Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hey! That's me!

So here I am enjoying my morning walk on an absolutely beautiful day...and...THE GOOGLE CAR DRIVES BY! How cool is that?!

That Street View will probably be up for years. But it won't be there forever. So here's a screen capture for posterity.

I *think* that was 24 August 2017. I should have taken notes.

Edited to add:

Yes. It was really hard to be cool and not jump up and down and wave :)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holiday!

I don't celebrate Christmas. But I *do* celebrate my horse at every opportunity!

Monday, December 11, 2017

First snow!

Saturday 9 December was our very first snow of the season.

That's Sammi's stall in the doorway. Biggest horse gets the biggest stall!

Which of course meant Sunday L had her first snow bath of the season!

Barn life is hard in the wintertime. Every season gets worse and while it does have its rewards I just dread it. You just suck it up do it. The manure pile is a real burden in the snow. The manure pile is a 1000 foot trip from the barn. Three trips out and back is a little over a mile. Sometimes the landlord doesn't think plow down to the manure pile. And sometimes he's out of town when it snows.

Normally I use this Gorilla Cart to haul manure. I don't think they have this model anymore.

I can load 7 or 8 cubic feet of manure into that wagon and make 3 to 5 trips on a typical day. I'd rather have a tractor! But it will do. Most of the year.

Not so much in the snow! Oh I've used it in the snow the past 2 years and it's a *real* struggle. It gets better after the first couple of trips. The tires make ruts in the snow that act almost like rails. It's still a real workout.

This year I had an inspired moment!

I got one of these! I got a Jet Sled 1. And, on the occasion of the first snow of the season had a chance to take it for a test drive. We had maybe seven inches of snow. Enough to make using the wagon a challenge.

That's about 10 cubic feet of manure!

And handling it was a breeze. I swear not much more than a walk to the manure pile and back. The tow rope can be a little tough on the hands so I wrapped some foam pipe insulation around the rope and duct taped it.

I am just elated. Hauling manure (and bedding and feed!) is like there's just nothing to it. Winter can be pretty miserable and every little bit helps.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

And stay off!

I've been chasing The Little Bastard off the table for years. Four be exact. He's not stupid. Quite the contrary. He just doesn't care!

Get off the table!

And then there's the counter. Unfortunately watching pots simmer is one of his favorite things to do!

And *get* down off the counter!

And then there's the day he found my bag of bags. What. Doesn't everyone have a bag of bags?

Jackopot! This was tons of fun!

It's a good thing he's so cute. Seriously. How cute is this?!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thought provocation...

I often think we're rather arrogant these days. We collectively as a species think we're highly evolved and pretty advanced. That this is the age of miracles. All the knowledge of humankind is at our fingertips. Surely the end times must be near - we're so advanced there's no place left to go.

Of course I don't agree.

When I was a kid ...haha...when I was a kid, we thought cars would fly by now. We thought electricity would be free because it was just so cheap to produce. We'd have 3 hour work days and leisure activities would dominate our lives. We were so naive.

I really think there have only been a couple of grand achievements in my lifetime. Space. Definitely. Not just the moon landing but satellites. I still remember watching the 1964 Olympic Games "live via satellite". It was a miracle! The picture sucked. Black and white. Not much more than shadow puppets but we watched the!

Deciphering the genetic code.

Truly grand scientific achievements. Otherwise. Well, technology and engineering have dominated our lives much more than science. Science brings us new and wondrous things. Snatching voices from thin air is science. Replacing tubes with transistors is engineering. Making it lighter. Smaller. That's engineering. Making jet engines more efficient. Air frames lighter. Airfoils with greater lift. All engineering. In the first 50 years of the last century we went from Wright Brothers first flight to the F-86 Sabre. In the last 50 years of the last century ...we made jet engines that use less fuel.

My point being. I don't think this is the age of miracles that we'd like to think.

So what got me on this? I live down the street from an old cemetery. And I thought this put it in better perspective:

I walk around looking at the markers and can't help but wonder what kind of miracles some of these people must have seen. Here's this guy George Scott.

He was born into a world where America had just declared war on Mexico. The Alamo was a recent event. The war of 1812 was within living memory. Indoor plumbing was almost unknown. As was refrigeration. And central heating. People lit their homes with lard lamps. There may have been steam ships but there was no regular steam ship service.

He was 5 years old when the Civil War broke out. Nine years old when Lincoln was assassinated.

And think for a minute the things he saw come to pass in his lifetime. Electric lights. Airplanes. Radio. Automobiles. This guy. Almost 175 years ago. Living into his 90s in 1942(!) he saw countless miracles of science and engineering. Really transformative things. Not just MS Word making typewriters obsolete. Seriously. Just think for a minute how electricity changed people's lives in most profound ways. This guy saw things on a scale and scope we can barely imagine.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fall colors

Much to my surprise we had some brilliant fall colors this year. Our Norway Maple trees suffered from tar spot fungus during the wet summer and most of them just turned black and all the leaves dropped off before the first of September.

Beyond that there just seemed to be a lot of sad looking brown trees around and more leaves on the ground in September than I can ever remember having. So I just didn't expect much fall color.

But I was mistaken! By third week of October we had plenty of brilliant color to be seen.

City Mills Pond, Franklin Norfolk, MA, 21 October

Tucker St., Norfolk, MA, 21 October

Federated Church, downtown Norfolk, MA, 22 October

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Forever gone..

My previous barn. The property was sold a couple of years ago and we had to move on. Of course this was expected. Makes me sad anyway.


Sometime in 2003
And now:

21 October 2017

I boarded there for over 20 years. It was such a thriving, vibrant place at one time. We'd had countless hours of fun. People complained their faces hurt from smiling so hard for so long. Animals everywhere all the time. Horses. Dogs. Cats. Deer. Rats. Mice. Raccoons. Woodchucks.

There was packing for shows at the crack of dawn. Getting back at the end of the day completely exhausted and getting pizzas or KFC.

There was freezing cold and howling wind. And our legendary hot humid summer afternoons. We even had a tornado come across the south side of the property in August 2004. I was out working L and I could see the weather coming from across the field. I didn't see any funnel - it was just all cloud and debris. We ran for the barn and no sooner had I run L into her stall the tornado passed about 125 yards south of the barn. We all stood in the doorway watching with "uh-oh" faces.

All nighters with sick horses. I can still remember waiting on a vet one February morning. 14 below 0 at 4:00 am. Oh how that sucked!

I buried two horses there.

It was a great property. Big barn with a quarter mile training track surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of fields and woods. There were actually two barns there, one of which had been an equine rehab center at one time. It was a well known place. They had trained race horses there 50 years ago.

12 July 2009

It was spacious and comfortable. At least until the roof started to leak. Always full of light.

23 January 2011

I can't even make a guess at the hundreds and hundreds of hours there. Of course I miss it and it's so sad to finally see it's gone.

Edited to add:

I thought about it while doing stalls today. All the training time and riding time and just "horse care". 16 or 18 hours a week at the peek of show season to 6 or 8 hours in the dead of winter. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I had 7 or 8000 hours at that barn!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Corn! 2017

Of course I didn't forget corn this year.  I just *love* fresh corn.  I'll have an ear of corn at least 5 days a week during corn season.

My first ear this season:

16 July

Actually the first local corn this year was 14 July. A few days later than usual. Oh I was paying attention but the farm stand signs were late going up. last ear this season:

17 October

Last season's corn was a little better. I'd had a few ears last year so fresh and sweet I didn't even bother cooking them.
Jane and Paul's Farm in Norfolk, MA had the first corn of the season. It was reliably good. Tangerini's Farm in Millis was a reliable source of excellent corn. And Wenger's Farm in Bellingham might have had the very best this year.

And the surprise of the season?

Saturn peach

I'd seen Saturn peaches at the supermarket on occasion for some years now but they're always hard as rocks. This year Jane and Paul's Farm had their own Saturn peaches so I tried one. I was instantly hooked! They were actually a little sweet for my liking, sweeter than a peach. But there's some other kind of flavor thing going on there I can't quite pin down. And I like their size. I don't have the appetite I used to!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Picture of summer

Winter wasn't too bad. Bad enough.

Spring was just *awful*.   I don't know that it was the worst ever but I'm sure it was close.  Cold and wet.  I was still wearing mittens driving to work in May!   Everything is late.  The daisies came up a week or two late.  Not at all impressive.  They didn't last long.

The Black Eyed Susans started coming up and I found a new variant I've never seen before.  Apparently these are called "Irish Eyes" and they're very pretty.

There. The solid yellow ones.

I'm sure the corn will be late this year too.

This summer however has been just...stunning.  Dry.  Breezy.  Abundant sunshine.  In the 80s with an occasional thunderstorm.  This is New England at its very best!

Sunday 25 June. First weekend of the summer.

And this just says it all right here.  This is quintessential "summertime horse".

She's *very* good at this!  Sometimes I just want to run over and rub her belly!

Followed by a good shake. Ha now I have to clean that up!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Raised by dogs?

My cat. When he sees me grab my shoes he runs to the door. Trying to block my exit.

But it wasn't until he was playing with his tennis ball I realized he had to have been raised by dogs...

Really. What kind of cat plays with tennis balls?!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Easy keeper?

Um.  Not so much.  "Easy Keeper" is an expression describing horses that don't need a lot of food.  And Canadian Horses are well known for being easy keepers.  Air ferns actually.

This presents some challenges however.

My fat girl

L has become seriously overweight.  I'd say...maybe...2 or 300 pounds overweight.

When we were competing we'd work a couple of hours every single day.  And in peak shape she'll take your breath away.  Sometimes we'd ride 6 or 8 miles just warming up.  L has a very large capacity for work.  She'll just go and go.  And go.  We were going to start endurance riding at one time.  But that's another story.

She barely gets a third of a cup of grain for breakfast and dinner.  We have no pasture so the rest of her diet is hay.

It's hard to keep her fit and I certainly don't have the stones anymore to do it under saddle.

So I'm putting her on a program.  She'll get some more disciplined ground work.  I'm talking about my discipline here.  I need to more actively supervise her exercise.

And I got this:

Tough-1 Hay Hoops slow feed haynet

Product review: So far it's just perfect! She's been eating too fast. And that's why she's getting as much hay as she's been getting. So I got that slow feed hay net a week or so ago and I'm just thrilled. She figured it out easily enough. It's slowed her way down so I can give her less hay and not only does it keep her busy she's also spending less time with an empty stomach. All kinds of wins. I have read that the net will break down and tear apart in 6 months to a year so I'll have to get a spare net to keep around.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Horses are special

Of course horses are special! Everyone knows that! But not everyone thinks of why they're special.

I've had animals of some kind or other my entire life.   Dogs.  Cats.  Birds.  Mice.  Hamsters.  Bunnies.  Fish.  I can't ever recall not having animals around for more than just a few weeks at a time.  We bond with them and they have special places in our lives.  They're family in every sense.

But horses are still special.  They're big.  They're a lot of work.  They require a big commitment to their care and training.  My horses have brought a grace and dignity to my life that I wouldn't have otherwise.  Horseback riding is much like dancing.  It's one of the few athletic activities that requires moving with another living being.  Boxing also comes to mind.  But no, even on the ground, it's more like dancing.

Much of our training is convincing our equine partner that there's nothing for them to be afraid of, nothing is going to hurt them, and you build your relationship on trust.  You can't make a horse do anything.  And whatever they do they have to do under their own power.  So you learn to persuade.  And build a partnership working together.

So.  I lost another friend this past season.  It's very hard to explain my affection for G.  I didn't blog much about G.  Truth is.  G was dangerous.

Seriously. She'd break your arm if you weren't paying attention

There's nothing rational about one's affection so I never thought about it much.  I'd had G since she was born.  She was the cutest baby!  Her sire was a 16+ hand champion Overo Paint.  Her dam was a classic Quarter Horse type Tobiano.  Fifteen hands, very stoutly built.  G was to be my forever horse.

Things don't always work out.  For whatever reason...oh, her delivery was very difficult and she was very sick when she was 4 or 5 months old...G turned very aggressive when she turned 2.  You learned right quick to recognize that hard look in her eye and let her have it.  Less she kick you in to the middle of next week.  Things got very hard when she was 8 or so because she stopped giving that hard eye warning.  You'd just hear her suck in some air when she was gonna let you have it and you had better be fast on you feet.  You learned to pay attention...*always*.

And she never grew in to what we'd thought she'd be.  Barely 13 hands and 800 pounds she was too small for me to put under saddle.  We started training her drive but she persistently came up lame after brief work sessions.  Turns out she had a bone defect in her right foot that caused her to be lame under the slightest amount of stress.

She ended up just being a big expensive pet.  It's sad really.  She was a real cute horse and if she'd had a kind heart and willing temperament she'd have been a great project for a 4H kid.

Very cute horse. 31 July 2004

I don't think one ever gets over this stuff. I've been through it before, I'll go through it again. Very hard decisions are sometimes thrust upon us and we never think of that when you get yourself into it.  Thankfully she never did hurt anyone.  And she left this life as easily as one can.  And with a mouth full of clover.  For that I'm grateful.

RIP little G. 11 March 1996 - 7 October 2016.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Spring milestone

The first of the season's daisies!

27 May

That's my back yard. In another week or so there will be thousands of daisies out there. I'll be sure to update!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

My basil!

I *love* basil. I have a window box in my living room window full of basil. Between Margherita pizza and Bruschetta and Caprese salad and pesto not to mention sandwiches...I just *love* basil. I grow basil in pots all year long but it's especially prolific in the summertime. So...I have this window box in my living room window and my basil just isn't doing well. I don't know why. It's all laying down flat, wilted and dying. I mean really, basil is's like a weed. Grows like crazy.

There's no evidence of the (stupid) cat messing with it and ...well...I got it. I glance over the other day and...

The little bastard

That's why my basil hasn't been doing well! So I booby trapped it! I stuck a bunch of bamboo skewers in the window box and hardly a day later? My basil looks a *lot* better!

Basil marinara:

I got this recipe off the web a few years ago.  It's supposedly a genuine Tuscan recipe.

Sauté a yellow onion in olive oil.  Add a 28 oz. can of ground peeled tomatoes.  Simmer that for 15 minutes.  Resist all temptation to add garlic or anchovies.  Take it off the heat and mix in like a cup of whole basil leaves. And a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Serve that with some pasta.  I like thin spaghetti.  The idea is to have a nice whole wilted basil leaf in every bit of pasta.

*Insanely* good.  Light and bright and refreshing.  Of course Chianti or Toscana is the *perfect* pairing.

Edited to add:  I also include a pinch of red pepper flakes in my marinara.

Edited to add:  Found a picture!  Now how good does this look!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The best of 2016?

Really? No way! tempeh. It's a dried, pressed tofu product from Indonesia.

Here's what it looks like when you open the package:

When finely chopped up it has a texture a lot like ground beef. And like any tofu product it's..almost completely flavorless. You can Google tempeh recipes. There are a lot of them out there. Many are Middle Eastern and of course Indonesian. Think peanut sauce. I often run it over the coarse face of a box grater and make a vegetarian chili with it. Or mix it up with taco seasoning for a taco. Or even use it for American Chop Suey (which I'm told is a uniquely New England dish).

But I think I came up with this one myself. Inspired by a taco one night. I cut the tempeh on its face at an angle to form planks. I mix them with barbecue sauce. I make a really nice barbecue sauce. Basically it's a dry rub with some ketchup, cider vinegar, molasses, some mustard and whatever hot sauce I'm in the mood for. I let that sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Put the barbecue sauce marinated tempeh in a baking dish and heat it for 10 minutes in a 350° (F) oven. Serve it on a whole wheat hamburger bun, on some lettuce with a little more barbecue sauce. And some thinly sliced onions.

And I swear. It was the very *best* thing I ate in 2016. Much to my surprise.

Here. Take a closer look. Try one sometime!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This is a little more like it!

29 April 2017

Finally. Winter really wasn't all that bad. Of course, winter and horses is hard here anyway but March and most of April have been pretty miserable this year. Just when you're looking for relief. It's been cold and it's been wet. But here with the end of April came a few nice days. It still doesn't smell like spring. But it looks more and more like spring. So nice to see the leaves coming out and things starting to turn green.
And it just doesn't get much better than....this:

Just resting in the sun

Ya I know. She's a little...oh, chubby. She's a Canadian! They practically live on air you know.

I saw the very first lilacs of the season yesterday and was so moved by the nice day I started decorating the barn for spring. That's a pinwheel. And some kind of colorful little thing that whirls in the wind I got at the dollar store.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Celebrating spring!

Er.  Not so fast!

Friday 24 March

Winter wasn't that bad.  Wasn't that good.  But wasn't bad.  My best indicator of what kind of winter we had is my hat.  I have a sheepskin hat.

It's a very nice warm hat.  And...I only use it when it gets ...and stays...very very cold.  I never even took it out of its bag this season.  When I don't use my hat all season?  It wasn't a bad winter!  We even had a week in February where it was in the 60s.  We had windows open for two or three days straight.  Caught up on a lot of barn work.  It looked very promising!

March came around and relief was in sight.  You see, it almost never gets bitter cold in March and if it does?  It doesn't last long.  Well.  I should know better.  The first weekend in March it was 4 degrees.  It got cold.  And it stayed cold.  This *never* happens in March!  We can have blizzards in April but it never gets cold like this.

We had a full on blizzard 10 days ago and the snow still hasn't melted.  I never minded the snow much.  It's the cold I really hate.  But make no mistake.  Barn work sucks in the cold and it's a long trip to the manure pile and back in the snow!

So.  Where have I been?!  Hiatus?  No.  Just busy.  Crazy busy.  Between employment and barn work and trips to the gym I just haven't had time to blog.  I want to try and get back on board.  I started blogging for me.  Keeping track of things over time and after so many years I enjoy going to back through it all and recalling where I was and the things I was doing.

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