Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Power ON

At Last

Posting from my tablet as my laptop insists on hibernating.

Power came on while I was relaxing at the pool, finishing my swim with a nice hot shower.

Still waiting for the cable, Internet and phone service, but with my wifi, I will be fine.

The only news on the horse front is that my ground is dry enough for Tucker to be out again.  I also am a bit anxious about getting a supply of hay before I go for surgery. My hay guy has not been there yet this week--no power.

Enough for now. Never thought having electricity woul be such a thrill.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Well, At Least I Know

Why the Power is Out

These pictures are from about a mile down my road. The road is actually closed, but people keep driving past the barriers, including people in tractor trailers. A car can get past the downed tree, but there is no room for a truck, and worse, no real room for a truck to turn around. I called the police to let them know the barriers were down.
G The middle picture shows another tree branch just hanging on above the wires. Bummer. When I call the power company, they have a recorded message still on that says we may not get power until Sunday.

Then I headed to the next road over only to find that all barricaded. There are several spots with downed wires there, and a nice PSE&G guy who said there was no way they could predict when the repairs would be complete, or where my road was on the list.

I took some more pictures over there:

All in all, it looks like a mess, and we don't even have any major flooding here. There are some places in the State under several feet of water.

My cousin, whose house is at the shore on Long Beach Island called to let me know all was well there. They have power and managed to escape being flooded. And they are between the ocean and the bay!  i am happy for them, and also surprised. But I think the storm took a turn inland and hit us instead, sparing the coast a lot of potential damage.

I have a generator that I'm running for several hours every day.  I had to jump start it with my car as the starter battery is dead, but it's up and running and seems to keep my refrigerator working--sort of.  I don't know if it has enough output to run the pump in the barn if I need water for the Boys, but so far, out there, so good.

Poor Tucker is restricted to the riding arena for now until the mud dries up, but that my happen pretty fast as we are having some lovely, sunny and dry weather.

My basement water is gone and while the floor is still wet, it's going to dry out quickly too. Not so at my aunt's house next door. Without power the sump pump does not work, and apparently she has several inches of water in her basement. I am charging her caretaker's cell phone right now so she will have a way to call out.

Chance was delighted to find lots of apples fallen off the tree--so many I had to collect some and put them in a bucket so he didn't get sick.  My neighbor dropped by to tell me he would clean up my fallen tree branches while I was in the hospital and also check in on the horses.

So, there is a silver lining to every cloud, I guess. At least I can generate some power here and I am getting the house cleaned as a way of keeping myself busy.

I am hoping the pool may be open so I can go for a swim and have a nice hot shower. Sponge baths in cold water are not exactly fun. I can heat the water on the stove, but somehow, that seems like a waste of gas.  Besides, what fun is a disaster if you don't suffer at least a little?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

All is Well

No Power,But Not A Total Disaster

I will be quick as I am running on batteries.  The power has been out since about 11 PM last night.

We had lots and lots of rain, some wicked wind, but so far, no major disaster here at Follywoods.  I had a battery operated radio on nearly all night. There was one tornado warning, but it was not in my area, thank goodness.  Trouble is the radio died suddenly this morning and it was not the battery.  I found another one, but it's only AM , so now I can't seem to get the NJ station I want to listen to. However, there is another one, so I have that on now.

Called the power company for an update, but they didn't even have an  automated message on. I will check online to see what I can find out.

I finally decided to lock the Boys in the barn during the storm. If it continues to clear, I will let Toby and Chance out in the afternoon. Tucker will have to stay in due to his shoe issues.

My biggest upset is that I actually have water in my basement for the first time I can remember. Not sure where it came from. It is an inch or two deep and mostly on the east side. I don't really have a pump to get it out, so it will have to dry up on its own. The stuff that's wet will survive. It's just a bit disturbing to have water down there as it is usually pretty dry.

So, that's it for now. I will report back later or if anything exciting happens.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prepped and Primped

Ready for Whatever

I bought a really big grass/trash can at Home Depot. Not sure how big it is but I am suspecting it's about 50 gallons.  I filled it with water right by the regular water trough, along with a muck bucket I bought a while ago to put water out in the pasture.

I also had three 50 gallon water troughs, but one of them was missing the plug.

Thus the search began. You would think that with three Rubbermaid water tubs, two with the drain plug replaced by an electric heater, that I would have the plugs I'd taken out.  I have three cabinets in the feed room along with numerous buckets holding various hardware items.

On the upside, trying to find the drain plug required that I look everywhere, and looking everywhere meant that I couldn't simply rummage about without cleaning up as I went along.  So, the morning of search became the morning of clean.

Cabinet one, no plug. Cabinet two, no plug. Nor was there a plug in any bucket, shelf, or place I looked. I did manage to fill five feed bags with stuff to throw away, and I found a nice collection of double end snaps along the way.

I called the tack store, and sure enough, they had the drain plugs I needed.  I cleaned myself up a bit as I was covered in grime at that point, and headed off only to run into what looked to be an endless traffic jam on the way into the first little town I needed to drive through. So I took a convoluted detour and got to the store.  

I figured I'd pick up some shavings for the stalls but they were out, so I drove to Agway, just a few blocks away and bought four bales there--they had plenty.  Home again, I tidied up the barn, unloaded the shavings and, on the brink of exhaustion knee wise, decided to go for a short swim.

It was hot, humid, and sunny. The water felt absolutely wonderful but I only did five laps before riding around the Lazy River a half dozen time, just relaxing.

Dove home, stopping at the WaWa to buy some chocolate milk--just a craving. The gas station there was a madhouse, with tons and tons of cars. Everyone was buying gas before the storm.

Home again, I started the water hoarding. I filled all the tubs, buckets and new barrel out at the barn, as well as two buckets of water in each horse''s stall.

I'm guessing I have water for the horses for perhaps four days now.  I may fill some more individual buckets in the barn aisle when I feed in the morning, and I still need to bed Tucker's stall. Of the three, I am going to have to keep him in as the rains blow in. The hurricane seems to be weakening as far as the winds go, but it's still going to bring some heavy rain.  It the course doesn't change, we will be not far away from a direct hit, leaving us at the very least, in for a really bad soaking with pretty windy conditions.

I'm about as ready as I can be, so now it's just a matter of "wait and see." Besides, that's about all my sore, worn out body can do right now anyhow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Next, A Hurricane?

You Got It...On the Way

Looks like we are going to get nailed by hurricane Irene. I am miles inland, but that doesn't help too much. If the winds are really bad, trees will go down and that means no power.

Out here in the country, that means no water, as my water comes from my wells and the pumps are electric. I do have a generator that, I think, would run a pump if it gets really bad, but I need to prepare regardless.

The house is not a big issue. I have bottled water on hand and extra water stored in 5 gallon containers. I have a gas stove, so that doesn't need power so I can cook. Food in the refrigerator will keep for several days if don't open it much, and again, the generator would run that for periods of time.

It's water for the horses that worries me. I will fill two outside tubs, add at least one manure tub of water, and fill all the buckets I have. Two, at least in each stall, and the extras, along with the water containers in the horse trailer. That should hold us for a few days, just in case.

I am sure I could find a way to bring water over here from the sandpit across the way if I needed it. All I'd have to do is get permission from the owner who happens to be my hay guy. They might even be able to help me some other way as far as water goes.

The trick of living in the country is to be as self-sufficient as you possibly can be. And that means being prepared for emergencies. I have candles, flashlights and batteries. I will fully charge my laptop, tablet, wifi and, of course, my cell phone so I have light and communication. The laptop might sound a bit strange, but I do get a lot of news and information through the Internet, so with the WiFi connection, I can get online. I won't waste the power posting too much, but I will let my blogging friends know that all is well here.

I keep hoping this storm will change course and go out to sea. It doesn't look too promising, but it's happened before. We can only hope.

Tucker is already stuck inside because we had some more soaking thunderstorms today. I'll put him out in the riding arena tomorrow, but from the forecast, he'll be inside for the bulk of the weekend.  I feel bad for him, but I can't risk his losing a shoe at this point because his feet are already on the brink of being too short and if he breaks off any more hoof I don't think Scott would be able to get a new shoe on.

Fortunately, he does not fuss too much about being in.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


And I Thought It Was My Hardboiled Eggs

The earthquake in Virginia was felt all the way up the Eastern Coast, including here in New Jersey.

I was here, sitting at the computer when it hit, just before 2 PM, and I thought that either the hardboiled eggs I was was cooking on the stove and exploded in the pan, or that my cats in the sunroom had toppled something or gotten into a scuffle.

There was a kind of rumbling noise that lasted at most 2 seconds here.  DJ, the kitty who was sitting on my lap leapt off and sat rather startled on the floor. As I looked down the hall, I saw Reggie also sitting on the cedar chest in high alert. That kind of clued me that it wasn't cat activity, because they were not looking anywhere that the other cats might be.

I checked the eggs to find that the water had boiled low, but not enough to make the eggs rattle about or explode. It was only later that I found out the earthquake had struck and that explained the noise.

After I thought about it for a while, I realized that shortly before that, Reggie, my black kitty had been sitting at my feet meowing and meowing. I tried petting him and playing with him, but he would not be soothed. I now suspect he was trying to tell me that the quake was about to strike. They do say some animals are very sensitive and that the earth itself gives off vibrations before an earthquake, so I am now claiming he was trying to tell me something was wrong. Bless his little furry face.

The horses were not at all upset when I went out a bit later, so aside from the noise, I don't think there was much action here.

Apparently, the bedrock on the East Coast is more solid than on the West Coast because it has rarely been shaken by quakes, so the vibrations travel farther.  This theory is interesting to me because other areas of New Jersey--not too far away--were rocked far longer and with much more vibration than I was. My land lies above an aqufer, as I have noted before. There is a deep layer of sand not too far below the surface and below that rock layers and large underground water pockets. There is also an underground waterway of sorts. What I suspect is that much of the quake was absorbed into those layers of sands and water, kind of "cushioning" any more powerful vibrations.

We are not prone to earthquakes around here, so the big worry is always whether even a relatively minor quake will cause damage to any structures not built to withstand the shaking. I am sad to report that the Washington Monument did suffer some cracks in its upper stone work and will be closed "indefinitely" until assessment and repairs can be made.

Some of my online friends reported things knocked off shelves, but that seems to be about all. West Coast readers will, perhaps scoff at the "big deal" we are making here of the quake, but it is such a rare event on this side of the country that it does stir up a lot of talk.

Now, we are waiting for a hurricane.  I am a little concerned about that because Irene's course has changed and it's going to hit New England after passing very close to the New Jersey coastline on its way towards land. While I am inland, the rotating winds on the outside of the storm are often some of the worst, so I am well within that strike area. The forecast is calling for a "Nor'easter" which means heavy rain and wind coming from the rotating winds. Rivers and streams around here are already pretty close to flood stage as it is, so the 6"-9" of rain possible from this storm will not be welcome.

Again, my land is high enough not to flood, but tree damage is a serious threat.

I am not looking forward to early Sunday/late Saturday at all. *sigh*

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pre Op

Testing, Testing, One Two Three

I drove to Philadelphia yesterday for all my pre operation testing.

From here Philly is about an hour and fifteen minute drive, if you don't hit traffic. Remarkably enough, I didn't hit traffic until I was near the first set of city exits off I-95 and while that lost me perhaps 15 minutes, once I cleared the inexplicable traffic jam, getting to the hospital itself was not too hard.  My GPS kept disagreeing with the written directions I had from the hospital, so I compromised between the two and pulled up to the valet parking garage with minutes to spare.

So, what does pre op admissions screening involve? Well, for one, lots of questions. Every nurse or doctor along the way asked me to identify myself with name, address and birthdate. This way, they are sure each time they are filling out paperwork for the right person. Then, an every stop, I had my blood pressure taken. Even with the stress of the moment it was fine each time--I am on medication for hypertension and it seems to work really well.

At the first stop, I had a lot of blood taken for something like eight different tests. I also had an EKG done to check my heart--good too--and someone listened to my lungs and heart. They made lists of the medications I was taking including any vitamins, and, eventually, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me.

That was the low point of the day. Apparently, I will not be getting a general anesthesia as I've had before for surgery. My doctor is known for efficient knee replacements, so it usually takes him about three hours to do two knees. Despite his speed, this is considered to be a long surgery, so they prefer to go lighter on the anesthesia.  Ugh. I will be getting some kind of drug to make me relax and then I'll get an epidural--injection in my spine--to cut off all sensation below the waist. Apparently, I need to be somewhat awake when they administer this. Great.  Then, once I am both totally numb and unable to move, I will get some more "relaxing" stuff, and off we go.  I may be partially awake during the surgery itself, or I may drift off and go to sleep. I am hoping the latter.....

Once I'm in recovery, they will bring me out of my "twilight" state and I'll be there for perhaps another hour--the epidural is supposed to last about four hours--unable to move as the drug wears off. At that point, I will start to "feel the pain" of the surgical procedure and I'll have my "pump" to use to administer painkillers as I need them.

Oh, Goodie. What fun....not. I must admit, I am a little freaked out about this aspect of the surgery.

When I had my hysterectomy, I had the morphine pump and used it on the second day, when my shoulder began to hurt so badly. By the third day, I was sick to my stomach all day. I'm not keen about taking morphine because of that. I also am pretty sure I had a bad reaction to it when I broke my wrist. So I guess I need to tell them at the hospital before I have my surgery that this might be a problem.

Anyhow, after that disturbing bit of news, off I went to the cardiologist for another consultation. He checked me out and said everything looked great for double replacement surgery. Apparently, all patients are not good candidates for this. He said my doctor is particularly conservative in selecting patients for bilateral replacements, and usually, once he sends someone for testing, it's pretty sure that patient will qualify just fine, and he said I was no exception. He said my swimming was a great idea and that most teachers were highly motivated people so that both were an added plus for a good recovery.

Nice. I needed an "upper" about then.

I stopped at a nice little deli for lunch--recommended by the nurse at the cardiologist--and had a really good grilled chicken an avocado salad.  Since I was next going to donate blood for my surgery, I was supposed to be sure to eat.

That left nearly two hours before my blood donation. I'm not sure what sights or stores might have been in the area, but I decided to sit in the hospital lobby to read my book rather than wander about the city. My knees were bothering me anyhow, so if I'd gone too far, I might well have regretted it.  After about a half hour, I decided to find the blood donation room to see if there was any way they could take me earlier.

A little "wending my way" about the hospital and I found the spot. Sure enough, early was fine, so an hour before my scheduled appointment I was hooked up and surrendering a pint of blood.  The hospital was running an internal blood drive as well, offering tee shirts and meal ticket incentives to hospital employees, so I had plenty of company in the room.  We all chatted a bit in between our book reading.

I was done and on my way in about 45 minutes.

Parking, even with the courtesy discount was still $14 for the day and I tipped the valet another $2. With lunch, my insurance co-pay at the cardiologist, and my iced tea and doughnut on the way home, the day cost me about $40.  Not too bad since I managed to avoid any tolls on the road by the route I took.

My GPS had a mind of its own on the way home. Something must have gone a bit wrong when I first plugged in the command for "home."  I was driving through city streets going no where. At a stop light, I reprogrammed the "fastest route" option, then hit "home" again, and suddenly, it directed me off to the right--where I knew Route 95 was lurking, and with a bit of a "take a U-turn" and a little sensible interpretation on my part, I finally made my way to Route 95 north and headed home.

I made it back in time to attend the EVA (our local conservation group) meeting where we were discussing our involvement in the future of the farm we helped preserve.

Then I drove home to feed the Boys and collapse on the couch to watch TV for the evening. Enough done for one day, I think.

Now it's a matter of getting ready for the Big Day.

Mixed feelings here. On one hand I am really looking forward to the prospect of actually having good knees again. On the other, it's a little scary.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shoes On

Tucker is Back In Action

Well, not exactly as he is still in his stall because the mud is still pretty muddy.  Scott put his shoes on--not easy since one hoof was pretty broken in the wall.

I am going to wait a bit and then turn him out in the riding arena where there is sand for footing. Trouble is, we may have more storms coming over the next couple days, then a few days of dry and then more storms. I have a feeling his turnout will be limited for a while.

There is the run in shed out there and I will make sure he has water as well as hay available, so it won't be so bad, but it's far from being able to just hang around as he pleases. My big worry is the darn big flies.  I don't know if they will follow him into the run-in or not. I guess I am just going to have to put him out there and keep an eye on him.

I will be keeping him in at night until the ground dries out. Usually, this time of year this is not a problem. But we have had over 10 inches of rain over the last week or so and the ground is saturated. Bummer.

And, of course I am not riding, so turnout is basically the only exercise the Boys get. I may, however, start to lunge Tucker just to make up for his confinement time.

At least I can do that now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Barefoot Boy and Not Good

The Attack of the B52

I put Tucker out on the lawn for a bit of a graze since he's been in his stall due to the missing shoe.

I had to wrap his foot in vetrap and duct tape to protect it since none of the boots I had fit. For some reason his toe is too long to fit even in the Cavello boot which usually is fine. I had two EasyBoot gloves as well, and neither of them went on either.

So out he went into the nice grass for, I figured about an hour. With a nearly two days of sun, the lawn was pretty dry, although I did expect he would make some hoofprints. No problem. I can cope.

What I did not expect was the attacking B52.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a "B52" is my name for one of those HUGE horseflies that bite like crazy. The darn things are at least an inch long, and, I swear, they have vampire fangs.

Desptite his flysheet and flyspray, Tuck went bonkers when the fly dive bombed him. He bucked off across to the paddock gate, I'd guess hoping to get into the barn for refuge, but, of course, the gate was closed.  I guess that took the fly off course because then everything quieted down.

But, in that single spurt of drama...guess what? Tuck pulled his other front shoe off.

No mud--just a leaping buck or two or three.

OK, well at least he's even in front for now. That shoe had to be loose or it never would have come off.

I don't know when Scott is coming, but hopefully soon. I hate having Tucker stuck in and, at the moment, I don't even have hoof boots to put on him so he can get out a little.

Turnout is so important. I know there are many horses that spend hours a day inside the barn, but there is no way I can believe it's good for them. Nature created a wandering, grazing animal in the horse.  Their bodies are designed to move their minds instinctively want to have the freedom to flee from danger--or simply to move as well.

Fortunately, Tucker tolerates "captivity" pretty well, so he doesn't fuss by being in. An this time of year, the Boys do tend to spend a lot of time hanging out in the stalls with the fans rather than wandering about outside, so it's not quite as bad as it might be.


Wish he could go barefoot, but everytime I have tried, he has come up with a long term lameness. He's just one of those horses that needs shoes and simply doesn't like to keep them on.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Well, It Is Wet--Very Wet

And I suppose I should have kept Tucker in, but the first downpours kind of caught me off guard.

Still. I had to abide a lecture by my farrier, Scott, about turning the Boy out in the muck.  Or shall I say the lakes.  To say that we had rain is an understatement.  We had torrential rain, and it's not over yet.

The weather information is that locally we had over 7 inches of rain. 7.45 measured in East Brunswick which is about a mile from here. I don't have a rain gauge out right now, so I cannot verify that, but from the looks of things, I'd suspect that's pretty close to what we had. And the forecast calls for more to come.

Once more, I bless my little hill and the good drainage of the sandy loam soil and the aquifer below. But there is enough mud to pull shoes, and, of course, that's what Tucker did. The combination of wet hoofs, mud, and his short backed conformation/slight clubfoot make for a difficult situation.

So, for now, he is in his stall, awaiting Scott, who is not too happy about it.  Nor am I.

Every time it rains I have to watch Tucker's feet. And long time readers of my blog know that I tried the shoeless option with no success. We ended up with long term unsoundness from either bruises or abscesses.

Fortunately, Tucker does not fuss too much about being in his stall. Right now the weather is still unsettled with more storms coming in. And, in the summer, all three Boys tend to hang out more in the barn than out. I hate keeping any horse in, but in this case, there is no choice. Once the shoe is back on and it dries up he will be able to go out.

I guess I will be going back to restricting his turnout again. That will mean keeping him in the riding arena when it's wet out.  The footing in there still gets soggy, but it is sand, not mud, so there's less chance of shoes off.

The other Boys don't care much. Toby is perfectly happy because he is out and doesn't have to contend with Tucker's trying to steal his grain when he's not looking.  Chance is so laid back about things, he doesn't have an opinion one way or another, except that is just means more apples for him.  I did see Tucker out under the apple tree the other day, so I suspect there was some competition for the fallen fruit.  Now, unless Toby decides to join in, Chance gets the bulk of the spoils.

I hate to think that the kind of rain we've been getting is the norm in precipitation. It is, unfortunately, the same pattern we had through the winter months last year.  And here's the worry--in inch of rain can mean as much as 10 inches of dry snow and 5 inches of wet snow. Even if you average that out at a 1:7 ratio, we'd be under a blanket of  nearly 50 inches of snow from the last few days' precipitation.

This will be the last time I complain about the summer temperatures. (Yeah, sure.....)

No swimming today. I didn't need a pool anyhow. I could've swum in the air.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cost of Feed

Prices on the Rise?

Hard to say for sure, but I bought alfalfa cubes today at Tractor Supply and the price had gone up $1.50 a bag since my last purchase...just a few weeks ago. Is this foreshadowing of things to come?

When I switched to Purina Healthy Edge--high fat, low carbohydrate--I expected to pay a bit more than for a less speciailized feed. I was first using the Country Acres feeds--also a Purina product, but more generic. Then I switched to Triple Crown Low starch, and eventually ended up with the Healthy Edge. I think when I first started, the feed was $12.99 a 50 lb. bag. I it up to $15.99 now.

I am not sure what is inflating the price the most. The field corn producers are selling their corn to agri fuel companies, which does have an impact on the animal feed industry. I would also guess that the weather in the midwest is causing some issues. And what about the cost of transportation? With gas/diesel prices rising, it costs more and more to ship the product.

So far, my hay prices are still at $6.75 a bale for a nice mixed hay. My supplier is just across the street and delivers, unloads, and stacks it for me. That makes the price a real bargain. There may be cheaper hay right off the field locally, but I'm better off with this price and arrangement. Still, I used to be able to get good hay for around $3.00 a bale and I was paying around $5.00 not too long ago.  Of all the feed stuff, I guess hay is the easiest to shop around for bargains--at least here in New Jersey. Farmers do make deals sometimes, and even my supplier gave me a discount when he had leftover supplies last year.

I am sure some of my readers pay more for feed and some pay less. It does vary from one part of the country to another and here, even from one part of the State to another.

But the "sticker shock" of today's alfalfa cube purchase sticks with me. I went to Tractor Supply expecting a savings of about $12 for three bags over my closer feed store. That savings was cut to $4.50 instead and with the price of gas at $3.50 a gallon, I'm not sure the extra driving miles didn't cost me most of that.

Then again, I haven't priced the cubes at my feed store since a few weeks ago either. Maybe, when I do, I will discover I actually did save what I'd anticipated.

All I know is that the Boys were happy to get their cubes at lunchtime instead of with breakfast. And extra feeding always appeals to them.

But I made the mistake of leaving Tucker's interior stall gate unlatched and when I went out to feed dinner just now, I had to clean the aisle of the barn where Toby and Tucker had spent at least a part of the day knocking things around and generally "redecorating."  On the plus side, from the looks of things, Chance was not involved in their efforts. If he had been, I would have needed to do a lot more work trying to set things right again.

Oh yes...and nothing was ripped up.....

Monday, August 08, 2011

Busy Bee

Busy Me

Someone else said, "Why is it you go for weeks with nothing to do and then suddenly, you are busy every day?"  Well, not quite, but I suddenly found myself finding things to do all at once.

I gave a concert on Sunday in Pennsylvania, so that took up a good part of the day since it was a just about a two hour drive out.  It was at a senior center where my choir director's mother-in-law lives. It is a lovely facility. We were treated to dinner and then performed the "Child's Garden of Verses" songs. Fun stuff.

We rehearsed on Thursday night and I had a chiropractor appointment on Friday. Then, Saturday, I suddenly realized the County Fair was going on, so, of course, I had to go.  It was similar to most years, with lots of nice exhibits including the 4-H horses, small animals, sheep, goats, some cattle, and even some llamas.  Some of the crafts, artwork, and needlework projects on display were absolutely amazing. There is such talent in our local area.

When I got home last night from the concert, I got a call from a friend whose car had broken down. She needed a ride to do some errands this morning. So I was off again.

That left the afternoon for a nice swim. I've actually been swimming nearly every day, so that's not too much of a novelty, but it does add to the "busy."

I still have to get my truck registration renewed and then get the truck inspected. I need to go see my hay guys, go get some alfalfa cubes, and then go to the chiropractor again this week.  Meantime, I am making some headway cleaning the house.  I guess I will be read when it's time for my knees.

I am a bit surprised to see the Boys out in the pasture on some of these hot days.  I'm glad, but they had been hanging out in the barn by the fans when it was hot before. I'm wondering if the "bug" pattern changes as the summer goes on.  We've had a fair amount of rain, so it's certainly not what I'd call dry. For some reason, they actually seem happy wandering around outside.

Of course, Chance has an ulterior motive. The apples are falling from the trees now and then, and he's always on the lookout for a treat. Clever boy.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Nothing of Note

Hot and Humid and a Bit of a Rant

Again the heat and humidity are building after a day or two of nice weather. It was nice for the County Fair that's been going on this week. I really need to drop over for a quick visit. Walking is worse every day with my knees, but I should be able to manage a hike around the fairgrounds.

Swimming's been good with nice water temperatures and not too many crowds. I guess families are on vacation this month.  There are plenty of people at the pool, but not as many as were there in July.

The Boys are all fine as far as I can tell. When I went out for late feed yesterday, they were all out in the pasture and not at all interested in coming in. So I just put hay in their stalls and no grain. No point in putting hard feed out for free choice feeding. Tucker will find it and eat everyone's portion, and heaven knows, he surely doesn't need it.

I loaned my friends one of my Ansur saddles for a try.  She rides endurance and, while she has a saddle that fits her horse well, she has had some saddle issues in the past. I will be interested to see if the Ansur works for her. She has two lovely Arabs--one for her husband and one for herself. They both completed a 50 mile ride last weekend and have one scheduled in another week or so. I can't quite picture myself lasting that long in the saddle, but I have to admit, every time I see pictures from one of their rides, I keep thinking how wonderful it would be to ride some of those trails.

I realize now that my knees have had more of in impact on my riding than I realized. I was often in pain when I was in the saddle.  Mounting and dismounting were always a tricky deal, and walking afterwards hurt too.  I am hoping that after the surgery, things will be a lot easier for me. I'm not very much interested in competing again, although I might want to take Chance in a dressage test at least once. Competition costs are expensive and all the effort it takes to just get ready for a show doesn't seem worth it, unless you have a horse that's talented enough to show well against the "big boys."

Frustrating, in a way. I used to compete in the hunter circuit and did really well. But as time went on, more and more politics started to move in as more and more money poured into the horses. People began to spend tons of money to buy horses that would win, leaving us "backyard" riders no divisions to compete in on a level playing field. I moved on to eventing, which was a lot of fun--winning again at times but mostly just enjoying the rides. Then, I started finding myself overfaced and I lost my nerve.  At the same time, many of the "rider friendly" events fell to financial issues and the offering of "fun" competitions dried up. The rules changed, heights of jumps elevated, and I realized there was no way I could still compete with a smile on my face instead of a grimace.

So, I moved on to dressage.A moderately new discipline to the riding world around here, there were plenty of schooling shows, and once again, fun competitions to ride in when I started. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost, but all in all, I always felt that when I went into the arena, I at least had a chance to do well. But dressage grew in popularity too. And now, like the hunter circuit, it's become a "big money" sport. Expensive warmbloods dominate the arenas.  My best test will rarely score as well as a good moving warmblood's test of the same caliber, "just because."  While I have long ago learned not to ride for anyone but myself and to set goals other than pinning in a class, it does take the fun out of it when you know you have little chance at all of earning a ribbon in a show you've spent well over a hundred dollars to compete in. I mean, it's nice to hold up a 60+% score for a class as a mark of achievement, but that darn ribbon makes it even nicer.

I simply do not have the finances to enjoy showing at this point. Spending money to have a judge give me a "0" on a leg yield (It happened and I have a photograph of that movement proving I did do a leg yield) just isn't my idea of good value for a dollar. My horses are interesting to ride, interesting to train, but not that most talented dressage horses on the planet. And if I could afford one of the most talented dressage horses on the planet, I'm not even sure what I'd do with him.

Do you think Totilas or Ravel would make a good trail horse?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Full Day

In Between the Showers

I went to meet an Ansur client this morning. It should have been a relatively uncomplicated trip, but darn if I didn't get stuck in traffic in two of the small towns I had to pass through on my way. What should have been a 45 minute or so trip was more like an hour and a half.  I ended up stopping for lunch on the way home--a much shorter drive.

Once home, I debated on my activities for the rest of the day. Rain was in the forecast, and sure enough, the sky clouded over and it started to sprinkle. But, it also got a whole lot cooler.

I've been putting off mowing the lawn because of the heat, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. Out I went to tackle what was beginning to look like a hay field.  There is cut grass all over the place, but it does look so much better.

But then, I was overcome by "mower power" and decided to head out to the paddocks. I have lots of weeds.  I drove around rather madly for another hour or so, cutting much, but certainly not all, of the weedy growth in the paddocks around the barn and bit in the front area of the pasture. My fence on the west side of the property is completely overgrown with weeds, bushes, briers, and even some small trees from my neighbor's overflowing property next door. To say things are out of control is an understatement. But as my fence man pointed out a few years ago, the undergrowth is an added security measure for the fenceline--if you could see the fence line. If I can ever get the money together, I would hire a brush clearing company to do all my fences, but for now, I have to surrender to nature.

The Boys thought the mowing was greatly exciting and put on a galloping bucking show. Chance seemed to delight in galloping madly in the places I'd mowed, I guess just to enjoy the weedless spaces.  Tucker and Toby were not quite as enthusiastic, but they did a bit of frolicking too.  Fortunately they stayed away from the mower and me, which was a good thing, as that might have become dangerous. I had my hand ready at the switch to shut off the mower should they come near, but all was well.  They had started off in the far pasture when I was working, but I guess the allure of "something new in the paddocks" was simply too much to bear.

It was raining off and on while I mowed, and when I was done, I was feeling pretty soggy.

So, what better solution to being wet than to get wetter!!  I headed off to the pool. No thunder or lightning so they were open. There weren't many people there, and the air had gotten downright chilly. But the water was wonderful! It was warm but not too warm and felt great. I did my laps and my leg exercises and headed in for a hot shower just as the rain started to come down again. Nothing bad, but enough to keep me wet.

Coming home to change into dry clothes felt pretty darn good this time.  

Monday, August 01, 2011

Great Book Gone Digital

Led by the Grey

Peter DeCosemo has written a novel, "Led by the Grey."  It is an absolutely enchanting book and it kept me totally involved from start to finish.  I just received a note from Peter letting me know the book is now available in digital format--hard copies are difficult to come by.

Here is his message:

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that the novel has actually gone digital and is now available to down load in various formats. I know a lot of people in the U.S. didn't get to read it as the paper version has still not been printed there so they may be interested in this format.
For: Sony E-reader, iPad and iBooks.
For Kindle;
Would be wonderful if you could pass the message on to any of your groups or forums.
Kind regards,
Peter De Cosemo

This is truly a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it to all.