Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year In Review

It is hard to grasp that FIVE YEARS has gone past. Some things change, others never do. We've had some incredible accomplishments this year, some that weren't even on the 'list.'

In the winter we had too much snow. And frequently. One week we had three snow days.
That led to too much time spent inside. And not riding. He picked out a new lamp to replace the hideous ceiling fan in the dining room
and got inspired to relamp the entire downstairs.

He decided that we was going to pull up the ceramic tiles in the dining room, and then it was gone. Heavy, broken tiles that cut like glass. Good riddance! He installed the Pergo flooring and the dining room grew up into adulthood practically overnight.

What started as just a 'look-see' became a quest to pull up all the carpet in the house.
Next thing you know the carpet is rolled up and resting on the bricks, waiting for a trip to the dump.

That, in turn, led to replacing all the carpeting in the house, upstairs and downstairs, AND replacing the entire upstairs bathroom with all new wall, floor, fixtures and electrical upgrade. It is beautiful.

Discovering RADON readings that were well off the chart, we delved into remediation procedures and took so long, so many steps, to solve this life-threatening situation. Eighteen bags of cement, aluminum ducting, cutting holes in the floor and walls, creating chases and returns.

Can't forget that this year we had a TRIPLE CROWN WINNER!! Not since 1978, and that's huge. American Pharoah did it.

Skip's nostril:
This scab cost us $75 extra tacked onto the vet visit. He did have a gash up his nose from the weed stubble in the field.

We managed to camp in our Living Quarters Trailer two nights this year. It was a New Year's Resolution to do that, but took until September to camp. Max seemed to have a breakthrough with spending the night out of his comfort zone. We planned to camp again but the trip was rained out, rescheduled for Spring. We had gotten the boy's Coggins updated, new tires on the LQ trailer, new batteries for the trailer and the truck, oil changed, cleaned everything up, got new electric fencing and stakes, even packed the trailer, but didn't go.

We did get some awesome rides in this year, too, and found some new trails.

Over Thanksgiving holiday we added two new horses to the herd. The jury is still out on whether that was a great idea or what.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Warmish Wednesday

It would be great if we could get out of this wet, muddy condition. With what is happening in the Midwest, I feel like that is just whining. My basement is dry, my roof is not leaking. We're good.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Last Tuesday For 2015

Last night, when I heard the weather report, I was so excited to hear it was going to be seventy! I immediately thought we'd get in another ride, but then the report continued with '100% chance of rain' and my plans were dashed. No ride today.

The day started off overcast, foggyish and wet. The boys had their coats on overnight because last night it was going to be 41 as a low, but with wind gusts up to 35 mph. And it was drizzling. Not a good recipe for my boys.

I had put the boy's coats on after I got them dried out and brushed out, and put hay in the #2-3 shed. I put the Littles in the barn with the aisle doors closed, and allowed the Blacks into the dry paddock, giving them hay under the overhang.

He has ordered the round-pen, and it should be delivered sometime in the next week or so. I'm really looking forward to that! This will be the game-changer for EVERYONE. So we've been planning on the installation of this pen, with going over the dry paddock area where it will reside while it is up and calculating the amount of sand that will need to be delivered, too. I went over the area with my super-duper magnet, pulling up nails and bolts and other metal objects.

He helped me pick the 'store-bought' rocks that have floated down the slight incline from the down spouts. It really, really rained during our Christmas dinner. And the rocks migrated down into the dry paddock. Now the rocks are back up under the downspouts, until the next time we have another gully-washer.

We did this and that around the house: I caught up with laundry, he cleared out the horse trailer, he installed the toilet paper holder in the upstairs bathroom, repaired the loose fence board in field #3, I cleaned out the exterior stairwell.
The sun came out for about 20 minutes and I don't think it ever reached 70.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Ride Time!

We parked at Marriottsville at the railroad crossing, and before we even had a minute to get the boys out of the trailer, a train came by! It has rained nearly six inches since Christmas Eve, but the trails were not as bad as I thought. The rivers and creeks were a little high and fast, and I could see the high water mark on the banks, but it was manageable.

It was cold, to me, and I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt, a fleece overshirt, a Melton wool vest, and my Carhartt jacket, my riding jeans and leather chaps with my insulated, waterproof boots. I wore my riding gloves, but took my work gloves. Later I put my work gloves over my riding gloves. When it rained, I pulled my hood up.

While it did rain or heavy mizzled during the ride, it was a great ride. Ran into a man with his son in the park, who also saw three deer run down the steep incline, cross the trail and jump into the river, swimming across to the other side. They then ran up the even steeper incline like gravity did not matter. The man took pictures of this event.

When the deer had cleared out they approached us as we sat on the boys, catewampass across the trail, being indecisive about which way we would go.

Turns out, long story short, he is from the general area, but now lives in Columbia, and his daughter goes to my high school. Go Raiders! Both of them pet KC, who loves the attention, and he took our picture, but swore he cut off my head! We talked about the way the area has 'grown up' over the past decades. Urban/Suburban areas in old cow pastures and corn fields.
We didn't run into anyone else all the way to Woodstock, but it was evident that others had used the trails between rain events, and the ATV and motorcycles had been out, too, creating new trails and tearing up the park.

We had lunch at the Woodstock Inn and were pleased to see a whole new section of hitching post installed on the hillside. There has been times we had to wait to tie up because of the amount of horses at this restaurant. BUT THAT'S A GOOD THING!

Coming back we went through the river at a point that has a water fall, which wasn't much of a fall with the high water, and was a little deep! But KC did not have to swim, as he's done in the past, and I didn't get but my toe wet, so we're good! I swear I can tell the days are getting longer!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Is This Winter?

It's cooled down, but there are roses and cherry trees blooming. Dandelions and violets. And rained too much, the creeks and rivers are high and muddy and standing water here and there. All of the horses are filthy, rolling around in the mud.

Boxing Day

With his recent office move, there is some left over items that are too good to throw away, but not good enough to move. He kept them from the garbage man and we went to DC to pick them up.

The Potomac River was pretty high,muddy, and the ceiling was low.
There were so many people out, seeing the sights that this city has to offer.
Willard Hotel on the left, full-service Marriott on the right, on 14th Street heading north.

"New" Rug


And another desk chair identical to the chair he brought home a couple weeks ago. We plan on placing the 'new' rug in the biggest bedroom upstairs and sealing the bench for outside use. In the meantime, it resides in the back hallway.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Cold Moon

For the first time since 1977, we’re going to be getting a full moon for Christmas! This is one of the rarest occurrences in decades, and lots of people are looking forward to catching sight of it. I won't be able to miss it, because I'll be out in the barn, tending my 'flock'.

Yes, we’ve all seen a full moon before, but not since 1977 on Christmas, and this won’t be happening again until 2034, when I'll be deep into my seventies, or not.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's The Night Before Christmas

It’s the night before Christmas, we’re out in the barn
Blanketing horses to keep them all warm
They’re eating their dinners, tucked in cozy stalls
Not aware that it’s Christmas or any special day at all

They can dream of spring pastures from their pine-scented beds
No visions of sugarplums dance in their heads
But we people are thinking of merry parties and such
Maybe feeling a little sad at missing so much

This season is special but the horses don’t know
We’ve got work to do before we can go
We finish the chores and head on inside
To get ready for dinner and our own yuletide

It’s nearly midnight, the carols are sung
I remember a story I was told when I was young
How at midnight on Christmas Eve
The creatures of the barnyard can speak to us with ease

I am called to the barn, I wade through the rain
I know I must go, I can’t really explain
I slide open the door, pause for a while
Then slowly walk down that dully lit aisle

A nicker from Casey, a wink from JD
Sleepy old Alibi waking to see
Tucker rustling his bedding, a snort soft and light
Each horse gave a greeting as I walked through the night

I thought about parties bright lit and warm
The ones we don’t go to ’cause we have the barn
And vacations and holidays that we don’t get
When we’re working long hours for bills to be met

Walking all the way to the end of the aisle
I stop to stroke Bonnie, it brings me a smile
She snuffles my face, hot breath on my skin
It starts me to thinking about my horses, my kin

I could be at parties with laughter and mirth
But where I am right now is the best place on Earth.

~ Sandra Williams

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


So foggy and warm, with rain off and on all day. The pastures are taking a beating, too, with four full-sized horses eating, non-stop.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rainy and Mild

Don't even get me started about Climate Change, however, it will be pretty nice to have some days off while the weather is pretending to be springtime. Some of the cherry trees are blooming, too. The calendar says December, the winter solstice arrived last night and Christmas is only three days away, so you would think that winter was here. I'm not really feeling it! Incredibly mild air continues to stream from the south, and we will enjoy one of the warmest Christmas weeks on record.

But today started out with rain overnight. And we do have some puddles here and there. Warming up to feel like Christmas in Florida!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

The days are getting longer, I'm counting the days.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Before Christmas

Cold and clear, but promised to be a high of 45!

I got up early, took Max out, fed Irene, and went back to bed. Boy, did I sleep in! The sun was high in the sky when I finally got up. The boys were so far down the hill, I could only see the topline of their Rambo blankets, and they didn't see me. In the lingering shadows and shade the frost was hanging on and the ground was hard as a rock.

I got everyone fed in an orderly fashion and got myself ready to ride!

So we're going down the six-lane divided interstate highway, towing the boys, who are wearing their blankets. It is still cold, and the wind chill doing 70 mph would be really cold. They are so spoiled. Eastbound traffic is light, and I'm looking ahead and see 'something' in the roadway. I don't know what it is, but it is laying across our lane. I said, 'don't know what that is, but you'd better get over if you can." He does, and as we get closer we realize it is a KAYAK!

Kayak! on the roadway! - he said, 'call 911' so I called 911 - got Howard County Police Dispatch, who then transferred me to State Police Dispatch, because it is an interstate highway - a camouflaged-motif fiberglass kayak, sitting perpendicular in the roadway. I'm sure who ever it belonged to didn't know it was missing until they got to their destination. I know I didn't want to run it over, pulling a horse trailer. Who would?

We stopped in at the supermarket to get Advil, don't leave home without it!, and diesel, which with my grocery purchases discount gave us a pretty good deal.
I vividly remember paying $5.04 for diesel in 2008.

We have things to do at home, so we opted to park at the CSX Rail crossing parking lot in Marriottsville. This strategy cuts down on about a hour of ride time. This is one of the shortest days of the year, and it is already after 10. The puddles were frozen. There is only one car in the lot.

Two trains came by while were at the Woodstock Inn. Coal cars filled to capacity, heading out to Curtis Bay and the Baltimore Harbor.

On the way back, we chose to go up the white trail, an established and marked trail that goes towards McKeldin Park.
I kept hearing engines rumbling, but there is no roadway in that direction for miles. As we came up the rise I saw hikers with a dog, but the engines were louder. And louder. We came up the hill and there were about FIFTEEN motorcycles, 4-wheelers, and assorted other off-road motorized vehicles on the trail. One of them noticed us, and I pretended to call 911 and he proceeded to photograph the group. He signaled to the others and they took off down the trail. At high speed. All the newly installed water-breaks are now crushed and gouged out.

At the Colonial Pipeline cut it was obvious they had been doing hill-climbing exercises, over and over and over. When we went through there a little over an hour before the trail was bench cut perpendicular to the steep hillside. On our way back the trail had been obliterated and the recently repaired and seeded hill was a mud wash. Very disappointing on a quiet Sunday before Christmas.

We got back slightly before dark and he worked with Beau again. He and Beau are starting a love affair, and once we get a round pen they will become a solid team.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bright and Clear

Frosty, frozen puddles. Chilly start to the day. Have so many things on the list, but worked through lots of them.

Housewifey chores (laundry, vacuuming, etc.,) grocery shopping, feed store stop. Managed some time to run over to Todd's and actually fit eight bales of hay in my car!

Then over to my mother-in-law's to put up her tree. She has Alzheimer's and she is ninety-four, so every day we remind her that Rob and Debi will be here for Christmas, and everyday she's surprised at these plans. On Saturday she said she was not prepared for the big day. Christmas is that big day. She doesn't have anything for Debi and is perplexed on how to accomplish any fleeting plan she might have.

Today was also a huge breakthrough with Beau. He managed to separate the Blacks, Ally staying in Field #1 with the Littles, and Beau coming into the dry paddock, alone. KC was in the sacrifice area, sharing a fence. He is so friendly and sweet, the two of them had a long extended how-do-you-do. During this time, he was able to show Beau just how much KC loves to be loved on. Beau really got into it, and he was able to rub is back and butt. This is a major step. Also, most importantly, he picked up his front feet!! HUGE NEWS!

The game plan is to get a round pen, the sooner the better, and separate the Blacks. She is his brick, and holding him back. Divide and Conquer!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cold Snap

After the rain blew out late yesterday afternoon, the cold settled in. I brushed out the boys, to fluff up their winter coats. Did not blanket them overnight.

It is going to get colder, and with the stiff breeze I plan on blanketing them tonight.

Winter officially starts late Monday night, so we expect colder temps, right? Last weekend I was riding in a t-shirt; this weekend I'll more than likely be wearing my flannel-lined jeans. I highly recommend EVERYONE getting a pair. L.L. Bean (no affiliation) and Wrangler (no affiliation) carries these jeans, easily ordered on-line. Jeans that feel like pajamas AND block the wind? Can't be beat!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Not Even Baby Steps - Crawling

More like crawling towards an elusive goal.

He was home Wednesday, and it was a beautiful day, and he spent lots of time outside, with the Blacks. Beau is having small breakthroughs, and Ally continues to be extra wary, like a Deer. He feels everyone double-crossed them for every single thing done to them.

He also put the Littles out in field #1. Neither have been out since November 28. That's a long stretch. They were gleeful, running, bucking, rolling. And there were no issues with the Blacks. As a matter of fact, the Blacks seemed to split up some as the four of them quietly grazed, spaced out across the pasture.

He spent some 'quality time' with Beau, scratching and rubbing, retreating when it got too much, then going back to the 'don't touch me there' spots. These guys are filthy dirty and need to be brushed out. They also have Bot-fly eggs on their legs. But we can't touch their legs.

He's been researching round-pens, and the thickness of the metal, pros and cons, and lead-time for delivery. I think we might have one delivered during our Christmas break.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Hold The Carrots, Please

His birthday was last Wednesday, so I planned to make Pot Roast for dinner. I bought all the fixings, including carrots. Now we have carrots in the house, and decided that I would 'treat' everyone with carrots in their dinner.

I put two each for the Littles and the Blacks, three for the boys. The Blacks do not like carrots, at all. We'll add this to the list of things they do not like.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Ride Time!

And so warm! I rode in a t-shirt! And I'm no where near Florida.

We also ran into Martin and Tracy - their trailer was parked at the LOMH - we met up with them under the roadway bridge at Woodstock for a moment - they were leaving the Woodstock, riding Nina and Jake. Tom didn't speak to either. I spoke with Tracy, but she was more concerned about the 'waitress' that had her boobs hanging out of her tank top at the Woodstock Inn, Tracy was embarrassed. I said it wasn't your tits, so why should you care about her. She ended up being our waitress - and she was not great - we split lunch and she forgot our Fries - so we barely had enough to eat. O well - And all of our lunches were luke tepid warm because they sat on the shelf too long.

Fast ride up the 'hill' and KC really doesn't want Prince to be in front of him, but Prince managed to get around us. Someone had their trailer get pretty deep in the soft ground and really tore it up at the trailer parking area at McKeldin. I did my best to steer KC away from this slippery trench, but then he zig and zagged at the end to avoid Prince and my right arm hit the pommel pretty good. I'm sure to have a perfect bruise there later.

The boys, but especially KC, were sweaty, and their coats dried to a hard, wavy mess. Took me an hour to brush KC out - he then rolled in stone dust and mud, and I'm afraid I'm wearing some of it still. I didn't get back into the house until after 10! But I'm sure he appreciated it, and is not all itchy with his hair stuck in stiff whorls.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

12 12

Wonderful, warm day. Before the sun really even came up I scraped the back of my hand with the plastic fence feeder for the Blacks, and it did bleed, but my housecoat (yes, I feed in my housecoat) smeared it so it didn't really keep a decent scab.

It is acting like it wants to maybe rain, but I don't care. It is so warm! I couldn't believe I said out loud, "It's hot out here!" I had to change my shirt, put on a t-shirt. It was colder in the grocery store than outside.

I ran errands, getting gas, too. It was Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday, and every radio channel, even the rock stations, were doing Frank. That is some staying power, right?

He was not feeling well, or we would have ridden today, but instead we drove up to Frederick to see if we could get a round-pen. Nope. There was one, but the metal gauge was not thick enough. We have two kinds of gates: wimpy and industrial-strength. Guess which ones have dents and bows in them. I don't want the panels to be so heavy they can't be moved, but don't want them destroyed by our two young Blacks.

When we got back I noticed a dead mammal on the bridge, but it was on the other side of the guard rails. Looked like a ground hog, but it was really too big. I went for a look-see without Max, and ended up going through the culvert! There was water coming through, but I walked splay-legged through it, watching the minnows fighting the current, came out the other side and climbed the rocks, effectively crossing the road from below.

I'm sorry the beaver is dead. His back foot is knuckled over, but you can see it is an incredible assembly for moving and rearranging dirt.

Cleaned up the dry paddock. That's where I felt 'warm' and he spread manure while I went to the grocery store. He also 'cut' grass, and it is growing, but more for the leaves that are laying around. Still need to 'decorate' for Christmas. Hang the wreaths outside, and like that. No tree inside, because we have a cat and a knuckle-headed dog that will chase her. Don't want to destroy my beautiful ornaments, most of them were gifts through the decades.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Springtime in December

We have run into a delightful stretch of weather, and for December, this is just awesome! All the leaves have fallen, but the temps are reaching into the fifties during the day, although overnight is a little frosty with fog. This weekend is going to be reaching into the 60s for daytime highs. Unfortunately the daylight hours are short, we'll just need to start earlier!

We plan on sorting out the Blacks living arrangements and ride our good boys, too. Let's hope we can pull everything off that we want.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Two Blacks

We're still trying to work out our game plan. Most importantly, we need to separate them, either here at our place or take one off the property, or the other, to training. They feed into each other's issues, and we need to ramp up our game.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

From The Beginning

I used to have a black dog. He was nearly impossible to photograph, even in the snow. He always looked like a big black blob. Now we have two black horses. We can't see them in the dark. He has a star and a big snip, so he looks like he has a black mask on.

It has been raining since Saturday night, supposed to clear out on Wednesday evening. Everything is sopping wet. The barn doors have soaked up the rain, the aisle is wet a couple feet into the barn. And all the horses are dirty, muddy.

We persuaded the Blacks into Skip and/or KC's stall with a flake of hay and sweet feed. It's almost like having wild animals, like deer, and you're trying to not scare them away. But you do. Just turning around sends them skittering. Baby steps.

They are afraid of the feed bucket. She's so busy hiding behind him, and she's a little shorter, that she can't see he is hogging all of the sweet feed or that there is hay on the floor. She runs out and he follows, they come back, he pushes her out, she circles around and comes into the other stall. He follows her, she spooks and they both bolt out the door at the same time. They come back, then leave. Around and around, until the hay and grain is finished.

As if they are off-the-range wild Mustangs, we have our work cut out for us. We still can't get the rope halter off his head. One. Day. At. A. Time.