Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring must be coming...

UPDATE: Red-wing blackbird on my front walk today!! They are one of the first nester's to return in the spring! I saw robins awhile back, but many of them do not migrate--so this is a definite!! Just like all the buds the deer have eaten off my tulip poplars...

Reno has started shedding. I remember he did this last February too. I was shocked at how early it started. But I suppose when one's hair is 3" long, one must use the time wisely. This must be the reason he rolls in mud everyday. I dutifully use my old pin hairbrush to break up the solid masses of mud caked on top of his back. Much of it ends up in my mouth, no matter how hard I try. I dig and rake and spit. And the next day, it's the same. On the same side. Even as far as his cheek. I do not brush his cheek while he is eating or three pounds of dust falls into his bowl. When I am "done" (a relative term), I see a silhouette of dust outlining us on the ground.

Yesterday was warm and sunny--my favorite combination. So I did what all spring-lovers do--I emptied the horse water tank, scrubbed it and refilled it. Here's the "plug" that comes with the tank heater. Plastic (read fragile), and tough to get at. Also, recently tightened by Handyman (read impossibly tight for female hands.) How do you get at that thing?!

Enter my new favorite tool:(besides my Muck brand boots and my 20-year old ATV. And the lids that snap on my 5-gallon buckets. And my dog that cleans the kitchen floor for me.)

What do you do with that thing--you ask??

Open says-a-me! Voila! Ah, there's nothing more cheery than 15 gallons of COLD water filled with 4 months of hay detrius, horse spittle, old leaves and some vile form of algae that can grow in antarctic conditions. My assistant for the day was PRINCESS--the large pony who thinks she's a dog.

She did the requisite shove against my bum while I was leaning over a tipped-up tank, almost sending me headfirst into the fence and muck that was pouring out. Then there was the lipping of the sleeve. The request for carrots and the sniffing of the empty tank. She is such a charmer. But what a gut! This gal has bellied up to the hay bar a little too often. I don't think there's a wii fit board that'll work for her.

When I brought out the clean water, she was all about sipping each dose as it was added. Handyman needs to do a little adjustment on that fence section behind the tank. The bottom plank is too high to set the bucket on unless I want to pour it down the waistband of my pants. The top plank is literally 1/2" too close to pour the bucket between the planks. So it works out like this. Open the bucket on the ground. Lift carefully to waist height and pour 1/2 between the planks. Then tell Princess to get her big mug out of the tank or be doused. Then lift the bucket to chest height and pour over the top of the entire fence. Now do this eight more times!

Gives the old reconstruction a workout! Everything held--don't worry! ;)

And the better news: My handy-dandy tool has a little brother:

Then again, it might make a terrific crop!

I wanted to get this task out of the way because there is rain forecast for today and tomorrow and then snow for the weekend. If the tank's going to refill on its own, thanks to Handyman's ingenuity, I wanted it to be clean. Princess gave her opinion on the clean water with a happy lip curl--"Weird Mom! It doesn't taste like fermented hay anymore?!"

Today's job--empty muck tubs and clean barn. Did I mention there was another barn "invasion" this week. This time it was #2 who left the people door open. When we drove in, I could see the big guy in the barn aisle. When we got there, he was wedged between the hayloft ladder and the people door (blocked by #1), with the worktable immediately to his left. The saint let me squeeze by him and unlock the big sliding door. He wasn't sure about jumping out, but gave it a shot and thought it was so fun, he bucked too on his way by. I love that horse!

There had been an open bale of hay on the 2' high stack of rubber mats. The bale was, of course, scattered all around the pile of mats. And there were two piles of poop on the mats! I wish I had a camera going in there; watching them standing on the mats like circus ponies. I guess I need to start showing in trail classes.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A three-hour tour...

Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea put in just south of the driveway.
As they head for the rapids, a friendly Mandan watches...
...and helps them over a shallows.
They turn east at the juncture with the overflowing creek.
and approach the notorious poultry penitentiary, nearly submerged.
Passing between the garden plot, piled high with "horse product" and the chicken "pen", they continue eastward, toward the "fort".
A friendly "native" joins the little band.
Another low spot. Lewis has to drag the dugout.
View from the fort.
Approaching Trail's End.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clowns, comedy, kids, crazy horses, mud

Aren't these cute? We had the largest snowfall in about a decade--or these girls' lifetimes--a few weeks ago and this is what resulted. Now, while you're oohing and aahing, I just want to say that those eyes are not coal. We don't have any coal laying around up here. But we do have thousands and thousands of frozen, dark blobs dotting our landscape. Well, various, selected parts of our landscape. Including the garden area just beyond where these were taken. It all originated with one of my many horse catalogs. There was a t-shirt with a little boy building a snowman, and standing off to the side was a cartoon horse saying, "Hey! Little boy! Those aren't lumps of coal." Need I say more...

Yesterday, #3 was practicing her phonics/reading with some cards with three-letter words. One card had the word "wax". She dutifully sounded it out and said the word. I was duly impressed as this is not a common word for a child. She was excited by me and yelled, "Like earwax!" with a big grin. Yeah, like earwax. Ewww.

Although the beautiful snow is now gone, leaving lots of mud in its wake, I did turn out horses a couple days ago, when the ground was just starting to go soft. Unfortunately, I left the "people door" open on the north side of the barn. I had tossed out some hay and begged the horses not to run around wildly and they had agreed. When Handyman drove out for his daily sabbatical to Menards, he saw no horses. Upon investigation, he found two horses INSIDE the barn, pooping in the gravel, carefully avoiding the workbench in the center of the aisle, but dragging their blankets onto the ground and making complete nuisances of themselves.

Now I expect this from Princess--the large pony who believes she is a dog--but not from Reno. Reno is 25 years old, 16 hands and 1200 lbs. To get into the barn, he had to climb up two rather small steps (the top step being less than 24" across), squeeze through a three-foot door and navigate around a table on sawhorses, a stack of barn siding and a stack of rubber mats. He is also completely besotted by the large pony and cannot bear to be out of her sight. He was willing to risk all for love...

Of course, when Handyman arrived, even as he headed for the large sliding door to send them packing, the guilt hit with a vengance and they weren't going to wait for a horse-sized escape. They whirled and headed again for the people door where they both leapt out beyond the steps and proceeded to run hysterically pell-mell around the field. I, of course, received the chastising phone call for leaving the door open, along with threats of spanking.

Needless to say, when I went out later to feed, the field around the barn and beyond looks like a meteor shower happened, with horse divots EVERYWHERE. So much for maintaining grass. I guess the vitamin supplements are doing their job.

This was just too cute to leave out...

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's over, it's over, it's oh-oh-over!

Yeehaa! Today it will climb over the 22 degree mark and not be back for at least four days! Yeah! The snow on the barn roof will melt into the water tank. The horse doots will thaw enough to be picked up without the fork splaying into useless forms! The chicken heat lamp will be turned off and the chickens will get to enjoy darkness while they sleep for the first time in two weeks. I will begin paying down my electric bill--if ANY money arrives in my mail box. The horses will not have frost on their whiskers and ears. I will be able to feel my pinkies and not have to chop ice every morning. I will be able to wash my fleece-lined jeans (both pairs), that now stand in the corner at night, and the frozen snot on the backs of the thumbs on my gloves will now thaw and have to be washed out. Ewwwwwwwwww.

MOM ALERT: Here's a great website when looking for good reading material:

Teen Lit Review: Real reviews for the Christian Parent

I love it already!