Monday, October 22, 2018

America in Crisis!

OK. I typically avoid political commentary in my blog. But. Oh. Please.

There's a caravan of a thousand immigrants in Mexico! Heading north! To America! It's a crisis! George Soros paid them! It's those democrats! Better call out the army!

<rant on>I'm sorry. So sorry. But really. There are MIDDLE EASTERN people with them! Call out the army! Um. That's not legal, btw.

But. seriously. Jesus H! This has reached a completely absurd level. OMG! They might want to clean toilets! Or wash dishes in restaurants! Or pick lettuce for a dollar an hour in the hot sun! They're going to take your jobs and make bombs! They want better lives for their kids! They don't want to be murdered by gangs!

I lived through the 60s. This is crazy. I am just so appalled.

Seriously. This is so completely ridiculous. So much so it's hard to believe adults are exchanging rhetoric over it.<rant off>

Friday, October 19, 2018

Last ear!

I always track my first and last ears of corn. I love corn and I'll eat corn almost every day during the local corn season.

Saturday 13 October 2018

Actually, that was my last ear. The very last of the season was the next day. So. Next 4th of July you can bet I'll be counting the days!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Polo 2018

The annual polo match to help fund the Norfolk Hunt Club was Sunday 9 September. As always everyone had a wonderful time. The event of the season!

Snacks!
Biscotti and lemon muffins


Air Force flyover

I guess so long as they were up there they went and flew over Gillette Stadium for the New England Patriots' season opener...

Now this was absolutely hilarious. The county sheriff's office and the National Park Service always have mounted representatives on the grounds. It's wonderful PR and everyone just loves the horses. But this year...Godzilla was in attendance.

And to see this big 18 hand Percheron snorting and huffing and crow hopping over Godzilla was a riot! Oh. Ya. You give a big spooky horse like that a lot of room!

Note the posture. Horse on left.
Pat on the nose?

To be fair that sherriff's department horse was a young horse still in training. The Park Service horse could not have cared less! It was great fun watching them work.

And there was good action on the field making for a high scoring match.





And the half time show was a musical dressage presentation by Katie Robicheaux. I'm sorry, I don't remember the horse's name. I should have taken notes! But make no mistake they were just lovely together.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Seriously?!

I did something. Something I never in a million years thought I'd do. I...I...<sigh>...bought ..vegan hot dogs.


I was researching hot dogs online. I love hot dogs. But I'm not supposed to eat hot dogs. Actually. I don't think anyone is supposed to eat hot dogs. But once in a very long while...I mean, maybe once or twice a year, I'll have a couple of hot dogs. I generally have the Applegate Farms dogs. I think most people agree they're probably the least bad for you.

But I just happened to stumble on a review that included vegetarian hot dogs. Oh, I don't really remember the site but they had some positive things to say about the Smart Dogs.

And...truth be told...I tried tofu bologna several months ago. I was really just curious about it. I didn't expect it to be good. But at least I'd have my own first hand opinion.

Not bad. Really! Not bad.

There are lots of different bolognas out there. This stuff wasn't bad and..was even better than some of the bad tasting bologna I've had.

It even looks pretty convincing

So..the bologna helped open my mind to the possibility..and..the Smart Dogs not only tasted like hot dogs, they tasted like good hot dogs! I steamed them. I've read they're not quite as good grilled or fried. They overcook easily on the grill and the texture just isn't quite right when they're fried. But steamed? Very good dogs!

Mind you both of these are more highly processed than the food I normally eat. Really. We're talking hot dogs and bologna here. Just because they're plant based just necessarily make them good for you. But the nutrition information is quite impressive and even though I'm not an expert in these things I'm sure they really are less bad for you.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Moving Day!

Well..This past Tuesday we went to move the rest of the herd off the property...

Tuesday, 7 August

Hot. But a nice day.

The girls loaded without any issues at all...


Horses are so funny. Their new herd gathered to see what was going on...

Oh look! New friends!

It was a ton of work but it was nice getting this stuff done.

The girls settled in quickly.

Grass! Lots of grass!

And...our second trip...horse on the left...chickens and barn cats on the right..


Lots of stuff to "browse" in their new home...


Of course I'd love to say the day came off without a hitch. But ...it didn't. We went back for the last two horses. One loaded. One...didn't. Now. I've seen it take people 3 hours to get a horse on a trailer. But. I've never. Had the pleasure. Of that experience. Until. Then.

B would have none of it. We teased him with carrots. We bread crumbed a path into the trailer with fresh grass. We sedated him. We pushed. We bum wrapped him. We hand walked his feet. He's traveled before but he's always been in a slant load. He's never been in a straight load. We got the vet out and tranquilized him. We got volunteers and tried to carry him in. This is one of those things you never ever want them to win. You'll live to regret it.

But...after almost five hours we had to give it up. It was starting to get dark. And we were all pretty beat up.

At least the barn is all cleared out and all the stalls are stripped.

We got a gold of someone with a slant load and we're going to try and move these last two horses tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Picture of Summer

I like to go through pictures by season and pick the one picture that says the most about the season. Of course I usually do that sometime well after the season has passed. What better time to pick The Picture of Summer than during the following winter?

Not this year!

While I was out walking one morning several days ago I passed a house and ..I just found it very striking. I had to stop and look. And sure enough, this house, the scene, the whole thing just said "summer". I can almost smell the grass and feel the heat. I love summertime!

Summer 2018, 25 July

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Luxurious Accommodations

With all the heat we've had lately L just loves the fan!

22 July

Monday, July 16, 2018

Corn 2018

Corn is a little late this year. The first of the local corn appeared at Jane and Paul's Farm in Norfolk Massachusetts (as usual). I learned last year to go in and look rather than wait for their corn sign. They have corn but their sign isn't out yet!

14 July. Delicious fresh corn!

As in years past, out of desperation, I had tried some corn several weeks ago. Usually our corn around the 4th of July is from New Jersey and..it's universally...awful. This year I got some corn from Virginia which...actually, wasn't bad.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Oh Gnats!

I've been waging war on gnats since last fall. Oh, it started, as best I recall, in September. When..for no reason I can think of, I found some fungus gnats on a potted basil plant in a window. I kind of shrugged it off. It was getting towards the end of the season and while I've wintered my herbs in the window they've never done very well.

But last fall they did especially poorly and I gave up on them. Finally ripped out all my herbs (except my rosemary - they don't seem to have any interest in rosemary) and let the pots dry out. I figured that would be all it would take. The pots were left bone dry all winter long and I figured for sure. No gnats would survive. I hadn't seen a single gnat in months.

I got started in spring with basil, thyme, oregano and cilantro.

And several weeks later...to my horror...I had clouds of gnats!

I tried everything. I tried killing them with a diluted alcohol and mild soap solution. It burned the leaves. I tried yellow sticky traps. I tried the vinegar soap traps (that work so well for fruit flies). I tried watering with diluted hydrogen peroxide. That destroyed the roots of my herbs to the extent they weren't really good for anything. Nothing worked.

I decided I'd just start all over. But rather than start over completely I'd bake my (clay) pots of soil in the oven to sterilize them and then start with seeds and new plants. This seemed to work...but ...not so fast! I'd left behind a couple of cilantro plants I thought were untouched. Only to find ...several weeks later...gnats in my cilantro! I dumped all the cilantro and just hoped hey hadn't spread.

But...no! I found...two gnats on my basil!

Which brings me to the purpose of my post. Sometimes...I'm smarter than I look! I don't want to start over again this late in the season. And I just love my fresh herbs in all kinds of ways. So. I took some cheesecloth...


And I cut up Kleenex sized pieces and tucked them all around the soil at the stems of my basil. Looking at it after I'll bet cotton balls will work too.


The logic here being...if (any) adults can't reach the soil they can't lay eggs (they can each lay 200 eggs!). And further, if the larvae can't escape the soil there will be no more adults. So. An adult trying to reach the soil will get trapped in the cheesecloth. And any larvae trying to escape the soil will...get trapped in the cheesecloth.

Hopefully this works and I'll start over again next spring.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Quntessential Summer

I think gin and tonic is just the most perfect summer drink. That and sangria.

Why does my gin and tonic look like tea?!

My gin and tonic looks like tea because I make my own tonic water! And I don't have big industrial strength ceramic filters like the soft drink companies have. I started making my own tonic water because I refuse to knowingly consume HFCS in any amount no matter how small. And...much to my disappointment, most tonic waters have HFCS. And nevermind the diet versions. I think they taste funny. Whole Foods house brand tonic water uses sugar but I find it's a little sweet. My favorite is Fever-Tree. But it's expensive. And availability is a little spotty.

So. I started making my own! It's easy! There are lots of recipes around the web. This one is probably the most well known. A lot of them have citrus, some have spices. Some even have lemon grass. There's even a kit!

Mine is a very basic recipe. I use Nature's Wonderland powdered chinchona bark and Ball citric acid.
  • 2 tablespoons chinchona bark powder
  • 2 tablespoons citric acid
  • 2 cups water
Combine and simmer gently for 20 minutes in a non reactive sauce pan. Let it cool and let the powder settle. Then I gently pour the solution into a Melitta coffee maker and a mesh cone filter. Being careful not to disturb the mud from the bottom of the sauce pan.


This first filter cycle takes only a few minutes. It's just to reduce the clogging of the paper filter in the next step

Filter the solution again using a paper coffee filter

This filtration will take very much longer. I leave it on the counter when I've left for the day or filter it overnight. Usually this is sufficient but sometimes I filter it a third time.

One and 3/4 cups of filtered solution!

The final step is to combine the solution with sugar to make tonic water syrup. I use 2/3 cup of sugar for each cup of solution.

Now...you mix 1 oz. of tonic water syrup with 2 oz. of your favorite gin in a rocks glass, fill with club soda, add a lime (or lemon) wedge and enjoy!

By the way, I think that ounce if tonic water syrup is about 28 calories.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sunset

The days have been getting shorter for over a week now. But locally the sun has been setting at 8:26 pm EDT. The sun is rising later in the morning making the days shorter. My perception however is that these are the longest days. Because of the late setting sun.

Today is the last day for the 8:26 pm sunset. Tomorrow the sun will set at 8:25 pm. So now the days will become shorter.

Courtesy of this way cool website. You can search thousands and thousands of locations around the world, you can search by zip code or city name, you can even enter longitude and latitude coordinates and generate a calendar with sunrise and sunset times and all other kinds of settings, civil twilight times, phases of the moon, moon rise and set, and solar noon to name a few. It's quite fascinating! For example, I had no idea the sun sets at 10:23 pm today in St. Petersburg!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Medfiled Rhododenrons

What a huge disappointment. Visiting the Rhododendron Reservation in Medfield, Ma., has been on my list of things to do for many years now. It's the largest stand of (wild!) rosebay rhododendrons in the state.

It's described by the custodial organization as a 196 acre reservation. Well. That's a little misleading. I expected a near 200 acre wonderland of rhododendron blossoms. It may very well be a 196 acre reservation but 194 and a half acres of that is just walking in the woods. The rhododendrons grow in an area I'd say is about an acre and a half.

It really is a pleasant walk in the woods

The rhododendrons however were hugely disappointing.

They weren't very healthy. Winter is hard here. And the eastern white pines prevent much sunlight from reaching the ground.


There are no flowers here nor is there any evidence of flowers having been here.

This isn't going to bloom...

I saw just a couple of large vibrant healthy bushes. Almost as big as small houses!


It was a pleasant enough walk in some New England woods on a nice day with summer just hours away. And there was a sign posted by the stand. It explained how the area became threatened, the rhododendrons being crowded out by the pine trees and effort was being made to thin out the pines and restore the stand. A deer fence with a gate was put up around the rhododendrons. That was 19 years ago. It looks to me like they were too late. Truth is the deer ate almost every one of them.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Followup

L has settled right in. She's very comfortable. I knew she would be.

And...this!

25 June. I am thrilled beyond words to have her on pasture.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Our New Home!

It's with much mixed feelings I gave up the farm this week. The turning point of course was last winter's ice. We had horses in stalls for 6 weeks. That they remained sane at all is a testament to their temperament. It was just the most awful thing. It was cruel and abusive but there was no way we could put horses out on that ice.

The only way to be sure it isn't going to happen again is to move. And here in New England this is the time of year you want to find a new barn. It's also very expensive to keep a horse here in greater Boston so I can't keep them all.

We started taking the fences down yesterday.

Our last day here. 23 June.

L's last day with her herd

We packed our things. Did the sad goodbyes. L followed me on to the trailer and hitched right in like we do this every day. She's my rock star! Off we go...

Nice rig! Check out the lower right hand corner there. Ya. Her friends watching us leave.

It was a short 3 mile ride. She unloaded quietly. Did a quick survey and followed me right into the barn. Biggest barn she's ever been in!

I think there are 35 horses here!

She had to huff and woof for a few minutes but I was very proud to have her present herself so well! I tend to brag sometimes and horses do have minds of their own. It wouldn't be the first time she's made an ass out of me!

And seriously! Look at this huge indoor! This will be so nice in the winter!

This is about as good a situation as can be under any circumstances. This is a very horse focused property and it feels right. I think L will be safe and comfortable here. We have a huge indoor. Two outdoor courses. Turnout with pasture. Trails.

And I'm fully boarding her! No more barn work! I swear sometimes my arms hurt so bad I can barely raise a glass of water. It will be a huge adjustment. Taking care of your horse is a satisfying thing and I've been doing it for longer than I can remember. I'm sure just enjoying my L will be easy enough to adjust to!

And..can you believe this? She's just two and a half miles away! How cool is that!?

Huge day. L's new home. 23 June.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Um. Nope. Just. Nope.

I normally reject trends and gimmicks out of hand.

A recent trend in the bar world is the pickleback. You have a shot of pickle juice alongside your whiskey. Oh.... I kind of file it away with a "shrub".

An extension of that however...is..the..

Dill Pickle Martini

Yes. A distinctly green cast. Instead of vermouth, you mix your gin with dill pickle brine. I decided I'd go ahead and try this. I love pickles. My friends tell me I'd probably eat a sneaker if it was pickled. And pickles are wonderful companions to martinis. And ...when I have a Gibson I really do like that little touch of brine. And...I wanted to have an opinion based on first hand experience.

Well. Know what? I can't ever remember dumping a cocktail in the sink before. It was just awful. The real reason being...the salt. While not even a drop of brine from a cocktail onion delivers a pleasant little something to your martini...a large dose of salt simply does not, in my opinion away, play well with gin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Third time!

In two weeks. I remember saying to a neighbor just a few weeks ago there's still plenty of time for winter weather. And here we are with our third nor'easter in two weeks time.

These storms can be pretty ferocious. The last one hit the coast really bad with some people going without power for up to 5 days.

This one dropped the most snow of the three. There's about 2 feet out there this morning.

View from my living room, looking west, 08:30 14 March

I sure hope this is the last it. Couple more weeks and we'll very likely see no more wintry weather this season.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A little more like it

A week ago I went out and broke up the ice and spent an hour working a shovel underneath to lift it off the ground in sheets. I was determined to get horses out there if it was the last thing I did!

So after a week of weather steadily in the 40s and 50s we're *finally* getting horses out every day.

Tuesday 27 February. The sun is very nice this time of year!

And I'm pleased beyond words to have the horses out there enjoying the sun. This has been a really challenging winter. For everyone. Now if I can just get myself organized well enough to ride!

Another good sign! The local maple sap is running!

Friday 23 February

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nutrition Labels!

I'm that guy in the supermarket squinting at the nutrition label on every package. And of course I read the ingredients as well. Some things hide in the ingredients. Anything "partially hydrogenated", for example, is trans fat. Be sure to note "hydrogenated" is not trans fat. Partially hydrogenated is trans fat.

I don't eat products with HFCS. HFCS is converted directly into triglycerides bypassing the Krebs cycle and I am of the opinion that's a bad thing. And don't confuse corn syrup with HFCS. Corn syrup and HFCS are two different things. And beware of glucose syrup. Glucose syrup is what they call HFCS in Europe and it often appears in the ingredients lists on imported products.

So. What has me carrying on about nutrition labels?

I stumbled across this nutrition label calculator on the web. You input your recipe in the space provided and it displays a nutrition label for your recipe. It's very cool! I found a couple of issues with it. It doesn't know about kosher salt, for example. It insists on using table salt data. And, after calculating the label, changing an ingredient or a serving size doesn't always work. Either delete the ingredient and add it back or just start over again.

The most interesting thing however is that one can use these labels to compare their homemade food with supermarket products. So, for example:

My homemade 100% whole wheat personal pizza. The serving size is one whole pizza.

My homemade cabbage soup. Serving size is one and a half cups.

I think that's very cool and I find it fun just to satisfy curiosity as I wonder sometimes is homemade really the most nutritious option?

Monday, February 12, 2018

The year in ice

This will long be remembered as the season in ice. The property doesn't drain well. A little rain. It freezes. A lot of snow. More rain. Snow melts. Property floods....and freezes...

11 February

And that's *nothing*. That's after several days in the 40s and 50s and some rain. I really should have taken pictures last week.

The kids were literally playing hockey in the ring I train in

It was a 12 acre ice skating rink.

Of course it just kills me keeping the horses in the barn. I think we've had 3 days outside since before Christmas. And two of those days were strictly in hand. But there's just no way a horse can navigate that. It was much worse this year than last and the only relief will be to find another place to go when the weather permits.

And of course meanwhile...there's work to be done! And every one of us fell down on that ice at least once and by the middle of last week it was just downright dangerous.


Product Review!

This is a Yaktrax

It's a hard rubber frame with coiled stainless steel wire wound around the framework. Making for "traction cleats". You stretch this rubber frame around the sole of your shoe or boot.


They're marginal in the snow. At least this model which is the one I have. On snow covered ice they clog with snow and you have to stomp your feet a lot and shuffle. If you don't? They're not worth much. But. On ice? On clear ice? They work *really* well on clear ice, no question at all.
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