Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lovely Summer Morning

So I Mowed the Grass

When I went out to feed the Boys in the morning, it was cool, dry, and lovely out. Rather a surprise, actually as that is not typical for New Jersey lately.

So I decided to take advantage of the weather and mow the lawn. It was rather a boring way to spend the morning, but I certainly do like the looks of my yard after a mowing.  However, there are weeds and tall grass growing in all kinds of places where I cannot take the mower.  I have a number of tree stumps, etc. around.

I came in for breakfast and then went back out to do some weedwhacking with my electric string trimmer.  I didn't overdo this time, so the front bank still needs to be done as do areas on the front lawn. And in the back, where I used to put my garden--before the attack of the tomato eating groundhog--there is a lot of trimming yet to do.

As they say, I'll get around to it--eventually.

I didn't do much cleaning inside today, but somehow managed to use up the rest of the early afternoon until it was time for my swim. This time I fed the horses before I left for the pool. They seemed quite pleased by that.  Of course, they are generally always pleased when I show up to feed.

Did my ten laps, my leg exercises, and then some turns around the Lazy River.

I finally ended up going to the supermarket to get some more onions to make soup.  I am cooking it now, even as I write. After it's done, I will puree it...kind of an alternative texture for onion soup, but delicious.  The pot will feed me for several days.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No News Is Good News

And Yet Time Marches On

I am getting in some nice swims every day.  I look at the weather forecast to see if and when the thunderstorms are going to arrive and plan my trip to the pool around them.

Other than that, I sent to demo saddle back to Ansur yesterday and did some shopping on the way home. There were swimsuit separates on sale at JC Penney and I ended up buying something there. I now have an extensive collection of swimsuits to wear to the pool.  I have lost count, actually, but I love to mix and match tops and bottoms and to wear "the color of the day" as the mood strikes me. Silly, but kind of fun.

It's hot here, but not overbearing.  Still, I haven't mustered the energy to go out to mow the lawn. With the rain, it needs it badly. Instead, I am cleaning the house in stages, rather than all at once.  This way it's not so overwhelming. And, I need to keep in mind that I also need to be sure things are arranged in a "handicap" friendly style so that when I have my surgery, I will not be too challenged.

Strangely enough, my knee surgeon's office just sent me a letter today scheduling a post surgery appointment in October. Talk about advance planning.  It does make everything a bit more real, however.

And yet, I am actually kind of looking forward to it all. Not so much the surgery or recovery or rehab work, but for the ultimate results. I've been lucky enough to meet a number of people who have had successful replacements and are simply thrilled with the results. Of course, I want to be able to ride the Boys without pain, but I have another goal in mind as a top priority.

My goal? I want to be able to run again. I don't mean far, and I don't mean serious jogging. I just mean being able to run. It might only be from the barn to the house to keep from getting too wet in a rainstorm, or it might mean running alongside my horse for a vet exam or the farrier.  Right now, I can manage one or two emergency steps at speed and even then I run the risk of having a knee collapse on me. Strangely enough, I have had several dreams where I run.  I find myself jogging home from the end of my road, or somewhere else nearby.  I don't know if it's connected, but I guess running...or not being able to on my mind somewhere.

So, the day I can run again will be a big one.  Here's looking forward to it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

To New York and Back

Saddle Demo

A bit over two hours of driving got me to my Ansur saddle demo a half hour early.  My client had her horse groomed, but not tacked up as planned.  No problem there. Her nice Morgan mare was rather easy to get settled for the trial rides.

We tried my old Classic first, as my client was considering buying it.  But her mare was not too keen on it. So we tried the new Classic and again, her mare was not thrilled.  The underside of the Classics has little structure and some horses---though not many--I've run into do not like the super close contact of that saddle style.

So, we moved on to the Excel and the mare was definitely happier, but since this was a larger seat size, my client just didn't feel comfortable herself. We wanted to see if the larger seat was better for her, but as soon as we put the petite Excel on her horse, it was clear that was the saddle she needed.   We finished up with the Carlton, another saddle she liked--enough to try to buy it from me.

But, if someone comes here to ride with me, that's the saddle I would use on one of the horses--with the Excel on the other horse.  The Carlton offers a lot of security and is my second choice saddle at the moment, so it's not for sale.

My client is pretty well set on buying an Excel within a few months, so that's good. Right now, the Ansur "factory" is really backed up and it's taking months for the saddles to get made. I know it's frustrating for buyers, but there's not much we can do about it.  Success does have its consequences.

Demo over, I drove the two plus hours back home, relaxed for a bit, fed the Boys and then headed to the swimming pool for my workout.

The water felt great and I got some good exercise.

It was a long day, but hopefully productive.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Swim and Saddle Cleaning

The Rains Come and Go

I was supposed to drive up to New York for an Ansur saddle demo today, but it has rained so hard and so much up the, my client's arena was flooded.  We have postponed the demo until things dry out.

But that doesn't mean I didn't do some saddle cleaning. Even with covers on them, it's amazing how much dust my saddles pick up in the barn.  The two I don't use much for riding--but I do use for demos--are particularly susceptible.  One is done and polished up and the others, I hope, just need a touch up.

If finally was an OK day for a swim, although now, again, it's starting to look as if a stray thunderstorm might move in. (The forecast says, "no," but you never know for sure.)  The pool was probably closed much of the rest of the week.  I had headed out one afternoon once the rain stopped only to hear thunder off the west, so I didn't even bother trying.

Today, the water felt good. I did my laps and my leg exercises and then lazed around the lazy river.

Tucker and Chance were out grazing in the paddock when I got home and Toby was hanging out in Chance's stall.  He's been acting just a little strangely lately--often being off by himself instead of with the herd.  He's eating well, but just not quite as perky as I'm used to.  I'm keeping a close eye on him.  I just might be the flies and the heat today, though....or the mosquitoes which are quite prolific with all the rain.  I have the fans on in the barn, so it's quite nice in there, which may be the appeal.  He did go out to the pasture the other day when it was cool and breezy and was out there last night when I went out for late feed, so he's not stuck in the barn.    And, he nickered to me when I went in with dinner tonight. He's just not quite acting like the Toby I have known for years.

As I said, I'll keep an eye on him.

I am currently being pestered by a furry black and white cat who wants me to play with the laser pointer with him.  He just loves chasing the little red light all over the place and seems quite entertained even though he can never catch it. When I am working at the computer, he sits by my chair and then stands up on his hind feet to bat at my arm to get my attention. Then he fixes his eyes on mine with this most adorable, pleading expression until I pick up the pointer and start a game.

There's always the potential for fun at Follywoods!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And Then Comes the Rain

Oh Well, Not Exactly a Dry Summer

I don't mind getting wet as my swimming will attest, but swimming usually requires a pool.  Right now, I could practically swim through the air.

First, imagine tropical humidity, clouds and then repeated downpours. To say it's getting soggy here is understating the obvious.

Strangely enough, my friend Stacie who lives about 40 minutes south of me has been suffering a near drought and actually welcomed the shower she had yesterday.

The Boys are hanging out in the barn, sort of. Toby seems to be inside a stall, Tucker is under the east run in shed and Chance seems to have managed to find a spot alongside him, maybe totally under the roof.  Often, all that Chance is permitted by the "big Boys" is his head under shelter, but apparently this time he has permission to join the herd.

Now, this is not the only shelter. There is the run in in the arena, and the other side of the barn with another run in and Chance's stall. But it just goes to prove the herd instinct is a powerful force in the equine community. Instead of choosing a nice dry place all his own, Chance would rather be "third man out" with the other two.

When the weather is fine, I will often see Chance off by himself. Just yesterday, Toby and Tucker were in the barn in the same stall together, and Chance was quite a ways off in the pasture grazing. Another time, Toby was in his stall alone while Tucker and Chance were off on the other side of the barn grazing in the paddock. There's no real pattern of togetherness until, it seems the weather or some other event challenges the equine comfort zone, and then the little herd bands together.

The Boys depend on each other in times of "crisis," whether it be a blizzard or an "attack" of the wild turkeys.

I wonder if they'd let me join them if I needed support troops?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pay to Play

There's Always a Price

Well, I woke up this morning sore and stiff in my knees.  I'm pretty sure it was the riding, since I didn't do anything else out of the ordinary.

This does not mean I will not ride again, but I must admit I as a bit surprised at how hard it was to walk once I dragged myself out of bed. It was not was definitely my knee joints. They were complaining mightily.

By afternoon, with some Tylenol in me and a bit of exercising, I decided I'd head off to the pool for the opening weekday of the season.  To my delight, there was practically no one there and for my first seven laps I was the only one in the big pool.  I did a long session of bicycle kicks, did my leg exercises under water, swam the last three laps and headed for the lazy river.

Cruising around in my comfy tube was a lovely end to the afternoon, but I did get a little pink from the sun. Not exactly sunburn, but a little color. Might be that three circuits are too much in the afternoon. But  it just felt so peaceful and relaxing that I didn't want to get out.

Headed home, fed the Boys and opted out of another ride.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

I just have to take it one day at a time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tucker Shines

And He Forgets Nothing

It was a lovely, warm but not too humid day and every time I went outside I kept thinking--it's perfect for riding.

So, I did.

Now, I've not been in the saddle for how long? A month? Well, close to. The Boys have just been hanging out with an occasional--very occasional lunge.  My knees are frustrating the heck out of me and by the time I get the barn chores done, I'm not up for much else.

But not today. So I coaxed Tucker into the barn, slipped his halter on and put him on the crossties.  The first "shines" in my heading refers to his coat. It absolutely glistens in a dark bay glow.  Since he has been wearing his flysheet, he needed minimal grooming--just a quick brush and a good overall spray with fly spray. It's a new brand that's supposed to be organic.  Don't know if it really works well or if the flies were not bad at all today but we didn't have any bug issues to speak of.

I led him out to the arena, and up to the new mounting platform. What a treasure that is. All I had to do was step into the stirrup at the level of the platform and ease down into the saddle. Great, as that's one of the problems my bad knees present--mounting.  Not sure how it will be for Chance, but stepping down into the stirrup will be easier than pulling myself up into the saddle, that's for sure.

We started off walking on a totally loose rein with no contact. Tucker moved off nicely and was striding out without any urging from me at all. After a few minutes of walk, I asked for trot. Off we went, again with no contact at all.

Tuck was very forward, but after once or twice around the arena, all on his own, he stretched down his head, looking for the bit.  Very interesting. Given the option of no contact at all he wanted some and took my hand without my asking.   I took a little hold, and he kept a nice forward trot.

The only little flaw in that part of the ride was my first change of rein from right to left. I made the mistake of hand riding instead of using my leg for the turn to the left and Tuck fell out on his right shoulder a bit too much.  As soon as I used my seat and thigh for the turn, he was fine and from that point on I remembered my proper riding and all was well.

Just as a test, I asked for a little canter, and on the left, Tuck moved right off with none of the "ears back, I don't want to" resistance at all.  We didn't do much since I know he is not fit, but lovely. Then, I asked for a little right lead--the one he's been very resistant about. Once again, no problem.  Both canters were nice and forward and again, reaching for the bit.

We transitioned back to trot and I asked for just a bit more frame and balance. From that, as a test, we did one shoulder-in on the right and one on the left and then a little test of half pass on each rein.  Tuck was spot on and quite ready to perform.

All this might have taken 10-15 minutes maximum, and it was just enough for Tucker to get wet under the saddle pad, but not too sweaty elsewhere.  A nice sponge off, a fat carrot and the work was done.

So what? My delight is on two issues. First, again that even after such a long layoff, my boy responds correctly to the aids and has not forgotten anything he's learned. Thus, he is actually trained.  For the second, I am quite pleased with his willingness to go forward and pick up those canters without too much fuss. I know he has some hock problems and it's quite possible that if I keep working him, pushing for more and more collection in dressage, he will get sore and lose his cooperative attitude. But, for now, he felt good and it was actually fun to ride him.

My knees were OK in the saddle and I didn't feel awful when I dismounted. Could be some of the exercises I am doing to prepare for my surgery are helping, or I could have just had a good day.  A 10 minute ride isn't much, but even in such a short session, I can accomplish a lot. If I feel up to it tomorrow, I may ride Chance.

In the meantime, I'll just bask in the glory of Tucker's unexpectedly gleaming personality.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Late Breakfast and a Swim

Saturday Sun

I met my friend, now Doctor Shelley, for a late breakfast.  We sat and talked about, among other things, the state of education in New Jersey and around the country. Suffice ti to say that for two rather inventive people like us, it's all very frustrating.

I won't go into it all here, but standardized tests and conventional "in the box" thinking, are not our style. Both have limited the quality of education our students receive here in the US, and things don't look too promising for the future. Shelley has officially retired from her administrative job but wants to find another in an innovative school system where she can develop new programs and encourage teachers and students to explore creative options.  She has a challenging job search ahead of her.

After brunch, I did a little shopping, then headed home.

I didn't do much productive once I got home, but eventually, I headed out to the swimming pool.  There I did my ten laps and a long session of bicycle kicks before coming back home. The pool will be open daily on Thursday upcoming, so I'll be able to do daily exercise as long as the weather's good.  My plan, as noted before is to get my body and my legs in top condition for my knee replacement surgery.  Swimming is perfect as it's one of the few exercises I can do without putting impact stress on my joints.

I also have some leg exercises to do at home.  I'm not really good about repetitive exercises as I just find them boring.  I'd much rather be doing something, or going somewhere as exercise. If I could find a way to do the exercises and actually accomplish something at the same time, it would be so much easier. But, PT exercises are something I am going to have to face and deal with after my replacements, so I'd better find a way to get used to it again.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Faces To Greet Me

Morning at Follywoods

Since nothing much is happening of note here with the Boys, I decided to appreciate the small moments.

If the Boys are at the barn when I go out to feed in the morning. 
First to greet me is a sleepy Toby.  His stall is closest to the feed room door.
Tucker looks contemplative as he waits for breakfast.
And Chance? Well, he looks as if he just got out of bed. *lol*

The barn swallows are getting really agitated when I go into the barn. I haven't really looked at the nests but I thought the fledglings were learning to fly--or about to. I guess the moms and dads are about as worried as parents letting their teenagers take the car out alone for the first time. Tried to get a picture, but they are too fast on the  wing.

Side note here. I opted for a second party energy supplier for my electric power. The other day, when my April/May bill came, I had a charge for electricity. But, my solar panels had been in full operation and according to the meter reading, I was actually producing more power than I used, so I should have had a credit. At that point, I went back and reviewed all the bills I'd gotten before switching over, to discover I'd been wrongly charged on all but one of them.

So, I called the second party energy company. The promised to look into it.  Then I called my primary service provider, PSEG.  As soon as I told them what had happened, they said, "Uh oh." Apparently, they had been having a lot of trouble with second party providers and solar energy systems.  They gave me a special number to call, which I did.

I then had to call back the second party company to explain to them what had happened. The rep there told me he needed to see all my past bills in order to straighten things out, as they "never actually get to see the bills."  Huh?  He wanted me to either email or fax over any bills I felt were in dispute.

Now, I am not a math genius, nor am I an accountant. Figuring out kilowatt charges and tax is not exactly my area of expertise. I told him that I was rather annoyed they I was going to have to spend my time calculating their errors when they were the ones who had made the mistakes. He proceeded to blame PSEG and the meter readings that somehow resulted in a "glitch" in their system.

I ask you.--how can you mistake a -432 kwh (yes, that's negative energy use), or charge for both energy produced and energy used on another bill?. The "mistakes" were not even consistent.  

Then, when I again said that it was going to be a pain to review all my bills dating back to November, he said, "Well, it's going to be extra work for us to examine them too and make the adjustments."

HEY!! You are the "service" provider, remember? YOU are the ones who promised me that there would be no problem if I had solar energy. YOU are the ones who guaranteed me that my energy costs would be lower with your company. The extra work is YOUR fault, not mine. I don't care if you have to work to clear up the mess. You owe me money and I want it back. (Well, I didn't say that, but I surely did think it--shouting and all.)

The solution is that this poor beleaguered employee will have to look over the bills I faxed over--after using my printer and ink to make copies off the Internet since I wasn't able to download the PDF files. And he will have to do the math which I will have to check. And they are going to have to pay me back.  And, at their suggestion--which was my plan all along--I am ending my business with them.

I have my calculator ready. I can do the math, even though it's not my strongest skill.

Meanwhile, it's one more lesson on the sorry state of some US businesses who seem to have forgotten just what it means to provide customer service.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hold Your Horses

How To Open a Gate

And keep the Boys inside?  That is the question. In order to get the tractor in the paddock, I need to prop open the gate, drive through, and then get back off the tractor and close the gate.

All is well if the horses are "somewhere else."

I was clearing up the fallen tree limbs, at last, and I needed to drag a few of them into the woods.  But to do that, I needed to get into the paddock.  The first branch was a cinch...sort of...although I almost took down the wires to the house when I pulled it off the magnolia tree where it had fallen. Once again bless the tractor since the limb was too heavy for me to move on my own. But the wires stayed put and I hooked the tow rope up to the branch and off we went.

The horses were on the other side of the barn, so I got in just fine and even managed to get out the pasture gate to the field.  I dragged the limb to the edge of the woods and then used the front end loader to lift it into the woods.  One down.

But, the sound of the tractor attracted my "snoopervisory" committee and now I had three horses hot on the trail of the tractor and even hotter on the trial of the opening of the gate.

My horses do not "shoo" away when I wave my arms, or make a fuss. Actually they just stand there looking at me, quite amused by my antics. Obviously, I am more "horse TV" than any kind of threat.

But I have an intimidation factor at hand in the form of a lunge whip in the barn.  Not that a lunge whip actually has much more power to fend them off for very long but at least it can send them galloping off far enough that I can get the gate open wide enough to ease the tractor through, and then--letting the tractor block the opening--get the gate closed behind us before the frolicking pair--Tucker and Chance--can slip out into the back yard.

Needless to say, on trip through the gate had alerted them, so I decided to dispose of several of the other broken limbs on the far edge of my property in the wooded area in front of the front paddock. It's not an ideal spot, but the branches are well out of the way and in an overgrown section of trees and brush.

Then, I had another large branch to take out to the woods again, so I hooked it up and headed for the gate. This time, all three Boys were out in the far side of the pasture.  All well and good, so again, I got through the gate the first time.  I drove the tractor out to the pasture to head for the woods and it was just too enticing.

Three horses came galloping towards me.  Suddenly, the tractor, tree limb, and I were surrounded by my little curious herd, ready to "help" in any way they could by--eating the tractor, eating the tree limb, and trying to climb into the front end loader.

Then, of course, when I finally managed to fend them off to toss the tree branch into the woods over the fence, I had to fend them off again so I could get back out the gate.

I carted the last bunch of branches out to the front where I didn't have to contend with the Boys.

Every job is an extra challenge when your horses decide to "help."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rain and Chill

And Again With The Power

It has really cooled off.  On the plus side, I did finish stripping the stalls. At the moment, none of the Boys has much bedding in their stalls, but all the floors have rubber mats, and they just kind of go in there to stand when the days are hot.

Which the days are not, at the moment. In fact, it was so chilly last night that I ended up under a blanket. I had the window open and had to close it by about 4 AM or so.

While I was still wide awake, because I'd been tossing and turning since midnight. Why?  Because once again the electricity had gone off.  I can certainly cope with flashlights and my neat little headlamp for light, but out here in the country, with a well and a pump run by electricity, no power means no water.  Again, I can cope with my bottled supply, but I do worry about the horses. Filling a 50 gallon water trough--should it get hot again--is not an easy task when there is no water beyond what I have set aside in two 5 gallon plastic containers.  I lay awake thinking of ways to get water should I need it, including going over to the sandpit next door to carry water back in the five gallon containers.....  This train of thought, of course, led me to considering all kinds of emergency solutions to potential future power outages.  What to do? How to plan?  Will my generator run the pump if I turn everything else off?

Then, at some point, the power company's truck pulled up to the wires just past my driveway.  That was the spot where I heard that strange sound and the flaring blue light during the thunderstorm.  When I'd gone out to the mailbox yesterday, I saw a loosely draped wire sagging from the poles.  Apparently, there was something wrong there as the truck stayed for nearly an hour, lights flashing and the lift bucket groaning as it went up and down.

Shortly after the truck left, the power surged on for about a minute, then things flashed on and off again, and all went dark. Then it all happened again. Each time, as it did, I heard that strange sound--kind of a combination of a low pitched buzz and a tympani drum roll.  I called the power company to tell them about the sound, and the representative assured me it was just what the power sounded like when it went through the wires.

H-m-m-m....if that was so, then why didn't it sound like that all the time?  Apparently, the repair crews had discovered some bare wires along the road. What I'm guessing is that from time to time, wet tree branches were hitting the wet spots and shorting out the system.  What I was hearing was a short circuit, not a normal power flow.

Somewhere between 5 AM and 6 AM, the lights came back on, and this time quietly.  And so far, they have stayed on.

I usually do not have so many power outages, so all this is a bit surprising. But, if the wires around here are old, perhaps this latest series of incidents is a good thing.  Perhaps they have put some replacement wiring in up and now we will be OK during the wet weather.

You never quite know how much you depend on electricity until you lose it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Raging Thunderstorm

And a Semi-Break in the Heat

Today is a little easier on the heat than yesterday when temperatures soared and it was humid.  The Boys spent all day hanging out in the barn by the fans.  I tried to sponge them off, but they kept walking off.  Instead, I just fly sprayed they legs and let them decide how to spend the afternoon.

But last evening was another story. A huge thunderstorm hit us.  First there was a powerful blast of winds--enough to knock down another tree branch by the garage and to blow apart my Rubbermaid garbage can shed. (Note here, that the little shed had its lid up, so I guess that kind of acted like a sail.) The shed will be easy to reassemble, but it surely did indicate how strong the winds were.

Then there was some lightning that, as far as I can tell, must have connected at least twice with something tall at the west edge of my property along the road. There was a strange kind of roaring sound--not a zap--and bright light that lingered for some matter of seconds. It happened twice, and was rather scary, even for me who generally is not frightened of storms.  Then came the torrents of rain, so thick it looked like huge waves of water spraying off the barn roof.

The Boys were out in the pasture, at the start and, I guess, sheltered under the trees--not the ideal situation, but I am always torn as to whether to lock them in the barn--I always worry about a lighting strike and fire. (Not sure I trust the lightning rods.)  AND, the storm came up so quickly, I'm not certain I could have gotten them in anyhow.

When the rain eased a little, I did go out, called them in and gave them some hay to keep them happy. They were pretty wet, but after the seething heat of the day, I suspect that must have felt good--sort of. When I went back out later to do late feed, Tucker was a muddy mess where he had rolled.

Then again, it was rather hard to see him, because by then, the power had gone out and I was navigating by headlamp. (A neat little flashlight thing with a strap around my head.)  During the storm, the electricity had gone off and come on twice.  My cable TV, Internet, and telephone went out early on, so I was left to play Free Cell and watch a DVD until the power went off completely at around 9 PM.

Bless the cell phone--which I don't often use--as I was able to call the cable company and then the electric company.  The cable problem was local, affecting about 6 customers--my road.  The power issue seemed to be more widespread.  I sat in the dark, reading a magazine with my headlamp for about an hour, fed the Boys and then headed for bed to lie there in the uncomfortable humid heat of a still warm night, and tried to fall asleep.

Then, at 1 AM, all the lights I'd left on came alive.  Still wide awake, I got up, put my DVD back in the player and watched the rest of my movie to put myself back into sleep mode.  Then I realized the cable modem was blinking normally again and found out my cable was back up.

Pretty good service from both the electric company and the cable provider.  All in all, we were pretty lucky to have escaped with no more serious damage when you consider what some storms have done here in the US this spring.  Nature's power is incredible.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Mystery Solved

He Was A Felon!!

I finally found out about my unwanted visitor on Saturday. He had stolen a car!

Apparently, he was pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike, either on a routine stop or because the car was suspicious.  As soon as he stopped the car, he jumped out and ran, climbing the fence by the Turnpike and heading off into our neighborhood.

After that, the story gets a bit muddied but it's pretty clear the police were very quickly hot on his trail. Years ago, someone hid in the barns at the farm up the road, so that's where the police search started.

At some point, the kid hightailed it across the farm field, into my pasture, and then across my paddock where my version of the story began.

I guess the police had no idea whether or not he was armed and dangerous, so that explains the heavy police presence and why they were so worried.

Thank goodness he ended up being relatively harmless as far as that goes.

And thank goodness they caught him. I hope the car was OK and returned to the rightful owner in good shape.

Today, all is well and quiet at Follywoods, although it is pretty darn hot. The Boys are standing in their stalls with the fans blowing on them.  We are going to have high heat (90F+) for the next three days. No fun for anyone outdoors.

And it's not even officially summer yet.


Saturday, June 04, 2011

A New Exciting Story!! Very Cloak and Dagger....

Well, At Least the Good Guys Had the Dagger!

I was rather frustrated this morning as Scott, my farrier, had told me he'd be here to shoe Tucker and trim the other two Boys "first thing in the morning."  Turns out his intentions were good, but, as usual, the execution did not quite work out as planned.  Scott called me at around 11:30 AM, to tell me he'd be here in an hour.

I meantime manged to mow the lawn, and, much to my delight as I was doing that, the tractor repair guy showed up and fixed the belt on the Bolens.  I had him test it out the the tall grass--too much for the less impressive John Deere to handle--and then, with another bit of tightening, the Big gun mower was back in action.  After he left, I finished up the patch of high grass, parked the Bolens and came back into the house for some lunch.

Side note here: It was customer appreciation day at Rick's Saddle Shop, and I'd planned to go to have some free hot dogs, hamburgers, and soda...but alas, the shoeing affair tied me up.

But Fate was smiling.  As Scott finished setting up his little shoeing shop, I saw a older teenage kid running across my paddock.  He leapt the fence and pulled up short.  "Can you help me?"  he asked breathlessly.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Can you call me a cab? Some kids beat me up and I need to get home."

Huh?  Kid had cell phone. He was not wearing a shirt and had no shoes, but was wearing socks.  He did not look bruised or bloodied, but he had a lot of thin scratch marks on his arms and back.

I asked, "Did you call the police?"   I happened to see a rather shiny looking knife in Scott's hand at this point and he was slightly behind and too the left of the kid.

"Uh, no. I just want a cab. I'll call the police after I get home."

"No," I said, "we have to call the police now."

Scott had a cell phone in his "unknifed" hand, but he said, "Why don't you go in and call the police?"

I headed for the house and at that, the kid got up and started jogging down the driveway.

I got the cordless phone from inside, dialed 911, and headed back outside. When the emergency dispatcher answered, I told her who I was, and my address and then said that a teenage kid had just run through my yard.

She aksed, "Was he white, black or Hispanic?"

"Hispanic," I replied.

"Was he wearing shoes?"


"Ma'm, please stay on the line. Where did he go?"  I told her he'd started running west on my road. "Can you still see him?"

I asked Scott to go look and he said he'd disappeared.  Then I told the dispatcher I was worried that he might have gone to my elderly neighbor's house. She asked me if I could call them...duh, I was still on the phone with her. But about a second later, a police car came whizzing up. We waved it down and told the officer the kid had run down the road. He took off at speed.  A split second later, another police car raced past.

I was, of course, still worried about my neighbor, so Scott and I flagged down the third police car, to tell them we didn't know whether or not the kid had gone into the neighbor's yard and would they please check.  The third and fourth car drove up to my neighbors 'and ordered them inside the house.  I guess they did a search for a while.

Puzzled, but with nothing else to do, Scott and I headed back to the barn to start the shoeing process.  In a few minutes a helicopter roared overhead and then we think it may have circled around, because it came back in, low and slow.  Scott looked out, "That's a State Police copter, " he said.

What the heck?

He started to trim Tucker and I decided to go back out to the road to see if the police were still next door.  Yes they were but...suddenly two uniformed officers came running out of the yard. They jumped into their cars and with squealing tires, raced off.

Scott and I spent the next couple hours talking it over as he shod Tucker and trimmed Toby and Chance.  We discussed a lot of other things, but it kept coming back to speculation about what `the kid was doing.  Scott said when I didn't act worried or upset about the kid's being there, he at first thought maybe I knew who he was.  To be honest, my first thought was that maybe he was working on the farm or mowing and something had happened.  But I rather quickly realized that wasn't the case. However, since I am so used to dealing with teenage kids, it never even crossed my mind to panic over his strange arrival.  He looked like he was more scared than anything.  I'm pretty sure his cell phone was not working as the screen didn't seem to light up when he turned it on, so that was probably why he wanted us to call for a cab.

But come on. A cab?  The only cab I was going to call was a black and white one with red lights on top.

The full mystery is not solved.  I did call police headquarters and the woman at the desk told me that the police had caught the kid not long after the copter passed over. All she knew was that the kid had "bailed out of a car on the New Jersey Turnpike."   By the way, they had search dogs out after him too. I am glad of that for several reasons. Obviously, I don't want a fugitive hanging around my woods, but for the kid's sake, I'm glad too. If he had tried to escape through the woods, he would be dead meat.  He'd be devoured by mosquitoes and deerflies, and then if he did manage to get through the endless tangles of briars, he'd probably get lost in the swamp, and who knows what kind of misery he'd suffer.  Years ago, an old woman wandered off into that area and some hunters found her body months later.  Shirtless and shoeless, this kid would have suffered.

On the other hand, he did get a little justice.  He jumped over my fence twice...wooden fence with a strand of hot electric wire.  I wonder what an electric fence shock would do to a cell phone?  I'm pretty sure he must have gotten a good jolt.

Oh, yes. I did get to Rick's but by that time the hot dogs were all gone and the grill was closed.

Guess I'll have to cook my own.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

New Addition

Now I Can Mount My Horses

Even my three step mounting block was proving to be a bit short for mounting Tucker who is nearly 17h.  I had investigated the few places that sold four step blocks, but they are pretty expensive ($200 +shipping.)

I have seen nice wooden mounting platforms at some stables.  I thought it would be a good idea to see if the carpentry shop at school could make me one. But then, I had a brainstorm. I already had the three steps, so all I needed was a platform to stand on one step higher--about 30" up.  There was no need to make steps.

I went to school yesterday and spoke to the teacher. He called me at the end of the day to tell me he'd made the platform.  I picked it up today and brought it home.

So, for your viewing pleasure, my new mounting block approved, of course.
Above, the "judging committee arrives on scene."

 Inspection time.
 And here is the approved structure. I think I got my CO (Certificate of Occupancy) without a problem.

Now, what excuse do I have for not riding at least a little....aside from the fact that Tucker has now lost both front shoes.  He was overdue--I called my shoer over two weeks ago--so I'm not surprised.  Chance needs a trim as well, and my knees still hurt.

But at least I should be able to get on without any trouble.