Friday, December 31, 2010

The term "fun show" is an oxymoron.

Or maybe I'm the moron. I'm riding Brumby in a fun show on Sunday. Right now, it doesn't seem like much fun considering I didn't know about it until a week ago and was instructed encouraged to enter in the last couple days.  Since I didn't end up showing last summer, it has still been about 20 years since I rode in a horse show. And really, at 12 I had no concept of embarassing myself or worrying about what others thought.  That came at 13.  I'm doing it precicely because it scares the pants off me. I want the challenge of showing, and especially the goal-setting that comes with it. A good way to start the new year, right? So I need to get over myself and just do it. This show is the perfect (read: safe) start. But fun?? Ask me on Monday!

It is designed as a show-clinic with classes on the flat for various levels, a dressage test (training or level 1, you think I'd know!!!) and jumping at various levels (can't recall if there are different classes for hunters and jumpers or if it's all hunter-ish courses). Plus, the judge provides enhanced feedback for rider and horse development.  January in Ontario is typically cold, so horse and rider turnout won't be up to show quality -  no one will be bathing or braiding their horses and riders will dress for the weather (though it reached 7ºC/44ºF tomorrow and hovering around -2ºC/27ºF on Sunday, so it will be quite warm).

Apparently I'm doing one flat class, the dressage test, and the 2'6" over fences. All things I can handle without much fuss on most days. Except my hands seem to have lost their feel lately, bringing back the neck tucking, and I haven't jumped many full courses on him period and none for the last few months. All this with spectators. And cameras. And judging! Ugh...what have I done?

Well, it's a guarantee I'll learn something and that guarantees a successful day.

 I have some new lesson video from last week that I just started going through. Here's a short clip of our warm-up gymnastic. My coach progressively adds more elements and raises the height as we go. I haven't had a chance to trim some other segments yet.

I was very happy to get new video as it really helps me put together what I'm doing (and doing wrong) and what I need to work on. I'm still getting behind the motion sometimes over fences, like here. It's a shockingly powerful jump, even when the heights are low and I'm green to jumping so I don't have the timing and coordination put together yet. Still, we are much further along than last year.

Gymnastic warmup.

I hope everyone has a good time bringing in the New Year. I'm looking forward to reading your adventures in the year to come!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

D.I.Y. Bit-warmers

This year, I got the idea that I wanted to make myself a bit warmer. I get tired of trying to use water in the barn washroom which a) takes forever to get warm enough, b) is therefore wasteful, c) invariably gets my hands and/or leather wet. So, I set out to design my own.

I have been using magic-bags a lot lately for various back issues, so I thought why not make one for warming bits. Turns out, they exist already but cost about $12.95 each. Still determined I could do it myself, and make some Christmas presents out of the idea, I went to the fabric store and bulk food store to get my materials.

Have I mentioned that I haven't sewn anything in YEARS? Almost decades. But I actually like creating "stuff". I learned to knit a number of years ago and just loved the feeling of watching a fabric slowly materialize. Kinda the same with sewing, I think. My husband; however, is quite a good sewer. He's made several dog coats for the foster dogs, custom gaiters for his steel-toe rubber boots, a compass holder etc. So I begged for a refresher and off I went.

All the materials laid out and ready to go.

You think in a whole store full of fabrics I would have found a nice one with a small horse theme. The only horsey fabrics I could find had huge horses that you wouldn't see in a small project like this one. So I opted for something universally winter-esque.

I made a rectangle of plain fabric to form the inner part of the warmer. This was stuffed with a mix of barley and buckwheat - both grains that can handle a minute of microwaving at a time and happen to smell nice when heated raw. At least I think so...the horses seem to agree! Then I make an outside case out of the patterned fabric. This way, you can wash the outside part if it gets yucky. The outside part is mainly a rectangle with a long strip out the side. This strip just helps keep the warmer from sliding off the bit. It doesn't even need to be tied, wrapping it around a couple times does the job.

I  messed up the bobbin, occasionally. 
But with some technical direction, 
I was back on my way.

I made a proto-type first, then worked on a more refined version. I somehow missed taking a picture of the best one but my boss (a horse owner) loved hers and exclaimed that she was surrounded by creative genious. She also thought I could sell them for $15 a piece! Apparently everyone at her barn wants one.

Here is a photo of my proto-type on an old bridle of mine I used for fitting purposes. In later versions, I made the width of the inner magic bag wider and finished the tie string properly.

I'm still using my prototype and it works very well, even though it isn't as good as later versions. So easy and definitely useful! Hopefully the horse appreciates it as much as I do!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking Forward

There comes a point when you feel so behind on updating your blog-life that the thought of bringing readers up to speed is somewhat daunting. There is a certain rhythm and pace to blogging, at least for me. Once I lost it, it seemed ever harder to get it back. I tried a couple times but I still didn't manage to get the groove back.

As a result, I decided that I needed to stop worrying about what I hadn't blogged about. Stop feeling like I needed to provide somewhat of a continuous narrative. Sure, that would be great, but too much has come and gone to record it all. Who cares anyway? Mostly me, lol.  So, I'll move forward.

I will say that the last little while has been challenging. Work is pretty good but I am still the new fish with a lot of expertise that is, in part, tangental to the unit. Still, I think I'm adding a lot and they are adding something to me as well. Some of the dynamics of the interpersonal relations are interesting on many levels, so it's been a learning experience, to say the least.

I've had some challenges with family relationships which made this Christmas season feel strange. I still hosted a wonderful dinner for many of my family members and had my Mom and her husband spend Christmas eve with us. It is a very nice thing to have the ability to welcome overnight guests without much fuss.

Dinner was awesome, if I do say so myself. We had a local turkey from the same source as the chickens we've been getting for a few years. These birds taste happy.  Now, I know that might sound horrible to some of my vegetarian readers. I understand.  Maybe I should do a post on my choice to eat meat. Anyway, these birds live a good life, are not mass-produced, and are raised close to where they are slaughtered.  They get to move while alive. So yes, they taste happy. 
They look pretty happy too, even in a 
poorly composed photo of a partially 
carved turkey. This baby was 21.5lbs.

My husband has become quite the saucier and made the best turkey gravy EVER this year. His diligent basting resulted in a moist and beautifully golden bird. This year, I was in charge of stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, and general menu preparation and organization.

We have about 8 litres of stock prepared and frozen in 1 litre packages and 4 good-size packs of turkey meat - meals for a rainy/lazy/busy/lonely day. I keep hinting at my husband what good risotto that stock would far he is pretending to not get the hint. We both know he does and I know I'll get to eat his awesome risotto made with our awesome stock soon!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. Hang on to that which is good in your life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I memorized practically that entire play in high school and could speak "Shakespeare" like it was modern English. I was the weirdest combination of nerd and pot-head (for awhile). I once smoked a joint with a friend, in a field at night, and recited Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy by heart. It was the first time she understood the meaning behind the words.

But I digress.

Have you ever re-named a horse?  I'm thinking mostly about barn names but I'd be interested in hearing about any re-naming experiences.  Was it easy or difficult to come up with a name you liked better?  If the horse was known to people at your barn before you re-named him, did they continue calling him or her by the old name even though you re-named him/her? Did people eventually come around? How long did it take?

Let me hear your stories of re-naming horses.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recap & Tree Rehab

As you can probably tell, I haven't been interested in blogging lately. I'm still reading and enjoying other blogs but sort of lost sight of why I was doing it. I'm still not sure but the desire is coming back somewhat.

So, what's been going on?

I went to Vancouver at the begining of October for a conference. We had fantastic weather the whole time we were there. My husband (who I will henceforth refer to as SZ, it's easier) happens to be working a lot with his Vancouver office (since he's studying Northern BC and Yukon), so he came along and worked while I was attending talks. Unfortunately, I was stuck inside at this conference all day. Until the last day, when I played hooky in the afternoon.
It was so warm, my jeans and light hiking shoes were too hot! We went on a 4 hour walk around to and around Stanley Park. I rejuvenated. Too bad Hazel wasn't there, she would have had a blast.  SZ had never been to the park at all, so I had a good time showing him around.

We went to the aquarium.
 Oh-so-pretty sea lions. 

 Harbour seal, taking it easy.

We also saw white-stripped dolphins, belugas, otters, and many other marine mamals and amphibians. All seemed content and happy.

Saw some horses. I like the rubber mats and bridle fuzzies. They had also been hosed off from the shoulder down - it was warm for October!

And hugged a tree. 

We also visited my uncle and his wife, just outside of Vancouver. She is a horticulturalist (and probably other, related specialties) so I we talked a lot about growing things.  I mentioned my crazy apple trees and she gave us hope for their rehabilitation.

She assured us that, although they will look horrid until spring, chances are good they will do just fine. Naturally, SZ was sure he could do this himself. Now, I trust my husband and he is very handy and level-headed. But still, I was less than convinced.

Regardless, we rented the chainsaw and borrowed an extra long ladder. I put the cushion on the outdoor lounge chair, and had a beer, a horse magazine, and
the telephone on hand.

Before. Yep, those beasts are apple trees.

Another one for scale.

Halfway through. 
You know, there is something pretty sexy 
about my man in a tree with a chainsaw :-)

Tonka took over the lounge chair.


We shall see what spring has in store for us. I'm hoping for lots of apples!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hey Guys...

Anyone still out there?

If you are, hi!  Things have been pretty busy - aside from husband coming home, the fall harvest, etc., I recently traveled for a conference and then, of course, got back to my (relatively new) job and had (still have!) a lot to do! Then Hazel developed a mystery lameness yesterday. Despite multiple diagnostics we have no clear idea what is going on. She is 3-legged lame and clearly showing discomfort. For Hazel, this is extreme. She is very stoic, so the fact that she is not weight-bearing is notable. Our vet commented that, based on how Hazel was moving, she expected to be able to isolate the area because surely she'd be able to elicit a reaction on palpatation (unlike our previous experiences where Hazel would not show any sign of pain, despite limping minutes before the exam!) 

Apparently my "ground work" with her is too good because she clearly believes her job is to be polite and non-reactive when examined. The vet was unable to elicit a reaction when probing any part of the leg that she was clearly not bearing weight on. I worked on her handling a lot when she was a puppy but I think it is simply an issue of leadership. She knows who has it and who doesn't. If you do, she will be as strong as she can be for you. A very good dog indeed. I wish she was a little more wimpy though, so we could help her!

We had a full x-ray work up of that leg done and nothing showed up. Therefore, it's very likely this is a soft tissue injury (which is what I thought it would be). With no probative reactions, it's hard to isolate where the problem is. Bah!

Anyway, I just wanted to update a little on what's going on here. Hopefullt we'll have good news soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I almost got to ride in a hunter pace this weekend. I opened my mouth on facebook at the 11th hour (Friday night, pace was Sunday) that I was really, REALLY wishing I could go. I wouldn't feel quite comfortable taking Brumby yet and he pulled a shoe off this week anyway (in slow-motion, I watched it happen!).

Of course, I was just pointlessly posting, as people do on facebook. I never thought a horse might materialize. My coach happened to be on, see my status, and comment that she has a client who was looking for a rider for her horse.

Hmm, ride in an event I've never been in, on a horse I've never been on?  I'm in!

I suppose I'm probably fortunate that the woman had already told her mother she could ride the horse. Still, her mother is 50 years young and not nearly as strong a rider (according to my coach), so I'm sure I would have been fine with that guy.

Next year year!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I love fall. It's always a busy time but I'm busy with things I love: my husband, vegetables, farms, riding. I love the cooler weather and sunny days with practically no humidity. These are the reasons I haven't written lately. I have plenty I could blog about but life is just so rich right now, I just don't feel like telling the stories, I feel like living them. There is plenty of time all winter for sitting in front of the computer reaching out to the far corners of the earth (or so I like to think...).

So, I'm still around and I'll be posting something worthwhile soon. I broke a couple ribs a few weeks ago, Brumby's rather dramatic way of saying he did NOT like the new riser pad we were trying out :-/  (I will elaborate more soon). Aside from that, our progress has been very good.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Putting Out and Putting Up.

Who says you need to go away to some beautiful, foreign destination to experience a working vacation? You know, those vacations where you pay to go and work for farmers, resorts, charitable humanity projects, etc.??  Not for us, oh no.

On vacation? Check! Working hard? Check!

I have had the pleasure of enjoying married life again since my husband got home on Friday. We also both have this week off work (more or less). So naturally, we are working at preserving all the produce in sight! And *ahem* did I mention I'm enjoying married life?? Tee hee. Two months is a loooong time!

The produce is quite early this year, so we are already behind doing things that we would normally do on the labour day long weekend. I had already 'put up' 10 jars of dill pickles before Friday. Since Saturday, we have made one batch of tomato chipotle salsa (7 x 500mL), about 5L of tomato sauce (frozen in 1L and 500mL jars), and about 6L of pepperonata. Somehow it doesn't sound like that much...but we've been busy!

I also got some new video of a riding lesson. I thought I would impress my hubby with the progress in my riding/Brumby's training and get some great video. Well, Murphy's Law kicked in, I guess.  I didn't have the greatest lesson, the exercise was reallly hard for Brumby and I had no lower leg, apparently. I'll try to post more on that later.

For two weeks, I was picking this amount 
daily, sometimes more.

I needed a cake for my husband since his birthday is August 5th and he was in the field. This cake is made with coarse-ground almonds and I've sprinkled blackberries and red currants on top. When it bakes, the berries sink into the cake. Inspired by mangocheeks from Allotment to Kitchen in this post and this one.  The actual recipe I used was found at Bibliocook.  

Slice, served with fresh whipped cream and berries.

I've been back in the cooking mood since I have someone to cook for (and help!).  Had a fabulous lunch today of fresh market brussel sprouts, peppers, onions, garlic, and sliced chipotle smokies.  Finished with a splash of tarragon vinegar and served on quinoa (leftover from last night's dinner).

Happiness is:

Not to be overshadowed was our dinner. Mr. Ruckus had not yet had any beets from our garden, we've been working our way through a surplus of produce, so tonight was the night. We stopped in to our favorite butcher and got a couple of bison tenderloins. This bison is raised about a half-hour away and is absolutely fantastic.

Mr.Ruckus massaging the bison with mixed fresh herbs.

The finished product. Simply steamed beets, snow peas, grilled bison.

Now this is more like it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Garden Photo Update, Aug 14

Just a quick post to share some updated garden pictures. My husband is (finally!) home next Friday, so I figured I'd give him a teaser of what's in store when he gets here.  Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, this is PG!  I don't have much time for a real post - off to another show tomorrow, this time to help my coach. My reward? A free jump school on another boarder's horse. The owner is out of town and she specifically told my coach I could ride him whenever I want. I happen to adore this horse! I've never been on him but for some reason have just loved him since my first day at this barn. SO excited! Not so excited for another early wake-up. At least this time I don't have to be up until 5.

Now, on to the business at hand, before I make a liar out of myself with all that talk of a "quick" post .

"Carmen" peppers. Can you see the hints that they are starting to ripen?  
I've eaten a couple green and they are very good but I'm holding out for them to turn red.

"Big Bomb" cherry bomb pepper. Yum!
Sorry about the chicken wire, I was too lazy to move the fence.

"Burning Ember" purple peppers. 
No idea what these will taste like!

Hard at work!

Also hard at work. A woodpecker on one of the apple trees.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Horse Shows and Canine Woes

Brumby went to his first horse show of the year this weekend! It was also his first show over fences.  Our coach rode him in the baby green hunters and his owner rode him in the hack division. I didn't ride...I don't have show clothes and determined that I couldn't (i.e., shouldn't) afford the expense this year. Just too many things demanding large amounts of money with the new house. And this ol'laptop has been telling me it is going for the big sleep soon. Plus, I haven't been to a horse show since I was a kid so I thought it would be enough to groom for the day and get used to the chaos :-)

In warm-up
He did really well! Between missing shoes and the excruciating heat we had a few weeks ago, our coach has only ridden and jumped him a handful of times. Still, they took 4th in both their classes. I don't know exactly how many riders were in each's confusing. They do these sets of doubles and triples where a pair rides one course, then someone else goes, and then they ride their second course. I think. I'm assuming this is so you don't have to keep the horse warmed-up for an eternity. I haven't had the chance to debrief with my coach on all these questions. I'm totally green! And I was taking photos, so my attention was divided. Anyway, I think there were at least 15 riders or so in each class.

It was a great learning experience for me. My coach had me go study the course diagram and come back and tell her the course, including the striding. I'm quite sure she knew it and was just asking so that I could get the practice. It was definitely good for me and I was somewhat surprised that I was able to do it. I think I will have issues remembering multiple courses when it comes my time to ride them though. Hopefully I'll get more practice before then!

The only thing I didn't like was the underlying assumption that I would be slave for a day, so to speak. I mean, I was there to help, of course. But sometimes I felt like I was being treated (not by my coach) as a paid groom, as opposed to a paying leaser who was helping out. Oh, and getting up at 4am after 4 hours sleep...why do we do this?? And why are we so keen to do it all again???

Hazel has had another bout of diarrhea lately. This time I thought for sure it was the treats she had at daycare because it was the only change - she had been fine, then at daycare all day and with me all night. The next morning I could tell she wasn't right. I came home at lunch and she seemed fine and didn't want to "go". When I got home from work she met me at the door, panting. That means only one thing.

I let her out right away and she started the pacing, squating, and stretching that I was afraid of. It was horrid, like someone turned on a hose. Sorry for the graphic description but I think everyone that reads here are animal owners and therefore can take these things! Then, later, what she produced was more solid but had blood. It was obvious it originated in the large/lower intestine because it was bright red. This can be caused by anything from simple digestive upset to more serious issues.

Thinking of daycare and the upcoming show, which I planned to bring her to, I took her to see our vet. She told me she's seen a lot of this type of thing this year, more so than other years. Given our history though, recent and past, she felt it was most likely a food-related upset. Nothing probative showed up in her fecal sample, either. Plus, our monthly heartworm prevention includes many other types of deworming and parasite control, something I choose for a reason. So, I got a cautious "ok" to take her to the show - the concern being that people love to give dogs treats which could exacerbate her issues. I did have her put some meds on standby, just in case. I didn't want to just medicate without just cause and I can pick them up anytime, 24-7.

If I had a choice, I wouldn't have brought her, just to be safe and responsible. But my hands were kind of tied, without my husband here to look after her. She had been fine Friday and (early!) Saturday, the morning of the show. I felt pretty confident that her guts were recovering from the treats. We enjoyed a great day and no one gave her any treats at the show. Her poop was better than ever after that - I attribute this to her sneaking morsels of horse poop. She always has nice poops after eating horse poop *sigh*

But Sunday morning we were back to non-normal. And this continued throughout the day, though her eating habits and energy remained at it's normal, high, level. Then, Monday morning, she woke up with one eye completely crusty. It took me awhile with a warm wash cloth to remove the gunk. Hmmm. It could be related and it could be something else entirely, like a bug bite near the eye, debris, or a corneal scratch.  So, I picked up the metronidazole and started treatment. I also flushed the affected eye with an eye irrigation for dogs. Fortunately, I had some of this on-hand.

I suspect a low-grade giardia infection. It can be hard to detect in analyses. At this point, I felt the pros out-weighed the cons of medicating without knowing for sure what's up. Worst case is she does a course of antibiotics for nothing. It's not ideal but it's not the end of the world either. Given her similar issues a month ago, I am now comfortable trying this route and I really want to do everything I can to prevent spread if it is something infectious like giardia. Things seem to have stabilized in the last day but I've canceled her day care for tomorrow, just in case. This means I probably won't be able to go to the barn after work.

I'm sad for my poor pooch. And for me because I constantly worry, drive home at lunch, can't ride tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow is my last day in my job, I start the new one on Thursday. August 20th, the day my husband comes home AND the start to one week off, can't come soon enough!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Preserving Summer's Bounty.

As you've seen, most of my garden is growing amazingly well. Especially so are the cucumbers! I only have 2 cucumber plants and they are a small, pickle-type variety that are also tasty if you just want to eat them raw and are known for being prolific producers. I thought this would be a perfect variety for maximum flexibility, and it is.

The last week was challenging with these wonderful cukes. I kept picking, and picking, and picking. I couldn't seem to get them early enough. One evening, they would be a bit on the small side for picking, so I'd leave them. By the next evening, and sometimes even the next morning, they were huge! I was having flashbacks to the last time I grew zucchini!

Despite all this picking, I somehow missed one and ended up with a monster.

The smaller pickle is actually one 
that is already on the large size.

It was hard to capture the size of this sucker, so I placed it in my hand, for reference.

I figure I'll put that one in a gazpacho since I also have no shortage of tomatoes.

By Saturday, I had gathered everything I needed to make pickles. There was no way I could eat that many and I had given away a lot already. It was time to "put up" as they call the act of preserving summer's bounty.  I've never made my own pickles but have always wanted to, so I was excited. Ha ha, yes...this kind of thing makes me very happy! I've made a ton of different salsas, chutneys, hot pepper jelly, fruit jams & jellies, pickled beets, turnips, and mixed vegetables...I'm probably missing something. This is all stuff I've learned as a late teen or adult. My mother thinks it's amazing and doesn't understand where I get it from, but is happy to reap the rewards  ;-)

Weighing out the cucumbers. I only had about half the amount most recipes call for. No matter, 4 lbs would be plenty.

The "gear" all set out and ready to go. The pickling brine with pickling spices were already on the stove.
Dill, mustard seed, garlic, and utensils.

I fully intended to take pictures of each step but once I started there was no way to stop for a photo.
The Result.

I have learned the benefit to harvesting while the cucumbers are still small. It is hard to fit them in the jar when they are that big! So, I did two jars in spears, one jar of "slicers", and two of whole, smaller cukes. I was left with some odds and ends and one whole cuke, so I sliced the cuke in coins, added the other, um, remnants, to a jar and pickled them too. No point in wasting anything after having them in brine all night!

Since I had an extra long weekend, I took the opportunity to spend more time in the garden today. The carrots have needed some attention for awhile, so I pulled more of them. It seems today was the "ugly" carrot day. I've been impressed so far with the shape of the carrots I've harvested. They have all been well-formed and straight, I expected more misshapen carrots. Today, I got them. I also pulled something else...the top looked almost like a carrot but was noticeably different from the others. I think maybe a wild parsnip?

One of these things is not like the other.

You know how carrots that have grown funny sometimes look like a pair of legs? Well, I had one that looked kinda cute.

Looks like a lovely [carrot] lady from behind, doesn't it?

That is, until you turn it around!

Oh my!  Lol, couldn't resist.

Equally scandalous, at least to me, is the number of apples I have to clean up. My apple trees were left alone for far too long and therefore are not good trees. I appreciate having large trees out back and also the privacy they provide. However, I don't appreciate the large number of apples I have to rake up every week. I can't even eat any of them since the tree is way too tall to harvest from and the ones that hit the ground are not really edible.

I rake them into piles that I can then shovel (delicately) into a bucket, which I then transfer into a variety of places - our backyard compost bin, the city compost bin, and the city yard waste bags. You see, there are too many for any one place!  I should find someone with goats and ask if I can borrow them for an afternoon!!

I wish I could get a photo that captured just how many apples there are.
Keep in mind I cleared the ground only a week ago!

The raking is annoying, at best, and stressful since there are so many wasps and other bugs around. Naturally, they love the rotting apples. To add insult to injury...or rather add (potential) injury to insult (having to clean so many rotten apples), more apples are falling as I work. Many narrowly miss hitting me. I had an arbourist out last week to look at a few trees and he confirmed these apple trees aren't worth trying to rehab.

Ok, so I don't love cleaning up rotten apples. But at least it smells nice while you're doing it. Apple aromatherapy, lol.  And this space is mine. I try to remember that just a year ago I was in an apartment with no yard at all and trying to grow things on my balcony!  Makes me want to hug an apple tree. Almost.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Honesty Moment.

I was going to post about my wonderful garden, riding - including a meet up with a fellow blogger that I've been meaning to blog about for weeks. I planned to post photos of the dinner I made from the fresh goodness that I picked today. And the frustration of a horse with a missing shoe for the umpteenth time. I will still do that, but what is really on my mind is loneliness.

I'm kinda lonely. Not always, but often enough. I want to have a ton of fun and live up the summer. But I have a hard time actually doing it. Part of this is because you can't be as spontaneous when you have animals that rely on you. I find few people truly understand this. Those with children think I don't know what it really means to have responsibility and scoff at me. Other people just generally don't understand why I would be so lame "just because of a dog."  After all, half of them have dogs and they don't worry about a walking schedule etc. Occasionally, I will meet someone who 'gets it' and it is like finding an oasis in the desert.

Another aspect is that I have a hard time socializing, sometimes. I can be very social. In fact, those who know me well find it hard to believe that I am ever introverted at all. But I am. I'm pretty comfortable by myself most of the time and this makes it harder to reach out when I am without my other half. I don't tend to realize I am aching for a friend and/or bored until I am in the thick of it. I don't tend to come out of it unless I have to (e.g., new situation) or I am around people I know well. I know, I sound like a loner freak :

In other news...I haven't had much to say about the riding mostly because Brumby was missing a shoe for 2 weeks. Still, some interesting things traspired just before and during, so I'd like to share. 

Just before Mr.Shoeless pulled his latest shoe, I met up with a fellow blogger! One afternoon while hacking with my instructor we met another rider on the path. I recognized them but wasn't fully sure, so I didn't say anything. Plus I was a little concerned about it being a touch creepy to be addressed by your blogger name, lol.

I came home, double checked and sure enough the woman we had passed was none other than little keebler.  I had been stopping in to her blog for quite awhile but didn't comment much. I knew she was in my area but didn't realize until I saw her that she was actually boarding across the way from where my Brumby is boarded. We made contact and went for a hack and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was also like validation that the connections you make while blogging are real. It IS possible you will end up knowing someone from the blogosphere. I do get weird looks when I say I met her on the internet, while keeping both our blogs confidential, lol. Ah, whatever, it's 2010! The internet is like the subway or bus, you can meet all kinds of people, even normal ones! Not that I claim to be normal...

So, two weeks later, Brumby finally had his feet done. Can I just say that I think a $260 farrier bill is freakin' crazy! I'm used to my half being $80-$90, so $160-$180, which is bad enough! Ouch! Why can't I have a passion for something cheap? Or at least a little less expensive? I started knitting once and made a couple hats and some mittens...maybe I should take that up seriously instead. Mind you, based on my last attempt, I have very expensive taste in yarn ;)  Might as well stick with horses.

So, while Brumby was on light-duty due to being unbalanced with only 3 shod feet, I got to ride a couple other horses. 
Last weekend I rode a 4 year old TB/Hanoverian who I've posted about before.  I was the first person to ride him other than my coach.  I wasn't sure how he'd react since I was only the second person on him. He was awesome!!  He's still quite green, he was just started this winter/spring, and started lightly, but he's come a long way since then. I was surprised by how much he knows, especially the lateral work. 

Mostly I was impressed with his positive attitude to under saddle work - he seems to think it's all interesting and fun, even though he can be sensitive. What a great attitude to work with! I attribute this to my coach taking her time and introducing new things as he was ready, combined with just a touch of challenge. At one point she said "I'm so proud" and I asked her whether she was proud of me or the horse. Ever the diplomat, she responded, "both of you!" And so she should be, she's trained us both! Though I think the horse is learning faster, lol. 

Here's a picture of him, last week. 
Looking a little more like a real horse. 
Still not a conformation shot, I know.

This week,  I rode another horse, a Canadian (yes, it's a breed), in my lesson so I could actually jump a few courses before I lose the little bit of training I've had in this area. The horse I rode is pretty good but still much heavier in the hand than I'm used to. The Canadian rides much like a Fjord, as both are excellent driving horses used for multi-disciplinary activities.

He is a good little jumper but a polar opposite to Brumby in terms of feel, much heavier in the hand. My weak side tends to be my right, though it depends what we are doing. If my back is particularly crooked then I carry my right hip a touch higher. This leads to me not being as strong in my right lower leg. Guess what happens...

One stride before an oxer that was 2'6" or 2'9", I lost my right stirrup. I knew at that point there is nothing we could do but go forward. The sequence was a combination of a similarly sized vertical, followed by the oxer. The vertical rode well but he was "looky" at the oxer and, as is his tendency, he started to drift right. Being my weaker side, it was hard to keep him straight. Plus my stirrups were set for flat work and I was having a crooked day.

Like I said, there was nothing for it but to hope for the best. You can't pull up one stride before a jump like that! So over we went and as we landed I picked up the stirrup. The jump itself wasn't the prettiest because I wasn't balanced, having one foot in a stirrup and the other not. Still, I think I get a few points for staying on and picking up the stirrup right away on the other side and continuing the course. Lol. Good staying on, as my coach said, but I'd prefer not to lose stirrups in the first place!

This happens to me once and awhile and although I'm happy I can adjust my balance enough to ride through it, I would much prefer it didn't happen in the first place. I'm pretty sure my fitness is the main issue. I want to do more cross-training, I just find it hard to have the time, energy, and motivation these days.

Um, I don't have a nice conclusion for this post and I am sleepy, so it'll have to stand as is.
 Thanks, as always, for reading!

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Picked a Bean...(& quick photo update)

I picked a bean and then threw it across the yard. It was the first bean I've picked...guess what made me throw it away. Yep, an earwig had burrowed into it and when I picked it, the ugly thing scurried into the hole, leaving just it's butt sticking out. Aaargh!

Ok, so I told my husband I would post some more pics while he is somewhere that approximates civilization. So I'll get to it.

The first of the large tomatoes are starting to ripen

A plate of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. 
The cucumbers are amazing. I picked another 5 tonight.

The salad I made with my plate of goodness.

And now, what you've been waiting for! These ground cherries were grown from seed that we saved and that sat in a glass on our window sill all winter.

Overview of bushes.

Close up of the second-largest bush.
You see all those "lanterns"? We are going
to have a lot of ground cherries!

Part of the largest bush.

I got another good haul of earwigs. This is a new picture and I counted 128!

The numbers are in red.

At least someone is relaxing around here!

Oh, and there is definitely a skunk around tonight. Good times ;)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh, for the love of pesticides!

Ok, ok, so I don't use pesticides on my property. Still, this is my new favorite curse. Some of you might recall that when I moved in to my house one year ago (!!) we soon discovered we had a major issue with earwigs. It is actually a rather comical post, if you want some background.

Our main arsenal was to locate the nests around the foundation and pour boiling water on them. That worked well enough that I was no longer finding as many in the house. It rained a LOT last summer and the yard was still quite a jungle, so I really didn't spend much time out back, especially in the evening or at night. That was probably a very good thing for my sanity.

Naturally, earwigs thrive in moist environments. This, I believe, contributed to the abundance of them this year. I've also been out there a lot more, attempting to tend to (read: save) the vegetables, so I see them more. Also, I often don't have time to get back there until late evening, just when they are becoming active. Either way, there are a LOT of earwigs around here.

We did the same boiling water procedure this year, only we had the advantage of doing it in the spring while they were still immature. I really can't imagine what it would be like without doing this because you literally kill hundreds at a time. I do use soap and water which is mostly effective at killing them on direct contact and does little to protect plants directly. So I focus my efforts on areas they collect, such as the corners of my raised beds.

When I built the beds, I didn't worry about them being perfect. This was a mistake! They are good and solid but there are some corners that have small spaces between the boards where they aren't quite square.  I didn't even consider it at the time but these are spaces that the earwigs LOVE. Bah! In my defense, I don't think they could be perfect enough, especially once the boards weather a little.

I have lost all of my Swiss chard, beautiful rainbows of completely eaten leaves, they are. And there is no longer any hope of eating my beet tops. The cucumbers, a small pickle-like variety that are also tasty for eating raw, are the most recent hosts. Some of the leaves curl, especially as they work their way through the chicken wire they were meant to climb. These are earwig hotels. Room service at it's finest. Eat, sleep, and s**! all in one place.

The one other successful method I use, one that my sister discovered, is quite simple.  Fill a container with water, oil and soap. This is certainly a familiar recipe to me but I had tried to use it in little traps with minimal success. My sister told me she had great success with open containers and using more oil than we had in the past. I used ice-cream tubs from a local shop that we had been saving for "something".  A couple inches of water and a few good glugs of any cheap vegetable oil on hand - I really only use olive and grapeseed oil in cooking, but I happened to have some corn oil around, so I used that. Also a touch of dish soap, to break the surface tension. Just don't use anything citrus, like I did last year. Original palmolive seems to work best.

Are you ready for the results??

I mean really, really ready?

Oh, for the love of pesticides!
One night!

I have a hard time determining numbers from just eyeballing it, so I decided to count them out, roughly.

I'm not sure how well this will show up, but I counted 115! Bottom right corner is where it ends. I suspect this is an under-estimation because some are on top of others.

I have to admit, sometimes it's a good thing that you can't buy pesticides in my province any more. Some days, I think I would break down and get some earwig pellets, if I could. I would never use a broad spectrum spray - I've worked hard to keep bees in my garden all season, I'm not about to kill them. But targeted pellets....well, I could make a case for them when I'm most desperate.

Instead, I will keep trying to fight the good fight. But if I occasionally wish for total earwig annihilation, you'll understand, right?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Photo Update - First "Big" Harvest!

Today I bit the bullet and harvested more beets as well as a bunch of carrots. It was surprisingly a little nerve-wracking. I absolutely love harvesting my own produce...but at the same time I feel this sense of not wanting to stop the growing or not wanting to take too much. It's hard to explain. I'm like a hoarder over my own vegetables! Fortunately I can push that desire aside and get to the business of enjoying the fruits of my (ahem, our) labour.

Everything is looking good. 
These are the first carrots I've ever grown!

Hey, honey? Eat your heart out!

Now, on to a few other pictures.

Peppers. It is oddly difficult to photograph these. It would help if I got closer but I didn't want to bother moving the fencing. I could step over it but I am convinced that if I don't have a quick escape route the earwigs will get me. I'm only half kidding.

We have SO many peppers. 
It's hard to capture in a photo, 
so here is a semi- close up of a couple.

The full sized tomato plants are absolutely heavy with fruit. I have never had such healthy, productive tomato plants. Since they are still green, they don't photograph all that well, so I'll just post the little guys, who are ripening up.

Cherry tomatoes.

Yellow cherry tomatoes.

The big picture, taken last weekend. Thanks to Melissa & Jason at Paradigm Farms, now all I think when I look at the shed is how fabulous it would look with a cupola!

Hydrangea and beans in the background. I just realized
there are many bean pods that I think are ready to be
picked. If only I knew what to do with them once I do! 

That's all (for now) folks!