Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Meet: Charlie Brown and Fizzwinkle

After RT, our longest staying resident is Charlie. Which is funny, because, originally he came for a year "or so" off. Owner Heather had purchased him from the Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue, and brought him with her from Delaware when she relocated to Washington. 
 She was bringing him along in her chosen discipline of dressage, but Charlie developed arthritis in his knees.  The barn where she was boarding didn't have the availability of much turnout, and Charlie was getting pretty stiff standing around. So he came here where he would have 24/7 pasture turnout. The hope was that Heather and Kyle could purchase their own place in the next year or so, and Charlie would return home as a "husband horse."
As gorgeous as his gaits are, Charlie's personality is even more brilliant.
So Charlie came to EvenSong in the spring of 2013, and immediately settled in to a routine of good grass and freedom to move.
He's gotten a little shaggier, but no less handsome!


Fizzwinkle, aka the Fizzwinkler, Fizz-Bottom, or just Fizz, came to us in a very round-about way.
 Sarah is one of my oldest friends from the blog-o-sphere. I think I found her blog, Food for Founder, when I was searching for information on slow feeders, back about 2008-ish. It was from there that I "met" many other bloggers around the US and beyond (Sarah, herself, being from the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada).  And that was the inspiration for this blog.

Tess and Fizz wowed 'em in Showmanship classes!
In 2010 Sarah went on a six-month research trip to New Zealand, and a young gal named Tess farm-sat for her. Not long after Sarah returned, Tess was offered her older mare back (having sold her when she moved up to a younger horse for eventing). Sarah realized that Tess didn't need a second horse to support while she was in college, so Sarah bought Fizz, promising her a good home forever. Fizz moved to Farcical Farm, to keep Sarah's horse Tonka company.

Tess doing some early eventing on Fizz
Fizz loaned to another young rider.
 Fast forward a couple of years, and Sarah finds it necessary to sell the farm and move to the [slightly bigger] city. Having lost her beloved Tonka, Fizz was in need of a retirement home...and I had just begun to post on FaceBook that t we were going to turn our attention to retirement boarding! Sarah contacted me, and arrangements were made for Fizz to immigrate to Ellensburg in the fall of 2013.

 As much of a lover as Fizz is with humans, she's very much an alpha mare with her pasture buddies.

With my granddaughter.
"A little to the left?"
Currently paired with part-draft gelding Comet, she definitely rules the roost!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Let Us Take a Moment Out to Curse Mother Nature

 The same nasty storm that dumped copious amounts of water on California last week, dumped the frozen version on Oregon and Washington a day or two later. What did us in here at EvenSong was the wind.  We were getting steady winds of 25-30 mph, and 40 mph gusts. It was very localized: 20 miles away in Ellensburg they got the snow, but very little wind. Interstate 90, just north of us, however, had drifting and white-out conditions that shut down east-west traffic across the state for most of a day. 
The "back" of my barn faces the usual prevailing storm winds to the northeast, but because this storm came from the south, the wind-blown snow came right on through all the open run-ins on the south! 

Poor Babe.

It's hard to tell where the stall ends and the paddock begins!
When the wind did finally shift to the north, drifts started piling up everywhere.
Digging my way out to the compost pile.
Looking back at Sonny through that same drift.

In front of the house.
Looking north up the driveway. Those are five foot tall posts on the right.
During the first storm, I plowed the driveway out four times in 48 hours.
This week I had tried to keep it open, but after two plow jobs immediately got obliterated, I gave up and decided to wait until things calmed down before trying again to clear the way for a trip to town for groceries, feed, and bedding. 
That plan changed when the LP delivery truck driver decided to try to bull his way in, and buried his chained up rear tires in the snow I had already plowed to the sides of the drive. He had called for a tow truck to pull him out, but I checked our gauge, and we really did need the gas. So for the third time, my little blue tractor got put into action. Got him into the tank just as the tow truck showed up, and nearly got stuck himself! 
Once they were done, I decided I may as well get my trip to town done, since I could get out. What I didn't count on is the storm completely filling in the driveway in the two hours I was in town.

 This was as far in as I got. Allan and I carried in what groceries couldn't stay in the truck overnight, in single digit temperatures and continued gusty winds. Grain, shavings, and already frozen food waited for the next day.

Assessing the three foot drifts in the driveway, with snow piled high on either side from previous plowings, I broke down and created a path through the adjacent pasture--less snow, because there were no trees to stop the wind, and more open space into which I could plow what snow there was.

For now, this will have to do. The wind has stopped, so I'll whittle away at the driveway over the next few days.

In the arena, snow is piling up--not only drifts that formed from the wind pattern around the barn, but also what I had to pile there to clear paths to the driveway and house.
"Intrepid barn manager conquers Mt. EvenSong!"

Kate sees a distinct advantage to this state of affairs: we won't be working here any time  soon!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Retiree Introductions

For Christmas this year I posted on FaceBook portraits of each of our eight retirement residents with sleigh bells and Santa hats (plus Kate and our barn helper's young mustang cross).  I thought about adding information on their respective backgrounds, but decided it might be more appropriate for a blog post. And since there's not much riding/training going on mid-winter, here ya go! 

Back in 2012, Allan and I decided that we didn't want our retirement income to be subject to the whim of the young horse market. Also, the market being what it was (and is), we didn't want to bring any more babies, no matter how cute, into the equine world.
To quote a post I did at the time: "Little RT has done so well in his retirement with us (he's still going strong at 32), and Mama Misty is looking good at 25.  Even good ol' Corky did well, in spite of his seizure disorder, until we lost him at 29.  I've long admired Melissa and Jason of Paradigm Farms, so I have decided to venture into the realm of boarding.  But for a specialized market:
retirees (or possibly rehab)."

Corky at 25
"Neither Al nor I really want a bunch of silly teenagers in and out at all hours, we're 20 miles from town, and we really don't have access to any trails in the immediate neighborhood.  Plus the insurance for your typical boarding stable is outrageous.  By sticking to retirees, I don't need to worry about people riding on the property, nor corralling other peoples kids (been there, done that)--keeping track of other people's horses, on the other hand, seems like a great way to utilize our place."

 First, and oldest, resident: 

Royal Tardez, 1980 Arab Gelding
I first met RT's mom and her mom when Bri was in middle school, 23 years ago. She took lessons on one of my horses until they found RT. Then I was pleased to be able to support the family's "first horse" experience. 

With his girl, Bri, dressaging

They even did a bit of jumping back in the day!
After Bri went away to college, and then the big city, her Mom had a hard time finding an inexpensive boarding option that would cater to his "Royal" needs. The last place refused to separate him for feeding, so when Christie called us she was desperate: he looked like a dairy cow, all hip bones and ribs! I drove across the state in February to pick him up.

 He settled in to life on the farm just fine!

Mr. Studly claims Misty as HIS!

His first job on the farm was babysitting our last weanling, Jackson.

Also, an occasional grandkid lesson.

But, mostly, he hangs out, eating mush (he's down to four molars that don't even meet in the middle!). (Photo: August 2016)

 At thirty-six-and-a-half, RT is still going strong!

Mighty Misty Blue, 1987 APHA gray overo mare
I originally bought Misty for two reasons: i wanted a quiet horse for Allan to ride on the rare occasion that he went out with me.  I also wanted a mare that I could breed for family-friendly, 4H type horses. When we got her at 10 years old, she had already had five foals and was really only green broke. 
Misty over the years gave us seven more foals. Plus taught a couple of grandkids how to ride. She earned her retirement after having Jackson at 22. 

Our second foal, Pete.
Misty and Maddie, 2005
Misty and Grandson Mike built quite a partnership over the years.
And Misty has continued her teaching with Grandson Brenden.
Mostly, these days, she just hangs out with RT.

 Rather that make this the never-ending story, I've decided that I'll break these introductions down into pairs. 
Next up: Charlie and Fizz