Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Is Here

There isn't much snow on the ground - yet. It was a winter wonderland out there today though . . . the roads were clear but all the trees and the grasses were frosted with a light covering of snow looking like a scene clipped from a Victorian Christmas card. the sound of sleigh bells from a nearby field would hardly have been out of place.

As beautiful as it was it did bring a note of sadness to the season. Unlike past days, the snow did not melt and served to provide proof that fall has finally fled the field surrendering it's place to winter. For several days now we have been graced with flurries that have added an urgency to getting the last of the apples in and making sure that those things that will be needed later in the season are gathered in the places they will be needed. Fortunately there are no heavy snows in the immediate forecast and it will be a while before any heavy shoveling will have to be done but once again we are reminded that we live in the north country with all of it's blessings and tribulations.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener . . .

Thanksgiving we were woken up by a call from the sheriff's department saying that the horses were out and in our neighbor's yard. At first we couldn't figure how they got out although we did find that someone had turned off the electric fence. We have to wonder if it wasn't this same neighbor since he was demanding we turn it off since his grandson had gotten shocked a few weeks ago despite all the warning and no trespassing signs but that is merely speculation. At first the fence appeared to be intact and we wondered if someone had let the horses out but later I noticed that a tree had fallen on the fence in an area that wasn't easily visible - one of the problems with having their paddock in a wooded area. The tree had pulled 2 sections of the fencing apart so I had my first adventure repairing a fence which was very easy. I love electric rope fencing.

Aeolae and Sam were indeed munching on the neighbor's lawn but as far as I could tell didn't leave any deposits - good horses. The neighbor is a pain and I didn't want to have to interact with anything of his any more than absolutely necessary. Fortunately he didn't come out and we were able to lead the horses home. Literally, we called to them and they followed us home without halters or lead ropes until we came across the apples - then Sam had to stop for a snack and we weren't going to get him back in the paddock without persusion but he was pretty good about it. It was a real nice feeling that they would just follow us home after enjoying their brief escapade.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Daphne, beloved canine companion and lover of life, died last night. She was only 3 or so years old but we believe that she was a pure blood husky, a breed which is known to have multiple physical problems due to inbreeding. We knew that she probably would not be with us nearly as long as Bones, a husky/wolf dog we moved up here with was with us - he passed on several years ago at the ripe old age of 18 - but it is an awful shock to have her gone from our lives this soon. We figure that she suffered a stroke or heart attack in her sleep as she was in fine form when we all went to bed. When something like this happens you'd like to believe that there was something you could have done to prevent it and it keeps going around and around in your head whether you missed something; nothing ever came up on her annual visits to the vet and she's been acting like her usual exuberant, pesky, loveable self.

I have a weak place in my heart for huskies and malamutes and with this being an area where there is winter 6 months of the year they are quite popular around here. When we saw Daphne at the local animal shelter last summer (was it only last summer?!) in an outside pen we fell in love with her and were dismayed to find that she wasn't in the book of available adoptees; we had to wait until we saw a volunteer bringing her back from a walk to get the staff to understand which dog it was we wanted to take home. Come to find out she had been rather badly injured when she was brought in as a stray and the staff didn't think that they would be able to adopt her out since she had bitten a couple of people during her rehabilitation. We had to swear up and down that we understood this and took full responsibility. Of course we understood, she had been in pain, scared, isolated and with all the other barking dogs hadn't been able to get any real sleep - for pete's sake, in tose conditions I probably would have bitten somebody too.

Over the year or so that she was with us we got her over her toothyness (although she did love her knotted ropes) and although she was still high strung (another result of the inbreeding) she was mellowing out quite nicely. It's such a loss to have her gone from us now - especially when winter was her favorite season and I was looking forward to taking up skijoring with her this winter. We were just starting clicker training too which she loved; almost as much as I mourn for the loss of her company and the joy she found in and brought to life I mourn for the lost potential. All I can hope is that maybe there was some little angel recently arrived in heaven that Hashem felt needed a puppy dog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cat #1 - Fisel

Along with the two horses, 13 chickens and dog, Daphne (see her blog here), we have 3.5 cats. How does one have half a cat you ask? By having one which shows up when it pleases to mooch a meal and help keep the rodents down and spends the rest of it's time at neighboring farms ostensibly doing the same thing. Last winter I think we were it's preferred hang out and it took up residence in the barn; whether it will grace us with it's presence this year is anyone's guess. The feline above is not that feline though.

This handsome fellow is Fisel, 15 years old, who is supposed to stay inside, a rule he would rather flaunt than obey. In fact, all of our permanent kitties are supposed to be inside but there is something about a forbidden area that makes it irresistable to cats. He was my companion throughout my time in law school who had very clear thoughts on when I had studied too much by coming to lay on my books and demand in his Siamese-ish voice that I pay attention to him. Being of a stately and persnickety nature, I think he was a sterotypical English butler in a former life - with all the aristocratic airs and ideas of propriety that implies.

Stay tuned for entries on the other 2 kitties, Calico Kitty aka Kali Ma, the kitten of the clan, and Purrim aka Purr-cat the jester and general pest of the house.

On A Truly Fowl Note

The chickens got new quarters last week which they seem to think are ok although I think they miss being able to stick their necks out and grab whatever grass is within range. Their new house is approx 2 ft off the ground which makes it easier for me to take care of them even if they don't like it as much. They have started to give us eggs though; I found the broken shell of one on the ground today that they obviously ate the rest of. It just means I have to get them some shell to mix in their food for calcium this week along with an additional ration of cracked corn for warmth.

The new chicken house is approx 20 ft long by 6 ft wide by 2.5 ft high with most of it being of wire mesh and a wood box on one end for shelter. Keeps critters out and chickens in and protected. I have to cut and hinge a door in one side of the box so I can get in there and get eggs otherwise those feather brains are going to eat more of their eggs than we are. Maybe I'll put some perches in there too while I'm at it. It's about time we got some eggs from them - they may be this year's peeps and we may get eggs for literally chicken feed but that chicken feed ain't cheap. Or is that cheep?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sometimes It's Good To Be Wrong

Lately I've been concerned about the horses losing weight. A few weeks ago I was brushing Aeolae and noticed that she seemed to have hollows where I didn't remember them being, namely between the shoulders and belly and the belly and flanks. Maybe I shouldn't have been too worried but I really don't know what I'm looking at when I'm looking at horses and the reading I've done has impressed on me very clearly the number of things that can go wrong with equines. It's also the fact that I feel an almost sacred duty to give them the best life I can since they have been entrusted into our care by, in this case, Divine design so I'm inclined to be more careful and metaphorically jump at shadows. As it turns out, the con horses have been getting over fed by a slight bit.

In my last post I mentioned how they love their beet pulp which they have been getting with their 3 qt oat ration (for 2) and a short bale of mediocre hay a day. After consulting with my friend and trainer I have been informed that Aeolae is just about at the perfect weight and the hollows I've been seeing are the result of her winter coat coming in - in other words she's getting fluffy, not thin. Samwise is a little on the plump side but then again that horse probably has never passed up a meal; the other day he was late for dinner though.

I'll admit I'm still skitterish about the number of things that can go wrong - all this rain has made a prime environment for thrush, they could get stupid and eat something they shouldn't, they could slip inthe mud or rub up against something and get hurt - the list of things that could happen goes on and on. I'm just glad that this time I over reacted - I'd rather have them a little plump than losing weight.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Horse Apples

No I'm not talking about the type that you feed to horses but rather the type they leave you to clean up. Somehow I had forgotten that horses create so much manure - any kid who wants a horse should get a job mucking stalls and get to realize that riding and exercise is just a very small part of horse keeping. Most of one's time is going to be taken up with cleaning either the horse or it's environment or producing/acquiring the fodder that gets turned into those horse apples. I have also discovered just how much 2 horses can turn even well drained ground into a muddy morass which is nigh unto impossible to push a wheelbarrow through. I do not remember them leaving this many goodbyes in the run in shelter at their former home; I guess I should take that as a compliment as to how much they like what we've provided for them. Forgive me if I wish they liked it a little less - especially when I'm trying to clean out the shelter.

Speaking of horse apples and the things that get turned into them, I've started feeding Aeolae and Samwise beet pulp which they absolutely love. They probably think they're getting royally spoiled (although they probably really think it's just their due) especially since I mix their oat ration in with it, but Aeolae's been losing weight. Some of it I think is the change in environment and part of it is that they have nothing like the pasturage they did and part of is the colder weather but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It isn't bad yet but I'd rather have my horses slightly plump than slightly skinny.

Part of it probably also is the fact that they're due for worming. This time we got the good stuff - Zimecterin Gold which takes out all the usual parasites plus tapeworms. At $18 a dose I hope not to have to use it every time but for their first worming here, and maybe the next one, which will be after the first hard freeze, it seems like a good idea.

Who's There?

A few minutes ago I was sitting here surfing and there came this strange knocking on the corner of the room. The house is in 2 sections - my father-in-law has the trailer home with it's 1 real bedroom and the full bath and my husband and I converted the 2 car garage into a bedroom/studio with a connecting hallway between the parts as a place to live after fleeing IL. The propane tank is by that corner and God forbid something should be causing that kind of a noise with it, especially something serious enough to make it knock loud enough to be heard inside. Turns out it was an errant woodpecker who had mistaken the corner of the room for a tree - I only hope it was confused and not telling us there is something worth going after over there. Thank goodness we live too far north for termites.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Snow - Argghh!!!

Well, it finally happened, far too early in my opinion, but last weekend we had the first snow of the season that stuck to the ground. It was the first snow of the season period but most years it normally comes and goes in the same day - not this year. 10 miles down the road it hardly stuck at all but here it stayed around for the better part of 3 days. Scared the bejesus out of me - I was afraid that it was really here to stay and there still is way too much to be done.

OTOH, a real blessing beamed down in the form of my father who showed up to take my father-in-law (who lives with my husband and I) to the eye doctor for an exam before his upcoming cataract surgery. Since he came all the way up here for that, (with a dozen bales of premo hay), he decided to spend the week helping me out which was desparately needed since Mark has been unable to help. We got a leaky water trough from a friend over here to use as a hay trough since I'm tired of the horses scattering their hay all over their shelter; if there's anything that drives me nuts it's wastefulness.

From the same friend we got a really nice raised chicken house with enclosed, sheltered area and a nice long run. The fact that it is off the ground should make cleaning up the chicken pooh a whole lot easier than conventionally cleaning out a chicken house - a task well remembered from my childhood and not much looked forward to now. The dust, the smell, the feathers - ugh! This way I just have to rake out from underneath it. I have yet to put a roof on it to shed snow from the run part of it and do something about blocking the wind since it is out in the open and is way too heavy to relocate; plastic sheeting should be good for that.

Personally, I think that our society uses plastic for way too many things - it may be convenient but it's a real pain to dispose of and of limited reusability. Since the bottom has fallen out of the recycling business one can't hardly give recycleables away much less get any coin for stuff. That only covers the stuff that is recyclable - not the majority of plastics one encounters on a daily basis which either gets burned or ends up in the landfill. OTOH, >3 mil plastic sheeting is one of the great things that chemistry has produced - especially for the homestead. Ok, so maybe I'm over enthusiastic but it is useful stuff especially for keeping snow off and winter winds out.

Besides getting the trough for hay, and the premo hay, the horses got a much larger paddock. It would have been almost impossible to do an effective and efficient job of running the electrical rope fencing by myself but Dad and I got an approx 400' perimeter area fenced in in one afternoon. The process would have gone faster except Samwise was trying to be sooo helpful. Never-the-less the horses seem to like their new area and I arranged for useful gates to the old logging roads into the woods and to the round training pen that i still have yet to build. Like I said, way too much to do and not nearly enough time; the last thing I need right now is snow coming and sticking around.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Doctor Burt's Res-Q Ointment - Good For What Ails Ya

Or at least what ails your skin. Normally I'm not one to plug a product but this has given me such great results that I think anybody who is around anything that can scratch, cut, puncture, bruise or otherwise assault your skin should know about it. Doctor Burt's Res-Q Ointment is a natural salve made of sweet almond oil, olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, wheat germ oil, tocopheryl acetate & tocopheryl (vitamin E), lavender oil, comfrey leaf and root extracts. Anybody familiar with plants and their medicinal properties will recognize the properties of many of those ingredients. I've noticed that it makes my bruises and wounds heal twice as quickly as usual and things like Neosporin can't hold a candle to it. Stings like everything for the first second or two when applied to an open wound but after that is soothing and even the oils get absorbed pretty quickly; I'm one of those people who doesn't like a greasy feeling on my skin. Did I mention it does a great job on bug bites too? Beats Calamine lotion all to blazes both in how fast it takes effect and the fact that I normally don't have to reapply it.

What really wowed me though is the effect it's had on Samwise's scars. Because he was so badly burned on his face he doesn't have much hair there and he's been doing something lately that has made the halter he constantly wears rub at certain points; who knows what he's been up to when we're not looking. (I don't need kids, I've got critters. lo)l The other day I didn't like the look of one of those spots and had Res-Q Ointment in my purse so I thought 'why not?' I know it's worked well on cats that had a really bad allergic reaction to a type of flea collar and couldn't see any reason why it would cause Sam a problem. I also applied it to an old scar of his from the burning that doesn't seem to want to heal and I have been amazed at the reaction. The rubbing spot has scabbed over and is well on it's way to healing and the scar has quit weeping, lost it's scabbiness and the skin around it has a nice healing pink color to it. He's reacting even faster than I do and when I applied it on the second day he didn't seem to mind. The only problem I'm having is that he keeps trying to eat the tin out of my hand. LOL

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good Horse

Aeolae was a most excellent horse today. She actually let me put the rope halter on her with a minimum of fuss - didn't have to catch her or anything. She wasn't thrilled about it and by the end of the session was really trying to ditch it (didn't help that it was a little large for her Arabian head) but for being as high strung, normally stand offish and untutored in manners as she is, she was great. She likes to play hard to get and for the last few days I've been trying to get Aeolae jealous of the attention I've been showing Samwise; basically trying to give her the idea that wearing a halter and allowing herself to be led around/worked with means getting more attention. Not that I've been ignoring her - we've been playing the friendly game with the lead rope and halter so that she doesn't think they're evil and I've been giving her scratches just to keep her interested. Not that I can blame her for not liking halters since one was left on her long enough to cause scars. I am sorry that they are so attention starved that this works so well but I'll take any edge I can get at this point.

Mark took Sam and I took Aeolae today and she really worked well with me which is really cool as she does prefer men. We didn't do much except with walk with them, teaching them to give us appropriate space, not run through us (which Aeolae is really bad about), back up, turn and other apparently basic things which look easy until you try to get a 1000 lb critter with an attitude and a communication problem to do them. Separating them has been something that has been concerning us, especially when we thought we were only getting Aeolae, but we were able to get them as much as 100 yds apart today without them getting too edgy. It was neat to see their joy though when we did cross paths again.

The one exciting and not so pleasant thing was Aeolae getting spooked when I tried to lead her past our 2 yo over exuberant husky that we had tied outside the pasture. All Daphne wants to do is PLAY but all the horses see is PREDATOR!!! sigh. Anyway, Aeolae pulled the rope out of my hands . . . I'm just glad she didn't run over me when she bolted. I'm also very glad that I was using the type of lead rope used for natural horsemanship and wasn't holding it in a loop as I have a bad habit of doing. I've got a little bit of rope burn but nothing like I would if I had been using a lead rope one can find in any old feed store. She didn't go far though and she came back towards Mark and I, just within Mark's reach, trembling all over like she was going to be punished; needless to say she wasn't other than some stern words. It's amazing to me that in less than 2 weeks, working with them no more than an hour and a half a day, we've gotten their trust and they are following commands so well. All in all, a really great training day.

So The 'Barn' Isn't As Sound As I Thought

The best laid plans of mice and men . . . often have leaks in them. Ok, so that's not how the saying goes but it fits the situation and stays within the spirit.

When we moved up here in 2002 we were fleeing like refugees (read the story here) and were able to get not only enough land to insulate ourselves with (55+ acres) but a house we didn't have to build and a storage building that was obviously once used as a 2 room house which, now that it's acquiring livestock and asssorted acoutraments, I'm dubbing the 'barn'. On one end of that building is a very nice large shelter that looks like it could have been made for keeping livestock; that's going to be Aeolae and Samwise's run-in shelter. What's really nice is that there is a door from it into the 'barn' which will make it easy to keep feed, tack etc. nearby but out of their reach. The plan is for it to also hold as much hay as possible but right now it's stuffed with stuff which has to get condensed and hopefully a lot of it moved into the loft which I still need to build. Fortunately that's nothing more than putting boards on the rafters but the braces come down at wierd angles. Arrgghh.

God knows how old the building is but at least it's still sound with a good floor. That is except for about 5 leaks in the roof that I've found so far which is kind of depressing. That's not counting Aeolae's and Samwise's shelter which we didn't really pay much attention to before; there's only 1 really troublesome leak there though. There's still some old tar paper rolls around here that we repaired the roof with a few years ago but they don't seem to have held up real well since there's leaks now in some of the old spots. It's a miracle things have held up as well as they have though with the winters we have and how much the building has been ignored.

Now to figure out what to do about those leaks since enough boxes of stuff have been ruined already in the 'barn' by being leaked upon. Having stuff in the loft will keep the hay dry but is hardly satisfactory. Having it re-roofed is out of the question this late in the season and dealing with the set up expenses of the horses. If we had 6 mo it would be do-able but I doubt God will see fit to cancel winter this year. If any of the tar paper is still good and if my dad can come up (Mark and I don't do heights) we'll probably do that again to get us through this winter; if not . . . well, improvise, adapt and overcome. Thank goodness for rolls of heavy plastic we picked up for some reason years ago and various tarps. Believe me, when you're moving in a panic, tarps are your friend since they do something to keep the elements off your stuff. We probably have enough large ones to cover the roof and have friends to help get them up there but the process is liable to be interesting and I have no idea how well the plastic/tarps will hold up although the snow will probably slide off quite marvelously. If it's too much of a hassle we could just put the hay outside on pallets and under tarps, a fairly common practice around here, but I'd really like it to have more protection and to not have 300 bales of hay cluttering up my yard. The work involved in clearing the 'barn' though is daunting especially in a time crunch - the sooner we can get the horses moved the better. Too much to do and not enough time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

They've Multiplied!

No, Aeolae wasn't pregnant but now it looks like not 1 but 2 horses will be moving in within the next few weeks. A little more than a week and a half ago the idea of having a horse around here was nothing more than a pipe dream we took down occasionally, dusted off and re-realized that it wasn't going to happen anytime soon. My, how life can change quickly.

Aeolae's companion, who was known as Blaze (we're changing his name), originally was going to go home with a friend of my friend but unfortunately life has dealt her a bad hand and she can't take him anymore and my friend's husband is afraid of her acquiring too many critters to look after. She's got fibromyalgia like me and although sometimes those who care about us irritate us by trying to take care of us, which sometimes comes across as interfering and a lack of faith in our abilities or knowledge of ourselves, we had to agree today that we do appreciate our menfolk trying to take care of us and not let our expectations of ourselves as superwomen get out of hand. She's got 2 llamas, a horse and lots of Angora and other long haired bunnies, whose fur she spins aqnd weaves, so she might be close to hitting critical mass in what she can take on while working 2 jobs, training 2 horses andtheir people and pursuing her multitude of hobbies. Those of us with fibro, and probably people with other chronic pain/fatigue conditions, have to keep busy though otherwise we really feel the pain and tiredness and it truly runs us into the ground. In fact, the worst time for me is at night when I stop doing stuff and try to go to bed and really ache. One can only take so many pain meds. But I digress.

Back to Blaze or rather Samwise as we're going to call him. My friend asked me yesterday whether we would be interested in taking him. It would make life easier in many ways - the 2 horses are herd bound and it was going to be time consuming and difficult to get them separated without them grieving for each other which would cause problems; fall is soon to be upon us (if it's not already here) with winter hard on it's heels this year. Also there's the fact that where they are now is not exactly on the way to anywhere for either my friend or Mark and I and both of us are burning a bit of gas going out there; moving them within the next couple of weeks would save on gas and make training easier. Means I have to get my butt moving though to get their accomadations ready especially as they'll be ready to move much sooner than Aeolae by herself would be. Way too much to do; I could really use the rain to hold off.

Samwise (pictured above) is a Quarterhorse cross gelding approx. 15.2 hh (~62" at the shoulder). He's a chestnut roan (white hairs mixed in a reddish brown coat) with a white blaze and stockings. Although Blaze is a good descriptive name for him, he needs a new name since he bears several scars and almost no hair on his face from the trauma he suffered at the home he and Aeolae were rescued from; the one before where we're getting them from. Aeolae has white lines on her face, scars where the straps of her halter were way too tight, and we are told that the scarring on Samwise comes from the family's disturbed child soaking a rag on a stick in gasoline, lighting it and pushing it into his face. I suppose we could call him Socks or Buddy for his other prominent markings or personality since he is so friendly, but something more dignified seems in order.

Buddy made me think of friend and the phrase "speak friend and enter" from the inscription on the west gate of the Mines of Moria in the Lord of the Rings jumped into my head. Mellon is the elvish word for friend which sounds kind of cool if you put the accent on the first syllable but I know that too often he'd get referred to affectionately as a melon-head or something similar which kind of shoots the dignity objective. Anyway, Samwise in LOTR is a very homespun character who has great heart, loyalty beyond measure, and no small number of smarts; not a bad description of this horse. I've probably really over thought this but names are important.

It didn't hurt Samwise's chances of us taking him any either that he is a bit more bidable and less willful than Aeolae at this point which, although he definately needs training, means he just might be useful this fall in helping around here. The fact that he is a larger horse than Aeolae and prefers women to men also means he'll make a better mount for me as I am not what one would call petite and frankly I was getting a little jealous of the attention Aeolae was lavishing upon Mark while I'm putting in at least as much work as he is working with her and getting her home ready. In any case, I couldn't see Samwise facing the same fate Aeolae was of getting put down because another home couldn't be found. I don't see him as being that much more work but this is going to be something of an adventure and a bit more of a strain on the budget than we planned on. It's all a matter of what's important though; hay vs going out - is there really any question?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have learned more about horses in the last 4 days than I ever thought I wanted to know. Ever since Mark and I and Dad moved up here Mark and I have thought about keeping a horse or 2 to help out since our physical limitations don't allow us to do a lot hauling, carrying etc. He's also had concerns for years based on his analysis of society from a military intellegence perspective that things might break down within our lifetime to the point where it would be in our best interest to be self sufficient. A horse makes that a whole lot easier.

Over the years we've looked at the horse-for-sale ads posted on the feed mill bulletin boards but between the cost of the horse, the cost quoted in books of taking care of a horse and the fact that the last time I, the more experienced of the 2 of us re: horses, worked with anything of the equine variety was 25+ years ago, the idea has gotten repeatedly shelved. That was until last Wednesday. A friend of mine has a relative who basically abandoned her 2 horses and goat and if it wasn't for the neighbors of this woman and my friend who took it upon themselves to step in and take care of the livestock, God only knows what condition the animals would have been in. I have absolutely no patience for people who have no regard for and feel no responsibility towards those who are dependant on them. Finally this woman asked my friend to find homes for the critters - no easy task as horses are relatively plentiful around here, the economy is such that most people can't take on another mouth to feed and the horses have basically been lawn ornaments for the last few years receiving barely adequate care and no training - meaning that they're saddle broke but not easy to work with.

The goat, who is a real sweetheart, got herself a good home with one of the neighbors and has become the close companion of one of his children. A friend of my friend has been smitten by one of the 2 horses, Blaze, who can be seen here, and has the skills necessary to make him into a well behaved mount so he's found himself a home. The other one, whose picture is up top, we're calling Aeolae (ay-o-lay). She is rather high spirited, a bit stand offish and has managed to get a bad reputation among the horse people around here to the point where no one would take her. When my friend mentioned last Wednesday that her probable fate was to be euthanized (rather than sent to auction) because a home couldn't be found, I had to at least consider the possibility of giving her a home. Now is not the time we'd choose to take her - first snow could be as soon as 6 weeks from now and finances could definately be better - but we have the basic housing, the local costs of keeping a horse are within our means and with the help of my friend, who is an accomplished trainer, we have a decent chance of making her into a fine workhorse and mount. This is one case where we're definately not looking a gift horse in the mouth, at least not too closely, especially as she comes with trainer, help to ready this place for her and the loan of much of the equiptment we need until we can either make or buy our own. The whole situation has the feel of a God given opportunity both for our benefit and to do a mitzvah by caring for one of God's critters and saving some people from heartache - my friend is rather fond of her but can't take her.

Mark chose her name, which used to be Windy, as a feminine version of the Greek god of the winds - Aeolus. It has a much softer sound than Windy, no bad thing around a horse that needs all the calming she can get, and I find it interesting that the Greeks thought of the winds as horse shaped spirits. She seems to like it; I was over there Mon and she at least appeared intrigued at hearing it.

Last Fri Mark went to meet her and she took to him really well. That's due in part to her noticing one of the first things I noticed in him - his outward calm but forceful presence. He exudes command and she definately needs a leader of the herd she can respect. She walked very nicely next to him and he had little problem with her getting pushy. Me on the other hand, she walked all over - literally. It wasn't malicious and I was stupid for wearing sandals out there, I know better than that, but fortunately she didn't cause any damage except to my ego. She's a youngish and big horse, 13 yo and ~15 hh (~5' at the shoulder), and is solidly built being an Arab/Thoroughbred or Quarterhorse cross and used that to push me aside more than once as I was walking her. I'm a little nervous of her, which I'm going to have to get over in short order, and her and I are going to have to work on the fact that I rank above her in the herd. I'm somewhere going to have to find it to act larger than life and quit being afraid of getting hurt or she's going to learn that I'm no one to respect. I don't need that from my horse; I get enough of it from the rest of the world. The thing is that she isn't a dumb horse - that may actually be part of her problem; like me she's sometimes too smart for her own good and gets bored and rebellious. I think communication will occur and we will get along. It'll be easier when Blaze isn't there to be sticking his big nose into the situation and getting Aeolae into trouble.

Tonight we're going out with my friend to work with Aeolae again and hopefully I'll fare better this time. Last night she let me come up and rub her although you can see her uncertainty as to where I fit into her life. Her and Blaze are very dependant on each other and she's probably going to grieve some and act out when he moves to my friend's farm until her friend can take him. It's good though that we can leave Aeolae where she is for a few more weeks yet as we need that time to get the 'barn' ready, run fence, arrange for hay and all the other things I don't want to have to think about getting done before she arrives; too much to do in too little time with too little energy and undedicated money - I trust in Hashem to provide. At least she'll be able to deal with some of her separation issues in a familiar atmosphere.

One of the things I've learned lots about is the natural horsemanship method of training where the trainer/rider works with horse psychology to get the horse to do what is wanted rather than force. It's liable to take longer but will produce a much better horse. I had heard of the Horse Whisperer and ran across this type of training in Mercedes Lackey's Tarma & Kethry stories but had no idea that the practice was so widespread. I think it's more humane and treats the horse not just as a tool to be made to work as desired but with the dignity due any creature that has the capacity to cooperate in an endeavor.

Stay tuned for more tales of the breaking in of Aeolae; although I'm sure she'll do her best to break us in. It's a good thing I enjoy learning and a challenge. Mark's (and occasionally my) thoughts on horsing around can be found here. I'm off to read the stack of books my friend gave me as homework. Darn, I feel like I'm back in college - work my butt off all day, study all night, sleep sometime. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Welcome to my new blog

This is my second blog, the first being Thoughts of a Jewitch, and I've created this because sometimes there are things to say which have nothing to do directly with spirituality or religion which is where I've been trying to keep the focus of Thoughts of a Jewitch - at least tangentially. I've noticed that I'm struggling more and more to make plain the spiritual associations with things I want to talk about lately and rather than lose readers who go there to get a Jewitch perspective or a least a particular Jewitch's perspective, because there's too much other stuff, I'm bringing the other stuff over here. A perfect example of this is the entry about the joys of wildlife sharing the same living space as us.

The plan here is to write about living in the western upper peninsula of Michigan, specifically in the Keweenaw, life on our 58 acre homestead, my interests in old-time skills and my views of the goings on in the US and the world.

I hope you enjoy the entries and find them entertaining, informative, thought provoking, affirming or any combination thereof. Thanks for stopping by.