Saturday, April 16, 2011

In which we finally finish the large green object in the back yard!!!!

"Hey!  What are you guys doing in here?"
 This place looks like a construction zone!
 But not for a lot longer.   
 Today, all those empty spaces got turned into real walls.
 Up on the ladders we went.
 All of us worked like crazy squirrels all day long with drills and drivers.
 Check it out:  the hay room, all ready for HAY!
 "I really hope you people are putting in an extra big feed room for me!"

 Farmer Jim admires the pretty-darn-close-to-finished product...

 ...and then he hustled up to the house to grill some steaks to celebrate. 
What a guy!

Life. Is. So. Good.


Friday, April 15, 2011

In which training continues, and there's just a bunch of trotting on trails

I've been riding a lot lately, but nothing exciting has been happening.  That's a good thing.  "May you live in exciting times" is not a blessing. 

"May you ride an exciting horse" isn't either. 
Fiddle is mostly "not-exciting."  She's learned so much about being a trail horse.  She's surefooted.  She's sensible.  She doesn't spook at much, and she can travel down the trail at a ground-covering trot for hours at a time. 

We did 18 miles the other day in 2.5 hours--that's pretty brisk! 

On any other horse, a pace like that would feel like racing, but we were singing "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" and other silly songs, not whipping our noble steeds into a frothy speed.   

I glanced down at the GPS: 14 miles per hour.  Who would've guess that the speed creates a good cadence for silly songs? 
 Fiddle mostly gets the "caboose" position when we're out with friends, because her rear cannons tend to fire at the other horses.  That's my next task, now that she knows how to travel with a group:  teaching her to control her hostility.

Wish me luck.  (It's a good thing she and I are both still quite young, right?)
 Today Fee and I went out "solo"  (it doesn't seem quite right to call it that, since she's there with me, and I'm there with her, but I'm not sure what the correct word is).
 It was raining in the Swamp (of course), and the trails at Bracken were a mess.  Too dang much mud, and the we won't be getting dry weather any time soon.  Sigh.
 It's pretty in the Swamp.  But, wet.  The salmonberries are blooming:
 Pink blossoms are especially pretty in our otherwise green-on-green-on-green landscape.
 We do have "Swamp Tulips" too, of course.

And also:
We surprised at least 6 deer when we were almost back at the trailer.  I think the group was bedded down in the clearcut, napping and ruminating.  When we came along, they all stood up and blinked at us.  Fee wasn't worried about them, they weren't worried about us. 

Here's something totally random:  I finally took a picture of my "new" saddle (it's the same saddle, but a new saddle seat):
It's PURPLE.   (and it's got more padding than the black seat had, too!)  

Life is good.  Even in the rain.  After all, without the rain it wouldn't be a Swamp!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In which we don't travel far to visit very exotic neighbors

A few weeks ago I was standing in line at the feed store when the lady in front of me turned and said, "oh wait, I forgot something--here, you hold this,"
and handed me (I'm not kidding) a 6-month-old kangaroo joey, wrapped in a baby snug-pouch.

Her name is Roobecca. 
The joey, I mean.  (Nobody introduced me to the lady.)

Have you ever seen a six-month old joey?  Have you ever touched one?  They are surprisingly soft, and their little hands are strong and wirey.

I was hooked.  I wanted to see more 'roos!

So, when my mom asked me what we could all do on my birthday, I said,

 "Let's go to the Kangaroo Farm!"
The Kangaroo Farm is less than three miles from Haiku Farm...and although we've always known about it, we've never made time to visit.  Until today.

I'm not a huge fan of zoos.  Captivity seems like a really bad deal for a lot of the animals, even in the nicest zoos.

A lot of the 'roos spend their winter days in winter under heatlamps (often in social piles that result in joeys...)

In our cold damp climate, that makes zoo kangaroos pretty inaccessible to the public.

The Kangaroo Farm, however, is more like a "petting zoo"...and even more like just a bunch of farm animals hanging out in a backyard, doing whatever they want to do.  The caretakers know each animal by name and by habit--they can tell you which wallaroos like to be petted, and which kangaroos will prefer to run (ahem, "hop") away.  Several of the animals also perform some very cute tricks (more about that in a few minutes), because almost all of them were raised in the house for their first year or two.  I don't know of any zoo that does that!  
 They have a large and extremely unusual collection of animals.  The thing (above) that looks like a jackalope to me is really a Patagonian Cavy.  They eat grass, alfalfa pellets, and bread!   Perhaps they could give Baasha in Germany some bread-eating lessons?
 Lisa has been wanting to get a pet rabbit, and I wondered if she'd spend our entire visit petting this nice little lop, but there were so many other animals to see and touch, she soon scampered off to check out the roosters (I took this picture for Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch--there were so many lovely chickens, but I didn't get good photos of them)
 There was also a very amorous peacock.  When he spreads his feathers and proceeds to dance, he sounds very much like a dishwasher on the "pots and pans" setting.   Pretty, though!
 The caretaker introduced us to Carl, a bachelor ostrich.  This farm originally began as an ostrich ranch, but when the owners attended an ostrich farmer's convention (they have those??) about 14 years ago, somebody had a baby wallaroo to show the crowd.  The baby came home to Arlington, and was the beginning of a whole huge way of life.
 We came around another corner, and there was the dishwasher bird again. 
 Okay, here's a cute trick:  Fuzzy Bottom (that's the alpaca, not a nickname for Willy) will take an alfalfa pellet very gently from your mouth, and it looks like he's giving out kisses.
 Mr. T the Llama does the same trick. 
 Lisa wasn't sure she wanted a llama kiss...
 ...but who can resist this big smoocher?
 Inside the giftshop, baby Roobecca was waiting for our group, bundled into her "portable pouch." 
 We passed her from lap-to-lap
 the way people normally pass around a human infant, with plenty of kissing and cooing.
 Back outside, Jim and Willy were selected from the group to feed the ringtailed lemurs. 
 This lemur seems to be teaching Willy some tricks
 but Jim knew what to do with his lemur:  he put a chunk of banana on his hat and told the little ringtail to get it...and up it went!

It turns out that Wallaroos actually like our Swampland climate.

I wonder if Fiddle would enjoy a Walla-roommate?