Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Sunday, July 24, 2011

At the Barn #47 - Beating the heat

Excessive temps got you down?

This is how we roll...

A cool rinse...

drinks from the hose...

so refreshing!

And then there's that summertime favorite -

Nom, nom, nommity nom!!

Of course some of us just soak up the air conditioning all day...

Monday, July 18, 2011

At the Barn #46 - The good, the bad and the ugly

In the Arena # 84 - Making do

Guess what showed up at the farmette last week! A cowboy. A real live cowboy. A cow working, colt starting, boot, hat and spur wearing, knows how to use the rope hanging from his saddle horn yes mayam'ing cowboy from a ranch in Wyoming. *sigh*

The real cowboy's kid - a thirteen year old cowgirl - has dreamed of riding horses on the beach for her whole life... this summer they made the dream come true. After stops in South Dakota and Iowa for horse shows and to pick up grandma, they found their way here. Sounds good so far...

Stock photo - not the real cowboy ;)

Background: the woman I bought my property from still owns the land next door. She had to move inland due to health issues, temporarily abandoning her small horse boarding operation. For the past year I have helped her keep the business afloat on this end. Taking bookings, maintaining the facility, sorting the customers out when they get here, often letting them camp on my property. Here's why - although I enjoy meeting the horses (and horse people), I'm planning to put an end to helping with boarding business.

Shortly after the boarder's arrival, we spent three hours in the boiling hot afternoon sun releasing their 25,000 lb converted semi + three horse slant with live-in from a soft spot in the sand where the cowboy had attempted to turn the rig around. We ended up creating a track with lumber that I luckily had laying around. A very labor intensive and sweaty job. (strike one)

And the picnic table I sat on for a few minutes while rehydrating was apparently infested with chiggers. The back of my legs are covered with scores of maddeningly itchy bites. (strike two)

The offending devil bug

At 9:30 that same night, I was well on my way to bed when a series of confusing phone calls ensued. My neighbor down the way from the farm called to tell me that the cowboy's elderly mother was lost in the neighborhood randomly knocking on doors. I tracked her down at another neighbor's house. She wanted to call the police because she was worried about her son and granddaughter not being back from riding. She also had no idea where she was - across the street from my farm, her son's truck, her son's cell phone, (and her son and granddaughter as it turns out). I talked her down, reminding her that the ride takes over two hours which technically gave them another fifteen minutes, and directed her back across the street to her son's truck with the phone and the living quarters where she could wait comfortably. I also wondered how the police could possibly help someone who has no clue where they are.

I then left a message on the cowboy's cell asking that he please call me to let me know he and his daughter had returned safely. I never got a call, so could barely sleep worrying that one of them was injured and they had to spend the night in the woods or worse. Why would you not carry a cell with you on a trail ride in a strange new place when it was likely to be dark before you get back? (strike three)

SO as much as I love sharing our fabulous trail ride to the beach  - I'm done with feeling responsible for people who don't / won't be responsible for themselves, no matter how adorable they are or how cute of an accent they have...


I took advantage of a beautiful cool day on Saturday to finally get a ride in. Still very very deep footing in our arena. There's a small area that is still somewhat firm, so we stuck to working in that limited space, at a walk. A delightful bareback ride. We worked on moving out, outside rein connection, halts and turns on the forehand. And me being even and balanced, keeping my weight down in my right side, not collapsing my left side. I thought from Val's responses, that I had succeeded in evenness, but the pictures tell a different story. :)

Left leg longer...

"Need more cookies - mouth empty!!"


An update on improvements at the farmette...

My poor grading / tractor man is recovering from double hernia surgery. He'll be out of commission for many weeks, so the new arena is on hold (again). We'll have to work where we can, and pray for rain. On a good note - over the weekend I got the trailer properly electrified. That just leaves bringing in h2o and connecting to the septic and then we're operational. On tap for the next few days - carrying the trailer contents to the dump + the very thorough cleaning. Stay tuned for pix...

Monday, July 11, 2011

In the Arena # 83 - Few and far between

From the Farmette # 4 - Moving day and lessons from the otter

Val is getting a heat + footing + busy-ness related break this week. I'm bummed. I really want to be posting about making progress with my horse. The way things are looking - riding time will be hard to come by for the next little while.

It's been too miserable to ride any time except the evenings. The arena footing is still atrocious even after our first decent rain came last Friday, which would have been cool enough to ride except it was pouring all day.

Our farrier got rained out on Friday, so had to cram everyone on the island in on Saturday. I think he was hurrying. Val and Cowboy were sore, and both of them complained during the trim, which doesn't usually happen. The part where W. uses the nippers seemed like it pained them some. He claimed that it was because of the rain, that their feet were soft. I wondered if one day of rain after over two months of no rain (in a sand paddock) would have that effect... I gave Val some bute that night and the next morning, but didn't feel good about riding him.

So instead of riding I took the tractor up to the farm Saturday afternoon, hoping I could drag the arena, and maybe compact it some as well, but (apparently) we need even more rain to firm the sand up enough - the tractor nearly got very stuck. To avoid having to pull it out with my truck, I had to rock the tractor back and forth for seventy five feet or so to creep over to the firmest part of the arena and escape. Fun. It was quite a sight. (and sound) Val actually left his shady hay sanctuary to check me out with curious eyes and ears. He could probably hear my cursing over the tractor noise. Yes, I am a potty mouth.

Along with visiting family obligations, the arrangements relating to with my future living quarters have occupied every extra minute since last week. However, there is good great news on that front. We moved the trailer to the farmette Sunday morning. Although fraught with snags, semi-emergencies and multiple last minute changes of plans - picture a combo of The Beverly Hillbillies + The Three Stooges and you'll be close. Only one flat tire. At one point I had envisioned a doomsday scenario of breaking down in the middle of our only highway, blocking all traffic and needing some type of major league equipment to clear up the mess...  No worries, we were ultimately successful.

Hooked up and ready to roll

Backing all the way up the street
On the road again (after we fixed the flat)

Only five miles to go

Almost there

Home sweet home

Today I spent the entire day underneath the trailer (in the dirt) with jacks and large (heavy as hell) chunks of 8x8 shimming the trailer up for level and proper height for access to the septic tank - IMPORTANT! Thank goodness that task is done. I believe that the trailer's nickname shall be "The Shimmy Shack" :)

I am getting the sense that my control freak / type A / ocd tendencies are really going to be challenged through this moving / life change transition I'm embarking on. And that was an understatement :)


I had a delightful visitor on my early morning dog walks this week. A sea otter. Otters are some of my most favorite creatures - in close competition with any type of monkey (primate)! ;) He seemed to be curious about me as I took these pictures, at one point coming within a couple of feet, standing up to get a better look. It was still pretty dark, so I'm super happy that any of the photos came out.

Otters are seem to be so happy. Even when they are doing their "work" - hunting and fishing, they find a way to enjoy themselves - indulging in frequent play breaks. Lighthearted and joyful - they know how to live :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In the Arena # 83 - Right round baby, right round
From the Farmette #3 - Ask, and you shall receive

I finally found some time to ride over the weekend. Val was super mellow during grooming and tacking up. (maybe too mellow) And once the ride started, he didn't want to move - at all. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle of the legs led to tap, tap, tap of the crop. Some pony club kicks. Still a snail's pace. (Just a few months ago I thought we were on to straight, having handled calm and forward...)

Now admittedly Val has a lazy streak. I have my suspicions that this quality is what derailed his racing career. The horse knows how to conserve energy. Favorite gait - whoa. Favorite activity besides eating - sleeping. What complicates matters is that due to the ongoing drought, our arena footing is (at least) 8" deep sand. I can barely push the muck cart through it, and I'm no shrinking violet. When I get this severe lack of forward, part of me thinks - well, I wouldn't want to work in here either.

So I said what the heck, we'll work out in the back of the property - usually a muddy marsh, now an open grassy field. No fence, no gate, no boundaries... and the source of scores of horse eating monsters. I led him out, mounted and we got down to business. Val picked up the pace nicely. We warmed up and achieved a decent marching walk. There were some hiccups with steering, but I picked my battles - forward - and used circles to change direction. Keeping him moving was my main objective. We picked up a trot and did some nice work - round circles, serpentines and figure eights. Overall, I was very pleased. Especially that we both focused on working and not scary stuff :) A good session.

Afterwords we headed back to the paddock. Cowboy, who had watched us quietly the whole time we worked, suddenly decided to flip out. He has had very little exercise lately. This, coupled with excess feed, and he has been ready to explode. Running the fence line maniacally bucking. At one point he acted like he was going to jump the electric fence, right beside us as we walked by. Val - who had apparently saved all of the day's athleticism for this moment - did a reining horse worthy 360° spin. Seriously exciting. After the shock wore off, I dismounted and cussed Cowboy out while we returned to our space. It seemed like my tirade made Val feel as good as it made me feel. :)

Other than that eventful ride, we've been doing a lot of hand grazing. Also some impromptu liberty work - Val following me while I pushed the tasty hay snack delivery I mean muck cart... walk, trot, halt + yielding the hindquarters. Unorthodox but it worked. I hope things settle down soon so we get more rides in :)

My trainer, when I relayed the story of our ride during my recent "tele-lesson", cautioned me that my reservations about the footing could be the source of Val's reluctance. Beware the lack of leadership - our horses are always ready to step in and provide the agenda...


Now - on to news of the farmette. I GOT THE TRAILER!

my new front door
the "slide outs" - bedroom and dining room extenders

Dad and I gave it the thorough inspection on Friday. While I hope there's enough bleach in the whole world to (eventually) make me feel like it's clean, (no interior pictures as they are a bummer), the important things appear to be in order. No leaks - though I'll be resealing all the seams just the same. It's 36.5' long and 11' wide with the slide outs. (trailer lingo) The appliances can run on gas or electric - handy when the power goes out during hurricanes. Lots of light, and more storage than I would have expected. (look how optimistic I sound)

With any luck, I'll have it moved to my property this week. I spent yesterday going over all of the possibilities for where to locate the trailer, my storage building and the future house eventually. All things that I want to move only once. It was a quite a puzzle. And a bit draining. I believe I got it worked out.

My plans are to be moved in by October. That allows plenty of time to clean, clean, clean... get the water / electric / septic hooked up and build a little deck for some outside space. (The girls will be getting a fenced in yard! ) And also have the mother of all yard sales + pack up everything I'm keeping. And to find a storage space for my furniture - goodbye interesting eclectic furniture - hello mundane tacky blue grey upholstery. (don't even get me started on the carpet!)


I mentioned a few posts back that I'm calling my produce selling venture "Pie in the Sky" produce company. A few folks commented that they liked that as a name for the farmette. "Pie in the Sky"  came up because several years ago someone suggested I should buy my property and I replied "Well, that's a pretty pie in the sky idea!" 

I have been cooking up a few other choices. I'd love some feedback + suggestions - thanks :)

Willow Marsh Farm
Willow Ridge Farm
Marsh Ridge Farm
Pie in the Sky Farm
Higher Ground Farm
Dream Weaver Farm
End of the Road Farm
Sandy Lane Farm
Sea Horse Farm

today's harvest - a peck o'peppers + one sad tomato
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