Friday, December 31, 2010

EvenSong's 2010 Top Ten (or more) Posts

Carson, at the 7MSN in New Mexico (7 Miles South of Nowhere), came up with the idea that we here in blogdom should all do year-end posts about our favorite posts of the year and then "Blog Hop" around to see other folks' hi-lights for the year.

So, never being one to conform to rules and regulations, I narrowed it down to 16 posts! (I actually started with only 11, but then kept seeing ones I didn't want to leave out!)
In no particular order, except chronologically:

Kate's First Semester Report Card: All F's
In which Kate gets the winter kinks out before our first ride of the season.

Ancient Lakes Trail Ride: No Swimming Allowed

In which the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders opening ride came early, thanks to an unusually mild February.

Hormone Poisoning! and Goodbye, Stud Muffin...
In which Jackson learns that life's tough...and then you get gelded!

Friday Frolics: A Pictoral Essay
In which Jackson, Beth and Kate have some fun and games in the pasture.

Jackson's New Girl
In which a forever home is found for my latest baby.

Breezy Beth
In which I give a mid-summer update on the three fillies' training progress.

The good, the bad, and the...lovely
In which Maddie overcomes her "issue" with water crossings!

Jackson, Meet Frodo

In which preparations are made for Jackson to move on.

Into the Mountains

In which Kate and grandson Mike form a partnership.

Another Week of Mayhem

In which Kate proves to be a pretty good grandkid mount.

I Get To Ride My Own Horse
In which we ford a river!

A Romantic Getaway for Five

In which I get my hubby on a horse for the first time in 12 or so years.
Guess which horse!

A Clinic and an AMAZING Discovery
In which I find a lost baby.
(Look closer...that's NOT Kate! It's her uncle)

"Black Gold" ...or..."Piles o' Poop"
In which I expound on composting my manure for those who appreciate my "hands-on" farming discussions.

And the Winner is....
In which I receive a gift, and re-gift it to another.

So there you have it. That's the best I could do.
It's been a good year.

Peace to you, and all those for whom you care, in the coming year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

And the Winner is....

Back in November Kac over at allhorsestuff had a contest, which, by merit of happening to be in the house on a break, I was the first commenter, and I happened to get her question right, so I won the contest!
I asked for your help to choose a photo to be used by Juliette of Honeysuckle Faire to make a poster. Being the modest person that I am (ahem!) I kept wondering what in the world I would do with a poster of me (and one of the horses, of course). So I went with the photo of my little Arabian boarder Royal Tardez, as a Christmas present for his girl, Bri.

I first met Bri and her Mom, Christy, when I was giving lessons back in Spokane.She was in middle school--she's now 27! Her parents purchased RT for her shortly thereafter, and I had the privilege of shepherding the family through some of the trials and triumphs of first-time horse ownership. When Bri moved to the big city, Christy took over management of RT's retirement years, though she too had moved, and was no longer able to keep him at her home.
A few winters ago Christy called me: After several less that stellar boarding situations, RT was not looking good. He was being bullied out of his food by a giant Appaloosa mare, and looking a little like a dairy cow, drawn up and gaunt.
Would I consider keeping him here? And could I haul him across the state (in February)?
I hitched up the trailer the next weekend and drove over. He loaded well (he's been known not to) and traveled decently (he's been known not to). He settled in quickly, and pretty quickly fell in love with a dirty B&W paint filly.He's one of the family now (he thinks he's the herd stud-muffin).
He's not totally retired, however:
The girls get over to visit, and occasionally, we even get out for a walk around the pasture.One summer, when grandson Mike's regular mellow mount (Misty) was a little off, Mike tried out the little hot rod. By the next summer, he was too big for RT.
After losing Corky in December of 2008, RT was elected to take over babysitting of Jackson.

Weaning time, fall 2009.RT will have a place here at EvenSong Farm until he's ready to join his buddy Corky.

Juliette did a wonderful job of juxtaposing three shots, the one of RT running through the pasture, and two more that I sent her of him with Bri. She shared her expertise, while working with me on colors, fonts and general tone.
I haven't shared my final choice until now, as I didn't want to spoil the Christmas surprise.
Here it is:
And here is Bri when she opened it:
Align Center

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter's Cocoa Mug is Half Empty

Tonight marks the winter solstice: the shortest day/longest night of the year.
[Not to mention a full-blown lunar eclipse.]
From here on until the summer solstice in June the days will get gradually longer.
None too soon, I say.
There's nothing worse than doing chores in the dark in the morning and then again at night.
I consider December and January to be "winter."
November is "lead-in to winter" and February is "coming out of winter."
October and March are both "sporadic hints of winter."
Once I make it to the new year, I consider it to be "half-way."
[At school, semester break is not until the end of January, but close enough--the last month of holiday build-up with 460 elementary school kids seemed like more than a fair share of craziness to call this half-way!]
I started the season with two and a half stacks of hay, about nine tons total. That concerned me a bit, as I like to have two tons per horse for the winter months, and I am currently housing five horses. But then I decided to get RT his own little stash of more chewable, palatable, and digestible orchard grass, and he also gets primarily senior mush. So nine tons is pretty safe. (And I can always grab more from Hank's hay barns if I need it.) It's hard to say just where I'm at in consumption, as I moved at least a ton to make room for Misty's new stall, but I've just started bringing down bales from the top of the "middle" hay stack, so I figure I've still got six and a half or seven tons, maybe more.We've got chores down to a ten minute "quick feed" in the morning before work, and half hour in the evening, while dinner is cooking.
I've got just a few little barn projects I want to get done: a couple of new saddle racks in the tack room, "push-aside" tarp curtains for the outside stall doors, some new bookshelves to allow relocation of boxes and boxes of Horse and Rider, Practical Horseman, and Equus magazines from the house.
[My Christmas present to Al is a top-to-bottom "cleaning frenzy" in the house. I generally prefer to work in the barn rather than clean house--go figure. But I love him!]

And I still have some Christmas stuff to do....
....we're half-way to SPRING!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Evolution of a Stall

Here is the other project I finished last weekend.

RT has the big west-end foaling stall. At 16X18 it's way more than he needs (he hates stalls anyway, and only comes in for his senior mush and in the worst of the weather). So I partitioned off about 5 feet for his own private stash of easier to eat orchard grass hay (the old fart has trouble with my regular Timothy).Kate and Mama Misty had been sharing the foaling stall at the east end of the barn, and Maddie and Beth shared a temporary 12X16 panel stall next to the hay stack. Beth and Maddie shared more nicely than Misty and Kate in the bigger stall: if Mama was busy nibbling on hay, Kate would sneak in, but immediately aim herself out the door, in case Mama would snarl at her. Big as she is, Kate definitely respects Mama's authority!

So over the last month or so, between starting to feed regularly and moving a couple of tons a little at a time, I was able to add another 12X12 panel stall where a short stack of hay had been, allowing me to separate Misty and Kate into their own spaces, and give Maddie and Beth the bigger foaling stall. (Did you follow all that?)
Here's the process:
First, move mats into position.

[I have to say, here, that Al took a few shots of my mat-moving techniques, then graciously grabbed a ViceGrip and helped me haul the mats down the barn aisle.]

Then, clean out my storage corner.
Bring in a panel.
I love my Preifert panels. I've collected them two or three at a time over the last twenty years, and have enough now to set up a round pen in the spring if I have a baby to start. But mostly, they separate individuals in places where I haven't got around to putting up permanent fence. (This also gives me a "trial run" for fence placement, before I make things permanent by digging big nasty holes!)

Add OSB to keep inquiring noses in check.
Add a front gate.
This is one of four Noble brand 6 foot bow gates and three plain panels left over from our portable stalls when we first moved to the Valley and were renting.They can be chained up to the Preiferts, but usually I use their "clam shell" clamps.
The only time this side of the end of the barn gate needs to be opened is for bringing in hay in the summer, so it's clamped to the stall front panels.
Add some bedding.
Mama Misty checks out her new digs.Kate in her new stall--cut down to 12X12 'cause I needed the other three mats for Misty's stall. (The hay pile is to the left, and Misty's stall beyond that.)
Wet, heavy snow had started, so everybody got to come in.
Maddie and Beth, now in the east permanent stall.
RT's blanket got soaked before he decided to come in (he has 24/7 access). I had to change it out for one of my dry ones.
So everyone's in their final spots for the rest of the season.

One additional note:
The wind came up last night and today, and about a third of the grommets on my cheapo tarps have given up the ghost! I was able to salvage it to a limited extent. I think the system is going to work, I'm just going to have to spend the dough for better tarps!