Friday, November 25, 2016

In which Thanksgiving is great, and opting outside is pretty great too

Ours was a Thanksgiving Dinner that couldn't be beat:

Turkey from Mel, roasted vegetables from our gardens, 
stuffing from Alison, pies from my mom.
Ten people, lots of talking and laughing, lots of food = 
a great holiday.

The turkey was so big that it had to be cut in half with a Sawzall.
Santa Jim roasted half with bacon in the oven; Monica smoked the
other half in the smoker with applewood.

The dogs aren't allowed to have turkey, stuffing, or pie, but they do get special treats for the holiday:

Then on Black Friday, while most of America stood in line to buy wafflewashers at Tarmart, or trolled for parking at the maul, Fiddle and I Opted Outside.

Fluffy, but not too fat for November!

We took Flower

I hang with you, okay?  My rider has gone off into the bushes again!

and Patty

Lookee what I found!

outside with us.

moiling, moiling, moiling.  The bright pink Dragonwalker Duster is great for keeping
track of a mushroom hunter in the woods!

It was not a strenuous ride.

But, it wasn't raining, and it wasn't freezing, and the trails weren't crowded.

And, bonus:

we found ingredients for the Thanksgiving Leftovers Party Feast on Sunday.

I hope your Thanksgiving table was laden and surrounded by friends.  If you're in the Swamp this weekend, why not bring some food to the annual Re-Gobble party at Fish Creek?  

We'll see you there!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

In which I make some shopping suggestions for Small Business Saturday

Apparently, "shopping season" is just about to begin.

As I have posted (often) in the past, I'm not a big fan of that major December holiday in the Western World calendar...BUT I do live with Santa Claus, and there's no way (short of hiding under the bed, which gets a little sneezy after a few days) to avoid Shopping Season.

If you love to shop, or if you want suggestions to hand to your loved ones so THEY can go shopping for you, I want to make a few suggestions to help you make your season a little brighter,--and a little more socially responsible at the same time!

Suggestion #1: Don't shop at all -- Opt Out instead!  I don't know if REI started this, or if they just picked up the concept and ran with it, but I love everything about the idea:

Instead of spending Your Welcomesgiving Day (a.k.a. Black Friday, the bigge$t $hopping day of the year in the United $tate$) with the crowds at the mall, go outside and play.   REI made a big splash with their Opt Out campaign last year:  they actually closed all their stores on Black Friday and told their employees to go outside instead.  Apparently, this backwards-seeming financial decision paid off for REI, because they're doing it again.

Why not join them?

Go for a walk, go for a hike, go for a ride.  Take a dog, or a kid, or a friend, or your whole family...or go by yourself.  Give yourself permission to miss out on "money-saving opportunities" and take the opportunity to hang out out-of-doors and save money by not spending any.

If you just can't bear to go 24 hours without exercising your debit card, feel free to stop at a locally-owned restaurant and splurge a bit on dinner.

Suggestion #2: Celebrate Small Business Saturday
If you survive Black Friday with a positive bank balance, don't blow it:  shop responsibly on Saturday!  If you're looking for horse-y Small Business Saturday suggestions, of course I have some!

Here in the Swampland, December isn't our coldest month (that's January), but it is (usually) our wettest month.  Therefore, the winter holiday is an excellent opportunity to upgrade riding raingear, either for yourself or for someone you love.

Small Business #1: Seamstress Unlimited (aka Joyce)

The Dragonwalker Duster, available in purple and other colors.
Waterproof, breathable, lots of pockets!

Joyce's business is truly small--sometimes just one person in addition to Joyce herself.  That means that the attention to detail and quality control is far beyond what you will get from mass-produced gear made by wage-slaves in China.  Joyce makes raincoats, saddle packs, and pretty much anything else that will hold still and lay flat under the monstrous industrial sewing machine in her shop.

Full stats for the Dragonwalker Duster are HERE.  You can call Joyce and order your own custom-made raingear:   (360) 740-5572.  Tell Joyce that Haiku Farm says "hi!"

Small Business #2:  Skito Saddle Pads

I don't remember talking much about saddle pads on this blog, probably because it's been more than ten years since I bought one!

This pad is finally starting to wear out after more than 10 years of heavy use.
That's how long (and longer) the gear I bought from Skito Saddle Pads have lasted.

Tom at Skito is a longtime supporter of endurance and long-distance riders, and the saddle pads his company makes in Priest River, Idaho, really stand up to a lot of long-term abuse!

Because my horse is huge and dark, I asked Tom to design a special saddle
pad that would keep her back cooler,
The pad he designed for me and Story (yes, that's how long I've had this pad--Story retired in 2005!) has a stylish purple top (saddle side) and the underside (horse side) is made of the woven plastic mesh used on the Dryback-style pads.

The Dryback underside didn't work as well for the Toad, who was notoriously thin-skinned, but it's a brilliant solution for the Standardbreds, both dark mares with a tendency to "run hot." The mesh allows sweat to roll down the horse's sides, rather than soak up into the pad and create a warm, wet insulating layer.

My custom-built Dryback pad (back) with my even older classic Skito pad (front).
I think I must have bought the classic pad around 2002, and I don't use it
as often as the Dryback, but it's seen a lot of miles in 14 years!

What are my other recommendations for saddle pads?  I don't have any.  When a product works great after more than ten years, why look elsewhere?  I especially like this company's ability to customize the pad so it's exactly what I need --I do think I'll ask Tom to make a new top for the Dryback this year, though!

Small Business #3:  American Trail Gear

I've never been secretive about my admiration for American Trail Gear.  The company is tiny -- usually just two or three employees -- and they build great quality, beautiful biothane gear.

fistful of biothane

closeup of the custom bling on Fiddle's bridle

the breastcollar includes loops to secure glowsticks
--soooo handy for night riding!
(bear bells not included)
Diana at American Trail is always willing to try new color combinations, and she builds each piece with specific measurements for the horse it will fit.

Freya's new "raspberry" tack -- bright pink with burgundy overlay,
made especially for a pretty, dainty little face!

These are MY suggestions -- what are your suggestions for Small Business Saturday?  The comment box is open!