Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tractor Repairs, Jason Blogs and Roadside Attractions

As we mentioned in this post Jason decided to undertake the project of removing the fuel tank from the Kubota tractor. The tank needed to be professionally cleaned and re-sealed. Of course removing the tank meant almost the entire tractor had to be dismantled - the cap, the steering wheel, a large chunk of the engine . . . it has all been scattered around in parts for the last week.

Yesterday my dad and Jason started the job of putting the newly cleaned and re-sealed fuel tank back in the tractor, and then re-assembling the tractor. They worked away for hours. I will say my dad spent a lot of time in a lawn chair supervising while Jason crawled around and shimmied all over the tractor like a monkey. At one point the fuel tank was in, everything was re-assembled, and the tractor supposedly even started. But then they realized they had forgotten a crucial step (something to do with a valve in the fuel tank??) and had to take it all apart again.

I came back by late in the day as they were getting ready to wrap things up for the day. I asked how things were going and was told of the assembly, success in starting, and then realizing they had to disassemble again to do something to the valve in the fuel tank.

Me: So you worked on this all day and started where you finished? Everything completely disassembled??

Dad: (in a somewhat defensive tone) Well we aren't exactly where we started this morning.

Me: So what exactly is different from this morning?

Jason: (also in a somewhat defensive tone) Well, we learned some stuff that will make it easier when we put it back together again.

Me: So one full day of labor later we can sum up the progress as you learned some stuff? Okaaaay. Oh, and by the way Jason why do you reek of diesel fuel.

Jason: I had to drain the fuel tank again.

Me: Again? Why?

Jason: (in a somewhat sheepish voice) When I was putting diesel fuel in it the spout from the diesel can fell into the tank. I had to drain the tank and then fish it out. (at this point my dad is laughing pretty hard while Jason tells me this)

Me: I still think it would have been easier to just take the tractor to a mechanic but as long as you two are happy . . .


Jason has started his own blog in addition to being a "contributing blogger" on this blog. As many of you know Jason grew up on a working farm in Canada. He has a lot of thoughts on agriculture, and likes to talk a lot about conventional agriculture, sustainable agriculture, the treatment of animals, and generally anything to do with agriculture. If you are interested in our food supply and where it comes from you will probably enjoy reading his blog, Random Musings of a Farmer. There is a link to it in my blog roll to the right.


In the same blog I mentioned at the beginning of this post Jason told you we were planning to stop by a roadside attraction in Cullman, Alabama on our way to look at a tractor. We've seen the signs for it for years, a Catholic grotto. It is a collection of miniature replicas built by a monk that was a resident of the monastery in Cullman. Most of them are replicas of Catholic churches, monasteries, and other spiritual scenes and some were just replicas of historical sites such as the Roman Aqueducts. Jason and I are not Catholic but we were very curious to see this after seeing the signs for many years. Although it was neat, and were both impressed by the fact that the monk who made all of these had no training whatsoever and just somehow taught himself how to do all of this, we were both a bit underwhelmed. On the other hand many of our fellow tourists seemed to almost be having a religious experience of sorts as they looked at all of the miniatures!

The Ave Maria Grotto has a website if you would like to learn more about it. Click here to visit the website.

Since I know everyone is anxious to see them (hah!) I posted a few pictures from the Grotto below. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Ever since I was a little kid every time we cross the state line into Alabama we stopped at the welcome center to see the rocket. I always make Jason stop and we walk over to see the rocket. I don't feel like I've really left Tennessee and entered Alabama without a visit to the rocket!

As the sign says this is a miniature replica of the ruins of the Roman Aqueducts

Some of them were pretty neat looking

There were 4 acres of miniatures

Jason's favorite part of the whole thing . . . the Chipmunk Crossing; somehow I think we missed the point of the Catholic Grotto if this was our favorite part.

Jason giving Chili a nice cool hosing one afternoon. Chili has anhydrosis (he doesn't sweat) so he has to be watched closely in the summer. Lately he's been coming in the barn to stand under a fan during the day. Some days he doesn't need to come in or even need to be sprayed down in the afternoon, he doesn't really have a solid pattern. We just have to watch him closely. Chili strongly prefers to NOT come in the barn if at all possible!
Chili looking satisfied after being sprayed off
Spike and Snappy grazing

Sebastian scratching his neck on the fence

Bonnie and Norman grazing while Sparky rested

Chance hanging out while Hemi and Elfin grazed

Bush sleeping in his favorite place - the laundry room

Buster the pet cow


Baby, Homer, and Leo (Tony hiding in the back)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome Back Grand

We welcomed back a familiar face recently. Grand, a thoroughbred jumper, rejoined us after some time away. Grand lived with us for some R&R and then was able to return to work. He is now back to join us for full retirement. Grand is a definite family member here. His "brother" Ivan has been retired with us for a few years. Grand and Ivan are very lucky to have a wonderful owner who takes amazing care of both of them.


Grand already knows most of the Big Boys as he lived with them before. Grand himself is definitely a big boy at 17.2 hands. When we re-introduced Grand to the group it was extremely non-eventful. We were very curious to see how the introductions would unfold since Grand had lived with most of them before. There was not so much as a single squeal. There was a bit of nose sniffing accompanied by arched necks but that was it. We were especially curious to see how he and Ivan responded to each other. Grand and Ivan were turnout buddies for years when their owner had horse property so they have a long history together. Ivan definitely remembered Grand as he made a point of walking right over to him and having an extended nose sniffing session.

Ivan saying to Grand "hey, I know you!"

In my opinion Grand really epitomizes the thoroughbred sport horse. He looks like an athlete even when he is motionless. He had a lot of heart and also a lot of scope, which he demonstrated in his ability to jump high and wide. I'm told he also had an impressive buck that could send even the best of riders airborne when they weren't expecting it!

Grand showing off his good looks for the camera

Grand is 18 now and ready to enjoy the good life. We already know that Grand fits in well here, and it is pretty much like he never left. He still enjoys a good run around the pasture but his favorite past time would be flirting with the mares over the fence. The mares find him quite enchanting, especially MyLight, and they all spend hours at the fence with each other grooming, squealing, and most often just standing there staring at each other.

Grand racing around the paddock

It is always nice to welcome back a friend - welcome back Grand!

Grand grazing with Trigger

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Horse Husbands and Significant Others

Melissa attended a clinic at Southern Promise Farms, Triune, TN which began early Saturday morning. In order to get her there on time we started our chores at the very crack of dawn, which was actually kind of pleasant. Some while after she left, I finished up with chores and I headed over's only 5 miles from home.... to watch her ride like a good horse husband ought to do. I did that for a little while and even managed to capture some (rather poor) images of her riding and jumping Bonnie on camera, but it was hot standing around in the sun, and frankly kind of boring being the only man watching a bunch of women ride at a clinic. I did enjoy a brief conversation with one of our blog followers who, given her equipment, looked to be much more adept than me with cameras....Hi to Kelly from Alabama !

After an hour, I had about as much fun as I thought I could stand and I was thinking long and hard about how to make an appropriate exit, leaving Melissa to her fun. About that time, I spotted my friend Jerry (who owns the farm with his wife Anita), with his truck parked and the doors open, in the shade under a grove of hackberry trees on a hill a quarter mile away (and well hidden) from the clinic. He had his feet resting on the dashboard and the seat reclined which looked pretty good to me. I bid farewell to Melissa and the other girls and eased our Tahoe up next to him for a visit.

In their retirement Jerry and his wife run their 800 acre farm. They board quite a bunch of horses and keep a large herd of cattle so Jerry and I usually have more things to discuss than we have time to get it done in. But we both had time this morning and we took advantage of it. Pretty soon, we forgot all about the girls and the clinic and were deep into discussing torque amplifier failures on International 986's, followed by discussing construction progress on their lovely new riding arena and large new horse barn, followed by a deep discussion on scopes, weaponry and ammunition.

We also delved a little bit into how much it costs us in time, effort and money to keep our respective horse women mostly happy with a dash of sunshine, which we both realize is our main goal in life. Given how much "happiness plus horses" costs, I sometimes wish out loud for better results than I manage to achieve, but since I'm still married and since my lovely wife Melissa sometimes even uses the word "happily" when describing our union to others, I figure I must be doing something right ! :)

So ladies (and gentlemen), today's topic is horse spouses and/or significant others, long suffering or otherwise. I'm always open for new ideas about how to increase the happiness quotient in my marriage, and, more importantly, I'm always open for good stories about spouses, children and significant others, so please feel free to share away !

Slinky, Lightening and Spike

B-Rad, Alex and Ogie grazing early in the morning as the sun was rising

Hemi making his way through the pasture

Homer, Leo and Apollo

A very faded Thomas

Ivan, Apollo, Trigger and Tony

Although I refer to 2010 as the year of the wild turkeys it could be the year of the rabbit as well; in the early evenings I basically trip over rabbits as I walk around the farm.

Norman, Lexi and Sparky


Winston and Faune

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Equine Soap Operas....

I grew up in a very small community; the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else and, mostly, everyone knows what they (and everyone else) are up to at any given point in time. Both Melissa and I have observed that the animals seem to have re-created the community structure of my youth right here on this farm. I've mentioned before that on a day to day basis the horses don't seem to pay a lot of attention to us people unless we are, for whatever reason, running particularly early or late with the groceries. They're far too busy creating the never-ending soap opera that makes up their lives. If the plot line is a little thin and predictable by human standards, it seems to be quite riveting to the players.

Spike seems to be fitting in nicely with his group. He was fast friends with O'Reilly early on, and they still clearly share an alliance, but he seems to have broadened his scope some and today I see him associating more with Snappy and Lightening. Judging by what I saw earlier this afternoon, I think he and Snappy are secretly plotting to stage a bloodless coup combined with a general insurrection and their plan is to take over their group. More on this as it develops.

Meanwhile, over in the mare field, the girls endlessly gossip about Grand, a new, and apparently dreamy, addition to the big boy's field (Melissa here - actually Grand was a previous member of the big boys but was subsequently able to return to work for about a year and now he is back for full retirement. We will re-introduce Grand in an upcoming post). It seemed to be MyLights' turn to act the fool today. She thinks Grand is particularly exciting and she's not been subtle about showing this to him and the world. In typical woman fashion (!), the other mares pretended to be too busy to notice what was going on. They spent their time today fussing over Cuff Links, their pony, and talking about MyLight, (the easy slut) behind her back. Of course by tomorrow another mare will be in heat and today's alliances will be thrown out the window BUT the gossip will continue !

This evening Melissa and I prepared the horse trailer for tomorrow's short drive to her lesson with Bonnie and Sky. All the horses in the field nearest the trailer watched us do this, and I noticed that Norman and Cinnamon walked away to join Sparky the donkey and Lexi. It doesn't take much imagination to know that they were dissing the "world travellers" and probably laughing at them because they have to work instead of hitting the golf course and the swimming pool like they will.

Back at the barn, Mina and Jo came through the doors on a whirlwind tour of destruction and in less than a minute managed to get into Faune's wraps, a bale of hay we left on the floor and some grain that had spilled. When I walked in, I saw the chaos as I watched Jo pull Melissa's new Andis clippers from their box which, somehow, was also left on the floor.

Mina standing in the barn looking very innocent; "I would never touch anything I'm not supposed too!"

Jo standing on the hay bale while Mina watchesI thought I was going to be taking another picture similar to the one above, but right as I took the picture Jo leaped off the hay bale and went flying over Mina. When I posted this on our Facebook page someone captioned it "Kung Fu Jo" which was perfect. Never a dull moment with the fainters.

With all this going on all day every day, who needs soap operas ?



Cinnamon and Norman

Annie, Buster and Beaulah


Teddy and Clay

Slinky, Lucky, Spike, Chili, O'Reilly, Snappy
Sebastian, Winston and Faune


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We've been treating a case of cellulitis in one of the horses recently. Cellulitis can be quick and easy to treat or a drawn out process that involves a lot of medication and effort. This has been the latter type of case. In addition to treating with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories the vet wanted us to cold hose the leg for 20 minutes twice a day, and to sweat the leg overnight for a few nights. For the sweat he told me to use a 50/50 mixture of DMSO and furacin.

Cold hosing - check, no problem. Sweat with DMSO and furacin - check, no problem. I keep a very well stocked barn with just about anything and everything one would need for addressing any type of problem that might arise. Most of the time all of my supplies sit around unused for long periods of time, to the point where I begin to wonder A) why I have all of it in the first place and B) maybe I should pitch some of the stuff I never seem to need to clear out some storage space.

Out came the DMSO, furacin and plastic wrap, along with a standing wrap. Each evening for a few nights I would set the sweat up after it had dried from round 2 of cold hosing. Despite being thorough with my plastic wrap of course some of the DMSO/furacin mix managed to get on the edges of the standing wraps I was using. Once I was done with sweating the leg I tossed the wraps and bandages into the washing machine.

Big mistake. I come back in the house that afternoon and I am almost knocked over by a very strong and unpleasant smell as soon as I walk in the door. I stand there for a minute trying to determine what the heck this awful smell is and where it might be coming from, while my brain is going "I know this smell, I've smelled this recently." Then it hits me, I am getting an overwhelming aroma of DMSO.

Anyone who has handled DMSO before knows the stuff smells awful and the odor is so hard to get rid of. Well I've been living with it in my house. It has been several days since I made the mistake of putting the DMSO wraps in the washing machine and it is finally starting to fade. In case you are wondering, no, Jason is NOT happy about this. He did mention something about possibly getting a washing machine for the barn to prevent future mishaps like this, so maybe this DMSO cloud we are living with in our house does have a silver lining. Right at the moment as I sit at my desk typing it doesn't feel (smell) that way!

If anyone has any wonderful suggestions for clearing the smell of DMSO out of the house we're open to trying pretty much anything. I can assure you that things that might cover up the scent such as candles don't work, it has been tried! Thankfully it has started subsiding in the last couple of days so maybe we will be DMSO smell free in a few more days. One can only hope.

B-Rad grooming Alex

MyLight and Harmony

Cuff Links grazing (we sort of lost him in the grass!)

It really was Cuffie hiding in the grass


Asterik enjoying a vigorous neck scratching

Cinnamon and Norman eating breakfast together

Teddy, Clay, Lucky and Slinky



Winston and Faune walking through the pasture