Friday, May 9, 2008

Spring has finally arrived

Spring is here, and with it comes all the busy-ness and work that we've been pondering all winter long.

Of course, the rain is here, off and on, usually bucketloads of it followed by some sunny days, the as soon as it dries out enough that mud isn't being tracked into the house, more rain comes.

The barn plans are underway. The fill has finally been delivered to attempt to level up the base of the barn, at least somewhat. It may end up being tiered.

You can see that we have a long way to go toward level. Then of course, you can't have a 4 foot drop, so it will need to be filtered into the rest ofthe area. We're going to try to move some of our bumper crop of rocks to hold back some of it, so we hopefully won't need to use so much fill. Then I'll rope off the bottom area and let the grass grow, as well as on the right side of the paddock, and the far left steep hill. So the horses will have a sort of horse-shoe shaped track (how ironic -- a barefoot track system in the shape of a horseshoe).

The overhang will be closed it, incorporating the new and old sections into one larger proper barn, with a gambrell roof and storage for a few hundred bales of hay, along with a trap door to drop said hay down. It is far from pleasant to truck down the hill in the pouring rain or feet of snow, to the grey tarp shed, and drag said bale of hay back up the hill to feed it out. This will be MUCH more pleasant to deal with in the bad weather. I may even have tack storage! What a concept!
I'm going to have to move my water tank somewhere else. I'm not sure where I'll put it yet, because of course it is nice and close to the hydrant here already.

Here is the lumber for the siding, picked up in two loads on the little trailer and unloaded by my other half and myself. Its the same as what is already on the existing single-stall stable, locally rough-sawn pine. A local guy, Ray Stanton, has a small mill, and he mills up lumber for some local people for smaller jobs. This is really rough-sawn, random width, and random-thickness, complete with knots and bark. I love the look. And it is much, much less expensive, and nicer to look at than T111. It does suck up a LOT of paint, but if you look at the photo above, that was painted over 10 years ago. It looks as fresh as the day it was done, so I have no complaints there.
It looks like I won't be doing any riding for awhile, as my roundpen is temporarily out of commission for ease of moving between the two areas of the property that it blocks, the "house" side and the "barn/critter" side.

This is the machine we borrowed to move all the dirt -- its sure saving us a ton of money by being able to move the fill ourselves rather than hiring someone. Thanks, Don!!! I think we have spent somewhere around $50,000 just in excavating and landscaping in the 16 years we've lived here. Living on the side of a hill is a bit of a challenge, for sure.

And our other nice project for this year, is the garden. I am SO STOKED to have a real vegetable garden, rather than a patch here and a patch there. We had to build a raised bed garden, due to all the rocks. You can't dig anything at all without a machine, its nearly impossible to put a pansy in the ground. So the topsoil arrived for that along with the fill for the barn. It was installed yesterday over a nice, thick layer of manure which I've been dumping in there for the last few weeks. It will all get tilled up soon -- its too wet now with all this rain, then I can start planting. Of course, it will be fenced, to keep the ducks and chickens out. For now, its going to be a black plastic netting w/T-posts due to budgetary issues ;-) But next year we hope to fence it in with something nicer to look at, since its right out the back door off the deck, nice and close for harvesting while cooking. We chose to use Trex decking material for the sides of the box, so we wouldn't have to worry about replacing boards due to rot in a few years. It was a little more costly, but it actually worked out because we got some old, mis-matched and sun-beaten stuff from the scrap pile at the lumber yard. We had to reinforce it with rebar pounded into the ground to keep it from bowing out. Trex boards are like working with cooked spagetti.

Here is a shot of Sherry-goose-goose. She is Bunners girlfriend, and here she is pretending that she is setting on eggs. She's too young, not even a year old yet, and she only sets there for a few hours before she gets bored and goes walkabout. Silly goose.

Here's Mr. Leroy modeling his new rain sheet, to keep him warm and dry. He took exception to it at first, but this morning he seemed more appreciative of being warm and dry when its cold and rainy out.

Both Mandy and I have started riding lessons at Sabills Morgan Horse Farm. She loves it, I am SORE!!! Its tough to teach an old dog new tricks, and it hurts, too! But I am already figuring out some stuff and becoming more balanced for Lakota. She will be happy, I'm sure :-)

I still have not worked with Jen. It seems everytime I have time, the weather is bad, or something else is going on . Soon Jen, soon, we will start your retraining. She's looking good though. I intend to start with some roundpen/relationship stuff, very, very easy going and see how she handles it. Then we'll progress to bridling and saddling. She hates having a bit in her mouth, so we're going to start with a bitless bridle and see if we can sneak in the back door with that. Then I plan to just get on her very slowly, as if she wsa never trained at all. Not because I'm worried that her training is poor, but because I don't want her to associate our riding with our she has been ridden before. I want this to be a very calm, relaxing, and fun thing to do, not something she needs to be worried about, which is how she is about riding now. She has really settled down in day to day handling, seeks out attention, and is no longer quite as braced and reactionary. She has softened so much, its just amazing to see. I know riding is an issue for her, so we'll take it slowly.

Lakota, April and Whinney are on a diet, to get rid of the pounds they packed on over the holidays. Either that or we have an equine immaculate conception on our hands. Of course, with the two skinnies, I can't cut down hay, so they are getting higher amount of VR (more protein to boost metabolism), and canola oil to detox inflammatory xenoestrogens. We'll see how it goes! After a couple of months of this, if the weather settles I'll do the full VR detox, but I want to start slowly.

So that's about all the exciting that is going on here at the moment. Happy Spring!

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