Monday, February 28, 2011

No Rest for the Wicked

And I'm apparently extra wicked, so this cliche applies to me ten-fold. Take the following picture, for example:

I've crudely circled the plethora of projects that await me. (1) Patch up Paula's shoulder guard--that was $60 well-spent, wasn't it? (2) Betty's feet. We're almost there. Their appearance upsets me, but I have to remind myself that a little patience with her training right now will pay off a lot later down the road. (3) Patch up Betty's turnout blanket--for the second time this year. (4) Pick up manure in this pen--for the one thousandth time this year. (5) Fix feeder that the horses love to rub their butts on, which strips out the bolts that hold it to the fence--thanks, kids. (6) Put new tires on the hay wagon and unload it. (7) Take a load of scrap metal (aka, horse-destroyed fencing) to the landfill. (8) Finish roofing the garage/carriage house.

And that's just in one tiny picture. Oh, and Paula's feet are due to be trimmed. And fecal samples need to be done on everyone so I can see who to worm and what to use, and Moose needs his boosters, and everyone needs their bridle paths trimmed, and I need to take the shedding blade to everyone again and.... *sigh*

By the way, I mainly took this picture to demonstrate the irony of horses that have 100-pounds shy of a literal ton of dairy-quality alfalfa free-choice right before them, but who choose to chew the bark off a tree branch instead (they all love to do this, by the way). Whomever said that horses only chew on trees when they're starving obviously never owned horses.

Also, I threw them a couple of branches as a treat--while they were supervised--and I took them over to the burn pile when I finished up in the evening. I don't take the chance that they'll get hurt on them. It's happened--remember Bambi's incident?

Anyway, I had the branches because Dad came over last weekend and trimmed back a ton of brush in the southeast pen so I could re-fence it. It's still the temporary fencing, but it needed to be improved. One of these days I'll get a dozer back here and take out a bunch of these trees (it's a tree row, so there are several layers--I'd just take out one or two), and then put up nice continuous, permanent fencing. Here's my truck all backed up with the third load of the morning.

It's not the greatest, but considering there was just a wire fence here before, and the trees were overgrown, it's quite an improvement--cattle panels and capped t-posts, plus trimming the trees way back.

To my surprise, I managed to get all the limbs picked up AND all the fencing done. That meant I could leave all the horses together and they could have the run of the smaller pen with the roundbale, plus a larger pen to stretch their legs and not be too cramped.

I was thrilled to get all that done, so now I can concentrate on getting the north side fenced with continuous fencing. There is still so much work that needs to be done, but despite living on this little dilapidated farm, I think the "kids" are pretty happy....

Sometimes I curse my opposable thumbs.

Wicked but weary,


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Old Photographs

Yesterday was a stay-inside kind of day. My back was out worse than it has been in a long time, which had my stomach doing flips, and it was cold, icy, wet, and just plain ol' nasty outside. To top it off, my little heater in the bathroom wasn't keeping up with the cold weather--it couldn't seem to get the thermostat out of the 50's. I tried to light the pilot on the bigger heater and it just wouldn't budge.

I resolved to make the best of my Saturday regardless, so I made up some veggie three-bean chili in the crock pot, put on one of my Will & Grace DVD's, got out all of my genealogy materials, wrapped myself up in a blanket and started plugging away.

What really turned my day around is that I was able to find some pictures online of ancestors that I only had one picture of, or I perhaps only had a poor photocopy rendition. I also think that I extended my Leck roots to Germany (we know they were German, just didn't know when). I thought today, before I got busy doing anything else, I'd share a few of those pictures. I find them fascinating....

This is a new picture I found of my 3rd great-grandfather, George H McCandless (1830-1886):

This was his wife, my 3rd great-grandmother, Eliza Ruth Calvert McCandless:

I think these pictures must be from a painting of them together. I would love to know where that painting is now and get a reproduction of it. It could be anywhere--they had a lot of kids, all but one lived to adulthood and had families of their own. One of their decendents is retired Rep. Al McCandless in California.

This is a picture that I didn't have of my 3rd great-grandparents (on my paternal grandmother's side) George Elbert Allender (1843-1928) and his wife Egentine Sharp Allender (1846-1917):

They had three boys (left to right): Arvel (my 2nd great-grandfather), Nolen, and Otis.

I have a newspaper article about how these three boys married three sisters--the Gosney girls. It's really a cute story I'll have to share one day.

I was probably most excited about the following photograph, though. This woman is Mary Ann Sheridan Neel, George H McCandless's (from above) maternal grandmother, making her my 5th great-grandmother.

I had a very poor photocopy of this picture, so to be able to find the real one really made my day. I admire her a great deal for everything she did in her very long life.

Thinking about these ancestors made me realize that I actually have it pretty cozy after all. Soon I stopped forgetting about how cold and achy I was, and started being thankful for what I have.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

And the Award Goes To....

On the eve of the overly-exposed (in more ways than one) culmination of the Hollywood award season, I've been thinking about what sort of awards my own "stars" might win, if we had the money, time, and prestige to pat ourselves on the back continuously for three consecutive months.

I'm not bitter, really. I'm just trying it on for size.

It's an interesting question, though, and I've decided that, based on the oustanding performances from each of my equids, if given the opportunity, I would award the

~ Paula~
Best Set Redesign
i.e. Chewing apart the old barn, board by board.

Best Foreign Language Performance
i.e. Absolutely not wanting me to trim his front feet, but being perfectly ok with the back.

Best Costume Removal
i.e. Obsessed with removing my gloves from my hands, the blankets from the fence, the jacket from my torso....

Best Performance in a Self-Inflicted Panic Situation
i.e. Tearing a piece of paper out of my hands and running all over the field scared out of her mind of what's in her mouth, but not thinking to just let it go.

Best Dramatic Breaking Performance
i.e. Saddle is perfectly fine at the walk and trot, but she's convinced it will eat her if she lopes.

I hope you enjoyed our awards show this evening. Don't forget to tip your waiter. Goodnight, Folks!


Friday, February 25, 2011

I Want A Baby

I want a baby. I want to hear the clippity-clop of tiny little hooves in the barn.

You do realize I'm talking about a foal, right? OK, good, because that would be one weird conversation otherwise.

Over the last few years I've been perfectly fine with not having any mares to foal out. No stressing over getting them bred, no increased expenses for pregnant mares, no getting up every single hour for two weeks and still missing the birth by minutes.

Actually, the only births I ever missed were Paula and her full brother. Their momma was sneaky like that. She apparently enjoyed her privacy.

Paula was an awfully cute baby. She had ears as long as her face, and because she was born with so much gray hair already, she looked roan.

See the bird on her neck?

Anyway, for some reason, this year it's hit me harder than it has in the past few--I do miss the excitement of not knowing what's going to be coming: a colt? A filly? Overo or solid? Gray or sorrel?

But then reality hits me and I remember that I don't even have enough time to spend on the horses that I do have, so why create another one? And the expense--well, between a stud fee, mare care, extra feed and vaccinations, vet bills, registrations, and the cost of feeding a foal (which is much more than feeding an adult horse)--it's outrageous. Right now all my money is going towards fixing up the farm and showing the horses I already have.

So I refrain. Could I do what I want? Sure. Should I do what I want? Absolutely not.

And honestly, I think my life is the better for it. Maybe one day, when I get one or two of the horses I have sold, and one of the girls has been promoted adequately, and I have my house done and my facilities all set up properly, I might decide to breed one, to carry on my program. But for the time being, the best thing I can do for my current horses, and for me, is to stay on course and try to make a better life for us all.

Steady as she goes,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Dilapidated Farmhouse, Part 5

I probably shouldn't even be showing you this. It's shameful. It's ugly. It's sad.

Just look away...nothing to see here...move along, people.

*sigh* OK, fine!

This is the current state of the second story of my house.

This right here will one day be my office.

Of course, it will be after it has walls....

and a ceiling.

You know, the nice thing about renovating an old farmhouse is that I have no latent aggression whatsoever.

If I ever feel the need to ring someone's neck, I just mosey on upstairs and start knocking down walls.

If anyone feels the need to do the same, come right on over. I won't even charge you for it.

It's just the kind of gal I am.

See that door at the end of the hallway there? It will eventually be gone, replaced by a full walk-through closet leading from my bedroom (on the right) to the bathroom (on the left).

This room right here will be the guest room. Where the wall was taken out will be a closet on one side, then the wall replaced on the rest (I think my uncle got a little carried away).

At least all the plaster is out here. I just have to rip the lathe out now.

Here's my bedroom again. There's still a lot of plaster in here.


This will be the bathroom. I plan on (for the first time in my life) having a nice, big, deep tub.

Those little combo shower/tubs annoy me. You can't fill them up enough to really have a nice soak. The water only covers half of you...what's the point of that?

So, seperate shower and a deep clawfoot tub will be in order here.

This picture below is where the door will be for my walk-though closet.

You can see it, right?


*tap, tap* Is this thing on?

This is the view from my bedroom window, which is why I chose this room as the master bedroom--a full view of the horse paddocks.

Why else?

Eventually these buildings will be painted to match the new shed further out, and of course any day now a second shed is being delivered and will be set out near that one. These older buildings up close (pump house, cellar, and smoke house) will also be roofed.

I can also see this right outside my bedroom.

The old windmill--right by the pump house. We could take it out, but I like it--it's historic (no one else around here still has one this close to the house) and I like to hang flower baskets from it in the summer.

It adds character, I think. The old hand pump is also below it and I plan on getting a new handle for it and painting it bright red.

I even plan on adding handrails for the stairs. That might come in handy in the middle of the night, right?

Look at all that mess.... The reason I'm posting all this now, is so that after March 4th I'll have something to compare our progress with. That's when the construction dumpster arrives.

It's only got to get better from here, right?

Before we get carried away, I thought I'd snap a photo of the new roof. The only thing original up there are the 2x4's. It has all new decking, new supports, new vents, and a new top.

Pretty slick, huh?
I thought so.

This is a picture looking into what will be my bedroom. I thought it looked kind of creepy.

I wonder if Ghost Hunters will show up soon?

Here's another look into the guest room (from the bathroom).

That actually used to be my room, when I lived here before. Of course back then it had carpet, walls and a ceiling.

Looks kinda different now.

What's fun is discovering all the stuff hiding within the layers of paneling (which is all gone now), wallpaper, and plaster.

I think this says "Alvin sleeps in." Who Alvin was and why someone decided to write on the wall about what a lazy guy he was, we'll never know.

Alvin apparently wrote on walls, too.

Being Lazy Alvin, he only got the first two letters done.

I love looking at the layers of old wallpaper. Some of it must have been kind of pretty.

Lots of flowery stuff--I'm sure the guys were thrilled about that.

Lots of ferns, too....

Now, this next picture is plain gross, but it shows exactly why we're stripping things down to the degree that we are.

MOLD!!! Ewwww.....
I think I'll sleep better knowing that stuff isn't growing in the walls anymore. Ick!

Not sure what this note was about.

8 ft? I understand writing measurements but this was really quite boldly written. Whoever wrote this, meant it. They weren't kidding around, Alvin.

This one is another mystery.

"M." "M" stands for "Mystery."

Here's the ceiling in the hallway. I tell you what, this is the nastiest part of the job. There is no easy way to get all this stuff down without pulling a lot of it on top of you.

Er, what I meant to say was, it's sooooo much FUN! You all need to come join in on all this fun. Whoopie!! I'll even provide the tools.

It's just the kind of gal I am.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Things My Horses Have Taught Me

1. It's not a good idea to try to force a 1200-pound horse into doing what I want. My species has opposable thumbs and has walked on the moon. Their species poops when they're scared. I think I (should) have an intellectual advantage.

2. Apparently fear can be a resourceful tool in the right circumstances. For example, it's completely understandable that a tree can indeed look like the Predator.



See the resemblance? It's uncanny. If that tree had actually been the Predator, you'd be thanking your horse right soon as you can get him stopped, that is.

3. A good buttscratch makes the world go 'round (and it's ok to knock someone over to get it).

4. If there is a hole in the fence, find it. Go through it. When someone wants you to go back whence you came, don't just run away. Flaunt the fact that you're faster then them. They appreciate the workout, no matter how much they're cussing.

5. Although I'm not sure I'd ever personally try it, apparently poop makes an excellent bed.

This applies doubly if you're white.

6. If you find something hanging on the fence (blanket, leadrope, halter, jacket, the Dead Sea Scrolls), it's fair game. The only rule is it must be destroyed beyond recognition.

7. The best time to pass gas is when someone is standing directly behind you.

8. In order to fully appreciate a mani/pedi, you must move around as much as possible at first, then stop, act calm, and slowly lean every bit of your weight on your manicurist. When the salon owner leans over in an attempt to assist, bite her butt.

9. It's perfectly fine to ignore basic commands and your own name, as long as you know what the grain door opening three miles away sounds like.

10. Blankets were made to be ripped. What else are you going to do with that 1972 Singer, four bobbins of mismatched hot pink thread and a bottle of Jack Daniels on a cold winter night?

At my horses' service,