Showing posts from September, 2009

In which the Minerva Louises are mostly grown-up ladies now

Remember this little cutie ? It's been about five months since this picture was taken, and in that time our hens have Grown Up. Given that the hens look very much alike (which is why we named them all "Minerva Louise", since we can't tell them apart anyhow), it is difficult to say for sure that the chick pictured above is the same bird as the hen pictured below... ...but surely you understand why I think that they are, in fact, the same bird. The size and color of a hen's comb indicates her status, i.e. the level of bossiness you can expect from her. Some of our hens have combs so large that the top edge is beginning to flop over, much like large Texas Hair towards the end of a strenuous prom night. These are also the fattest of our Ladies. These largest, brightest-colored hens are the Alpha hens, the chickens who, if they were human, would dominate discussions at the PTA and the Sunday School planning committee. At feeding time, the hens with the largest

In which we get excited about the *NEW* Washington State Horse Park

Horselovers all over Washington State are a-flutter with excitement: after nearly 20 years (!) of dreaming, screaming, and scheming, the very first Washington State Horse Park is actually on the trail to becoming a reality. This weekend there was a big celebration, and we went to take a look. FIRST THING THAT I LOVE: The location! The new park is located barely a mile off Highway 90...not 15 miles down a rutted logging road, or up a steep hill into a tiny parkinglot, but rather just barely outside the mountain town of Cle Elum , Washington. In a state divided down the middle by a mountain range that separates Swamplanders on the west side from DrySiders on the east side, the central location is ideal, and I applaud the forward-thinkers who located this piece of property for the Park. When we arrived, we were waved into a large parking area under the powerlines. This is apparently only temporary parking--we located the real parking area on the map. It will be huge, with plenty

In which the Farm feeds us a fine dinner and makes us Very Happy

The Minerva Louises have finally caught on to the art of Egg Laying. We normally collect two or three eggs each day from our pullets...but today there were SIX eggs in the nest! Pullet eggs are smaller than "grocery store" eggs. The eggs will be bigger next spring when our chickens are full-grown lady hens and not just unwed teen mums. The little eggs are very cute, though, and entirely delicious. This is how we ate eggs for dinner this evening: I started with a cast-iron pan and some olive oil. Alas, I am too far from Martinborough, New Zealand to have "proper, fresh, gourmet olive oil", so I used what I could get from the local market. To the pan, I added sweet onions grown in our neighbor Joe's garden. Our onions didn't grow this year, but Joe's sure did, and they are delicious. I also added a medium-sized red potato. While the onion and potato were making magic smells with the olive oil, I cut up vegetables: green peppers and crimini mushrooms

In which I talk about how to train horses to meet weird stuff on-trail

It's one of those "common wisdoms" among horse people that you should always train in private for the circumstances you will meet in public. That's good advice. It's total nonsense, of course, but still it's good advice. Let me 'splain by giving an example: One time, many years ago, I rode my old mare Story up in the hills above the house where we lived then. It was an ordinary day, and an ordinary ride, on trails we used all the time. We headed up to the top of the hill on an old logging road, and I planned to ride part of the ridgetrail there and then cut back down on another trail, through the neighbor's back yard and home again. I reckoned without the helicopter. The land where I rode in those days was logging land, owned by Weyerhaeuser or Georgia-Pacific , or one of the other big lumber companies. Logging companies are, for the most part, really good neighbors. They are only on-site for a few months every ten or twenty years. They usually g

In which we explore the neighborhood, and do a little bushwacking

Across the street from our house is a mountain, and somewhere on it are some old logging roads and trails . I am determined to find them. Today seemed like a good day to start exploring, so I saddled up Fiddle and headed down the road to look for trail access points. Hana promised to wait patiently. Hana has finally accepted that, sometimes, Fiddle and I leave. So far we've always come back to her, and in the meantime, she has her goat-ish entourage. She really does enjoy their company. About a mile from the house is access to overhead powerlines. There's a gate across the road, but some freethinker had cut a little path next to the gate. Wide enough for a horse? Yes, just barely. Then, up the powerline road! The powerline road runs about 1,000 yards above the regular road, and from the higher vantage point I can see the hills on the other side of our valley. Hmmm, looks like they've done some logging over there. The little "divot" in the hill at the center