Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Garden loves the rains

The rains have really been helping the garden grow lately.Here we have the Swiss Chard, Yellow Pear tomato, chives and basil. The chives and basil are looking a bit puny next to the Chard, but they were also planted later due to the cooler weather.
The Sunflower plants are growing like weeds. I hope to have a lot of sun flower seeds this fall.
The rhubarb is also doing well.I'm really pleased that these three really took off because I'd previously had many problems getting any plants established.
 The lettuce that seeded it self last year is doing really well and has a few Dill plants that also re seeded from last year. But the lettuce I planted this year still hasn't done much.

The parsnips that I left in the ground this spring have started to flower and set seeds. I'll save these seeds to plant again next year.

The Spearmint is doing exceptionally well and Keith is wanting to put up a barrier so that it doesn't run over his favorite the Peppermint.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stray Dog

This county and the local people really tick me off about dumping dogs and not caring about dogs at all. Jazzy my current dog was also a dumped off dog. Last week we noticed that Jazzy was spending more and more time running off chasing something. Something that we only saw at night as eye reflections running away from us.

Then gradually we started seeing the brown dog in the distance but could never get close enough to it. Finally he started getting closer and closer. and now he thinks he's supposed to live here. I don't know if we can keep him yet. We have to see how it works out and we will have to come up with the money for a neuter and shots.
The good things about him are as follows.
1. He doesn't bark much like some other dogs that bark constantly around here
2. He gets along with Jazzy and keeps her company.
3. He hasn't shown any aggression to humans yet.
4. He hasn't attempted to chase the horses or to dig into the chicken pens. 
The negative stuff.
1. He's not neutered
2. We don't know his background.
3. He's still a bit timid around humans and we have to monitor for any forms of fear biting or other aggressive behaviors.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The New Porch!

This morning Keith set out to replace just the steps on our front porch but it turned out to be an almost all day affair to replace the entire decking on the porch as well.

The original steps were metal and wood combination steps. The metal had rusted through and broke. For a bit over a year now we have had this hunk of rail road tie stuck under that bottom step to help keep it from flopping over.  

But as Keith was looking at the how decking, he decided that he might as well replace the whole thing because it didn't make sense to replace steps now and then later on replace the decking. It's a really good thing that the wood was all free so the replacement only cost us the cost of some hardware and the deck screws plus we will still have to water seal it. But here's the sequence of events.

Destroy old porch and get it out of the way

Build new decking
Then finally build new steps.

And even better the rains held off until the porch was completely build and all tools moved back in the house. Yea for the porch and Yea for the rain!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Slicker Training Part 2

After working with the horses in the pasture, I pulled out both Baby Girl and Ladybug for separate training. Since I was also planning on riding, I saddled both up and took them both down to the arena. We worked on turning on the forehand, turning on the hindquarters and slicker training.  In less than 5 minutes for each horse, they were transporting the slicker across the neck and accepting the movement from either side. I started with getting them used to the slicker while I was still on the ground.  Then I hung the slicker on a fence post and mounted up so we could practice picking it up and moving it from post to post. It was a great day of training for both girls. They each easily accepted the slicker from both sides and transported it from post to post.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Slicker Training

After my last ACTHA ride, I decided I needed to add to my training with a few new items. So off I went scouring the local thrift shops for some specific items. I finally found one item on my list, the lovely yellow slicker to bring home and started slicker training. The funniest thing is that the one horse who absolutely LOVES the slicker happens to be the ONLY one not even yet broke to ride. Yep little Booger Butt just loves this yellow slicker or maybe he loves the treats that go along with it. Either way he followed me all over the place and let me swing that slicker all over his body. He even wore it across his neck with the hood over his ears. but I couldn't get far enough away from him to get a good photo of that.

He did love that slicker so much that he tried to put it on himself while it was hanging on the fence post
But it just fell to the ground instead and he just stepped on it.

Strangely the next easiest to accept the slicker was Topper. Topper usually takes a while to warm up to weird objects, but not this time.

Ladybug really wanted to come up and check the whole process out, but since Topper is Goddess of the pasture, she wouldn't let the Bug close enough to see. I'll have to pull Bug out by herself and work with her alone. Baby Girl was pretty scared and wanted to spend her time hiding behind Topper or Booger But, but eventually when I hung the slicker up on the fence, she finally felt safe enough to come see it.

It looks like I'll have to work with the Bug and Baby Girl separately from the others because Topper and Booger Butt want to hog up all the attention. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How the garden grows

This year I've had several garden disappointments and a few surprises. Several things this year and flat refused to grow. The carrots, beets, peas and beans have all been seriously lacking growth. I think I've got a grand total of three carrots and 4 beets currently growing. The beans and peas have also been quite slow.  I've just replanted more of all and hope they will take off now.

On the surprise side, I'm going to be loaded with potatos this year it appears. Nearly every potato I planted is coming up and going gang busters. The garlic and onions are awesome. My spinach, lettuce and swiss chard are all doing well. I had so much of them that I picked a gallon bag of the combination and took it with me on my trail ride on the 12th for a fresh salad at the pot luck. Almost every sunflower I planted also is coming up. I'm happy to see that and hope I'll have a lot of sunflower seeds in the fall. 

I've also got stuff growing out of the compost pile I'm not sure if it's honeydew melon or cantaloupe so I'll have to wait and see on them. We had put the seeds from both in the compost pile this year. 

 One of my biggest surprises is that I found two struggling Jerusalem artichoke (AKA sun chokes) that were growing up out of the weeds. I was pretty sure I'd lost all of them, but it appears that a couple of them have survived the hard winter. I'll have to let them grow for a couple more years before I can start harvesting the tubers.

I've also been busy weeding and weeding. Our monsoon season hasn't started yet so the only water the garden is getting is from the hose. But the weeds are sure enjoying it. I've been having to hand weed this week because the weeds are starting to hide the vegetable plants. I uncovered those two sun chokes and a cabbage plant during this weeks weeding. I went away for only 3 days and the weeds went crazy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Trailer Training

I spent this weekend working on trailer training for Booger Butt, Topper and Baby Girl. Booger Butt and Baby Girl have been loaded and transported a few times but not on a regular basis. Topper has been on  regular rides in the trailer (usually to the vet every time she gets hurt), but she had developed some resistance to loading. So we decided to work on trailer comfort skills which is basically getting the three comfortable with loading and standing still in the trailer. Some people don't believe that feeding a horse in a trailer is a good thing, but in my opinion, a horse must feel comfortable enough in the space to feel safe enough to eat.  My trailer training for the weekend consisted of loading all three up in the individual stall spaces of the three horse trailer and then feeding them. After they were finished eating, I unloaded them and tied them to the outside of the trailer for a few minutes before putting them back in the pastures. I feel that they need to feel as safe in the trailer as they do in their own pasture.  The first day there was a bit of hesitation from all three at loading. Baby Girl I think is the most nervous about the enclosed space.  Baby girl also didn't feel comfortable enough to back out of the trailer on the first day. Luckily she was in a slot that gave her enough room to turn around. On the second day whoever, I put her in the space that basically required that she back out. Finally with a bit of encouragement, she backed out very well. Booger Butt didn't have any problems either day except that the trailer floor was pretty high the first day so we had to encourage him to step up high enough to get his foot on the floor. The second day, I back up the trailer to a different location so he wouldn't have to step up as high. Ladybug didn't have any trailer loading training, because she's already well used to loading and unloading.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Last Weekend's Ride

Our first ever competitive trail ride went pretty good. We didn't place anywhere near the top, but we weren't at the bottom either. I had been holding off posting the report because I was hoping that the ride photographer would have some photos posted for the days riding, but so far the only photos I have are ones sent to me by Lisa from Laughing Orca Ranch. These were taken just as we were loading up and getting ready to leave on Sunday.

Ladybug was pretty nervous on the first day of riding and the wind didn't help much. The slicker obstacle was probably not the best choice for the day because many people had to ride up to a slicker that was blowing almost straight out to the side like a flag. Ladybug calmly walked straight up to the slicker and put her nose on it, but she decided that it wasn't safe enough for me to pick up. So we missed a few obstacles and have some things to work on for next time. She was totally PERFECT at the noise control obstacle. That funny little bicycle bell just doesn't rile her up after having had a .45 caliber pistol shot from her back.  Our second day of riding was much better. The wind calmed down and we had a better set of obstacles. We managed to completed 5 of the 6 obstacles.   
We had one obstacle that she's normally really good at (the trot a line and stop straight) but this time she spooked and was looking at something in the grass. Later in the ride I found out that a Rattlesnake had been found in the area near that obstacle. She had a nearly perfect score in the box turn and a really good score in the cross the tarp. I guess feeding your horses on the tarps at home in the pasture is a really good training technique.

I did find that I'm not as prepared as I could be to be really competitive, but we had tons of fun, met new people, and really enjoyed the weekend.  

I've hired a local guy to help me learn more about training my horses for specific tasks and he will come by once a week now to watch me ride the girls and give me pointers. I've also signed up for a day long clinic with another well known local trainer for additional learning. I hope by the next ride, we will see an improvement in the scores. 

Ladybug was the only registered Appaloosa/Colorado Ranger horse at the competition.  On Saturday there was an unregistered Appaloosa gelding ridden by a teenager who placed third or fourth in the junior division. Ladybug represented the breed in the pleasure division and there were no others in the open division.  The junior and her horse didn't come back for Sunday's ride, so that left only The Bug to represent the breed. She did well at showing her skills, temperment and willing attitude even if we didn't complete some obstacles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Small Vacation

I'm off this weekend to ride with Ladybug at our first ever competitive event. We are entered in the ACTHA two day ride events. I'm leaving Keith behind to care for the critters because he's still waiting on getting his saddle finished, his horse is lame and he has somethings to do for work over the weekend.   Be back on Monday with photos and details of the ride. So everyone have fun this weekend.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Trying new things Part 2

Last week I posted about testing Ladybug out with the dressage saddle my sister had given me. Today I decided to go even further and drag out the old (and I really mean old) sidesaddle and see how Ladybug liked it.

My sidesaddle is a 1901 Sears model tapestry seat western sidesaddle.  I haven't had it out and on a horse in years. I originally bought it to ride my old gelding Hobo and the last time I can remember riding in it was about 2001 or 2002 in a 4th of July parade on Hobo in Grants, NM. Today though I figured that Ladybug was ready for the challenge.  Here is my saddle, It needs some work and the tapestry seat is falling apart, but after 109 years, who can blame it.

Because the tapestry seat is so delicate and falling apart, I have a cover for the seat that I keep on it almost all the time to help protect them. 

And Ladybug totally went along with my little experiment as if she'd always been ridden sidesaddle. Here she is just after I saddled her up. After the photos we went for a mile and a half trail ride. That's about all my poor legs could put up with after having not ridden sidesaddle for so long.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spearmint Harvest

My spearmint is going like gangbusters out there in the garden. Today I harvested quite a bit and brought it in to clean up. It filled up most of the bottom of the sink.

 The next step is to dehydrate it and then store it for tea. Here it is already starting to dry out. It should be ready to store in another day or two.

I love mint tea and this will go a long way towards stocking up for a nice stash of mint tea. The peppermint isn't ready to harvest yet but when it is, I'll be able to mix the spearmint and the peppermint for a nice blend.