Monday, December 31, 2012

goodbye 2012, hello new year!

I went out this afternoon and had a ride with Keil Bay, who was in extremely good spirits because he got peppermints after each stage of the grooming/tacking up process, peppermints when we walked into the arena, peppermints at the mounting block, and one last peppermint after I mounted. I've never given him a treat from the saddle before and he was very impressed. A fun ringing out of 2012 for the Big Bay!

He was relaxed and happy and responsive, and although there are a lot of things I could say about the ride, those are the most important to me these days and so I'll leave it at that.

There's no better way to spend a day than with one's horse, and I'm glad I got to ride on this last day of the year.

Inside, we're making a special New Year's Eve meal, and I'm thinking about the year and all the scares we've had, as well as the two beloved family members we lost: Keats and Moomin.

Right now Salina is out in the back field with Keil Bay and the donkeys. She's moving well and enjoying being out with her boys. I'm letting her out some again with the big boys but not all at the same time, as they can get rowdy and she can't help herself - she joins in.

I'm grateful she feels good enough to boss the big boys, and grateful too that in the year we said goodbye to two special feline friends we are also saying hello and welcome to two new ones, Pixie and Pippin.

Happy New Year, all - I hope 2013 is good to all of us!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

newest November Hill Press project: Little Shoppe of Colors series!

My good friend and collaborator Dawn Wilson brilliantly illustrated the simple picture book idea I came up with a few years back and now, as of today, it's a book!

Go here if you'd like to see the product page - and hopefully you'll be intrigued enough to buy a copy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

winter solstice 2012

The wind was literally howling this solstice morning and a dust devil was whirling in the back yard. Which seemed fitting given the year we've all had. More than the usual number of things to leave behind in the darkness, many bright and wonderful things to look toward in the growing light.

The day brought many gifts.

When I went out to the barn to feed breakfast, I found a black mare covered in dried mud, which means not only did she roll like every other horse on this property did last night, she got up again! 

On cold windy days I love bringing the horses into the barn, loading them up with hay, and heating up water with my electric kettle to warm their water buckets. There is almost nothing sweeter than standing in the barn aisle, wind blocked with whatever windows and doors need closing, hearing them munch on hay. I did this twice on the solstice day - at breakfast, and then again at dinnertime, when they were all tucked in until the last feed when got their blankets on for the cold windy night and turned out where they could see the stars. 

We had a very beautiful solstice meal together. My daughter made a green salad with walnuts and other tidbits and a home-made balsamic dressing.

My son made falafels which were delicious.

And I baked up some Scotch eggs, which have become a family favorite.

We listened to music, read some poems, and listened to Robert Frost read his poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.

There are also two gifts that need some photos of introduction!

Meet Pixie and her brother Pippin!

 As you can imagine, these two kittens have brought a huge amount of joy to November Hill. We went to pick up Pixie last Sunday and when we brought the cat carrier in, Pippin ran into it and would not come out. So it was clear he had chosen US and what is the only thing better than a new kitten?

Two new kittens!

They were in my bedroom/bathroom area for two days with a gate. The third day they climbed the gate and have done a very nice job integrating with the Corgis and the adult cats. 

We are back to a full house here and I'm so glad. I know that Keats and Moomintroll approve.

Hope everyone had a winter solstice that brought its own gifts to you and yours... 

With thanks to dear husband for photographing these kitten-meows! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

december days

Yesterday afternoon I was out at the barn just enjoying the day - upper 40s and gray, one of my favorite kinds of early December days. The horses were all happy to have cool weather again, and Salina, although a bit wary of the iPad, grew accustomed to it after a few clicks of the camera shutter and allowed me to take a nice picture.

A few minutes earlier when I tried to take one of Keil Bay, he snorted and left the vicinity!

Salina is doing pretty well. Her abscess is visible and slow to emerge, but it's drained enough that she's moving okay on that hoof. She's eating voraciously, wanting time with her herd, and generally seems to feel good. A couple of days ago I was cleaning and refilling water tubs and she walked up and clearly requested that I hose her hoof. She stood there for 15 minutes or so, licking and chewing when I aimed the water at the abscess site, and pawing if I took the hose away. Periodically she would lower her nose to the hoof and smell it, as if she were checking to see if the water was helping it burst out. I'm in awe of how attuned my horses are to their bodies and how much they know about getting themselves better. 

Last night they all had blankets on because it was below 40 and raining. We've had a long dry spell recently, so the rain is welcome, but I prefer it to rain during the daylight hours so it's not quite so cold. In any case, they all got blanketed and when I woke up and looked outside this morning there they all were, adding some bright colors to the winter landscape.

In a few days I should have some photos to share of a new family member coming to join us on November Hill. It's been a year with some stressful days, the loss of Keats and Moomin, and when a friend posted recently that several abandoned kittens needed homes, one of the pictures called out to me. It was such a clear call, I knew it was time. We'll wind down 2012 welcoming this litle kit-meow girl into the family.

My teens reminded me that I had said recently that I couldn't bring any new cats in because it was so hard to say goodbye when they leave us. And that was true when I said it. But thankfully that place of grief passes and we become able to let more love in. Which I think is because of how much love they give to us while they're here. And even after they're gone. I felt both Keats and Moomin yesterday, as the kitten in her photo called out to me. They said it was time. 

Heading out to feed breakfast tubs and take blankets off and enjoy this December day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

a better day

Yesterday Salina didn't whinny for her breakfast tub. Keil Bay was singing an aria for his, and I noted out loud that I missed hearing Salina's response. About the time I said it, I came out of the feed room. She had come to her stall door, was craning her head way out and around so she could get her good eye on me, and she whinnied. That made me feel so much better!

Today she is back to whinnying for her meals and she was a bit brighter overall than yesterday. Although I'm not thrilled with the gnat population blooming with this warm weather, I'm glad it happened when it did because it seems to be good for Salina.

Cody went in with Salina this morning so the donkeys could take a break in the field. They took full advantage of their time and ran like mad up and down the front field while the pony grazed. Keil was annoyed that I let Cody over to the barnyard side of the barn - he refused to go out and kept hoping he would get his turn. Which he did, after lunch.

I groomed Keil Bay earlier today and cleaned up his sheepskin pad so that later in the afternoon I could go out and ride without getting too caught up in the preparation part.

He was a little bit difficult in between the warm-up and the more intensive riding part - daughter came in with Cody and Keil Bay was pulling toward them, not really listening. I gave him a fair warning and told him I was getting ready to get tough if he persisted. I had to get tough two times and then he woke up, really woke up, and was immediately responding to my thinking the aids. Very very nice ride with some powerhouse trotting. I don't like getting tough with Keil Bay (translated, that means I used the whip two times with more energy than simply tapping), and I try hard to listen if/when there is something wrong and he's telling me with his behavior. His immediate surge of energy and compliance tells me he was slugging and just not in high gear yet. Sometimes I do have to ask for that with enough energy that he takes the question seriously.

We rode right up to the sunset, which was beautiful, and he got his usual snack at the feed room door. A good day starts and ends with the muzzle of a horse in your hand, and I am lucky that most of mine start and end that way.

Monday, December 03, 2012

we're hanging in there and PONY FUN!!

Salina appears to have an abscess - she's eating, moving, doing all the things she needs to do. We're hoping the abscess blows quickly and then we'll look at the pentosan injections Calm, Forward, Straight recommended as a possible treatment for the arthritic knees. It's worth a try!

Otherwise, it is 70+ degrees here right now and we're putting up the Christmas tree. Crazy!

But not as crazy fun as this girl and her pony are having. This made me laugh out loud and I hope it does you too. Pure joy of life here. We all need some of this!