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So my last farm post has been a few months ago.  Farm life has been tough as we are in the throes of “the bad year” and while I know having a farm means being close friends with Death it doesn’t mean I enjoy the visits.

We lost Bingley to a pasture accident and Rosalea and Maddy to old age and possibly a broken heart with Maddy… I knew she would not stay long after Belle as those two were closely paired. One of our oldest cats, Sheegwa, recently passed as well after an altercation with a couple of stray dogs that turned up in our woods. 

And then because that wasn’t enough, we hit the teenage years with the children.  SJ spoiled us with her easy waltz into the teen years.  The boys haven’t been so kind.  They are excellent kids mind you, but I was ill prepared for teen-age boy emotions and dramatics.  I feel sorry for them really. They managed to get a hyper aware mother, hyper aware grandmother and eccentrically attentive father.  They can’t catch a break.  SJ communicates tacitly more often than not, and years spent observing body language in the horses and other farm animals mean that I notice even the slightest “tell” in body language. And the boys’ “tells” are pretty easy.  And when they try to “pull the wool” as many teen-aged boys do… they run into J.

It’s been tiring.  I think I completely shut down all social interaction from January until recently because I just couldn’t deal.  I was using so much energy to just hold it all together that I didn’t have anything left.  Friends were going through their own personal hells and I didn’t feel like I could be there for them and save myself at the same time.  We finally worked out a code for “I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to say but I’m with you” by sending “…” just so we knew that some one was listening even though we didn’t have it in us to talk.
I have an alarming number of “…” messages.  It would appear that we weren’t the only ones having a tough year.

It’s my hope to work with the blog more this year.  I’ve found inspiration in helping one of my high school best friends start a blog to chronicle her life changing move away from corporate work. She and her daughter are embracing a more nomadic lifestyle in hopes of improving her daughter’s health.  As soon as her blog is up and running I will link to it as I’m sure their adventures will be incredible!

And then there are my friends with established blogs that just blow me away with their creativity.  I’m overwhelmed by all that they do and they inspire me to write more and find my old story-telling voice again. Be prepared for farm stories, life stories, hauls, hobbies, reviews and the ever popular rambles.  I hope everyone will weather this brief period of uncertainty with me as I find my blogging mojo once again.  I’ve missed writing so much and realizing how rusty I am is frustrating but I’m determined and that’s half the challenge sometimes ūüôā

  • Evidently I can’t write cohesive posts anymore (as my unfinished drafts seem to indicate) so I’m back to my favored form of blogging
  • In farm news, we have new poultry much to the amusement and disdain of the USPS.
  • They came in waves
  • First the French Guinea keets that were met with coos and smiles
  • Then the Khaki Campbell ducks that convinced the well-meaning postal workers that they needed water so that I ended up wearing water/duck poo soaked shorts home from picking them up at the post office.
  • And then the Novogen chickens which brought the ire of the postal worker/armchair animal husbandry expert that felt the need to lecture me on the cruelties of sending chickens via post. ¬†Whatevs lady… I don’t recall asking for your input.
  • All the new acquisitions are doing very well and are growing by leaps and bounds.
  • It’s been a while since we’ve had ducklings and we all managed to forget how excessively messy they are.
  • They are super cute tho…. so that helps
  • In other news… It’s been too hot to do much with the horses.
  • The heat has been brutal!!!
  • So it was probably a good thing that I decided to go ahead and have the lipomas on my forehead removed.
  • Surgery was a beast.
  • Post op was a solitary nightmare.
  • I don’t even wish to relive it to blog about
  • in a nutshell…
  • facial surgery is painful (all them nerves gotta be feeling things!)
  • I reacted poorly to the anesthesia (hello panic attacks and hot flashes for 2 weeks!)
  • my family and friends UTTERLY ABANDONED ME for the duration (Love you guys soooo much!)
  • but on the plus side… tumors were lipomas (non cancerous) and I’m rocking some pretty bad ass scars… on my face. ¬†GRRR!
  • I’m in the process of opening an Etsy shop… maybe.
  • I’ve been making lots of jewelry and happily people are responding very positively to what I’ve made.
  • I’m thinking of making a whole separate blog for that as I don’t necessarily want that traffic over here.
  • The boys are still avid cyclists.
  • J and B are planning several rides this fall… mini “tours” so to speak
  • Aside… Froome won the Tour de France so there is happiness in my house
  • He is B’s favorite cyclist
  • Along with Peter Sagan who is becoming X’s new favorite as X is becoming interested in cycling as well… particularly sprinting.
  • I think that X has always liked the cycling thing he just didn’t think his build was conducive to it, until I pointed out that Sagan is built like a tank (compared to Froome) and he’s a very accomplished sprinter.
  • I am coming to a place of peace with cycling.
  • We will see how this tentative peace holds once the weather turns and we are all vying for ride time.
  • I am feeling optimistic
  • School is in session for us and has been since the week after the Fourth of July
  • With the exceptionally unrelenting heat we’ve been having I felt that it was in the best interest of all parties to just go ahead and start now so that we could enjoy a few Fall breaks instead.
  • It’s going well.
  • X and I are avidly reading right now.
  • He’s reading Harry Potter (his first time through the series)
  • I’m reading¬†Allegiant by Veronica Roth.
  • I thought the first two in the series were pretty good, but half way through this one and I’m starting to lose my immersion in the story. ¬†At this point I just want whatever is going to happen to just happen already.
  • I hate when a novel turns that way for me.
  • J bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which I will be delving into once I’m finished with Tris and Four.
  • I almost forgot about Luna!
  • We have a new dog!
  • She’s a Lab/Staffie/Bully mix (I hate using the word Pit)
  • She’s adorkable (typo intended)
  • She loves me and is a big 40lb teddy bear already and will probably get even bigger!
  • She’s about 4 months old now and is all-elbows and knees and goofy gawkiness.
  • I love her immensely and Joop tolerates his “little sister” better than he would like me to believe.
  • The gardens are doing well
  • We desperately need to put up more pickles as B has eaten all of ours.
  • All of them
  • As in there are no more
  • We are getting really creative with zucchini and squash
  • We have a deer problem this year which is annoying.
  • X and B have been huge helps to M.
  • X has done much of the plowing and B is a pro at picking both vegetables and bugs!
  • I’m certain that I’m leaving something out but for now that’s it… hopefully there will be a new proper update (sans bullet post) soon!

Back at the beginning of February I heard about a gelding that had been relinquished in a high-profile neglect case down in the lower part of the state. ¬†It was indicated that he was an Irish Draught by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. ¬†Immediately I was intrigued as Guinness is also by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond. ¬†I knew that finding RSD babies around the Carolinas wouldn’t be that uncommon since RSD stood in NC for a while, but I was still curious. ¬† So I called and talked with the vet in charge of his care and discovered that he had been standing as a sporthorse stud for a farm in the Charleston area and was slightly underweight and in slightly poor condition but would be gelded soon and they really wanted him out of their facility as soon as possible.

I was not in the market for a new horse. ¬†Heck, I hadn’t ridden all winter. ¬†So I politely asked if there were any photos and she sent me this:

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Well… doesn’t that horse look a bit familiar? ¬†So I politely asked her to keep me in the loop and quietly walked away feeling that surely some other person would come forward for an ISH. ¬†A week later I again hear from the vet. ¬†The gelding had been done, evidently no one else had come forward and was I still interested?? ¬†Ugh…

Tentatively I spoke with M and J and we reached the decision that this boy had been put before us for a reason and started making the arrangements to bring him home. ¬†We rearranged paddocks, set up his quarantine¬†pen and started to fish around for a trailer to use. ¬†I will not go into the horrors of trying to find a trailer to bring home a recently gelded stud horse that I don’t actually know. ¬†Understandably nobody was eager to have him onboard. ¬†So we made the decision to just use the old beat up green trailer. ¬†Our wonderful neighbor David did a quick check over it to make sure it was safe and that all the electric components were working and even tho it was a mess cosmetically,¬†it was safe and tall enough to bring home our new boy.

Valentine’s morning we headed out! ¬†J and I had a good drive down and realized rapidly why the gelding needed a new home asap. ¬†Living between the interstate and an airbase/airport isn’t exactly the most ideal life for any horse. So we pulled up and after parking amid what I think was a dog/cat adoption event and overhearing more than one person ask “how big is the dog you are planning on getting??” we were redirected to the barn were I met our new gelding.

This was my first look at him.

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What I saw was a profoundly depressed and unhappy horse. ¬†Obviously he and G share a common look, but where G has the look of a horse that has lived the padded life of a privileged, beloved show horse, the new gelding, while polite, looked tired and weary. ¬†As J put it “he looks like he’s seen some things”.

So I filled out all the legal paper work while J changed out his halter and put on his travelling clothes (cooler and boots). ¬†I wasn’t entirely sure what he would have to say about loading up on the little trailer but after a look around he walked up meekly and munched on hay while I secured the ramp. ¬†I couldn’t decide if he was that “OK” with the whole thing or if he just didn’t care anymore.

An so we began our journey back home only to realize that we were insanely hungry and needed to stop immediately for lunch. ¬†J, the intrepid puller of trailers, negotiated several multi laned highways to get us into a large parking area behind a Chik-fil-a. ¬†I decided to hang out with the gelding while J went in to order. ¬†I opened the escape door and stood talking to him, nonsensical blathering of nothingness, just to let him hear me and hopefully keep him calm. Immediately I noticed a change in him. ¬†He nosed all over my face, whoofed through my hair, nuzzled my cheek and really latched on to me as a person he was interested in. ¬†I took out my phone to update M about our progress and this happened…

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I continued to talk and babble on to him and suddenly a car pulled up beside us!  I was a little nervous as I had read a lot about his case on our way to Charleston and I knew that there were some hot opinions about it.  The couple in the car stopped to comment on how much my horse must love me because they could see how relaxed he was when I talked to him. I told them that he was a new acquisition and they were surprised as they had thought that we were a long bonded horse and rider combo.  They wished us luck and safe journeys and again I noticed how the gelding was definitely warming up to both J and me.

So we continued home with me asking J every 5 minutes if the gelding was ok. ¬†I think it made for a long trip for J even if he didn’t complain ūüôā

Somewhere along the drive home I decided that Fawkes would be a perfect name. ¬†I did not like the name he came with and I felt like he needed a new name to start his new life. ¬†So Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix, seemed perfect!

Anyway, we made it home before dark and spent a good 30 minutes hand walking Fawkes around to work out his travel stiffness before putting him up for the evening.  He was polite and courteous, even with the wind blowing fiercely.

Then next day we spent shoring up shelters as wintry weather was forecast. ¬†As I was feeding Fawkes his morning feed I noticed his sheath was grossly swollen. ¬†I placed a couple phone calls to the vet and ended up driving to TR as the sleet and frozen rain started to pick up medicine at the vet’s office.

The weather tanked during the night and we awoke to an icy wonderland!

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Fawkes didn’t seem to mind at all. ¬†He didn’t even think the children sledding on the ice was all that interesting. ¬†He did spend some time making kissy faces with Noorah.

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Already looking like a different horse!!

The swelling in his sheath gave us several days of concern as did his very ugly gelding incisions. I’ll spare you the pictures, trust me they are gross. ¬†I had pretty much daily phone calls to the girls at the vet’s office to make sure we were on the right treatment path. ¬†It was a tough time as my instinct said that I should cold hose his sheath area, but my common sense said that cold hosing in single digit temps was potentially dangerous!

A week or so in Fawkes turned grumpy and moody.  He was unhappy with the horses in his neighboring paddocks.  He was unhappy with me.  He was unhappy with the boys changing his water.  He was unhappy with J feeding him hay.  Everything caused penned ears and unhappy eyes.

I spent some time just observing him and noticed that he was repeatedly pulling at his turnout and biting at his shoulder.  So with a modicum of trepidation, he is a big boy after all, I walked up to him and started scratching his shoulder under his blanket.  Initially he had his angry face on, but then it melted away and he started leaning into my hand as I scratched.  So I took off his blanket and started scratching all over his shoulders and as far down his back as he would let me.  Initially he would let me go as far as his withers but after a few minutes he was ok with letting me scratch him pretty much all over.  Unfortunately in the middle of our bonding session a car pulled up in our drive-way and I had to leave him but as soon as I came back to the fence he backed up and invited me to scratch his butt.  We have daily scratching sessions now and the unhappy grumpy mood has disappeared.

Fawkes has also been having weekly sessions with Nicole of EquiZen Horse Therapies.  I really have to say that these acupressure sessions have worked wonders on all my horses and Fawkes is no different.

Fawkes is¬†learning what it means to be a pampered and loved horse and seeing him really blossom has been amazing!! ¬†He’s gone from being a dull and grungy, unhappy horse to being a shiny, personable, gelding with a little bit of a sense of humor that pops up from time to time. ¬†I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!

 

 

Due to the things going on at the house between my last “Adventurous Recap” post and today I just haven’t had time to sit down and really recap what happened.

In a nutshell we stayed at the Luray Caverns West Motel, which was luckily within easy walking distance to a McDonalds (yuck I know, but it was food) and within the delivery range of several Italian places.

After an unsuccessful conversation with the local insurance agent we made the decision to go ahead and get a rental car (provided by our insurance) and head down to Michie Tavern for the day while we figured out how best to have the car repaired.

Michie Tavern definitely hit the spot and made up for 2 meals at McD’s!! Even Sophie hit her chicken limit… tho she still had plenty of room for dessert!

We had decided that our best course of action was to have J head up with our flat bed trailer (after getting a tow quote of somewhere near $1600) and M and Sophie to head down in the rental while I stayed at the motel with the car. ¬†I was able to arrange for a friend to hang out with the boys at the farm and keep an eye on things while J and M were in transit but I had not taken into account how stressful this how adventure had been on them. ¬†In hindsight I should have had J pile Martha and the boys into the truck and had him meet M somewhere along the way… however that didn’t happen and ultimately lead to situations that I will blog about at a later date.

I will say that 4 hours that I was solo in the motel with M and J on the road was horrific. My phone was refusing to charge properly and as I was the only female in the entire motel (the other occupants being well intoxicated golfers) I didn’t feel exactly comfortable just wandering around. ¬†I had thought to spend some time sketching or writing but my pens and pencils had been nicked by Sophie for her trip back home. ¬†So I dug out a book I had purchased in Carlisle. ¬†Last Words of Sinners and Saints is not good reading when you’re slightly creeped out and by yourself.

It was a long 4 hours.

I felt so sorry for J. ¬†He drove all that long way up to Luray, slept fitfully in a less than comfortable bed, loaded up the car and headed out again the next morning. ¬†That was a lot of driving!! At least the return trip he had me chatting away in his ear… the whole time…. mostly nonstop.

So… We made it home… dropped the car off at David’s and started the process of getting the x5 back in working order. ¬†Not going to lie but it’s been a serious undertaking. ¬†So many things were damaged from that deer that had to be replaced… things that were damaged that damaged other things that had to be replaced. ¬†At one point I seriously thought the car was going to be totaled but thankfully it was not.

The car was completed and ready to go just in time for our next trip to MD for feed. ¬†Happily that trip went uneventfully and we have since changed feed to a locally available product which works out better for both our horses and our cars ūüôā

Had I been able to write this closer to the time it happened I’m sure there would’ve been more humor but so many things that happened on this trip started the downward decline of Martha that I can’t really look at it with humor anymore. ¬†Martha was always a sensitive person and would fret over perceived issues. ¬†Her worry over us having a wreck, her worrying over M and J driving so far. Her worry over me being alone so far from home. Her worry over situations that happened with the boys while we were away. ¬†All those worries surely didn’t help an already unwell woman.

 

I’ve never been one to write big lengthy Resolutions. ¬†Sure there’s the customary “eat healthier” and “ride more” but those aren’t really earth shattering. ¬†This year my only resolution is to be braver. ¬†My first act in that direction is signing up for a low level eventing clinic at my friend Nicole’s barn. ¬†It’s all the way in March so I’m hoping that I can get back into my riding groove before then… otherwise I’m praying Nicole has the patience of Job!!

I’ve enjoyed the past few years doing the hunter paces, but I think we’ve done enough putzing around and need to make a decision to move forward in our riding skills. ¬†So clinics and lessons are in our future! ¬†I haven’t had a formal riding lesson since 1993 and Pip is still really green but any step forward is progress so here goes!! ¬†I’m excited, tho a bit bemusedly anxious about how Pip will behave. ¬†He’s a good steady ride but I’ve not really asked him to do a lot of ring work so I’m not sure how his brain is going to feel about doing the “boring” work instead of clomping along a trail. We’ve been working on consistency at the trot and he hasn’t exactly enjoyed that but at least he’s not doing his “THAT IS NOT SAFE!!!” freak out about trotting over poles.

I’m also trying to think of things to do with Seiji and Legion in the New Year. ¬†I’ve been inspired by my friend Mala and her beautiful filly Isabel to actually DO something with my colts while they are growing. ¬†I don’t think we will achieve her level (4th in Worlds!) as Seiji and Legion are actually nursemare foals with unclear breeding (TB?check!! whatever else? ehhh maybe a percheron or QH??). ¬†I like to think that Seiji has a Mine That Bird look about him which would suggest that he’s a Birdstone throwby and Legion sure has that Tapit zip and zing. The world will never know but it’s nice to think they are descended from greatness (just the wrong side of the barn aisle lol).

Guinness is also on my project docket for 2015. ¬†I will figure out how to ride him in this new year! ¬†Strange words I know, and to my non-riding friends it’s probably a curious statement. ¬†G’s dressage training has made him a bit more complicated to negotiate than I had anticipated but I’m hoping with my patient and kind trainer I’ll finally unlock the secret to my big bored gelding! ¬†I know he’s as frustrated that he’s sitting bored in a paddock while lazy-bones Pip gets pulled out every single time. ¬†G is the opposite of Pip in many aspects most notably his work ethic. ¬†G loves to work… Pip loves to be cute! ¬†I’ve toyed with the idea of doing low level eventing with G as well as Pip. ¬†I was told that G was a jumper in his youth and moved over to dressage as his former owner moved away from jumping altogether. ¬†I will continue toying with that idea as I get to know him better and get more hours and miles in on him.

Woodrow continues to improve. ¬†He’s done a Lyme vial series which seemed to push him towards recovery and we bolstered that by starting him on an acupressure and message regime with Nicole. ¬†After his first session he was cavorting around his paddock, snorting and rearing and generally being a playful youngster. ¬†Within a week he was filling out and visibly feeling better. ¬†His next session is in a couple days and I’m excited to see him continue to improve. ¬†I’m hoping that this will be the year that he enters into proper riding. ¬†He’ll be 5 in May and has been very slow to mature as most drafts are but I’m thinking it’s time for him to have a job.

Other than horses we’ve also been making plans for the summer garden. ¬†I ordered M’s tomato and pepper seeds yesterday (I will post that list soon) and we’re all gearing up for a big gardening year. ¬†We are in the process of establishing a new kitchen garden in the old pig lots nearer the house. I’m excited to have a kitchen garden again and very excited to see the variety of beets that M is planning to grow. ¬†I love beets, especially freshly picked from the garden!

So it’s going to be a busy year and hopefully I’ll be blogging more to document it!

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