Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A "Job" for the Spoiled Ones!

I actually finished work already today, for once, and have time to update you all. One thing that is new around here is the arrangement I made with some friends of mine to come over once a week and let their kids ride the horses. I don't know if I mentioned this before at all, but the plan is for the kids to learn about horses and have fun around them not only for the normal benefits that horses give, but also for the one who has a chromosome disorder. Equine-assisted therapy is something the parents looked into for him, but there aren't really any organizations nearby. He really loves horses. Both toddlers are really cute to watch, though; kids can get so intensely focused on horses, and I love watching them trying to absorb and figure out everything.

The parents and I arranged for them to sign a ton of liability releases for the kids, and the parents will be giving me feed store gift certificates to help out with the costs. So the Spoiled Ones are actually going to be earning part of their keep! I know, my Mom was stunned too... Rather unusual to have them be earning something rather than just being Money Drains... :-D

So far it has gone well. We are doing one kid per session, which is good, because two adults for one kid is just barely enough. ;-) They are both good kids and try to listen, but it still is pretty involved keeping them out of harm's way. Andolu is being a good boy so far, which is nice. He doesn't care about having them on his back at all. Mira tried to do the "But I'm RETIRED!" act again tonight, but she settled down quickly and behaved herself. (I told her this WAS retirement packing a toddler rather than me) I have also started working on her salute trick again, and hope to soon get her trained to the goal, and get Andolu started on learning to bow.

Oh, and when I can find the cord for the camera, I'll be able to post some pictures of Andolu and his "lead rope."


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Racehorse Dude's New Duds

His new fly sheet and fly mask arrived. He was totally old hat about the sheet, as expected, but he had a goofy reaction to the fly mask - I know he's worn one at least a couple of times before, when I put one on a couple times after I got him, but those might be the only times. Anyway, he didn't mind me putting it on, but after a minute he realized he couldn't see as well and started following Mira around and nudging her like "Who are you and where am I?!" She got freaked out and kept running over to me so that I was between him and her, so I took the fly mask off and let him look around, and then put it back on, and gave him a flake of hay. He seemed to settle down quite easily after that, but when I looked out the window later he had taken the mask off. Oh well!

I am debating getting her a fly sheet too. She is still shedding very heavily (he shed out in about 2 weeks flat) and would be too hot right now. Maybe later...


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ben Hur

I just finished rereading Ben Hur. It has been a long time since I read it, and I'd forgotten what a great book it is! I tend to really love the style of writing in old classics, they wrote so eloquently and in such an amazingly descriptive way. I guess since they didn't have cameras they had to work on writing so that you could "see" a scene more than we do. Anyway, I thought you guys would like one of the horse related scenes. There are many more parts just as poetic.

"I knew a king who governed millions of men, their perfect master, but could not win the respect of a horse. Mark! I speak not of the dull brutes whose round it is to slave for slaves - the dead in spirit; but of such as mine here - the kings of their kind; of a lineage reaching back to the broods of the first Pharaoh; my comrades and friends, dwellers in tents, whom long association with me has brought up to my plane; who to their instincts have added our wits and to their sense joined our souls, until they fell all we know of ambition, love, hate and contempt. In war, heros; in trust, faithful as women."

(This is the sheik Ilderim speaking. He then brings his horses in to introduce them to Ben Hur, and...)

A head of exquisite turn - with large eyes, soft as a deer's, and half hidden by the dense forelock, and small ears, sharp-pointed and sloped well forward - approached then quite to his chest, the nostrils open, and the upper lip in motion. "Who are you?" it asked, plainly as ever man spoke.

I also had a revelation when reading it - the dam of all four horses Ben Hur used in the race was a mare named... You guessed it, Mira!

That explains the multitude of adorable Arab mares with that name. :-D

Speaking of which, both horses are doing well. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have time to post some really cute pictures I've been getting. Last week was truly incredibly packed... Sigh. I wish this week will be better, but not exactly counting on it.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Photos from today

I am informed by a reliable authority that the blossoms are buckbrush...

I hope everyone is having a good weekend!


Update on Field #1 MiG Experiment

Last fall I wanted to plant wheat on this field. Well, it didn't happen because of the messed up rains. The one time I actually thought would be a good time to plant, I was up to my ears in finishing the course and did not manage to get outside long enough to do it. But, if I had planted wheat there would have been a very small harvest, so no great loss. I'll just have to wait until fall again, and THIS year I definitely intend to get it done. Here are some pictures of it right now...

The grass is only about 4 inches tall here, at the end of the season, and quite sparse. Actually, we didn't have much real grass anywhere this year. Mostly we had miner's lettuce and various weeds. Weeds are much hardier than grass, unfortunately. My plan for this field is to make it my manure dumping ground over the summer, and hopefully that will prepare it for being planted next fall.


Friday, April 11, 2008

A couple good websites

Here is a new website I found this week. I really like it and recommend it to anyone interested in sustainability/simple living.

Deliberate Agrarian

The tempi Jambette at the canter? I had never heard of that before. I wonder how they train that...

Anyway, I don't have to work tomorrow until afternoon, so here's hoping I can get some new pictures of the horses, and finish the update series on the grazing. And yes, to answer a question, I definitely plan on repeating/expanding the MiG experiments next year. I am spreading manure now on various areas that need help with humus, and I cannot wait until fall when the rains come again. At least our pond is full! I hate starting the summer without it filled up.

The horses are doing quite well. The other day I was washing and rebraiding Andolu's tail while he ate hay in the round pen, and Mira was watching from outside in a semi-bored manner. At first I didn't notice, but then I realized that every time I moved around him, she would walk around to where she could see what I was doing. They crack me up how interested they both are in everything!


The "Puppy"

Spring is such a fun season, but it is always so very busy, too. I still need to get the rest of the MiG updates posted, and several other posts that I've been planning. For now, here is a little introduction of one of our dogs, Kippy. I don't think I've featured our nonhorsey pets much at all, but I thought this one was a cute photo of her jumping. Kippy is somewhat athletic... Otherwise known as hyper. The digital camera has a pathetically slow capture speed, so, even trying to hold her still this was the best picture I could get of her head!

She is a super sweet and rather ditzy dog. If she were a bird she'd be a magpie - "Oh! Something shiny!" :-D


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Update on Field #2 (the Quackmire) MiG Experiment

Last fall's post is here: Field #2

A photo from about a week ago from a similar viewpoint...

My goals last fall were to make good use of the early grazing, and then let it grow back and cut it for hay, if possible. You can read my post about our (tiny scale!) hay experiments here.

Unfortunately for my plans, the rain this spring was not at all conducive to good grass. We had a ton of rain in January and February, and then basically none all of March. The grass was stressed and has all gone to seed ASAP because of that. At least the pond filled up completely. That means it should last all summer without going dry.

The grass was thin and not worth putting up a temporary fence in order to graze the horses on it. In fact, I have not done that anywhere this year. Instead, I have just cut big armfuls and taken it to them to eat. Part of the reasoning behind that decision is that I need to follow the guidelines as far as how much grazing/clipping is beneficial for grass vs. damaging. The right amount of grazing at the right time can make the grass roots stronger for next year, but overgrazing and grazing in wet weather can damage it. Next year I want to have as good of grass as possible, so, the best thing to do with my situation this year is take the grass to the horses, rather than the horses to the grass.

The grass has almost finished going to seed around here now, so pretty soon I'll have to stop. :-( For one thing, it will dry up and turn brown, and for another, grass that is that mature is just not very palatable to most animals, even when it is still green. It does not have much nutrition after it sets seed, either.

This year's grazing/hay making did not turn out as I hoped for this field, but at least I can't say it was anybody's fault! Below are some more photos of that field and the pond next to it. It looks deceptively lush! Ahh....