Sunday, December 30, 2012

A frigid day on the farm!

Ruffy and Rolex
I have no idea what the temperature was this morning, but it was damn cold, especially with a wild wind howling. Snow devils swirled through the pastures, and by day's end, cornices formed on the snowbanks, and fingers of snow threaded out into the roads. But it was another fun-filled day at the barn. We turned the horses out to blow off some steam before Butch, our farrier, arrived. Harley can be a bothersome handful when he's antsy.  The girls went out first, kicking up their heels and playing tag. Then Harley joined in on the fun and the games began.

Harley, Rolex, and Ruffy
You can see why we wanted to turn them out before Saint Butch had to deal with them!

Harley having a good roll in the snow

I went down to Dunkin Donuts to grab us some hot chocolate. I knew Butch would like a hot drink--I can't imagine having to handle steel shoes and tools in this kind of weather. As it was, the tools were set next to a halogen lamp, preheating! While Ruffy got her front shoes, complete with snow-popping pads and borium, John took Harley out for a romp. But with his departure, Rolex began having a hissy fit complete with pawing, head tossing, and hay net twirling (her favorite game--I think she'd do well at tetherball). For once, Harley wasn't the misbehaving horse. Rolex wouldn't stand still while Butch tried to trim her feet. When John rode up, we swapped. He took hold of Rolex, and I went on an adventure around the property and down into the pasture. Once I turned Harley around, it was a mad dash for home. He thundered through the snow, back up to the gate, snorting, coated in white from his breastplate down. I felt like the "Marlboro (wo)man" ad.

After Butch left, we left them inside, munching on a little lunch, and went home for hot tea, dry socks, and a bite to eat. Then, back to the barn for some late afternoon riding. Well, John rode Rolex, I dug out the buried hose!

Rolex, levelheaded once out of the barn, took John out and about for a short walk. The fierce wind forced me to head back into the barn once I'd finished digging. The late sun slanted just over the trees, giving everything a golden glow. Everyone was ready to head inside for dinner. Vance and Gator waited by their gate, hoping it was hay time!

Vance waiting for dinner
The nearly full moon illuminated the snow-covered ground. I almost didn't need the headlights, but snow drifts filled parts of the roadway.

As I sit by the wood stove, the hot metal "ticking",  and listen to the wind still whipping around the house, I hope the ponies are snug in their beds. We gave them a warm mash of alfalfa and beet pulp with lots of hay. Still, I fret about them while John laughs at me. I know if they were in my back yard, I'd be out there now, in my jammies and boots, just checking one last time before I head to bed.

Tomorrow should be a bit milder, without the brutal winds. The rest of the week will still be  Carhartt coverall weather! Time to put another log on the fire.

Here's another attempt at a movie:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day at the barn

I couldn't wait to get out to the barn and go for a ride in the fresh snow. By noon time, I was champing at the bit, ready to ride!

The horses were having a good romp, the snow adding an element of excitement. It's like they've never seen the white stuff before as they sniff and snort through it. Rolex played her favorite game of "I don't want to go in", so Ruffy and Harley were the captured mounts for our Christmas ride.

For some reason, the domestic turkeys at the house by the bottom field fascinate the horses. They always seem to be peering down the fields, watching for something, and today, the turkeys were gobbling rather loudly.

As usual, I've taken a mounted head-shot of Harley as he watched for turkey action down the way. Ole Mr. Fuzzy looked stunning in his blaze-orange quarter rug (a birthday present I finally got to use now that it was cold enough!). I like how visible we were on this grey day since we were riding on the road part of the way.

Our Ruffy was having a trying day--ice, snow, mud and low branches. She'd rather be in a perfectly mown field, kicking up her heels, that riding through trappy terrain, getting her dainty ankles all muddy. Poor girl---needless to say, she and John had a "parting of the ways" with some low limbs. She decided to jog home, and Harley, always willing to dash home too, began to jig as he tried to tear after her. My intent was not to chase her, but quietly catch our skittish girl. So I slid off Harley and began crunching up carrots while calling to her. She stopped and turned back, walking towards us. The old carrot trick (plus she wanted to stay with Harley, I think) worked and I caught up her reins, just as John appeared. Everyone stood for a bit, just chilling and eating carrots. Once settled, we remounted and called it a day. Harley and Ruffy were happy head for home and have an early dinner complete with warm beet pulp--their equivalent of a cup of cocoa!

Christmas cheers to all!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

White Christmas?

Well it's certainly turning white around here. The question is, will it last, or wash away with the impending rain? After a jaunt down to Dover Saddlery for some last minute shopping, we went back to the barn to try out new toys (baby pads--easier to clean) and a hay net for Harley. He likes to make a bed out of most of it, so I'm hoping this will save wasted hay.

John got in a brief ride with Rolex out back. He reported that the loggers left some nice trails. They also left a lot of slash in the pasture. I spent Saturday afternoon making 2 giant piles and had hoped we'd get the tractor out to really clean it up before someone got hurt. Too late--Harley cut his leg along the cannon, probably on one of the gazillion sticks laying about creating a giant tiger trap of a pasture. Our guys like to cut it up and run right through this stuff. Maybe once the weather settles, we can get out their and play pickup sticks again. Come spring, we'll have a couple of nice bonfires!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And then there was light!

Very grainy, but the place is much brighter than this photo 
I drove up to the barn tonight, and lo, the light over the door was on! The electricians arrived this morning as I was getting ready to leave. They said. "Let's see if we can't get some light in here." And by God, they did. Rather than hurrying through barn chores in order to save fuel, I spent quality time brushing everyone, brushing their muddy blankets off, and just enjoying time with the horses without needing a headlamp and lanterns.

Ma, could you get the mud off my cheek?

Mr. Muddypants had dried mud caked on both sides. There was a pile of silty dust under him by the time I finished brushing and combing--yes, the mane contained mud balls too. When I was done brushing the horses, I moved on to their blankets. Pristine Pauline (aka Ruffy) is the clean one with only a few mud splatters on her sheet. Harley and Rolex look like they were in a contest for who could get dirtier. You can see Harley's sheet in the bottom left corner--formerly navy, now brown.

Now we truly are back to normal--lights, barn floor, and logger-free pastures!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A return to normalcy

The loggers finally finished up on Saturday in the pouring rain. They hauled out the last load of logs, leaving the pastures a miry mess of mud. I was told it took two skidders and a bulldozer to snake the last log truck out. Then the fences needed to be put back--posts reset, planks replaced. By Saturday night the fields were finally closed up.  As you can see in the picture, the mucky "road" across the field left a swath of churned up mud.

Post logging pasture
So, we now have an enclosed field, and a barn floor. We just need electricity (another week and a half to two weeks away) and everything will be back to normal. As The Grateful Dead said, "What a long, strange trip it's been."

Last week I lost my phone on our exciting ride. I finally was able to go look for it on Friday. With oak leaves churned up by deer and turkeys scrounging for acorns, I had little hope of retrieving it, and even then, I thought it might be toast from the rain we received Wednesday. But my luck must be turning, for there it was, laying on the pine needles under a white pine AND it still worked!

I put it in a zippered pocket, remounted Harley, and away we went--literally. He decided it was time to play bouncy boy and act like a two year old, back at the races. He pranced sideways, snorting and tossing his head, really hoping I'd just let him rip for home. Bitless bridle = no brakes! So I let him canter up a couple of hills and reined him in to an extended trot over the trickier ground. Once he'd settled a bit, I made him halt and back up--there was some unhappy tail swishing over that!  The closer we got to home, the more he calmed down. Poor Harley, out in the scary woods, all on his lonesome.

The horses were inside during Saturday's rain. They couldn't get to the lower pasture anyway--a log truck was stuck in front of the gate. So this morning, they were racing around the pasture, getting out all the kinks and pent up energy. I love to watch them tear past me, yet another part of me cringes as they head downhill, towards the swath of mud and through the remaining stick debris we need to clean up. But you can just see the sheer fun they are having--running as they were bred to, nostrils flaring, eyes alert, tails up as if saying, "Watch me run. I used to be a racehorse and I've still got it in me!"

Today, John and I took Ruffy and Harley for a loop ride out to Tatnic Woods and back via the Nature Trails. Harley led a fair chunk of the way since Ruffy didn't want that scary job. We had a couple of nice trots with Harley getting in a little canter to catch up to that big mare. He also got in a fast canter up one of the Nature Trails, one with a blue folding chair sitting by the trail. I feared he would stop and spook at it, but instead, he just swiveled his ear towards it, but kept going, afraid Ruffy would leave him in the dust.

I don't know how, or if, you can rotate a video, so lay on your side, or turn your computer on end for this!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Galloping into December

Foggy Sunrise
Heavy fog blanketed the lowlands this morning. As the sun began to come up, the moon went to bed. We could still see it around seven a.m. If you look hard in the bottom left corner, Harley, Rolex, and Ruffy are little specks in the fog, eating their breakfast. The roar of logging equipment in the woods told us it would be another few days of keeping the horses in the lower north pasture.

Rolex want a carrot?
John and I wanted to get in a good ride with the nice weather and warm temperatures. What started out as a rather quiet ramble, using carrots to lure our ponies down the road, quickly turned into a speedy ride. Once Rolex and Harley warmed up out of their afternoon stupor, we were off. Harley immediately went from a trot into a canter as he chased Rolex through the woods. Little Miss Speedy thought this was a ton of fun.

When she ran out of steam, Harley took the lead, watching for "bogeymen".  As we approached the farmstead, I noticed a sheet of plywood propped up against a rock. I knew it wasn't there last time, and just as I suspected, when Harley caught sight of of it, he spun to the left.

We thought about doing the Jepson Farm/Quarry loop, but instead went only as far as half way down the quarry road. Rolex stopped, ready to head home. Harley was happy to turn back when a large bird (didn't get a good view of it) flew out of a tree and spooked him. He set off a chain reaction--even unflappable Rolex jumped. Feeling good is always a reason to have a few "Thoroughbred moments". Once we turned for home, Mr. Prancy Pants did just that--began to jig. I put him out front, thinking he might settle, but Rolex out-paced him, pinning her ears as she moved into first place. The race was on! We had another strong canter (John said it wasn't a gallop, but Harley was haulin') until we pulled up.  But that wasn't it--we had a real gallop with Harley leaping over a few spots with rocks. I ducked my head and held on. There are no brakes with the bitless bridle! A sharp turn for home made them slow down, but not before Rolex got in a monstrous kick, telling Harley to back off. He threw on the brakes, nearly unseating me it was so jarring. What a couple of sillies. I think we all enjoyed galloping into December.
Harley enjoying treats on the trail

Saturday, December 1, 2012

You know it's cold when...

There's snow on the ground and your horse finally needs a blanket. Actually, they are just wearing rain sheets. The temperature was in the mid-20's but I didn't want them getting too wet from the snow since they would be out for at least 4 hours.

The only sound is the shushing of snow on the oak leaves. This juvenile red-tailed hawk was surveying the field below, probably looking for some lunch!

You can see your breath in the barn and the propane canister is frosted.

Yup, another fun-filled day in the land of no power. I've lost count, but I think it's been 7 weeks since the barn debacle. The carpenters were working on the floor today, though, and the layers of sub-flooring are nearly done. We may be able to enter through the front by the end of next week! Oh happy day. This is especially important now that the snow is falling. The ramp was pretty slippery today when we brought everyone back inside.

The loggers took out more chunks for fencing to access felled timber and skid it to the landing yard. Oh my, what a mess it has become. They too were working today, taking advantage of the cold weather and frozen ground.

My day began with re-digging and re-setting a fence post then nailing all the boards back in place. I spent 7 hours at the barn and didn't even get in a ride! First, get the fence horse-worthy, then, turn everyone out. Ooo--boy, were they feeling feisty! Break the ice on the remote tub and refill, spread out 2 bales of hay. Then it was off to the feed store for grain and beet pulp. Lug the bags into the feed room, muck stalls, sweep floor, throw down more hay from the loft. Ooops, almost time to bring them back in again. Where did the time go?

Maybe tomorrow, I'll sneak in a ride between rain showers. Ugh!