Friday, December 30, 2011

A Perfect Winter Ride.

I had the pleasure of going on a hack outside on Tuesday. It was perfect - there was finally enough snow to provide a bit of a cushion from the frozen ground and since I had the day off, I was able to get out while there was daylight. On top of that, I had arranged a hack date the day before, so everything was perfectly in place.
Headin' out. 

It was right around 0°C, so it was also a perfect temperature. I didn't start getting cold until almost an hour had passed which is pretty impressive given that the ride was all at the walk.

Despite being at the walk, I think it was a great ride as it wasn't in an indoor and the deep-ish snow plus uneven terrain was great to get Will picking up his feet and therefore exercising those stifles.

Me trying to make funny noises to get Will's ears up.

I appreciate the ride that much more since the temperature plummeted yesterday and we are currently hovering around -20°C. Hard to imagine we are supposed to be back in the positive by Saturday. This year just can't get itself straight.

Now, for your dose of cuteness. The following pics are our two new-ish barn kittens. They are now big enough to start venturing out more and more...which means they are getting in more and more trouble! One night I was grooming when Willy scooted ahead suddenly. I saw the grey tabby scrambling up his back from the opposite side. Kitty got bucked off :-/ (Willy was a pretty good boy though - he bucked a couple times on the cross-ties but didn't pull on the ties and he settled down quickly after). 

Ok, so we are fostering potentially bad habits here. ;-)

This girl was born to be a horsie back-warmer!

A much safer option for a warm place to sleep.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Carrot-Thyme Flan

This recipe comes from today's post on Allotment 2 Kitchen. I have an overabundance of carrots so it was just the thing to throw together today.

I thought the purple carrots made a striking addition to the top but I didn't grate any as it would have turned the colour of the dish.

Prior to adding the custard.

I follwed the main recipe fairly closely but did make some substitutions based on what I had around. I addded some of our homemade spice blend in addition to thyme and used buttermilk. I also found I need a touch more of the custard, so I used an extra egg and a touch more milk. I don't think these changes affected the flavours too much.

Finished product.

The taste is surprisingly light and fresh. I thought it would be much more carrot-y but it's actually quite subtle. A nice dish.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Carve a 30lb Frozen Turkey.

Nothin' to it!

We missed out on our local chickens this year as the farmer had sold out by the time I got around to ordering. So I decided to get a couple extra turkeys. They mentioned having a lot of really big ones - 30lbs or more, so I said sure, throw one of those in.

One of the suggestions from the farmer was to bring it to a butcher and ask them to saw it in half or quarters, if I just wanted a chicken-sized quantity of food at one time. We thought we'd just try cooking that one for Christmas dinner instead of the more reasonably sized 18-pounder I had originally planned on.

Well, not only would the big bird not fit in my Calphalon roaster, it barely fit in my oven! It would have been much too close to the elements to cook properly, even with convection. I was starting to consider which butcher to try bribing first.

Then this morning, Alex asked me to get the saw in the garage next to the back door. He was doing dishes at the time, so it was an odd request, but I felt sure it was going to be Alex vs.Turkey day. What I didn't say out loud was that my bets were on the turkey!

As you can see, I was gladly mistaken.

It didn't take all that long and only involved me for a few minutes to help stabilize the bird. It's not pretty and it won't be the bird for Christmas dinner but it's practical.  I still don't know exactly how we will roast that up when the time comes, but at least now it's a possibility!

Of course, saws create sawdust. In this case, turkey sawdust which resembled turkey-granita. We cleaned up most of it but Hazel enjoyed the bits of icy treat left behind. We are hoping we don't have racoons fighting in the yard tonight!

Lastly, how do you spoil your cat who is frustrated with the cold weather?

Put an empty box on the floor in the sun! :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bad Horse Mom.

Have you ever felt that, despite your best efforts to help your animals, you accidentally end up doing more harm than good? I had that experience this week.

Willy had a wart-like growth on his side that showed up fairly quickly a couple months ago and then fell off on it's own. Well, it regrew, so I showed it to his owner (the Barn Owner) to get her advice. She gave me some sarcoid cream (xxtera) to apply. The directions were once a day for 4 days and then once a week or so.

I ended up doing two consecutive days of treatment, one day without, followed by one day with. On the fifth day, which would have been the fourth application, I noticed the fur around the warty area was a bit crusty. I figured the cream had spread out some as I had been careful to apply it only to the wart itself.

I thought it best to clean the excess from the surrounding fur before giving the next treatment. So, I applied a warmwater facecloth to the area and began gently cleaning the fur. I alternated holding the cloth against him to soften and dabbing at the area.  After 2 or 3 times, most of the fur was clean but for one small section.

I held the cloth against my horse one more time, rubbing his neck and admiring his shiny coat while I did so. When I removed the cloth, I noticed a small area of rawness opened up that hadn't been there before. I ever so gently dabbed just below it and was horrified that the top layer of skin seemed to be peeling off him.

It was as if it just melted right off. I was horrified at what I was seeing (and probably feeling more drama than I needed, but I was alone so no one else had to deal with it!).

I ended up with about 1.5-2cmx1cm half-moon area that was raw and slightly pussy under the wart. I cleaned this up and applied some Hibitane to the wound.

I drove home with a heavy heart and had nightmares all night. Can you say first time horse mom? I know I'm not really, but even his owners consider him my horse at this point.  I spent a bit of time in the moring doing research on sarcoids and treatments and feel marginally better but I am also armed with other, less horrid, ideas.

This afternoon I went out to check on him.

This is what it looked like.
The sarcoid is the black circular area inside the raw area.

I saw the BO and told her about how I was devastated that I was melting the flesh off her horse. She said, "you mean your horse?", and then..."It's ok, that can happen with this stuff, relax, he'll he fine. I will come see him after I check on my spagetti sauce.".  I was lunging him in the arena by the time she came out. We admired his back muscles working and then took a look at the area in question. She assured me that he wasn't about to lose a limb but to wait a bit before treating again.

In her opinion, nothing should be applied to the raw area because you want it to dry out.  Personally, I'm quite sure recent research has shown that a petroleum-based antiseptic cream heals faster as it prevents cracking in the healing tissue. Opinions on this?

I cleaned the area of the dried pussy bits and applied a thin layer of petroleum based antibiotic cream on the raw area only. I need to do what I think is best and they have told me to do so whenever I see fit, since they know I don't make rash decisions. Still, I don't have a lot of experience of this level of care with a horse because I always had to follow other peoples orders, whether I agreed or not.  Regardless, going forward I think I will apply some bag balm or something around the wart before applying the sarcoid cream, if I do have to treat again. Hopefully that will protect the surrounding tissue more.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Harvest Continues!

It's hard to believe but we are still getting some fresh produce from the garden.

I wisely planted kale this year, knowing it was tolerant of cold temperatures. We now have several vacuum-sealed bags of it for use in winter soups and stews. We have been harvesting a mix of just leaves and full plants but as the fall progressed we began taking whole plants. We left enough "just in case" plants and I'm glad we did.

 It has been a mild fall, so that decision was a good one. Still, I never expected that we would still be going out and harvesting it in December. Once it got colder, the kale slowed growth but did continue to grow a bit and stayed otherwise perfect.
Ice-capped kale.

In the last week, the remaining plants have started to droop more but the leaves themselves are firm and vigourous.

It's great...athough it does seem very strange to me.

We also have some baby garlic peeking out of one of my raised beds. Guess we'll see what that looks like in the spring! I don't know why but I've only been marginally sucessful with growing garlic.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Goodbye, gallop.

Normally by this time of year the galloping track and any of the fields around here would be pretty hard at the surface. So far this year, the track sand has only been frozen once. Still, I think my weekly gallops are at an end until spring. We've had a fair bit of rain, so the track is sloppy. When it does get colder again the sand will be moist and will no doubt harden up nicely.

We had a good run though, no pun intended. I was intimidated to really gallop the first few times. I did develop more comfort but I still usually worry about Will...and what would happen to me if he tripped. But you have to just push that aside. Our vet told me to gallop twice a week. Although I've taken all his advice seriously, I could usually only manage a good, true gallop once a week.

One incredible day I was galloping with three other riders. The horses didn't get crazy and it was wonderful and fun. Willy learned to be a bit competitive that day and I'll never forget the feeling of him leveling out as I sent him after another horse.

I will miss our runs and the feeling of the horse getting to be a horse and stretch out and run. I hope I got enough in to help his fitness before these months of indoor riding.

I did get one video. My friend has an OTTB so they make us look like we are loafing along. It honestly feels like we're moving fast!

Something dug a partial hole in the track so we were waiting to turn up the speed until we passed it. By the time we got going, Willy was distracted by the person taking the video and the turn. I was actively encouraging him to run faster and that's what I got :-) I guess that's the warmblood in him. Still a bunch of fun!