Monday, July 25, 2011

Brenden's Busy Bacation

I have been away from the computer for a couple of weeks, for a family semi-emergency.  Got back late Thursday, and am slowly catching up on chores and laundry and blogs of my friends.  Went to ride this morning, but got rained out!

Here are a few photos from just before the trip, when grandson Brenden visited for a week or so (with church camp locally while he was here).

In past years, I've mostly led him around the arena for short rides.    Somewhere I learned the "ABCs" for knowing when one can truly teach very young children:
A: attention span
B:  balance
C: confidence
This year 8-year-old Brenden was ready to be more independent.  I put him on Misty, because I consider her a little more predictable than Kate, who I ponied him on last year.  Misty has a touch of navicular syndrome, but with careful management, she is doing a bit better this year; and we don't do much but walk and a little bit of [giggly] jogging, so she seemed to be doing okay.
After a day of refresher lesson on the lunge-line, he was ready to "steer" all by himself.  And did a pretty good job of it, too!  Circles and figure-eights, over poles, backing. I was busy supervising this, and totally forgot to get any photos.
Bad. Grandma.

He's starting to do some of his own "gettin' ready" chores.
Learning to lead safely.
Getting on all by himself.  [Hey, grandma uses a mounting block, why can't he?]
And off.  It's not quite so far down this year.
On the third ride, we took a little "trail ride" around the outside of the property.  Kate was balking a bit and definitely taking advantage of my having Mama Misty in tow.
Grandpa Al caught us on the way in from the back gate.  It was easier to just lead them the last 200 yards than try to get back on, while avoiding getting tangled in the pony rope.

Helmet Hair [and missing teeth].
Speaking of missing teeth, Brenden also got to accompany me to the vet's for old man RT's semi-annual dental check-up.
Dr. Mark checking RT's teeth--he had to pull two loose/cracked molars that have been questionable since last year.  Otherwise he thinks 31-year-old RT looks pretty good, and getting rid of the accompanying infection might actually be better than having the teeth.
 I was going to bring Misty along for the ride, to keep RT company (she gets along with him better than the younger mares, who like to boss the old man around).  Since she was there, I also had Dr. Mark check her front feet.  Her left front heel has contracted a bit, because it's the one that tends to bother her most, and she favors it.  But last year when we nerve blocked it, the other foot was also tender, so we just have to be careful with what we ask her to do.  She's earned her retirement (12 babies in 22 years), so she'll grace our pasture (and give pony rides when she's able) until she joins Corky on the hill.

An artistic under-the-belly hoof shot by Brenden (Dr. Mark using hoof testers on Misty).
An artistic foot shot (in the shadow of the round pen).
Headed home.

Haying, from the perspective of an eight-year-old.
Unfortunately, with the crazy spring weather we'd had this year, haying season was very late, and overlapped Brenden's visit.  This meant he was stuck driving around in circles with me i the tractor.
I gave Brenden the point and shoot and told him to take pictures that he could use to explain the process.  Some of them came out pretty artsy, too, I think.

The hay pick-up.
Swather rows, finished bales, and one of the other balers (five total).
Spittin' 'em out the back.
Harrowbed (bale wagon) pickin' 'em up.
"I'm gonna be a farmer when I grow up!"  [Grandma took this one.]  He actually drove a bunch of rows, until we got to the ends, then Grandma took over for the corners.
Another angle of the harrow bed.  Five of these pick up 4 1/2 to 5 ton loads that stack directly in the barn.  I've already got a stack and a half in my barn--ready for winter!
We "lost" one of our strings, and had to undo and re-bale a few.
The baler's fly wheel.
Part of the string-tying mechanism.
This gauges the length of each bale and triggers the tying process.
The knotters.
Brenden intuitively knew that this wedge is what flips the bale on it's side as it leaves the baler.
We didn't use the "tail/work light."  To keep it's moisture content low, timothy hay needs to be baled and put in the barn before the day cools off and the humidity rises.
Strings leaving their box on the way to the knotter.  At the edge the shadow, you can just see the end of one of the big "needles" that pushes the twine up through the formed bale to be tied off.
 All in all, it was a good visit to Grandma Laurie's farm, and Brenden is proving to be a good hand.
Next month, older grandson Mike will return for his annual visit.  He actually rode out with the KVTR club last year, but we'll have to wait and see if I get my butt back on Maddie before we can count on that.


  1. He looks so much the young man now, compared to the little boy he was last year! I always enjoy reading about your grandkids' visits. As for haying and baling - the whole process by which the cut hay ends up in little rectangular, tied bundles is pretty much magic to me. Well, except when I've had to lift those 'little' bundles to feed or fill stalls for piggies and alpacas. They they are just plain heavy!

  2. i love haying (watching it) and your photos are amazing. i can almost smell it. i will never cease to be fascinated by haying.

  3. What a fun visit with Brenden! You're doing such a good job introducing him to horses. :) I agree with Jean, how hay get tied into bales is pure magic to me.

  4. I believe every horse owner should have the chance to see the process by which hay is produced. As far as that goes, every kid should learn where food comes from (NOT the grocery store!).
    And I learned a little more about the actual mechanics of the baler this year, when we had to FIX it after it tried to bale an errant T-post!