Saturday, April 30, 2016

April's Last Day

We opted to ride today because tomorrow the weather won't be cooperative. He's also ordered an alternator for the truck, hoping to have that delivered and installed.

It has been so dry around here, we haven't had rain in nearly two weeks. So much for that 'April showers' thing. The grass, nearly $300 in Orchard grass seed, has not sprouted. Dry and dusty.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday - Catch-up

We spent the evening doing things that didn't get done on the weekend, and dealing with the ailing truck. He thinks it is the battery cable, on one of the batteries. The battery pillar is compromised, so he is going to get a replacement cable.

He mowed grass and worked with Beau in the round pen. After that we put Beau out with KC in #2. The grass is so much better out there and the two of them fell into a eating fest. I did the usual Monday night stuff: Kitty litter box clean out and trash to the road. Dinner on the bricks. A soft, gentle night.

After our dinner and their dinner, he put my old saddle on Beau. He's a natural, really. We're getting back the lost time with his attitude. Maybe these two were double-crossed so many times they just can't believe we're doing what is right by them.

Everyone was easy to put out, too. KC and Beau in #2, Skip and his princess, Alli, in #3, and I left the Littles in the dry paddock and barn because Lil Fred is looking a little portly.

After our day yesterday, I just want to get my lunch packed, brush my teeth and hit the hay.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eventful Sunday

What a beautiful morning!
Our main objective was to ride today, and we did! It was fairly uneventful. I like to say that because I didn't fall off, I wasn't injured, nothing stupid happened. A good ride.

We parked at our horsey club in Marriottsville and he wanted to go to Sykesville, E.W. Beck's specifically. We haven't been there since maybe last September. Sykesville is a sleepy town on the Patapsco River - has a by-pass that takes all the traffic from Main Street - at one time it was a bustling town - with mills and manufacturing plants but a couple fires and Hurricane Agnes in 1972 finished it off. There is a NEW skate park where the manufacturing plant was located, which was never rebuilt - turned into a park. Now it is getting a skate park, with a concrete half-pipe and everything. A major improvement.

We ride from the state park, and cross right on the river bridge and rail road tracks at the county line, then through a small parking lot, between buildings, then onto the sidewalk (which is pretty darn slim!)
to the first intersection, to E.W. Beck's restaurant - tie up at the Police station.

We had a nice 'brunch' - I had French toast, he had fish tacos. Yum! We met so many people, coming and going, fishermen, families with kids and dogs; everyone was enjoying this gorgeous day!

This is where the exciting part comes: on the way back our truck 'died' on I-70 where the speed limit is SEVENTY - on the side of the road with the boys in the trailer, across from the county fair grounds - YIKERS! He had thought to bring the 'jump box' and if you don't have one I HIGHLY ADVISE YOU GET ONE and after a couple minutes on the box the truck started again - He thinks it is the alternator - the truck is a 2004 Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel Crew Cab 4X4 long-bed. A honking big truck, parked on the side of the road, with a horse trailer, with traffic blasting by. It just turned over 50,000 miles and he recently replaced the Turbo; special Sunday delivery and three trips to two different dealers, he fixed it himself in the driveway.

I was all ready to call U.S. RIDER, but he said 'let the jump box do its job' and in a couple minutes the truck did start again. U.S. RIDER is the insurance company we have that will tow your truck AND trailer - and find overnight accommodations for your horses, too, if necessary. For $89 a year it is priceless. A few years ago there was a local news thing about a truck/trailer breakdown on the Capital Beltway: the tow company would tow the truck but not the trailer, so they took the truck, left the horse trailer on the side of the road, and the woman was hand-grazing the horses in the median strip on the beltway and traffic was backed up to East Jabippy gawking at the horses in the grassy area. We got U.S. RIDER right after that!

The jump box is priceless, and I recommend everyone having one. You can jump your own car, no need for anyone else 'helping' you. No stranger needs to assist you, you can do this yourself. Don't need another car to pull up to yours. Comes with its own jumper cables. It really works. He had the foresight to put it in the truck before we left the house.

Now he thinks this new problem is the alternator, maybe. We just got TWO new batteries for this beast in October; this was the first batteries replacement since we got the truck in 2004. We bought it from a 'no haggle' dealer in Ellicott City on the internet. Coincidentally, he bought his Volt from the same guy 10 years later because the dealership had turned from Ford to Chevy in the meantime. And it was the same deal - on the internet - come get it, good bye. We tend to keep cars for 20 years or so, because that's how we roll. It could maybe be a battery cable. We'll see.

We wanted to get back by 5:30 or so, to take care of everyone, and get to Baltimore, to the Hippodrome, to see Dream Theater.
I ran around like a crazy person while he tried to deal with the ailing truck, putting the batteries on the electric slow-charger. Got everyone fed, then situated for the night, fresh water, and off we went.

What a day! What a night!

Saturday, April 23, 2016


Was raining when I first got up, so I adjusted my plans and, after feeding, ran errands, picking up feed and like that. Mild, spring showers. We really need the rain.

The day finally dried out, but by the time it did it was too late to go anywhere to ride, and I still had chores and more errands to run. I did the house-wifey stuff, like laundry, washing windows, vacuuming, changing the bed sheets, and like that.
The rain clouds moved off, the white puffy clouds turned into that blue sky that is so gorgeous.

He cleaned out the humidistat assembly in the furnace, getting that ready for summer season, put the 16-foot board back up between field #2 and #3. He got most of the lawn mowed. I mowed it last weekend, and really couldn't tell that it had been done at all. He also worked with Beau in the round pen while I made dinner.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Hard Road

We've been changing things up around here. KC is on a diet, so he's staying in during the day with the Littles.
Skip and Alli are in field #3. KC is out in field #2 overnight, the Littles are out overnight with Beau in field #1.

Getting them in and out to feed is taking a little more time, some mornings are chaotic, others have gone remarkably good. Just depends.

Alli lost her halter, but still managed to get through the paddock and into her stall to eat without much fanfare. Skip insists on walking her to her stall. He's so High School! When we first put them together he was beside himself, and when they are apart, like when they are eating or she's in the round pen, he's calling out to beat the band. Annoying.

And I'm sure it was Skip that knocked the 16 foot rail down between #2 and #3. AND the groundhog hole at that same site has been compromised. As a matter of fact only one hole that we 'treated' is holding. All the others are open, and bigger than ever. Argh!

And Sprite now has Beau to herself, without his meddling sister, Alli, to run her off.

Beau seems to be backsliding with his training. He's very difficult to lead by his halter. He never learned from the beginning, and all of this is new, but, still. He is high-headed and strong, and can leave you in less than an instant.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Romeo & Juliet

This weekend is the best weather we've had, on a weekend, in months and months. A great weekend for things outside. Doing unnecessary things. Unfortunately we live on a farm, and everything is necessary, if not futile.

We had a great ride, so many people out in the park. We started out 'late' a little after 11:a, and took the long way from LOMH to Marriottsville. We hadn't gone that way in a while and took care of a couple trail blockers. One we couldn't, so we made a little go-around. That tree is going to be there forever.

When we got back we put KC in field #2 and Skip in with Alli in field #3. It was Skip's biggest dream come true! And Alli is smitten, too. She is so tiny compared to him.
Skip has pretty much lost his marbles over this. He can't believe his good fortune.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Flush And A Rinse

Today he flushed the radiator on the truck. The internets said to use nineteen (19) gallons of DISTILLED water. Rinse and repeat, over and over. No tap water, no bottled water, no well water. Distilled water.

While going through the motions, which included letting the truck idle for an HOUR, he washed the truck, inside and out, cleaned out all the debris, sorted through the trash, recycle, clothes, tack, and tools.

It looks brand new! He finished at nearly dark. A long arduous task. We can't remember if it has been done before. I know we didn't do it at home.

I ran errands and did wifey things around the house. The weather is perfect!

We also surveyed our groundhog eradication work, and two holes need another 'dose'. We did that just at dark. Sometimes a job well done needs doing again.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Time To Kill

We've got a scourge of groundhogs in fields #2 and #3. This is a dangerous situation for the horses, and the groundhogs have to go. He's mapped out all the holes in both fields. We have the materials needed to eradicate them. Timing is critical.

Groundhogs build elaborate burrows. They evolve over time, expanding for needed family expansion. The groundhog prefers open country and the edges of woodland, and is rarely far from a burrow entrance. Since the clearing of forests provided it with a much more suitable habitat, the groundhog population is probably higher now than it was before the arrival of settlers in North America. Their ability to reproduce quickly has tended to mitigate the depopulating effects of sport hunting.

Over the last six years we've tried our best to control them in the fields. Groundhogs are persistent. He's gotten a few of them with his .22, but not enough to make a dent in the overall population.

With my car loaded up with two kinds of soil, tamper, shovel, rodent bombs, lighter, duct tape and sticks, we headed out at twilight. A beautiful cool spring evening. A good day for dying.

We bombed four holes in field #3. A couple of the holes were chronically used dens. I've bombed them in the past, and they keep moving back in.

He taped the bomb to a long stick, lit the bomb and put the stick in the burrow, as far as he could reach. We then shoveled dirt into the hole, while the smoke was coming out. We put in regular dirt, and then top soil, tamping it down so that no smoke escaped. Really hoping that we got four holes permanently shut down.

We move on to field #2 another night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Moving Forward

Today he built a multi-purpose jump standard, from scratch, pieces and parts, that also can convert to the 'cowboy curtains' or as we call them 'danglies'.
It's beautiful!

This will become part of the learning materials for the Blacks. Essential to building their knowledge base. It is one thing to ride around in a sterile arena, another to hit the trail with so many things to freak out over.

He also took the opportunity to saddle up and sit on Beau. He sat on Beau for so long, that Beau fell asleep. He almost forgot he was up there!
Alli also fell asleep while I was grooming her. She's filling out and getting taller, growing up! It is hard to imagine that only a few short months ago they wouldn't eat 'sweet feed' and wouldn't step one foot into the barn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


There are clothes I wear for barn chores and riding, that I don't wear at other times. For instance, I try to make sure I don't have hay in my hair when I go to work, and don't wear my barn boots.

Some years ago we looked at a boarding barn that had a list of rules. One of the rules was no baby-buggies. Another was not loud talking, also no running. There was a rule about always wearing a riding helmet. We thought this was hilarious. I will admit there was a couple times I did wish I had on a helmet in the barn. I wouldn't have had a knot on my head if I had!

Another mandatory article of clothing for me is gloves. Even in the warmest weather I wear leather gloves. The gloves do 'age' my nail polish, but saves my skin. Lifting full water buckets without gloves gives me compression marks on my hands and fingers. I can't pick up a bale of hay without my gloves on. My skin is thin and doesn't bounce back like before.

I also don't use leather reins. I swapped out the leather for marine rope. All cotton, soft rope. If the rope has a .000% of nylon it will burn your skin. I've learned that the hardest way. Learn from my mistakes.

Even the all cotton marine rope will burn, when it is running through your hands at full speed. Zip. Zing. Burn.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Of Mice And Ants

Spring has sprung. The daily temps would argue otherwise, but the daylight hours affect the flowers and birds and everything, nonetheless.

We've had an ant invasion in the kitchen. Irene's food bowl is overrun with them, and we're wasting kitty chow. I'm putting it down the garbage disposal, because putting it in the trash would not be a good solution. I'm doing what I can, so is he, but they are relentless in their search for sustenance.

When we first moved into this house, in August 2010, we set the bed up in the living room. I thought this would be a temporary solution to the house not being really ready to occupy, but we needed to live here because now the horses lived here. We were concentrating on making their lives better, and helping us to be able to do that, with water and electric in the barn, secure pasture and like that. It took more time then we thought, the weather didn't always cooperate, and we ended up sleeping in the living room for a year and a half. Time does fly!

That same year in late August I discovered baby Eastern Ring-neck snakes in the dining room. Earth worms are bigger than these babies. When I told friends about this, most said they would: 1. move out; 2. call an Exterminator.

Number one was never an option. Number two was also not an option. We're farmers! Farmers don't call anyone to help. It just isn't the way things are done on a farm. It also would derail that 'Yankee Ingenuity' thing that has made America, and Americans, great. We could figure it out!

Every year, we get baby snakes in the house. Irene dispatches most of them. Some die of dehydration, some I catch alive and transport to places they would be better off living. I would never kill any of them. Ever. And I'm not moving because we have snakes, and mice, and bees, and groundhogs, and skunks, and spiders, and whatever else someone said would be untenable to live with.

Mice are also multiplying, but not in the house. Irene draws the line there! In the barn. Skip has three in his stall, Alli has one, at least one in the aisle, and more in the store room. I'm drawing the line in the barn.

Saturday I cleaned up the barn pretty well. The day was chilly, and later in the day the wind picked up, again, and was howling through, gusting up to 40 mph. We had snow flurries, too. I pulled the doors shut to keep it bearable. I mucked all the stalls, the aisle, and some outside, but it was so cold I didn't want to stay out there. I had on two coats.

I baited the box that I usually keep in the shed. We don't have mice in the shed. When he cleaned out the shed a few months ago, he found a mummified mouse. I keep the feed in a chest freezer. The freezer does work, but it is not plugged in. Don't keep the feed frozen, but the gasket on the lid is secure enough to keep vermin out of the feed bags.

Saturday night when I was feeding, the bait box had been moved. On Sunday morning there was a dead mouse in the aisle. My plan is working.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunny Sunday

Still cold, but the wind has died down, and we're going to ride today!

Getting up early, greeting a calm bright morning, I think it would be a great time to bring Alli into the dry paddock for a little one-on-one.

That didn't happen, but he got Beau in the round pen. Beau has been back-sliding a little and needs it, too.

After that, we went riding!

I would say it was an uneventful ride. KC was stellar and a good boy all day. The day was bright, wind was nil, and I had on chaps and ONE coat. There weren't too many people out, but we weren't entirely alone.

Skip was not really himself. He shook his head, a lot, and bucked from time to time as he was asked for more speed. This is not like him. At all.

Everyone is due to be vetted, and we'll bring this up to the vet. He really is too young to be retired, but maybe he's just not really in to it anymore.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Snow? Are You Kidding Me!?!

When I looked out the window this morning, before starting my barn chores, I was shocked! Snow on the cars, the mulched areas, the grass. What?? This is April. This is crazy!

We had several things on the to-do list, and I needed to get moving on my things; he's got things, too. He's wearing flannel-lined jeans, I'm wearing two coats. The cherry and pear trees are blooming, the Maples are leafing out, and the water buckets have a skim of ice on them.

He decided that the battery in the tractor needs replacing. After researching, and a short conversation, he decides to go to his battery guy in upper Rockville. If you're going there, let me fill my car up, and we'll swing by the transfer station (county dump) and get rid of all this stuff lying around the bricks. Got all that crap out of here (broken carpet machine, 40-year old vacuum, original storm door - patio umbrellas, feed bags, garbage bags from basement and shed, left-overs from projects, metal pieces and odds and ends, and like that. I fill the car up and we go!

We didn't go to my mother-in-law's because I said I wanted to go to grocery store and make a decent dinner and if I went to Mary's I wouldn't then have time to do my shopping, and tomorrow, when we ride, there would be no dinner.

I made pot roast. I forgot to get wine when I was last on Mary's beer run (she drinks beer more than she eats) so I run up to Etchison - a mile away - and get two bottles of red wine $7.49 each. Boy was that pot roast good!!!

I cleaned up the barn - mucked stalls - and baited the mouse stations - we are getting a small population of mice in the barn and they must go!! Skip has THREE in his stall and there is one in the aisle that goes back and forth between walls. Tom said he was hoping the farrier didn't see it running back and forth!

What looks like flower petals blowing around are actually flurries. The wind is picking up. I need to keep moving along with my plans, move laundry along, so we have time to mess with the Blacks later in the evening.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

We've been concentrating on Alli and Beau is back-sliding.

Wednesday night she let me groom her all over; front, back, top, bottom. I combed out her mane and got the mud off of her forehead and face. I moved on to her ears, and she was good with it. When I walk across the aisle to get another grooming tool she starts pawing.

She let me trim her ears! She had old-man hair coming out of her ears, and it is red, so she looked unkempt and raggedy. The Wahl trimmer (no affiliation) has a dead battery (won't hold a charge) so I used scissors, BUT STILL! She let me trim those ears. I moved onto her muzzle whiskers and jaw line. She's very pretty. Also her feet, and I used the nippers to trim a jagged edge on her frog, no problem!

Last night Beau wouldn't let me touch his ears or his face, and I've been able to do that - he's highly excitable, and that's not where we left off. We MUST give them equal time or they won't move forward. Have to start from the beginning, every night, and add ONE new thing, every night, for both of them.

I'm also leading her out of her stall by her halter after every feeding, to the closed aisle door, which I then open, out into the dry paddock, to the closed gate. This is another huge step forward. Beau no longer lets me do this. Step forward, step back.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Follow On

Tonight he got the saddle on Alli - and she took it like she'd always been doing this. I know differently. I don't have a picture of it, because I left my phone on the kitchen counter, but this is enormous!

I am so proud of her, and of him. He has a natural talent with animals and always has.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Cowboy UP!

Today we had every season, cascading throughout the day. Bright sunny morning, got fairly warm, then clouded up to rain in the late afternoon. Cooled down after dark and the wind picked up, again. Enough with the wind already!

The new farrier came out, and was about five minutes early. He was not ready for him because he was still mowing grass and the boys were out in #2. He banged on the gate latch and they came running, jumping into the stalls. They ended up in the wrong stalls, but the new farrier wouldn't know this. Made it seem like our horses were trained, or something.

The seriously HUGE news is that after dinner, and their dinner, we were out with the horses, grooming and like that, and he pulled Beau into the aisle, and proceeded putting the saddle on him for the second time in his life, then he climbs up on him! At first he just hung on his side a couple, three times.
This is called the 'Jeffers Method' and for some reason if you keep your knees together, like a mermaid, a horse is less likely to dump you.

But then he swung his leg over and was up!

And he was sitting there, with no problem from Beau. Of course, I'm freaking out, because, W0W, he's UP! And then he was off, and Beau was completely fine with it.

It was so cold, I'm keeping everyone in. Getting down well past freezing. What is up with this whip-saw weather!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday - A Day To Remember

The wind was still with us starting out. It did diminish as the day progressed, but it was chilly. I had on two shirts and two coats, plus my chaps. He was wearing two coats and his flannel-lined jeans and boots. The leaves were literally being unfurled in the wind. Lots of trees were down, and a bicyclist had a really cool folding saw, and cut the trees in quick-time.
Very cool, I want one.

After we got home I ran out to do a grocery run for my mother-in-law. While I was with her, he was messaging me with pics of what he was up to. I'm totally impressed, and so proud of him and the Blacks. W0W!

Alli seems to be fine with the plastic bag on her back, although I will admit when I am spreading sawdust I make sure to rattle the bag and throw the sawdust on her legs and anywhere else I can hit her.
He's using the 'Aussie Tie Ring' (no affiliation) that we both highly recommend. The horse can pull on the lead rope, and it slides through but not out. It gives some resistance, but not a hard stop. This saves halters and ropes, and diminishes stress on the horse. After a while, they stop pulling.
When he sent me this shot, I was floored. I told my mother-in-law that I had to go, and left post haste! What an awesome development! So proud of him and Beau. An enormous leap forward. Honestly!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Windy, Really, Really Windy ~ Seriously

Everyone stayed in Saturday night. When the wind showed up, it shock the house and knocked a couple large branches from the 'little woods' around the house. The electricity went out for a couple minutes.

The wind howled all night long.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Imapressive Skipa

April Fool's Day! And Skip's birthday. Fitting? His breeder knew he would be special born on this day. And he is.

Skip is the big 20 today.