Thursday, June 9, 2011

In which I appeal to the Blogosphere to answer some good questions

Over at Endurance Granny's Blog, she's hunting for a horse and getting what I consider some crazy advice. 

She wants a horse that can do endurance--not win endurance, but do the sport in a reasonable way.  She wants a reasonably sound, reasonably sane, reasonably metabolically stable horse who can walk/trot/canter and follow a trail without falling off a cliff or ending up in a tree.

Persons on the ground near Endurance Granny have advised her that she will need to spend at least $3500 to get the kind of horse who will do this sport. 

I say, anybody who says you need to spend that kind of money is selling something.  I'd even bet that a person who says stuff like that probably has a horse for sale! that just me?  I've seen spendy horses who never amounted to anything in endurance, and I've seen a lot of cheap/free horses who have competed for yonks.  

Maybe it's the company I keep, but most of the horses I see were NOT big-bucks purchases--many are home-grown or bought cheap and then trained.  (My horses have always been cheap or free, although they were never "finished")

I'm willing to do an informal poll of riders when I'm in camp a few weeks hence, but I'd like to hear from the electronic community:

**  How much is reasonable (in this economy) to spend for a horse? 
**  What do you look at most strongly when you're shopping?  
(Breeding?  Prior training?  Conformation?  Your vet's opinion?  Your trainer's opinion?  The seller's opinion? Prior success in your sport? )
**  Are there any physical parameters that you look for specifically? 
(resting heartrate?  cannonbone circumference?  speed at the trot?)
**  What are your deal-breakers?

The comment box is open.  Let's get some advice rolling here!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In which the chickens engage in their seasonal migration (at last)!

We spent the winter and spring this year building the barn and then waiting for the weather to become less horrible...
(still waiting)

(still waiting)

(still waiting)

Heavy sigh.

Okay, fine. We'll just move our outdoor building project into the space that used to be the hay barn, and try to finish it, so the chickens can move out of the Winter Palace and back into their summer cottages.

TODAY, we finally finished it: the third edition of our Chicken Tractor.
We installed the wire walls, and then the roof (leftover roofing from the barn, incidently)
Details about Chicken Tractor I HERE.

Details about Chicken Tractor II HERE.

Finally, we installed the chickens!

Chicken Tractor III, also known as Mma Ramotswe's Tiny White Van , holds 4 chickens and has 4 nest boxes, a shelf for the water jug, and a roosting bar. It is significantly lighter than the earlier models.

Chicken Tractor I is still working fine after 2 years in the Swamp, but it doesn't look nearly as pretty as CTII or CTIII. I now call it Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It's significantly bigger, and houses six hens.

Both the White Van and CCBB will be pushed around the yard, a few feet each day so that the chickens inside have access to fresh grass and bugs in addition to their chicken feed. After two years of chickentractoring our backyard, the difference in our lawn is amazing--no moss, no bare patches, and not nearly so many weeds! Apparently, weeds are delicious down to the roots. Who knew?
CTII was so built so soundly that the wheels broke off from the sheer weight of the vehicle. Rather than try to tack wheels back on again, Jim used the tractor to drag it under the hazelnut tree as a home for our dear Chicken Twelve. She roams the yard freely during the summers, but she has the bad habit of laying her eggs in unusual places , which makes them difficult to locate. We hope that by locking her in CTII for a few days, she will gain the habit of laying her eggs in the nest boxes inside what I now call The House at Twelve's Corner.

All three Chicken Tractors:

Life is good. Did you already know that?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In which I recall a few old slogans which are very pertinent

Are you old enough to remember this old advertising slogan? Can you fill in the blank?


It was a beautiful day for a ride.
 I did the radio show in the morning (thanks for listening, everyone!), and then ran home from the station, loaded up Fiddle and headed for the trails.
 The weather was warm and humid and sunny (!!!).  Fee and I are desperately out of practice working in those conditions...and Renegade Rendezvous is only a few weeks away.  Out we went, up some hills, around some corners, and down some roads, and then up some more hills.

 We charged up a nice mossy hill about 8 miles into the ride, and turned onto a gravel road...

...and Fee started limping.


Yup.  Missing a shoe.  Could have dropped it anywhere in the last 3 miles of soft footing, because Miss TenderToes Dragonnose doesn't mind trotting on soft stuff.


It looks like she trotted right out of it--the nailheads on the other three shoes are worn down, too--we've done a lot of rocky miles with those shoes!

And Fiddle's lovely red Ruby Slippers?  Left back at the barn, because I took off all the saddle packs so they wouldn't hang up the rope during our pony lesson.

So, we headed back to the trailer.   Slowly.
 Note: This photo does not have ears at the bottom.  That's because the ears were beside me as we walked together all the way back to the trailer.
I swear, she only flattened the ears when I pointed the camera at her.  The rest of the time they were pointed forward...but of course, I can never prove it.

Ah, well.  The day serves to remind me of another old advertising slogan.  Remember this one?
Don't leave home without it.

In this case, a hoofboot.  Maybe two hoofboots...just to be sure.