Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mini Madness

Good thing I got the camera replaced because Monday I am going to see the little horse I am considering buying.  I will get photos.  Yes, I am excited.

The lady is really nice.  The horse sounds adorable.  My trainer thought the horse and the cart were a good price.  I already knew that.  I told my trainer that I did want to go look at this horse since there are very few horses available that are the right temperament, size and trained.  I have been looking at ads for a long time since long before I decided to take driving lessons and the number of horses that qualify for my criteria that are near us is very small.  There have been a couple that were quite expensive but I have to keep the price within the realm of reason.  This is a pet.  Let's be realistic.

I don't mind spending a reasonable amount of money.  I don't think having a horse will be the cheapest hobby I can come up with but it does't have to reach outrageous levels.

As it turns out, this lady also has a small horse trailer for sale.  She thinks she will be asking $600 so we might end up negotiating for that.  We shall see.  Hubby will definitely have to be in on that decision since he is the mechanical genius around here.  I just build sheds:)

I got my confidence boosted today.  I am still not a great horse driver but I did much better at harnessing the little guy and I did much better at driving him.  We did an obstacle course.  Basically I confused the horse a lot but the horse was also trying very hard to take matters into his own hooves and do what he thought was next instead of listening to me.  Why is that a confidence booster?  I pulled it together.  I listened well to the instructor.  I got the horse to understand that we were doing it my way and it all came together.  Yeah!!!!!

The wind is ripping.  The jet stream must be right over us.  I'll have to check the weather map.  In any case, the winds are doing fifty in continuous gusts.  When you walk across the yard, sand pelts you and blows up into your face.   Hate it!!!  These kind of windy days suck.  I fed the goats and I see they are out there trying to find the bits that are blowing across the pen.  Looks like we are in for a windy spring.  That makes it hard to get everything done.  One year I had to wear a shemagh for several months every time I worked in the yard.  A shemagh is a military version of the Bedouin scarves.  They are large enough to go over your head, cross in the front and then tie behind your neck.  Great protection in the desert.  You can buy them from military surplus catalogs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Horse Driving, Driving My Emotions?

I love being around the miniature horses.  There is a saying "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man".  Actually that should read person.  Women seem to love horses and there are probably as many or more women who own horses than men.

I am taking driving lessons so that I can learn how to drive a little horse pulling a cart.  What is oddly unexpected for me is how much of an emotional journey this has become.  Am I too old?  Do I have what it takes?  Do people like me?  Does the trainer think I am not capable?  Learning something new is stretching me and I know that is a good thing but it also is a bit painful.

I really didn't know I was this insecure :)   Or self conscious.  Or afraid of trying something new even though this is something I really want to do.  I am a funny, complicated being.  I already know that.  I am working through this phase.  That is a good thing.

My trainer is twenty years old and somehow I have a hard time communicating.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  She is really nice.  She is patient but I do feel she is pushing me to do some things on my own too soon.  What I mean is:  The harness is really complicated and I have only put the darn thing on twice and the third time she says "I am going to have you put it on yourself and only help you if you need my help."  Well, I did need her help because it is way too soon for me to have memorized all the parts and how to buckle them all and how tightly to buckle them all.

You have to get the belly band on first.  It needs to sit just behind the mane.  You have to get the cinch through the buckle and then pull it sort of tight while you put one hand behind so you don't pull the horses hair.  And the horse is really hairy because it is winter.

Then you have to put the breast collar on.  The breast collar has several straps on it.  You have to ignore one strap, find the other strap and get it buckled over the top of the horse.

Then there is the actual harness that has straps hanging down the sides and a strap for under the tail and such.  There are the reins to get through the breast collar and onto the harness, as well.

Then there is the bridal which has a cavasson that pops over his nose but you don't do it up yet because the bridal has to go on first.  You have to get the bit into the little guys mouth and pull it up gently and slowly so that you don't clank it on his teeth because then he won't like the bit.  Then you tighten up the cavasson so that the horse can't spit the bit out.

I am certain I can learn this but, geez, this is a lot of stuff.  Then there is leading the horse. Getting the cart hooked up to the harness.  Now, you are ready to drive the critter.  That is sort of complicated, too.  You have to hold the reins just so but the reins want to slip out of position.  You have to gather the reins up if you want to go faster.  You are also holding a whip in your right hand while you are doing all of that.

I have been trying to ask the trainer about some of the ads on the local sales site.  Someone was saying that if you see a stallion you like you just geld him.  I'm not buying that story but I asked about it.  She told me to stop looking at the local farm and garden sales site and sent me a link to a horse ads site.  I have been to that site and a number of other sites including a site with lots of miniature horse breeders.  There really hasn't been any horses that fit my criteria [gelding, 10 to 15 years old, already trained to drive, gentle] with two exceptions that were actually in this area.  I called on those two and they were already sold.  Both of those were from the local farm and garden sales list.

Now I have found a nice sounding horse after perusing ads for months.  The lady got her first horse when she was fifty.  It is this little horse.  She has owned him since he was two years old.  He is sweet, doesn't kick or bite.  He comes with the cart and harness and all his little horse stuff like the halter, lead rope and winter blanket.  The cart is a nice Jerald Easy Entry cart.  The price is within the realm of reason.

I did see a horse or two from breeders that might be suitable but they were talking $2,000 or $3,000, no cart included, mind you. None of them were especially close by either.  At least a 3 or 4 hour drive if not further. This horse is $1,350 with all the accessories.  This is a pet and I have a limit on what I want to pay.  At the same time, I want to get a really nice animal and cart.

I talked to the lady who owns the horse on the phone.  The lady is very nice, seems very genuine and is quite willing to let the trainer come with me to see the horse and hook it up and drive it.  I wonder, though, if the trainer is going to want to do that.  We shall see tomorrow when I go for my driving lesson.  I would prefer an experienced horse person to go with me to see the horse.

After talking with this lady, I felt really optimistic about starting my horse career later in life.  She is really enjoying herself.  Since her friends all ride horses she now has a quarter horse she rides and she doesn't want to pay to board two horses.  She is moving on from carting but was really happy to have someone call that really wanted to use the horse for carting.  He really is in the prime of his life and shouldn't just be standing around.  She said she did have someone else call but they wanted a pasture buddy and that wasn't what she was hoping for with this horse.

Of course, I am not done making a paddock and shelter.  I told her it would be at least a week before I could take it home but she says no problem.  She already paid to board it for April so no hurry.  I'll update you when I know more.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cameras and Costco

I bought the CoolPix camera at Costco.  Not because Ashton Kutcher is in the ads for it but because it was a great price in January.  I guessed they didn't sell them all at Christmas.  The darn thing stopped working properly already!!! So, I looked for the receipt since you can return anything electronic to Costco within 90 days with no problems.

I couldn't find the receipt!  Hubby and I had to drive to Carson City today so I  put the CoolPix camera   in an old grocery bag along with the manuals and the charger and such.  I managed to get it into the car.  Then, we stopped at Costco after going to the bank and getting gas for the Toyota.

I stepped up to the counter and said, boldly and with authority "I bought this camera in January and it stopped working right and I can't find my receipt so you probably can't help me."  But he could help me and he did:)  So, I got my money back and Hubby and I cruised over to the camera section to see what they had available.

All the cameras look just like the one I just had to return with the lens that pops out in a series of rings.  I told Hubby, "I think the problem we are having with these little digital pocket cameras is that it has that lens that pops out in a series of rings.  One tiny little piece of dirt and it doesn't pop out anymore and says LENS ERROR."

We had another pocket camera that died on our  hunting trip in November. We didn't get to take a picture of our elk. Maybe it was the freezing temps but it was saying lens error as well so my guess is that it had the same problem as the CoolPix camera.  It just isn't easy being a camera in the desert.  At least that camera lasted a whole year.

Hubby and I looked at cameras for a bit and discussed how expensive a really great camera is and how much nicer the photos were from the old film camera we had. That camera broke after quite a few years of owning it.  We can probably take it into town to get it fixed but you can't hardly get film developed anymore. Film cameras are basically obsolete.  When photos were on film, each photo was an attempt at a work of art for me.  I would frame the photo just right and then snap the picture.  A process I enjoyed very much.

I have quite a few photos [okay, hundreds of photos] in bins.  I go through them every so often.   I started getting rid of photos a few years back and I started with the obviously bad pictures like the photos of the gas pedal and the door trim.  Ooops!  photos.  Now I am   getting rid of a some of the ones that have no meaning left.  Where is that?  Why did I take that picture?  What year was that?  Although I have gone through the old photos a number of times, I still have hundreds of photos in bins.  A lot of them are even in albums inside of the bins.

I think with a really nice digital camera I could still take beautiful photos but...we decided that the cost is too high for a great camera.  So, maybe next year.  This year we would focus on what we really use a camera for:  Snapshots.  Photos of the little things in life like rebuilding chainsaws, documenting the seasons, going hunting,  and other things like that.

The cons of the pocket cameras are that they really don't take as nice a picture as we would like but the pros are many.  They fit in you pocket.  They are convenient.  You can take as many pictures as you want and then just erase the duds.  You can download them for your blog or facebook or sending to your friends and family.  That is the real reason we use cameras nowadays.  To stay in touch electronically.

Hubby found a pocket camera that is water, shock, dust and freeze proof.  The lens is encapsulated inside the camera and does not pop out when you turn it on.  Sounds like just what we need to have a way to document our hunting trips, gardening adventures and the projects and little things that I so love to document.  It is called a Fujifilm XP.  Let's hope it works for longer than our last two cameras.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring has Sprung

The ornamental pear is blooming.  That means spring has sprung.  It's a roller coaster ride into summer.  Windy, calm, warm, cold, sunny, cloudy.  The theme that runs through out spring is:  Get 'er done!   There is manure to haul in from a neighbor's house and  horse shed to complete followed by fencing.  There are onions, garlic, potatoes and 3 kinds of peas to plant.

But first!.... we have to finish setting up the new, improved veggie garden irrigation set-up.  Maybe we will do that today even though the wind is ripping.  I got my order from Dripworks.  Hubby says I shouldn't have bought the new brass manifold for $17 because the outlet holes are too small unlike the superior sized manifolds he makes with super duper outlet holes.  He's probably right because he usually is on all this mechanical stuff but I bought the stuff exactly like the picture showed in the catalog.  The good news is I can actually use the new brass manifold somewhere else if it isn't working out for the garden.  That means I don't have to box up the new manifold, stand in line at the post office which must be 7 miles away, waste an hour of my day and a gallon of four dollar per gallon gas and then spend five dollars to ship it back.

The baby tomato plants look super even if they are just getting their first true leaves!  I have been putting them in the greenhouse and then bringing them back inside before dark.  I just got the greenhouse set up a few days ago.  Turns out I had a leak in the "pond" in the middle of the greenhouse and 3/4 of the water was gone.  Yesterday I got the rest of the water out and re-lined the hole with some new plastic off the roll. I'll have to see if that worked.  I need to see what the over night low is in the greenhouse for a few more days and make sure it is stable enough for tender babies to camp out by themselves.

The daffodils are up but they look a bit dwarfish.  They aren't getting very tall this year.  I am thinking that the ground is pretty dry.  Too cold to water most of February and just about zero rain.  The soil is moist only to about 12 inches, at best, and that isn't much.

The crabapples and the fruit trees are threatening to bud out.  The longer the trees wait the better.  Sure it was 45 degrees overnight but it is sure to freeze again soon.  The iris are coming up and so are the daylillies.  Of course they aren't anywhere close to blooming but that is a nice touch of green around the yard.

The grasses are just starting to really come on strong.  I am concerned that it is really dry even for rice grass and will try to give a few areas a boost by moving a sprinkler around the yard on a day when I am home and the wind isn't howling.

I still have 20 asparagus plants to get in, as well.  How hard can that be?  Well, we have to hook them into the existing tree and shrub zone so I figure that is 20 holes to pop into the 3/4 inch tubing and 20 long barbs, 20 1/4 inch pieces of tubing crowned by 20 T's forty short pieces of 1/4 inch and then forty 1/2 gallon per hour Woodpecker Pro drippers.  Yeah, it really is a lot of work.  It will be worth it if we have delectable asparagus next spring.  Gardners are always looking forward to what the yard will be when the plants are mature:)

Happy Spring!!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grape Mania

Yep, Hubby ordered lots of grape vines this year.
Himrod:  Vigorous vines produce large, loose clusters of oval, soft, flavorful berries. Grapes have a honey-like flavor and a melting, juicy texture. Moderate disease resistance.

Einset:  Einset is a red seedless variety with oval, bright red medium sized berries with slightly tough skin that adheres to the tender flesh. Einset has a distinctive strawberry jam flavor.  

Venus:  A vigorous and productive blue-black variety. The medium clusters of Venus ripen early, producing large berries with a mild flavor combination of labrusca and muscat.

Mars:  Mars is a vigorous, blue seedless variety. Clusters are medium sized and well-filled with slip-skin berries and mild labrusca flavor. Vines have good disease resistance and may bear fruit precociously, so production should be controlled on young vines to prevent delays in establishment.

Jupiter:  This early maturing blue variety has large berries on medium sized clusters. This is a great disease resistant seedless variety with a distinct muscat flavor! The leaves can be used for stuffing. Jupiter does require fungicide sprays for successful production.

We got them from:

Double A Vineyards

They are all self rooted.  That means they are ungrafted.  We had grafted grapes and all but one turned into Concord seeded grapes.  Really sucked.  They all came up from below the graft and our fantasies of delicious pink, red, blue and white seedless grapes all fell into the dirt.

Hopefully these will do better.

Hubby dug five large holes.  He also had to string up another set of wires since we apparently didn't have an available spot for one of the grapes.  I helped him place them and then he shoveled dirt while I packed the soil around the roots.  Here's to hoping that we get delicious grapes and raisins with in a couple of years.

No photos.  The #%^@*&# blankety-blank camera is malfunctioning.  I just bought it in January at Costco. It is called a CoolPix camara.  I can't find the receipt and don't know if they will take it back.  Poop!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Is that another shed in your yard?

Yes, this is the seventh shed Hubby and I have built.  Two were metal shed kits.  One is a green house.  One is a shade cover/hay shed, the goat shed and then there is the long shed.

[Oh, I forgot, I also made two "freestanding sheds" that are technically portable but very heavy.  One for the trash can and one for the freezers.  I guess that means we have built 9 sheds plus the horse shed plus the shed we bought equals 11 sheds on the property.  I have tried to do a very tasteful job of placement.]

We bought the cute little barn style shed when we first moved in here and all our stuff was laying in the dirt while we were getting the garage built.  The garage didn't take long to build but we had to wait three or four months for the contractor to have the time in his schedule to build the garage.

I am basically in charge of getting the last several sheds done.  The greenhouse, Hubby helped me get it started and he helped frame for the windows.  It definitely was a two person job getting the windows in but I did all the rest of the framing and the walls, the trim work and painting.  I put a ventilator turbine in the roof and a small ventilation window in the far side.  I hung a wooden door and re-used our broken screen door on the east side.  I am pretty proud of the greenhouse.  Sturdy and very usable.  The long shed, Hubby did the posts and then I was on my own.  On the shade cover, I actually did most of the posts myself.  Okay, there was a little boo boo on placement of one of the posts but you can't really tell unless I point it out and I don't!

I built the trash can shed and the freezer shed all by myself:)  They aren't perfect but they have held up for a number of years and through several ninety MPH wind storms.  Not to mention the one year where we had two feet of heavy snow.  Didn't break my roofs!

Building a shed requires a lot of stuff.  First thing I loaded up the back of my new '92 Toyota Forerunner and drove confidently into the garden knowing that I could use my 4-wheel drive capacity if needed.  I have ladders and lumber and a drill and a level and other miscellaneous items.  I used to walk everything to my projects but then I realized I was wearing myself out just getting it all organized and set up so I started driving the bigger items in whenever possible.

Getting the first board just right is very important since everything else will be measured and leveled to this board.  

I dropped my drill bit into the sand, darn it!  Even though I saw exactly where it landed, it disappeared into the endless grains of sand and I couldn't find it.  That happens a lot. So, I walked all the way back to the garage to find some more drill bits.  Found a brand new four pack in the tool chest.  Yeah!!!!

On my way to find bits I noticed that the forsythia is blooming.  Spring is really here even though it was 28 degrees overnight Friday night and 30 degrees overnight last night.

I am doing an inside the box rail construction.  I have put up the rails for the wall in the back and then set the rails for the side on top of the back rail.  It is simple this way.  The ends that are sticking out at the back and on the right are going to get cut off.  Hubby says I have to change the roof rails to stick out on each side instead of planning them flush since that will give the roof more support.  He's right but I told him I might wait for him to finish this project.  It is hard to do this by myself.  

How do I do this by myself?  I use cleats to hold the boards up while I get a screw in, slap a level on there and get another screw in on the far side and then finish up with another screw into the ends of each board.  A pain to do on the really high stuff like the roof boards.  Up the ladder down the ladder.  Up the the ladder, down the ladder, ad infinitum.

I thought I did great!  I also got the really big grease wood roots out of the ground in the horse pen and took a large wheelbarrow load of compost from the horse area to the newer compost pile.  The compost isn't composting in the horse area because it is too dry.  That stuff is well over a year old and mostly still looks like  straw.  The newer compost area has a hose available and is actually starting to really cook.

I finished up with getting the greenhouse going.  More on that later!  Then, I told Hubby to please drive by the Take and Bake Pizza joint on his way home from work since I was far too tired to cook.  I hadn't done the dishes from last night yet, either.  Don't tell the neighbors.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Horse Paddock and Shelter Underway

First we adjusted the string lines using a tape measure.  Yesterday we just paced it out.

The final dimension heading north/south is 30 feet.

The final dimension heading east/west is 31 feet,

We gathered the tools and supplies.  Set up a hose for water.  Hubby dug the first post hole.  Really dry this year with no moisture after about a foot so we had to add water to the hole to moisten it up for digging.  Otherwise the sand runs out the bottom on each shovel full.

We got the corner post in place and then went off to  make sure we were getting the watering and other chores done.

We got two more posts in, went in for lunch and a nap and got back to work.  Finally, all four posts were in the ground snuggled by cement.  Final size of the horse shed?  7 feet by 7 feet - 6 feet tall in the back - 8 feet tall in the front.  Yeah seems kind of small but remember, it is a miniature horse and should be adequate. We picked up our tools, completed the afternoon chores.

Hubby took a few minutes to file the wire around the hand hole in the fencing.  His new chain set up is clearly visible.   We now have one handed gate opening and closing where we used to have to use two hands to wrap the chain all the way around the post and back into a slot on the gate.  Nice!!!

I'm dog tired and can't wait to cook dinner, finish the last load of laundry and sit on the couch to watch American Idol.  Oh yeah, they definitely sent the right girl home last week.  I thought she would keep doing those Disney-rama type songs and that would get really old fast.  She seemed like a nice person, though.  Could you believe that Germaine had warrants outstanding and had to get kicked off the show?  Geez!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Productive Day

Rusty is telling that goat.  When the dogs are outside the fence the goats kind of play with him but when the gate opens the goats run up onto the goat toy and safety.  Goats are pretty smart.

Yesterday was incredibly productive.

We got a pine post in for a hose guard in the veggie garden.  We treated it with old motor oil so the termites wouldn't like the taste of it.  We have wetland termites around here.

We staked out the horse pen.  It will be 33 feet by 38 feet.  The shed will be 7 feet by 7 feet.  We are working out the final details on the fence so that I can get a materials list going.  Hubby will have to drive me to the home improvement store to pick up materials.  Maybe when we go pick up the gates we ordered.

Speaking of gates, we called over to the feed store and tried to get the last two gates we needed but they didn't have gates in the size we wanted [14 foot and 6 foot] that matched the four foot wide gates we already purchased.  They had a different brand that they claim is the same color but they seemed pricey so....I did what all great shoppers do .... I went online.  I found a match at a box store in the next town north of us.  It is about a 25 mile drive.  I had to order them to be delivered to the store.  The gates will be in about April 3rd so I want to have a materials list done so we can pick up fence posts and boards at the same time we get the gates.

We'll take the trailer to pick up our items.  The trailer has been a fantastic investment and we got such a good deal.  The neighbor, who is really good at building trailers, helped us build it at cost plus us a few hundred dollars in labor.  The trailer pulls really nicely and has helped us get wood for the fire, hay for the goats, take hunting gear for the annual hunting trip and helped us haul manure in for the garden.  You can't beat that.

Hubby repaired the old wheelbarrow which has been a pain in the behind for a long time.  The bearings keep popping out of the socket then you have to tip it over and pound the darn things back into the holes.  He took the wheel off, moved it forwards and put a couple of shims on it.  That also solved the other problem where the wheel would rub on the wheelbarrow when you had a load in it.  Yeah!!!!!

He repaired the large ax and then oiled the handles for the rakes and shovels and such.

We staged the fence posts to finish up cross fencing and gate areas and it looks like we have just enough.

I helped Hubby cement in another fence post.  This one is sort of  in front of the greenhouse and will have a four foot man gate on it to get into the driveway into the back area.  It will only open out since the greenhouse corner sort of blocks it but it allows for maximum backing in and protects the greenhouse from getting backed into.  The greenhouse windows are very expensive and they are hard to replace so I sure don't want a disaster like backing a trailer into it.

Hubby also moved the 4x4's for the horse shed to the area where we are building the shed.  He moved the roll of wire that was blocking the greenhouse door.

Just for fun, Hubby went ahead a worked on one of his chainsaws while I took a nap on the couch.

I e-mailed my horse driving trainer and she hasn't gotten back to me.  I wonder if she is dumping me as a client?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Re-configuring the Veggie Garden Headers and Then Some

I got the old header line out of the garden.  It is right where the south row of the new  silver buffalo berries is.  You can't see the hedge very well.  It's still young.  The new 3/4 inch line will run directly from the faucet just outside the green man gate, up the west side of the veggie garden to the center pathway.  Of course it all has to be configured with a filter, pressure regulator and two timers, one for the south side of the veggie garden and one for the north side of the veggie garden.  I have to order some supplies from Dripworks.

I dragged some long, long pieces of 3/4 inch tubing that I wasn't using from the back acreage and placed them on the left or west side of the garden.  They run about 60 or 70 feet to the center of the garden.  Twelve feet to the left of the white pipe is the new silver buffalo berry hedge that will protect the garden from the wind on the west side.  The brown rows on the left are strawberries.  They are moving although I am not positive where I am moving them to.  I have a couple of ideas.

I placed the tubing and found out I have enough used tubing to complete two 90 foot lines up the center of the garden.  One for the north side and one for the south side.  You can see my mountain of compost just inside the line for the north veggie garden section.   The new garden configuration is really nice.  There is plenty of room around the edges and up the center to maneuver a wagon, wheelbarrow or an ATV.   The center driveway is 16 feet wide.  The old Chevy truck will be able to drive in with loads of manure.  Exciting stuff.

The final garden size are two sections of about 90 feet by a little over 40 feet.  That means our rows will be 40 feet long.  Why not 50 feet?  I don't know.  This is just the way it worked out.  I think we were thinking that the flat tube would water more evenly at a shorter distance.

Flat tube will be next.  I found some that was left over from when we originally did the garden five years ago. We will definitely be seeing how far that goes before we buy more.  That stuff is expensive!  

I spent a lot of time today measuring and staking out this final garden configuration.  Then, I cleaned up the dog poop from a winter of pooping.  Yeah, if I lived in Seattle I wouldn't have this problem.  It would all melt away in the rain.  The dogs have five acres to poop on but they really like pooping on the strawberries.  As usual, I took the fencing down months ago and we just got the new fencing up a few days ago.  That always happens to me.  Hubby has a job to work and he also has to do the car repairs.  Throw in some overtime and yard stuff can get put off for quite awhile.  Fortunately, he really has tried hard to get his part done.  Fencing is one thing I just cannot accomplish. 

I took another stab at turning the compost pile and watered it some more. I moved one wagon load of compost from beyond the far side of the goat pen to the main pile. Then I watered the strawberries.   Back to forking some more compost. I cleaned out the goat shed but just left the straw in the pen.  I got them a nice thick bed of new straw. 

I picked up the hoses and such that have been laying around in the garden and brought a couple of slings of wood into the house.  Fed the dogs and cat and goats.  The goats ate their hay so fast, I threw them  a little extra.

I promised myself I wouldn't over do it today and I finally quit working for the day.  I did get a lot done but, it is spring and there is plenty more to do.  At least the veggie garden is starting to come together.  I can start planting peas on St. Patrick's Day according to local gardening lore.  That won't happen but maybe by next week I will be ready.

Really chilly today although over night temps have been well above freezing for several nights in a row the temperature just didn't go up much today.  Fortunately, I have a nice toasty fire going in the woodstove. 

It is snowing pretty good out here.  Maybe I better check the highway reports so that when Hubby calls I can let him know what is going on.  He should be off work in about 20 minutes. 

Rice Grass in the Sun

This is my beautiful rice grass before being trimmed back.  So puffy and tan.  I trimmed it all off using my nifty gas powered hedge trimmer. Yep, all five acres of it.  Or maybe there is only 4 out of five acres with rice grass on it.  Soon, it will be sprouting new green growth and we shall begin the march to tan, puffy perfection again.  Gotta love nature.

Rice grass is fantastic.  It is a bunch grass.  It has deep roots that withstand the sand being blown away from the base of the clump.  The deep roots help hold the sand in place.  The grass grows even though it gets no extra water.  Remember we only average six inches of precipitation a year around here.  That is snow and rain. The quail eat the seeds and the goats eat the grass tops.  Wonderful stuff - rice grass.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What I did on Wednesday

I moved the last grape vine that needed moving.  

I watered my mountain of compost.  The weather has been warmer and watering is getting easier since everything isn't frozen solid every morning.

I turned a bunch of the compost over the last three days so that it will be evenly moist and start cooking.

I have been digging roots out of the ground in the new horse area and the new garden area.  

I helped Hubby string up this 20 foot section of fencing on the south side of the veggie garden.

Hubby had to move the hinges on the goat pen gate to the left side because the new fencing was changing the way the closures were working.  This will be better anyway since it won't close by itself.  Imagine being a goat and arriving at your pen from dining, you have two dogs following you and you can't get in.  That sucks.

Here is the veggie garden man gate with some tasteful but reused green wire on the bottom.  That'll keep Little Penny Poo Poo out of the garden [and the compost pile!]

This is the driveway where we are installing a large gate sometime soon.  We still have to make into town to buy the gate.  I put up the short tacky fencing to keep the dogs out temporarily.

This is when I take the whole of Thursday off trying to be rested up enough to clean someone's house and hope that the trainer really does cancel on me due to an exiting miniature horse event that is in town.  So far, I haven't heard from her.  I always end up thinking I should be getting more done.  Yeah, I need therapy.  How many ladies have gotten this much heavy duty yard work done this spring?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Miniature Horse Driving Lesson

Last Saturday I had another miniature horse driving lesson.  I was having a very rough day.  I was very tired and wasn't mentally sharp.  So, what happens?  My trainer decides I am ready to do several things my own.  I am thinking, no, not today!!!

I'm only telling you guys this stuff because nobody in the horse world reads my blog!

She calls me on the way there and tells me to go ahead and get the horse out myself.  I've never done that before.  I arrive at the pen and there isn't three horses in the pen.  There is five horses.  They all run over to see me except Knockout who turns his butt to me and walks to the other side of the pen.

Great!  The horse doesn't even want to speak to me.  I greet the other little guys and get them to back up and I open the gate and get in the pen.  There are several halters hanging there and I pick one.  Damned if I can't figure out which way is up on the darn thing.  At least Knockout has decided to come over to me so it looks like he isn't going to be a problem after all.

There is a guy cleaning the pen and he puts the halter on for me.  My brain fog doesn't let up but I do get the little guy out of the pen without letting any other horses out.  I confidently walk him over and tie him to the post correctly with the right knot.  I brush him and he looks a little like I am not doing it right.  Maybe I am just being sensitive.

I cleaned his hooves.  The trainer showed up.  She is a nice little gal but this is only my third time harnessing and I really was in a brain fog and she says "I'm  not going to tell you how to put the harness on him this time."  I'm barely thinking but what I am thinking is "No, not today.  Help me!"  So, she doesn't and I have to ask her about just about everything that goes on the little guy.

I was just as bad off driving.  I kept getting my hands wrong and I just could not pull it together.  Honestly, if I was at home and the trainer wasn't counting on me to show up, I would not have driven a horse that day.  I have been pushing way too hard to get a lot done and I have kind of hit the wall.

Oh well, I am kind of hoping that the trainer is busy this weekend since I am still tired.  Hope I get rested up soon.    Anyway, I certainly hope I can pull it together.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seed Starting or Let the Garden Begin

Let the garden begin!  Today I am starting the first of my greenhouse seedlings.  I actually start them indoors for the first two weeks since my greenhouse is not heated and seeds like a fairly even heat to germinate well.

I got this nifty coconut coir in a block this year.  Good price from Gardner's Supply Company.  I like coconut coir as a seed starting medium.

You put the block in a bucket with quite a bit of water.

In a few minutes, it fluffs up into this nice, moist material.

My seeds are organized [at least the ones I bought are, the seeds I saved are another story].

I put the coconut coir medium into this tray with larger sized planting squares since the tomatoes are in the greenhouse for about 8 weeks  and will benefit from the extra room.

I am growing three kinds of tomatoes this year.  I select short season varieties.  The Sungold hybrid is a new one for me, as is the Legend variety.  The Delicious variety is left over from last year.

I put three seeds in each pot.

Cover the seeds with about a 1/4 of an inch of coconut coir and the label them.  Into the house for a toasty couple weeks.  We'll see how soon they come up.

Average date of last frost in my area is May 15th. This year could be May 1st [maybe I am being optimistic].  Last year it was May 30th.   Yeah, my climate sucks.  It is so variable.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fencing - It's a lot of work

First we put up a string line.  The goats were fascinated.

The string line is up.

Next, Hubby digs a deep hole.

Then, he makes sure the post is in the right spot.

Finally, we mix up light weight fence post concrete in the wheel barrow.  Using a level, we concrete the post into place.

I had to put down the camera and start helping.  I use the level while Hubby shovels the concrete in.    He has already completed the other side with the crossbar for strength.

So, here it is with the man gate for the garden already in place.  We have to put about 20 feet of welded wire up on the right side but first....we have to change the gate for the goats to a left hand hinge set up.  The gate needs to open to the opposite side with the new fence set up.

We will need to put a short piece of wire on the bottom of the gate to keep our short little dog out of the veggie garden.

The big cross piece is going to have a 14 foot gate and then Hubby also wants a 4 foot man gate over by the greenhouse.  That will equal an 18 foot hole to aim at when we are backing the utility trailer into the shed/veggie garden complex.

I'll have to get some photos of the greenhouse, shade cover and long shed and driveway areas.  I am pretty proud of myself.  It has taken several years to get it all done but it looks fantastic and is working pretty much the way I wanted it to work.

Crossing my fingers that this part of the yard will be fenced on our next days off.  We shall see.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Notable Quotable

“Disingenuous Heteronyms.

This is from Al Stefanalli who has a blog

through the Bruce Gerencser blog

I have been thinking about word games today. Here it is, something that tends to bother me, explained in a clear cut way.  Thanks Al for helping realize that I am not, I repeat, not dense and that people really are using disingenuous word techniques to confuse the issues.  The rest of the article was great as well.

Al writes-

Believers, particularly Christians, are fond of using what I like to call “Disingenuous Heteronyms.” A heteronym is a is a word that has equal spelling and pronunciation, but has different meanings. The word “lick” is an example. You can lick an ice cream cone, and you can lick someone in a fight. A disingenuous heteronym is word that has equal spelling and pronunciation, but a meaning is attached to it that does not follow the standards by which definitions are arrived.

Here is a link to the article:

Sometimes I stumble when dealing with folks like this buy now I have a name for it - disingenous heteronyms.  I am going to have to use it soon, I am sure of it.

Mini and Me

This little guy is named Knockout.  He is very cute and he is a wonderfully patient little guy.  Knockout has been allowing me to learn how to drive a horse in harness.  Cassidy is my human trainer.  She is very knowledgeable about horses and especially mini horses.  There are a couple of other ladies in my area that have been very sweet.

I have been driving an hour and a half to take lessons.  That is one way.  I have really enjoyed getting the opportunity to interact with another species.  This is one of the few activities in recent memory that I have participated in where I am not thinking about what I need to do tomorrow or later and such.  I get out of the truck at 10:00 and back into the truck at 11:30 and I haven't thought about having a smoke or what stores to go to on the way home. It is time out from the world.

I have been working my butt off to get ready for having a horse of my own.   I have been moving "poisonous to horses plants" and doing a thorough job of cleaning up the horse pen area.  I still have to finish moving the old compost.  I also need to get a shovel out there and level out the mini sand dunes and pry out a few more roots from the brush that I removed and burned already.

We bought the non-climb horse wire and the 4x4 posts for the horse shed.  Looks like the weather is sucking and I have several cleaning jobs coming up so I won't be getting anything done towards this project this week.  Hubby is also working 5 tens, getting one day off and then working 5 more tens.  There is no way we can do fencing until next week -  at the earliest.

The little horse in the photo is about 30" tall at the base of the mane.  Big horses are measured to the withers,  mini horses to the base of the mane.  Horses and ponies are measured in hands, mini horses are measured in inches.  I am actually looking for a taller mini.  They go up to 38".  Of course, a few grow a bit over sized and are ineligible for mini horse competitions.   I am looking for a sturdy, sound horse that is closer to the 38".  I am also looking for a gelding that is trained to drive.  I figure only one of should be a beginner!

It looks like I have a lead on a horse although I am going to have to be firm about not taking him if I meet the horse and don't like him.   I went to see a horse that was 28 years old. Now, they do live a long time but that is just too old to want to take him on.  I wouldn't have much time with him before I had to deal with the issues of a senior animal and I am not willing to do that. I said he was very sweet but no thank you.

The horse in question is a brown horse with a light mane and tail, I think.  He is a gelding. He is a large size mini.  But, he is a rescue horse and that could mean issues so we shall see.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Morning at Home

I fed the goats and the dogs this morning.  The cat showed up late and he didn't get his canned catfood.  Don't worry.  He has a mountain of dry catfood on an old table inside a shed.  I cleaned the goat pen.  Got the wet straw out of the goat shed.  Cleaned the water trough and got those cute goats some clean water.  I decided to take the goats out and let them start eating weeds.  We have just the tiniest bit of green grass coming up and I am counting on those goats to keep the cheat grass and mustard down to a minimum.  Obie, the big goat, decided to take a couple of big chunks out of my nice pine tree on the way back to the pen.  I have got to get a piece of fencing around that tree before it is completely destroyed.

I then got the seed starting materials organized.  Well, maybe organized is a pretty strong word for this mess.  I found a lot of the trays and such that I need to get things moving.  I ordered coconut coir seed starting medium but it hasn't arrived yet.  About March 15th I need to get some seeds in the dirt.  I still have to straighten out the greenhouse and get some water in the reservoir inside the greenhouse.  That keeps the moisture level up and helps even out the daytime and nighttime temps.

Hubby got one of our nice new gates up.  We still have to put wire on the bottom since I don't want the dogs in this area.  I also want to be able to keep little Penny Poo Poo locked into the backyard.  The pots and seed starting stuff are behind the wooden shed.  The shed definitely has a forward lean to it.  The wind has been eating the sand out.  Maybe we will have to jack it up and see if we can straighten it out a bit.  The wood siding is looking really dry so I either need to sand and paint or get some Thomson's Waterseal on that thing.  Painting it white with green trim would look really good and go with our color theme but I really hate to add another project on to my list so we shall see.

Here is the second gate Hubby put up.  Looks fantastic.  We have to get some wire on the bottom of this gate as well.  Penny is definitely going to be able to go right through the bottom rungs. Hubby has the T-post in place for us to get another short piece of wire up on the right side.  Looks like Rusty the Red Dog snuck into the picture.  In the background you can see my giant pile of compost.  I am running a sprinkler on it today.  I can't keep it moist enough to actually want to break down into compost since it has been too cold to run much water.  We'll be spreading it into the garden pretty soon, ready or not, and letting finish composting in the dirt.  That actually ends up working out okay for us.  

You can see the goat pen gate on the right and the shade cover/hay shed/wood shed on the left.  You can't see the greenhouse in this photo.  It is forwards from the shade cover.  The veggie garden will be well protected from dogs and goats when the fencing is finished.  The far left side is going to have a 14 foot gate and a 4 foot man gate.  When both are opened up, we will have an 18 foot wide hole to aim at when we are backing a trailer in there.  Unfortunately, when we designed the greenhouse and veggie garden, we designed a jig jog from the driveway on the side of the house into the back area.  You try to plan ahead but sometimes you just don't quite get it right!

The wind is supposed to come up later today and it is supposed to be warm.  Tomorrow is supposed to go much colder.  This is why we never get any fruit on our fruit trees.  Warm, cold, warm, cold.  Oh well.

Since the wind isn't blowing yet, I decided to take the hedge trimmer out for a spin.  I whacked and sliced and trimmed for quite some time.  Sadly, I am not done yet but I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  I still have to rake and gather it all into piles for burning when we get a day that isn't windy.  I might need two days.  That's a lot of dead grass and brush out there.

Noon- Time to eat lunch, take a break, maybe get a little nap in and start all over again!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Couple of Strangers Strode Into Town Today

I went outside to yesterday to feed the goats.  Little Taffy was staring hard away from the food.  He wouldn't even look at the hay.

"Hey, Taffy!  What you lookin' at?"  Taffy is frozen, staring. That is very odd.   I walk towards him and then, from around the goat shed, I can see two horses on our fence line.

"Where did you guys come from?"

I went into the house and called the sheriff's dept. to see if anyone had reported their horses missing.  Nope, no one has called.  Well, they are wearing halters, are not wild and if someone is looking for them they're over here behind my place.

 I walked around to the outside of the fence to see if the horses would come to me.  Nope, not happening.

I called my closest neighbor and she moseyed over to take a look at them.  Nothing much happens around here so this kind of livened up the day.

Finally, I saw a guy leaving the  house that has been sitting empty next door.  Of course, I want to know who he is and why he is in the empty house next door.  So,  I holler, "Hey, do you know anything about those horses?"

"No," he hollers back.

I ask him "How long have they been there?" and he tells me all afternoon.

"Are you doing maintenance on that house?"  I ask.

"I bought the house."

"Really, then I'm your neighbor.  My name is Liz."

Craig is looking forward to living in the country, likes gardening and might get a big dog.  Someone tried to steal the electrical wire that was going to his house.  I told him we have been trying to keep an eye on the place but we didn't notice that.

He also had to shock the well since the water tested positive for e. coli and coliform.  I'm thinking because it was sitting there for so long without being run but...who knows!

Back to the horses.  I called a couple of more people, one of whom called the mail lady who thought she might know where the horses belong but that guy doesn't have a phone so she would go over and see.  The horses were in love with my goats and hung out near them until it was pitch dark.  They took off running when I wasn't looking.  I went out to see if they were still there and all I could see was the dark forms of two horses, tails up and moving fast in the red light from the tail lights from a couple of cars on Ninth St. And then they were gone.

Two big happenings in one day around here.

Looks like it is going to be warm and sunny today.  I'm off to rake and burn.  I am so almost done with this phase of our yard.  It will be a happy day when I hang up the hedge trimmer and put away the rake and the matches.