Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Monday, June 20, 2011

In the Arena # 81 - Hanging loose on the second longest day + a farmette update

Well... Val had a mini vacation since our trip last weekend, and I've taken a little break from the blog. It has become blazing hot, and the flies are out of control. One way I can tell? My horse gallops to the gate when I arrive, practically begging me for fly spray. And once I've sprayed him, he happily blows and snorts, while the flies promptly start chewing on me.


In the meantime, the garden is going to town, despite our almost total lack of rain. We have had exactly two twenty minute thundershowers since the first of May. My well is struggling and the grass is getting crispy. As a result, I'm resorting to recycling water. When I twice daily refresh and clean Val's water bucket, instead of throwing out the old water - I transfer it to a big bucket placed in my wheelbarrow, wheel it up to the garden and small bucket it onto the plants. Can you imagine what life is like for women who must daily carry all the water for their household for many miles? Sometimes on their heads?! I believe that I didn't take water for granted before - but I know I don't now.

A milestone... I harvested my first tomato - a sweet little cherry(!) Bigger milestone - last Monday I sold my first produce to the local farmer's market. Nearly two pounds of organically grown basil. Grown with organic practices - I'm not interested in becoming officially organic. I feel that designation has been co-opted. No chemical pesticides, no chemical fertilizer. Hand weeding and removing pests by hand as well. There has already been an attack of some voracious tiny caterpillars. Total eradication isn't possible, but I've kept the numbers within what the plants can tolerate. As I scouted out and picked the little buggers, pictures of my tobacco farming grandmother came to me. As she patrolled her garden, she would dispatch (smear) caterpillars between her thumb and forefinger, quite handily. Especially those fat pale ones that hide in the mushy places on corn cobs... I remember how repulsive that was to me as a child. Now I see the practicality and economy of motion. But I still can't go there - I just leave them out in the hot sun to sizzle :)

I'm calling my mini farming venture Pie in the Sky Produce Co. This year is just exploratory, but next year the plan is to increase the amount and type of produce... hopefully contracting with a wonderful local restaurant as well as selling to the market.


The wind switched this afternoon bringing cooler temperatures, so Val and I had a very pleasant evening ride. My focus was to continue the work we had done at my trainer's - keeping my body relaxed and free while using light but persistent aids. Val is not at all interested in exerting himself in the deep sand of our arena at the moment, but I remained neutral in my seat and my emotions (so hard!) while insisting that my reasonable requests were answered, followed by lots of praise. I got him listening to me, moving off of my leg with some nice turns on the forehand. I was very pleased with our simple work.

Side note: My trainer had mentioned at my lessons that she was wearing plain cotton (not full seat) riding pants now and found her seat was much improved. Not the first time I've heard that sticky seat riding pants aren't necessarily helpful. So I rode in my plain cotton riding pants this evening and I concur. So much more mobility and freedom in my legs. And bonus - I don't need a shoehorn to pull them on when I'm sweaty and it's totally humid in my burning hot tack room - a serious struggle some days ;)

Any big plans for the longest day of the year?!


Val said...

Looks like you have a really nice garden setup complete with animal-proof fencing. When will it be time for tomato sandwiches! My favorite.

On the longest day of the year, my Mom is coming to visit and we are going to work on my garden, just flowers though. I should also be able to fit in a ride. :)

SmartAlex said...

That is part of growing up to be a gardener... becoming comfortable with squishing gooey things. At first you go "Oh ICK! It's eating my food." Then you start shopping for a spray bottle of death. Then you give that up and begin terminating them on the spot, in large numbers, with your bare hands. THEN... you begin to delight in the sheer numbers you have killed.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Your garden looks like it's doing really well. Bummer that you have to bring the water in that way but it's worth it and a great recycling idea. Hate those little pests too but I'm happy to hear you've got customers for your produce.

I can't do those full seat breeches, you're right they don't give enough mobility and I think they're hotter.
Sounds like a nice ride with Val and nighttime might be the better choice for coolness and less bugs.Hope you get some rain soon.

goodtimetoreview said...

if we ever get our farm i plan on giving gardening a go....but I don't have a green thumb so it could be interesting.
and I totally forgot that yesterday was the longest day of the year!! 100 years ago when I was a foreign exchange student in Sweden we spent midsummer out on the coast watching the sun set with my friend and host family, which didn't happen until midnight. it was really cool. That whole day was a celebration! I want to do it again sometime!

Wolfie said...

Girl, you are amazing! That garden looks fabulous and reusing/conserving water?? Wonderful! There is something magical about getting your hands dirty and watching your garden transform from one day to the next. Congratulations on your first sale!

billie said...

I concur with the cotton breeches. I used to ride in full seats but have never tried the "sticky" seats - just knew that wouldn't feel right. Plain cotton is heaven.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


BLT's with fakin bacon, and plain old tomato, mayo salt and pepper. (mouth watering)

Hope you enjoyed your longest day :)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Smart Alex-

I get great pleasure from feeding tomato horn worms to the hungry turtles in the creek... also fat grasshoppers! ;)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


My favorite clinician Erik Herbermann calls tight elasticized britches "sausage casings"! He wears the old school balloony thigh kind ;)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


I've always wanted to get far enough north to check out the long twilight phenomenon :)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Thanks Wolfie!

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


My full seat are deer skin, but not "sticky"... the cotton ones are much slidier :)

Sarah said...

LOVE the name of your farmette!! I have nothing but the utmost respect for those that can garden as you do, recycling water and everything. I don't know that I'll ever get there, but I like to buy the products, that's for sure.

Also, Miles TOTALLY is with Val on the not trudging through sand in 85 degree weather thing.

Happy Solstice!

Michelle said...

I'm loving the produce company idea! Great name, by the way. Sounds like things are going well...It must be a lot of work though. I really want a garden - even just for myself, but I'm not sure I can fit it in to my life at the moment. =(

DressagePonyDiva said...

Sounds like you had a really good ride.
I am really interested to hear about your garden and your selling produce to the farmers market. What kind of products are you looking to sell? What produce do you grow? If you would be interested in chatting about it I would love for you to email me about it. Thanks

Jenn said...

I'm loving your raised beds! I only have one...for my strawberries, everything else is "traditional" and the chickens have discovered it...sigh.

I wish I could share some of our water...we have WAAYYY too much. The main road I use to get to my house has been flooded for more than a week (3-4 feet deep) and gives no indication it will be passable any time soon, either. And more rain in the forecast. Ugh.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


It is lots of work, but I sort of garden for a living (landscaper)... all in a days work ;)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...


This summer I'm doing basil, lots of different heirloom tomatoes and a variety of peppers. I'm aiming for greens, lettuces and herbs this fall/winter. Next season I'd like to add beans, squashes and cucumbers.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Oh Jenn-

I wish you could share too. We've had 1/4 of an inch since the first of May. Feast or famine...

Carol said...

Interesting about the cotton pants for riding. I've taken to sometimes wearing light weight, slim legged jeans that I can fit half chaps over. I find breeches too sticky and uncomfortable this time of year.
I love your farm name. You are so creative to be growing produce and marketing it. I really admire what you're doing with the farmette.

achieve1dream said...

You know tobacco actually makes an all natural pesticide. You just steep like tea, strain it and spray on the plants. It doesn't hurt the plants at all, but be careful of getting it on your skin as it can be poisonous if it soaks into your skin undiluted like that. You can grow you own tobacco to make it economical. That's what we're going to do so we don't have to use chemicals. :)

I like the idea of recycling the water and I love your raised beds too. :) Unfortunately a garden just didn't happen for us this year. We got an unusual amount of rain this spring which caused us to have to wait too late to plant. :(

Sounds like you had a great ride. :) I love cotton breeches because they are so breathable and cool.

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