Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April's Last Day

A sloppy, soaked, standing water kind of day. Have things to do, mostly inside work, but the boys do not want to go out in this weather, given the choice.

I tidied up the stalls, aisle, filled buckets, and turned them out. They didn't go. Neither would leave the overhang outside their stall doors. The pasture gate remains open, and they will not move out.

I left the little guys in the barn, but closed the aisle doors. Who would want to go out in this slop?

We are situated on a hill, but surrounding areas are experiencing flooding, some roads are closed, with creeks coming over the banks.
We travel this road, on horseback, on the way to Sykesville. But not today.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Weather Or Not

It's always about the weather. We are experiencing milder temps, but surely anything would be considered mild compared to single digit nights, 40 MPH wind gusts, and like that. And I remember the old ' April Showers Bring May Flowers ' mantra.

It started raining on Monday evening, the boys spent the night in. I turned them out in the morning, it wasn't raining at that precise time. Rain started mid-morning in earnest, coming down hard at times. The boys are hiding in the run-in shed.

We seriously need to get this fence project started, but if we had taken time off this week to do that, today would not be a good day to work. And tomorrow will be even worse, with additional flood warnings added to the status.

Can't complain, others have lost their homes, can't find their cars, are planning funerals or planning on attending. We don't have those woes, and we need to have perspective. We are getting the left-over weather from the unfortunates in the Mid-West. Wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Looks like April will go out in a soggy, soaked wet breeze.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Last Weekend In April

Time evaporates around here. Now April is fixing to be history. Spring got a late start, but is finally coming around.

Rained on Friday, late afternoon, and to be honest we truly needed the rain. The lightning was incredible, with heavy rain beating against the front of the house. I left the boys out, they both were in the shed. By dark the stars were bright, sharing the sky with the crescent moon. The breeze picked up and dried the bricks, I put coats on the boys for the night.

Saturday he found a work-around on the Ford tractor to get it started and spread 400 lbs. of 19-19-19 fertilizer on both pastures. He needs another 150 lbs. Still need the parts for the tractor, but that didn't stop him from getting his pressing chores done. Just in time, too, it rained again Saturday evening.

While he was toiling away on farm chores I went to Gettysburg for a quick road trip with my sister-in-law and our good friend Eric. We met my beloved Aunt Pat for lunch and got back before dinner.
We didn't take a carriage ride, but couldn't resist taking this picture of Gettysburg's town square, which is actually a circle.

Sunday dawned bright and fresh, dried out from the past evening's rain. Not a cloud in the sky, with that impossibly blue sky. More trees are leafing out, but still not very good shade. Cooler than yesterday, a perfect day for a ride in the park.

We got a late start, and had a good ride - just the two of us with the boys. Expected more folks to be out on such a beautiful Sunday, but walkers, bikers, and horses were fairly sparse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


The 1320 Ford tractor is experiencing some issues. Unfortunately, we rely on this piece of equipment to be the real work horse around here.

Originally we got the tractor to help with farm work in West Virginia, in 1994 or so. We bought new because we couldn't find a used tractor, except at a dealer. Has been an invaluable asset since.

With the PTO (Power Take-Off) feature, the tractor has helped us generate electricity when the power was off during a snow storm, dig post holes, cut grass, annihilated brushes and shrubs, help control bonfires, pull stumps, install telephone poles, haul rocks, spread manure; the list is endless.

On Friday it got stuck on a tree stump, and throughout the day was hard to start, but mostly did, until it didn't. He ordered a starter motor.

Yesterday the motor arrived, but at the same time a decent thunderstorm showed up, too. The lightning was awesome! Not a good time to do repairs on a tractor in the middle of a tree line in an open field.

You really don't appreciate what you have until you don't. Am I right? We had planned on hauling the downed tree debris out with the tractor, using the flat bed trailer. Could use the truck, but the tractor doesn't leave as big a foot print.
We had planned on spreading the fertilizer on the Orchard Grass using the spreader that only works with the PTO feature on the tractor. We need the tractor to assist in the new fence installation. We really, seriously, cannot afford to have this asset out of commission.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


It's Spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds

Each flower, leaf,
And blade of turf--
Small love-notes sent
From air to earth.

The sky's a hear
Of prancing sheep,
The birds and fields
Abandon sleep,

And jonquils, tulips,
Bloom bright upon
The wide-eyed hills.

All things renew.
All things begin.
At church, they bring
The lilies in.

~ John Updike, April

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Before Easter - Ride Time!

Beautiful Saturday, started out a little chilly, but straightened up to be a lovely Spring day. Perfect riding weather.

After this long, drawn-out Winter, it is finally time to see things greening up, blooming. Daffodils and Forsythias blooming around the old homestead ruins throughout the park, randomly occurring here and there.

I personally cannot remember being at the Woodstock Inn when the horses outnumbered the motorcycles. We got there late enough, but the place was bumping.

We occasionally travel past this house located deep in the park. The outbuildings are mostly in ruins, but the house is in excellent shape and rented. Typical stone work construction from early 1800s.

As we continued on through the meadows down to the rail tracks, KC alerted me to a wild turkey coming out of the boggy 'turtle pond.'

Friday, April 18, 2014

Old Fence Line

Part of the ongoing, highly anticipated fencing project (no swords or foils involved) is clearing up the old fence line. In this old line is fence posts, wire fencing, stumps, a tire!, trash, previously cut cherry trees, poison ivy, and trash. Groundhog holes and maybe an occupied Skunk hole.

Last year he cut down numerous cherry trees, before they leafed out, which were also covered in well-established poison ivy vines. Some as thick as saplings. We left these where they fell, now we need to deal with this area before the fence is installed.

I wanted to keep a few trees that are in this line. There is a nice Maple, another tree that I'm not sure what it is exactly, but there are several others in the yard and we might as well keep it for the shade it will provide.

While brush-hogging on Saturday he got the Ford tractor stuck, but it turned out to be only hung up on a tree stump. He had trouble starting the tractor after bringing in the Stihl chainsaw to liberate the tractor, realizing later that the starter has failed. Darn!

He had planned on spreading fertilizer on the Orchard Grass (19-19-19) later on, but now that's not going to happen. He called around for a compatible starter motor, but none found on-hand close by - the closest was over an hour away. It will be delivered on Tuesday. This changes our plans.

I went with my beloved Aunt Pat to visit his mother, while he continued to work - by hand - on the old fence line. We had a nice visit and when we returned we were stunned at how much work he got done. Hasn't looked this good in 40 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax Day

Rain, off and on nearly all day, then accumulating sleet, turning to SNOW? How can this be? Mid-April and we have the weather from hell continuing.

Close to 85 on Sunday, and now snow? This. Must. Stop!

The boys will spend the night inside and wear their coats.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Summer Day in April

Sara the Farrier came out early to shoe the boys and trim the minis. She did the minis first and afterwards I gave Lil Fred a bubble bath. He actually was pretty good, being away from Sprite made a difference. I think. I even trimmed his mane. Very respectable. I rewarded him with hand grazing in the front yard. He was good as gold.

She then trimmed and shod the boys. When she trimmed Skip's foot that had abscessed earlier in the year, she uncovered the crater that was left,an incredible hole the size and shape of Long Island. No wonder he was walking around on his knuckles. The vet punched a whole on the exact opposite site of where it could have done him any good.

After puttying the craters, she then cut out a thick leather pad, placed this over his frog and nailed the shoe into place, the leather pad being a gasket that will keep anything out of the holes in his frog.

We headed out for a ride, starting out late, but won't be dark until after 8:pm, so let's go!

At the horsey club we ran into a friend and she joined us for a long ride and a great lunch. The weather was delightful, and I really enjoyed the summer-like weather.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bath Time

After we got back from our ride at Little Bennett the weather was still mild and the sun bright. A great time for a bath, the first of the year, and long overdue.

We use EzAll - and I highly recommend this product (no affiliation). Simple to use, the boys seem to like it, standing quietly for the foamer to work its magic, and then rinse when the bubbles have popped. I trimmed their manes and faces, and they look handsome.

Little Bennett

Finally, Little Bennett Park is opened to horse riders, specifically their trailers.

The long dreary winter, with too many snow days, resulted in bored 'kids' acting out with those motorized contraptions, specifically cars/trucks. Doing 'donuts' in the trailer parking area, spewing mud and grass clods, ditching out the meadow in circular patterns. Destructive.

The park installed a gate system, with aircraft cable, and we've been locked out for months. Didn't get fixed, but now dried out and presentable, the scars still show.

It's a nice park, with farm building ruins, tobacco barns, wooded trails and open meadows.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"And Then, They Came For The Ponies"

Then, the animals were safe

First, the angry people came for the carriage horses,

and no one spoke out,

because they didn't know about horses, and how they lived.

They didn't know

that horses have always loved to work with people.

Then, they came for the ponies, who gave rides to children,

and no one spoke out,

because they said it was cruel for children to ride the ponies in small circles.

And then they came for the old horses in the old cities,

who brought vegetables to the neighborhoods

in their carts, because work was wrong, and work was cruel,

and the old horses were gone.

And then they came for the donkeys, who hauled firewood,

and gave rides

for quarters and dimes. It was wrong, they said,

for the donkeys to haul firewood,

they must live in nature, or on rescue farms, and not among people

in cities and towns.

Then, because work was cruel, they came for the police horses,

because horses do not belong in the city,

and no one spoke out,

because the carriage horses were already gone.

And they came for the elephants in the circus,

because it was cruel for elephants to be in the circus,

and soon the elephants were gone,

left in the vanishing wild to meet the poachers.

And then, they came for the animals who worked in the movies,

the horses and the goats and dogs, they said it was cruel for

animals to work in the movies, they should only be on farms,

in the wild, grazing freely,

and the horses were sent away,

to die in slaughterhouses.

Then, they came for the barn cats,

and no one spoke out, because no one knew what the lives of barn cats were like,

the angry people said they must live like children, be confined and safe and dependent.

Then they came for the outdoor cats, they said

they should not be free any longer, they would hurt the birds, or come to harm.

Then, they came for the border collies, because they frightened the sheep,

and worked in heat and cold,

and because animals should not ever work,

with human beings, for sport or money.

Then, they came for the breeders, because dogs must never be bred or sold,

they can only be rescued, and breeding is cruel and inhumane,

and the border collies and Labrador Retrievers

and Jack Russell terriers and Pit Bulls vanished from the world.

Then, they came for the bomb-sniffing dogs,

because dogs must not work, do not belong in train stations and airports,

they must live the natural lives of dogs,

and then, they came for the seeing-eye dogs, because it is wrong for animals to work,

it is not the natural life of a dog, they must be safer than people.

Then, they came for the therapy dogs, because work is unnatural, and no one spoke out.

And then, when there were no horses, and no Labrador Retrievers, and there were no seeing-eye dogs,

and search and rescue dogs and therapy dogs,

and no border collies on the farms or in the field,

or ponies in the cities, or elephants in the circus, or donkeys or horses on farms or pulling wagons,

or fish in their tanks in the stores,

they came for your horse and your dog, for your milking goat,

for your barn cat and outdoor cat, for your cow and steer,

The angry people came for the pet stores and the petting zoos,

the dairy farmers, the aquariums, the mice and rats in the laboratories,

the people who raised rabbits for meat,

or pigs for food.

And soon, there was no work for animals to do,

no people brave enough or rich enough to be able to keep them..

One day, the animals had vanished from the lives of ordinary people,

and the hearts of the people and their children were broken,

they lost their dream friends and mystical companions,

and the angels wept in frustration and sorrow at a world,

where animals lived only in rescue places,

inside houses and apartments,

on cable news channels

and internet videos,

the only places safe enough for them, the only places that could afford them,

the only way people could afford to see them.

All the angry people had won.

All the animals were safe.

All the animals were gone.

~~ Unknown

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ground Work

Haven't had a rant in quite a while, so here we go...

So much has been said about 'ground work,' and this has nothing to do with lawn care or picking up manure piles in the pasture. This is working with a horse, mule or pony on the ground, standing on your own two feet.

KC is so good about longeing that he does this without a rope or line. He was brought up right. Skip is difficult to get started because his first two circles will include bumping you with his shoulder. Have to establish boundaries!

The 'littles' feel so tormented with longeing that their heads look like they're put on wrong. This makes my arms tired and a little dizzy.

But ground work can also include working with obstacles like poles (Cavalletti) or ground-level bridges, or the teeter-totter. Working with these obstacles can alleviate issues on the trails or anywhere you might be. A world-famous trainer had shared a secret for the round pen: Make it 'busy' with weird stuff found around the house and yard. So true!
Of course the best plan is to start them young, but an 'old dog' can learn new tricks. Especially true with horse. Build those obstacles, leave them in the field or paddock, and let them look at them. Put balloons and flags on the fence posts, hang plastic sheeting on the stall doors. Let the wind flap that around. They'll think of them as part of the scenery and it becomes a non-issue.

Keep the radio on, and not on the classics, everyone loves Mozart, but Hard Rock or Heavy Metal is really the best. Even if you don't like it, they need to hear the loud stuff.

In the past I've met plenty of people, mostly women, that don't 'believe' in ground work. They've been brainwashed into thinking that all training can be done from the back of their horse. And it is safer to be up than off. But it is even more safe to try new scary things from the ground, or the ground will meet you quickly.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

SS Fluffinator

Sunday dawned a chilly bright opportunity to ride!

We parked at the horsey club grounds in Marriottsville and decided not to take the shortest, fastest way to the Woodstock Inn, even though we were starting out late. Doesn't get dark until 8:00 p.m., right?

We crossed the road and entered the park from that trajectory, stopping a couple times to remove downed trees and other trail blockages. Turning right down the hill we came upon a serious kerfuffle of trees that had knocked other trees down, with vines and other vegetation attached. It took some time to remove the impaled branches and vines. We both cut our hands on this task.
We crossed the river, which was a little high and fast, and noticed that downed trees that had been in the water now were gone. Climbing the hill we came across previous blockages that were cleaned up, cut up, and placed on the side. Another blocked area had to have happened within days and we didn’t have the proper tools or time to deal with it, so we went around.

Coming out of the woods to the train tracks we ran into Glen, again. I noticed him from a distance because there are few lone riders on a Palomino in this park. He heard me call his name, but our brown horses blended into the scenery and he didn’t see us at first. We stopped to catch up with the doings, his recent hernia surgery and his horse’s abscess and the Animal Control officer coming out for a registered complaint. His horse had on a duct-taped boot and that caused some misunderstanding.

Stepping up the pace, we came down the river trail at a good clip. Lots of people were out, fishing in the water, and walking around. We crossed the river again, shallow here, and traveled along the roadway and into Piney Run Creek. We saw other riders out, but didn’t recognize the horses. Another tree had fallen onto previously downed trees, changing the atmosphere at this favorite watering hole.

Going under the bridge and coming out of the water into McKeldin Park, we noticed that someone had cut the downed trees that have been there for quite some time. Skip can walk over most all of them, but KC has to hop over; kids on ponies would always have to jump these. He had threatened to cut them with the small chain saw, but we never did get around to it. Should I mention that that stunt would also be illegal? There are others down, too, and this must have happened within the last couple days, the freshly uprooted trees with emerging leaf buds.

Having spent so much time working on downed trees and branches, we needed to pick up the pace, so we ran along the river on the sandy trail, minimal mud, pretty good footing. KC was stellar. We turned right, onto the ledge trail by the bamboo stand directly to the bathrooms. Park personnel were there opening the bathrooms for the season.

Then coming into the Frisbee golf area, we saw brightly colored Frisbees flying through the trees, hitting those trees and bouncing off in another direction. One sailed over my head and hit the tree to the right of me, spooking KC for a stride. I saw it coming, so I caught him in the mouth and that was all he did. Tom heard us, but it was nothing. KC never even stepped off the trail.

Directly after the near-miss with the Frisbee, two kids were running down the steep hill as we walked by. I stopped KC and asked, 'are you coming down to see us?" The girl said yes, so he pulled up, too. These two looked close in age, around 10 or so, and tentatively approached me. KC turned his head and the girl jumped back and said he scared her. I said he won't bite you, he's a vegetarian. The boy then asked if Skip was a vegetarian, too. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I still want to. Can't help it.

We saw a couple other groups of riders here, too, and one remarked that KC was all shed out. I reported that he'd been shedding since Groundhog's Day. I didn't offer up that he also was blanketed all winter long.

There were bikers out, too, and all of them yielded to us - two remarking that we had the better idea. Yea, a lot easier to have someone carry you around, for sure!

At the bottom of the hill to the Woodstock we came across some 'hikers' that weren't walking very far. I stopped to chat with them while he was still crossing the river. They had 'hitters' in their hands and smelled of weed. She said her family had been members of the horsey club that we had ridden out from, and as a child spent many hours riding in this park. Her companion had not ever ridden a horse.

Had a good lunch; several patrons approached us about the boys, tied up out front at the hitching post, remarking on their calm demeanor, etc. Some of the bicyclist that we had seen earlier were there, too. The boys had their pictures taken, a lot.

On the way back he picked the direction, going back on a trail that crosses at a 'waterfall' and meanders up the far side of the rail road tracks. When we got to the crossing, I was unsure about going. I watched him cross, watched as Skip hit a deep spot and veered off downstream. I wasn't really into going, but he was already on the far bank. Sometimes I don't like to ride with us. Here we go!

KC didn't like the entryway, it was very steep, so we went on another entry point, turning sharply right at the river's bank. We then entered the river and it was moving quickly, and was as deep as I thought. He bravely made his way across, with me picking up my feet so I didn't get soaked. Thankfully, I had on waterproof Ariat boots (no affiliation), with an extra helping of Mink Oil, that I highly recommend for just such an occasion.

KC got wet up to his shoulder, but seemed to take it in stride. My right foot and the bottom of my leather chaps got wet, but my sock remained dry. We rested on the bank for a while, airing up and remarking on just how deep and high the water had been recently, moving tree trunks and debris around. It has been a brutal winter.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


He found this great light fixture for the basement stair well. It hugs the wall, looks great!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day = Skip's Birthday

When he was born Susan knew he was going to be special...