Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Welcome Cuff Links and Happy Birthday!!

I just edited my post as I learned some vital information a minute ago - April 1st is Cuffie's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CUFFIE - your present is joining us for retirement!!!

As I mentioned in my last post we recently had a new arrival join us for retirement. Cuff Links joined us this past Friday after travelling from California, delivered by Hubbard Horse Transportation. Every retiree we have here from the west coast has travelled to us via Hubbard and we've yet to have anything but a good experience. "Cuffie" walked off the trailer alert and happy and immediately drug me over to the grass and started grazing. That has pretty much been his main desire since arrival, he is a lawn mower extraordinaire!

Does it get any cuter than this??

I keep telling Cuffie that he will like us a lot better in a couple of weeks. Although he is used to several hours of turnout each day he did not have access to any grass at his last boarding facility. Much to Cuffie's chagrin we only allowed him 10 minutes of grazing Friday evening, 10 minutes on Saturday, and then we have added 10 minutes each day since then. Today Cuffie got to graze for 40 whole minutes and I don't think he lifted his head the entire time! He does get out for a couple of hand walks every day and some extra turnout time in my arena, but he has made it clear that since grazing is now an option in his life again it is the only turnout time that really counts!

Cuffie in his favorite position - head down and grazing; he came to the right place for that!
Cuffie looking around at his new digs; he seems pretty pleased with them so far.

stretching his legs

When I originally started talking with Cuffie's owners a few months ago I asked them if by chance he was a gray and did he used to show on the East coast? Because if that was the case I had seen him in person several years ago at the shows. As it turned out it is indeed the same Cuff Links who used to show on the East coast. I remember Cuffie as a dark, dappled gray but he has become a beautiful snowy white as he has aged. Cuffie is in his late teens and unfortunately is no longer comfortable when working due to arthritis.

Cuffie and his young rider all decked out; I would guess they were getting ready for an equitation class since he has his boots on.

Cuffie can officially say that he has shown coast to coast and won everywhere. Cuffie is a medium pony hunter and has won and been champion in every division he has shown in against the best of company. He was a winner in the medium green pony hunters, the regular medium pony hunters, short stirrup, children's pony hunters, pony equitation, walk trot - his list of winnings is lengthy!

Cuffie and his young rider in the short stirrup division

Cuffie is well loved by the family who has owned him for the last few years. He has taken great care of both of their daughters. Unfortunately his time with their youngest daughter was cut short due to his retirement. Luckily for Cuffie they all want the best for him, and instead of pushing him anymore and trying to keep him going they decided to give him the retirement he has earned. On top of that they chose to ship him to our farm where he could enjoy life in big, grass pastures and let him return to the grazing that he loves so much. They definitely made the right decision in that regard, like I mentioned Cuffie is a VERY dedicated grazer! I expect that he will eventually lift his head from grazing after he gets to be out in a grass paddock for longer periods of time. We will be using the next month to continue to slowly re-introduce his digestive tract to grass.

Cuffie and his rider both look very focused (and oh so CUTE) in this picture

We have all thoroughly enjoyed our first few days getting to know Cuffie. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is actually my job, not just what I want to do because it is fun every day. Taking care of a pony as sweet and cute as Cuffie is simply a very easy way to pass the time! It is ok to admit that you are jealous. I will admit that I have been gloating ever since he arrived. Hey, all of us horse crazy girls all dreamed of having the cutest pony around to call our very own. Well I can't officially call him mine but he does live with me now! My own childhood pony Daisy was an amazing pony and loved dearly by not only me but my entire family until the day she passed away. I have to admit though that Cuffie wins the cute contest. He also came complete with his very own purple Rambo Wug blanket. The cute factor is downright painful!
It has been my pleasure to introduce Cuff Links and to welcome him to our farm. We have a few more future residents waiting in the "queue" to join us for retirement. I'm looking forward to meeting each one of them in the upcoming weeks and months. What a great life!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interesting Weekend

The weekend could not have had a better start. We greeted a new arrival on Friday evening! he arrived at about 8:15 pm from California. He made the trip from the West Coast to enjoy a first class retirement with us. Since I don't have time to type out a proper introduction with this post I will leave you with a starter picture below.

Our latest arrival to join us for retirement

Saturday was another beautiful day, low 70's and sunny. I had a nice ride on Lexi, Jason played with Mina and Jo outside and my dad busied himself mowing the grass up and down the loooong driveway. I must admit I don't understand why he mows since he pays a lawn service but I guess he has his reasons.

I was feeding the horses dinner on Saturday afternoon enjoying the day when I heard a rumble of thunder in the distance. Our weather report kept saying we were supposed to have thunderstorms all day on Saturday but it thankfully didn't work out that way. It did start to sprinkle as I made my way over to the last horses to feed them dinner. While they were taking their time eating it turned into a steady but fairly light rain for about fifteen minutes. I looked up to the sky and saw the most beautiful rainbow over the farm. It was awesome with vibrant colors and the full arch. I had left my camera in the feed shed so I couldn't take a picture right away. By the time I got a picture the rain was gone and the rainbow was also almost gone.
I wish I could have taken this picture about ten minutes earlier. The rainbow was fading away rapidly by the time I got back to where my camera was.

I was a little soggy as I walked back to the house after being caught out in the rain while waiting for the last of the horses to finish eating. I didn't really care about getting wet since I knew I was heading straight inside to take a shower anyway. So instead of complaining about being caught in the the rain I embraced my inner tree hugger and just enjoyed the warm rain as I stood out in it.

As I walked my wet self into the house Jason had the television on. This is notable since we literally go weeks at a time without turning on our tv. I wonder why I bother every month as I pay our Dish Network bill! Apparently there was a line of strong thunderstorms heading our way. Maybe the weather forecasters hadn't been completely wrong after all.

I headed to the shower and as I got out Jason said that the line of storms would hit us any minute. And boy did the hit us a few minutes later. We were pelted with over two inches of rain in less than thirty minutes! At one point it was raining so hard I could barely see the barn, which is next door to my house, out the windows.

The funniest part was right after Jason said the storms would be here any minute we heard a noise and looked out the window. It was my dad driving past on the lawn mower to put it away. He put the lawn mower away and started driving his Gator back to his house (fully loaded with dogs of course) right when the rain hit. So my dad and the dogs drove up the driveway to their house in torrential rain. As I understand it Bugle, who always rides on the passenger seat of the Gator, was not happy.

Then, as quickly as the rain started, it stopped. I don't think I ever heard even a rumble of thunder, just torrential rain. Jason and I went outside to see how things looked. We literally had a river running through our front yard. As we strolled around the farm we saw various low lying areas in the fields with some standing water in them. What shocked both of us was that behind my arena there was a little pond with inches of water. I've never seen that before. The horses in that field thought it was cool. They had plenty of areas that didn't have any standing water in them (as in most of their 23 acre pasture) but where were they? In the new "pond" slapping the water with their front hooves and having a great time.

I was surprised that by this morning basically all of the standing water was gone. The "pond" you see in the pictures below was pretty well completely gone in a few hours. This morning with the exception of the paths where you can obviously see where the water flowed leaving lots of dead leaves and such behind you can't really tell that we had a huge amount of rain in such a short time. I was expecting a muddy, soggy mess for the next few days. I was pleasantly surprised! I guess it helps a lot that the grass is growing now and taking up a lot of the water. The only reminder of the rain was the much cooler temperatures that came behind it a few hours later. Our high was only 50 today. Thankfully we're back to more pleasant temperatures tomorrow!

One of our new "rivers" flowing around my arena and feeding into the new "pond"
The horses couldn't resist playing in the water
Amazingly all of this water was gone in a few hours; you can't even tell today that we had these "rivers" and "ponds"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pictures + Status Change

We had a big event today! Jason received his U.S. Citizenship today and we attended his citizenship ceremony. For those of you who don't already know this Jason is a Canadian citizen, but as of today he is a citizen of most of North America. Lucky guy! We celebrated by coming home and putting Mina and Jo out in their paddock to play and graze for a couple of hours. We were laughing that his first official act as a U.S. Citizen was taking his goats outside to play! Bear is also a citizen of most of North America since he was actually born in Ontario as well before moving to Tennessee at the tender age of six weeks. So I now live with a husband and a dog with dual citizenships. I feel left out!

We will have another busy Friday on the retirement farm tomorrow. Our wonderful farrier Gwen will be here for several hours tomorrow. We also have a new resident arriving for retirement tomorrow as well. And of course we will continue to work away with shedding tools in hand on all of the horses. It rained yesterday and last night and there is nothing like a good rain to help loosen up a lot of hair! I was yet again covered in horse hair and dirt this afternoon as I used my repertoire of shedding tools on several horses. The hair was just coming off of them in sheets after the rain. A few more weeks of eating horse hair and we'll have everyone sporting their slick summer coats. Some of the horses are almost there while others still look like hairy yaks in spite of the fact that we've curried them within an inch of their lives!

Now on to some pictures. These pictures were all taken in late November and early December. It is a lot easier to look at these pictures of horses in blankets and dormant grass when the temperatures are back in the 70's and the grass is green and growing again!

Gwen working away on Faune while Sparky watches and waits for his turn. Sparky adores Gwen, she is one of his most favorite people on the planet.

Sparky and Faune then moved in for a kiss
Trillion doing his dead horse imitation (I thought it was real one time) while Sebastian naps along with him. Asterik is standing watch behind them.
From back to front: Elfin, Leo, Ivan, Chance, Tony
Ogie and Asterik enjoying a nap together
Levendi napping; napping seems to have been a theme during the time frame in which I took these pictures!
Poco with his mane going everywhere. I remember taking this picture because we were having our own version of a "mexican standoff." He had to have Liver Kl'een every morning for five months and it was a rodeo every day to accomplish that task.
"What does a horse have to do in order to get breakfast around here????" L-R Trillion, Sebastian, Asterik, Faune, Ogie
Harmony napping
Grazing; L-R Elfin, Homer, Levendi, Tony
Ivan looking over the fence
Leo and Levendi
Buffy, Harmony, Missy and Teddy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Day In Pictures And Video

Below are some scenes from around the retirement farm on Tuesday. It was another beautiful day, sunny and 77 for the high. The horses were relaxed, the goats were playful and the people were happy. We also have a new resident who was picked up by the shipper toay and is officially en route to join us for retirement. Who doesn't love knowing that you have a new horse on the way??!!

When I watch this video and look at the pictures I am reminded again at how lucky I am to do what I do every day. I realize not everyone would want to spend their days outside in all types of weather with a farm full of horses and other assorted critters but I can't think of a better way to spend my days. Enjoy these scenes from around the farm.

Billy and Bubba doing their goat things. First we play a bit and crack our horns together, then Bubba bashes his head into their house a few times. This is the reason Jason and I have been working on rebuilding their house as they've systematically destroyed it over the years. We've pulled out the old floor and rebuilt a new one and now we just need to finish rebuilding the one side. The things we do for our stray goats . . .

Mina and Jo had fun outside today. Jo on top of the bucket.Jason propped up a couple of boards we had out there for rebuilding the goat house and made them a little ramp to play on. This is Mina playing on the ramp while Jo watches. Two little fainting goats running as hard as they can. I like Jo's "aerodynamic" look with the ears all the way back.Jason petting his girls while they play on the tree stump L-R Lucky, Snappy, Clay and Silky (aka Slinky)Dustin grazing quietlyLevendi goes after an itchy spot Tony coming eagerly to eat dinner with the breeze giving his mane a lift.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Working and Resting

The people on the farm worked very hard this weekend. On the other hand the horses mostly seemed to be lounging around while watching our frenzy of activity. Jason pretty much lived on the tractor Friday through Sunday. I think it would be appropriate to say that his back is killing him! He fertilized, did weed control, re-seeded with grass seed, and harrowed everywhere again. He basically covered the farm four times in three days.

Jason on the tractor

I was of course opening and closing gates and doing all of the regular daily farm things. I think I could walk around and open and close gates without opening my eyes today. The horses apparently found none of this of particular interest and I had ample opportunity to take pictures of horses napping and rolling.

We hardly took a break and Jason and I shared a very romantic lunch sitting on the tailgate of the Kubota utility vehicle out in one of the pastures. He had a brief reprieve from the cab of the tractor for a few minutes to eat lunch.

Finally on Sunday afternoon Jason finished his last pass on the pastures with the tractor. We were congratulating ourselves (mostly Jason really) for accomplishing an amazing amount of work over three days. All that was left to do was unhook the last piece of equipment and put away the tractor. We would be done in ten minutes - YAY!!! But then the pin wouldn't come out of the hitch. No problem, we'll just grab a hammer and give it a tap and it will pop right out.

Well it didn't. So Jason went and got the sledge hammer. We pounded on this pin from the bottom. It didn't move. It didn't move because it was bent, which sometimes happens as you pull equipment across a farm. Do you have any idea how awkward it is to swing a 16 pound sledge hammer UP and not down?? I do. We moved on to trying some big crow barns wedged under the top of the pin while pounding with the sledge hammer. We tried putting a jack under the pin and just forcing it up and out with the jack. All we did was lift the tractor up!

Three different sized pry bars, the sledge hammer, the jack . . . none of it was successful in getting the bent pin out

After almost an HOUR Jason couldn't take it any more and we weren't getting this bent pin out. So Jason went in the workshop and came back with a grinder. He said he was going to force it to be a cutting tool and cut this iron pin in half. It wasn't pretty and that poor grinder was smoking and sparks were flying everywhere. He finally managed to cut the pin in half, we popped out both ends and at last we were done.

Sparks starting to fly as Jason ran out of patience and just cut the pin in half. My camera battery died as I took this picture. The wall of sparks ended up being well above Jason's head before his mission was accomplished!

Unfortunately for Jason the torture didn't end though. I had gotten us tickets to see the Vienna Boys Choir at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville on Sunday evening. He was unable to come up with some kind of witness relocation program or to fake illness so he had to go. He didn't enjoy most of the first half where they sang classical music only and sang in all foreign languages, a lot of it in Latin. He really enjoyed the second half though when they performed some classic Austrian songs including some with yodeling, polka dances and other fun things as well as other pieces from around the world. I guess I will be expected to sit through a performance of the Grand Ole Opry as payback. Ugh.

Every day new signs of spring; this tree is close to leafing out
Chance relaxing
Harmony napping
Harmony then moved on into full sleep/dead horse position
Ogie napping with Henry behind him
Lexi rolling

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let The Fur Fly

The fur is flying everywhere these days as we enter shedding season. I walk around with horse hair on my clothes, in my hair, in my teeth (I really hate that part!), just everywhere! Amy and I each give a good currying to five or six horses per day and we've curried every horse on the farm twice this week. Both of us feel like our arms are going to fall off!

Even Mina and Jo are shedding! I am wondering if they are shedding their baby coats like horses do. Here is Jo on their "castle" Jason put in the stall for them - an upside down little water trough. They go outside for playtime every day but we don't want them to be bored in their stall. They are just 90 days old.

Mina sleeping on the chair

It is always interesting to me the differences in shedding from horse to horse. Some of them you can give them a couple of good curries and they are done. Others seem to let go just a little bit at a time. You can only curry off so much hair from them in a session. Others it seems like you could curry them 24/7 forever and the hair will just keep pouring off of them as you wonder if it will ever end. Some of the horses I can tell we've really made a dent in their shedding already especially on their necks, others looked like we hadn't done a thing even after we'd really worked hard.

On Wednesday morning we were working our way through currying the big boys. Apollo is 18.1 hands and he has a massive winter coat that he is starting to shed. Amy tackled him and I thought I was going to have to administer CPR to her after she was done - there is a lot of horse to curry with Apollo! He was one of the ones that looked like you hadn't done a thing after twenty minutes of effort even though the hair just poured off of him.

Leo was next and he really enjoyed his time. Leo was one that especially on his neck you could already start to see glimpses of a slick, shiny coat. Apollo and Leo wandered off over by their run-in shed after they were done. The funny part was that after Ivan, Tony and Elfin were curried they would wander a few strides off and then lay down in the sun. First Elfin, then Ivan, and finally Tony completed the napping triumvirate. I don't know if the vigorous currying really relaxed them, if they were just enjoying the gorgeous day we were having (70 and sunny - perfect) or what the trigger was. At one point they were all three doing their best "dead horse" impression. So we were laughing that we had caused death via the curry comb.

L-R Ivan, Tony and Elfin giving us his dead horse impersonation

I woke Elfin up when I took the first picture; here he looks a bit groggy and has his drooping lower lip. On another note why do they always have to get dirty as soon as you finish cleaning them up??

Tony doing his dead horse impression

And of course Ivan was not to be out done; here he is with his dead horse impersonation
I think I have every shedding tool under the sun. I have shedding blades including the double blade ones, I have a furminator, regular curry combs, curry mitts and also the epona shedding flowers. I had never used the shedding flowers before and was complaining one day to Amy that I dreaded shedding season because holding the shedding blade for hours always left blisters on my hand. She raved about the epona shedding flowers and that she liked them so much because they were easy to hold and didn't cause blisters or your fingers to fatigue. So I bought a bunch of those this year as well.

Chance happily relaxing while Amy works on him with the epona shedding flower

My only complaint about the shedding flowers is that your fingers and fingernails are right there getting all of the dirt and grime in them when you first start if the horse is really dirty. So if they are really dirty I go over them once with the shedding blade to knock off the dirt and then I work away with the shedding flower. In my opinion Amy was right, they work great and you don't get blisters and your fingers don't get so worn out! I like my furminator but I have to be careful with it, you can really pull out to much hair with those things and the directions tell you not to make more than two passes over the same area in a single session. We mostly use the furminator on Bear these days. Jason accidentally gave Bear a tiny bald spot with the furminator once - he felt really bad! So what are your favorite shedding tools and grooming routine for shedding?

Some of the trees are starting to leaf out as well. The pear trees have bloomed and in fact are already starting to lose the bloom and go to leaf. The grass is greener and taller every day. And of course the fur is flying everywhere. Spring is officially here!

The pear trees in front of my parents' house; one of them is already starting to leaf out
Leaves are starting to slowly make an appearance on some of the trees. We'll get to watch all of the trees slowly leaf out over a few weeks. When Jason and I lived in New England I remember being amazed at how fast everything happened. One day it was winter and then ten days later the grass was green and all of the trees were leafed out!