Archive for » April, 2013 «

Dirt is Healthy

I was a little concerned so this is very good news. It’s all well and good to theorize and listen to hearsay but a little proof is always nice.

We put the tomatoes and various other plants out in the green house today, finally. What is it now a month after we first hoped to get it done? The tomatoes had gone insane. They were a good two feet tall twining about the grow lights. We dug the holes for the four going into the green house with a post hole digger. We buried them until they are only about six inches tall.

Every thing else looked nice, until it saw sunlight for the first time. They wilted instantly standing in water. My gardener husband constructed a little shade and they are recovering nicely. The peppers are gorgeous and we will have petunias coming out of our, well they look good.

The Goblin Child got her first ride on the four-wheeler hauling the flats of plants over. Then, during the planting, we sat her on the ground where the corn isn’t coming up. She played happily the whole time. I looked over once to see her sucking on a clod of dirt like a lolly pop. I took it away and spent the rest of the time trying to control her dirt intake. I wasn’t going to tell anybody. I didn’t want people to know what a bad parent I am, but I came in the house and started to research dirt so I would know how much I had to worry about it.

Come to find out I am actually a very good parent. I am helping her to develop a strong immune system. When I let her pet poor disgusting Daisy, same thing.  So we will, cautiously, continue to allow her to eat dirt. Now I need to start researching the eating of grass, I think she has been watching the horses to much.

So Exciting!

It’s the little things.

I got a new book! I know how cool is that?

Well it’s a new book on clicker training. Used to train dolphins and quite common in the dog world it is still mostly unheard of for horses. So of course if it’s not main stream I’ve got to try it.

I’ve made it through the first couple of chapters and it’s fascinating. I was able to sneak out and work Nevel during the child’s morning nap so we tried it out just a little. We tried targeting. It sounded, and seemed to be, very simple. I brought my beautiful purple lunge whip and every time he touched it with his nose I clicked my clicker and he got a cookie. The point being to teach him to associate the click with a reward and realize that he did something to cause it. I’m not sure yet how this carries on into something useful. I guess I will have to finish the book.

Also, I’m getting a tack room!

Life is so very very exciting.

In our yard sits a building that at one time was the bunkhouse where the hired hand lived. I planted flowers up it, but mostly it has sat there rotting for many years now. Generations have used it for storage but now the roof on one side had caved in and it was deteriorating at a much quicker rate.

A bundle of tin was discovered that had been ordered for it years ago then forgotten. So my occasional carpenter husband and his pay-loader driving father re-roofed the west/worst side. I tried to help but we used up the Small Goblin Child’s brief happy patient period quickly. I spent most of the time in the house trying to get her to sleep. Seldom have I been jealous of anyone but I have to admit I envied my brother for living close to my mom. She baby sat for him all the time while he worked on his house. It sure would have made this easier. I think he’s had his share and now she needs to move out here. Fortunately the father-in-law showed up to help and was, I’m sure, way more help then I ever could have been. I love the way they use the pay-loader for scaffolding.

Now we simply need to finish the other side of the roof, clean out decades of carefully stored “stuff”, and haul all of our junk over. Oh yeah, it doesn’t just get to be my tack room. That is merely a pleasant side effect. Mostly it will be a storage shed for gardening supplies and all the other misalliance “stuff” that currently fills our back porch. Eventually we will get this house organized so we all fit.

Been Busy

2013-04-12 11.08.59

See how his hind fetlock joints bend forwards?

The blizzard got over. As far as I know the two calves who started their lives in the barn are still alive. The one I tubed had bad hind legs. My father-in-law thought his hind feet had froze. I thought it looked like contracted tendons. We shall wait and see if they get better or fall off. If he is still alive that is. I went along to doctor him during the last snow, he had pneumonia pretty bad. He had a bed of hay in a pen with only one other calf, and their moms but sometimes they really like to die no matter what you do for them.

The one other calf is his barn buddy, that one decided he had no interest in eating. The guys spent a lot of time running his mom into the chute so they could show him how it was done. (By guiding him into position, not by demonstrating.) Now that the weather is nice again I am no longer checking cows and really have no idea what is going on out there.

My hands are full enough with the small Goblin Child. We have been thinking about trying to return her to her true father (the goblin king). We hope she is teething, if not, well if not hopefully she will out grow this stage quickly. She has given up on sleeping through the night and now wakes up two or three times. Lately she is refusing  her naps leaving us with the most amazingly grouchy baby.

She is learning to walk. Very exciting for her, and us. Every time we get near her she reaches out her hands wanting us to assist her to her feet. Once up she doesn’t really want us to hold onto her any longer but she also has no sense of balance and no fear of falling. Her favorite position seems to be standing with her forehead pressed to the floor.

We got more chickens! The three from last year all turned out to be roosters. As fond as we were of them we didn’t want roosters. One went to be the herd rooster at my husbands uncles house. The other two took to roosting on the in-laws porch. My husband doesn’t eat chicken, weird I know, and apparently the in-laws don’t ether or at least don’t want to butcher their own. The chickens disappeared one night, I didn’t ask for details.

The new ones are promised to be hens. Bomgaars said so. They also has an excellent selection. I got a Silver Laced Wyandotte, one Blue Andalusian, an Americana and two of my all time favorites Speckled Sussex.  Bomgaars is supposed to be getting a shipment including Buff Orpingtons so we may have to get one more chick.

The Aftermath

The snow is supposed to be over at least. In reality it is still coming down pretty good out there. The guys have been out in the pay-loaders all morning clearing snow out of the feed lot so they can feed calves for reals, yesterday they got some bales of hay. When the small Goblin Child went down for her nap I went out to check the horses and look at the snow. The horses were great, the snow was incredible.

While I was out I thought I would let the cow and her hopefully still alive calf out of the barn. He was not only alive but doing great so I fought the door open, there was some doubt as to the outcome, and kicked them out.

Unfortunately I then immediately found another calf born on the ice and mud still alive but barely kicking. I called my snow plowing husband and he came to our aid. We were able to get that cow and calf into the recently vacated shed. She is quiet and devoted but not licking on the poor little guy. Of the calves born yesterday that seems to have been the main deciding factor in whether they lived.

Two were still alive when we found them, the one in the barn and another that was immediately hauled to the Quonset and placed in front of  a heater. He barely lasted out the hour. At the barn door was another already gone when we got there. At least one other was up and going nicely.

Today we found an older calf that looked like he had been laid on. One newborn and the one we got into the barn this morning and lots of brand new calves up and running around. All in all we fared nicely there is tons of protection in the pens. I can’t imagine how people are doing with out so much shelter. I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I dropped the child off at the in-laws. The wind was blowing straight down the driveway, the one unprotected spot. It was cold. In the shelter of the pens it had been nearly warm and the snow was melting.

The main roads are opening again but I hear they have given up on the county roads until the snow stops blowing so hard. School is cancelled today and again tomorrow. I hear the snow is drifted to the second floor windows.

Blizzard

There’s a blizzard comin’ on how I’m wishin’ I was home
For my pony’s lame and he can’t hardly stand
Listen to that norther sigh if we don’t get home we’ll die
But it’s only seven miles to Mary Anne
It’s only seven miles to Mary Anne
You can bet we’re on her mind for it’s nearly suppertime
And I’ll bet there’s hot biscuits in the pan
Lord, my hands feel like they’re froze and there’s a numbness in my toes
But, it’s only five more miles to Mary Anne
It’s only five more miles to Mary Anne
That wind’s howlin’ and it seems mighty like a woman’s screams
And we’d best be movin’ faster if we can
Dan just think about that barn with that hay so soft and warm
For it’s only three more miles to Mary Anne
It’s only three more miles to Mary Anne
Dan get up you ornery cuss or you’ll be the death of us
I’m so weary but I’ll help you if I can
All right Dan perhaps it’s best that we stop awhile and rest
For it’s still a hundred yards to Mary Anne
It’s still a hundred yeards to Mary Anne
Late that night the storm was gone and they found him there at dawn
He’d a made it but he couldn’t leave ol’ Dan
Yes, they found him there on the plains his hands frozed to the reins
He was just a hundred yards from Mary Anne
He was just a hundred yards from Mary Anne

I love this song. I’ve only heard the Chris LeDoux version but it’s a great one. I love to sing it when I’m out riding in the summer heat, right now it hits a little too close to home.

It is howling outside. For once I’m happy to play the girl card, stay inside, and care for the child.

Yesterday was spent preparing. I moved the horses up front out of the way. The father and mother-in-law put out bales in all the pens and I waited for the call to say he was ready to bring the cows in. The day started nicely enough warm without too much wind. As the day wore on the temperatures dropped steadily as the wind rose. And still we waited. At last  a freezing mist began to blow and it was finally bad enough to be just right for moving cattle.

Coyote was feeling the coming storm. He was hot, I think we could have run laps around the two four-wheelers. They came off of the corn stalks easy enough. Until they got to the gate at least. The fences around the pivot are all single strand electric and the calves happily pop back and forth underneath them. They saw no reason why today should be any different.

There we sat with the cows in the narrow lane, the calves out side the narrow lane and coyote boinging around the narrow lane like the squirrel in Over The Hedge after they gave him coffee. The father-in-law and the neighbor Bill were off their four-wheelers chasing calves on foot through the tree row on one side and the wheat field on the other. They are both around seventy give or take a few years and there I sat on my horse while they ran about on foot. I felt awful. I felt as though the natural superiority of the horse was being put to the question.

Coyote managed not to crash into the electric fence and no one had a heart attack. We got one batch of calves into the pens and I found a secure place to tie my horse then I ran through the tree row on foot. The calves all seemed to have come in, no one was bawling last night. It started snowing in earnest shortly after we finished. It would have been nice for them to have more time before the storm to get paired back up but moving pairs in nice weather is simply not done.

Coyote was lathered, soaked to the skin more from nerves than exercise. I turned him out anyway. A good roll seemed like the best cure. Later that evening I went out to check them and found them all shivering. Not too surprising, I groomed them. I knew as I picked up the curry comb that it was a bad idea. They got locked in the barn for the night. It was nice and warm and dry. They hated it.

Why are People so Bad at Selling Horses?

In a fit of insanity I called about a horse this morning.

I was browsing through Craigslist, because that’s what I do while the rotten Goblin Child eats, skipping over the decently priced horses and laughing at the really bad adds. I saw one philly for sale and a half quarter half pertron, what is that exactly? But there are so many blogs devoted to the well deserved mocking of Craigslist horses I wont get into that. Then I came a 13 year old Morgan mare, I got all excited and clicked on it. The add was as bad as most other Craigslist adds including a picture of her papers. Not close enough to read them just a picture of it laying there.

Mocha is a 13 year old registered morgan. She was used as a ranch horse when Mike bought her. Can be a little hard to catch, but is good as gold once haltered. Easy with her feet, easy to load and can be ridin bareback.
Asking $900 OBO.

It’s not much information but worth calling about, I have been (not) looking for a teenaged Morgan mare. The guy answered I was suprised being a week day and all. Score one, and final score. I asked him to tell me about her. He thought real hard and said “well she can be hard to catch.” Great you said that in the add, can you tell me about her?

He really couldn’t.

I finally managed to squeeze out of him that they had used her a little to work cattle. He bought her from a friend who had ranched on her. She liked to look at cows at least and would spook at strange things. Great she’s a Morgan I expected all of that, he still hadn’t told me anything about the horse. So why do I want it any way? Obviously I am insane.

He said he would get back to me with her blood lines. I hope he doesn’t, it would be awful if she is beautifully bred.

The pictures didn’t transfer well but I liked how uphill she looked cantering. She seems to be short and stocky her legs look nice and she is cheap and close. That is always important.

Theoretically, it would be fun to buy her make sure she is riding nicely shine her up a little and try my hand at some marketing. I believe there is a market for this type of horse but it’s not Craigslist in this country where no one has heard of anything but a quarter horse. Of course if she turned out to be really nice I could do some more training have my horse for the child and husband and maybe breed her to Nevel some day.

Ahh, the joy of wishful thinking.

There is no hay. There is no grass. There is no time. I need to stop looking at Craigslist. This is self inflicted torture.

 

Finally the Garden

I keep getting off on different tangents and neglecting this topic. Which is completely unfair considering the amount of time we devote to it.

So we started most of the seeds back in February. They grew like crazy. The tomatoes, my gardener husband tells me, were too far from the light and it got too warm encouraging them to get a little leggy. But we will plant them deep and other than that they look great. The peppers are perfect and my little petunias are doing amazing. I can’t believe that from those microscopic seeds these big healthy plants have sprung. Everything is transplanted into three inch plots and ready to go.

It’s been quite warm out, in the sixties, and the radishes, lettuce and spinach in the greenhouse are doing alright. We are hoping that this weekend our seedlings will be able to join them. That means that the chickens will have to move back into the chicken tractor immediately of course. we will not have a repeat of last year.

Calf Horse Extraordiaire

Not the roping kind, he couldn’t rope a dead goat.

I don’t know what that would mean I just liked the way it sounded.

I love it when my four-wheeler-riding relatives need  horse to get a job done. I try to be nice about the horses natural superiority. Not.

Last year it was a very sick calf stuck in the pond. They were plotting all sorts of convoluted plans for retrieving the little guy. After listening for a bit I pointed out that my horse could go in the water. And so moving slowly and watching carefully for barbed wire we waded into the pond dropped a loop on the calf and drug him out. Unfortunately he died anyway, but I enjoyed being useful.

This time a tiny baby calf crawled out of the pen with its mother and into the pen with the yearlings. They, yearlings, are rotten curious creatures and were chasing the poor thing all over. They called me, I caught Coyote.

Coyote used to be a top notch first rate calving horse. Not that he isn’t still good, he has simply changed professions. He has saved my hide more times than I can count and his unique skill set makes life so much easier. Today he was not feeling useful, he was hot, temperature and temperament, and wanted to go home.Therefore he decided to be terrified of the yearlings sniffing his butt. Prancing and skittering sideways the whole time we brought the baby calf and half the yearlings out the gate and up the lane to the circle.

Once there we easily sorted the yearlings off, returning them to their pen, until only the calf remained. We then quietly and as easily as Coyote could manage since it was in the same direction as home requiring much fit throwing pushed the calf towards his mother. The calf ran pushing hard against the feed bunks until finally he hopped in and crawled through into a different pen of yearlings. I may have cussed him a little.

So we rode into the pen, spooking from the yearlings and pushed them out into the circle. Is this sounding familiar? Yeah same routine different pen. This time as the calf ran down the lane pushing against the feed bunks Coyote and I dove through the still open gate into the pen and galloped down the inside of the feed bunks alongside the little fart head. We were headed towards home and I’m not sure Coyote knew there was a calf we were working, he was just going home as fast as possible. He didn’t know or didn’t care that we were doing so down a concrete slab covered in an inch or so of manure. Just enough to create a good slick slime. At the fence I hauled him to a stop and watched to see if the calf would crawl back into his original wrong pen. As he continued on I turned Coyote who proceeded to discover the cement as his legs splayed in every direction.

He stayed up of course and we again followed the calf down the lane. As my father-in-law opened the gate into the pen he belonged in his mother stood just inside calling him frantically. He pushed against the fence trying to get to her until he reached the open gate whence he turned and ran as hard as he could the other direction. I love cattle. We followed him nearly back to the buildings until he reached the closed gate then pushed him hard back to where he belonged. This time he plunged through the right gate.

Coyote walked back to the barn lathered with sides heaving. I felt bad for him in this beautiful warm weather still with his winter coat and planned a good currying. First I had to relieve my mother-in-law from her baby sitting duties. So I tied him up and pulled my saddle and bridle with a promise to return quickly.  Inside I rescued my mother-in-law from a crying baby checked said babies diaper loaded her in the back pack and headed out to finish caring for my horse.

Only there was no horse to be found. His lead rope was tied to the fence, the halter in a heap on the ground. Looking off towards their pen I could see him waiting for me at the gate. He looked at me over his shoulder as if to ask what was taking me so long. I hurried to let him in, if he doesn’t want brushed I guess that’s his call.

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Technology in the Classroom?

This is not the post I meant to write. I have lots of garden “stuff” I have been meaning to cover but…

My husband and I were discussing the local school’s current drive to add as much technology in the classroom as they can squeeze in. This is not in any way going to be a complaint about the school. I think we have one of the best schools around. We talk all the time about how we would home school if not for the quality of our little local school. Still this technology thing is very interesting.

The teachers are always going to conferences to learn new ways to incorporate technology into their teaching. All the classes have smartboards (glorified overhead projectors for us old people). Every high schooler has a school supplied laptop. There are currently three computer labs including one for the elementary who also have a computer in each classroom. Plus there is a strong push for all the elementary children to be given tablets.

Other than doing home work on their computer, research, testing, and what not, what are the ideas for using technology in the class room?

The latest is for teachers to send out home work reminders to students on twitter. Call me old school, I am, but what was wrong with writing these things down in their planners?  Doing that at least teaches them to be responsible.  I am not sending my child to school to learn to tweet.

If technology is so important, and it definitely is, why not teach the students real practical uses for it?

Short of teaching them all to use Linux they could learn to program, install software, and get rid of viruses. You know, real computer stuff? Most of the students don’t even know the most basic computer repair. You know, the reboot.

One reason for this lack is readily visible. None of these things are required on state tests. Not the schools fault. They have to teach to fit state requirements. Besides who would teach it? The teachers, great though they are, don’t know how to do any of these things.

Then there is always the money issue. The school has been running on fumes for a long time now and recent budgets cut have only made it worse. School staff haven’t received noticeable raises in years. Yet due to grants there is no shortage of money to buy more computers and technology. It is very nice that people want to help schools out monetarily but all the computers in the world aren’t going to do any good without teachers. I have suggested that perhaps paying the electric bill to keep those computers running could count as technology. The grant writers have their doubts.

So while we are still not home schooling our child will definitely be getting her technology lessons at home.

Still on the Subject of Mares

It’s really a hard subject to get off of. We have been gardening like crazy, the child is always doing cute things, I have a ton of projects going with sewing, knitting and painting the house. I have really become quite domestic. Not completely though because I would still rather talk about horses.

Discounting the Horrible drought we are in the middle of which means no grass or hay I still don’t have time to ride the horses that I have. The child needs a few more years before she will be able to ride a horse of her own. So on and so forth.

Does it sound like I am trying to talk my self out of a horse? Well I am.

We (me and mom) have become big fans of Forever Morgans ever since she got Indy. Her little (big) rescue is turning out to be a great horse, sound and quiet. So of course I had to check their sight for horses in my not looking for a horse. They had many that fit the bill:

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Jennie Moro

REGISTERED Morgan Bay Mare

Nabub Donnie Moro x Covenant Kate Moro

Foaled in 1989

Fostered in CA

14.3h

They have NO info about her but she looks kind of pretty in this picture and there is a child on her. I guess she is a little old to breed which defeats the purpose of getting a mare.

 

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Wheatland Lacy   

22 yrs. Old
REGISTERED Brown Mare

Fostered in WA
15.2h

Lacy is an excellent mare with many years of riding still in her
and is too nice a mare to let stand in a pasture. She is a very
healthy with wonderful feet and a near perfect confirmation.
She will require an experienced rider as she is a fast moving
mare. Lacy has been on trail rides and does fairly well- but she
has an extremely fast walk and loves to be out ahead. I have
ridden her mostly in the arena though. She is definitely a saddle
seat horse. With more ride time and training I think she would
do awesome in a show under saddle seat. She has a HUGE
extension on her trot (her favorite gait). I have been able to slow
her down though for a western gait if someone were interested
in that. She is classified as old time Morgan and is approximately
1000 lbs and 15.2 hands. She is a big mare, but has nice ground
manners and is a VERY easy keeper. We can put her in pasture
with anyone. Her pedigree can be found at allbreedpedrigree.


This does not fit my requirements, but this is the one I want. I want her so bad. She is so pretty and I love the fast walk with lots of go. My two people need quiet and slow. I have a hard time remembering that that’s a good thing.

This last one fits my needs even less but as soon as I read his info I wanted to try to fix him.

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Locust Valley Blaze

REGISTERED Morgan Chestnut Gelding
Enons Night Hawk x Miss Cyclorama
Foaled in 1995
Currently in QT in PA
15.1 H

His video under saddle. 

His video in hand. 

Update March 19, 2013 :
Blaze is doing much better now ! Taking treats and letting people
love on him ! What a milestone he has crossed !

Blaze is ANGRY. When he first arrived in quarantine he
was NOT being a nice guy. He seemed to subscribe to
the “attack first, find out what they want later ” school of
thought. He would use his teeth and stomp his feet – with
true intent to harm. However when firmly reprimanded,
with a rope or quirt visible for reinforcement, he would
back off and seemed surprised. After a few weeks of firm,
consistent, and fair treatment Blaze is starting to come
around. His ears are not automatically pinned when he
sees someone, he is no longer snaking his head out to
bite, and he’s allowed a human to put a halter and lead
on him without first requiring diversionary tactics.  He is
NOT a lost cause! He just needs someone very special
to help him find the nice horse hiding inside him!
Blaze needs someone who is willing to work with him
using firm and fair practices but who won’t back down
from him. Somewhere along the line Blaze has learned
to fear or even hate humans and he has learned that his
Big Bad Boy behavior earns him space. He needs
schooling in correct behavior and he needs to learn
that people ARE deserving of his respect and perhaps
even his love. When this boy is finally won over he will
be somebodies soul-mate forever!  In the meantime he
is hanging out in quarantine, and FM is paying for him
to just stay put until we find the EXACT RIGHT home for
him. Obviously we will be very particular where he goes.
Blaze is waiting for HIS person- do you know who they are?

Okay, so they really only had the one mare that almost fit the bill but there were so many unregistered mares on there that sounded very nice and lots of good geldings. It is always the first place I look when I am (not) looking for a horse.