Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

Another year finished, done. It has been a rough year on the farm and feel that not much was accomplished, especially from 'the list.'

We brought Lexie home from the rescue; she's been a pretty good girl, a pal for Irene and wresting coach for Max.

We lost April, our farm dog extraordinaire, in February. She was a huge presence and is sorely missed.

The hardest project was the basement renovation. Installing thirty-one sheets of drywall, a mile of crown and floor moulding, and an acre of vinyl flooring was a feat unto intself. By March it was substantially completed and furnished. The laundry room was upgraded, too, with finished walls and painted/waterproofed exterior walls. He created a shop area with shelving units and his work tables, installed doors and door stops, fixed the ceiling and installed window treatments. The paint color scheme is fantastic and fresh. It is gorgeous!

We didn't manage a vacation this year, only using the LQ trailer one time for a long weekend. Thought about it, delayed it, then just didn't happen. One thing after another and the time, and year, escaped us. He replaced the awning on the trailer, but we've not yet used it.

The Orchard Grass Project is coming along, busy growing grass. We do need to fertilize, and are still discussing the pasture fence placement. Getting that fenced in is top priority (for me) this coming year. Along with that we'll need to clean up the old fence line; there are still downed Cherry trees, wrapped in poison ivy vines, and fence posts, pig wire fencing, and buried barbed wire. Ground hog eradication needs to get serious.

The most fun was the bridge replacement project on the roadway. It was great getting a break from traffic and meeting our neighbors, riding along the roadway without fearing cars doing 60 in a 35.

Cleared out a large pathway at the bottom of the property, cutting limbs for head clearance, making it easier to get the tractor down there. We have to clear out the hillside, too. Lots of decent trees have volunteered, now need to clear out the mult-flora rose and blackberries that are hugging the saplings.

The dying Maple in the front yard is history. The precarious limb that hung over the FIOS cable line fell on its own accord, without bringing the line down. The rest of it came down last Saturday; want to replace that with a Willow Oak.

It has been a rough year for us, but tomorrow is another day, another year, and we are making progress.

I hope everyone has a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Maple's Demise

The dying Maple in the front yard has succumbed to the Stihl chain saw. Boom, Boom, out go the lights.

We had thought originally that we would let it collapse on its own, but that didn't happen. The base was in good shape, but so much of it was rotten, spongy, with fungus on lots of it, perforations administered by birds. It fell with a thud.

Even though there was not much left of it, there is now a void that will need to be filled. The sooner the better.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." ~ Charles Dickens

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I really like this photo, but we've got no snow. Much cooler now, freezing, but dry with flurries predicted later in the day.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Comes In Like A Lamb

The weather has been strange around these parts. Having a high of 70 in late December is practically unheard of!

Skip continues to be off and Sara the Farrier was out on Saturday morning. She put a bar shoe on his 'bad' foot. A bar is actually round, giving him elevation all the way around. By Sunday he was worse. He is showing a temperature in his heel,
above the hoof-line. Sunday evening he got another round of Epsom Salt soak and duct-taped boot. Even though it was warm, the low being 60, the boys stayed in overnight because of the rain, heavy at times.

We installed new hay nets for all of them; two in the run-in shed for the boys and one in the aisle for the little guys. KC HATES the net and sulked all day by the fence. Fred was afraid of the new addition, but eventually got over himself.

He also cut down half of the dead Maple in the front yard. Eventually that tree is going to collapse on its own.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Heat Wave

Being dramatic, I'll state that we are experiencing a heat wave. Still have icy patches in the parking lot, the new pasture has plenty of snow, but the temps are rising. Winter has not officially started and we're coming out of the deep freeze and heading into mud season.

He took off the boys' heavy coats so they could enjoy the mild day, I turned off the bucket heater, first time in weeks. The grass is showing in the pasture, and after today surely all the snow and ice will be gone. High today is predicted to be 60, tomorrow 65, 70 on Sunday.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Long Cold Nights

It has been so many nights in a row that the boys have stayed in, I honestly have lost count. The manure spreader needs emptying, but the snow has been too deep to pull the mower out, and it is composting in the aisle.

We've been letting them in as soon as we get home from work, and they have stayed in from that time until getting out when we leave in the morning. Some would argue that we're keeping them like veal, but they honestly want to be in, really. Asking to be let in.

Last night they stayed out for some time; I prepped stalls around 9:pm, and they were in the run-in shed. I came out later, around 10:30, and they wanted IN.

The low was going to be around twenty, and the breeze was picking up. I know they have blankets on, but the ground is hard as a rock, snow and ice. I had to let them in.

It has been like that all week - too cold, too windy, too snowy, too frozen, too much!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday - 13th

I'm not superstitious - but thought this was too good not to share.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Day

We already have snow on the ground, with a layer of ice on top. It warmed up a little to make a slushy mess, and the icicles melted. Before dawn the snow started falling, accumulating fairly quickly. School was canceled. Lots of opportunity to create Christmas cards.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Cold Wind Blows

The roller coaster of weather is upon us. Earlier in the week it was in the 60s. Yes, the 60s! Like Spring, except in December. Heavy fog in the morning, warm breezes through the days. That didn't last.

A weather front the size of the Western Hempishere has come our way and bringing with it frigid temps, snowy/sleety precip. O boy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013


"Off" means lame, like limping. Although I've known people to pronounce their horse as 'off' and no one could really tell. It is a great excuse if you need one. I knew a horse that would go lame in a couple walks around an arena if you used a loose rein.

Skip has been off. He's been trying to be off for going on two weeks, but right before last weekend he was walking gingerly. We didn't ride because of the holiday, and the weather, and this and that. He didn't get any better. In the last couple days he's been walking around on his knuckles (not really) and if you pick up his good foot he can't support himself with his 'off' leg.

The vet came out, punch two holes in his foot (ouch) but he immediately responded well to the second hole and is feeling better.

Now we start the regime of soaking twice a day (20 minutes each) with Epsom Salts and hot water.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" -
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never - nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore:
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting -
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kitchen Drawers

The house was missing drawers when we first saw the place, and later became a contentious point in the property settlement. I personally don't like the kitchen cabinets. They are too dramatic and refined for the house, and on further investigation discovered the cabinets didn't even belong in the house. They were pulled from a renovation of another house in Sandy Spring.

That one fact put everything in perspective. The cabinets didn't have end-caps, some doors didn't open all the way and there were strange holes in some of them. I'm sure they looked great in the house where first installed, but they just didn't fit in the house.

Two drawers were missing and to replace with matching from the original manufacturer was $1,200.00. Needless to say, ain't gonna happen. Ever.

My fantasty is to pull them all out of here, drag to the burn pile and light them up! Along with the counter-top that has been gouged, burned, scorched, scraped, chipped, stained, pock-marked, blistered, punctured, cut, and otherwise abused, I want a new kitchen. With new flooring. I'm not asking for much, right?

The lending institution saw pictures from the appraisal and tried to have the drawers installed before settlement. I pleaded with the realtor to please not waste time, energy, or money on this venture. We would eventually replace it all. He put cardboard pieces with spray paint to match, sent it to the lender. They were not impressed. We thought it was hilarious.

With the time and materials, plus the wood-working equipment on hand he decided to build drawers to match. And if I do say so myself, they are beautiful! They match like they belong with the original installation for a nominal cost.

And can't do any major project without help, or at least supervision.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Arrives

Been cold, but today is actually mild, for December. High is nearing 50, not a cloud in the sky, but still has a damp chill to the air, even in the sun.

We decide to go to Annapolis, just because it's there. There are lots of sail boats out in the bay, people are putting up Christmas decorations and are out and about with their dogs and kids. We do see some mid-shipmen out, too, from the Naval Academy.

Lots of brick - brick sidewalks, walls, gutters, houses. Anywhere they needed pavement bricks were used. Also used was granite from Granite! We ride through Granite a lot, and the same stone is used for window sills (never rot!), steps and street curbing.
Max is now two years old, and like a light switch, is calming down and mellowing. Maybe we can get our life back!