Monday, July 29, 2013

The Lost World

The weather this season has been a perfect combination of water and sun making for, shall we say, abundant vegetation..

It's quite the jungle out there. Having been favoring my ribs for the past couple of months most of our trails have all grown over. So yesterday we spent some time driving through the dense brush clearing some of our trails into the woods.

Yes we're going in there...

Whoa. Dude. Seriously?

The grapevines are like something out of a science fiction movie. The east side of the property is a carpet of grapevines.

Grapevines everywhere!

I try to do my part but there's no way I can keep up!

Stuffed grape leaves and white bean hummus

These I stuffed with Spanish rice. They were just delicious. That's a garlic and dill white bean hummus. Very easy to make! There are recipes all over the web. I had lunch at a restaurant a few months ago that served its hummus on a dinner plate striped with chopped tomatoes and olives. I liked that presentation. I added some grated carrot and chopped pepper to this to get a little "garden vegetable" thing going. I was very happy with it.

I think I'll have to go research grape jelly recipes!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wicked Clean

"Wicked", in the local vernacular, means "extremely" or rather, something more than "extremely". So we often say things like "it's wicked good" (meaning it's *really* good) or "it's wicked bad" (meaning it's *really* bad) or..say.."it's wicked hot" (you get the idea).

20 July. 6:00 am

It's been in the 90s for over a week and Friday was 100 degrees. Me? I love this kind of weather!

L looks miserable in the heat but she actually holds up well. My Paint mare G, on the other hand, is just about the most miserable creature you've ever seen in the heat. She *desperately* needed a bath. Making Saturday... bath day!

This is G. One down. One to go.

L is not very happy about this

After her years of showing you'd think she'd be a little better about it. She just doesn't like baths much.

But this is ok

And they're both. Wicked Clean. I love clean horses!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Corn Watch!

The first of the season's local native corn is in!

13 July. Better than Christmas!

I *love* corn. I admit it. I'm a corn snob. There's *nothing* like fresh corn. Every year I start watching for the local corn about a week or so after the 4th of July. This corn is from Rehoboth. It's just *outstanding*. I got it at a place I don't usually buy corn because they're dependably too expensive. Seventy five cents an ear. But in this case it was worth it. Best corn I've had in ages.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Beer in a can?!

Apparently there's a whole craft beer in a can movement I never heard of. I stopped at the store last week and, as I often do, just kind of wandered around looking for stuff that I thought "looked good". Of course "looks good" is wholly spontaneous and wildly dependent on my mood.

There with the chilled wines is a variety of 6 packs in cans! I don't ever remember seeing them before.

I'm shaking my head when..wait..I see Baxter Brewing Company. Now, Baxter State Park is in north central Maine and anything with "Baxter" in its name and a moose on the can has to mean..well..north central Maine. That's bona fied wilderness country out there. The towns have numbers rather than names. I'm quite sentimental about it. Fished there for years. Besides. The terms of its use as property of the state of Maine as a gift from former governor Percival P. Baxter make it a very special place. Downright unique actually.

Ok, enough about that. Turns out Baxter Brewing is in Maine sure enough but not hardly north central. More like "not far from here". Maine's a big state as far as New England goes. But it caught my attention. So I grabbed a 6 pack of their IPA. That's kind of a brewery's benchmark, I think. But after a few strides I decided no, I *always* drink IPA. So I went back and got this:

Baxter Brewing Pamola Xtra Pale Ale

What am I leading up to? This is the very *best* beer I've had in I don't know how long. And I'm just amazed it came from a can. I haven't had beer in a can since I was a teenager! I have no idea what it looks like. It just doesn't seem right somehow to pour it into a glass.

Now, after making that comment, I'll have to go over and read the review on Beer Advocate. For all I know they all agree it's the worst beer ever. I like to make up my own mind before I read reviews. As often as not what I think is *great* the beer snobs rate somewhere around "meh".

Edited to add:

Baxter State Park September 1986

Awesome fishing there!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Ground Game

And dividends.

We've done some lungeing and a lot of leading this week.

It's important to do it right. Practice doing it wrong isn't very productive. The focus is on control and discipline. Controlling a horse is controlling the way the horse moves. When we (free) lunge - starting from a halt, I expect L to walk when, lined up with her shoulder, I turn to face forward and lift my inside index finger. Even from 30 feet away.

That's her signal to change gate. When I lift my inside index finger again, I expect her to trot. Again and I expect her to canter. I expect her to pay attention. She should be looking for my signals. That's the way the herd behaves. Every horse in the herd is constantly looking for signals from the alpha horse.

When I pause ever so slightly with my outside foot and turn my outside shoulder in, that's her signal to transition downward. It's such a subtle move you won't even see me do it. Transitions encourage her to pay attention.

When I turn my outside shoulder in and lift my outside hand I want her to turn. Inside turn please. She has to do an inside turn, facing me. I never ever accept her butt when we're working. When I drop my outside hand I want her to change direction. If I raise my inside hand as I drop my outside hand I want a full circle.

When I abruptly spin with my outside shoulder lined up with her shoulder I expect her to halt. It took me a long time to get good at this. We started on a lunge line and worked from there. Things don't always go smoothly and sometimes I have to get after her and be mindful of every opportunity.

It's not about being forceful or simply dominating. It's more about persuasion. I don't force myself on L. I persuade her to accept my position. What I'm looking for when we work like this is soft relaxed posture. Soft eyes. She's not in charge, she has no reason to be concerned about *anything*. She still makes me earn it. When everything's just perfect, and we're about to quit, she'll leap into the air, spin around and go charging around like a nut bag. She'll flag her tail and when she looks me square in the eye I know, far as she's concerned, we've barely started. We're going to be there for a while.

The real trick however, is to bark at her as soon as you see her think of doing that. Once she's moved, it's too late. Same thing under saddle, by the way. Once she's moved, it's too late. She has to think you know what she's thinking.

And then there's the dividends

Saturday morning L managed to unlatch her stall door. Her stall door has two latches, a toggle and a snap. She was out flirting at 4:30 am. My trainer was awakened by all the squeeing and wall kicking. Now, L has this cat like quality. She's really not very big. What she has is a lot of "presence". And...she can puff up like a cat. She appears to almost double in size before your eyes and she'll fill the barn. Her father did that. I've never seen anything like it. She's had people slackjawed. She's done it when we're riding and it's like *holy crap*.

So here she is, all puffed up, 4:30 am, it's hot, it's barely twilight, she's doing scratches with her favorite gelding, and, having "assumed the position", she's squeeing and stomping her feet. My trainer walked over to the gelding, L immediately moved away, my trainer took a spot by her shoulder and marched her back to her stall without having to say a word or lay a hand on her.

I was very proud of my L. When she's on her game she's a perfect pleasure to handle.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

That's a Filet-O-Fish?

Well. Quite close actually!

Homemade Filet-O-Fish

Having gained all kinds of confidence with my moderately successful Big Mac I decided I'd try making a Filet-O-Fish. I love Filet-O-Fish sandwiches almost as much as I love Big Macs.

I used a haddock fillet. I used this fish sticks recipe from bon app├ętit magazine. That's a favorite recipe and it's excellent with haddock. I've used that recipe for years after reading it while waiting for the dentist. So I prepared a patty sized fillet and made fish sticks with the rest.

I used a whole wheat bun. Cheese on the botton, fish patty, tartar sauce on the top bun. Tartar sauce is just (roughly) equal parts mayonnaise and sweet relish with some lemon juice. My fillet broke. Otherwise it would be a more convincing Filet-O-Fish. It was fun to prepare and it was perfectly delicious!

Maybe next time I'll use pollock. McDonald's, last I knew, made their Filet-O-Fish with Alaskan pollock.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I got here a whole lot faster than I thought I would! Felt great!

2 July. Back on board!

Sometime last week a white pigeon started hanging around the property. Perfectly white. Very pretty bird and quite tame. He's not wearing a band and we have no idea where he came from. We figure he's here for the mulberries.

Canadian Horses are very curious

We had an early bumper crop of mulberries this year. I pushed through the pain to collect a couple of pints. I wasn't about to miss out on Mulberry pancakes!

Whole wheat oatmeal pancakes with fresh mulberries

I used this pancake recipe from Serious Eats. I used steel cut oats for whole oats. Oh and I used buttermilk instead of milk. They're delicious pancakes.

Mulberry season is short to begin with and just days after collecting my couple of pints, when I went out to take pictures of the tree branches, I found the birds had picked them clean. I was amazed. There had been more berries than I'd ever seen before. All you had to do was hold a cup in the air and shake a branch to fill it. I'll have to wait another year for mulberry oatmeal...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Good Advice

Now, as far as I'm concerned, L got a little lively and I failed to stay with her. That happens sometimes.

As far as my trainer is concerned, a grizzly could have charged us from the brush and L should have just carried us both off to safety. And the "situation" reflected some erosion of my position as L's leader. We don't always agree. But. She persuaded me to spend a couple of days re-asserting my position and focusing L's attention on her manners.

I tend to be lazy and L tends to mostly very very good. That makes it easy to get sloppy and it's something I try to be aware of.

Saturday we free lunged. Emphasizing control. It's not just chasing your horse around an arena. Even though that's what it might look like. As usual, L made me work at. Just a little. Even after all this time she makes you earn it. She was, of course, in the end, a rock star.

Sunday we did some showmanship and in hand work. L is quite expert with this stuff. Walking with L is a favorite thing. Everything is right with the world here and and I really need to make more time for this.

Lead the way!

She'll stand here until I take the lead rope back in hand...

Ground tie? Check!

Of course she gets her favorite thing out of the deal!

From time to time I've been asked by people - where do you start if you want a horse? I always have the same answer. Find a trainer you trust and have confidence in. Handling horses is a lifelong lesson and your trainer is your "go to" person for everything horse. I often refer to my trainer as "my Mr. Miyagi". *She* doesn't always like that but she appreciates the sentiment.

I just *love* goats!
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