Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy Horse; Happy Fall

Spring and summer happen so quickly, especially up north-- and there is so much to do and enjoy. Also, my Kids and I had an unexpected chance to spend time together for an extended period, so spent a lot of time doing things together.

So now the leaves are turning to beautiful fall colors, and the light has changed to accentuate them against the dark greens of mountains and pine.




I had a nice experience with Dreamport today. He wanted to get out of his stall & paddock area, so I brought him out to graze on the long, lush grass in the yard. My daughter brought her pony alongside. We did some groundwork & manners with them first.

Dream was in a frustrated mood. He was tense.

After a while, I had to return Dream to his and Ginger's pasture. But I went and opened the gates leading to one of the grazing pastures. Then I went up there, and for the first time, opened gates which connect two of the grazing pastures together.

My daughter and I walked the horses through, allowing them to think about the change and process this new information.

After a while, Dream just stood there-- I was standing on the other side of one of the newly opened gates, just watching him process and learn.

His eye became soft. He was peaceful.

Thank you.

Horses need space: especially Thoroughbreds- bred to run.


~ Happy Fall ~

www.mountainhorseusa.com

Monday, August 8, 2016

Drake & James

It has been a busy spring and summer...

this is how it usually goes in Vermont. There is plenty of computer time when one is snowed in to the gills, but once the warmer weather comes, I am pretty much gone.

Maybe next year I will be able to post more regularly as spring turns to summer-- birds, squirrels, chipmunks... horses. And flowers, trees and blueberries!

a nice surprise amongst the blueberries

Life gets busier as children grow into young adulthood. Their problems become more complicated. I don't try to solve their problems for them, but they do ask for support or advice sometimes.

I am headed to a one week sabbatical, taking care of a friend's pets and horses. She lives right next door to my Mother, in the Catskills. I am using the time to re-gear, as soon fall and then winter will be here.

It's been a busy, fun, active, and surprising spring; the days of summer have been wonderfully long.

Still, I have been blessed to move forward with my first publishable Children's Book! I am happy and excited about it. I love the story, and I love what the book can do (with the right illustrations) and I guess I just love that I love It and would want to read this book to my own young children.

I'll give more info as it develops: but it's a true story about a boy and a duck who heal, together.

I am under the mentorship of a terrific lady who writes and teaches writing as a professor. She directs our local Writer's Group, and her speciality is in Children's Literature, so I am doubly blessed, and very fortunate to have her guidance.

So far, the book is called Drake & James: a true story of healing

here is our Drake <3 





Saturday, April 16, 2016

Miraculous Pair

I am on a sojourn down to my Mother's house in the Catskills, NY. My daughter is getting to spend some quality time with the her grandmother and also with me.

My great-grandparents bought this land 100 years ago this year. It turned into a boardinghouse business, and now six generations have run across these fields.

The goldfinches are all turned yellow here.

pixabay.com

The birds are quite busy and loud in the yard. There are several feeders and a birdbath. I fondly remember helping my grandmother scoop black oil sunflower seeds out of their container under the cellar steps, to feed the birds every day. Now, my daughter gets to visit her grandmother here!

On the way to New York, we passed a cow field in Vermont where a heifer must have just stood after delivering her calf. We could see it lying wet and new, a little stunned in the sunny, warm grass. She picked a good day: our first real warmer one in weeks.


pixabay.com


I pulled the car to the shoulder, and my daughter and I went to gently try and observe without disturbing the pair. Momma cow turned to face us, a little alarmed- but we didn't look directly at or approach her. We were still a good fifty feet away, and stayed there, with the fence and bushes between us.

I know horse language, but have never had the opportunity to learn 'cow.' However, her initial reaction was universal: don't come near my baby.

After a few seconds, she settled back to taking care of the calf. She had already encouraged the new little one to its feet. She was licking the baby, cooing-mooing softly: it was so beautiful. Then she turned the baby around, and stepped forward so it could find her udders.

Seeing a baby cow drink milk for the first time is a sight I will never forget.

I was full of wonder-- my daughter and I decided to leave the pair alone, though. These ARE important moments, and we didn't want to intrude any more.

My daughter worried that we'd disrupted the heifer's time with her newborn, but I assured her that our witnessing that moment was a gift which we did not overuse.

I am so grateful to have been given the chance to share such a miracle on this special trip with my youngest. I love her good 'midwife' instincts, too!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Not Too Cold

Twenty degrees feels very different in early April-- compared to mid-February. 


The air has already been warmed a few times, and the frigid edge has been taken off. The horses are nonchalant about having spent a night at ten degrees.

It is so much easier to get going in the new light of spring!

It's still an astonishing novelty to greet us every morning.




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Changing Season

The wind has been blowing on and off for a few days. It appears to be from the south. Sitting inside at night you hear the terrific Whoom Who-Oooom of its deep howl. I always think about the animals at the barn when the wind is loud. For some reason, I enjoy its sound and like falling asleep to it.


Maybe it's a reminder how secure and blessed we are in our homes-- even a very old farmhouse like mine: it's made very solid. I am pretty sure houses are not made like this anymore, unless it's intentional.

A few sprinklings of light, glittery snow were breezing their way down into my backyard as I checked on the birds this morning. There have been several times when it is snowing in my backyard, which faces north, while the front of the house has no snowfall.

Bright flashes of color were winging their way past my window: blues, red, grey...soon the goldfinches will trade their winter olive...

pixabay.com


 for the bright, festive yellow.

The ground is bare and soft after warm days and rain this week. Everything around me is wearing the brown and tans of plants about to come alive. Mt. Mansfield in the distance is still topped with snow.

Winter lets go slowly and gently, its long tentacles reaching far into spring-- which yowls in, predictably changing everything. Winter is the old man; spring is the newborn.

I love them both for different reasons.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

~Shenanigans~

Happy St. Patrick's Day  


But this is the Pot O' Gold being concerned with around here:


Liquid Gold!
Pure Vermont Maple Syrup



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Light

It's snowing a peaceful, quiet, 'warm' snow of little flakes which either come straight down, blow to the right sideways or swirl against the house and windows. The snow squall feels like a last, desperate attempt at prolonging winter and at least making a show of it.

Yet already the light has changed as it slants across the sky first thing in the morning. Spring is here for animals and wary humans, even if it's before the Vernal Equinox on March 20 of 2016.

It's been an 'easy' winter. We could still get slammed with sub zero temperatures or three feet of snow in March. The supposition of an 'easy' winter, weather-wise, of 2015-2016, is still pure conjecture at this point.

But it's fun to think about.

The horses are beginning to shed their onerous winter coats. That happens mostly due to changes in the photoperiod light, and not so much the temperature. This time of year your horse will try to rub his face on your clothing.

We shouldn't let them, because it makes us 'less dominant' (or, one-down-on-the-totem-pole) to our equine friend. If I allow my horse a 'rub' (which really is a power-backrub for me, as well..) I am sure to "move his feet" afterward and basically, re-establish my prominence as 'his boss' in the pecking order.

It's been working well, so far--

There is more power in a horse's head and neck than in most humans' entire body. So for this reason, if a horse goes to rub his face on you as a particular habit, you could get thrown several feet, or into a wall (I know I would be). So my horse cannot rub his face unless he is invited, and never in bridle.

All these little rules which I try to instill as habits to keep us safe.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Happy Groans of Defrost

The earth is wet and warm. Rivulets of cool spring thaw run into rivers. The whole earth near us is groaning as it shakes off its frosty coat of ice and takes on the lighter jacket of late winter.



Inside their cells, the trees themselves are trading off their high sugar antifreeze concentration for greater cell balance, as they allow the defrosting water stored outside their cells all winter to permeate-- meanwhile, the sugar concentration which kept the live cells from freezing solid (thus, preventing death) is let go, and the natural balance of homeostasis via osmosis takes place.

This high sugar content now present outside the cells (as sap begins to flow in spring) is exactly what the sugar makers are after: maples are already tapped, and people are ready and waiting to collect and boil this once-a-year bounty. These maple tree farmers collect a precious commodity which only certain places in the world can produce. Once a year.

Inside the trees the birds are hopping about...their happy spring songs began about two weeks ago, announcing the break in the weather before we even felt it.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Raindance

I could never get tired of hearing rain pattering against the windows and beating against the ground. The warmer weather today is a welcomed relief from the last two days of double digit sub-zero temperatures, with those numbers doubling in actual coldness with wind chill factored in.



The birds and a red or a gray squirrel find a steady supply of black oil sunflower seed from me. I am sure to spread a bit on the ground every morning for the ground feeding Juncos and the furry little four legged friends.

We started overfeeding the horses a day before the cold moved in. By the time it was thirty below in wind chill, they were in good shape to face it. Each morning, they did not come off the hill near the barn to get their morning hay. Standing in the sunshine was more important than eating, which I take to be a good sign they'd had more than enough the night before.

Dream and Ginger, the two best horses ever

I could not figure out why my Thoroughbred kept coming over to me with a question this morning as I cleaned his stall. I had to laugh when I finally realized what was bothering him.

Normally, if he's in the stall with me, I hook a rope across the stall door while I clean. Today, I'd neglected the rope. "Should I go, Momma? Are we leaving-?"

Throughout the day, seeing the horses from the window over my kitchen sink or watching the birds helps me breathe and connect again with the existing moment.

I think it's like dancing. Listen inside yourself-- that still, small and quiet...humble voice.

The voice that would speak to a child or a person during their last days here on earth. I wish people would talk to each other with that voice more often.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Snow Glitter

I think my favorite snowfall is when the flakes are tiny and slowly waft down, as if they are in no hurry to get where they're going. It seems like being in a great big glitter snowglobe, especially if the sun glints off their frozen crystals.

Today's temperature is very warm and balmy feeling. There is no frost on my upstairs bedroom windows.



The windows are older and usually frost over on the storm glass. I have not minded waking up to this beautiful design on my window all winter long.

Sometimes other pictures can be seen in the frost. Jack Frost had his day at my house when pictures were seen and etched out on the windows for the younger children to run in and see in the morning.

Today, all the animals heave a big sigh and enjoy the break from the cold temperatures, and so do I.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Just a Passenger: The King's Breed

Today I rode a runaway Thoroughbred. Well, he thinks he ran away with me. Technically, he did. He was just very gentlemanly and kind about it. I am speaking of my horse friend, Dreamer.

My daughter and I brought our equines out to a field in front of the barn. It opens up to a nice hilltop, which leads down to a lower field.

First, my daughter and I did groundwork with the horses in rope halters. We had decided ahead of time that if all was going well, we would hop on the horses (helmets on) and just walk around the small field. The snow is only about 6" deep and crunchy with good footing.

When I got on Dreamport (Dreamer), he was not really sure how to read my signals from the rope halter. I will admit, I've never actually ridden him in one before. The reins attach to a knot under the chin. I forgot that I should have first done some one-rein riding with this set-up.

Dream wanted to explore. He did stop and respond for me in the rope halter, making turns, etc., but I could see his mind and his heart wanted to go to the rise at the top of the hill. So, I let him go. Therefore, in his mind, he was running away with me. At a walk.

When Dream got to the top of the rise, he just looked at the vast wasteland of white snow before him. I could sense his resignation: 'The snow is endless...there is no grass here, either.'

This is part of the hill. The lower field is along the Pines.
I let him survey, and could feel he wanted to proceed down the hill. It's easy to know when your horse wants to move. You are, after all, sitting atop his spine and back muscles. Our bodies register our thoughts long before our mind articulates them.

My daughter had caught up on her pony, so I suggested we dismount and lead the horses down. After first getting Dreamer's attention back on me, I dismounted. It was important that I at least end this runaway session with some leadership.

The remainder of our time was spent leading the horses in the lower field. They pawed the snow to graze a bit on the green blades underneath. There is a road alongside this field, but it's not very close by.

On the way back up the hill, to the upper field and the barn, Dream was quite sure he wanted to lead the way. He was not in a hurry to return home, but he did want to finish the adventure the way he'd started, which was leading his pony-friend, and not the other way around.

It may seem that our time was somehow a 'fail,' because we did not ride in circles in the field near the barn. Instead, we followed the horses a bit to see what was on their minds today. And who would not want to explore the snow-covered fields?

Changing plans and being flexible does not mean anything 'wrong' happened.

Ride the horse underneath you.



Thursday, January 14, 2016

Night Sounds

There is a steady snowfall today, from smaller flakes to big, medium sized fat ones. We are reaching the part of winter where there is snowfall every day.

Today is a warmer day. It's just above freezing, feels balmy- yet we still have snow, wet and heavy.

Its ping as it hits the new metal roof of the "pony porch" off the barn is very gentle and relaxing as I do my chores for the morning. I bet the horses never tire of the quiet outdoor sounds-- chick-a-dees, rain and snow...

...sometimes in winter the wind yowls loudly all night, and then I imagine the horses wish for some quiet.

I also think the sound of coyotes off in the distant (and sometimes, not so distant) mountains at night must be unsettling to prey animals such as the horse.

But that is more prevalent in summer, when our big Newfoundland is usually standing guard.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Snow on Ice

A thin film of snow over ice is about the slipperiest thing I've ever experienced. I usually decide to crunch along in the deeper snow alongside the path to the barn, rather than risk a tooth rattling fall in the ice. Even with four feet, the horses pick their way carefully on the frozen waves of mud in their pasture. I am glad they have new rubber mats in the barn and under the barn awning.

Today was about 20 degrees, but windy. It felt kind of arctic. Tiny flakes whirled down from the sky; they seemed more like shaved ice.

A grey squirrel was in the yard near the bird feeders again.

Hector the Newfoundland hardly shows a care to the temperature change. He sprawls motionless out on the hard frozen ground like he is sunbathing: belly up, head lolling back, all 4 feet in the air--until I try to snap a picture!




Sunday, January 10, 2016

January Thunder Storm

The morning brought the rain we were forecast and the relaxing sound of rain hitting the house roof.

The rain came down in heavy, windy gusts at the barn which were strangely peaceful.  Pulling hay apart and feeding horses unhurried gave me a chance to enjoy the fleeting calmness of this warm, comfortable weather.

The newly built "pony porch" did a good job keeping the moisture off the pony's back. She likes to stand outside the in & out box stall, instead of going into her own stall.

I'm back on my feet from holiday recuperation. I spoke with my friend in New York State yesterday, and have been in touch with my wonderful brother.

Later, my kids have wonderful evening discussions in the living room. The wood stove is tanking hot, and everyone gets the floor-- eventually. Politics, Religion, Science, Technology...IDEAS. The prime podium space is in front of the hearth. I am proud of how each is sure to be heard-- one way or the other!

We all stopped to listen when it started to thunder. Amazing! It's loud, beautiful, deep, rumbly reverberations are a surprise in January, and a perfect back-drop to a lively debate.

Lightening now, also...it's marvelous to have a thunder and lightening storm happening this time of year!

A nice reminder of the unpredictable.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Blue Ribbon of Hope

I woke up to huge flakes of snow swirling past my windows and driving into the yard. The snow is intermittent for a moment, and then the flakes change to smaller medium size mixed with tinier ones, falling medium to softly and not swirling as much: sometimes slow and more sparse, and sometimes driving like a mini-blizzard.

The sky is a thick low hanging blanket of grey. I do not expect this snowstorm to end anytime soon.

I saw a medium size gray squirrel at the feeders this morning. Maybe it is awake due to the warmer temperatures. We are due to have rain today, perhaps as part of the warmer 'January thaw' air.

The sky has opened now to show sparse clouds with white ones and blue sky over mountains south of me. It's stopped snowing, and rain may yet come!

I love the thin little patch of blue sky I see lying horizontally, with fluffy grey clouds to its left and thinner white ones stretched out on the right. It's inspiring-- it may only be visible for a moment before the clouds cover it, but it's a little pool of blue.



It feels like hope. Things are cloudy and stormy, and then before you know it, you get a little ray of clarity. It makes all the difference.

Hope is one of the most underrated necessities on earth, I believe!