Friday, December 7, 2012

December Already?

It's really been an... uh... Interesting fall, that's for sure.  After I began recovering from the kick, I recently came down with a severe case of systemic hives!  Let me tell you, riding in breeches with itchy hives all over your legs is NOT my idea of a good time and I highly recommend no one attempt it.  It wasn't fun. 

That said, cantering and jumping Shirley while in said condition certainly could have been worse!  Yep, while suffering through hives, Anita and I took advantage of the 50+ sunny weather (probably the last we'll see for months) and did some work with Shirley in the field at the farm.  I need to upload more of the work we did, but here's one video.  Note this is the first day we've cantered under saddle OR jumped since we've had her (told you our program took her back to the beginning and brought her along slowly).  She's such a GOOD girl!

Yes it was only a single crossrail that we were jumping, but she was eager yet soft and I can't wait to do more.  Unfortunately the weather hasn't been cooperating since then. 

We do have a lesson set up sometime tomorrow afternoon with Emily Abbate and I'm REALLY looking forward to it.  Hopefully an update later in the weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More pretty bruise pics

Taken this morning, 12 days post kick:

Thigh:  You can see where the bruise is starting to go away.  Towards the front (right in the pic), there is still a lump under a part of the bruise (under where the yellow is)

Knee:  Pretty, eh?  As the thigh bruise is going away, this one seems to be getting "bigger"... not to mention darker.

Whole leg.  All I can say is it's a good thing it's winter.  If it were shorts weather, I'd probably have some serious explaning to do to people. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bruise update

Mostly I'm posting this so the pictures are online and I can share.  Been 10 days since the kick.  Still limping here and there... mostly when I first get up.  Also, still dealing with it waking me in my sleep although not nearly as much.  The good part is that the bruise is slowly fading...

The picture doesn't do the deepness of the colors justice at all, but you get the idea.

The bad part is that with the bruise dissipating, the blood I guess has to go somewhere, right?  And it seems to be travelling down my leg.  On Friday I noticed a bruise around my kneecap.  This is what it looks like today (again, the deepness of the bruising just isn't conveyed by the P.O.S. camera on my phone):

Lovely, eh?

I did manage to ride Noble on Saturday and it was a lovely ride.  He was feeling pretty good... the sun was shining, there was a breeze... and first time through the grid with actual jumps, I got a "this is fun" buck at the end.  Stinker.  Was sore afterwards, but had a good time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Week of Color

Walnut Creek PC horse trials didn't happen for us.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did the wrong thing 2 days before (Friday evening) and was on the receiving end of a major kick.  No one's fault except my own really... which is almost worst.  The kick landed on my left thigh which instantly felt swollen.  Spent Friday night alternating 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off with ice while I relaxed on the couch.  Wasn't all that great the next morning so off to the ER I went.  Xrays showed no bone bruise.  Prescription was made for no weight for 2 days along with pain killers.  That pretty much solidified the notion that I was going to have to withdraw from the event.  Can't exactly gallop and jump without using my left leg.

I have yet to ride.  Hoping to do so this weekend since the weather is going to be fantastic (mid 60s!).  But I'm still having some issues with the leg, mostly down into my knee.  That pain is most likely due to the limping and thus stressing the joint "differently", according to Thom the amazing paramedic.  So it's just going to take some time.  In case you're wondering, the impact spot is amazingly colorful.

If you look closely you can see the "line" running down the middle -- I'm pretty sure that's the seam of my coveralls that I was wearing at the time.

So Anita has been working with the girls.  Spider is still at Jen's and doing fantastic.  Shirley is at home and doing just as well.  Anita's even gotten on Shirley the last 2 days (walk only) at the farm without any incidents or nervousness!  I'm just hoping to be well enough to hop on her at some point really soon!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Walnut Creek Pony Club Horse Trials

Our last event of the season is Sunday at the Walnut Creek Pony Club Horse Trials outside Cincinnati.  Noble will be making his Beginner Novice debut.  Ride times finally came out and I'm major excited.  Because we're not stabling AND because I was told the course wouldn't be available to walk until Sunday, I had envisioned having to get up at 4am to pick Noble up, drive just over an hour to the show grounds, walk my courses and be ready for a butt-crack of dawn dressage ride.  Thankfully that is NOT the case!!

Dressage: 12:03
Stadium: 1:13
XC: 2:13

Plus, the time change is this weekend.  So not only am I getting to "sleep in" til about 7, but I'll have an extra hour of sleep too!

In other news, the girls are doing well.  Ella took Spider this week to a lesson with Rob (hunter trainer) and he was VERY positive and really liked her a lot.  Ella does too.  Last night we split them up -- Spider staying at iTolt and Shirley coming home.  When I last saw Spider, Ella had a pink sheet on her with her bright rainbow colored peace sign decorated sleezy hood on.  It was very cute.  Shirley is doing well too.  The last 2 days she was as iTolt she had to deal with a lot of "new" stuff that pushed her out of her comfort zone, and while we had to take things slow, both Anita and I agree that slow is better.  Shirley did relax in all the situations eventually and I think she's smart enough that she'll retain what she's learned.  She's not exactly happy now as she is home with a small fuzzy midget-boy for company (an icelandic gelding named Logi).

Just a reminder, if you ordered a turkey, they'll be ready for pick up late afternoon/evening on Saturday, November 17th.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turkeys... round 1

Ah Turkeys. Those lovely creatures that arrive small and fuzzy... and grow to leave you with little doubt they descended from velociraptors.

From this...

.... to this.
Ok, maybe you don't see the family resemblance, but trust me... after 5 months of getting your fingers, shoes, pant legs, zippers, pockets and anything shiny you happen to be wearing pecked and bit at... you'd definitely see how evolution is possible.

At least they're tastey, right?

Well, this morning, I took 6 of the Broad Breasted Whites as well as 6 of my older hens to King's Poultry outside of Bradford for processing.  I know we (me plus 3 others) managed to process all the turkeys last year, but something along the lines of insanity struck when I doubled the number of birds I was raising.  With everything else going on, having someone else spend the time and deal with the mess of processing the turkeys is fine by me.  I've heard good things about King's so off they went.

Of course Hurricane Sandy was in full force as I was driving the Explorer with the small trailer complete with homemade side walls and dog and rabbit crates with birds in them an hour north.  But we arrived in one piece and I dropped all the birds off.  I'll be heading back of that way in a few hours to pick them up.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the birds weigh.  Remember that BBWs are considered butcher-ready at 4 months.  I purchased these the week before Memorial Day.  Do the math and they're currently a full 5 months.  And after carrying them, they're definitely BIG birds.  I'll be happy to have them gone, not only to preserve my poor fingers but also my wallet as they were eating a TON in the last few weeks.

This was kind of the trial run.  The rest of the turkeys are scheduled to go up on November 17th... perfect timing for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Still happy... but we have a lot of work to do

I'm still on cloud 9 from Noble's performance at the Come Again Farm Fall Horse Trial & Dressage Show.  He has made amazing progress with everything since Anita and I have been working with him.  He's a great horse.

My bubble of happiness was only slightly burst when I saw the pictures the professional photographer had taken of us.  Unfortunately, due to when I rode, there are no dressage pictures... so no evidence of the buck or of the overall lovely test.  And I wish there were more cross country pictures.  Our XC ride felt lovely and forward and definitely more solid than SJ had been.  More pictures showing proof of that would have balanced out the overall icky pictures from SJ that proved just how rocky that phase had been.

See for yourself at

Yes, folks, we have a LOT of work to do.... and most of it on me.  Time to start working as hard on me and HOW I'm riding as working on how Noble is going.  To be fair, as some people have told me, I'm VERY happy that despite my inexpicable lack of staying with him over the fences, I was NOT coming down on his back or catching him in the mouth.  I do pride myself in having decent hands over fences and this does prove that.  I also love his expression.  He never balked, never refuses to jump... so I must be doing something right.  But time to get more right.  There are a couple pictures that I do like but I think this one is my favorite:

Through the water

The next entry is filled out and will go in the mail later today.  Walnut Creek Pony Club Mini Trial on November 4th.  Moving up to Beginner Novice!  I was initially hesitant about it, but I know he is more than capable and is currently working on some bigger fences at home.  I'll continue to work on the me part as well and I'm sure we'll have a great time.

In other news, the girls are doing great.  Shirley had her first ground driving session with Anita last night and did REALLY well.  She'd make a GORGEOUS carriage horse!  Spi did a bit more with me under saddle.  Working on getting her to relax a bit more, but she's coming along very nicely.

Me however... I'm sick.  Literally.  Stuffy head, sneezing.  Am signed up to do the Ghosts & Goblins 5K tonight downtown and am still hoping to make it.  If I do, there will definitely be more walking than running, but we'll see how I feel come that time.  Too much going on to be sick.  I also think I found a butcher for the turkeys.  YAY!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Girly Update

Spider and Shirley (the girls) are doing great!  They've passed what we jokingly refer to as "Cow 101".  In fact, now I have to make sure I feed in the correct timeframe or the girls try to go push the cows aside and eat their grain too! 

With some decent weather, the pasture has dried up from recent rains and we've taken the opportunity to put the girls to work.  Shirley, being a bit greener than Spi, is currently only working on the lunge.  She's doing wonderfully well however, walk/trot/canter both directions in side reins.  It won't be long now before we feel she's ready for us to hop on and continue her education under saddle.

Anita with Shirley on the lunge line.

Spider is already there and we've had 3 lovely rides this week.  No canter work under saddle yet, although I cantered her on the trails last month.  It's not that she can't, it's more than we're taking their education slow and thoughtful in its progress.  First is getting relaxed work at the walk and trot.  Both girls are very soft mouthed and acceptance of the bit is a priority.  The last 2 days, we did trot Spi through a ground pole grid... pole, 4'6", pole, 4'6", pole, 9', pole, 18', pole.  Last night we did raise the final pole to approximately 12" (it was resting on 2 overturned buckets while we await jump cups to arrive).  Spi is doing fantastic and we'll probably stick with variations of that same grid for a while.  Today, Ella rode Spi and from what I hear they did great.

In other news, I just filled out the next entry form for Noble.  He'll be making the move to Beginner Novice on Sunday, November 4th at the Walnut Creek Pony Club Horse Trials.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Best. Score. Ever.

So some people might chastize me for giving away a major highlight of my weekend in the blog title.  I'm ok with that.  You can either assume we had a great weekend at the Come Again Farm Fall Horse Trial & Dressage Show (and you'd be right) or you can keep reading to find out ALL the details (because "Best. Score. Ever" is only part of it).

The weekend started by hauling Noble to Hoosier Horse Park.  I was asked to announce the stadium portion of their Combined Test (they being the Indiana Horse Council at their Octoberfest Charity Horse Show).  Noble came because it made more sense to bring him along to Indiana, than to drive back and forth to get him.  He just got to hang out in a stall while I was working. 

And work I did.  Turns out the CT was being organized by H/J folks.  I did a LOT of advising, suggesting and general helping out along with announcing.  Everything from score running from dressage, to scoring dressage, scoring jumping, posting final scores, advising the organizer and even advising the jump judge (he was a Jumper judge and the rules are a LITTLE different for eventing).  But all in all, it went really well.  Didn't get out of there quite as early as I hoped and with the weather, plus a food/gas stop, we didn't arrive to CAF until dark.  Thankfully, the farm is very easy to find.

I've been friend with Lee Ann for many years but this is the first time I've made it to one of her shows.  I went knowing that, because I know Lee Ann the way I do, the show was going to be fairly organized, run by the rules, and the courses would be appropriate with some challenges and safe.  I was very much right and would go to any of her shows again in a heartbeat, as well as suggest them to others.

Noble and I were entered in the 2'3" Starter division.  We were one of 16 entries.  My goal was to improve our showing over the Blue Grass Pony Club a few weeks ago.  At home, Noble has been making big improvements and I was just hoping to show some of them.  The boy did NOT disappoint!

First, let me say that the wind was desperately looking for someone to carry back to Oz.  WOW.  I don't know exactly how gusty it was, but it was definitely blowing up some skirts.  There were some horses that were NOT happy about the wind.  Noble definitely showed his calm QH side with it and I was happy then and there.

Dressage came first of course.  We warmed up a bit in one of the 2 indoor arenas then went outside to walk a bit as we waited.  They were running a few minutes late so we had 3 riders in front of us as we went out to the grass waiting area.  No worries.  Just kept him walking.  Picked up the trot and did some trot/halt transitions as the horse in front of us was finishing.

The test went very well I thought.  I knew our walk wasn't up to par and I knew a couple of my circles weren't accurate.  Oh and then there was a single buck that Noble opted for in the middle of our right canter circle.  Silly boy.  But as the judge pointed out, he came back and finished the canter with no issues.  Walking out I was laughing at him but overall very happy with the performance and hoped for a decent score.

When you're training a horse WITH someone else not to mention FOR someone else, there may not be any expectations... but I put expectations on myself.  I know Anita has put a lot of time and work into Noble's training and I certainly don't want to disappoint her, or Jen.  This time, I was successful.  The judge agreed it was a nice test.  We scored 6s on both the medium walk and free walk, a 6 on the canter (buck) circle and a 6 on submission in the collective marks.  She gave us an *8* on the left canter transition and solid 7s for all other movements.  Our score was a 32.0!!

I should note that in 11 years of eventing with Char from Beginner Novice through CCI*, plus a couple events with Frankie and a few events with various other horses (Raz, Thumper, Stormy and now Noble), I have scored below a 40 ONCE.... in 2004 with Char at our final Training 3-day (one of the 2 judges gave us a 39.5).  To be in the LOW 30's is a dream come true.  On top of that, we were sitting in 5th place!

Show Jumping was next after a very short break -- enough to change tack without feeling rushed but no real down time.  Our warmup was sticky at best.  Of course he didn't stop, but it wasn't pretty and I knew it.  First time over the oxer, we came down on the back rail hard enough to break the plastic jump cup.  He jumped it better the next time, but I still wasn't happy as I made my way to the arena.

SJ was a little odd in that 7 of our 9 fences were grouped on one side of the arena.  Gave the baby ponies a LOT to look at as we jumped through the course.  But Noble did great... and got better and better as the round progressed.  Double clear SJ meant we kept our 32.0 going into cross country and moved up to 4th place!

The XC course was fantastic.  Lee Ann has done a great job with it and it looked like a LOT of fun!  There wre a couple fences that I knew I was going to have to really RIDE -- including the blue rolltop at fence 3 and the "library" at fence 5. 

The Blue Rolltop (Fence 3)
The Library (Fence 5) - bank complex in the background

In addition, fence 6 was a bank.  The approach was a ramp and then you had the option of a ramp down or a bank down.  Noble has never seen a bank, but I was going to go for it (unless we had had major issues to that point).  His attitude is such that I thought if I just told him to go, he'd peek at the drop and then hop off.  If not, we'd collect our 20 points for the refusal and take the ramp, knowing it was something I would have to work on for the next time. 

View from the top of the Bank (Fence 6).  The optional ramp is to the right.
Stadium is obviously in front of us with the barns beyond that.

We also had a Mandatory Flag at the water.  It was placed so you could go through the water or around it but either way a stop wouldn't get penalized.  With that in mind, the plan was that Noble WAS going to get his feet wet.  Even if we wracked up a ton of time faults, he was going to go through the water.  He'd schooled water once before so it shouldn't be THAT big of a deal.

Warm up was awesome.  We were out earlier than I would have liked, but just walked around for quite a while.  Noble didn't seem to mine.  3 horses out, we picked up a trot and canter to warm up.  2 horses out we started jumping.  It was a totally different warmup as he was almost pulling me to the fences. 

The Water.  The Mandatory Flag is laying down in this pic.  Plenty of room to "skirt" the water.
Fence 8 is in the distance - far right.

He was a rock star on course!  He did look a bit at the blue rolltop at fence 3 as expected, but not nearly AS much of a look as I was prepared for.  He didn't look hardly at all at the red roof cabin that was the "library" at fence 5.  And the bank?  You'd think he has been doing drop banks his entire life!  Didn't slow to a trot as I expected, didn't peek as expected.  He did jump out/off a bit bigger than needed, but if that's all I get, I'll take it!  And he trotted through the water without issue.  Even sped up a bit over the last 3 fences as I thought we were really down on time.  He was flat out AMAZING!

Extra Picture -- Rolltop at Fence #4 (the middle one)

I thought we picked up 10 seconds of time faults.  But they had us coming in 18 seconds under optimum and CLEAN!!  Not only did we finish the event on a 32.0, but we finished 3rd!!  Only 2 points out of 1st place.  I can't be happier with his performance.

I am going to enter him in the November 4th Walnut Creek Pony Club mini trial.  The only question now is Starter or Beginner Novice? :)

 Did I mention I took Monday off work so it was technically the weekend and therefore my weekend ended with Anita riding Spider AT the farm?  I get to do it tonight. :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bluegrass Pony Club "Not Very Scary" Mini Trial

I can't believe I forgot to post about this! 

On Friday, September 21st, a group of us from the barn drove down to Paris, Kentucky, to compete on Saturday in the title mini trial.  We ended up with 5 competitors, 5 horses, 1 little brother, 5 parents, 1 car, 2 truck-trailers, 1 truck-camper, 1 tent and 1 trainer.  Not sure if it was planned or not, but we were kind of stuck in the back of the barn.  Actually that makes it sound worse that it was.  It was fantastic.  They mostly had competitors either from that barn or ship in so there weren't many overnight stalls and I think we had a fantastic spot.  Nothing was very far away.

I'll spare the boring details and just say that the farm is gorgeous, we couldn't have asked for better weather and the competition went wonderfully!  I'm so glad we went and I was able to feel useful and help out quite a bit since Jen was still hobbling around. 

To recap the results:
  • Noah and Remi competed in the 18" division.  This is their first horse trial and they handled it beautifully.  Finished in 3rd.
  • Ashlyn and Star competed in the other 18" division.  Also their first event and they did great.  Star threw a couple things at Ashlyn and she made wonderful decisions.  Finished 5th.
  • Ella and Thumper were in the 2' division.  I wasn't able to watch their cross country but did warm them up.  They were VERY ready and from what I understand, got several compliments on her riding... though it was a bit faster than she needed to go.  They did great and finished 2nd.
  • Shelby and Sunday actually competed in both 2' divisions.  I was a little concerned about their fitness as the cross country measured at over 1800 meters and was a bit hilly, but they handled it great.  A first time error in stadium (circling between fences like you can on cross country) cost them a few points but didn't move their placing.  They finished 2nd in that division and won the other (by 5 points in front of Ella and Thumper!).
So that leaves how Noble and I did.  Dressage was in a grass ring that wasn't QUITE level.  He handled it fairly well.  A couple of baby moments later in the test and we finished tied for 4th with a 42.5.  Cross country was amazing for him!  I couldn't be happier.  He balked a bit at the first fence, but I kept him going and we hopped over it.  Got a little wiggly at fence 2AB (an x to a very small log) but after that he was straight and answered every question.  I measured the course but forgot to turn on my watch.  Oh well.  The division wasn't timed anyway.  In stadium, he was a superstar again and left all the rails up (again, no timing).  Unfortunately the scores from XC weren't posted before they handed out the final ribbons.  I was a bit shocked to NOT hear them announce us in the placings.  Talked to the TD (the lovely Carolyn Borgert) and it turns out they pinged us for a refusal at fence 1.  I would have argued it had the scores been posted before stadium, but at that point, the final ribbons were given, the fence judges had left, and its not like we needed a qualifying score from it or something so I dropped it.  The issue dropped us to a final score of 62.5 and in 9th place. 

I know I always preach and believe that a good run is a good run and that the order of priority should always be:
  1. Safety
  2. Fun
  3. Learn something
  4. Do better
  5. Finish
  6. Do well
In the strictest sence we did 5 of the 6, but really we did all 6.  I couldn't be happier with his performance.  I still don't believe we had a refusal at fence 1.  I was more disappointed than I should have been that we didn't place.  Yes the ribbons were cool, but really... they're just ribbons.  Anita and I have put in a lot of time with Noble and he's really getting it.  Guess I would have liked to have even a little something to show for it... to give back to Jen to thank her for the wonderful opportunity to work with such a nice pony.

But, that event is over.  It was a FANTASTIC learning experience and I think Noble really gained what he needed to -- experience.  We're going to find out too as I have sent in an entry for the 2'3" Starter Division at the Come Again Farm Fall Horse Trial next weekend.  We'll also be going alone as no one else from the barn can make it.  I debated a LOT about going to this event as there are several other things going on that weekend, including my 25 year high school reunion and a clinic just down the road.  In the end, I want to go to the event and I think doing another this close will give Noble the experience (and hopefully reinforce the good experience) that he needs.  We're eyeing the Walnut Creek Pony Club horse trial as well but it's not til November and if the weather turns bad, that will be it til spring.  So off we go!

PS. I know I keep saying I'll post pictures.  I promise I will.  I don't have many that I take so I have to rely on the generosity of others to take and share pictures so I can post them.  Some just made it up from the last few outtings so I'll try to get them up soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stillwater Pony Club show and a Trail ride!

I will have to post pictures later after I get them, but I wanted to do a weekend recap as it was a lot of fun and very eventful.

DLSC's final hunter show (or at least final SCHEDULED hunter show) was on Saturday at Twin Towers Park.  This was perfect for us with the mini trial this coming weekend.  I would have loved to have taken Raz to the show.  The last show was a ton of fun with her, but I really felt like my plate was going to be full with Noble, so Raz stayed home.

Because we had the facility, the plan was to replicate an event.  Overall it was a great plan and worked fairly well.  Of course, there were some bumps just to test patience or something.

First up, the dreaded dressage test!  Although they're quite close to the hunter ring, the sand dressage rings rarely get used during hunter shows.  So it was really easy to warm up and do a dressage test with no interruptions.  Anita was there by the time I was able to get on (had to wait for a girth to be available - patience test #1) and has a great eye.  She was very pleased with our test which made me happy.  I was pleased with it too, but I do feel like I can't be the only one since Anita has put as much effort into Noble's education as I have ... not to mention that Jen owns him.  We didn't add up the scores, but she said she would have given us 6s and 7s with a few 8s. 

Next up was cross country.  The plan was to use the crossrail warm up class in the ring as our jumping warm up and then proceed directly out to the cross country course and jump a few things.  Patience test #2: Noble had only 1 front shoe.  The options were to either pull it or scratch the day.  Jen was ok with pulling so Anita and I (with Ella) drove to TSC and picked up a pair of nippers.  Noble was fantastic as he just stood there the whole time.  I missed the warm up class but jumped the actual warm up fences and took off.  This is where our recent epiphanies come in.  As long as I RODE the fences, he jumped them... sometimes brilliantly!  It's when I rode for the stall that he stopped.  Overall I was EXTREMELY pleased with him however.

And finally, show jumping.  We did the afternoon warm up class and jumped all but the one 2'6" fence.  He was amazing and jumped REALLY well.  After that we did one of the Future Hunter (18") jumping classes.  We didn't place in a rather large class, but I don't think I could have asked for him to perform much better at the end of a long day.

I really think we're ready for this coming weekend.  I'm looking forward to it.

On Sunday, despite being exhausted and having a to-do list at the farm a mile long, when Anita suggested I take Spider with Ella and Thumper out on a trail ride (while she worked at home alone with Shirley), I jumped at it.  And I'm SO glad I did.  Spider was wonderful.  She spooked when initially tied to the trailer, but settled.  She was nervous at times and did one spook out on the trail (in place).  BUT... she followed great, led most of the time, eventually settled in the canter, softened nicely at the walk, and slowed by listening to my posting rhythm at the trot.  We did about 4 miles and included passing 2 sets of horses and crossing a creek twice.

Anita reported that Shirley did wonderfully as she learned she could rely on Anita and start to trust her more.  I went out last night after the rain and in the dark and gave them some treats, found some itchy spots and just hung out for a bit.  They really are very sweet mares.

Well, this blog entry has been long enough I suppose.  There are a few other things I eventually want to get down that has come up recently, including the current land status and the major choices in activities in the next few weeks.... but later.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ponies and Epiphanies

For some reason it just feels like it's been a really long week.  I think along with packing (horse show stuff as well as things to sell tomorrow) and regular chores, I may try to sneek in a nap this evening.

The week went well.  I continued to bring the girls up to the barn to get their grain.  I tried leading both of them one morning and that went less than stellar.  But the last couple times, I've lead Spider in and Shirley has followed.  It's working ok.  I'm wondering if locking them in the barn for a couple days like I did when the cows first got to the farm (after they escaped and were recaptured) would help acclimate them to the barn itself.  The cows could stay with the chickens for a few days.  But overall, I think they're starting to relax a little.  The cows are still aliens though. *sigh*

Noble has been a rock star this week.  Tuesday was a short ride but productive.  Working on bending a bit as well as picking up both leads.  Yesterday's work was fantastic!  Under Anita's eye (which I'm extremely thankful for), we warmed up then did our dressage test in the indoor.  That went fairly well other than when I screwed up the left canter lead (aka his good one).  Anita said she would have scored us in the 63-64% range.  After that we went out to the outdoor sand arena where I had a couple ground poles and 3 large crossrails set up.  I think we had an epiphany -- Noble I think is finally getting what jumping is as he's coming to the fences with energy and his jumping is SO much smoother!  My epiphany was in realizing that I had been riding as if he was going to stall out and then leap.  I need to ride defensively, but still as if he IS going to jump.

After a few fences we went out to the jump field and tackled a few of the "cross country" fences.  He did REALLY well.  Even the last 3 fences, the only ones I really "put together" one after another he jumped wonderfully though it was the first time he'd been asked to jump them.  Definitely earned a bit of a liniment wash!

So the plan for tomorrow is that I'm going to get on fairly soon after we arrive, warm up and do our dressage test in one of the sand dressage rings.  Then we'll take a break until the crossrail warmup class which we'll use as our cross country warmup.  Then head directly out to cross country to tackle some fences.  I'm HOPING the pony club is having the water jump filled.  Then we'll take a break until the "afternoon" warmup class and do it and the first Future Hunter Over Fences class (simulating our stadium jumping).  So basically, little boy is going to get his first horse trial tomorrow!  I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I will have some pictures to post.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

They must be aliens!

Question: What do you get when you take 2 off-the-track thoroughbred mares out of their comfortable environment, put them on a new farm complete with all kinds of alien life (like turkeys and cows) and then try to separate them to do some grooming and lunging?

Answer:  An evening full of "interesting" ground work!
The girls give the BIG hairy eyeball to the
The cows of course could care less and are just on a search for better grass.

Anita came by last night and we brought the girls individually into the barn cross-tie area for some grooming.  The goal was to hopefully be able to lunge each of them.  It didn't quite work out that way as we worked on relaxing and ground manners.  They definitely have a bad case of separation anxiety, but I suppose under the circumstances they weren't all THAT bad.  After all, 24 hours earlier they knew their surroundings.  Now they only know each other!

Anita did manage to lunge Spider in the front paddock (with the turkey's locked out of the way).  While she did that, I worked more with Shirley... bringing her into the barn and out of eye-sight of where Spider went.  She was very anxious and not at all happy.  We did get SOME relaxation at the end, but both Anita and I immediately decided that more ground work is needed before we start riding.

I'm also hoping that they start realizing the cows aren't really aliens and that in reality they're much bigger and can probably take over the farm from them if they want to.  They do seem to be getting better about the chickens.  Well, at least they don't go running from them when the chickens LOOK in their direction (unlike with the cows).

Tonight: I think Anita is going to play with the girls a bit but I'm heading to Jen's to work Noble.  We have the DLSC Stillwater Pony Club show coming up on Saturday and he's basically going to be doing a horse trial.  After that, I have a to-do list a MILE long.  Thankfully, this post is on the list so I can at least scratch one thing off.

9/11 -- Never Forget

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome Shirley and Spider!

Today did not go as planned.  AT least not in terms of time.  It's 9:10 and I have at least another 40 minutes before my dinner will be ready.  Other than that, today was a decent if busy day.  Most of it was spent picking up and then trying to settle in the new project horses - Shirley and Spider.

A week ago I was offered the opportunity to take these fabulous off-the-track thoroughbred mares and work with them to get them to sale.  I went today and picked them up and am so excited for them to settle in enough to start playing with them.

I'm still a little in awe of the opportunity.  The breeder of both of these mares is a fantastic person and race trainer. She sees the wonderful in both of them, but between her own horses and her family, she simply didn't have time to work with them.  I won't be alone in working with them.  Anita has been working with Noble as well and we make a good team, so we'll be working with these girls together.

Welcome to Shirley (Sure She Can) and Spi (Spider Can), full sisters out of Can Cun Beach (by Majesty's Prince) by Canvas.  Spi is 9 and Shirley is 8.

They weren't really happy when I limited their turnout to near the barn.  I don't think they like the cows.  So for tonight the cows are in the west paddock (making them less than happy).  I don't think the girls are still all that certain of the barn, but they seemed to be relaxing a bit more once the cows were gone.

So look for more stories as they get settled and into work, plus of course I'm still working with Noble and having fun with him.  Can one have too many horses to play with?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting a Lesson... and other stuff

Every so often Emily Abbate comes to the barn and gives lessons.  I've heard great things about her for a long time so when Jen suggested a lesson, of course I jumped at the chance.  Noble was great.  We got some lovely exercises to try and help him along.  He's such a good boy but still pretty young.  The exercises were all geared towards helping establish the connection to his back end.

We're at the 2 week and counting mark to his debut as an event horse.  It's a little silly how excited I am for this.  I'm looking at the possibility of taking him out cross country schooling this weekend if the course isn't rented.  He's been doing so well that I can't wait to see him tackle some XC fences.  Should have some pictures of the last couple shows to share soon. Stay tuned!

In other news, the turkeys are getting big!  The whites are almost the age they were last year when we butchered.  The reds are smaller, but coming along nicely as well.  And now that we've had some rain, hopefully they'll be able to graze a bit more.  I think I still have a couple turkeys that haven't been spoken for if anyone reading this is interested in a holiday turkey!

One last bit of exciting news.  I actually mowed the grass tonight!!  GRASS, not just weeds!  Yay for rain!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Greenstone Show Results

Went to the Greenstone Hunter show (DLSC) yesterday.  Had a BLAST!!  Everyone from iTolt did great and I even thoroughly enjoyed helping the show (jump crew, running sheets, calculating points).  Just plain fun.

I took Raz (aka Chiraz) and we did the Baby Hunter division.  This is the 5th show on the DLSC circuit that we've gone to so we're qualified for their year end awards program.  Not sure how well we'll do in the final standings, but I've had a lot of fun with Raz.  Every show has been more and more fun.  For a 19 year old, she's got plenty of spunk.

Our flat class went ok, but I blew it.  We missed the right canter lead, not once but twice.  The second time was definitely my fault as I tried to rush getting the lead and she picked up the wrong one again.  Oops.  Live and learn.  We finished 5th.

Our jumping classes were MUCH better.  The first class was so smooth.  We had to drop to get the lead only once in the round.  I guess the judge agreed as we won the class!  The second class wasn't quite as smooth.  I think it was a combination of the heat/humidity and the EXTREMELY hard ground.  We were both pretty done after that round.  It wasn't a hateful round, just not quite as smooth.  Finished 2nd.

So 5th, 1st and 2nd was good enough for Reserve Champion!  Can't wait to see some of the pictures.

I was also offered an opportunity.  Not saying much at the moment til it gets more solidified, if that's what happens.  But it could be a great opportunity and even if it doesn't go through, it's an amazing compliment.  Stay tuned!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Forward Noble Progress

While Noble is a great horse to work with -- he's young, intelligent and willing -- his jump training was stalling.  Literally.  Think of travelling as a passenger in a car, you come to some train tracks and the driver hits the brakes.  He doesnt' come to a complete stop but just before the stop, guns the engine.  Yeah, it was kind of like that.  Noble would approach a small fence (they're ALL small at his level), drop behind my leg losing any impulsion we had, then "bunny hop" the fence.  EXTREMELY hard to ride and NOT end up punishing him in his back or in his mouth... which of course would make him MORE apprehensive, which would make the jump MORE hoppy... wash, rinse, repeat.

After talking to a few people whose opinions I value and getting their input on some exercises to try, Anita and I have definitely made some progress in the last 2 rides!  Last night he was calm and almost ho-hum about the whole thing... ground poles, tiny (12") verticals or crossrails!  Plenty of transitions, including trot/halt (which often translates as trot/attempt to halt/ halt/backup/pat and proceed forward).  Then calmly trotting over ground poles.  It was like I was on a different horse!  Once or twice he stutter-stepped his way over a pole but it was more to get the correct spacing (good) than an attitude of "OMG I HAVE to look at this then throw myself over it!"  Finally trotted him over the vertical and crossrail and it was confirmed... we're making fantastic progress!  What a good boy.  Anita said she thought we made more progress than she did the previous day when she started with the poles.

We also detected a problem with MY canter that was, in all possibility, affecting his.  He doesn't quite have the "go" button that so many of my previous rides had.  As a result I was keeping my leg on ALL THE TIME when cantering.  Anita suggested getting the canter, then removing my leg.  If he dropped, he dropped.  Just ask again.  It was amazingly frustrating to me as a rider.  Logically I knew it would help, just like letting go of a horse that wants to rush a fence will help.  But emotionally I was having to concentrate as much on staying loose and calm as I was in asking repeatedly for the canter.  After a few minutes of this, we tried asking for the canter, pulling my leg off, then putting it back on before he broke.  WOW!  I'm sure we'll have to repeat the exercise again, but what a difference!  Not only did he hold the canter together all by himself, but when I did put my leg on, it made such an improvement.  I didn't have to use as much leg either.  I definitely think the improvement on OUR canter will make a huge difference in our jumping.

Forward first.... got it!

Now he gets a couple days off as Isaac come through and I take Raz to the DLSC hunter show tomorrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Having fun with the ponies

So things have been busy.  Not always ON the farm, either.  I figure if I'm going to keep up this blog (finally) I might as well keep chronicle my off-farm adventures as well as the on-farm ones.

So in that vein...  I have a new "ride"... meet Noble Rain ("Noble")... a 6 year old Thoroughbred/Appendix cross by Noble Houston.

pic taken during the Greenstone Hunter Show on 8/18/12

Noble is owned by Jennifer Shimp, owner of iTolt Training Center.  Jen has been gracious and generous in allowing me to ride Noble.  I've watched this horse grow up as he is out of an appendix mare named Rainy who was Char's turn-out BFF.  

Noble has been doing FANTASTIC!!  Friend and dressage rider Anita Mays has been working with him on his dressage and he's really coming along beautifully.  As for jumping, he's gone XC schooling (after only 2 jumping sessions), attended the Greenstone Hunter show (as pictured above) and just yesterday competed at the Greenstone Combined Test in both the Tadpole and Starter divisions.

For Tadpole (Intro C dressage, 18" jumps - combination of crossrails and verticals), he was pretty distracted in dressage.  I was told it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it went, and that's what the scores showed.  After a fairly non-existent halt earned us a 3, the rest of the scores were 5's, 6's and 7's, earning him a 39.5 penalty score.  Jumping went better than dressage and we got around clean (no time on the round) landing us in 4th place.

For Starter (Beginner Novice A dressage, 2' jumps), there were still some distracted "baby" moments.  Those times, like during our free walk, where he just kept looking for his buddies.  Oh well.  The scores were even better earning us a 35.5.  Jumping went better than the first round... a bit smoother which is what I was looking for.

Things to work on... besides the distractedness, he kept picking up his right lead during jumping, almost exclusively.  Also, just continuing to smooth out the jumping -- so he's jumping out of stride instead of picking at the fence and bunny-hopping it.

Riding adventures coming up:
Saturday, September 1st - Greenstone Hunter show -- showing Chiraz in Baby Novice
Saturday, September 15th - Stillwater Pony Club Hunter show -- showing Noble.  Not sure what level yet, but want to take him so we can do our dressage test in the dressage ring... then go school cross country... then enter a hunter class or 2.
Saturday, September 22nd - Bluegrass Pony Club's "Not Very Scary" Mini-Trial -- showing Noble in Puddle Jumper (2' division)

After that, we have to see but I hope to take Noble to the Octoberfest Horse Trials at the end of October... and with any luck, at Beginner Novice.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Fencing - in pictures

The finishing touch (removing a couple old posts) was being done when I left the farm this morning.  The new fence -- including the main pasture, new front field paddock and new west paddock is all installed.  I still want/need to go back and cap all the t-posts and run electric at the top and about 2' from the ground (to help keep critters from leaning/rubbing on the fence), but it's DONE!  And it looks fantastic.

West paddock.


Taken prior to moving in, but after having plenty of rain (note the strange green color of the grass).  Anyway, this was the west paddock.  I mowed it.  And that's pretty much all we did with it given how the house/doors are laid out.  Just seemed like putting in a paddock would be a MUCH better use of the space.

Almost the same angle as the photo above (but taken yesterday - note the brown color of the grass).  Fence is 6' from the garage and angles in to be 6' from the bushes next to the house.  Combination of wood and t-posts with 4' field mesh fencing.  The front posts are faced so I can eventually put in pretty looking 4-board along the road.

West paddock from the road.  There is an "aisle" between this and the main field running along the barn with gates in between.  This paddock measures approximately 32' x 150' (ish)

West Paddock gates near the barn.  Double gate facing barn/drive way to allow for pulling things through.  6' walk through gate on the far side.  12' gates at each end of the "aisle" to the main field.

Front field:


Basically it was an empty field. Last year with the turkeys I ran some temp fencing in part of it closest to the detached garage and brooder house for the turkeys to run in, but really it was an empty field. Picture taken from the far end (obviously) looking back towards the house. 


Opposite angle. The road is to the left of this pic (taken from the driveway, house is behind). The area is a stand alone paddock as there's an access drive on the far side so there's room between this new paddock and the main field/fruit trees to drive through ... like a turn around. In addition there's a "high spot" along the road so I installed a double gate (far left in the photo) so I could use it for parking or whatnot if needed.

Looking back behind the buildings. Since the back of the buildings are offset, the paddock fencing runs to the garage, and I added an extra fence & gate to finish a smaller area that I can use for the turkeys to be penned up in as needed. Should work pretty well if it goes according to how I see it working. This will be the primary turkey area when I have them. Going to fence off with temp fencing into 3rds so I can rotate the field. May not raise as many next year so I may not have to do that, but it should work pretty well int he meantime. I can also lead animals to this paddock or rig up something to keep them from getting out of the "drive turnaround" in betwen this and the main field (about 20') to let them come and go.

Front Field paddock is approximately 1/3 acre total.

I dont' have any specific pics of the main field. Nothing much to see there, but it's just as pretty.  Reused the main field gate and installed a new 6' walk through gate in the front.  In addition, there's a 12' gate to the aisle leading to the west paddock and a new 16' gate in the west fence line - in the hopes of still being able to pick up that 1.68 acre parcel from the neighbors.

To finish the pics....

Starting to look yummy (even more tasty every night when they look like little vultures when they manage to climb on the roof of the brooder house to roost).  Can't wait to let them out and have more space!

MOO COWS!! Last night in bovine alcatraz before they get out on the grass.  They better not get out of this fence or I'm going to be extremely angry.  The big one will come to me (he LOVES apples, I think he'll like the pears but right now they're still a bit unripe and hard), but the little one is still pretty skittish.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A (VERY) late Summer update

I can't believe how quickly the summer has gone.  I also can't believe how long it's been since I updated.  I'll post pictures soon, but I am going to post a basic overview of updates now... and go into detail in the coming days. 

So... what's going on?  A LOT....
  • The turkeys are getting HUGE!  I also think the Bourbon Reds taught the BBWhites how to fly as I didn't have this problem last year.  I have turkeys posing at gargoyles on the roof nightly, despite clipping their wings a couple weeks ago.
  • Will be having my first home grown chicken dinner tonight as I finished butchering the last of the meat chicks last night.  Not sure I'll do this chicken experiment again, but it was worth doing once.  And I'm sure dinner will be tastey.
  • Fencing project will be complete TODAY!  Can't wait to take pictures.  It's VERY nicely done.  Thanks to Eagle Fence & Construction in Lewisburg.  Will be running the electric around the main field so I can turn the cows out ASAP.  They're going to LOVE it!
  • No horses at the farm currently.  Teddy and Map both went out for training.  Map came back and is at home (iTolt) and Teddy is in the process of being sold.  My own personal horse search is on hold til spring.
  • I do, however, have a new horse I'm riding.  6yo TB/Appendix gelding named Noble Rain.  I've watched him grow up as Jen bred him.  He's out of a mare that was Char's BFF in the pasture.  We did our first XC school on him this past weekend and I'm SO pleased.  There will definitely be more updates on Noble's progress in the coming weeks. 
  • New Roommate.  New roommate, Ryan, moved in last week.  Thankfully he'll be taking on some of the feeding chores, along with just plain being at the farm, when I'm out of town so less to worry about.
  • Rental house has new tenants and they're in a lease to purchase arrangement (which includes them doing repairs and whatnot as if it were their own) while they improve their credit.  I'm excited about it.  I'm also in the middle of getting the place refinanced -- a process that is NOT going smoothly at all, but will be worth it in the end.
  • In the middle of reading "How Good Riders Get Good" by Denny Emerson.  Loving it!
  • and last, LOVED the coverage I was able to see (mostly online streaming) of the 3-day Event from London.  Sorry to see the US performance not quite up to our usual standards but happy for those that did medal.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coming soon....

Finally ordered the turkeys yesterday afternoon from Cackle Hatchery.  I purchased from them last year and they were great to work with.  Ordered 9 Broad Breasted Whites and 15 Bourbon Reds.  In addition, thought I'd try the short commitment timeframe and raise 10 cornish chickens for meat.  Part of the order process is to let them know when you would like the birds sent.  Due to the current date, upcoming holiday, and impending announcing job, I selected June 6 or 8 on their shipping calendar, but noted if that's not possible "earlier is better than later."

Not 30 minutes after I got home, I received a phone call.  It was Cackle asking if I wanted them NOW!  As in they hatched today and can go in the mail this evening.  Chicks should be at the farm as early as tomorrow morning.  Guess I have some prep to do quickly!!

Also, coming soon?  FENCING!!  Received the final estimate from the companies I talked to about doing some fencing projects.  Specifically up to 3 different projects -- redoing the main pasture, adding a "front field" paddock and adding a new "west" paddock.  Nothing left but making the decision.  Well, not really... I have emailed the last company a couple questions.  Of 5 estimates, I'm down to possibly 3 I think would do the best job for the money.  Hoping to make a decision by the end of the weekend and get started ASAP.

So keep an eye out for updates including pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Update

It's definitely springtime.  VERY busy lately as is probably fairly typical for anyone on a farm.  Here's some details on what's been going on.

Fencing:  After the fiasco that was the cows coming home... them promptly running off, I'm looking into getting some significant fence work done.  Hopefully I'll have all the estimates in this week and whomever gets chosen to do the work (whatever amount of work that may be when all is said and done) can get started asap.

Horse Shows:  Had a lot of fun at the Stillwater Pony Club Hunter Show (DLSC) a couple weeks ago.  Exhausting day as they had a lot of participation which as anyone knows with hunter shows means the day goes on forever.  Raz was good, although we had some hinkey moments here and there.  My ankle was not 100% from twisting it following the cow escapade the weekend before, but we managed 1 warmup round and the 3 classes in the Baby Hunter (2') division.  6th (of 6) in the Under Saddle class where I thought we did a decent job overall.  6th (of 16) in the first Over Fences class which frankly surprised me that we placed.  And 7th of 7 in the 2nd after a major boggle at the 2nd fence caused me to lose my stirrup on the side with the bad ankle so I pulled her down to a walk to readjust.  It's ok. We had some REALLY nice fences and I was ok with our performance.

Unfortunately that will be our last show for a while.  Not only do I have a couple announcing jobs coming up that interfere with the DLSC schedule (Greater Dayton Horse Trials and IEA Horse Trials) as well as relatives visiting for the Memorial Day weekend, but there has been a medical issue pop up.  If you haven't heard about it, I'm surprised as the word is spreading pretty rapidly.  One of the horses at iTolt Training Center came up with a positive Coggins - the test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA).  Unfortunately, he also tested positive on a second blood draw and was humanely euthanized this past weekend.  EIA is very contagious and even though Sam was only a carrier and never sick, the policy of the state is very clear and Jen did what a responsible owner has to do in this situation.  This is the first positive in the state in 4 years, so it's not very common in this area.  Unfortunately it does result in the barn being quarantined for 60 days.  Thankfully, the blood draw on Monday for all the horses at the barn came back with all negatives.  They will all be retested at 30 and 60 days before the quarantine is lifted.  You can read the whole story, including timeline, valuable information about EIA, and the lovely story of who Sam was at iTolt's blog -- The Facts of our Positive Coggins Test  Jen and everyone at iTolt are extremely good friends and I'm thankful for each of them and wish them nothing but peace in such a heartbreaking situation.

So the pressure is off for a while, which will be nice.  The plan is to catch up on things at the farm, NOT go completely crazy the next few busy weekends, and then work on some equitation issues with my riding while enjoying the ponies at the farm (under quarantine obviously no one is allowed to leave the farm)... and then find some fun shows to go to later in the summer.

Speaking of horses... time to support my former pony and her fantastic owner!!  Suzie and Frankie are doing such remarkable things.  In an effort to help fund a trip to work with a great trainer this summer (Jan Bynny) prior to the Richland Park Horse Trials in August (and hopefully Fair Hill Horse Trials CCI*** in October), Suzie has created "Team Frankie" t-shirts.  They're available in Blue or White and have a list of 10 things Frankie thinks on the back.  I'm hoping to have one soon and will take pictures and post more about them.  They're $20 each available in Adult and Youth sizes.  Please contact me if you're interested.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cows and other tidbits

The cows have arrived!!  On Saturday, April 28th, I borrowed a truck/trailer from Jen at iTolt Training Center and drove to Innisfree Farm and picked up 2 black angus calves.  One is roughly 6 months and the other slightly younger (and smaller).  They loaded beautifully into the trailer and I had no problems hauling them back to the farm.

That, unfortunately, is where the fun stopped.

Instead of fanagling them into the barn (they will be sharing the chicken room til the horses get used to them), I opted instead to put them in the front part of the pasture that I had taped off for them.  However, they had other ideas and within 2 minutes of them hitting the ground, they had run through 3 lines of my electric tape fencing and wiggled their way out of the 7 strand wire perimeter fence (that was not turned on as it had been grounding out). 

For the next 3.5 hours, and with the help of many friends, neighbors and strangers, we chased the 2 calves all around the property (and beyond).  I've now seen more of the fields and woods near the farm that I even though possible (even found a creek bed when the big guy was running through it).  In the end, the little guy was lassoed after 75 minutes loose by a good samaritan that happened to stop.  The big guy was tackled by my neighbor after 3.5 hours on the loose.  And while at the same time there were police and ambulance on my road, none of it had anything to do with the loose calves. 

They are now on a "barn time-out" until I can fix the fencing so it contains them.  I'm also using this time to get them used to me.

I'll post a better picture when I can, but this is the best one so far (the other had the flash on the eyes and made the little buggers look evil).

So meet Q (aka BBQ) and Mig (aka Filet Mignon)... latest residents of Serenity Valley Farm.  And with any luck, hopefully very content, quiet and cooperative (from here on out) residents.

All beef shares for this year are currently spoken for, but if you're interested, let me know and I'll put you on the wait list in case anyone backs out.

Along those same lines, I am still accepting deposits for turkeys.  I will be ordering the chicks this month and currently have 15 orders.  Remember I'm ordering both the Broad Breasted Whites that I did last year as well as the heritage breed Bourbon Reds.  A deposit guarantees* you a turkey although I will be ordering a few extra.

I still have an ABUNDANCE of eggs this spring!  $2 per dozen.  Willing to deliver or meet you somewhere if it's not too far away.

The garden is coming along.  Plenty of blossoms on the strawberries, the broccoli and cabbage look good and the gutter garden (seen below prior to planting) is seeing plenty of spinach and lettuce starting to pop up.  More will be planted on Sunday and I'll post more pictures later.

In other news, the first horse show of the season is upon us!  Catch me competing with iTolt's Chiraz at several DLSC Hunter Shows this summer... beginning tomorrow.  I am excited to not only show and hopefully qualify for year end awards, but to be able to help Jen school her many wonderful students as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Garden Update

No photographic evidence yet, but I looked at the new gutter garden and the spinach is starting to pop up!!  I'm really excited to see how this works.

Put down 12 bags of top soil the other day and planted 1 short row of snow peas and 3 broccoli plants.  Of course the cats seem to think I created a new litter box for them.  I swear, if it's not the cats getting into something, it's the chickens.  I may need to fence it off until the plants actually start taking root!  Hopefully I can get a bit more accomplished sooner than later as I have cauliflower and cabbage starts that are ready to plant, and I want to get more snow peas in the ground (one can never have too many snow peas).  I think that may do it until closer to the frost date.  I know you can buy tomatoes and peppers and whatnot now, but I'm really leary of planting them and then getting hammered with a late frost.  Plus I am putting in the top soil a little at a time anyway so it's not like it does me a whole lot of good to go out and buy a ton of plants right now.  Ah... but it IS tempting!! LOL

I think I've made a change to the pallet garden.  I would love to do it the way the instructions say -- using soil to fill in between plants and voila... water for a week or so laying down then you can stand up with no worries.  Unfortunately, I've started and then come to realize that for a regular size pallet... that's a LOT of plants!  So I'm backtracking.  Going to probably remove the plants I have... or at least fill the pallet with more soil and spread them out a bit.  Then I picked up a couple packets of wildflower seeds.  I have the time to let them grow so why not?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Overdue Update

Happy Spring!  Granted, there's been frost on the ground the last 2 days, but the tulips and lilacs have been blooming for a couple weeks and it IS the middle of April.  Another tell tale sign of spring?  The animals are shedding like fiends.  Thankfully the sign of "mud everywhere" hasn't struck yet, but the "I'd rather be outside doing yard projects than inside cleaning" certainly has.

A lot has been going on so here's a very quick run down:

  • FINALLY!!  There are 2 boarder horses at SVF now: Map is a 6yo Arabian/Trakehner cross stallion and Teddy is a 6 year old Percheron/Morgan cross gelding.  Both came from iTolt Training Center and are doing wonderfully.  Of course they'd much rather be out on the grass ALL the time, but they're slowly getting more and more grass.  Shortly after they arrived, I was able to purchase mats for the cross tie area and we've used it a few times when I decide they need to be brushed.  Both have long manes and I end up telling them that while we like Bob Marley, no one at SVF is to LOOK like Bob Marley -- no dreds!  Seriously, it's a lot of fun to watch them from the kitchen window.
  • BRING ON THE BEEF.  Last year's experiment with raising a beef steer went really well and I've signed up to raise 2 more this year.  They should be arriving in 2 weeks.  They'll be limited to sharing the chicken room and having a separate grazing area from the horses until everyone gets used to one another.  Several friends are joining in and "purchasing" shares in the steers.  I believe there is at least one 1/4 share left if anyone is interested -- cost is $250 with at least half payable up front and butchering fees are not included.  Should work out to roughly just over $3/pound overall.  Expected delivery date is January 2013.
  • TALKING TURKEY.  Now taking orders on this year's crop of turkeys.  The plan is to raise both the Broad Breasted Whites like last year as well as some Bourbon Reds, a heritage breed that I've heard a lot of good things about.  The BBWs should end up larger than the Bourbon Reds as they are a larger bird (last year's purchase weights ranged from 11.5 pounds to 16 pounds).  They do not get as large as they would in their typical commercial environments, but I'd rather lose some possible pounds than have a bird that isn't able to get out and eat grass and chase bugs.  Bourbon Reds average 23 pounds for toms and 14 pounds for young hens, live weight.  Here's a link to a wonderful review and amateur taste test conducted last fall.  The Bourbon Reds and Midget Whites for this test were raised by an online friend of mine:  Lets Put Turkeys to the Test  Turkeys will be ordered next month, so if you want to guarantee yourself a wonderful turkey, whether a BBW or a Bourbon Red, contact me by May 1st.  $10 deposit is due up front (to help pay for the chicks).  BBWs will be sold at $3/pound dressed weight (same as last year).  Bourbon Reds will be $3.50/pound.
  • SPRING MEANS GARDEN.  Finally getting the garden started.  Moving it closer to the house to make it more accessible and to be able to use the old area as a new paddock for the animals.  Currently only have lettuce and spinach planted, but hope to soon have peas and broccoli as well.  Trying a new technique this year -- the lettuce and spinach are being planted using rain gutters attached to a fence, like this:
The ends of the gutters are a double layer of landscape fabric... keeping the soil in but allowing any excess water to drain out.  Cheaper than gutter end caps and easier than drilling drain holes in the gutters.  With any luck it will work.
I think that's about it for now.  Have been dealing with mechanical issues all over -- 2 wheel bearings and new tires for the Explorer, scooter is in the shop now dealing with a "won't start" issue, just dropped off the weed eater for service and the push mower at the rental won't start.  Maybe I need to take a class in automotive repair?  Also have several projects coming up -- finishing the garden, getting water to the barn, fencing in the new paddock, etc.  One thing at a time though, right?  or at least no more than what will drive me crazy. 

In the meantime, heading to Equine Affaire on Saturday for the first time in a few years.  Looking forward to it and hope to run into some friends.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

5 Things... Update

So I missed a day.  Life's been "weird" lately.  Please don't hold it against me. :)

1) Looks like the first horses will set foot at the farm sometime in the next week.  Still up in the air as to who exactly it will be (depends a little on who gets along with whom in turnout since they'll be out together).  So more updates as it happens.

2) As a result of #1, there will obviously need to be more work done in the barn.  More rock put down, possibly another stall built, and then there's the running of water to the barn.  The latter will need to be looked into asap, especially now that we're coming out of winter.  I may start by installing a hand pump on the outdoor well.

3) Looking at the garden possibilities for this year.  Going to downsize and kind of refocus (a running theme in life right now I think).  Found some wonderful ideas on Pinterest -- like growing greens in extra rain gutters that are just attached to a wall/fence.  Also a fun idea about growing plants from a pallet or using old tires that are painted BRIGHT colors as pots.  Too many fun ideas!

4)  Speaking of ideas, I've been putzing with a couple.  The first is to pour concrete in the "shed" off the attached garage, run electric so I can have lights, etc., have a couple windows installed and possibly the exterior door changed... and basically turn it into a nice room.  The idea is to make it into an exercise room.  I don't have enough $$ at the moment to refurbish the entire garage, but that one small room might be doable to start.

5) The other putzing idea is to pull out the hot tub and instead of putting it in the barn, put it on the back patio -- the idea of which also entails a patio makeover.  I guess the idea is more about the patio makeover and the hot tub is an extension of that.  Ideas abound on this one!  But a nice patio with plants, maybe a fountain, different flooring (I have never liked the brick that's there) to make it a lovely extension of the mudroom, which when clean is a really nice space, would be fun.  Plus I think I'm moving the garden closer to teh house so that could be incorporated a little.

So... I think this post is probably less "update" and more "hey ya'll... I have tons of projects in the queue.  If you're ever bored, come on out... even if it's just to keep me company while I work. "  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

5 Things... or more

So the original intent of 5 Things was to keep me blogging every week about the farm and updates.  Obviously the holidays and first of the year had some kind of wrench to throw into those plans.  All is good though, as I thoroughly plan to keep up again.  So... in light of that... here are some current and semi-current 5 Things:

1) I've been enjoying the mild winter.  A little muddy here and there, but its nice to WANT to go outside occasionally.  It's also nice on the wallet when it comes to heating the house.  I'm a little concerned about the bug population this coming spring/summer.  That may be the trade-off for this week's temps being in the 50s and having rain instead of snow.  Still not sure I'd choose any differently however.

2) Stewie is gone.  He left last month.  In return I have a freezer full of 196 pounds of edible beef (including soup bones, but not including miscellaneous "other" organs and such).  My record keeping was only ok but by my calculations, I from fairly well with the price of the ground beef to amazing with the price of some of the steaks.  Am currently investigating picking up 2 or maybe even 3 calves this spring.  Would need buyers (hint hint).

3) Projects:  The project list is yet again rather large.  Some keep changing, some change their priority, some stay the same.  Still sorting out the list at the moment to see what to do next, but a couple weeks ago I painted the living room/dining room.  Instead of a yellow-ish tan color throughout, it is now Covered Wagon and Amaretto (a tan and a brick-ish color).  Actually ties in really well with the window treatments that were already there and I really like it overall a LOT better.

4) Back in November I enrolled in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University being presented by Wright-Patt Credit Union.  Tomorrow is my last class (it's actually only a 12 week course, but due to holidays and what I assume are room scheduling conflicts, ours was really extended).  I've thoroughly enjoyed the class and while it means that many projects at the farm won't be done in the timeframe I'd like, they'll get done on the timeframe they need to be done and without throwing me into a financial tailspin... so that's even better.  If you come across a class in your area, I would recommend it.

5) There are no boarders at the farm (yet), but I wanted to share a couple horse pictures.  First is Suzie Harrison and Frankie.  The picture was taken on cross country during their recent competition at Intermediate level at an event in Georgia. 

I purchased Frankie at the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Mixed Fall Sale in October 2004 for $500.  Due to life happening over that next year, I sold her... to Suzie, who's been the best thing for Frankie and taken her so far.  This coming weekend they're running their first Advanced level horse trail at the same farm in Georgia.  I'm so proud of them.

The next pic is me... at this past weekend's Game Day at iTolt Training Center in Miamisburg.  I used to board there (both Char and Frankie) and still go and ride.  The pony in the picture is Copper.  Such a good boy to just stand there and let me be the fool.