Thursday, September 01, 2011

september already? a few tidbits from August

Hard to believe it's already September and my hiatus from the internet is over. I admit, about two weeks in I started wondering why I would even come back. There is so much to do on November Hill on any given day I had no real time to miss blogging or Facebooking.

But a few things pulled me back and here I am.

In August we had an earthquake, the outer edge of a hurricane, a number of severe thunderstorms that involved many very close lightning strikes, more heat, and finally a cooling down.

We enjoyed the mourning dove couple's two dovelings who are now adolescents. The four of them hang out in the same areas each day and it's always a treat to see a new generation of birds come into their own.

The fall spiders are here and for the first time ever, one made it into the house and built a big beautiful web by a window. It relocated to the kitchen counter right by the stove, and then my husband relocated it to the back deck.

The charm of goldfinches have entertained me more than usual this year. They fuss when a storm rolls in. Even as lightning is striking and thunder is booming, they sit in the sweetgum tree and fuss fuss fuss. They fuss at the cats sitting on the front porch. Yesterday Muffine Eloise was on the porch rail lounging and at least six goldfinches were in the dogwood tree in full glory chattering away at her.

One evening when the sky grew dark and thunder/rain rolled in, I looked on the front porch and spotted a huge praying mantis standing on the porch rail, looking out over the front field, watching the storm.

We plugged in one of those Feliway gadgets upstairs and so far I am noticing the sisters laying serenely at the top of the stairs. I'm not sure what else it might be doing, but we had a cat marking war going on up there and I decided to give this a try. We'll see.

Out at the barn we had a very interesting incident that I'll be incorporating into my book. As soon as I do, I'll share that chapter here. As usual my equine herd keep me busy with all they have to teach and share.

The pony now has three young beginning riders coming each week and I was surprised by how much he seems to enjoy it. He has been the best pony ever, again, with each one. Cody has one rider coming once a week and I am completely impressed with his demeanor and the care he takes in his work. None of this crew have ever been used as "school" horses and I wasn't sure how this experiment would go. I'm proud that their trust and goodwill extends to young and beginning riders. And I'm thrilled the pony is having such a blast being an ambassador to a new generation of pony girls and boys.

Keil Bay took a turn yesterday and although he behaved with complete restraint, I was given the evil eye on and off the entire time. He clearly has no desire to teach anyone anything at this point in his life, and after slugging around quite literally glaring at me out of the corner of his eye, I hopped on when the rider left and he proceeded to do a quite lovely job of walk, trot, shoulder-in, leg yield, turns on the forehand, etc. His message was pretty clear.

We've done a few upgrades this past month. We brought in a small load of stone and bedded the hay tent. We replaced the very old and ugly electric fence tape at one end of the arena (we keep the tape there so we can take it down if needed to get big trucks in and out) - we decided to match the brown HorseGuard tape we have on most of the farm but instead of wood posts we covered the metal ones with their nifty brown covers. The end result is quite nice and we'll be continuing that in a few other places on the farm.

I have compost piles simmering, a few wood piles that need burning, and a lot more stone work to do.

We also have a new set of neighbors who are renting the horse farm down the lane. They moved in with two pony girls, three horses, a tiny pony, two goats, and several dogs and cats. There is now the daily sound of whinnying up and down our lane, and it's been fun hearing that.

There is more, but I'll save it for another post!  Hope all are well and that folks who were more directly in the path of Hurricane Irene are recovering power, roads, etc.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Life is busy, especially when you're on a farm. The new neighbors sound like a great addition to the neighborhood. The beginning riders must be having a wonderful time.

Keil is a funny boy who I think only likes his mama riding him. Unlike J.'s Mellon who has made himself officially retired. About two weeks ago I was untacking Blue and nosy Mellon came over to investigate the saddle. I remarked maybe she should try it on him, as she went to put it on his back he took off at a trot down the aisle and out of the barn. Not a chance he's ever putting a saddle on again!

billie said...

LOL about Mellon trotting off when offered the saddle!

I really thought I might get the evil eye from the pony, but he is clearly smart enough to know that tiny riders don't weigh much, can't really do all the physically demanding things the big girl can, and he gets lots of apples brought to him. It's not a bad gig, really, at least not the way we're doing it.

I am fairly obsessive as you can imagine about making it pleasant for him AND teaching these young riders things like squeeze gently, tap, etc. instead of KICK HIM HARDER - and they are all getting seat lessons first before having anything to do with the reins.

Fortunately we were blessed with very gentle young riders who are sponges for good information and technique.

Yesterday I saw the results of starting with the secure and balanced seat. One young rider learned to trot here with no reins and no stirrups. He did a bit of trot yesterday holding the reins and his hands were perfectly still.

It's fun seeing how things work when done for the sake of the horse and the long-term good of the rider instead of conveyor belt style.

Máire said...

Ben would be at one with Keil Bay. Nice to here that the pony is enjoying it. You have had an eventful August, that's for sure. Your weather is quite scary.

billie said...

Maire, Keil Bay is glad to have some company. :)

The earthquake was a total fluke - rarely happens here. But the hurricanes and tornados are definitely part of our annual weather ordeals - fortunately we have not had severe damage in many years. Around 15 years ago we had a big hurricane that came inland and did tremendous damage. We were w/o power for two weeks and w/o phone for even longer. There were so many trees down it took weeks for clearing of roads to happen. We did have hot water though so were able to bathe daily and the lack of AC was not as terrible given the ability to wash the sweat off each day!

ponymaid said...

billie - what a whirlwind is summer.I have much to say and no stenographer these days but was delighted to stop in here and feel that my second home is ticking along just fine.

billie said...

Sheaffer, of course YOU and all the folks who come by to visit me here are the primary reason I will never stop blogging! It is so good to hear from you.

Your second home is now nearly donkey proof. And I am sorry to have to say that. However! Redford had determined that if Rafer Johnson was to have an all-access pass to everywhere, so should he. And with all the new horses in the neighborhood, I decided it was time to implement our LRRP - Long Range Reconnaissance Plan - for keeping adventurous equines where they needed to be.

It also improved aesthetics, which I think you approve of, but mostly it has put a stop to donkeys traveling all over the farm regardless of closed gates!

I hope you are doing well. I check your blog daily and feel The Woman is completely out of control not to be providing you with your own assistant. You have followers! You have fans and admirers! We are all ready to revolt on your behalf!