Monday, July 14, 2014

Ancient Technology

Yep. You read that right.  Ancient technology.  We used it this weekend and got 'er done.

What did we do?

We moved a shed.



 
Here it is in its old position.  We built this a good 20 years ago, well before we thought we'd put runs on all the stalls.  Once we started adding runs, well, it's in the way.  So, for the past 5 years or so, we've been thinking about how to accomplish this task.  Many theories were floated, many dismissed.

Finally, we decided what to do.  Dig out the entire foundation, put skids on it from front to back, brace and cross-brace, cut the posts (which were sunk 3 feet into the ground) right below the skids, and then put up on round poles and roll and pull.

Larry spent a good three weekends digging out the foundation, with occasional help from others.

Once the entire foundation was dug, we braced and put the rollers under it.
Then, Larry cut the posts off right below the skids.  Sawzalls are really cool.
 
Next, we hooked it up to the truck and the tractor.
There is a whole story about getting the truck here - what you can't see is the VERY tight space I had to navigate to get it where it is here.  I am now qualified to dock starships.

Then, we pulled, slowly and carefully, jacking up the shed to put new rollers under it.  The kids helped out and while they weren't exactly excited, they did the work. You can just see Alex, here, helping Larry.  At this point, the shed is almost in its new position.  Here we were taking out a fencepost that was in the way.

Here is a view from where the shed used to be.  It will get some fill and end up being a paddock, until we put runs where it was.
 Here it is, in its new position.  We later put up temp fencing and will end up putting in permanent fencing to make 3 paddocks.
Here is where the shed used to be.  That pile of gravel will end up being the flooring of the shed in its new home.  Maz (the horse looking at me) was very interested in what the crazy humans were doing. 


So, now we need to finish the shed, including the floor and a patio outside it, take down one line of fencing, put up a few more and wah-la, done!  Then, it's on to the next project, which is finishing up the 3 runs in progress. 

All in all, the actual moving time was about 7 hours total, but that doesn't count the prep or the hours of discussion on how to do it without trashing the shed.  We all did decide that we now know how they moved the blocks of stone for the pyramids though...so, ancient technology plus a lot of modern horsepower and lots of muscle power.

After we were done with moving the shed, we went and picked up 100+ bales of hay.  Ahhh...farm life!

We don't need to go to the gym today.

 



Saturday, July 12, 2014

More Foal Photos

The sport around here lately has been 'Taking Rocket Photos'.  While I'm not very talented in that department, Angela Davenport and Monica Bretherton have taken some really nice ones.

Here are a few:

Two days old in the arena, Angela Davenport photo

Whispering secrets in my ear - Monica Bretherton photo
Enjoying his first day in the pasture, Monica Bretherton photo
 
He really enjoyed the running around, Monica Bretherton photo
One of my favorite photos, Monica Bretherton photo
And, one more for good measure.  Monica Bretherton photo
 
There are a whole bunch more on my Cascade Gold Facebook page.  Rocket is for sale (He's not a filly, sadly!)
 
 
 
 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Foal!

Christmas has come!  Tulah (the mare due to foal) spent all of the 4th of July in labor.  I kept an eye on her as I went about my chores, but I could tell she wasn't quite ready yet (although the rule is "Any mare can foal at any time").  I set up my chair out by the arena and planned on leaving her in the arena while we waited.

No such luck - between her friends that were out of sight and the banging, booming and whizzing of fireworks, she ended up in the foaling stall with a small run.  I spent the first half of the night alternating between sitting by her stall and heading inside to get some R and R.  The other horses liked me being out there too - they kept watching me and asking if the world was ending. 

Usually I have a group of people to help spell me, but the timing didn't work out this time, so my husband Larry checked on her for a few hours while I got a little nap in between booms.

I sat out in the barn in the morning calm (around 5:30 am) and she was pacing but not seeming like she was going to foal immediately.  So, around 6ish I headed inside and grabbed a few more minutes of sleep and then did some email until Larry came running in (he'd been starting to feed the horses) and shouted "The baby is here!" 

I threw on some clothes and ran outside; the foal had just arrived, but hadn't stood up yet.  I did the most important thing....checked the sex.  Sigh.  I've been joking that I never get what I wish for, so this time I wished for a bay colt.  Should have wished for that buckskin filly, I guess! 

But, he's gorgeous, big and very robust.
Look at those long, long legs!  Yes, he has a little bit of blood on them, but mama took care of that pretty quickly


Tulah getting to know her boy.  She did very well, especially for a maiden mare.  Guess the older ladies have been giving her tips.
He hadn't found the milk bar yet, and was exploring everywhere, including mom's muzzle.
 
As I got to listen to rockets, whizzers, booms and bangs all night, his barn name is Rocket.  Also, he got up in less than a half hour (which is really good) and was nursing in less than an hour.  All excellent.  I will have to think of a 'real' name for him befitting his heritage.
 
And, as he's a colt, he's for sale.  Glad I have another one for sale, but I sure wish he was that fabled filly...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Better than Christmas!

To me, the week before a mare foals is better than Christmas.  "Why?" you might ask. 

This is Tulah, Durkkhal x Malikat, here on a foal lease from Kelsey Kempfert.  She is due July 9th, but could foal anytime in the next few weeks.

Well, after doing this for almost 30 years (which is kind of amazing in itself), I've found that the week before the mare foals is full of lovely speculation...that foal is the right sex, the right color, has perfect conformation and is as healthy as can be.

Once she's in labor, the tension heightens;  "Will it be a colt or a filly?"  "Will it be buckskin/palomino/with lots of chrome?"  "Will the delivery be easy?". 

As the hours fly by and the dead of night approaches, some of your foaling buddies give up and go home.  Some stay.


This was a few years ago, from Monica's blog, Horsebytes, http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/ during foalwatch for Cady (a boarder), I think.  Note the helpful dogs as lap warmers.
 
Then, the excitement begins!  Usually a foaling is over within minutes after the water breaks.
 

 

Annie and one of her foals from the Horsebytes blog.  Maybe in 2010?  Is it a filly?
 
 
No, a nice colt. The foal gets up and greets the world, Christmas has come and all is as it should be.
 
This photo is from 2010, from the Horsebytes story "The Foaling Moon" http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/2010/06/02/the-foaling-moon/
 This is Miras, Annie's 2010 foal by Murgab.


 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Farm Chores

It seems to be summer (although today it sure doesn't act like it).  I can tell because we've already gotten 2 loads of local hay out of the field and that ONLY happens in the summer.  I've been dealing with the same family for around 20 years now, THANK YOU Vicky!  Every summer we joke that if the kids get the phone when she calls, they won't hand it to me.

Last year we picked up around 600 bales and I was able to get another 100 or so when I ran out in the spring.  That really helps stretch the expensive Eastern Washington hay I get.  And, last year, the local was so good that it actually was better than a lot of the Eastern WA I got. 

My children and husband have become a well-oiled team;  maybe not the most cheerful during this time, but they do the work. 

This is Callie (in green) my almost 20 year old daughter and Zach (almost 17 year old) stacking hay.  I took this in the trailer, as I was throwing the hay to them.

One of the great things about local is that most bales run around 50-60 lbs, which means we can throw them around.  Those monsters from across the mountains need one of us on each end.  Also, it's cheaper than Eastern, thank heavens!  I have to feed hay year round, so my expenses are not insignificant.

Other things we do during 'summer';  get ready for winter!  This past weekend (Father's Day weekend), my husband and I spent most of it working on new runs off the barn.  Our plan is that we will have almost all the stalls with runs, which makes winter so much easier.  Over the years, we've figured it out; Larry cuts a hole in the barn for a door, frames it in and then we sink posts and put down fabric over the graded run area.  Then, it's drainage rock about 4 inches deep and 5/8 minus over that, another 5-6 inches.  Near the barn, we put in a 'porch' of Hoofgrid with gravel in it(I'm trying a competitor this time called Ecogrid) to keep down any possibility of mud.

The view from inside the stall.  Right now, I have the end of the Ecogrid up in the air, as I need to put more drainage rock under it, but my tractor died before I finished.  Sigh...

So, once the tractor is running again, I'll put in more of the big drainage rock until the whole area is smooth and flat and then put the grid down and fill everything in with 5/8 minus.  When this is done, you will barely see the grid, but the horses will not be able to dig or paw.  Presto!  Dry runs no matter how wet it gets.  (right...presto...so far it's taken about a year to get to this point).  The horses love it, as they can go in and out all night long, there is no mud (here anyway) and if they like, they can poop and pee outside only and keep their stall clean.  Win-win all around! 

Now, why haven't we done this sooner?  Besides the large amount of work involved, it is NOT CHEAP.  Each normal size run costs us around $1500 + or -.  This is a double run (otherwise, there would be a slice of useless area and we can't have THAT) and I think it will be well over $2000 by the time we're done. 

We are also moving a shed.  We started looking at the projected runs and realized that if we ever wanted to move this shed, we had better do it now.  When it was built, over 20 years ago, we had no plans to put runs on.  Well, times change and this shed is built so strongly that I can't imagine trying to take it apart (or, at least MEANING to take it apart).  We will see what happens when we actually go to move it. 

So, this coming weekend, we are planning to shovel out around the posts and put runners on each pair, along with cross bracing.  We will cut each post off and then the idea is that we will hitch up the truck and tractor (when it's working again, argh) and just pull the whole shed to it's new position.  Sounds easy in theory; we'll see how it works in practice.

Oh and actual horsey stuff?  Well, not so much right now!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Klickitat Trek, 2014

Monica and I headed down to Glenwood, WA for the Klickitat Trek endurance ride this past weekend, May 30- June 1.  We had originally planned on riding both days, but after the long ride the previous weekend (where I felt good afterwards) and then a very short ride the day after (where I didn't feel good afterwards), I decided not to push it.  Having catastrophic ankle failure 5 miles from anywhere wouldn't be pleasant.

So, we pulled into camp around 3:30 or so, found our spot that was saved for us (thank you Aarene and the Pirates!) and vetted in without incident.  We went for a short ride that evening and tucked ourselves into bed.  Thunder and lightning woke us up, but the little bit of rain just kept the dust down the next day.

Monica was going to ride the LD on Danny with the very early start time of 6:15.  My departure was at 8:30 for the Trail Ride.  Galen wasn't terribly happy that everyone left, but he dealt with it. 
Monica and Danny before heading out.  He wasn't quite as relaxed when he started!

Galen telling me that he should be tacked up and heading out!
 


Galen and I headed out around 8:30, after meandering around the camp, looking for the out timer.  Looks like the Trail ride is MUCH more relaxed than even an LD, as I didn't see anyone else heading out at the same time.  In fact, I saw several people heading out as I came in a few hours later.  We were on the Red and White loop, which was fine, as I've done most of those trails before.  I knew that neither Galen nor I was really all that conditioned, so I had a game plan.  Slow, steady, enjoy the scenery and have fun.  We headed out of camp at a walk on a loose rein (big improvement!) and started some cows along the way.  We did do some trotting and my deal with him has been that if I can sit it, he can do it.  Amazing how even the atmosphere of an endurance ride can bounce up a horse!  Usually, Galen's trot is so smooth I can sit all speeds.  Saturday, we had to slow it down a bit, as there was much more bounce to the ounce than usual.  That was ok, as it was already getting warm, and we really hadn't trained in heat very much. 

We came into the vet check and took a minute or two to pulse down, which made me realize I needed to slow down even more.  We took some extra time at the vet check, although I knew he wouldn't drink anything (he never does before around 20 miles).  We didn't need to pass the vet, just be pulsed down, so after 15 or 20 minutes, we headed back out.  We did some leapfrogging with the Ride and Tiers.  I did help a few of them find the trail.  Mostly, we were by ourselves, which was fine.  The trails were lovely, the weather was gorgeous, my horse and I were happy.  I did some singing, admired the gorgeous lupines and finished in about 3 hours.  Not our fastest by any means, but that was ok.  I went into this as a conditioning ride and to see how my ankle felt. 

By the end of my ride, I was very glad I hadn't done the LD - my ankle was swollen and I could feel the fluid squishing around in it (lovely image, isn't it?).  Galen was willing, but definitely not ready for much more.   We did get lots of nice trot on a loose rein, which was the goal. 

We got back to camp and Monica trotted him out.  Dr. Jen noted that he was travelling a little bit crooked, no doubt because of my bad leg.  Not enough to be lame, but certainly enough to be noted.  Sigh...  But, it's wonderful to have an experienced eye to tell you that you need to work on stuff.  We probably won't do any more rides for awhile (maybe Bare Bones later on), but will work on arena work, trail riding and I will see if I can get my ankle to behave better.  Summer is coming which means foaling, breeding, hay season, fix it up season, kids, etc.

All in all, it was a very satisfying weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mt. Adams Endurance Ride, May 17, 2014

This was my 'come-back' ride after several years of surgeries and depression (at my slow recovery from said surgeries) .  I've been doing conditioning rides, although not nearly as many as usual and not nearly as long.

For newcomers to my blog, here it is in a nutshell:  breast cancer surgery in 2011 led to not much conditioning for the 2012 ride season. 4 rides (teeth gritting, pill popping after tearing a tendon in the first ride of the season) in 2012 with each ride being more and more painful on my ankle with the torn tendon.  I did top ten most of them though...figured faster was better.  At the last ride of the year that I did, where I had to walk my (very disgusted) horse the last 10 miles because my ankle hurt so badly, I decided to try surgery (and we still top tenned).  Surgery in August-September of 2012, VERY slow recovery.  I'm afraid I expected to have 6 weeks of PT and recovery and then be back to full power.  Ha.  Silly me.  I didn't compete at all in 2013 because I could only ride about an hour before the pain was pretty bad.  So, I volunteered. 

I have been upping my 'game' over the winter and had gotten up to almost a 3 hour ride without too much whining, so I decided that Mt. Adams was it!  My comeback ride!  Except, unless you are totally flying, you can't even do an LD in 3 hours...

So, I adjusted my attitude and decided that if I could mentor a newbie or two, I could justify (to myself, no one else cared) doing a, gasp, Trail Ride.  I'm afraid I've always been a little 'above' the trail ride, thinking there was no reason to do anything less than an LD.  I kept repeating (in a bit of a whiney voice)  "But I've done 50s!".  I'm pretty sure there was a bunch of self-pity there. Well, the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be.  So, I firmly tamped that down and hauled to Mt. Adams with my friend Monica.  She decided to come on the trail ride too, mostly to make sure I was ok. 

We drove down  and got talking so much we missed the first bridge over the Columbia and had to go over the one between Hood River and White Salmon.  I HATE this bridge.  I'm not much for heights anyway and have actually smashed my truck side mirror on an oncoming truck's mirror on this bridge a few years back, so I have reason.  I did make it over the bridge and no one actually honked at me...going 15 miles an hour is probably not the way to make friends.  I also halted in the middle of the bridge when a big truck came at us.  I think I did breathe somewhere along it...but I won't guarantee it.  One lady in an oncoming car did point vigorously at me to move over to the edge of the bridge - I think I was pretty close to the center line.

Anyway, we made it to the lovely camp with plenty of time to spare, vetted in, etc and met up with our friend Keiko, who was doing her first endurance ride ever with her mare Cady.  We went for a nice few mile ride on Friday and both Galen and Danny were great.  Cady was a bit jazzed, but settled by the end.

Next morning, the very civilized start time of 9 am.  Hmmm, this is definitely in the Trail Ride's favor.  We got Keiko and Cady and left after pretty much everyone was gone.  Cady and Keiko were a bit nervous, so we went back and forth a bit and then Keiko got off and walked for a while until a big hill convinced her to remount.  We sandwiched them between Galen (in front) and Danny behind, which seemed to help Cady.  We walked along, singing silly songs and getting relationship updates.  After a bit, we asked if we could trot 20 steps and then walk.  We did this for a while until it was boring and then started trotting the easier parts (no ducking low branches, no downhills, etc).  By now, Keiko was starting to enjoy herself, as she and Cady had both relaxed.  We made it clear that we wouldn't do anything more (ok, maybe just a touch more) than she was comfortable with, which I think really helped her.  We had the whole day to enjoy the beautiful Ghost loop and if it took the whole day, so be it. 

(I do have a ride photo, but for some reason, my computer refuses to load it, so you just need to imagine the lovely scenery and Galen's orange butt)

We did spend a little time going back to find a boot, but we found it quickly.  We finished around 12:30 or so, but that was fine.  This was a 13 mile loop, and my ankle still felt pretty good.  This was the longest mileage AND time I have done since June of 2012.   I have been working on changing the way I ride - much more sitting trot; thank goodness for the Teke glide, much more muscle instead of letting my ankles absorb so much.  It's very different from how I've ridden before, but Galen seems ok with it, so I'll call it good.

I ended with thinking that I could probably do more mileage, but I was kind of glad I didn't have to.  Once the horses were taken care of, I cracked a beer, took some more Advil and socialized.  Hmmm, another plus in the Trail Ride's favor...more time for beer.  Anyway, we are planning on heading to Klickitat, where I might ride a 2 day LD.  It could be a new thing - the weenie version of the 2 day 100.  If that goes well, maybe I'll be up to an LD before the end of the ride season.