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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Monster in the Register

Ever since we've had her, Sadie has been afraid of the floor registers. To get in or out through the garage you must pass through a short hall that has one of those evil things. To take her outside, you had to open the door wide so she could make a mad dash past the register before it could attack her. Now she is used to the register and will walk through the hall, but only on the other side!

I had some fun with her tonight...

I know... I'm mean! But did you laugh?

Fire in the Hole!

Hubby inherited a terrible trait from his mother... He's a worrier. He's notorious for hearing noises coming from every corner of the house and barn. And when he hears them, oh, it must be something major that will cost a fortune to repair. I know I'm supposed to be supportive of him, but most of the time these catastrophes strike, I ignore them.

Wednesday, he kept telling me that the pressure tank was kicking on and off all day and night. "Don't you hear that?" "I don't hear anything." "How can you not hear that?"

I worked in a factory for many years. Give me a break! Besides, if you can hear that over the TV, why can't you hear me call for you?

On to Thursday: Houston, we have a problem... This time he was right. It was actually the well pump he heard echoing through the pipes. (I must speak very softly.) Anyway, the spigot by the well head appeared to have a leak. Digging about 6 inches down, we could see water circulating.

Fortunately, Hubby's buddy & boss has a backhoe. That's him reaching for the propane tank with a cigarette in his mouth. That's part of my 6'5" hubby in the hole and his dad watching to make sure they do everything right.

There's nothing more fun than watching someone have to work in a deep slippery clay hole. Oh wait... yes, there is... Hosing them off when they're done!

Good thing we live far back from the road. I made Hubby strip down as I hosed the caked clay from each layer. Brrrr! Well water sure is cold!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Holding Back the Claws

I want to always trust God the way my mama cat trusts me. My best friend has commented more than once about how tame my cats are. Her cats are tame, too. They are loving. They purr when petted. What's so different about mine? Trust... Total trust.

I thought about it this morning when I cradled Little Bear. She is a farm cat and lives outside, hunting mice and other varmints while escaping whatever larger predators may lurk in the darkness. Yet, with all the natural instinct a cat can possess, she is not the tiniest bit 'cat' when I hold her in my arms. A lot of cats won't let you turn them upside down (especially if they grew up with little kids!), but that's how I always hold Little Bear. I lift her with one hand under her belly and roll her into my waiting cradle. She falls back into the comfort of my arms peacefully and begins to purr. She doesn't struggle to upright herself. She doesn't reach out with her claws to secure a hold on my shirt. I can walk around with her, bend over, stoop... It doesn't matter what I do; she purrs with contentment for she is in her mommy's arms.

She was days old and orphaned when we found her. She was one of a litter of five – one dead, four barely alive, crying, their bodies cold, their eyes barely open. We took the four sickly kittens home, stopping along the way for kitten formula and the other necessities. Don King (should have seen his hair) was the worst. He survived a few days, but never seemed likely to make it. The other three flourished. Chubbers, with his unquenchable appetite, appeared to have swallowed two ping-pong balls. Paint Girl’s fur looked as if a loaded brush had touched her in places on her back. And Little Bear… so deep black, with golden eyes, claws that always seemed too long to withdraw into their hidden place. (see photo) And we became their parents.

Before the DOG came along, the three of them walked the lane with us to the mailbox and back. They followed our lead everywhere. They were devoted to us because we saved them! We saved them from death. We saved them from a hard life with no one to guide them. We provided them with everything they needed. We loved them and nurtured them. They know the sound of our voices.

I was barely alive when Jesus found me. My heart was cold. My eyes were not open. I faced certain death. I was struggling to survive. I needed His guidance and His love. God is now my Father. He saved me from certain death. He guides me daily, giving me wisdom to make the right choices. He provides me with everything I need and more. He loves me and nurtures me. And I know the sound of His voice.

He tries to pick me up, to cradle me, to give me comfort. Sometimes I let Him. Sometimes I bring out the claws. I reach to cling to something… control. I am afraid to let go. Why? Has He not always cared for me with the greatest tenderness? Don’t I trust Him with my life? Of course I do! But instinct tells me to bring out the claws, at least until my reasoning takes over.

Little Bear knows that she doesn’t need her instinct with me. I don’t know how she turns it off, but I’m going to learn. It will probably take a lot of practice and patience, but, hopefully, with time I too will no longer pull out the claws when my Father takes me into His arms.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Give Me a Sign

I was just reading another blog that had a picture of a funny sign. It brought to mind this one I took last year while in Florida. Remember how high the gas prices were in June of last year? This restaurant was next to my hotel. I don't remember the name of it. I certainly didn't eat there after reading their sign...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Green Chickens

OK, we don't really have green chickens. We will have green eggs soon, but that's not what this post is about. But since we're talking chickens now, here's a couple of pics of the 'babies':
You can still see some baby fluff on the rear ends, but they are mostly covered with their adult feathers now. One of the roosters is trying desperately to crow. So far it's embarrassing.

Anyway, back to the subject I intended... This is just a short update on living green. I couldn't resist showing off this use for those infamous five-gallon buckets. Yep, those are green beans behind the pile of cucumbers.
Here is more of our repurposing in practice:
Hubby finally put his walls up for the feed storage room in the big hen house. I think the old skid boards make a beautifully rustic wall. He was going to screen the top-right section, but then decided, 'Why waste screen when I have so much wood from these skids?' So he just spaced them to allow ventilation without allow chickens to pass through.

Of course, I couldn't post without including this pic of the herd I shot while at the chicken house...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a short update...

Remember that little rock steps project that Ali and I did? After we laid the rock, we landscaped beside it, underneath the steps to our balcony. One of the plants we put in that bed finally bloomed. My 3rd refurbished camera sucks, (do you hear the dissatisfaction in my voice?) so the color is off. The blooms are a very deep pink. I'm waiting to see if the whole spear ends up turning pink. I don't know if the pink part started out that way. We've had so much rain that I've not spent much time out there, and these little ones surprised me!
I don't remember what these are... I just liked them when I saw them at the nursery. The shot below makes me want to call them starfish flowers...

We've had Sadie for well over a year. I've tried and tried to capture this pose with my camera, but she always wakes and looks straight up at me! I was determined... So last night, while she was making those little 'I'm in such a deep sleep' noises, I grabbed my camera and voila!

She always covers her nose with her paw when she sleeps. Could this be why she makes those noises?

The baby chicks can no longer be called babies. It won't be much longer before we start getting eggs from them. Hubby has a portion of fence between the babies and the older hens' areas that he uses as a gate. Well, last night he not only forgot to shut it, he also forgot to shut the little back door on the big house! When he got up this morning there were dozens of young hens over in the the old hens' grass. They're used to him bringing food and calling them, so he just hollered to them. Sure enough, they came running through the gate back to their own neighborhood... except for one... All of a sudden one of the young hens took to the air, flew over the fence and landed in front of him like, "Here I am." He wants to know why he's got the fence.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keeping Horses 101

If you think there is the slightest chance you will ever own your own horse, start collecting these:
Five gallon buckets are priceless on a farm. Fortunately, by building our home, we inherited quite a few in the process. Drywall mud, paint, and numerous other products come packaged in these. We use them for lots of things, but in this case it's a water bucket for Maggie. When I separate her so that she gets her fair share of hay, I must provide 'portable' water.

Water is the most important thing to provide a horse. It must have a continuous supply of good water. Now our definition of good does not necessarily coincide with a horse's definition. They don't want softened, filtered water. They prefer straight-from-the-well nasty smelling stuff with floating things. They are also picky about the color of the bucket. We've found that some pickier drinkers will drink out of a dark colored bucket but not a white one!

The problem with water buckets is that horses knock them over a lot. They also can drink five gallons in the blink of an eye! So for the area where they spend a big chunk of their time, you'll probably prefer one of these:
This small trough holds over twenty-five gallons. On the other side of the wood fence is a pump. I keep it under the fence so that it can be filled by one person on the other side. we have a larger one in the front pasture.

After water, food is next on the must have list. I have a older horse that has special nutrition needs so I use two different kinds of feed. I pour the feed from the fifty-pound bags into these metal trash cans. You can just lean the opened bag on a wall or bale. Maggie gets one pound of each kind twice a day. In the winter she eats more. The other horses each get up to one pound at each feeding depending on how much pasture time they've had.
The blue bucket is for water. It has a flat back to hang up against a wall and has a heater in the bottom. Horses can't drink ice and they won't drink much cold water in the winter. We use these buckets when the horses have to stay in their stalls due to weather. We also have a heater for the trough outside. The green, red, and purple buckets are for their feed. You could use any bucket large enough for a horse to comfortably stick his head in, but these hang over the stall doors or the 2x4s of the wood fence. We use a different color for each horse... Less germ-passing.

Just like people, horses don't always get everything they need from their food source. They need supplements. All horses need salt freely available. I have a place to pour loose salt and mineral salt for them to access anytime they are in the paddock. You can also provide these in block form for the horses to lick. This is a mineral block (minerals combined with salt) sculpted by their tongues:

There are many kinds of feed available for horses, but their main source for their daily caloric intake should always be hay or grass. There are people that feed a complete feed to their stall-kept horses, but these horses are at a higher risk for colic and some other nasty things. I believe that the most natural environment is always the best.

We are fortunate to have some awesome hay supplies right next door... Well, actually a few acres away. We don't have to haul our hay on the road to bring it home. Talk about buying locally! We watched them plant these fields and know the quality. We've already got more than a year's supply stocked up.
I don't like carrying a half bale of hay out to the horses, so I've got this wagon to make things easier. I made the cover out of an old pick-up bed cover to keep the cats out of the loose bales.

Now, if you don't want to mess with storing a lot of hay in your barn, just make sure you have plenty of this:This is our side pasture. We have three pastures that we rotate the horses through. It keeps the grass healthier than letting them use the same pasture over and over. It takes quite a lot of pasture to feed horses. Plus, we don't let them out on the pastures when the ground is wet. Lastly, the grass doesn't grow here in the winter. That's why all the hay.

That should do it, right? Nope. Some horses have other nutritional needs as well. Buddy, our gelding doesn't have the best feet when left alone. They require special attention to stay tip-top. A horses feet are extremely important. The bucket on the left is a hoof supplement. It contains things that help his hooves stay healthy.
The jug in the middle is full of their favorite treats. If they see me pick this one up, they'll follow me anywhere! I keep this scale next to the feed cans. I don't like to guess about their rations. I've found it's really easy to start scooping out a little more and a little more. This way I know just how much they are really getting.

I don't just want my horses to be healthy; I also want them to look good. That requires some special tools. Here are the ones I use most:
The bottle is a mane conditioner for detangling. Also in the bucket are a mane comb and a face brush. It is softer for delicate areas. You can never have too many hoof picks. The black-handled one is convenient for tying on the saddle to take on trails or stick one in spots around the farm where you always seem to need them. The green-handled one also has a brush. These are for picking stones, mud, whatever out of a horses hoof. Extremely important for foot health. The red-handled cutters are for the wire-tied bales. Gotta keep that close by. The blue-handled brush is for manes. The gray & white bristled scrub brush-looking things are for brushing dirt from their coats. One is stiff, the other soft. The oval-toothed thing is a rubber curry brush. I use it first to remove mud or loose hair. It also lifts the dirt to be brushed away. The other red-handled thing is a shedding blade. You wouldn't believe how much hair falls out every spring! This tool is a life saver for removing all that mess. I also use electric trimmers and other tools, but these are my daily needs.

So why so many grooming tools? Because horses love to roll in mud!

Since you can't just let horses roam around the neighborhood, you need to contain them. Horses are very easy to keep in, unlike our goats. We have some regular fencing and sections of wood fence in areas for certain reasons, but most of our pastures and paddock are surrounded by two strands of electric fence. The horses learn fast to stay away from it. Here is the power unit inside the barn:
This unit will take care of one hundred miles of fence. We have a solar unit that will do ten miles. That's not a lot when you consider that each strand counts separately, so the five strands we have for the goats' area adds up really fast. Plus we put it around the garden too.

Horses also need shelter. It doesn't have to be anything fancy... just a place to get out of the wind and sun. Here is our run-in shelter behind the barn in the paddock:
We don't have any shelters in the pastures, so we don't leave then out there in bad weather or for too long on a really hot day.

This is our paddock area around the barn. There is access to the side and back pastures from here. Inside the sliding door are the stalls.

You don't have to have stalls, but if you do, they need to be sturdy. We only have two stalls but three horses, so we have to figure something out before it gets icy outside! Inside the stalls and on the floor in front of the stalls are thick rubber mats. The barn floor is too smooth for horses to walk on and they need cushioning to stand on for very long.
If you have stalls, you have to use some type of bedding material. We tried using the compressed corn cob stuff, but my mares like to eat it! So now we're back to using sawdust. We have a source to get it free. A mold shop saves all their sawdust for us. We have to ask them what kind of wood it is as some woods are not good for horses. If you keep horses in stalls half the time, you'll need quite a large supply. We have a friend that gets it by the dump truck load!
You need to keep the stalls clean. Here is what I use to clean them:
The manure rake or fork allows the clean bedding to fall through so you don't waste it. We used to have a manure spreader to distribute the manure fairly evenly over the pastures. Now we compost all of it. That's all we use in the gardens. The compost pile is by the barn so the wheel barrow is all I need to move it out. Notice the snow shovel behind the wheel barrow? For heavy cleaning.

Not a very good picture, but this is my tack rack. These handy hooks are inexpensive and slide in the gaps between the ridges in the barn siding and the cross boards. My stuff is scattered right now as we're doing a rearranging of the barn, but most of it is here. From left to right are halters and lead ropes, bridles and reins, a spare cinch, and Nekoda's big-headed halted and fly mask.
The fly mask is a see-thru mesh that Velcros around their heads to keep flies off their eyes. Some cover the ears as well.

This is a free-standing saddle rack. It is handy for sitting in an aisle to ready your gear, or to take along.
Another not-so-good picture, but here are 3 of my saddles and a blanket. Different horses require different saddles. I have more, including an English saddle, but we won't go there today.

The one on the top left is Maggie's. She has extremely high withers (shoulder) and average saddles do not fit her. Her saddle does not fit the other horses. An extra expense when you have multiple horses. The one on the right is borrowed to try on Nekoda. Seems to work well, but have only tried it once with Ali riding. Both are part leather and part synthetic. That makes them lighter and easier on my knees. The bottom saddle is all leather, but kid-butt sized. It's for the grands to use. Under the blanket is a really nice vented pad that goes on the horse's back; then comes the blanket, and then the saddle.
These saddles are on a rack that hangs from the stall walls.

This is a cinch. It's what holds the saddle on the horse. Very important!

I have several different styles of whips. I don't whip my horses with them. The shorter one on the right is shown in a hook on the barn door. This is my persuader. When Nekoda wants to rush the door on her stall, I put this across her chest and she waits. When Maggie just stands there, I point with this to indicate where I want her to go. She listens to this stick very well. If they won't back off when they're supposed to, I use this to tap their chests. Just think of it as an extension of my arm. It keeps me at a safe distance from their feet, but still allows me to touch them.

This is my training whip. One of first exercises you do in a round pen is make the horse run in a circle. Sounds simple enough... Some horses do not want to run in circles, in fact, most do not! Simply swinging this cord behind them will encourage them to move, stop, turn, etc.

This whip is several feet long without the cord. I sometimes tie a plastic grocery bad to the end for training. This blog is not going to be long enough to explain why... You'll just have to trust me on that one.

When you buy a horse, the seller can sometimes provide transportation to get your horse home or to a boarding facility. But if you want to travel with your horse, you'll need a towing vehicle with a good hitch.This is called a gooseneck hitch. Notice it's not on the bumper? It's for a gooseneck trailer; not to be confused with a fifth wheel, which is what a semi-truck has.

This is our trailer. There are many styles to choose from. Some fancy ones have living quarters in them. This style is called a stock trailer. This one is a 3-horse slant. It can be opened up inside to haul livestock to market. It has swinging partitians that latch in place to haul 3 horses, diagonally. It's hard to see from the pic, but there is a small door on this side to access the tack area. There are built in racks for saddles, bridles, etc. The front end can be used to haul hay for the horses.

This is a round pen. It is used for training horses. It can also be used for riding lessons or to quarantine a horse.

This is a bootjack. A necessity for me!While standing on the ridged part, you slip the heel of your muddy boot into the fork. It allows you to slide your boots off without getting the yucky stuff all over your hands.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brandywines & Bonfires Part II

I had planned I had planned on having my first Brandywines of the season last night for dinner, but I had my plate full before I remembered them. Hubby had them sitting on the deck railing. Out of sight, out of mind! So I had them for lunch today. Summer is about the only time I eat tomatoes. I don't like the ones you get in the grocery store or in a restaurant. If they're not vine-ripened, they don't taste the same. Have you ever bought a tomato from the grocery that looked like this?

We went to the bonfire last night. I saddled up Maggie to ride over. I didn't think she'd cross the creek (on the driveway) because she's so barn sour. I left her lead attached to her halter in case Hubby had to make her walk across. I wasn't going to spend time going in circles. He walked beside me and headed for the front field. I couldn't believe it... Maggie walked right across behind him! I didn't have a single problem getting her to leave the barn area. As long as Hubby walks with me, I can get her out in the fields.

The neighbor that had the bonfire doesn't live there yet. He's renovating. This farm house was built in the early 1800s and has quite a history. It has over 6000 square feet! He has pretty much gutted the place as far as walls & ceilings. He basically has a shell to work with. He wants to get a few rooms on the first level done by December. They are expecting their first child in January and want to move in before the baby comes. He's got a lot of work to do! This is what it looked like when we first built our home here six years ago...He has removed most of the white paint and brought it back to the red brick. The upstairs porch had collapsed on one end by the time he bought it. He has repaired that also. It's really looking awesome on the outside.

There is one property between us. The man that used to own all this farmland owns the field next to us. He built a barn on the front part. It also has a greenhouse that the former farmhouse owner put up for his wife. (He was buying that property as well, but lost it.)

This picture shows where the farmhouse looking from our house. We can only see it in the winter when the leaves are gone. If you look closely, the farmhouse is circled in red and there is a red X behind it where the bonfire was held. It doesn't look that far away, but walking uphill through the long grass and weeds in the field is quite a trek! It will be nice to have neighbors again.

Ali came back this afternoon. I'm going to go bake some of those orange danish rolls she loves.

computer woes

For the longest while I've been pulling my hair out on Blogger. When I first came here, things went smoothly. That soon changed... These messages kept popping up on my screen saying it couldn't show what it already showed... go figure. Then it would take me away to that e-land of the unknown. Often it would do this while I was leaving a comment. So the comment would go away, never to be seen again.

Thank God for friends like Judy a.k.a. Squirrel Queen at Through Squirrel Eyes and The Road to Here. I mentioned that I suspected a compatibility issue with my browser and she told me that switching to Mozilla's Firefox ended her issues. I downloaded Firefox just a little while ago. My troublesome days are over! Thank you, Judy!

It seems that Internet Explorer does not like Blogger. Even though that is the only site I was having trouble with, it was so time consuming that switching was well worth it! I read the pros and cons for using Firefox. One con was that it starts up slow. Not true. It starts up as fast as my IE ever did. One pro was that it is faster loading. I believe it. It may just be my positive outlook, but I think it's faster than IE.

I thought I'd share this with you. Many of you have talked about problems you're having with your PCs. Try Firefox and see if that clears them up for you. I've only been using it for about an hour or so, but I'm ready to recommend it. And best of all? It's FREE! Don't we love free?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Awards, Blogs, Brandywines and Bonfires...

DJan at D-Jan-ity has honored me with the Top 10 Fav's Award. Because I recently received this award and posted my list, I will not repeat it now. I did want to acknowledge her for honoring me and hope you check out her blog. She is an amazing person with a gusto for life. At this moment she could very well be free-falling or mountain hiking! Reading her blog is the only way I could possibly keep up with her.
Today shall be my Sabbath. The Lord wants us to rest one day each week. It was a commandment. We quite often skip over that one. I do have to take care of Mom's medicine later, but that is all the work I'm doing today. Well, OK, feed the dog and the horses.
I've been trying to catch up on all the posts I've fallen behind on reading. I just can't keep up anymore. For those of you that post wonderful pictures and entertaining stories, I'm still reading. I haven't left you; I just haven't posted as many comments. I'm still having laptop issues (only on Blogger) and it sometimes eats my comments. I gave up spending time rewriting them. Sorry. I also have to refresh a lot before it will let me view your pages. I think it's a compatibility issue with my browser. Duh... That says a lot. Anyway, it's gotten to the point that I must limit my time in Blogville or never get anything else accomplished.
For dinner this evening, I'll be having my first Brandywines of the season. It seems late for that, but our tomatoes are just now ripening. I've had cucumbers out the ying-yang (whatever that is) and loads of zucchini and green beans. But the tomatoes have kept me waiting. I'm most eager for the Black Sea tomatoes. They're like Brandywines only better! Yum. Don't serve me a sliced up yellow... I want a tomato that's acidy and tomatoey! You know, that old-fashioned tomato taste you only get with heirloom seeds.
It's supposed to rain today, but so far - nothing but dark clouds. This evening is supposed to be dry. I hope so. Our new neighbor (new as in hasn't moved in yet - been refurbishing for two years) just invited us over for tonight's bonfire. He doesn't mess around when it comes to fires. We could toast marshmallows from here! Anyway, he wants me to bring over one of the horses.
We were out riding in the fields one night when he had some people over. They got excited when they saw the horses. (city folks) He always asks us to bring them over again for the kids. I secretly think it's not just for the kids. So I might just take Maggie over for a bit.
For you people that love learning about country life from my blogs, this is what we do in our spare time... We gather and burn things. We either burn things, or watch other people burn things. First we burn paper and wood, then we burn hotdogs and marshmallows over the paper and wood. It's a rite of passage for field-dwellers. It's a social event. We call people up and ask them if they want to come over and burn things.
There are a few country folk that do not very often take part in the burning ceremonies. They practice a different ritual. They gather in a barn and drink large quantities of beer. I'm really surprised that Hallmark doesn't have boxed invitations for barn parties and bonfires. Don't they realize the market they're missing?
Well, that's my day. Catching up in Blogville (being honored is always nice), filling Mom's medicine box, eating veggies from the garden, and going over to watch Steve burn things. Sounds like a winner!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Farmer's Market... Part II

First my green speech... We try to live green. I like to re-purpose as much as I can. You'd be amazed at what I've used skids for... People are happy to have you haul them off! Free wood! A nearby bath-makeover place has skids that have five 2x4x10s each. You'll find some of those in the walls of the chicken house. We found a place that had stacks with really nice wood, not weathered and splintered. It's going on a wall in my basement bath. Whole skids make great fire-starters. OK, they're a little big for the fireplace, but outside they're wonderful. Stuff them with the important papers you usually shred, pile some limbs and logs on top, and light!

What does that have to do with a farmer's market? Glad you asked...

We have sold vegetables from our farm in the past. Selling at our local markets is not an option for hobby farmers that don't have much. By the time you pay for the permit and insurance (required) you'd have to sell an awfully lot of beans to break even! So we decided to sell our surplus right from home. We live back a long lane, so we wanted a sign at the road to advertise what we had available. I don't buy materials for projects like that. I use what I have. And what did I have? Skids!

So, here I am painting the skids that will make my sign. (Left-over paint of course.)

This is a terrible picture of me, but I had to include it as a tribute to Bob Dylan.I engineer, Hubby labors. Here he is using skid boards to fasten the sides of the sign together...

TADA! Doesn't it look nice?

Now, let's measure out some beans...

Here is our farm stand, complete with my recycled Frappucino boxes, 5 gallon paint buckets, and a $10 WalMart canopy. We couldn't survive without at least 20 paint buckets. Notice the table? Yep, recycled wiring spool. If you ask people at construction sites, they sometimes give them to you.

We also sold corn, tomatoes, and whatever else we might have ripe that day. It helped pay for the seeds for next year's crop. That's really all we want... free food!
Well, there you have it... our own farmer's market.

To see more farmer's markets, check out Squirrel Queen's challenge.