Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trail ride followup

Watch out for these guys.

A deer tick

I've picked as many as 6 of these little stinkers off of me after a trail ride in the woods. You do *not* want to get Lyme Disease. The volume of deer ticks that carry Lyme Disease isn't that high but it's a very bad thing to have. The good news is a tick has to be on you for more than 24 hours to give you Lyme disease. So. If you're in the woods at all, even for just a few minutes, check thoroughly for ticks! Of can great fun to check close friends for ticks :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014


My trainer, earlier in the day yesterday, on seeing us emerge from some swampy brush, commented on what a confident trail horse L is. L is a most *wonderful* trail horse!

This is a great time of year for bushwhacking. The foliage is just coming in and the ground is clear enough for us to make our way through the woods. It's great fun!

We don't need trails

We can pick our way through here fairly easily. Although it does have its challenges. It really is a pleasure being out here in these woods.

Yes I know. I need to do her bridal path.

I especially love the ferns. It's all so green!

I heard a Wood Thrush. I hardly ever see them. The Wood Thrush song is a quintessential New England summertime woods thing. I don't think I heard a Wood Thrush last year. Not once.

I am *completely* lost. She isn't.

I used to get a little anxious about getting lost out there. I start out knowing exactly where we are. And I'm pretty good in the woods. But after a few spins and finding our way around downed trees and not paying attention to where we are - it just takes a minute and I really have no idea where we are. But L knows *exactly* where we are. All I have to do is let her go where she wants and she'll bring us back to the barn. How cool is that! It's never failed us yet. I hardly give it a thought anymore.

There are trails out there. And we can make a few trips over the same paths this time of year to make new trails.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Me and the Preakness

I'm not a huge fan of horse racing. I watch the Derby. And I went to Belmont one year for the Stakes. But I feel a fondness for the Preakness.

You see, I live here. In this old mill.

Sanford Mill, 2 August 2010

So. What on earth does that have to do with it?

Milton Sanford built the mill I live in. He was a wealthy 19th century industrialist who made his fortune selling blankets to the union army during the civil war. Blankets made in his mills in the northeast.

He was also fond of Thoroughbred horses. And..he owned a horse. Named...Preakness. Who won the very first Dinner Party Stakes in 1870. Which was later named Preakness in honor of the first race winner.

Even more fascinating than the origin of the name is the origin of the race. It was meant to commemorate a dinner party Milton Sanford had hosted in Saratoga in 1869. That must have been on hell of a party,

The Sanford Mill maybe 100 years ago

Living here as also given me a fondness for antiques. I never thought much about it before living here but...after a time..antiques go really well here.

Updated: It's also interesting to note that although the original mill is long since gone the site of the Sanford Mill is the second mill site in the Americas. It was originally founded by the same people who built Slater Mill. There really is a lot of history around here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Seasons Change

I really enjoy watching the seasons change. And I especially enjoy winter's departure!

Last Sunday L and I had a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Saturday not so much. The bugs were out and they were *ferocious*. I'd sprayed L and put her hat on but after a few minutes in the woods the bugs were getting in her nose and she wouldn't take 3 strides without snapping and tossing her head. There wasn't a hint of a breeze and I thought she was going to break a sweat tossing her head. Of course it's not her fault and I don't blame her one bit. But it just wasn't pleasant and she clearly wasn't having a good time.

So I took us back to the barn.

Sunday was a beautiful day. A perfect 10. I couldn't help but notice spring beginning to burst every which way and a thought occurred to me. I'd try to update the winter pictures I'd taken in January with some spring equivalents. I do this a lot and it's fun to see the changes over the years. I don't however do it from the back of a horse very often. So I gave it my best shot!

Drift your mouse over these two pictures to see the winter edition of the same thing!

Sunday 8 May 2014

Well..they're not hardly perfect.

But they're close enough!

After our ride I had L out to enjoy one of her favorite things. I love the mustard in front of her left front leg there.

I drive by a mustard field on my way to work. I think it just grows wild out there. Nobody around here cultivates mustard. Unless maybe it's for the greens. For about a week this time of year it's a 30 acre yellow carpet. When the sun hits it right it's magical. I'll have to try and get pictures of it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dancing on the Ceiling

It must have been a tough trip. The swallows have been dribbling in a pair or two at a time all week long. Saturday the barn was just swarming with them.

Saturday 10 May. A full house!

The swallows are a huge "rhythm of life" thing around the barn. Of course they're courting and setting up house now. The males put on their best show and the females pick out the one they like the best. They have an awful lot to say while all this is going on.

This looks like tons of fun

Sometimes they build new nests but they'll use last year's if they're still up. They tidy them up and maybe give them a personal touch.
See the horse hair woven into the nest? Their nests are made of mud.

Oh, and another huge thing about having the swallows around the barn? Each one on a typical day will eat between 800 and 900 bugs. And when they're feeding babies? Forget it! It's like rush hour from dawn to dusk. the math. Twenty breeding pairs of swallows will eat maybe 34k bugs *every* day!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

April Highlights

Around here we thought spring would *never* get here! Mud season persisted. And you know about mud season and horses!


That *really* is a white horse! Of course, they all look like that. You just notice it a whole lot more on him!

But spring did finally get here. Officially! You see, L is very funny. Most horses start to shed their winter coats by the end of February and lose their hair by the handful until it's gone sometime in April. Not L. She hardly loses a hair April...she decides she doesn't need her coat anymore and I swear...

19 April

In 2's gone. She sheds her entire coat in a single day with a little touch up the next day. I must take 30 lbs of hair off of her! Around the barn we think of that as the real first day of spring.

Listening to the radio the other day on my way to work one of the radio personalities commented on how, in the whole month of April, we had one day we didn't need jackets. Actually, I think we had two.

Saturday 12 April. It was a nice day!

But, you see, the trouble with this time of year is that means we've probably only had two nice days this year. And probably two nice days in almost 6 months! We did have a nice day in January. So we've had 3 nice days this year.

April is also most notable for the return of the barn swallows. The barn swallows came back this year on Thursday 24 April. Just a little late this year! I don't keep a thorough diary but usually they're back between the 15th and 20th. This year there are only 4 of them. I don't know what to think of that!..while we usually have a barn just teaming with swallows this year we have only 4. I don't know what to make of it. Usually the barn swarms with swallows and one year I think I lost count at somewhere near 30 nests! Maybe it was a tough winter for swallows?

Finally...I knew I'd like this.

I try to keep from having preconceptions when I try new beers. That's why I *never* read reviews before I have a new beer. I read the reviews after. As often as not what I think is the best beer ever a lot of people think is crap. I'm not out to educate my palate or become more refined. I just want to make up my own mind. But here we have a Trappist beer and I like the Trappist beers. But this one is special. The only recognized Trappist brewery in the United States is 46 miles away. They're the same bunch that makes the Trappist preserves. We're practically neighbors!

I got out a couple of weekends and cleared some brush to access new trails I'm eager to bring L on. These aren't really challenging trails but they'll be different enough to be interesting. This month has been so wet I'm beginning to think the puddles are vernal pools! We'll get our butts out there as soon as things dry a little bit.

Oh! The last big sighting for April? Wednesday. 30 April. I saw the first ferns coming up!

Edit to add:
I heard a White-throated Sparrow last Saturday 26 April. While everything else has been late this spring I think that's about the earliest I've ever heard a White-throated Sparrow. They're just passing through. They spend the summer in Maine. The Maine woods are full of them and they always remind me of Maine.
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