forget About Me!

Sprite and Lil Fred, relaxing in their domain.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Fearful, Fearsome, Fearless

Which are you? Which is me? I tell anyone that will listen that I'm not a good rider. I'm not. I learned all the bad habits as a child, as an adult these cannot be corrected, even with excellent teachers, mentors, books, DVDs, and tutors.

I've seen good riders. The riders with a good seat, soft hands, body control, spine of steel sitting on a bucking horse. I'm not a good rider.

I'm not a good rider, but I'm fearless. I'm not dangerous (my opinion) or reckless. I take my horse's ability into consideration, don't get too far past his comfort zone. Or mine. You won't catch me Eventing, or showing, or doing acrobatic feats. I'm not a good rider.

However, I find it hard to wrap my head around fearful riders. I know so many. Sitting on that horse like a little hunchback, toes pointing into the dirt, wearing the stirrup like an anklet, fetal position. Death grip on the reins.

I'm not a good rider, and my horse doesn't know any better. I'm totally aware of his short-comings and accept them. He's unique, like everybody else. It's no stretch to imagine him stumbling over a log, or down an embankment. Because of this I try to sit straight up, heels down, knees in, shoulders back. Sometimes he disappears entirely from my view - no head, no ears, no mane - no horse! I remain in the middle of his back and wait for him to catch himself, staying out of his way.

I try not to ride with fearful riders, the riders that are afraid of their horses, afraid of what their horse might do or not do. Afraid of their surroundings, of other riders, bicycles, rocky trails, or dogs. Some I've wonder why they even have a horse, why they ride at all, why they stick with the same teacher.

Life is too short to be scared. Horses are a choice, not a requirement, don't have to do it if you don't feel comfortable. Pick another teacher, another horse, another pastime.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Daylight Saving Ends

I could barely stay awake, not making it to 10:00 p.m. Then I'm awake at 3:37 a.m. And then again at 4:32 a.m., and on and on until I give up at 6:25 a.m. and leave the bed. Chilly overnight, the trough has a slight skim of ice.

The time shift has made it possible to do barn chores in some daylight. It will be dark for evening chores. I'm going to miss the daylight hours spent at home, not to be seen again until mid-January.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First November Sunday

It just doesn't get any better than this. Am I right?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sunny Saturday - Nail Salon and Ride Time

Last Saturday KC lost a shoe. Already scheduled the farrier appointment, no need to have her out for an 'emergency' visit. After the Friday night excitement it was good to get back to routine, even if it does smell like Skunk. Up early, boys in their stalls, hay cleaned up from the barn aisle, tractor tucked away.

He had a task at our old house, taking the down-time
to accomplish that. He returned sooner than expected, so we took advantage of the bright fall day and hit the trail.

We parked at the Agriculture Museum and Farm Park, which was hosting a Blacksmith demonstration. We stopped in to see the goats and their care-taker, Cindy. She has some great goats, gently raised by 4-H members. These goats are very friendly.

She let us know that someone fed two of the goats chocolate on Halloween, they had to be neutralized. He thought she said 'euthanized,' but she meant they were given a peroxide antidote for the toxic chemicals in chocolate that horses and goats cannot consume.

The boys enjoyed several children petting them and hand feeding them clover and grass. The trails at the Ag Park are in terrible condition; big trees down, Multi-flora Rose flourishing, etc.

When we got back, Sprite and Lil Fred were down in the corner of their paddock, near the Skunk carcass. Sprite came up to see us, but Fred was still at the fence, so I walked towards him to check the status of the dead vermin. A buzzard flew up, spooking Fred, who did a roll-back and high-tailed it out of there.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Might have mentioned before we have a resident Skunk. This would be great except for the odor. The sulfur smell can be overwhelming at times. We've not been able to keep the windows open at night. Lately, also, the boys have smelled like a Skunk.

Earlier in the week, after he had relamped all the exterior fixtures with clearer, cleaner light, and while tucking the boys in for the night, I realized the Skunk was really close to the boys and me. He was going about his business, doing Skunk things in the pasture. But he was only about thirty feet from me.

KC is notoriously food-aggressive. Takes no imagination to envision him chasing anything that threatens his hay pile, except for Skip. I've seen him chase cats, dogs, birds, and other horses. Very territorial. No stretch to see him doing that to a Skunk and getting sprayed.

Saw the Skunk again, in the pasture, close up on Thursday.

Saw the Skunk on Friday evening - only about 20 feet from the water trough. I called him on the phone, 'come out and see the Skunk, he's so close!"

He came out with a .22 Rifle.

He shot the Skunk, and then finished him off with the pitch-fork. Threw the body over the fence, south of the burn pile. The stench still lingers.