Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beautiful Pictures

Alas my fading memory! A while back Mrs. Mom reviewed Tim Flach's EQUUS. I finally had the chance to check it out in person in Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is, Wow!

What a collection of images. There are some truly spectacular shots in there. Unfortunately, I'd passed my book quota for the month, but now that I know it's there, next visit, it's mine!

Thanksgiving week

Well, looking at my track record this week, I can't say I've accomplished quite as much as I'd planned, but it's been a good week.

In order of completion:
  1. Fruitcake! My father's one Christmas request every year. I bake it around Thanksgiving, and it ages for several weeks until completely "drunken" before it's ready for eating.

    Step 1 of fruitcake baking: soak all fruit thoroughly in secret ingredient at least overnight, if not longer.This much fruit makes a 2 batches - this year I did a dark, with coffee and blackberry jam, and a light with orange juice, mace and orange zest.
  2. Worming horses: a solid dosing of Strongid to get rid of any nasty little parasites they might be harboring. Since T and I both had the afternoon completely free, it took only half an hour to weight tape and worm the lot of them. And had we been silly enough to allow only half an hour, it would have taken three!
  3. Pies... This year we didn't travel for Thanksgiving - H had classes through Wednesday, and neither of us wanted to risk iffy weather and 25+ hours of driving for a four day trip - so we had friends over instead. This year's flavors? Traditional pumpkin, and H's favorite, lemon. I had to call my mom for both recipes, as she's usually the pie maker. Her pumpkin pie recipe is super easy to follow and turned out perfectly. The lemon (meringue-less and double the lemon, please!) was also a hit.
  4. Crescent rolls - I love making bread, but probably shouldn't have added the whole wheat to this usually light & fluffy recipe. They're hearty, but substantial enough to have matched better with a thick potato or ham & bean soup. More notes in the cookbook for for next time.
  5. Thursday was devoted to last minute cleaning, turkeys and various side dishes. We ate around 2 PM, and everyone rolled out around 9 PM, replete with turkey, pie and lots of good conversation. It was the first Thanksgiving we haven't traveled.
  6. Black Friday - I've never done the mad shopping dash, and after Thursday's hosting, I was peopled out. T & H headed for Sioux Falls for basketball shoes and Christmas shopping. I curled up on the couch with a cat and a book.
  7. The rest of the weekend? Laundry and all of the usual chores in preparation for Monday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Days of whine and (cold) noses

Saturday dawned cold and gritty, and not helped by the fact that I was up WAY too late celebrating a friend's birthday the night before. No over-indulgences except cheesecake, but it was still a creaky morning. Didn't do much of anything with the horses except feed - we spent a good share of the day cutting up the deer-ly departed and packaging him into oddly-shaped (but neatly-taped), freezer-wrapped packages for later eating. Oh, and I made venison stew....

Sunday was a lovely day filled with laundry and chores. T was up and out the door by 6:30 to go wander the wide open spaces in search of a second deer for the freezer. H slept in and got up teenage-girl grumpy with homework left to do and not much weekend remaining to do it in. Sigh.

By afternoon I'd had enough of laundry and house-stuff. I bundled up and headed out to spend some quality time with the four-feets. It was warm enough that, out of the wind, in my multiple layers of tank-top, thermal, down vest and quilted jacket, I was sweating by the time I finished pitching hay to the horses. I was able to shed my gloves and the vest and still work without frozen fingers, which was a nice change.

Finished feeding, I collected a brush and went to work removing mud crusties & hay chaf. The fact that they've been bedding down nights along the tree grove - out of the wind - was evident by the amount of small sticks & other shrubbery I removed from manes & tails. De-mudding them all took a while, but if it continues cold they should stay relatively mud free for a while. I don't know that they appreciated the beauty treatment, but it was plenty relaxing for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Book Reviews: Staying healthy & being prepared

We've all looked vet stuff up online (come on, admit it, you have too!) and asked for horse care advice from mostly-strangers - but it's comforting to turn to experts on occasion. Since calling the vet for every little thing is both impractical & expensive - and runs the risk of annoying a perfectly good vet - good reference material can be the next best thing to hitting speed dial on the cell phone for every little skin bump.

I like my Merck Veterinary Manual. But it also usually scares the heck out of me when I look anything up in it. (Do you know how many types of colic there are and all the nasty stuff that internal parasites entail? Bleh!) It's VERY veterinary. And lacking pictures....

So when I need to look something up, which happens a fair amount, I usually try to check a variety of sources until I'm clear on what I do and don't know - it's the reference librarian in me, what can I say.

Merck aside, here are a few of my favorite general horse health books. I like all of them for different reasons, and I wouldn't part with any of them... Well, except maybe to update to a newer edition! :)

Dr. Kellon's Guide to First Aid for Horses by Eleanor Kellon, VMD
This isn't an in-depth equine vet book like Merck or even as broad as the Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook (below), but it is a great book for the barn, horse trailer, or wherever your equine first aid kit is kept. I pack mine when I travel with the horses, and keep it handy in the barn at the farm. It covers some basic non-emergency stuff, like what to have on hand in just in case, but mainly it's for what to do if/when... your imagination works overtime sometimes, too, right?

First, let's talk construction: the pages are stiff and heavy for easy turning if you're wearing gloves, and it even sheds water - to some extent - if you need to haul it out in the wet. Plus, the spiral binding allows it to lie flat without requiring something heavy on top of it or in can be draped over a stall or fence rail - great when you don't have a book-holder or extra hands to spare.

Best of all, though, the information is clear, concise, and readily understandable in an emergency.
Injuries are color coded by type, It has lots of pictures, lists basic steps to take for each, and what to do in the meantime when it's important to get the vet there NOW. Paste your vet's number inside the cover for easy of reference, and then hope you never have to use it.
Seriously - First Aid for Horses is one I absolutely would not part with.

101 Veterinary Tips for Horse Owners by Brielle Rosa, D.V.M.
As a horse owner, I have a whole shelf of reference books covering horse care, emergency treatment, lameness, first aid, etc., but as soon as I glanced through this one, I knew I was going to have to add it to my collection. It doesn't have the depth of the bigger veterinary references, or offer the great horse-side format of the book above, but it really presents the basics well. It has great pictures, and clear, simple, and straightforward explanations. (The absence of jargon is refreshing to read after some of the hard-core medical stuff!)

If you give your own shots, or wormer, or would like to know what rain rot looks like, this is a really handy book to have on hand. I'd highly recommend it for new horse owners, and as a handy refresher tool for those of us who've been in the game for a while.
Last but not least....

The Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook by James Giffen, M.D.
This is one of the first books I turn to when I have a non-emergency medical situation with one of the horses and want to do some slightly more in-depth reading - it's a lot less scary than Merck, and I don't have to look up quite so many words. (It's good for emergencies, too, but the format doesn't lend itself quite as well to hauling to the barn as Kellon's First Aid for Horses.) What is does offer is good, basic information and directions. It covers, for example, sheath washing (both how to and what to use), worming and vaccination recommendations, floating (what it is and why it's important), etc. It isn't encyclopedic, but it does provide a fairly comprehensive overview of a lot of topics, and it's handy to refer to before or after a vet visit to inform questions and discussion. If your budget doesn't stretch to accommodate multiple references, this is definitely one to consider.
All of these are good titles. Are they the only ones I own? Sigh.... T wishes that were the case! But they are the three, along with Merck that I turn to most often. How about you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The bringer of food

I love winter. Actually, I really do, but it does have some serious drawbacks. Like darkness... and mud... and ice....

This winter J has decided to try something new. Rather than set the round bales out in the feeder one at a time, free-choice, they're to be located so that the hay needs to be fed daily. Her theory is that this way the horses will waste less and not get quite so rotund.

Which is fine, but I've now become the bringer of food a bit early. Usually I earn the title later in the winter when it gets really cold and the horses start getting grain to supplement their hay & pasture foraging. This year they cottoned pretty quickly to the sound of the diesel engine in the drive meaning head for the feeder.

As I've mentioned, a couple don't play nice - BAD SUNNY!!! - at the feeder, so I usually spread a couple of piles out somewhere dry for the mares lower in the pecking order. If I'm lucky, the wind disguises the noise of my arrival enough that I can get their hay spread before the whole herd appears. If I'm unlucky, they here me, it's dark, and I'm wielding the pitchfork a lot more gingerly while they mill.

And of course, right now all the snow and rain we did get turned into sloppy, soupy, DEEP mud which is just lots and lots of fun to navigate, especially with no light.

Yesterday was a dark day due to an overly lengthy, but long-promised shopping trip to Sioux Falls so H could find some warm weather clothes. T had volunteered to feed for me, but called about 5 pm to say they'd just gotten two deer, so would need to take care of field dressing & hanging before he took care of feeding....

Hurrying teenage girls in the mall works only so well, so it was 7:30 and black as tar before I made it to the farm. I do have a trouble light in the truck, but I tend to blind myself & them with it if I'm not really careful. I muddled (& mudded) through. There was just barely enough light from the rising moon (very pretty, too!) to count noses & make sure all were present & healthy.

Today was at least daylight, and I was able to get them mostly detangled & demudded - keeping them at least semi-clean is going to be a major battle unless it dries up some soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Book Review : Fritz, Mandy, and sunshine!

We might just see sunshine today! And 40mph winds they're predicting as the system blows out should certainly help dry up the mud - lol. It seems like a good morning for something happy & encouraging.

These two picture books definitely qualify. The first deals with having the confidence to be yourself, and the second does as well, but in a completely different way.

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett
Alternately overlooked and mocked for his short legs, tangled mane, and whiskery face, poor Fritz longs to be one of the honored few horses who carry the city's children. Unfortunately, only beautiful horses are permitted within the city walls, so Fritz can only gaze wistfully from a distance. But when a bridge gives way, with the children on the wrong side, and none of the elegant horses are sure-footed enough to carry the children safely back across the rocky ford, Fritz saves the day and earns himself a spot in the city folks' hearts.

Absolutely lovely illustrations - if you don't fall in love with stout little Fritz with his round barrel body and plaintive expressions, you're a stauncher reader than I - and a charming story to accompany them.
Fritz's tale has been a Christmas present for friends' children on more than one occasion, and I finally broke down last year and purchased my very own copy. Now I can enjoy flipping through the pages whenever I like. :)

Mandy Sue Day by Roberta Karim
Mandy Sue and her brother younger Jeremy have both worked hard through the summer helping their parents around the farm. As a reward, during Indian summer each child is given one day to spend doing exactly as they like with no chores or other responsibilities. Mandy Sue spends the day with her horse grooming and riding and feeding and brushing. Although each activity is denoted by counting, smelling, tasting or touching, it isn't until the story has unfolded completely that a starling fact is revealed: Mary Sue is blind.

The plot is gentle, and the text is blank verse as easy on the ear as the illustrations are on the eye. While I question the realism (and wisdom!) of a sightless person taking a solo ride through the woods on a horse, it's a lovely, beautifully illustrated story.
Don't you just love the idea of a "Mandy Sue" day of your very own to spend with your four-foots? Here's to hoping your day has plenty of sunshine and quality horse-time, too!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rain, herd dynamics, & sheep

Company left this morning, and have all arrived safely back home to parts distant - and hopefully drier!

The weather remains rotten. Old Man Winter & Mother Nature fought over turning us into a snow globe or a skating rink all day. Freezing rain, fog, stingy little snowflakes.... Everything is just warm enough to be mud, and just cold enough to be slippery.

The drive to the farm was... interesting. The road was greasy enough to require 4 wheel drive. Not enough weight in the back of the truck.
Note to self: must find something heavy to ride back there!
Sunny & co were contentedly working their way into a new round bale when I got there. Thank you, G!

I spread what remained of the last bale between feeding stations, allowing all of them a chance at some groceries.

Sunny guards his spot
Sunny is a dog in the manger with food. He eats first, and gets the best spot, always. In the picture above, he's simultaneously dozing and guarding his spot at the hay feeder by standing with his butt to the rail so none of the others can have it.

When he's eating the two three-year-olds are tolerated next to him, and he'll share with them - even grain, most times - so they tag along behind wherever he goes, taking the spots to right & left like good little henchmen. Thunder, the only other gelding in the group, is definitely low horse, and the mares remove him if he's in the way. So he uses Sunny like a shield to get away from the mares. Amyra on the other hand, uses Sunny's presence like a club, bullying the other mares and then scooting back behind him when they retaliate. Minx!

If Sunny feels the mares are encroaching or their hay is better than what he has, he dispossesses them. Usually with no more than a threatening look - pinned ears or a snaked neck, but he's not shy about backing it up with bites & heels if they're laggard about moving. They sidle behind him warily to get at the other end of the feeder, and if forced to eat to close by, they keep a weather eye on him, ready to move if he shifts in their direction.

Ideally, he'd be separated out or be in with only one or two others, but logistically to access the waterers, the horses need to be in together. They can't go in with the sheep (those fences are not horse safe!), and G doesn't want them in with the cows, either. So....

There's enough access to hay for all of them to get to a spot, and moving around does keep them active. Sigh.
Someday I WILL have my OWN place to keep my horses and be able to manage them as I please.

One escaped sheep
And where there's one, there will likely be more soon. Escapees invariably multilpy like rabbits! I couldn't determine where this one had escaped from, though. All the gates & panels were up as far as I could tell, so I left it be rather than risking both our limbs in the mud & ice trying to chase it back into what would proabably be the wrong lot. It won't stray far from the flock and ready access to hay.

Veterans Day

Fort Larnerd, originally uploaded by fssunnysd.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

Abraham Lincoln, second inaugural address, 1865

A heartfelt thank you to all those
who serve now or have served.

Monday, November 10, 2008

First Snow

Snapped these Friday afternoon when I went out to feed.
Our snow amounted to more freezing rain & blowing than actual accumulation. We probably had around 2 inches, but most if it blew away.

They spotted me on the rise and came runningBut it was cold & much too tempting to keep going once they got started.They didn't linger.Lined out for the hay feeder
We had a houseful of company this weekend, and the weather was raw & nasty on top of it, so no chance to ride or do much of anything horse-wise. Hopefully I'll have time & weather this weekend to do more than chase them around with the camera!

Saddle Mountain Rider paired me with Pony Cousin Pony Girl, and I see she's dealing with rain & weather, as well. I have to agree with her, though - I don't mind the rain & snow, so long as it's not pouring or blowing too hard. Just plain cold is fine.

Thankful Thought for the Day

How cool is it that the internet allows us to keep in touch with people in all parts of the world? Maybe I can't ride right now, but somebody else can (and is). It's a great motivator being able to share all of the progress vicariously.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Tagged!

Palamino Girl tagged me in the latest round of book-related fun.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
  5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one - pick the closest.
  6. Tag five people to do the same.
As I commented to Palamino Girl, given that I lapsed into procrastination & checked my bloglist at work, her tag could have resulted in something really weird. (Currently on my desk - Preschool to the rescue, The craft of intelligence, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Will our children have faith?, and The world of Dylan Thomas among other things!)

But as luck would have it, on the top of the out-going stack is Man, Beast, Dust The Story of Rodeo by Clifford P. Westermeier. Scanning down page 56 for the fifth sentence took me half a page - man, does this guy like looonng sentences...
This latter group includes trained animal acts, novelty roping and riding acts. The genuine rodeo contestant has little time for this type of thing but realizes that it is a drawing feature and essential for its entertainment value. In the first group mentioned, it is obvious that strained but friendly relations exit between bronc riders and calf ropers. This is a rather serious aspect which has led to professional jealousy and, in the long run has brought about many changes in these events.

A second characteristic of the man in rodeo is his youth. It is something that should not evoke surprise on the part of the observer, for only youth has the essential spark, power, dash, and the freshness which ar essential in sports of any type.
Okay - that addressed the men. I had to flip ahead and find out what the author had to say about the ladies... and round about page 84 he gives them their due:
The cowgirls are not only addicted to riding broncs, trick riding and relay races, but several have been adept with the rope and have given exhibitions of steer and calf roping. Some have taken up the hazardous occupation of bulldogging steers and steer riding. The women of rodeo have entered into all phases of the work and have put on as great exhibitions of skill, nerve, and daring as the men.
Cool! And pretty amazing for something written back in 1947. I may have to read further when the book comes back.

Now, on to who's IT:
And anyone else who'd like to play, feel free to join in the fun!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wet, but daylight

Last night with the cloud cover mostly to the east and a good stiff westerly breeze blowing, the horses were complete space cadets. They sure are a good indicator that the weather's going to change! Today is my regular weeknight to work until closing, so I had the afternoon free. I don't mind working late so much after the time change, when it gives me one extra day a week to get out and about in the daylight!

Unfortunately, the winter weather that's dropped 15" of snow out in the Black Hills (they're estimating 14,000 people are currently out of power - brrr!) arrived here first as rain.

I spread hay for the horses in the lot, but with the wind out of the north they were down along the treeline. I snapped these out the window as I drove home - when I arrived they were all tails to the trees dozing. It's surprisingly cozy there with the tree belt blocking the wind, and there's enough grass still hanging on that they weren't interested in following me back up for hay just yet. They'll find it when they trek in for water later this evening.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Winter approaches...

Not much new to report here the last few days. I'm fully resenting the time change. Daylight at 6:30 a.m. when I have to be at work does me little to NO good. Darkness at 5:30 p.m. when I'm finally home is likewise unhelpful.

Horse contact the last several days has meant scurrying home, throwing on boots & jeans and raising a trail of dust through the dusk to push hay to the whickering horde.

This morning the weather was soft and damp. I ran out in bare feet to pull clothes off the line. The weather forecast is for blizzard conditions in Pierre, with a winter weather watch starting tonight and extending through Friday. Watery sunshine is streaming in my office window (yes, I am procrastinating), and a frisky breeze is gusting fallen leaves.

I want to be outside, preferably somewhere with horses!

Unfortunately, that's not to be. Bleh.... back to work.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Short feet!

The farrier FINALLY came as scheduled this morning! All the boys & girls have newly shortened feet. Half were good, and half could have been better. Unfortunately, Sunny was in the latter half. Ordinarily he sleeps his way through his trims. This morning he had ants in his pants.

He kept fidgeting and trying to get his feet back. BAD Sunny.

Amyra was her usual stubborn self. The first foot she always tries to lay down - doesn't matter which side he starts on, either. She gets swatted, stews through the next two feet, and by the fourth one she's asleep. It's seems to be her approach to most things she doesn't really like: protest to see if she can get whatever it is to stop bothering her, sulk briefly, then give up & accept.

Thunder, thankfully, was a star. He's come a long way from the snorting, quivering wreck terrified the farrier was going to stick him with a needle!

No pictures. I needed both hands for more practical things, unfortunately.


When the farrier finished I headed out to check on a nice old lady. A few months back I posted about the family that acquired a "free" horse for their daughters. They've had her for four months now, and are getting along really well. This weekend they left for a family vacation, and asked if I'd mind checking in on Goldie while they're gone. They have someone staying at the house to take care of the dog, but she's a dog person, not a horse person, and doesn't feel comfortable doing more than refilling the water, which she can do from outside the gate. Since Goldie is still on good pasture, she shouldn't need anything, but.... They wanted to make sure someone with some horse experience at least took a look at her daily. Good for them.

Last night was the first opportunity I've had to meet Goldie. (Somehow I don't think Goldie meets many strangers, though.)
Smile, Goldie!
She's a sweet mare; a bit swaybacked, but otherwise in great shape for her age. She certainly wasn't the slightest bit shy about saying hello, and accepted lots of pats & scritches as her just due.
Finding the itchy spots Branded butt
Goldie has a brand on her right hip. Hard to tell exactly what it's supposed to be under all that winter fur, though. At any rate, Goldie was happy & well content last night and this afternoon when I checked on her.