Monday, 5 October 2009

Cows,cars and Cameras


It's a funny thing but if you have ever wondered what your stableyard would look like if a herd of cows got into it just don't - I have seen it and it is not a pleasant sight. I could probably have won prizes yesterday for what must have been a great "stunned" reaction when I arrived at the yard. I apparently missed all the fun - I just got the aftermath, no-one around and all seemed calm and peaceful. The stableyard was wall to wall cow shit, the ladders, hose, buckets all scattered around and shat upon. Harvey's door had been left open and apparently there'd been some sort of bovine shitezenfest in there - it was up the walls to a height of around 3 feet and stank to high heaven.
Further inspection ( and the return of Andy) revealed that the cows had got in by breaking down the new barbed wire fence in the corner of the arena ( ! ) that had been put up last week to keep them out. They'd trampled through his garden, shat in his gravel and knocked fences down in several places. The shed, which we'd been thinking was liable to fall down at any time turned out to be stronger than we thought as there'd been a cow standing on top of it !
Despite all this adventuring around the property they'd apparently saved the pooing till they got to the stableyard.
Andy's girlfriend was out with the dogs when the invasion occurred and ended up trapped in the field and unable to get to the house.
There's a photo of Harv's stable that I'll add later if I get the chance - it's currently on Gemma's phone as mine has decided not to work.
Needless to say the cleaning up and fence fixing took a while - we had to drag Harv's mats out and apply liberal amounts of disinfectant, Farmer John has now installed electric fencing all around his perimeter and ours is back on for good measure.
Why is it that cows with 30 acres or so of wooded, lush fields should be so fascinated with our little acreage ?
Luckily they did not get into the fields - just the yard, garden and driveway so our grazing is still intact although a couple of Andy's trees got an unscheduled trimming.

And, by the way, the story about cows being unable to walk down steps is not true, they can, and did, negotiate Andy's tricky twisty stone steps.

On another note entirely the neighbours seem to be having fun throwing their shopping around again - but we now have some very nice video footage of them to pass along today - stupid prats stood right against the gate congratulating each other on their aim - methinks they think the cameras are either fake or of the daytime only persuasion - lol.
My car is off the road again - couple of minor jobs that instantly become bigger when started, isn't that always the case ? We failed the MOT on one balljoint, a petrol cap seal, 2 scratched discs and the horn. Attempts to sort the balljoint yesterday resulted in the suspension spring releasing so now we need to get hold of a spring compressor to put it back together again. So, for the time being it's up on 3 wheels and I'm driving the Renault again which is no great hardship unless I have a sudden urge to either use a trailer or lug large amounts of feed or shavings. Unfortunately that is going to be happening very soon so car repairs are something of a priority at the moment.

Summer has come and past........

Well I think we are just about officially into Autumn now, nights are drawing in at an alarming rate and there is a distinct chill in the air.
August was a washout - it hardly stopped raining for the entire month so very little got done with the ongoing projects such as the stone wall and the horses have had a pretty easy time of it. Lots of wet weather has meant little actual riding and locally I have heard of horses suffering from rain scald and mud rash ( luckily mine were not among them).
With the start of the new college term I'm back into a sort of routine again instead of randomly freewheeling, getting up late and staying online all night which suits me fine, things actually get done.
My youngest has just started college, the oldest is back at Uni and I'm left with the two engineering students who, in theory, now have a "year out" in which they are supposed to get 280 hours of work experience. That is turning into something of a problem as no-one seems to be taking anyone on ( unless they are way out of easy travelling distance) both are now looking for some type of employment to just get some cash as well as still hoping for the work experience to turn up. In the meantime I can find them useful and time-consuming things to do around the house and stables so they aren't sitting on their butts all day doing nothing.
The farriers are due today - that's good timing as Fally is right on the verge of losing a shoe - to the point where we didn't dare do anything with him yesterday.
The neighbours from hell had a quiet Summer - so much so that we actually thought the matter had been resolved, unfortunately I think they were just taking a break and they seem to have started up again - various neighbours are reporting problems with them and apparently they are being dealt with - why does it have to take so long ? Next door cleaned her car the other day and this morning she showed me that it's covered in eggs again. My windows were cleaned Monday and by Tuesday wanted doing again. What is wrong with these people ?

Freaky Friday ?
Well it's getting late now and it's been one hell of a day. If something could go wrong it did. For a start I had kind of volunteered to give Si a lift to work as his car was in for repairs - that was 9.30 this morning - just after I'd written the intro to this posting. I've driven him to work before but this was a different farm ( his bosses mum's ) and in totally the opposite direction. Got him there with no problem ( half an hour) but getting back was a different matter. I got lost and ended up going round in a sort of big loop and arriving back at the yard from the other direction. .The farriers were early ( only ever happens when I'm running late ) but luckily Gemma had got the horses in ready. Shoeing was fraught with problems - inflexible, un co-operative horses ( Fally), one who suddenly appeared to be lame ( Holly) and a dog who managed to poo in the garage ( not Neo).
Once they were done and gone ( which took about twice as long as usual) we lunged Holly who seemed to be stiff as opposed to lame and tacked up the boys. A few days without work and Fally seems to have siezed up and forgotten how to operate his legs -not lame but obviously stiff, we plodded about and got him loosened up and called it a day at that. Gemma took Harvey up for a run around the field and he came back bleeding from the frog - looks like he snagged a stone on the way down. Great - get the first aid kit out......
So finally we turned them out and cleaned up the mess and went to drink coffee.
Andy's away and the builders are doing a few jobs - shame is that they seem to think that I know what they're supposed to be doing !
By this time it was getting close to 4 o'clock so I'm thinking towards collecting Si so he can get his car back and I can then collect my daughter from the college bus.

And, after all that, I actually forgot to post this - d'oh - brain not engaged properly it seems........

Monday, 6 July 2009

Haymaking, cats and weird weather




Well it has been a busy time for all around here with the only exceptions being the horses who have done nothing but eat for an entire week.
After listening to the Met office reports of doom and gloom and thunder, lightening, floods etc we put off cutting the hayfields for two whole weeks and it didn't rain. Fed up with putting it off we abandoned the Met office and went by Farmer's intuition, Si borrowed a tractor and we started cutting the Top Paddock on Monday. Disaster wasn't far behind - a pin broke loose and the mower swung out, overbalanced and nosedived into the ground, snapping one of the belts. This stopped everything for the day and it then decided to drop some rain on what had been cut.
Tuesday was blisteringly hot and Adam came down with his tractor and mower and cut the rest for us, the half that got rained on dried out fine.
I feel like I've been holding my breath for most of the week - watching the stormclouds building and, on one very memorable occasion standing at the top of the ramp and seeing them just scrape past us - the next town down the line got localised flooding - we got thunder and a few random drops.
Finally it was baled and wrapped on Thursday - a total of 35 bales from our 3 acres, enough to see the horses through the entire Winter and, with the 8 left over from last year we even have some to spare just in case. At last I can breathe again.
Thursday night it rained hard and long.
We are now into the long process of moving and stacking the bales - long because they have to be moved one at a time using our little Fordson and the borrowed JCB which overheats. Si is the only one with the experience to drive these things with any degree of accuracy ( I'd be taking gateposts out) so it also has to be done when he is not at work.
In the midst of all this some nice person went and dumped a box of kittens and mother cat on a second hand car lot and John, Tara and Simon spent a happy hour chasing kittens around cars in the middle of the night with torches. They have now been safely relocated to the local cat rescue.

Monday 6th
Finished moving the bales yesterday - discovered that I can do it with the Fordson and the buckrake but the weight of the bales versus the weight of the tractor plus the slope of the ground made for some very hair-raising events - pulling wheelies with a cabless tractor isn't really my idea of fun. Si decided to try an experiment and see if he could persuade the buckrake to fit on the borrowed (large) tractor - it did, I had great fun with that and the gateposts are all fine.
Today we have more rain but with the bales wrapped, stacked and covered I'm just thinking that it's good for the grass and should get the cut fields greening again.
We are considering the possibility of regrowing one of teh fields for a second cut to sell on, have to see how that goes but prices seem to indicate that it'd be a good idea for all concerned.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Some people.......


Have you ever been in the state where you are just loitering on the edge of a conversation - not really listening but not blocking it all out either ? This was me on Sunday. The conversation was about the possibility of cutting our haylage early and the reason I wasn't so into it was that I'd already had the same one earlier with Si and he'd come down to our house to run the idea past everyone else. I was actually just messing about on the computer ( OK, so I admit it was Farmtown !)
Anyway I suddenly heard, "and you'll get to use the jumping field and you can do what you were planning earlier" directed at the kids - right so that sparked me and I had to ask, well it turned out that John's daughter ( Stella) had come down to visit ( as it was Father's Day) and she'd got this plan whereby Tara could teach some of her friends to ride in this field on MY horse and charge them a tenner each. I hit the roof.
Aside from the assumption that I might go along with this Harvey is NOT a beginner horse, the land is NOT mine, Tara is NOT qualified and the insurance WILL NOT cover it and, as if that wasn't enough, - I don't want bloody beginners messing with MY horse. John was sat beside me and didn't get a word in, didn't even try, bless him. A long time was spent assuring me that they were actually planning on asking me before doing anything and Tara, ( who has ridden a total of 4 times since Min died) admitted that she was "iffy" about the idea.
Iffy ???
Whew - talk about taking the rip - John's daughter came out with me last week - for the first time in about 3 years. Okay, so she rode Harvey on the road - walk and trot only and following Fally. She thinks she knows this horse - she knows nothing, he'd dump her butt in a second if she tried to actually ride instead of passenging.
I was fuming and it's still bugging me now.
Add to this that yesterday we had an adventure with the car - I managed to run over a nail and ended up at the yard with a hissing tyre. Okay, so I have changed a wheel before and I had Tara the engineering student with me. We also had a jack that neither of us knew how to work. After scratching our heads at it for several minutes we put it away and borrowed Andy's. Got the car jacked up and the wheel off - so far so good - then everything slipped, the jack fell over and the car crashed to the ground just missing Tara's leg.
We went into the house for a drink and a smoke and phoned John to come and save the day with his bottle jack. Next time we'll put bricks behind the wheels and not try using a crappy jack.
Note to self - now owing Andy a jack as it bent a bit.
There's a paranoid little voice at the back of my mind wondering if I did run over the nail by accident or if it was anything to do with the neighbours..........
On the horsey side of things play was stopped at the weekend as Harvey, being the nice friendly animal that he is, decided to take a bite at Fally which left him with a nice lump in the saddle area. Fally got time off and Harvey got a lot of arena work. Starr finally cantered Holly - quite nicely once Holly decided to actually listen to her.
Neo's next vet appointment is tomorrow afternoon. The bald patches are actually getting smaller now and he is happy and full of bounce again.
A side note - we are apparently getting roof repairs done next month - that'll mean scaffolding ( bet the cats love that) and John's car disappearing to stay at Andy's for the duration - no way I'm having that parked in the road.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009



I should start with an apology to anyone who actually takes the time to read my musings on a regular basis. The last couple of weeks have been weird and busy and I've either ended up too tired or too brain fried to even consider attempting to write anything coherent. If I'd tried I'd have probably ended up with the internet grammar police jumping all over me and threatening to confiscate my keyboard or possibly beat me to death with it !
The weather remains brilliant - long hot days spent outside are enough to wear just about anyone out but add to that the kids are all in the throes of exams ( in one case the final ones which will decide whether she gets the course she wants at college or not), we have had numerous computers breaking down, a car off the road, a hospital emergency and have acquired some new neighbours.
New neighbours normally wouldn't be a problem but I think we have the neighbours that nobody else wanted. Actually I don't want them either- they have an indeterminate number of obnoxious children who play in the road; now that's not a problem in itself ( although not something I'd recommend with traffic and all) but they throw stuff at cars, cats and my bloody house. Being that it's rented property and the landowner is the local authority everything is now getting reported and logged and the police are coming around etc etc etc. but it's still a pain in the backside and hassle and mess that I really don't need.
John moved one of the cameras hoping to actually catch the little sods in the act but they went and reported us and said we were spying on them or something so then we got a visit from the powers that be and ended up having to apply for planning permission for cameras that had been there for about 10 years.

Now I don't know if this is in any way linked to all the hassle but on the Monday morning I returned from the college run and found him on the floor in some distress. It looked like another heart attack and he ended up spending the day in hospital having tests etc. In the end it turned out to be a weird reaction to medicines, low blood sugar and tinnitus of all things which was a huge relief to say the least.
In the meantime with the running about to the hospital etc Gemma's car got hit by a flying brick that came off a lorry on the D road and the stupid neighbours pelted my house with food while I was out. What they didn't realise however was that my daughter was in and saw them doing it - she called the police and the council etc and got the whole thing logged with the landlords etc. Hopefully they will now deal with it and we can have some peace and quiet again.
The car is finally back on the road and the computers are all working again even though we ended up having to literally hotwire one last night when we found out that the wires had come off the on/off switch and that was why it wasn't working again ! John's computer - of course, it had to be really !

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Holiday week



The weather took everyone by surprise by turning suddenly glorious again - people are burnt and sore and very inclined to sit outside drinking and not do much of anything else if they can possibly avoid it. Temperatures in the 20's and brilliant blue skies.
A distinct lack of mud makes a pleasant change as well.
The kids have been off all week for half term and Asti has spent most of her time out in the garden or greenhouse being green fingered - she even made a start on Andy's huge and very overgrown garden when she ran out of things to do in ours. She is one of the slightly burned ones !
Simon is flat-out silaging for Phil and the post knocker never turned up as I think it got forgotten with him being so busy - 13 hour days tend to do that to people . Actually I think the horses are currently too hot to be bothered with breaking any fences but I probably spoke too soon and will find them somewhere weird tomorrow.

Starr has been working hard at riding Holly despite the heat and all horses are getting very used to being hosed off on a daily basis ( love the smell of wet horse and hot concrete).
The repairs to the car are happening at last - at the moment it's propped up on logs in Andy's back drive and currently without any rear wheels. The "good" calliper is now consigned to the scrap pile as the magical screw extractor ( bought solely for the job) snapped off whilst attempting to remove the bleed nipple. New calliper should arrive Tuesday.
Tomorrow we are shopping and the list is even stranger than usual as it involves weed killer, brake pipes, underseal and hair colour.
The horses get a day off and the kids go back to exams, assessments and all that happy stuff they have been so looking forward to !
John's temperamental computer finally gave up the ghost early in the week so, after some diy fiddling, we admitted defeat and it's now at Wattshop for repairs, hopefully we should know more about that situation on Tuesday too although I'm not holding my breath on that - if it was a simple repair we could have done it ourselves - this is something strange and unusual - I suspect either processor or motherboard myself ( can't be anything cheap can it ?)
At the moment my computer is working overtime as everyone is taking turns at it - just as well that I have been pretty busy with horses and all - queuing up to use my own computer is something I don't take very well.
I somehow managed to break the nosepiece on my everyday glasses so I'm stuck in the shades till I can get to the optician's (tomorrow with any luck) but at the moment that's really no hardship at all.
Neo is due back to the Vet's tomorrow and we shall see what they have to say then. He's certainly a lot happier and livelier now he's had 2 weeks worth of antibiotics shoved down his throat and I'd be happy to see an end to him wearing that awful cone as well.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend...




It's a funny thing but I did say there was some sort of unnatural attraction between fence repairing and bad weather - it's been a glorious weekend ( unusual because it rather goes against tradition to have a Bank Holiday when it doesn't rain) anyway it was forecast to break last night with the usual dramatics (thunderstorms etc) and, of course I got the phone call from Simon to tell me that Harvey had broken through the fence and got into the 10 acre field. Not a major disaster - Harv is a big wuss and Mr Really Easy-to-Catch under these circumstances - ie - he's jumped over and no-one else has bothered to followed him - by the time we arrived Simon had got him back into the field and was preparing for a repairing session. It would have been a different story altogether if they'd all got in there. Anyhow, a good part of yesterday evening was spent messing about with posts and wire in the rain and being harassed by about 3 bazillion flying bloodsuckers who all seemed to want to be in my hair.
Obviously attempts to limit Harvey's grass intake need to be backed up with a bit more than Victorian railings and barbed wire ( yes, I know and it's not my fencing of choice - just of necessity - not everything can be replaced in one fell swoop but we are working on it)
Post knocker ordered for later this week !
On a brighter note we managed to ride out a couple of times with the weather being so nice and to get through the rather horrendous roadworks where the new bridge is being put in on our favourite ( and usually safest ) route. I was so pleased with the horses for going through that mess of cones, tarps and roadsigns - I took pictures !
Starr rode Holly on the lunge with some very pleasing results and we finally managed to buy most of the parts needed for my car repairs ( parts department was closed over the holiday weekend)
WE have decided to crown Gemma D the spontaneous BBQ Queen after her amazing short notice performance which actually included going out to buy a BBQ -
Round of applause for Gemma !

Friday, 22 May 2009

Rain


I don't why it is that it has to rain whenever I need to fix fences and not just rain once - oh no it has to be the whole preceding week so I end up wading through mud and sliding about in wet grass.
Also the funnest thing about electric fencing is certainly NOT that they decide to give up the ghost when it's cold,, raining, muddy and DARK.
This has been yet another week of nasty, miserable weather. The lunge area looks like a mud slick - I'm avoiding walking on it never mind asking Holly to do anything in there. The ramp is spewing sand all over the yard and the drains are backing up again. The fire is on and my car is still awaiting "real" repairs.
Cats are driving us mental - wanting to go out and then crying to come in when they find out what the weather is doing - then they give us accusing looks like we did it on purpose.
For some reason it's tending to stop raining and go rather nice just when it's too late to actually do anything, I did ride late one evening and a couple of times during brief spells of not-rain although the second of those started dry and ended up with me squelching ( sleeveless of course) and Fally drying out in the stable. Admitted I did stay out longer than I'd intended, lack of work makes him spooky and he was well into spooking at stupid stuff so obviously determination and more work was the answer - shame I wasn't wearing waterproofs and I don't know if the saddle's dried out yet.
On the tedious subject of the car - well, the kids are off this week coming and, as 3 of them are technically inclined ( and educated) when it comes to vehicles, the plan is to get it sorted then. At the moment it's unusable as I took it to a local garage to get the seized bolts released and there is now no grip on them at all - driving around with a swinging brake caliper doesn't seem like an especially clever idea. So I'm back to driving John's classic car and getting whined at for dog hair on his seat cover ( oops - last time it took him 3 hours to vacuum the hair from the door lining). Think I may need to get it valeted this time.
The dog himself is miserable and wearing a cone - the only time he is cone-free is when he's in the car or out in the fields. I can't imagine what the horses' reaction to Neo the cone head bouncing around would be but with all the mud we have at the moment I don't think it's a good idea to try to find out.
I did get my camera fixed so at least I get to use pictures this time !

Friday, 15 May 2009

Vets, pets and lots of wets

Neo has another vets appointment on Monday - they were talking about blood tests, biopsies, scrapes etc - seems a bit late for that since they've been treating him for the same problem for the last 3 years. Anyway, Monday will be second opinion time and hopefully make some headway with it.
We finally got the results from the lab for the tests on Asti's lizard poo and that was a waste of time too - they couldn't find anything wrong with it and suggested taking it to a specialist vet in Cheshire. The really funny thing that happened was that she had been complaining about the tank and wanting to change it and I went and fetched her a cabinet at the weekend which she set to and converted. Put the lizards in there and the skinny one ( who has not voluntarily eaten for 3 months - she got so skinny that she was re-named Victoria Beckham ) decided that the new house made her hungry and went on a binge. Three days later and she already has a fatter tail and is looking good so it seems that all she really needed was a new penthouse !
Fally managed to bite Asti the other day - first time he's got anyone in quite a while. She was fastening his rug and he swung and grabbed her by the arm - her entire upper arm. Praise to Asti as she responded by yelling, swinging and chasing him up the ramp before dragging him back and sorting the rug out. Her coat is ripped and her arm is purple - funny that she called him exactly the same thing as the vet did when he got bit !
The weather has been somewhat unsettled -thunderstorms, wind and rain and I've been off colour for a couple of days as well so doing little with horses and rather a lot of sleeping.The horses are fresh and looking for trouble.The couple of times I have been able to ride I've had the silly performance of parked cars being so scary and grids that have to be jumped over. Bucking seems very likely if we actually get to go for a run at the weekend.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Stuff

Andy is back off his holiday and totally worn out having driven around 14,000 miles up and down mountains etc. I think he needs a holiday to get over it !
My car is back on the road with a kind of it'll do for now repair ( new pads) but needs some serious work to make it right and, unfortunately, that's dependent on getting 2 seized solid nuts to come off without breaking a chunk off the axle. Hopefully heat will provide the answer to that otherwise I'll be looking for a new car fairly soon.
Not really a great deal to write about - a lot of time has been spent in moving furniture about and Spring cleaning, some gardening and rather a lot of rearranging stuff.
The horses are now living out 24/7 and the stables need clearing out, jetwashing and painting but there are only so many hours in the day !
My poor dog is not looking so good - more skin lesions and bald patches. He seems totally depressed and not really interested in anything. Vet appointment is scheduled for this afternoon - hopefully they'll fix him up with some steroids and stuff and make him feel better.
My youngest has her Leaver's Prom today and John has agreed to drive her there and back ( best bet really as his car is far cleaner than mine !) but I've dropped for running folks to the college disco on Thursday and picking them up - usually means I'll get to bed at about 2 am.
The weather is hotting up, the greenhouse has been fixed and half the plants promptly wilted from the heat yesterday which really upset Asti - hopefully they will recuperate now that the door has been left open ( although we are now guaranteed to get cats sunbathing in there too !
I have wine ready to bottle and a kitchen that has far too much "stuff" in it - time for a serious rearrangement there. I think it calls for extra cupboards - should please John no end !!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Tales of the Unexpected


The usual performance when Andy goes away is that the magical clean-up-fairies arrive and sort out his house. It's a shame it never works like that for me - I go out and leave a mess and i know darn well that when I get back the mess will have increased - usually exponentially.
Things have been a bit odd, what with the plumber and all and by Tuesday night I had an interesting little list to give him when he phoned to see if everything was okay.
The ceiling was half down in one room ( plumber did it so he's fixing it too) both Dysons had expired and, during the afternoon, the house had been struck by lightning !
That was really interesting I can tell you - Flash, Bang and I saw sparks shoot out of the fuse box. There was a crash from upstairs like something heavy falling so I went running to check that the tiler was okay - he was, I still have no idea what went crash. I went running all round the house looking for damage or fire or something and found nothing except that the power had tripped out on the sockets. It went back on with no problem and apparently everything still works.
Simon got sent out to plough a big field and managed to upset a nest scattering the occupants. and brought 2 baby birds back to us - we had no idea what they were but Google helped and we thought probably lapwings. We didn't have a clue what to do with them so Asti took them to Uni with her the next morning to hand them into the specialists there - apparently this happens quite frequently. It turned out that they were lapwings and a protected species ( just as well she took them in) Uni called the RSPCA who then phoned Si for directions about where he'd found them then turned up at his boss's farm to reunite them with mother bird and the other babies. They were, apparently, quite snarky and snotty with him. Shame really - you'd think people in that sort of a job would have better "people" skills. Obviously upsetting nests etc is something that's going to happen fairly often when you are working a large farm and if it causes too much trouble - well you can see where I'm going with that. I did have a similar experience last year with a local cat rescue; we found some kittens while we were hacking and phoned people to arrange cat carrier and collection ( too far to bring them inside a jacket) and got them home. Ended up fostering them for a couple of weeks and finally ( when John was in hospital having heart surgery) getting a visit from a lady who'd come to collect them on behalf of the rescue. Yes she was very pleasant and practically accused me of thoughtlessly breeding cats then dumping them off on people - if it hadn't been for the situation with John and the fact that we already have 13 cats I would have told her to sod off and kept the kits. As it was I made a rather loud and public complaint to the charity and received a very sincere apology.
How charities can possibly expect to get people working with them when their front-line people have such nasty attitudes is beyond me; I suppose it is understandable that they will get jaded and sick of people but not all people are the baddies, treating everyone as such will just cause alienation.
Anyway, enough rant about that - there is also the strange matter of the clock.
It's an oak mantel clock which was brought up from his Mum's house after she died last year. It had not been wound for some years and apparently Gemma wound it when it was moved but it wouldn't start. The key was put away "safe". Well anyway about a week before Andy went away it started chiming, I commented on it to Andy thinking that he'd managed to start it - he said he hadn't touched it. When he went away he asked me to try to keep it wound - well you remember that the key was put safe ? it's a big house with a lot of places to put stuff. The clock stopped at 12.15 on Monday and it took me till Wednesday to find the key. I wound, started and then went to put the time right and it was a bit weird that I didn't have to - I'd found the key and done it all at the right time to start the clock. Strange but true.
Aside from all that the week has been rather dull, the weather was bad up until Friday, the ground was slippy and the horses have done practically nothing. I managed to take Fally out a couple of times but he was really spooky and silly both times. My brake parts have finally turned up so I should be able to book my car in for it's repairs next week.
It also looks like we will spend some time tomorrow ( May Day) in finally putting up the insulators and tape on the new fence posts. This had been delayed in order to make life easier for the weed-spraying guy to get around. Well he's not coming until he does the farmland next door and there's no sign of when that will be.
I'n on the very edge of turning the horses out 24/7 - they stayed out last night ( rugged) but are in tonight as it's dropped to 4 degrees again.

Monday, 27 April 2009

A wet weekend


Once again it's been a strange and fairly busy weekend. I seem to have a knack of avoiding boredom without even trying. I simply don't have time to be bored !
Saturday morning started out quite promising but quickly degenerated into windy, rainy showers. Gemma was recovering from the Lord Mayor's Ball the night before and suffering from sore feet from wearing heels, Andy was in final preparation for his trip to Scotland and Asti had booked a vet's appointment for midday ( cheers for that !). The horse all got the day off and, once we'd done the necessary and gossiped over coffee we wandered off to do other things. Gemma was hoping for a quiet afternoon but failed on that and I got home just in time to collect daughter and cat and go straight off to the vet's.
To be honest I think an appointment ( even if it's only with a nurse) is a bit OTT just to remove 2 stitches but apparently they don't charge for it and I had to go to settle the bill anyway. Poor Mogwai was not impressed and meowed pitifully all the way there, shivered and cringed on the table and then cried all the way home again.
Still it's done now and we don't have to worry about her getting pregnant or of having fighting toms all over the garden spraying everything and trying to sneak into the house.
13 cats is enough I think.
Harvey turned out to be lame - not horribly so but more "ouchy". I think he may have been trimmed a bit short on Friday - unusual with these farriers but anyone can make mistakes. Hopefully a couple of days of field rest will settle the matter.
On Sunday we managed to bottle most of the orange wine and Asti got her dandelion boiled up,yeasted ( is that a real word ?) and safely moved to the demi jars where it's now bubbling away quite happily.
With Andy away I get the job of looking after the place and the cats, dogs and fish - not really a big deal but this time, just for variety I have a plumber and a tiler sorting out the showers and pulling plasterboards off.
Like I said - no time to be bored !

Friday, 24 April 2009

Farting farriers and The Blob revisited


Falco did not get his day off. On consideration I decided to ride him before the farriers arrived ( it tends to make life easier for them too) and then see how the time went. As it worked out Harvey got the day off instead but he's one of those that it doesn't seem to bother anyway.
The farriers were late and I was killing time weeding between the cobbles with a hoofpick when they arrived.
They were bemoaning the fact that they'd stopped for chips before coming to me and were now all full and not really prepared to deal with Fally ( who has been used as a test subject for a progression of apprentices). For some reason they were also being silly and farting on each other - apparently this was started when one fed the other's sandwiches to the dog earlier in the day. Anyway, Fally at least was very well behaved and didn't try to sit on George or snatch his feet away or fart on anyone.
Once that was all sorted I had shopping of sorts - 90 odd lbs of fresh dogmeat, carrots apples etc. I got somewhat sidetracked at home as Asti had decided that she wanted to make dandelion wine and had been out collecting bags of flower heads. We ended up hanging around for a while decoding the recipe book for her - it's lbs and ozs and she's used to grams etc, we also managed to avert a potential disaster when she fluffed the yeast measurement - instead of 1.5 oz she got 15 oz - and I had sudden flash visions of returning from the shops to find active yeast boiling through the front door like a scene from "The Blob".
We finally managed to get to the market just before it shut and found there were no carrots anyway - we're in that weird time when the English carrots run out and the only ones you can get are expensive - usually lasts a few weeks then we'll be back to carrots at £1 a bag again. In the meantime I'll try at the feed store - she may have some ( although hers always cost more).
We were supposed to be visiting our grandson today but they've just moved house and are in total uproar and, apparently, not very well to boot. I'll phone in the week to see how things are going and maybe pay them a visit next week.

I have been persuaded to join Twitter.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Sugar, spooks and stupid roadworks...


Well it seems that the sugar content in the new bale of haylage is somewhat higher than we have been used to - Fally is not just full of energy he's feeling very silly and spooky and just about leaping off the leg. Tomorrow WAS going to be his day off but following today's performance I think I might just change my mind on that one if time allows ( Farriers are coming ) - obviously he really needs the work.
I smelt trouble before we got out of the yard to tell the truth - he was fidgetty and fussy and just wanting to be doing something.. He's also managed to injure himself in the stable yet again - another scrape on the hock and a new bald patch on his nose. How he keeps doing damage is beyond me - I think he could hurt himself in a padded cell !
Well I got on and he was away so I hauled round and made him stand still - he wasn't into that -snort snort and stamping foot followed by - get this ! -- his patented "I'm gonna buck" head twirl. WTF ?? In the road ????
Okay so what was going to be a nice quiet hack around the roads turned into a serious energy burning workout. As if riding a hyperactive draft cross wasn't enough to deal with I also got weird traffic. Fun Fun Fun.
I decided to head for the bridleway and get a good trot going along there but unfortunately our main ( and safest) route to the bridleway is closed while a new road-bridge is being built. I had the choice of a downhill tree shadowed road with no pavements, a steep bank on either side and a sharp bend at the bottom or the road past the pub. What the heck - whichever way I went meant crossing the main road at lunchtime anyway - I opted for going past the pub - it seems like the easiest option. Unfortunately there is some major work going on down there with someone having a drive built and apparently this involves several large vans being parked outside the house.. This road is also a bus route, there was just enough room to tuck in between the vans to let the bus past, then I met the tractor and had to go hide up a side road. Actually on the bridleway there was prams, walkers, squirrels (omg), birds and grass - grass that moved when the breeze hit it, leaves that moved and of course a blue bag ! As you can probably guess we didn't exactly travel in a straight line, it was a bit like the Timewarp - with a jump to the left and a spook to the right ! Coming back was even worse - I got up that road at the 4th attempt having met a truck, a bus and a construction wagon with a hiab on it. Then encountered my friend and yard owner as I was having a slight battle at the junction next to the pub. Yes I really needed a coffee by the time we got back !
Time to make a small adjustment to his feed methinks.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The end of the Holidays...


Beautiful weather and it seemed like the entire neighbourhood was out cleaning cars, jetwashing the drive, mowing the lawn or otherwise doing weird things with trailers, skips and various scary vehicles.
Harvey was in fine form standing on tiptoe to gawk over the wall for things to be afraid of and there seemed to be no settling him until he'd managed to snap the lead rope and I'd chased him round the yard and backed him up a few times. Oddly enough once that was out of his system he stood sensibly ( albeit still craning his neck) and lunged very nicely as well.
I took Fally out for a spook - well it had to be really, he's obviously feeling well and, unfortunately, in his case this tends to lead to a silly session at every opportunity. I can never be sure if it's boredom that sets him off or just a twisted Irish sense of humour. I suppose it could be both in which case there is probably no hope ! This time everything was scary including flowers and parked cars ( sigh)
The kid's holiday party the other night didn't go down too well although the "guests" were all well behaved and polite, Unfortunately it was one of mine who decided that the vast amounts of alcohol they'd clubbed together and bought was actually a personal challenge and ended up staggering around and throwing up in the shower. I was up till 2 in the morning sorting that lot out and wasn't best pleased. Needless to say that's put the stoppers on that happening again. Next time will be less people and definitely less booze.
The Vomiting Volcano ( of course she was lying on her back when it all erupted) got the job of doing the washing for the whole weekend as a good part of it was technically her fault anyway. Why someone threw their socks out of the window I really don't know and I won't even go into the matter of the cigarette-burned chin......
I'm still driving John's car but now it seems that we've found not only someone who can supply the weird part but also a local garage who will fit the whole lot at a reasonable price - hopefully that will be attended to sometime this week.. I like J's car - it's very nice but not quite big enough for taking 3 kids and a dog around in.I also feel guilty about slamming my not-so-insignificant weekly mileage on an old classic that had incredibly low mileage until I borrowed it. I miss my spacious Volvo tank and I miss my intermittent stereo.

Well I have managed to order and pay for the car parts, the kids are all back at school and college and things are about as close to normal as they are going to get at this point.
The weather is holding and I'm getting quite a good "rider's tan" already - I'm browning from the shoulders to the wrist (!) and just about living in my Raybans, I'm seriously loving these long sunny evenings but not the midges that seem to gather in the stableyard. So as well as the glasses I'm back to taking the antihistamines again.
Holly got bathed and is currently sporting stable plaits in an attempt to get her mane to stay all on one side instead of both sides and some straight up.

Thursday, 16 April 2009



With the bottom fence now nicely retaped ( and us scratched and scraped from trimming back the hawthorn to get at the far corner to get to the end post) the horses are now restricted to the bottom field which came as something of a surprise to them - we turned them out and watched then meandering up the field then they just stopped dead, Harvey in the front with his head up snorting at the slip rail ! They seem to have settled to the idea now. I have no idea if any of them have tried it on with the fencing but the pulse is audible even to me and everytime I've looked they've been well away from the fence.
We had a change of plans with the delivery of the new posts due to Si's boss piling jobs on him and needing the trailer to shift stuff around in and it ended up with John driving out in my car on Friday morning to collect them and the post knocker from Si's boss (My car is the one with the towbar).
I got J to do it so he could assess the current state of my car as the grinding metal sound is getting somewhat worrying to say the least and I really need him to get his finger out and get it sorted. I much prefer driving with good brakes.
Anyway once we got the posts sorted and up in the field we were busy being very scientific and measuring distances with balestring and keeping the line straight but needed a way to make sure they were all the same height - well that ended up being measured against Gemma's cleavage ! Gemma and Si took turns whacking the posts in and we were measuring, carrying and making silly comments.
It was raining by the time we finished and on the way back down to the house Neo managed to be first dog to get the electric shock !
Now all I need is more tape and insulators.....
Since it's the holidays everyone is losing track of the days, we hacked out a couple of times which was a very nice change despite the weird traffic and random scary stuff, Asti has been lunged on Holly twice which went really well and we tried another experiment and I was lunged on Falco - that was interesting but again a success and something I think we should do on a fairly regular basis as time allows.
The fields have all been chain harrowed, rolled and the top field got it's bag muck and the scattering of grass seed on the dodgy bits so everything should be in order for a while at least.
The tree guy didn't turn up to take the second big dead tree down so Si got drafted into that and we all had to go watch and make sure that all went well. Video didn't didn't work which was a shame as the sight of the tree shattering as it hit the ground was amazing. Lots of logging for him to do now to get it cleared out of the way before the cows get in there and he's trying to do all the cutting on a sheet so we can use the shavings ( why let them go to waste ?)
Wednesday was neutering day for the two kittens and, once the horses were sorted an turned out we went out to try to get some parts for my car. We were only partly successful with that but enough that John and Tara could plan on doing something about it. I made arrangements with Gemma for a lift on Thursday and then found out that we'd forgotten to buy brake pads (D'oh).
Thursday weather was undecided, very windy again and promising some rain so we turned the horses out and went to buy brake pads and fencing tape. By the time we got back they'd given up with the car as the bolt holding the caliper was coming apart when they tried to undo it. In the end we went to visit a friendly mechanic and get a quote for the job. As we already have the bits he'll do it quite cheaply but we need one more part - a carrier bracket, and that seems to be turning into a major pain to get hold of.
In the meantime I'm carless as I really don't want to be driving a tank with dodgy brakes, I can borrow J's car but it's white and he wants it keeping clean which is going to be difficult around stables and dogs........
Also it doesn't have a stereo !

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Easter Break


At the moment there is rather a lot going on. The weather seems to have settled at "quite nice but maybe breezy" for the time being and the ground is drying like mad. The little bit of rain we have had managed to wet Holly's rugs ( that I'd left over the gate ) enough that I took them home to wash and the grass is finally starting to grow. This now brings us to the point of fixing fencing and attempting to restrict horses to certain areas so we can actually grow something for haylage.
We should be recieving 50 new posts tomorrow and Friday is pencilled in as fencing day ( as Si is off work and is really the only one who can be reasonably expected to handle the post knocker for more than about 15 minutes without injuring himself), I've even managed to arrange for the kids to go up there for the day ( Shock, Horror !!!) and it will probably cost me dear in cake and ice cream.
I've been out today and bought enough fencing tape to repair the bottom fence to a state where I can actually energise it so they'll be restricted to the first field as soon as we can get it re-taped and fitted up with the recently repaired energiser. I'd bet money that the first horse to cop a shock will be Harvey and the first dog will be Xsara.
On the whole household front John has been busy building shelves for preserves and a spice rack that was filled about as soon as it was finished - he's now planning on building an extention to it. ! He also had to make a set of steps to reach the shelves although the cats don't seem to be having any problem with jumping up there.
The orange wine is due for sampling tonight before being siphoned off into fresh jars tomorrow but I refuse to do that until after I have sorted the horses and done with driving for the day - I remember what happened last time. Apple wine is slowing down at last and John is currently boiling up nectarine jam.
We had a break from routine the other day and lunged all 3 horses over jumps - yes ! even Fally got a go as there were enough of us there to actually be able to chase him around. I think we have him sussed now - it seems that as soon as he knows that the whip can't actually touch him he switches off so the whole lunging thing is really more like a circular one-sided long reining. He did enjoy the jumping but unfortunately I got no photos of that, I suppose there will have to be a next time.
Asti's gecko has laid eggs again so she is excited and taking extreme measures to try to make sure that the humidity in the incubator doesn't drop like it did last time. She has also gone gardening mad so my garden looks good and she's planted peppers and put them in the greenhouse, she's already booked John to make up some shelves for her and used up all our compost from last year !

Friday, 3 April 2009

Friday, fingers and falling trees.



So, this morning was misty and cold as I dropped 2 off for the bus and took Asti up to the stables. She'd told her sister that she was coming up to help me out with the mucking etc - the riding is a secret for now.
We were expecting to find Tasha swollen, bruised and sore but she was bouncing about like she hadn't been kicked into orbit last night - Carol was amazed at her.
We started off by lunging Holly - mostly so I could see how I'd manage it and asti could get an idea of what she would be dealing with. As that went well we progressed to Harvey. I did warn her that she really didn't want to be trying to do 20 minutes or so of sitting trot after not being on a horse for so long so she spent most of the time rising and laughing as she realised just how rusty she had become and resisting the urge to grab the reins. Harv was a total gentleman again so has boosted her confidence by about 100%.
As Friday is Si's day off he was wandering around and trying to make plans and such. We ended up going across the fields with him to act as a sort of safety net while he cut down a dead tree. It's something that he's never done before so didn't want to be on his own just in case something went wrong. Sensible idea.
The tree was rotten and was dealt with very quickly - in the end he gave it a good shove and it dropped.
We came home then as by now I was seriously feeling the need for painkillers and anti biotics with my stupid finger throbbing and bandage by now looking decidedly grubby. Asti's plan for the rest of the day involved finally going and buying herself a new phone to replace the one that spent 2 days in the puddle and has been weird ever since and then returning to the stables for a lesson in chain harrowing.

Thursday night - The Stupid Bitch


So, the infection has happily settled halfway to the palm of my hand, I feel like crap and it takes 4 attempts to tie my hair up. I feel like a total fraud - it's only a bloody finger !
I took the kids off to college as usual and went up to the horses, gave them breakfast and kicked them out. I looked at the stables but I can't get a glove on and feel vaguely sick so I walked away in hope of feeling better later. I got home, took the tablets and spent the day asleep ( good tablets these !)
We were just getting ready to go up to get the horses back in ( me and oldest daughter) when I got a phone call " Can you come up now ? Tasha's been kicked by Harvey", Oh great.
Tasha is a GSD of indeterminate ownership - technically she's mine, all the paperwork says she's mine but she has lived with my friend and yard owner for several years. So I was expecting broken bones and vet bills as I was driving up there.
Turned out it was a panic over next to nothing - I think she's just bruised ( lucky he has no back shoes) and both Andy and his girlfriend Carol were blaming themselves for taking the dogs near the horses. Personally I blame the stupid bitch for running around his back legs when she should know better.
On the plus side of the whole finger issue I got my daughter to muck out and she actually enjoyed it ! And has asked me if I could possibly lunge her on Harvey tomorrow morning !!!!

I don't think she's ridden since last Summer and the last time she rode Harv he took her over a 5 barred gate - I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Harvey the Brave, British Summer Time and the Fickle Finger of Fate


Friday was Simon's day off and he'd managed to get loan of the big tractor and slurry tanker again so he was all set to finish off tanking the fields. For a change it wasn't actually raining so I headed out to get something done. As a result I ended up with Harvey trotting on the lunge at the moment that Si drove the big red combination into the top of the field. Interesting. I had been wondering whether that might happen. I could see Harv's eyes flicking between the tractor and me but he just kept on going even when the tanker hit empty and made that horrible wet farting noise. I was so pleased with him for that.
Saturday's weather was just beyond a joke - I'd heard there was a forecast for snow, that never happened but we did get wind, rain and intermittent hailstorms. A lot of grooming got done and not a lot else.
The clocks changed on Saturday night, we are now officially in British Summer Time ( and I lost an hour of sleep) Just to be funny it froze - there was ice all over the cars !
However it did clear up to be a lovely day and we decided to " hit the trails" Maybe a 3 hour hack wasn't the greatest idea but we took it easy and were knackered by the time we got back. This was unfortunate as I'd asked Si to get us a bale down in the morning and it turned out that the Fordson wouldn't start ( probably sulking because he'd used that Macormick) this left us with the prospect of rolling a square bale down the back ramp, across the yard and up a step. There were 3 of us - one of whom is exempt from such things because she has a shoulder that dislocates with alarming ease. So there were 2 of us, we've done it before and we don't want to admit defeat to men.....
Getting the bale down wasn't so bad - it did some pretty neat bounces before landing on the yard. This was where the fun started - to get it up the step we need a fence post and a rock. So we get it positioned and get the fence post rammed well in, Gemma ( with the shoulder) stands on the post and we push the bale up the step - okay but it got away from us, fell back onto the post and catapulted her up into the air ! Why do these things only ever happen when there is NOT a video camera to record the event ?
Right now I am officially out of action due to injury - nothing heroic or exciting, oh no, I managed to impale my finger on a rough bit of wood on the gate - who knows where that particular bit went ( might still be in the finger for all I know) That happened Tuesday and despite cleaning it up and wrapping it nicely it's still swollen to the size of a generous sausage, won't bend and aches like a beyotch. So today ( after riding of course !) I got J to run me up to the walk in center where no-one would sit next to me and my smelly boots (Mwahahah) and then 2 nurses tutted, prodded, and finally wrapped my finger in such a way that any type of glove is now impossible and gave me the sort of antibiotics that the vet usually prescribes for horses. I'm to keep it wrapped and elevated for 3 days - that means Saturday - grr, have to think about that one.........

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Catching up


Apparently the weather is not my friend this week or, on the other hand, maybe it is - I suppose it depends on how you look at it.
Strong blustery winds and driving rain aren't really condusive to good groundwork, lunging or riding but, on the plus side, I have now managed to clean and oil all my tack - yes, ALL of it, not just the stuff that's currently in use. Judging by what I've cleaned I could open a shop or possibly outfit a small riding school. I would argue that some of this stuff actually breeds when you're not looking. I mean who really NEEDS 12 headcollars, 6 spare pairs of stirrups and 5 extra pairs of reins ?
It was rather saddening to see that Min's saddle was starting to grow mould, It's been 3 months since it was used and it has just spent that time sat there on the rack still with stirrups attached. His bridle is at home - currently hanging on the back of my living room door cleaned and polished.

Amongst all the digging around I've also found the tub of Cornucrescine that I lost ( it had fallen down the back of the washroom shelves) and located the spirit level that was the one thing that was stopping J from putting those shelves up ( of course it was in the Tack Room all along !).
I have even managed to get rid of my recently deceased dog food freezer, that was interesting. In the process of moving it from the conservatory I discovered that we have mice. Again. Now these must be some sort of new breed - Teenage Mutant Ninja Mice or some type of Adrenaline Junkie Mouse as we have 13 resident cats, several of which are female and usually not inclined to take prisoners. ( I have now issued warnings of possible sackings and performance related pay schemes).
Further to my posting regarding my abysmal position it was pointed out ( thank you muchly) that even if I do think I look terrible I still look way better than a certain someone who posted vids of their riding all over Youtube. Well yeah, even I have to agree with that one ( and I'm not naming names but I think some of those silent readers will know exactly what I'm talking about ).

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ms Modo, trifle soup and the Wacky Races


It's been a busy weekend here, we finally got the new ( mounted !) chain harrows and blew the exhaust manifold off the tractor. Gemma forgot to book her riding lesson - possibly because she was so involved with trying to work out exactly what a vorpal sword is so even though her finger is okay now she still couldn't ride. It was cold and windy on Saturday and Harvey was spooking in the yard which is never a good sign. Still I was wound up for it so got lunged anyway. I'd managed to borrow a camera for the day to take the place of my phone which is playing silly beggars again - it's probably full of hair and haylage, so I'll have to try to find the time to try to clean it out. Gemma got the honour of sitting on the crate freezing her butt off and taking photos with the wind whistling in her ears ( some dedication there).
If you're reading this - don't forget to book your lesson !
Once I got the pics uploaded to the computer - well that was an eye opener. The neckstrap sits in the wrong place which makes me lean forward, my shoulders are rounded and, as I'm holding one-handed, I'm twisted. There's actually more bend in me than there is in the horse ! My butt is pushed back and my left toe sticks straight out. Add to that the fact that the wind inflated my coat and you get a pretty good idea of what Quasimodo's rather more deformed sister may have looked like if she rode. I was horrified, obviously more work to do there. If my old instructor saw that she'd probably go and get her gun.
Sunday saw us trying that again - this time not holding the neckstrap and with much critical instruction - that's what I needed obviously. Better results all round.

The travellers returned from their trip to Germany on Saturday night collected from the college by John and coming home bearing Mother's Day gifts of Baileys and Jamaica Rum ( Thank ye kindly) There was also the inevitable row as the ones who'd returned proceeded to spread various belongings around the house and the bedroom that the other two had managed to keep clean all week. Apparently Germany was Ace, Amazin' and dead good. My son dashed off to see his girlfriend who he'd missed all week and my daughter fell asleep. Some things don't change !

It was my youngest daughter's birthday on Thursday and we'd decided to make a sherry trifle for the weekend. Now this is something I have only ever tried to do once before - I failed then and never tried again. Maybe I should have got advice from my Mother before diving into it this time but, of course, I didn't. My eldest made the sponge - her first ever, that part was a sucess. I added fruit and mixed jelly and sherry. It didn't set. A whole day in the fridge and it's still liquid. Add another jelly mix with half the water plus another helping of sponge. Another day in the fridge and it's still liquid. I was all for throwing the lot away and calling it a bad job but we decided to plough ahead with it anyway. My youngest made custard while I was out and she couldn't get it to thicken, that was because she misread the instructions and used a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon so once that was spotted it was easily fixed. End result - a raft of custard and cream floating on a sort of fruity sherriified soup. Looked weird but tasted fine.
Apparently where we went wrong was in adding the sherry to the jelly - it should have been soaked into the sponge instead. Ah well, we live and learn and, according to my daughter, we now have an excuse to try it again........

Horsewise Monday was a write off - the weather was foul: cold and very windy. I stood at the bottom of the ramp and watched a stray bucket spinning in the field while the blue tarp flapped madly on the haylage. I'd just aboput decided to turn out and leave it at that when I saw one of next door's ducks flying backwards. I've no idea what the windspeed was but I've heard of roofs being blown off sheds etc so obviously I made the right choice. By the time I got home it was raining horizontally as well. I've heard there's a forecast for snow sometime this week, the way it's feeling at times it really wouldn't be so surprising. Weird that last week I was in t-shirts and this week I'm shivering in my yard coat.

For some reason there seems to be a shortage of "normal" vehicles in our area lately. It's as if everyone is trying to outdo each other for weirdness. Today's hack was another episode of "spot the spook" - we had tanker trucks, tractors, an ambulance ( complete with flashing lights and siren) and a roofing truck parked half across the road with a pot of boiling tar and a ladder with a coat hanging on it ! We also spotted vans with ladders on them, skips, buses and a milk float. Surprisingly we got very few spooks ( could be they are bored of all this strangeness) the boiling tar had to be snorted at and sidled around but I really don't blame them there - it stank.

Friday, 20 March 2009

I hope no-one had a camcorder......


There was a certain conversation the other day that was centered on how it's always the horse you consider to be most "yours" that can scare you the most. Well scare isn't the only thing they can do best, I can tell you that.
This morning started overcast but cleared to another gorgeous day. I spent a few minutes considering things and drew up a rough plan of stuff I could do during the week - just so I'm not boring us all senseless by doing the same old thing day after day. I lunged Holly in the sidereins for a change and then took Harvey out into the road where we watched some of the incredibly interesting and bizarre traffic that suddenly has to go up and down. I think every tractor in the area is out and about today along with cherry pickers and those things like big cages on the backs of trucks, Bless him he never flinched until the bright yellow crane came past and even then it was only a matter of two little steps backwards and a giraffe impersonation so I am really pleased with that lack of performance ( but also rather glad that I wasn't sitting on him at the time or you can guarantee it would have been panic stations.).
Fally has an odd little lump on his back - I'm not sure what it is but I suspect insect bite, it's already gone down some from where it was when I found it last night and he doesn't flinch if I prod at it but even so I didn't fancy the idea of putting the saddle on him today.
I considered and finally decided to lunge him for a few minutes before turning them all out.
This is where the "favorite horse" bit comes in. Fally is my soft spot as everyone will tell you. He gets away with stuff the others don't etc etc. Well, when it comes down to working with Fally the safest place is definately on his back - he's big and solid and can be bargey at times, he's also a grump and a grouch and an opinionated old ginger git. Just thinking of lunging him ( when there wasn't even anyone in the house let alone with me) got the adrenaline going and I was seriously considering phoning John and telling him what I was doing and if I don't phone back in half an hour then phone me. Glad I didn't do that actually - if I had I would probably be hiding under a rock right about now.......
Picture the scene - 17.2 chestnut shining in the sun, me with bright red hair ( and hard hat) and reflective jacket in a suddenly dusty lunging area. A light breeze and dogs barking in the distance. Picture 5 minutes of a very nice trot to the left, horse being very nice and amenable. Now picture a change of rein and somewhere approaching 20 minutes of the red haired flourescent person calling trot on, terrrrrrr- ot, cracking the lungewhip, attempting to chase or drag the horse, whipping the ground with the lunge whip ( making little puffs of dust pop up) waving the end of the lungeline around and making generally (usually) effective noises ( like whoosh, Go! Get-on, ch-ch-ch-ch etc) while the horse walks calmly around the circle.
And YES, I did say walk - that was most definately a walk not a trot or even a jog - a walk. He never even batted an eylid at any of the stuff I was doing !
I know I did more trotting than he did and the neighbours ( who's houses overlook the lunge area) were probably having hysterics the whole time - so if a video happens to turn up on Youtube or YBF that sounds anything like this please please send me the link - it might just be me !)
Anyway at the end of 20 minutes or so of this my arms were aching from waving things around and he was giving me this really patient look like, " Have we done this long enough yet, Mum ?" - well that was it, I just burst out laughing and threw my arms round his neck and we just stood there in the sun with me laughing helplessly with the sweat running down from under my hat ( no sweat on him though - oh no, HE was bone dry.)
After I turned them out I drove home and had numerous bouts of random laughter and giggling all the way - people must have thought I was crazy ( or maybe I am, maybe it has all just been too much))
Next time I think of lunging him I'll make sure I have a friend to assist.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Naked Time !


Bet that caught your attention !!
The weather has been amazing and I have been wussy on account of the guys being partially clipped but today was the clincher - 16degrees (c) and blue skies equals Naked Time ! and we seem to have actually run out of mud in the field - out all day nude and they still managed to come in clean.

This week I decided to have a change in routine - to stagger the day off and make it a serious grooming session. So, as a result, on Tuesday I spent an hour and a half grooming Holly ( wearing a dustmask !), Wednesday was Harvey's day and today was Fally's - my shoulders ache, lol, but the horses are silky and shiny and still moulting !
I have 2 kids currently in Germany on a "study tour" with the college - already we have had phone calls from an army base who'd had my daughter's bag and phone handed into them. Big thanks to them and especially Corporal Adams who phoned me, she now has the phone and bag back and even the debit card that she was so worried about. Did you know that you cannot cancel a card for a family member under any circumstances without a court order or death certificate ? - I tried - they said she had to do it herself.
The orange wine has gone into the demi-jars today and is happily bubbling away in the kitchen ( smells wonderful) and my youngest hit 16 today - should that make me feel old ?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Home brewing and sitting trot.


Well I managed to get in a visit to the home brewing shop on Friday and finally get the bungs and airlocks for the demi jars so I guess we'll be starting the home brew sometime next week. The book I ordered from Amazon turned up - excellent wine- making book from the 60's - somehow my copy of it had gone missing over the years since we last did this so I was really pleased to be able to get another copy. Very natural recipes that don't rely on chemicals and aren't terribly fussy.
Our first 2 brews will be orange wine ( mainly because I went crazy and bought far too many oranges when John wanted to make marmalade so I have half a fridge full of them !) and ginger which we know from experience is very good.
Horse-wise, Fally is finally sound again so we have been able to do a bit of pottering around - it was quite strange to actually ride Harvey after all this time !. On Friday it was blowing a gale and he was looking rather like a giraffe on speed, he even spooked at his own tail !
Fally being lame has meant that I couldn't work on my position - something that has been bugging me since I saw the physio last year. Apparently my posture has been severely affected by me compensating for back pain. Basically I have been doing a work-around for the last 10 years or so and finding ways to do things that don't hurt. As a result my left side is weaker than my right, muscle lengths are less and I twist in everything I do. Obviously this has carried through into my riding ( and explains the state of my old saddle and Fally's tendency to bend to the left even when he's supposed to be going straight).
Well today was a challenge in that - Gemma offered to lunge me ! Her revenge ? - Noo seriously I've been wanting to do this and think we should make it a regular thing, unfortunately Gemma hasn't quite recovered from her session of that - she has a bad back now so partly because of that and partly because I haven't been lunged since I was about 12 I went wuss and added a neckstrap to the kit !
The house is strangely quiet as the two middle kids have gone off to Germany on a field trip with the college - they left last night. So for this week there are just 4 of us here.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Been there and done that......



Well I forgot to stick the title on the last chapter - it should have been "Weather, tractors and a birthday" ah well, it also should have been posted on Monday but I am getting terrible at tearing myself away and things get left till the next day and the next. In this case it was the actual unloading of the photo from my phone which delayed it - sad but true, it just feels wrong to post without a picture and I wanted a new one.
Wednesday was another busy day - finally got around to trying Holly out with the long reins - very interesting. Judging by her reaction I'd say she's done that a few times before. The only problem we had was where to actually go - the lunge area is a bit small and there's not really a lot of garden available to us what with the tractor etc being stuck there. Also it's on a steep bank down towards the house with a trackway at the top so we wandered around the trackway a bit then ended up going back down into the yard and out onto the private road which is long, level and tarmaced. I'll have to think about how I'm going to do this on my own - the yard gate is narrow and there are cars that use the road so I'd have no way of seeing if any were coming without an assistant. There is another (wider) way onto the road through the back drive but I'd have to move some stuff to clear it first as it's a route we don't usually use with the horses.
In the afternoon we took a trip to a big saddlery shop just outside our area - they have a much wider range than the local shop and a trip there easily becomes expensive ( ! ) In this case we were going for 2 reasons - first was that Gemma had found a credit note from them lurking in the furthest reaches of her purse and secondly she got well and truly stuck in her full chaps the other day and efforts to release her resulted in the long leg zip breaking. This shop does repairs so if we needed another excuse there it was.
In the event it turned out that to clean and repair the waxed chaps would cost more than buying a new pair, unfortunately they don't sell the same sort and she is kind of attached to them ( well she certainly was the other day ! ) so I think she is going to see if she can get her mother to fix them instead and then try her hand at reproofing them with a spray. Finally managed to get the riding gloves that we tried to get for my birthday - I think they must have been buried somewhere at the back of the shop on the 3 previous attempts we made so those, a long lead line, 2 new plastic curry combs and a grooming block sorted the credit note out and I got home with a whole hour to kill before having to fetch the kids from the bus !
I also ended up taking a detour to buy some apples as John wanted to try his hand at making brown sauce - we'd already got all the other ingredients but somehow forgot the apples ( daft really as they're the main thing !) In the end he stayed up for most of the night making the sauce and the smell went through the enire house. Very nice sauce though.
I've also found a home brew shop where I can get the bungs and airlocks we need to make our own wine ( something we haven't done for years) unfortunately they also are just out of our local area ( on the way to the saddlery shop) and turned out to be closed on Wednesdays - isn't that just typical ?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Well the weather is certainly being strange - one minute it's sunny and nice and the next it's clouded over and snowing and blowing a gale.
Gemma's on antihistamine because the trees have started up and I managed to get bitten by some insect so I had one too ( allergies to some insects and I really don't want another episode like I had a few years ago).
The weekend strarted well - a nice bright day and I'd decided to try Holly in the sidereins and roller to see if it helped her concentration any. The sidereins were very loose ( to the point of being what certain instructors would describe as "washing lines") and, in practice, it did work although getting her to actually stop once she was on the circle still seems to be a problem. I'd just finished and was talking to Andy ( the Yard Owner) about his plans of going logging with his son when Gemma turned up. Despite the prospect of tractors, trailers and chainsaws working in the vicinity and the gusty wind she volunteered herself to be lunged on Harvey (!) her only proviso - reins and saddle ( don't blame her there - I'll be wanting them too !)
We would normally have ridden but Fally is "offish" on one back leg - I think he's slipped in the field so he's not in a fit state to do anything more strenuous than graze ( and apparently roll in the mud).

Sunday was something of a washout, Gemma lunged Holly ( in the very loose sidereins) and had the same old problem with the walk/halt transitions, while she was lunging it started to rain and the wind was driving it straight across our little circle. She ended up with 10 minutes on one side and about 5 on the other as by then it wasn't rain any more it was rain/snow/hail/sleet in about a 20 odd mile wind. Not conducive to a good session of anything really ( except possibly drinking coffee by the fireside).
In light of this we turned the three of them out, cleared up and went to our respective homes with hopes of better weather for the morrow..
Thinking about the problem with Holly I decided to ask advice, why not ? that's what the internet's for. Hopefully someone could come up with a suggestion that will actually work. Long reining was mentioned - now that's interesting. I had planned to do that this year ( it's something I have never tried before although I have driven) however my plan involved doing it with the pony ( Min) in the field in Summer - not Holly in the mud in "interesting" weather. Whatever, so it seemed like we needed a second lungeline to try that. Another suggestion was for a second person to be there to catch hold of the horse as the stand command is given - well, purely by coincidence, Gemma has this week off so I'm not entirely on my own.........
Monday brought what we think of when we say March winds, yeah - racing clouds gusty, blustery and ice-cold wind and a selection of bright sunshine and threatening cloud.
Gemma rummaged in her stockpile of horsey stuff and managed to produce not only a lungeline but also a WB sized cavesson ( cross those off the shopping list). We decided to do Harvey first, simply because he'd done nothing at all yesterday. Gemma tried the cavesson on him - it fit ( just) but he wasn't thrilled about the jangly things on his nose. We left him to think about that while we groomed and mucked out the others. We didn't lunge him in it, not this time and with so many distractions about it seemed like it would be asking for trouble. We had the flappy tarp, the wind itself and, horror of horrors, the tractor and trailer full of logs that had been abandoned just a few yards from our circle due to a flat tyre. He thought that was truly scary even though there was nothing even remotely flappy about it and he lunged in an egg shape, stared bug eyed at it and tripped over his own feet. Gemma lunged him one way and I took him the other ( to see if his concentration would be better with me in the middle. If it was then it wasn't by a great deal but his transitions were better ( which may have been because he'd warmed up and settled into the work a bit anyway - hard to say really). He did go across to look at the trailer when we'd finished, didn't get so far as for him to touch it but it was close. We then proceeded to the gate crabwise as there was no way he would turn his back on the scary monster thing - it might leap up and eat him !
By this time we were freezing and had to adjourn for warmth and tea before doing anything with Holly.
We thought we'd leave off any attempts at longreining until the weather was more amenable - the way it is right now we'd have flying lungelines and who knows what else. I have no idea if Holly has ever been longed before either.
Gemma lunged ( it's nice to stand back and see it from the other side) with the cavesson and I ended up being the one to step forward when she ignored the stand command. I only had to catch hold a couple of times - mostly just stepping towards the circle was enough and at the end she did stand on voice command only ( but not until the very end). She wasn't bothered by the tractor ( she saw it yesterday) but more by the mud.. Hopefully the wind will dry things up a bit for tomorrow.

I did manage to find the missing phone - it turned up in the nastiest puddle on the yard - the one by the grid where everything drains to. A couple of days drying on the fire shelf and it seems to be working although the keypad is a bit iffy ( probably full of dirt and horsehair). How long it'll last is anybody's guess.

Today is Gemma's birthday - hopefully she enjoyed spending the first half of it in a field freezing her butt off !

Friday, 6 March 2009

Background story on Harvey.


Well I promised I would post this a while ago but what with one thing and another I haven't really had time to sit down and thinnk it through. This is still a rush-job - it's 7.30 am so I may end up adding bits later but this should give you the gist.
He was supposed to be an eventer ( I was told this by 2 different people) but threw some sort of spazzy fit when he was asked to go through a puddle, this apparently ended when he fell over and injured his leg. He got a steel plate in his leg which ended his eventing career before it even got started, was written off by the insurance company and got the appropriate recovery time before being donated to the riding school where he stayed for somewhere in the region of 10 years ( give or take).
Now this is ( or was) a big riding school BHS and ABRS approved etc etc and they had a lot of horses and ponies. They had a system whereby horses could be turned out/brought in with a minimum of staff - basically a corridor arrangement where horses were turned out of stables into the aisles and made their own way to the field with the staff member following to close the gate and reset the corridor for the next lot. I worked there for a while and the system worked brilliantly ( I use a simplified version of it myself). Bringing them in is the opposite with the horses walking in and going straight into their own stables and someone going along and shutting the doors. So, no use of headcollars and no leading involved. Grooming and saddling happens in the stables so no tying up. Hosing and farriery involve a person holding the horse.
So you see there was never any time where he needed to be tied so naturally he never learned it.
Most of his actual work involved being in an arena with a group of other horses so I think that makes his clinginess, spookiness and general lack of confidence quite natural. He never needed it so he never learned it.
When I first got him he was a pain to catch - you just couldn't. You'd end up following him around the field endlessly until you could get him cornered ( and the only way to do that was to remove the other horses first and have an assistant. Catching him singlehanded was nigh on impossible. I did get fed up with this and we had a couple of sessions of me chasing him around the small field, keeping him moving until I wanted him to stop, had to do this a couple of times but now he is catchable at least.
You could say that he has a lot of issues but really I think he's institutionalised. He's the big boss in the field but won't go in front on a hack - he gets all stressed and spooky - but he will try to bite the horse in front to make it go faster and has managed to tread on heels too. If you take him in front he instantly becomes hesitant, slows down and starts wavering ( that is actually an improvement as he used to just stop dead) He is a dream horse for the farrier ( with someone holding the rope - he just dozes off - I'm sure the person holding the rope isn't even necessary, that you could just park him in the middle of the yard and leave him there), perfect gentleman to clip ( even if it does involve standing on a crate) and easy to work around in the stable.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Discussions with Harvey, a change in the weather, the return of George and numerous dead fish....


Harvey does not like me touching the top of his head, it makes him move backwards, this has always been an issue and something we have just dealt with, It makes grooming and bridling difficult but at least in a stable he backs into the wall and that's about it. Clipping and bridlepaths usually tend to involve someone standing on a beer crate. On the yard it's a different story. I have read somewhere that the correct method is to place one hand on top of the head, one on the nose and wait. Yeah well, that didn't work - maybe it would have if I was actually tall enoough to do it - I'm 5 ft 7 and even standing on tiptoes and stretching straight up like some sort of demented ballerina in boots I still can't reach.I can, however, reach his forelock or scratch the base of an ear - great he goes backward so I lead him forward and try again, same result. Now I'm sure this activity would please my physiotherapist but personally I wass finding it boring and unproductive, circling the yard and tying back up produced the same effect so I figured it was about time to introduce Mr Schooling whip. Right hand goes up, Harvey goes back and WTF ?? comes back forward again. It's times like this when I wish I had 3 arms. A few of these back and forwards episodes and he seemed to get the gist - it's nicer to get your head scratched than to get your butt prodded with the business end of a schooling whip.
I had to reinforce that again today but I expected that. He now has clean ears which is a bonus.
The rain which had been threatening all Tuesday morning decided to go for it just as I brought Fally out, he looked at me like " Are you serious ?" lol, nope, I wasn't THAT serious at any rate. I turned them all out and went home and spent the afternoon fiddling about with George.
I should explain that George is actually my PC - recently resurrected from some sort of cyber-death and has been sitting under the desk waiting for me to actually find time to do something about him. Well that time was yesterday afternoon and, apart from finding that my light up USB hub has apparently gone walkabout ( probably in protest at George's prolonged absence), all is well there and I am back up to speed. I even managed to import my bookmarks from the stand-in machine. No doubt I will find a few things I forgot to install (Flash player, Adobe reader, Yahoo messenger etc) but that's all just minor details - the main stuff is in now and the stand in can finally stand down.
Recieved an alarm call just as we were about to go to get the horses in, Sy's heater had packed in and half his fish were dead - could he bring the survivors here - okay, I said, but where will they go ? One of my tanks is mysteriously acidic and the other contains the piscine version of The Terminator ( it kills anything that happens to be smaller than it is), my daughter said they'd go in her tank so I said yes, whatever. He turned up with a coffee jar with three very sad and sick looking fish that all died within half an hour. My daughter somehow managed to lose her phone in all the confusion and, of course, it has a flat battery so we can't even find it by calling it - naturally it has ALL her phone numbers and she uses it as an alarm as well as a watch so she's totally lost and freaking out about it *head-desk*, I suggested if she cleans her room she may find it...........