Sunday, February 28, 2010

Technical Difficulties

My computer is not being cooperative tonight. Hopefully it will return to its senses after I bash it a few times with a hammer and scream at it. Actually I've already tried the screaming and that didn't work. Off to bash, scream, and do some troubleshooting.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jason Shares His Thoughts on Farming

Melissa wrote once that her passion is horses; everything about them stirs something in her that nothing else can or probably ever will replace. As such, she has endlessly devoted herself to studying them and caring for them. Largely thanks to her we run a growing and successful farm business based on caring for aged and retired horses.

My passion in life is farming; literally everything about it makes me feel good about who I am and what I am doing on this earth. It has been so ever since I can remember following my grandfather literally through each season since I was a small child. I grew up among a large, kind and loving extended family. However, of everyone in the family, my granddad always seemed to be the one who had endless time for me, and he certainly had an outsized role in shaping the man I have become. If he had a favourite grandchild amongst his large brood…..and this was never a certain thing….that grandchild was probably me. Thanks to the endless hours I spent with him, I gained a depth of old rural knowledge uncommon in children of my generation even in the community where I grew up. One of the things I remember best about the years I spent working with him every day around the farm was his slow and persistent way of accomplishing large, seemingly endless tasks (of which there are a God’s plenty on any working farm). He never looked like he was working very hard or accomplishing very much, but he was ALWAYS working…and by days end he had usually out-accomplished all the rest of us while consuming what seemed like half the expenditure of labour we required in the process !

My grandfather was an excellent farmer who got his greatest joy out of doing the work itself, no matter what that work happened to be. Since I am definitely not my grandfather in this respect….I fully detest some tasks (!!), I have to find my salvation elsewhere !

What gives me equal parts comfort, joy and peace is working within the rhythm of the seasons to correct imbalances and in so doing to make everything living thing on the farm perform more vigourously than it did before. On this farm I very much like to see my horses, cows and pastures perform with vigour ! I once compared my role on the farm to that of a maestro conducting an orchestra and I think this is an apt comparison, although there aren’t very many maestros who have hands as dirty as mine at the end of the day ! Thankfully, maestro is a necessary job description on a farm too!

So in back of my answers to unasked reader questions there (unsurprisingly) lies a question for all you readers. Which part of the horse experience brings out your passion to the highest degree ? Is your passion highest while in the heat of competition, or does some other aspect of horse keeping, or indeed life generally, bring it out more ?

Bella the dog, Mina and Jo (World's Cutest Fainting Goats) and Billy were hanging out in the sun today

Buffy and Missy

Baby, Thomas, Homer and Trigger grazing in the morning sun

Cuff Links and Bella

Lucky was taking a nap while Chili grazed

MyLight flirting with Thomas (Trigger and Baby in the background)

Sebastian and Asterik; I love how Asterik is looking so clean (NOT!)

B-Rad's alert expression made him look so cute I had to take his picture

Faune and Winston

That's Missy hiding in the hay


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still Not Spring

Mother Nature is back to being a cruel mistress again. After our glorious few days of 60's and sunshine we are back to overcast, dreary looking and cold. I looked at the daffodils today and they are now not quite two inches out of the ground. They should be in full bloom by now. About a third of the horses are back in blankets again. Thankfully it isn't windy nor is there any precipitation in our forecast, just colder than normal temperatures. So some of the horses are back in their blankies but the majority are still naked.

I mentioned that by the weekend the skunk smell in the barn was largely gone. If the breeze blew in just the right direction you knew the smell was still hanging on, but most of the time it was not noticeable any more. The brief but heavy rain shower we had on Sunday evening took us back to square one. The skunk smell in the barn came roaring back. Not as overwhelmingly strong as it originally was, but still fairly strong. Eleven days and counting on the skunk smell. It did seem better today, we'll see how long that lasts.

I still hold a grudge against Punxsutawney Phil, I hold him personally responsible for the weather. It is good weather for watching the Winter Olympics though. Jason and I aren't usually TV watchers but we have been Olympics junkies. I am pretty fascinated with the curling, and since Jason used to curl regularly in Canada he is excellent at explaining what the heck is going on. He was a bit . . . deflated . . . after the men's Canada/USA hockey game. I have been pretty enthralled by the snowboarders, skiers, ski jumpers, bobsled, luge, skeleton, all of it. So many of these people are crazy!! Who decided it would be a good idea to go head first down the luge track?? Unfortunately the Olympics have not motivated me to ride in the cold. Of course I rode during the nice weather, but this afternoon I could not make myself get on. Just call me a fair weather rider, I'm down with that.

Cuffie rolling; he spent more time making sure his choice of rolling location was perfectly prepared than he did rolling. I didn't record all of his prep, otherwise this video clip would literally be ten minutes long. He was fastidious and thorough in his rolling preparation.

Homer, Ivan and Apollo hanging out

On the left we have Lexi, Sparky the donkey and Sky; on the right Norman, Cinnamon and Bonnie

I thought Cuff Links and Buffy looked like a matched set with their gray hair and purple blankets

Missy and Lily in the front, then Buffy and MyLight, Thomas just behind the fence and then Elfin and Chance

MyLight was not interested in me taking her picture

I watched a repeat of the video I posted last week. First Apollo rolled in the mud . . .

. . . followed by Thomas!

The geese think they somehow went the wrong direction; they thought they would find spring in full force here but they did not.

Mr. O'Reilly

Lucky and Slinky

Elfin, Thomas, Apollo, Trigger and Chance

Ogie and B-Rad

Winston and Faune

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Living the Life

The last few days the theme around the farm has been run, play, roll and nap. The weather has been wonderful, Saturday and Sunday were both sunny and in the mid 60's. By Friday afternoon everyone was naked. I told Jason it felt like we were a nudist beach or something, I've gotten so used to seeing horses wearing rainsheets and blankets. There have been plenty of times when most of the horses have been naked but not a lot where everyone has been naked.

The horses were enjoying the sun and it seemed like every time I looked around I saw another horse down taking a nap. There was a lot of "dead horse" going on around here this weekend. It wore me out running around making sure everyone really was just taking a nap. The last three days were just fun days to be on the farm. All I saw were horses running for the fun of it, playing with each other, rolling like fiends, of course taking naps, and grazing in the sun.

A couple of the horses are in serious shedding mode right now although most are just now starting to shed, and very halfheartedly at that. It always seems like the gray horses are the ones that really start to shed ahead of everyone else. Cuffie lost a mountain of hair today while I went over him with the shedding blade. I watched Lily roll this morning, and there was a pile of white hair on the grass after she stood up. When she did the requisite after roll shake white hair when flying everywhere.

Thanks to our wonderful (not) winter we had this year we are having a very late spring. Our daffodils should be in full bloom by now and they are just barely starting to come up out of the ground. At least it feels like spring really is going to come, and hopefully soon!

The skunk smell in the barn has improved tremendously, we are on day eight today. It is mostly gone, with the office being the only part with an odor lingering consistently. Since the windows have been able to be open in the office the last few days hopefully that will help with the odor.

Lightening and Lucky running just for the fun of it . The zoom on my camera was temporarily stuck so a lot of this looks far away. At about 1:20 that is Lightening and Clay both rolling, it is hard to tell since the stupid zoom decided not to zoom for a few minutes. I think my poor camera is so overloaded with dirt it is getting time for a replacement.

Continuing on with more happy horses. How anyone could think these horses would rather be standing in a stall most of the time being "pampered" is beyond me. We start with Lucky and O'Reilly playing. Then Trigger and Thomas run along behind the fence, and then Thomas stops to roll. We then see more playing O'Reilly and Levendi playing over the fence.

Homer and Ivan napping with Chance grazing in the background

Missy and Lily
Mares just hanging out; MyLight, Harmony, Missy and Buffy

Winston was napping hard in dead horse position
O'Reilly, Chili and Snappy grazing in the sun
Homer, Apollo, Levendi, Baby and Trigger were all very happy to not be wearing a sheet or a blanket
Dustin, Ivan and Tony
Jo the fainting goat was a very active participant on farrier day. Here she decided it was time to say hello to Gwen the farrier while she was trimming Missy.

I missed the prefect picture. Tony was hanging out in a stall awaiting his turn with the farrier when Jo came marching up to introduce herself. They touched noses, it was very cute. Here Jo is walking away while Tony says "don't leave yet!"
Elfin turning around to see what that silly goat was up to now. Elfin and Jo also touched noses.
Jo wore herself out playing with the farrier and the horses so she had to take a nap. Jo in dead goat position.

Harmony napping in the sun

Another horse in dead horse position
I walked out to check and make sure they were just napping and Chili popped his head up and looked at me

Faune snoozed in the hay while Winston ate hay on Friday morning

Hanging out in the sun; Slinky in the front with Baby, Ivan and Apollo in the back

Two nappers, one standing (Lucky) and one down (Snappy)
Cloudy climbed up on the hay bales in the Kubota to take a cat nap

Norman always looks so cute no matter what he is doing

Cinnamon grazing in the sun

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Sun Returns

Our snow that came down early this week had all melted by Wednesday afternoon. The sun graced us with its presence today and our temperature started climbing up towards a more normal level. Our normal daytime highs for this time of the year would be in the mid 50's. Some days we have barely reached 40. Jason said the weather forecaster on the news tonight said this was the third longest period since weather records have been kept when we haven't reached at least 50 degrees during the day. Hmmph, I don't like setting these records!

However spring is clearly on the way. The cool season grasses are greening up, the geese are back in the pond, and most of the horses are shedding. Some have a decent amount of hair coming off of them, others are barely shedding. It will not be long before I am breathing in large quantities of horse hair all day long.

We're still breathing the lovely aroma of skunk hair in the barn. It may have lessened slightly, but we're at five days and counting. I think I am starting to somewhat get used to it. Tomorrow is another farrier day and I am off to make my list.

Leo and Apollo celebrating blanket freedom with a nice, muddy roll. Why can't they roll in the grass?? Thomas gets in on the action as well even though he still has a blanket on.

Another beautiful sunset over the farm

Winston and Faune

Homer, Thomas and Apollo

Levendi, Elfin and Ivan

Tony, Chance and Ivan were all squeezed together hanging out

Thomas and Elfin

Levendi; what a cute face he has



By Thursday our snow had melted, the temperatures were going up (still not where they should be!), and several blankets were removed. Lily rolled immediately!

Harmony and MyLight

Slinky in front of the fence, Chance and Trigger behind the fence

Dustin and Homer

Levendi and Chance

Missy was very happy to have her blanket removed

B-Rad, Sebastian, Ogie and Faune enjoying the sunny day

Cloudy the cat was soaking up the sun, he climbed up on the truck to maximize his exposure

Cloudy; such a handsome guy