Thursday, September 9, 2010

In which I go riding with the Fish, and nobody gets very wet

Fiddle and I do a lot of riding "solo"--just her and me, out on the trails for hours of happy trotting. She's gotten good at leaving her friends behind in the pasture, and she doesn't fret about being all alone in the wilderness with only me to protect her from the wild wolves.

She isn't very good at riding in a group, though. There just isn't much opportunity to ride with crowds of other people, except at an event, which is not the place to be schooling new skills.

So today we met up with the Fish, for a few hours of happy trotting in a group.
These are all endurance riders and endurance horses from Fish Creek Farm, which is where I take Fiddle for lessons. Today would be a kind-of lesson, but mostly the goal was to have fun.

While waiting for the Fish to arrive, I read the "notice board" (these posters are all taped inside the porta-potty at the trail head...a good way to make sure everybody sees them, right?)

Hmmm. A poker ride this weekend? I'll have to try to go to that!

I never win much at these events (unlike Dory, who won a SADDLE a few weeks back!), but it's fun to be out in a group without having to haul for hours.

The Fish arrive and mount up....

Patty wanted me to take a picture so she could show her trainer how far she has to climb up to get on her horse.
Sorry, Sis: I'll take the picture, but you'll get no sympathy from ME for the effort you use to get on your 15 hand high pony!

Down and up
and around and through
and a stop for a photo opportunity.
Fiddle got to practice leading, following, and being in the middle of the "sled dog line."

She hates having horses right behind her, but the Fish just laugh at her ugly faces and she has to cope with it. She finally relaxed...a little. It will take more practice, but I saw improvement after only a couple of hours!

Next week, we'll do it all again. What fun!

Monday, September 6, 2010

In which we have no water and our neighbors are very helpful folks

Do you remember the year 1980?

That was the year Mount Saint Helens erupted in Washington State, and dumped a gazillion tons of gritty ash as far away as the Ukraine.

That was the year Terry Fox started running his "Marathon of Hope" across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

1980 was the year that the US registration for the draft was reinstated, that Solidarity was officially recognized in Poland, that John Lennon was killed. It was the year that Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was released.

That was the year the US hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the Olympic hockey semifinals. (umm, do you remember the Soviet Union?)

In 1980, I was a sophomore in high school, working part-time shelving books at the local public library. I got my driver's license, and attended my first high school dance.

In other words, 1980 was a






So, why is a time 30 years in the past on my mind today?

Because: In the summer of 1980, our farm's well was drilled and the well pump installed.

And today, the well pump and almost everything attached to it, finally stopped working.

It's true: even in the Swamplands, on a rainy September day, it's possible to not have water.

The neighborhood to the rescue!

Young Justin brought his dad's tractor over to clear a "road" for the well-system truck to approach our well head, while his mom quizzed the well-system guy to make sure he wasn't going to rip us off--Reggie knows everybody around here, and she takes care of her friends and neighbors.

The well-system guy is also a neighbor. Thanks to Reggie, we didn't get charged time-and-a-half, even though today was a national holiday.
Jim used Justin's dad's tractor to mash down a road, and the rest of us hacked and bashed at the overgrown foliage with loppers, choppers, and hacking tools.

Next: Matt, son of the well-system guy (who finally passed Reggie's close inspection), backed the big boom truck down to our well.
Up with the boom
and up with the pump....

...which was a loooooooooong way down.

Bill and Matt pulled more than 200 feet of pipe out of the casing before they got to the pump itself. ($12 / foot, just in case you were wondering).
Then they replaced all the 30-year-old galvanized steel pipe with PVC, and replaced the broken pump with a new pump,
and then poked the entire schmeer back down the well casing, rewired the entire rig, and hooked everything back up again.

The result: we have water again.

We also needed a new trench for the new wiring. Neighbors to the rescue again! Terry and Sandy had a trencher rented for the long weekend, and they brought it across the street and saved us several hours of digging trench in the rain.

The result: water systems are expensive, and the day could have been completely depressing. Our wonderful neighbors saved us money, time, and a lot of work.

Life. It's spendy, some times. But still good mostly.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In which there is farmin' stuff and more puppy boot camp for the new kid

Lisa has had a lot of new experiences in her first week (can it be only a week?) in America.

We've resumed "pizza and movie Fridays", in which everyone makes a personal pizza using homemade pizza dough and the pizza builder's choice of toppings.

I'm a pesto/sundried tomato/artichoke heart pizza maker. Jim prefers pepperoni/sundried tomatoes/olives and lots of cheese. Willy likes pineapple, ham, and pepperoni. And Lisa
chose pineapple and breakfast cereal with cheese. It certainly looks...beautiful.

Willy was eager to teach Lisa to drive the riding mower ...but he says she drives in wavy lines. He takes a lot of pride in "his" lawn, and let her practice with the mower for a while before he took it back and re-did all the mowing in the back yard.

Today Lisa and I did a ton of weeding and de-gnoming in the garden, and as of this moment (8:45pm) she's fast asleep. Between jet lag and farm work, we are making our new puppy tired!

The blackberries are ripe now, and it's been a good year for them.

I've made several blackberry pies, Jim made a batch of blackberry ice cream, and also

6 gallons of sweet blackberry dessert wine.
(the blackberry wine will for ready by Xmas, just in case you were thinking of visiting this winter.)

(the ice cream will be long gone by then, though!)

It's cucumber -harvesting time, and that means it's pickle-making time again. As they did last year, our friends Megan and Henry came out to the farm to lead the pickle team.

The kids cheerfully peeled the garlic and prepped the jars and then we sent the menfolk out to do some advanced geometry on the site of the new barn in preparation for digging anchor holes. Henry was in charge of the hole-measuring stick
as well as some fabulous fashion statements.

Up at the house, Megan and Lisa and I crammed cukes into jars and continued the pickling process

with quality control supervision provided by Minerva Louise XII.
The finished product:

42 jars of garlic pickles! (the bread-and-butter sliced pickles are made from our own garden cukes! I'm so proud.)

When the work is done, we build a fire and enjoy some hot dogs.
Chicken Twelve enjoys stalking Lisa, who hasn't learned yet to not drop her hot dog when she screams.
Willy demonstrates how chickens should be handled.
Mimsy hopes that Willy will do a scream-and-drop too, but alas, in vain. He is a farm kid now, for sure.

Mim and Twelve have to do tricks to get bits of hot dog away from Willy.

Life is good.