Thursday, September 29, 2011

In which Shakespeare is not welcome in the rafters of the barn, dang it!

Hmmm.  What's this?
A nest? 

Embedded in the space between the vapor barrier and the barn roof?

Nasty starling!  I did not invite you to come live here!

It sounds crazy, but it turns out that those noisy, dirty, ugly, pesky European Starlings actually were invited to North America. 

Seems that in 1890 and 1891 a bunch of loonie-birds decided to bring all the birds mentioned in the plays and poetry of Shakespeare to America. 

Fortunately for us, most of the imported birds froze to death before re-writing the local ecology. 

Unfortunately for us, the starlings thrived, and continue to thrive.  From the original 100 birds introduced to New York's Central Park, a plague of starlings has grown that would do Moses proud.  The United States government endeavors to poison, shoot, or trap around 2 million starlings each year...leaving a population of nearly 200 million free to endanger air travel, mob cattle operations, chase off native songbirds, poop on city buildings...

...and, apparently, attempt to disembowel my barn roof.  More information about starlings here, although I admit that the website doesn't offer any hope of eradication in our lifetime. 

Fiddle has always attracted birds.  At the barn where she was boarded before moving to Haiku Farm, barn swallows would always nest in the roof above her stall.  Unfortunately for baby swallows, the parents would almost always build the nest right above the water bucket, which meant that every spring I would find drowned birds in the buckets.   Eeww.

Fiddle also kept company with Twelve in the early days of Twelve's escape attempts. 

I suppose it's no coincidence that the stupid bird decided to move into Fee's stall,  But still, yuck.  That nest has got to go!


I cut the vapor barrier apart with scissors to get to the nest.

This is what I pulled out of there:  the equivelent of 2 large flakes of hay, and almost an entire chicken's worth of feathers.  The nest didn't contain any starling feathers that I could see!

Martha Stewart doesn't lose sleep over me.  I mended the cut seam with duct tape.

Hey, at least the duct tape is the same color as the vapor barrier.  I could've used purple tape, you know.
Tucked back in, and all the "exits" sealed.
Now listen up, bird:  STAY AWAY! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In which there's a new article about standies in endurance -- Yay!

I just got the link to the latest "AERC Extra", the fall edition of the online quarterly newsletter from the American Endurance Rides Conference.

And there, on pages 21 and 22, is an article about a standardbred doing endurance, and I didn't even write it!!!

Can you see me grinning from where you are standing?  I thought so.

Click on the logo (above) to see the newsletter, or click HERE.  

(While you're there, click on an advertiser or two also, please.  That helps keep the bills paid. Thanks.)

I haven't written about riding lately, because I haven't been riding lately. Not because of the weather, which alternates (sometimes in 30-minute increments) between sunny and humid, overcast and humid, and pouring-down-rain. Not because I don't have time, because actually I do have time.

No. I'm giving my horse a break. The Bare Bones ride was tough. It's the last ride of the season for Fiddle and me (although I may borrow Sky's horse Cricket to do an LD in October; we're still waiting for the weather forecast to decide about that), and Fiddle has worked hard all season. I've given her almost two weeks time off to rest and recoup, with just a few short sessions of "tricks-for-cookies" to keep her mind focused.

Tomorrow, however, the vacation is over. I'm going riding, come hell-or-high-zombies!


Wahoooooooo!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In which I'm still concerned about my buttcheeks, and I do some shopping

Well, I haven't selected the Next Ultimate Raincoat yet.  I've got several candidates in mind, however.  The photos all have links embedded to go to the seller's websites.

If readers have first-hand experience with any of these products (good or bad, I want to know!) please leave notes in the comments. 

I already have the full-length "big sister" to this jacket:

Outback Trading Oilskin Swagman, from State Line Tack.  $149.99, free shipping
*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  no, but it doesn't "sweat" either
*  Pit zips:  no
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: yes
*  Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: no

Notes:  this coat weighs a ton!  Also, you don't machine wash it, rather, just hose it off.  I suppose if it gets stinky, I should just wrap it around a wet dog so it smells comforting?

Muddy Creek Short Coat, $99 plus shipping

*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  yes
*  Pit zips:  no (but the manufacturer says that the fit is so loose that pit zips are not needed)
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: yes
*  Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: no, although I have petitioned Muddy Creek to explore colors!

Notes:  I haven't actually touched it and don't know firsthand about the quality of the GoreTex.  As has been stated elsewhere, there's GoreTex and Cheap GoreTex, and it's hard to tell which is which from an online photo.


Grunden's Weather Boss Hooded Parka, $101.95 + shipping
 
*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  yes
*  Pit zips:  not sure, probably no
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: yes
*  Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: no

Notes: This coat is sold at a local fishery supply house...and raingear on a fishing boat is not intended to keep out a little drizzle between the boat and the bus-stop; rather, it's designed to keep the freakin' ocean out, for hours at a time, for days on end.  Grunden's claims that this jacket is also breathable.  It's not fashionable, that's for sure, and it certainly doesn't come in a sissy color like purple, but I might be able to give that up in order to stay warm and dry. It's also not much more flattering than a garbage sack, which is what my friend who crews fishing boats recommended I use instead of a fancy coat.
Carhartt Women's Waterproof Jacket, $119 plus shipping
*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  yes
*  Pit zips:  no
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: not quite
*  Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: no

Notes: I actually already own this Carhartt jacket, and use it for non-horsey activities in the Swamp.  It does keep me very dry, however, the lack of pit-zips is sometimes a problem.  This jacket is just exactly the wrong length for riding.  There's a snap in front that bangs on my right leg every time my horse strides forward with her right front leg.  In a 15-mile training ride, that results in a lovely grape-sized bruise, which isn't ideal.  Also, it doesn't quite cover my bum.

Carhartt Men's Waterproof Breathable Coat $124.99 + shipping
*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  yes
*  Pit zips:  no
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: yes
Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: no

Notes: Here's the big-brother to the Carhartt jacket...and it's a men's design.  I'm going to try this one on (the local hardware store carries it), but I fear that it will either be huge in the belly-region in order to fit over my girl-butt, or get hung up on my hippy-hip-hips.  I am very much shaped like a girl.


blurry picture!  LL Bean 3-in-1 Weather Challenger $179, free shipping
*  Waterproof:  yes
*  Breathable:  yes *  Pit zips:  yes?  not sure
*  Pockets:  yes
*  Hood: yes
*  Cover my butt while mounted: yes
Room under the jacket for extra layers: yes
*  Purple?: yes!

Notes: This one turned up in my search just this evening.  It's more money that I want to spend have budgeted, but I might just wait for a month or two to save my shekels and order it, because it really looks like a good match for me.  And not just because it's purple, either (although seriously, that doesn't hurt).  The reviewers on the LL Bean website talk about using this for walking treks in Ireland, and I have it on good authority that Ireland is just another word for Swampland.