Tuesday, January 10, 2017

In which we combat the wicked white stuff with the virtuous white stuff

Understatement of the week:  
I don't like sn*w.
(or ice)

neither does my truck

But while Monica and I waited for the tow truck to come yank my truck out of the weeds the other day, we pounded the icy driveway into submission with rock bars and shovels,

(...and dogs)
and we got to talking.  

And since we were using an un-be-freaking-lieve-able amount of salt on the driveway to soften up the ice, we ended up talking about...salt.

"This is performance salt," Monica told me, pointing to the label.

ingredients: salt

With time on our hands as we pounded the ice, we dipped into our limited knowledge of salt.

"It was used as payment," I offered.  "In ... Rome?   Root of the word salary."

"Electrolytes!"  she said.  "Performance enhancing...?"

We used more than 100 pounds of performance enhancing salt on the driveway and parking area by the house.  Gahh.

So, I got curious.  And when librarians get curious, you know what we do....


Here's what I've learned (so far) from this cool book about salt:

  • It was considered divine in many ancient cultures, and was often associated with fertility (which I found intriguing, given that by salting the driveway, we effectively killed off all the grass and weeds in that space for at least a year) 
  • Salt is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, soap, and textile dye.
  • Evil spirits detest salt, and salt protects against the evil eye.
  • In Haiti, salt is essential for bringing a zombie back to life (assuming you haven't already used a chainsaw, one assumes?)
  • If you try to make pickles without salt, you'll end up with really bad-tasting booze.
  • The Egyptians made salt by evaporating seawater from the Nile delta, and used it to preserve food and mummies.  They also figured out how to combine salt and olives to make the olives edible.  
  • The ancient Celts were called "Gauls" by the Romans, from a word that means salt.  They were salt merchants, and also invented the iron rim for wagon wheels, the barrel, and possibly the horse shoe.  (Just to make sure this post belongs in a farm blog...)
  • The Roman soldiers were not always paid in salt (the origin of the word salary) but they sometimes were.  And the Latin word sal became the French word solde, meaning pay, which is the origin of the word soldier.
  • In medieval Europe, salt was used to cure leather, clean chimneys, to solder pipes, glaze pottery, and to cure upset stomachs.

It can't melt soon enough to suit me!

And just think:  we used all that valuable stuff just to get rid of ice that would (eventually) melt anyhow.

UPDATE:  it took a week to melt, even with Performance Salt spread liberally.  And later this week...ahhh.  You guessed it.

Spring cannot come fast enough.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

In which Crystal visits and we ride ponies and don't completely freeze

It hasn't sn*wed for more than a week, and the dratted stuff will not go away.

The roads are safe(ish) to drive on,
but taking a combination rig to an iced-in trail head is a bad idea.

 I do enjoy reading, of course.  I'm a librarian.

But seriously, there is a limit to the number of hours I want to spend in my chair,

Even with a nice warm cat on my lap (and the pages), I don't want to spend my whole day here.

So with Crystal returned to town after her deployment, it's just the kind of excuse I need to get out of the house

First: breakfast at the Stilly, featuring a cinnamon roll the size of Crystal's face

and then, over to Fish Creek to ride.

Duana went to Mexico and forget to take me, so I stole her horse (again).

Ariana and Flower got some arena time, too.

Crystal and Ariana

Patty and Flower

Crystal always wants to learn more.  

Patty gives Crystal some pointers.  Ariana is a lovely lesson pony.

Crystal is one of those self-taught riders with lovely light hands and a nice seat.  Yeah, I'm jealous.

We rode for a while, and then swapped ponies.  It's been years since I've ridden Flower.  She's learned a lot since then!  

It turns out that while Patty and Flower are extremely good at shoulder-in movements, they are not terribly good at haunches-in movements.  However, Fiddle and I are totally good at haunches, but we aren't good at shoulders.  It was great for me to practice shoulders with Flower, and work on her haunches with her.  

Next time we're all in the arena, Patty will get to climb aboard the Dragon and practice haunches and teach her some shoulders!

Finally:  Rick ("Mr Crystal") managed to dodge the camera almost all day.  Until Matilda took action, that is.

Rick has the "Matilda Seal of Approval."

At the end of riding in the cold, it's good to come back inside, eat a cookie, and sit in a comfortable chair by the fire.

So that's where I am now.

And that is good.