Tuesday, August 4, 2009

in which I have discovered a cool blog about my favorite breed!

I do go on (and on, and on) about Standardbreds.

Please understand that I was raised in mostly-Quarter-Horse country, and spend a lot of time in a mostly-Arab-sport, with a few forays into mostly-Warmbloodland.

Except for a few jaunts to Standardbred Playday events in Canada, I am almost always riding the only pacer in town.

Now I've discovered this blog about Standardbreds : celebrating the breed, retraining pacers to a second (or third!) career, and all kinds of other cool stuff about my favorite big-headed mostly-brown horses. So, off I go, to read more about my favorite breed. Maybe I'll see you there!

p.s. the nifty photo at the top of this post is actually Fiddle and me at a standardbreds-only event last year. I know, it's hard to recognize us without our signature purple color. If you want to try messing around with some of your own photos, check out this site!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In which we build a "semi-permeable membrane": a fence for goats

There are lots of reasons to get goats:

Goats are useful.
They eat blackberry vines.
They will keep Hana company when Fiddle and I have other places to go.
They eat blackberry vines. They also eat blackberry vines.

Goats are cute.
Really, really cute. They look cute. They do cute stuff. They make cute noises.

Also, they eat blackberry vines.

Our friend Ryan, who works at the Toppenish Livestock Auction yard, has promised to find us a pair of nice little wether goats. The price for goats here in the Swampland is outrageous right now: a nice little wether goat costs about $100 or more!

On the dry side of our mountains, especially at an auction yard, we will pay about $100 for a pair of nice little wether goats. Not fancy or pedigreed goats, of course. Nice goats, though. The kind of goats that eat blackberry vines.

Before the goats arrive, it's important to enhance our pasture fences. Three strands of electric wire might as well be three strands of air in regards to containing goats. So (once the stupid weather cooled down a bit) Jim and I got busy and started building goat fencing.

Jim used the circular saw to cut chunks from the corner posts, and then we added reinforcements.

We have been warned that goats are like water, and fencing them in can be a frustrating experience.

These warnings quite remind me of BRCs, which we used in Alaska to slow bears down in their pursuit of our food, toiletries, and rum. A BRC is a Bear Resistant Container....there is no such thing as a Bear Proof Container. Bears can get through anything...and they do.

So, we are told, it is also with goats. Thus we are building a GRC, and hoping that the goats find the pasture grass and brambles (and blackberry vines) entertaining enough that they do not feel obligated to penetrate our Goat Resistant Container.

We use the come-along to stretch the mesh fencing tight.

Then, we use fencing staples to nail the mesh fencing to the railroad timbers.

We've also got the three strands of electric fence offset from the mesh to discourage climbing, eating, and other kinds of goatish fence-molestation. Well, it might slow them down, at least.

My neighbor Kathy is hoping that the goats will escape and come eat the blackberry vines in her yard.


In other news, I climbed up on the roof of the house the other day and snapped some photos of the yard and the pasture. I figure that it will be interesting to shoot photos like this every summer, so I can keep track of the changes (hopefully improvements) we make to the farm. (you can click the photo to make it bigger).

Right now I see brown grass (because I will not waste perfectly good well-water on the lawn!) healthy blueberries that have been rescued from the clutches of blackberry vines, grapevines spreading out and producing fruit, and an embarassingly sparse vegetable garden. The paddock fence is visible in this photo, and also the horse trailer and the obligitory pirate flag.

In this photo is the roof of the camper, the solar laundry drying device, the chicken tractor, two shiny horses, and a pasture that isn't quite dried up and blown away in the recent heat wave. None of that stuff, (except the pasture without the fence) was here in March when we moved in.

You can't see the baby trees in this photo, but there are about 40 survivers in the left far corner of the pasture...hopefully in a few years, they will be visible from the roof of the house!

There's always a billion tasks that need to be done on a farm, and a limited number of hours in each day. However, the joy of farm life is that the work is good, useful, tangible stuff; I will be able to climb up on the roof next summer and then see the work we've done in the in the pictures I take. That's a pretty cool thing, I think.

Life is good!