Sunday, December 22, 2013


When L gets mad she makes raspberries. It's hilarious!

Here she wants her hay.
Turn up the sound!

I really wish I could get her to do that on command. But she only does it when she's mad.

Speaking of raspberries. Stuff some chocolate chips inside fresh raspberries sometime. They're a great treat.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Up until last night I would have said these salmon fish sticks were the best thing I've had to eat this year. They're delicious. Loving salmon and growing up on Mrs Paul's, finding salmon inside my fish stick is crazy good.

I surf the web looking for recipes all the time. I try to have something new every week. Which is easy enough when you first start playing that game but becomes more challenging as time passes. I came across a grilled bison steak recipe that set the wheels turning. I've had bison but it was so long ago I don't remember whether I liked it or not. I've seen it at the local supermarket but the thought just never occurred to me to buy it.

Because bison has almost no fat it cooks quickly and overcooks easily. You want to sear it but you want less heat than you'd use for beef. These bison medallions are pretty widely available so that's what I decided I'd have.

I marinated my bison medallion (basically it's a loin section) in a chimichurri all day, dried it, seasoned it, skewered it and put it under a broiler suspended across a cast iron pan. Like this:

Skewered, under a broiler, over a cast iron pan

I expected it would be about 3 minutes each side. I probably should have preheated my broiler longer. Ended up taking 6 or 7 minutes each side.

Hands down the *best* thing I've had to eat this year

It was moist and flavorful. A little bit chewy. I like chewy. I was never a fan of really tender beef. Those are little red potatoes roasted in duck fat alongside and chimichurri spooned over the top.

I had a French Pinot Noir with it

I think a Cabernet Sauvignon would have been just fine and I read somewhere that the Presidential Inaugural Luncheon's second course served a California Merlot.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Time flies...

This year seems to have gone by very quickly. I was shopping for some holiday beer. I really felt as though I was doing the same thing just the other day and I realized - no, that was last year! Last year I got some Goose Island Christmas Ale and while I wasn't crazy about it I thought it was pretty good. I felt it was a little expensive for what it was.

What I was actually looking for was Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I look forward to Celebration Ale every year. I think it's excellent beer. In all my life I've only tasted a couple of beers I didn't like. Mostly I just like some more than others. As an adult I discovered I like ales and I tend to favor pale ales although this time of year I like lagers now and then. They didn't have any Celebration Ale!

So I got:

And I like it a lot. I'm becoming increasingly fond of canned beer. There's all kinds of really good beer in cans out there and I really had no idea.

I should do a year in review. Highlights. Lowlights. New things. I have so much on my mind these days I hardly know where to begin.

Between the solar power plant a half mile away...

And this business with the neighbors...

One sign isn't enough?
And I still wonder what's up with this?

The world seems like it's changed more this year than it has in years past.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Kitty!

People think farms are great places for cats. So now and then we get "drop offs". People abandon their cat in the driveway. I'm sure with the hope expectation he or she will find a good home on the farm.

While there's a certain logic to that there are plenty of cats already in the barn and we just hand them off to the local shelter or we try to find good homes for them ourselves.

Somebody dropped this guy off a week or so ago.

He's very very sweet. And he's smart. My house needs a cat. I brought him home.

...and he made himself right at home

He's a jumper. He jumped up on the counter while I was fixing dinner and sent a bowl of olives flying. Before I could gather them up he was chowing down on them fast as he could find them. Purring to beat the band. So I named him Oliver.

It's been a long time since I've had a kitten around the house. I'm gonna guess this guy is maybe 10 months old. We'll visit the vet this week.

Edit, 10 November, followup: It's really interesting I think the vet says it's quite common for tuxedo cats to have that very sweet temperament. I never knew that.

Lucky for me he tires easily!

I don't normally eat breakfast. A few years ago I started eating breakfast on Sunday mornings. Just to make Sunday morning special. And sometimes it's extra special.

Fresh duck eggs! Fresh squeezed orange juice. The egg in the cup had a double yolk!

Kindly provided by my friends next door. These guys.

They're very funny

If you don't know your way around a duck egg start with scrambled duck eggs. The yolks may be a little richer than chicken eggs but the biggest difference is the white. Duck egg whites are *very* much thicker than chicken egg whites and frying them is a little tricky. You're likely to overcook the yolk while the white will still be a little runny.

Taking my inspiration from McDonald's I decided I'd have a breakfast burrito.

Scrambled duck egg breakfast burrito with roasted peppers and mushrooms

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ten Years?

Ten years! It's been 10 years today.

Happy anniversary Sweety!

She's a lot prettier than I am don't you think?

Then I come home to done roast beef anyone? This wasn't a false alarm this time! Apparently a neighbor left the house with a roast in the oven. Either they just plain forgot or things just didn't go as planned. We have sprinklers. Thankfully nobody was hurt.

I think there should be a law that says everyone should have sprinklers...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

But is it art?

I was thinking about this at length yesterday when I was running.

Is this "art"?


That's an HDR image I made from a series of photographs I took last August.

Here. This is the basic photo of the image depicted above:

Is this art?

Of course, the work of Ansel Adams is art. He could create a masterpiece with a Brownie camera. He could and he did. Proving, by the way, it has nothing to do with equipment. Of course photography is "art". I never gave it much thought. Photographs hang in galleries. Framed photographs cover the walls of our homes and offices.

But when really, does a "snapshot" become a "work of art"?

Back in the day I had "mastered the medium" (at least I thought I did!). I used all kinds of different films for different reasons. I used one kind of film for portraits. Another for landscapes. Another for documentary work. I used technique and style to direct attention to what it was I saw. I'd use different chemical treatments and procedures (I had a darkroom too...) and papers and filters and, oh, all kinds of tools and techniques and there was never a shred of doubt in my mind; I was doing "art".

I don't know why it is I find digital photography so much different from chemical photography. It is for sure very different. Oh I think photographic film is a far superior medium than digital sensors and I can write a paper on that. But more than that, I sometimes wonder, as I tweak an image's color balance in Photoshop (aka "'shopping"), what's so different about that than say, using a filter while printing an image on paper?

I still haven't quite figured it out. I just don't feel like an artist when I'm using Photoshop. The passion and the extent of engagement is just so much different.

So. To answer my own question? Ya, I suppose it's art. But it's not as clear as I'd like.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not in my backyard?

We have green neighbors where I board. I'm mostly all for it. I've been there a long time and I've enjoyed good relations with the neighbors. Then last year, right about this time of year as a matter of fact, POSTED signs went up all over the property. Complete with fine print noting "all previous permissions to be on the property are withdrawn". And we haven't exchanged a word since. In fact, I haven't seen anyone to have word with. Rumor has it "the management changed".

Which is something of shame. L and I have enjoyed countless hours on that very idyllic property. It's a large property and the signs number in the hundreds.

Now about this green thing. There. See the windmill? That's a $650k wind powered generator they run the property with. We'll never run out of wind! And all in all it's ...pretty harmless. An eyesore, sure, but no more than say, all the utility poles we've grown accustomed to seeing all the time. There, see them there on the left? They're ugly and we don't even see them anymore. And yes, it does make a "whoosh whoosh" sound you can hear almost a mile away when the wind is right. But it's really hard to argue against it being a good thing and it's much to their credit they're powering their property with it.

In the foreground to the right is a lovely 34 acre pasture. It's been used for hay and vegetables over time and it's another one of those country life things I enjoy so much. I run out here sometimes and I just love those hot summer days with crickets in the grass. The fields and orchards go for miles.

And here, looking from the other side. Yes, there's an excavator out there. Thankfully no, they're not building 100 houses out there!

5 May 2013
What they are building a solar power station.

31 May 2013

A $15M solar power station. Of course it really is none of my business. But solar power plants aren't any prettier than any other kind of power plants.

4 July 2013

34 acres of these

There is good news! Remember, we haven't been talking much with the neighbors lately. So we didn't know exactly where this power plant was going to be built. There were rumors and vague descriptions which...

Described this field perfectly

Which is adjacent to our barn. See that red roof at the end of the treeline? Thankfully they did *not* put it there! I had been a little anxious about that.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Tough Horse

I swear she really enjoys messing with me sometimes.

12 October

L was a little..."up" Saturday. It was cold and wet. Felt almost like November. So I decided to free lunge her and help her get it out of her system. I let her charge around like a nutbag for a minute and then we got down to work. After 20 minutes or so she carried her head low. Her eyes were soft. She licked her lips. Classic submissive posture. I'll admit. I was fooled.

All I did was divert my eyes from her and...boom. I didn't even look away from her. Just shifted my eyes. She leaped and spun an outside turn and wheeeeeeeee hahahahaha charged off in the other direction flagging her tail. Oh <groan>. She used to do this a lot. She was playing. Of course I couldn't leave it here. We were at it for another 30 minutes. After putting her through all of her moves. I had her do all her gaits. I had her turn. Turn again. And again. Do some circles. Halt. Back. After staring at each other for 5 or 6 minutes she turned to face me. And took one step. That's as much of a "join up" as you'll get with L.

L knows not to leave her stall without an escort. I can leave her door wide open all afternoon while I do barn work and she'll stay in her stall. I can even leave the barn. Go unload hay or make a trip to the manure pile and when I come back she'll be standing in her stall doorway watching the door. So several weeks ago I make a trip to the manure pile. I come back into the barn to find her watching the door. As soon as I come in...she takes a step out of her door. One step. And she stands and looks at me. So then I charge half the length of the barn screaming and barking and flailing my arms. Quietly, without hardly a blink, she steps back into her stall. Just past the threshold mind you. No further than what she knows is necessary. Really. What kind of horse does that?!

I'm very lucky she's such a sweet gentle animal. She's 100% Canadian Horse!

Ok. I might be overreacting here. One of our local orchards.

$15.95 for a pie?!

Wow. Just. Wow. They're getting $15.95 for pies and people are lined up to buy them. And $14.95 for apple crisp? I thought I was seeing things. I think anyone that would pay $15.95 for a pie should have their head examined.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ready for my closeup

I haven't seen a praying mantis around the barn in ages. We used to see them all the time.

Contrary to popular belief the ladies don't always eat their mate after "doing the deed". They only do that 16 percent of the time.

This guy was really very friendly.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


The annual Polo in the Country match was last Sunday. The hunt club is well known in these parts and we always look forward to the annual polo match. It was a positively perfect day. Warm in the sun. Cool in the shade. Dry. Breezy. Sky filled with fair weather clouds.

Our tailgate is getting better every year! While not hardly award winning we got some nice remarks.

And nobody went hungry!

I love this picture from a nearby table. He's ready. Just in case she drops something!

Normally this is a friendly game that nobody really takes seriously. That remained the case however there was some real action on the field this year with both teams playing some real polo.

I think just about everybody's in on this! You can see the ball there right below the grey horse's right front foot. There are 6 players on the field. Three from each team. And a referee.

The half time events begin with the hounds making a couple of laps around the field. Everybody loves the hounds.

On a couple of occasions we've had some hounds pass our barn running a little off course. Did you know the Huntmaster runs the hounds almost every single day?!

I saved the best for last. Dressage is very popular here (the Charles River Dressage Association is also nearby) and the half time festivities typically include a dressage demonstration.

This year Heather Blitz did the dressage demo. And the best show was out back. Warming up. I like "performances" as much as the next guy but I *always* drift out to the warm up area to see people really do their work.

I'm not sure who this horse is. I think his name is Legato. He's 16 years old and I think he's a Hanoverian. And he's..."distracted".

Edit: Yes, this is Legato, a Grand Prix Hanoverian belonging to Rowan O'Riley.

And here. Mounting up. Things are...going...wrong.

Uh oh

Now, I'm not at all amused watching riders in challenging situations.'s see riders at this level dealing with these things too. And of course it's a good time to learn things.

And what do you suppose she did with this?

She bailed! And. She did. Groundwork.

Which is *exactly* what I would have done, and have done, more times than I can count. It was quite fascinating to watch her work. This was great stuff. After lungeing for a few minutes she started to focus him on her and then focus on his work. She worked him for about 10 minutes and then walked him down around the trailers that were distracting. We call that "go say hi!" around our barn.

Her demonstration fell apart in a couple of places. But her mount was having a meltdown. I wouldn't have gotten on him!

As always. It was a really fun day.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Costa Rica maybe?

Our empty nesters have left the building.

All the swallow nests are empty - I suppose I should count them!

It's been *awfully* quiet around here lately. Barn Swallows have so much to say! You get used to them *constantly* yakking away in the background.

This year the swallows left on the 26th of August. A couple of days later than last year. Just a couple of nests had late summer babies and they had to fledge before they could leave.

Who knows. They're probably off to Costa Rica. It's not really Fall yet but I know Winter will be here before we know it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In the weeds

Two posts in August?! That might be a personal record. It's not like nothing was going on. Quite the contrary, actually. For the most part the weather was positively stellar. For a couple of weeks every day just sparkled. Sunny. Dry. Breezy. Fair weather clouds. Cool at night.

Acres and acres of goldenrod

The weather was apparently perfect for goldenrod. We have acres of goldenrod, much of it 6 feet high. I haven't seen it quite like this before. Even though it's just a weed it's all very pretty. Be careful though! There are *tons* of bees out here.

We follow deer trails in the woods all the time. I was rather amused to find that, with our down time through June and July, the deer started following some of *our* trails!

It's a little hard to see there. That freshly trampled brush. We haven't been through here in 2 months! Our trail goes off to the right. The dark shadow between L's ears. That's our trail.

And then here! Weeks later. That's a deer bed deep in the brush.

The flattened brown grass there. Deer have been sleeping out here. We later found a spot out there with what had to be 4 or 5 beds. Apparently a small herd had been sleeping out there. There are I think 3 herds on the property.

I'm reminded of one of our first milestones 7 or 8 years ago. During our first few weeks moving out of the ring. I had L doing her big trot out in one of the fields when we spooked a herd of deer out from some brush. The deer just exploded out of this huge clump of brush. They went every which way. We almost ran over one of them. L screeched to a halt, stood up straight, spun around, stopped and looked at me over her shoulder with this "Holy crap did you see that?!" expression. I thought that was a pretty level headed reaction for a 5 year old with hardly a handful of trips outside the ring.

This might very well be my "Picture of Summer 2013".

15 August 2013 5:25 pm

I've been here for many years. I walk and ride out here several times a week and it just never gets tired.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Make no mistake. I adore my L. But sometimes I have to wonder what ever possessed me to bring home a mare.

She's in heat.
Don't touch me. I mean it.

I could plainly see was in heat. Which can go any one of who knows how many ways. She might be bitchy, she might be off on another planet somewhere.

Here she was spooking at the *floor*.

I lost 9 pounds one summer weekend 6 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was showing L. Big show. It was hot. Like...100 degrees hot. And L was in heat. We were in the ring Friday night and she was all kinds of antsy. She let out a scream and I heard a stallion in the barn answer her. I'm thinking "oh crap". She starts spinning and bucking and kicking the wall and I was sure we were going to get kicked out of the ring.

Much to my complete amazement we took 3rd place in that class. I got her back into the barn and tucked her in. I peeled my shirt off and it made a loud "thwack" when it hit the floor. I sat on a milk crate mumbling something about never ever doing this again.
The next morning, gassing up the truck at 5:00 am someone even called over to me and said "whoa, you sure got a workout last night didn't you!". Yes I did. I lost 9 pounds that weekend.
Geldings *never* do that. I've had two geldings and in all the years we were together I don't think either one of them ever so much as gave me a dirty look.

Oh. Her hormones settled and later that weekend we got ourselves some blue ribbons to bring home.

Mares have a *lot* of personality. I think I can pretty much count on L giving me her "you've got a lot of nerve!" look almost daily.

And mares tend to be ..oh...busy. Sleep in the barn sometime. They make a *lot* of noise. Doing things like ...this:

Here. This better depicts the product of their shenanigans:

L's little sister in the adjacent stall was thumping the wall and somehow got that board to pop. So all the other boards over it slipped down the wall. Just on that one end. I'd really love to know what they're thinking sometimes.
It was a real stinker fixing that, btw. This is what it's supposed to look like.

And I just love this little piece of handiwork:

No that's not a big cartoon mouse hole

You know what that's for? It's obvious! It's there so L and her little sister can peek at each other. And scream and kick the walls. I don't know which one of them made the hole.

Mares make things so much more ...interesting. Seriously though - they're not for everybody and you have to think about that if you're going to have a mare in your life.

Look what popped up the manure pile!

The bees were all over it. Bees love sunflowers. It was a cheerful thing to have around while it lasted.
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