Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cattle Carpet - GeoTextile Fabric

We found a local distributor for the cattle carpet, so we saved $200 on shipping/freight. The carpet is sold as a unit, not piece, so some think it is 'pricey.' It pays for itself, really.

Since installing it at our place in West Virginia we have not bought another load of gravel. We also installed carpet from the fence line in the parking lot, under the entire barn and overhang lean-to. Have not bought stone in four years.

No mud seep, ever. Highly recommend this application. Now we need a load or two of gravel/stonedust to top the fabric. The run-in shed will be placed on top of the gravel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


The weather has been delightful - had the windows open even during the day! Bright, clear days with low humidity. So not like here!

While doing barn chores I realized that the large Black Rat Snake was hiding within the clustered tools in the storage space in the barn. By the time he got into the barn, the other snake had showed itself!

These snakes tend to be rather shy. They don't want to be 'discovered' and try to blend in. The smaller one was seen lately around the house, but seems to have moved to the barn.

Both snakes were trying to get into warmer accommodations, the smaller snake had an easier time scaling the wall, the larger snake was doing chin-ups around the electrical conduit in the rafters.

The bigger snake had shed its skin recently, completely intact and inside-out, from the rafters hanging into stall #5 that is used as my hay staging area. Measured to be nearly six feet long.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Skunk And The Gang

We have an on-going war with the groundhogs and a skunk. The weather has been delightful, from time to time, and we can't leave the windows open because of the skunk.

The groundhogs have made themselves at home, expanding their estates and creating a hazard in the new horse fields. The holes go straight down for about 18 inches or more, posing a serious problem for horses. It is completely legal to kill them, any time, any day of the year, any way.

I prefer the 'bombs' from Southern States Cooperative. One hole has taken twenty-one buckets of dirt and three bombs, but still the hole was re-activated.

One evening, still light out, I took a walk down to the holes to see what the status was, and saw two groundhogs, looking back at me! I called out to him to get the gun. Yea, we're killers.

He shot at one, but missed and the other jumped in a hole. I told him to stand guard so he didn't come back out, I was going to get a bomb and some bucket of dirt and a shovel. As I was walking away I heard another shot.

He claimed he didn't get him, but the next morning there was a dead groundhog, bloated on the ground and several buzzards on the fence solemnly sitting Shiva.

The skunk hole has not been activated since we bombed it, as with the two groundhog holes near it in field #2. It is going to be war on field #3, with three new holes discovered. It's like "Caddy Shack" all over again.

Last Weekend in July - Ride Time

The weather has been delightful, so we took advantage of a great ride in the park.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Block, Bricks, Pavers

Trips to the dump - too many to count, but at least twice a day, some days three.
This area will become the 'sacrifice area' for the horses when it is too wet to be out on grass in the pastures. Horses can really cut up a field when it is wet.

Making it safe for them required to clear out the area of all that was left or dumped by the previous owners. There is also an apple tree that was next to their chronic burn pile, where pallets, with nails, were burned. The tree suffered too much stress. It does leaf out every year, but immediately goes into die-off mode, no apples have ever been produced. It will be removed, but not today.

Frequently we run an industrial strength magnet over the burn pile. So many nails are picked up, it is hard to lift the magnet. Over and over.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Box Scrapper

Finally got the box scrapper on and working the dirt. Scrapping the area where the new run-in shed will be placed, uncovering more bricks, blocks and blobs of concrete. All this detritus goes to the 'transfer station' where it is recycled. My poor little car! My poor back!

He scrapped until after dark, and we had another fantastic sunset, here at the Annapolis Rock.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Gate

Mostly he mowed today. Last night, after dark, we annihilated the paper wasp nest that was using the electrical tape as building structure. The nest had been steadily increasing in size and volume. He couldn't mow the grass near it because of the wasps. They are vigilant and militant.

His solution was out of a James Bond movie; he used aerosol carburetor fluid, lit with the grill lighter. The flame shot out of that can like a flame-thrower. The nest was burned to a crisp. Black ash. No signs of life. It was awesome!

He mowed all the areas that hadn't previously been cut, because we are going to put either the auger or the box scraper on the tractor. We've had a verdant summer so far.

We also went to Sykesville and Woodstock, running errands or investigative noisiness.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mid-July Ride Time

We've had a run of delightful weather, unlikely weather pattern for mid-July. Low humidity, lower temps, almost chilly nights. Feels more like late May, not July. We're keeping the windows open.

We picked this day to ride. KC has been practically Veal for the last couple days. He was still a pretty good boy for me out on the trails.

The original plan was to ride to the Woodstock Inn for a late lunch. The Inn is hosting 'Bike Fest' tomorrow, so we thought we would go later in the day to avoid the lunch crowd from another event held nearby.

We parked at Marriottsville train crossing, running into a very large group of riders heading back to their event. I didn't count the horses, but would guesstimate about forty. We went the shortest possible way because we were staring out so late.

When we arrived there were about six cars and half a dozen motorcycles parked at the Woodstock Inn. There were no horses at the hitching posts. This was going to be easy, right? While we were crossing the tracks and the parking lot, going to the hitching post closest to the restaurant about fifty bikers showed up.

We turned into surrender monkeys. We got situated immediately, and beat most all of the bikers through the door. We got a table in the window, but the bar maids never turned around to see us and the bikers came in like a tourist bus had disgorged, all standing clustered at the end of the bar. We left right then. The boys were shocked that they didn't get their hour rest.

We rode back, another hour and half, to the trailer. I was so hungry I was half sick, drove to McDonald's in Lisbon, with the boys in the trailer. Parked in the shade, leaving the truck running so the trailer fan kept blowing on the boys.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Step #1. Buy wood, cut into appropriately sized pieces.
Step #2. Screw pieces together.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Groundhogs - Final Solution

Before we can let any horse out in these pastures the groundhog holes must be filled. Unfortunately, for the groundhogs, the holes are occupied. Death is knocking on their doors.

Got the 'bombs' to gas them in their burrows, and mostly this worked, but had two failures. One hole I've used about 12 buckets of dirt to wrap it up. These buckets are big containers. The holes are endless.

I find that around 11:00 p.m., when all is quiet, is the best time to bomb. The moon is pretty full and bright. Bombs away. And don't come back.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gated Community

It took us a couple days to hang three gates. We got lots of distractions, the weather has been horrible (extreme) and other obligations got in the way.

We used the compact diesel Ford tractor with the auger to drill the holes for the square posts that will hold the gate latches, and tie the fence together. We aren't done completely, but it is coming together.

Using the auger was easier than anticipated. Even in the gravel parking lot we ran into very little resistance.
Main gate into new pastures.

Gate #3, into rear pasture.
Gates #2 and #3, looking from main field into future dry paddock and run-in shed location.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Making Hay

Making Hay

This morning I woke
to fields of wildflowers
laid over in strips
The steady shift of
sickles moving quick quick
Leaves of Grass
cut and falling
Over in sheets of green.
I can scarcely bear the beauty
of this dying
This death that feeds life
this reaping of my heart

Remember a time when there was
a fawn hidden in the grass
And the machines kept drumming
And the machines kept singing
Their killing and gathering
and Unceasing songs
A life
So delicate and tenuous
gone with a shift of the blade.

. . .

For a while it will be morning
and I’ll sit with a cup of tea
Writing poems
Breathing slowly and Seeing
Each day with new eyes
the mist over the mountain
Preparing to meet the sun.

I see you standing in golden-green fields
Twisting grasses between your
calloused hands You always
said, It’s ready
before I thought it was time.

And true, dear heart,
There is a curing still to come. But directly,
Soon as the dew’s off,
I’ll meet you there.

~~ Ahna Leigh Fryhover

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Snakes Alive!

The barn has 6-pane windows on the side facing the parking lot. There are metal bars on the windows, but the bars are to keep horses from breaking the window glass. It would keep nothing else out.

In Lil Fred's stall a Starling had set up a nest. She flew out every single time I entered the barn. Soon after four eggs hatched, and they were noisy lot. No matter when I came into the barn they would set up a loud chorus, even at night.

One day a squab was on the floor, in the corner, of Lil Fred's stall. Pin feathers emerging. Stayed there most all day when I picked it up and put it on the window ledge. The other three were rejoicing that their nest mate was back.

The next evening the silence was deafening. I didn't think they could have grown enough feathers and fledged that quickly, so I stuck my head into the window well and saw the texture of scales, not feathers. The Rat Snake had eaten all four of them.

When I later went into the barn for 'last call' and turning lights off I checked the window again, the snake was still there.

Tonight we had a storm that came up suddenly and had little wind, so it lingered. I kept the horses in from their dinner until nearly dark. The amount of rain was impressive, and we needed it.

Lexie has issues with thunder. We originally got her a 'thunder shirt' but this did no good. She is not scared of the thunder; she is defiant. The shirt does nothing for that so was a complete waste of money. She barks and would shake her fist if she had one.

Tonight I had the front door open to watch the storm coming across the corn field, and the lightning. I love storms but Lexie does not. She was in the doorway, barking up at the sky. Max was also at the door, barking. He doesn't care one way or the other about storms. He was barking at the porch, and pawing at the door.

Went over to see what he was doing and saw the Black Snake that used to live in the Maple tree that came down on the last day of 2013, coming across the porch. What a good dog!

Later, after dinner, I went out to the barn to let the horses out, it had pretty much stopped raining, everything was dripping wet and the Peepers were sending up a song of their people, sounding like Jurassic Park and an agitated chicken coop all at the same time.

I returned a couple minutes later and almost stepped on the snake on the top step! The snake was hanging out with my flip flops and paint brush. I banged on the kitchen window for him to let me in the back door, as the kitchen door was occupied.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Equine Dynamics - Evolving

The new routine has become the new normal. The first day Skip was walking the fence line and Lil Fred was disenfranchised. We've progressed from there.

KC has always taken his food personally. He is my mirror. He suffers, as I do, with food aggression. Not to mention I feel like I'm starving him.

In the beginning of the new routine I would leave him in the dry paddock with Sprite and Lil Fred. KC HATES to pull hay out of the mesh hay bag, but would run the little guys off. Now I leave hay in two places, plus the bag.

Skip no longer walks the fence, he is content to have the whole pasture to himself, but I feel he is also losing weight. We need to wrap up the fence project and get him out there, eating.

The grazing muzzle was rubbing KC's nose, I applied Desitin cream to the blisters and now do not turn him out at night at all. I think he is losing weight.

At first Sprite was thrilled to have KC in the dry paddock, Lil Fred was odd-man-out. KC's true nature blossomed and the bloom is off the relationship. Sprite and Lil Fred are resuming their relationship and KC is moping at the fence when all the hay is gone. Skip has accepted his solitude.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ride Time

We had to take time out to ride. KC is not 'off' and we haven't ridden since June 15, so we're over due. Thanks to the hurricane, the weather is delightful, low humidity, mid-80s.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rail Project Completed!

Couldn't have asked for better weather, although it was a bit breezy. Remnants of the hurricane, Arthur, changed the weather and it was cooler.

Finished with the rails, now on to the run-in shed, new dry paddock, and hanging some gates! We need some ride time.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

On the holiday we worked, but the weather was pretty darn good for this kind of project. There is no shade along this fence line, from sun up to sun down. After the storm blew through the wind was sustained and sometimes gusting strongly. The main hazard was blowing sawdust; I did most of this work with my eyes shut.

We got a lot done, too. Probably will finish hanging rails tomorrow.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ride In The Country

He found a supplier of 16-foot Oak boards, so the project doesn't need to be delayed.

With the help of the GPS, we found the supplier, pretty much at the edge of the earth, in the middle of nowhere.

There are also lots of wineries out here, so it won't remain a secret for very long. Don't drink wine, I use it for cooking sometimes, but I'd rather see wineries instead of McMansions cropping up on farmland.

Gates - Keeping It All Together

We drove up to Frederick first thing to get gates, and instead of green we got gold! Having a sale really speaks to us, these gates will last as long as the fencing, a real upgrade. We need to off-load the flat bed and get back on the road for another 100 boards to finish this project.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Letting them in to feed this morning, noticed that KC was 'off.' He was limping slightly, so I checked his feet. He easily lifted the one that was troubling him. His shoe had shifted backwards, stretching and straightening the nails and leaving his toe to hang over the front. The clips had taken some hoof wall with them.

I immediately texted Sara, and she said she had a trim at 9:00 am in the neighborhood, could stop over right after, and she did.

Sara did his feet, all. Bottom line: he needs to stay in during the day, with the minis. Grazing muzzle at night. Pre-laminitis. The shoe shift was probably an accident stomping flies. Being overweight is hazardous to all, especially horses.

So we'll have a new procedure, a new routine. The dynamics will shift, and a couple horses are not going to be happy about this, but got no choice.

We're also being targeted by the first named storm of the season, Arthur. We could use the rain.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July's Debut

Heating up, I feel like hiding from the humidity, but can't seem to shake it.

We've run out of rails, all are on the ground in front of the designated posts, and we've come up short. Our supplier says he's out, sold out, can't get any until next week. Next week? O no!!