Tuesday, September 29, 2015

still not riding but the farm chores roll on

My burned leg is healing steadily but I'm still wary of putting pressure on the skin until it's further along, so no riding has happened. We've had a lot of rain since last Thursday - very much needed - so at least I'm not missing perfect riding weather!

We needed to do some liming and reseeding of pastures this year so I stocked up on the fast-action pelleted lime along with winter rye and perennial fescue before the rain set in. We plotted how to work it in with the weather coming through. Dear husband did it all and for the most part the rain was just right - we had one good rain before putting out the lime, so the dry fields and the dust were nice and damp. The pelleted lime dissolved almost instantly and the seed went down the next day. We had very light drizzle along with that, so the seed got moist but not washed out, and then we had a break in the rain for a day, then more rain last night and today to water it down. 

I'm glad that's done!

The horses and donkeys are being stoic about being shut out of the entire front field and grass paddock, and about the rain itself. I think they've enjoyed rolling in the mud - it's been awhile!

Today I spent some time grooming Keil Bay. He's shedding his summer coat and followed me around asking for more brushing. I hope in another week the rain will let up, my healing will be complete, and he and I can get ourselves in shape for fall and winter work together. 

Next on the farm chore list: getting an estimate for a new barn roof. We're thinking metal with insulation. Any thoughts from anyone on preferences? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

my magical pony school and liminal space

Some of you have read the first two books in my middle grade Magical Pony School series. It's no secret where I got the idea for those books! I have my own magical pony school and one very special pony.

We play together in the dressage arena, the little man at liberty. He's a trickster in the beginning but as we keep going, the lines begin to blur. We connect. 

What happens is liminal space. 

In writing, in riding, in playing with magical ponies. In psychotherapy that utilizes the notion of depth psychology. 

Liminal space is where big change happens.

Thanks to the little man and to my husband for capturing a little of this magic on his camera!

From Wikipedia's liminality page:

Depth psychologyEdit

Jungians have often seen the individuation process of self-realisation as taking place within a liminal space. 'Individuation begins with a withdrawal from normal modes of socialisation, epitomized by the breakdown of the persona...liminality'.[92] Thus "what Turner's concept of social liminality does for status in society, Jung...does for the movement of the person through the life process of individuation".[93] Individuation can be seen as a "movement through liminal space and time, from disorientation to integration....What takes place in the dark phase of liminality is a process of breaking down...in the interest of "making whole" one's meaning, purpose and sense of relatedness once more'"[94] As an archetypal figure, "the trickster is a symbol of the liminal state itself, and of its permanent accessibility as a source of recreative power".[95]

But other depth psychologies speak of a similar process. Carl Rogers describes "the 'out-of-this-world' quality that many therapists have remarked upon, a sort of trance-like feeling in the relationship that client and therapist emerge from at the end of the hour, as if from a deep well or tunnel.[96] The French talk of how the anaytic setting 'opens/forges the "intermediate space," "excluded middle," or "between" that figures so importantly in Irigaray's writing".[97] Marion Milner claimed that "a temporal spatial frame also marks off the special kind of reality of a psycho-analytic session...the different kind of reality that is within it".[98]

Jungians however have perhaps been most explicit about the 'need to accord space, time and place for liminal feeling'[99] - as well about the associated dangers, 'two mistakes: we provide no ritual space at all in our lives...or we stay in it too long'.[100]Indeed, Jung's psychology has itself been described as 'a form of "permanent liminality" in which there is no need to return to social structure'.[101]

Sunday, September 13, 2015

what is the human's obsession with horses' manes?

This morning someone in a Facebook group posted a photo of her horse's gorgeous mane, thick and lovely, falling on both sides of his neck. She wondered if she should try to train it to one side and got many responses, some saying train it to the right. others train it to the left, pull it, thin it, some saying leave it alone.

I'm not a horse show person, really, so my focus when it comes to manes has to do with health and practicality. I've never pulled a mane or a tail and although I've braided for fun, it doesn't last more than a few minutes because I'm not willing to pull the braids tight enough to hold. I remember all too well the times in childhood when someone pulled my hair into a ponytail that was too tight and how crazy it made me. Ouch!

My habit with the November Hill herd is to give them what I call a "sport cut" once a year, generally in the fall once the flies have died out. I don't use electric clippers. I use a pair of scissors and I trim so the mane stands straight up, as evenly as I can get it. This gets the mane out of the way for the return to regular riding as the heat of summer leaves us, and allows me to see their muscling more easily. They all look very fancy and happy - I'm sure this has more to do with the change in weather than my trimming the manes - but it's easy to conflate it all into that one fall chore. 

By the next summer the mane has grown out and gives them protection against flies. 

The reasons given for training the mane to one side were interesting. Some said training to the right is a habit left from horses being used in warfare and the need to keep swords from tangling when mounting from the left.

Some quoted more contemporary "rules" - to the off side for shows, to the right for this discipline or to the left for that one. 

One person said the mane grows the way it wants to grow and why would anyone feel a need to change that? I lean toward this notion myself.

Keil Bay's mane tends to fall both ways and I love it that way.

I've read that if the mane goes one way and then the other along the neck, the place where it changes is a place where the neck is "out."

Today I read that the mane falls to the weaker shoulder and so if it's even on both sides that is evidence of a balanced horse.

Others said it falls to the dominant shoulder.

When I go to tack shops I marvel at the section devoted to manes and tails. All kinds of combs and thinning blades, rubber bands, thread, special devices to hold the mane so one person can braid it without a helper, sprays and shampoos and conditioners to make the mane shiny or soft or even to dye it the color someone wants it to be.

I have a good stiff brush, a special hair brush, and a small comb. Period. I discovered from years of grooming Salina, spending hours with her because she was retired from riding, so the grooming was my way of spending time with her, that a tail goes from average looking to stunning if you take about half an hour to thoroughly brush it from dock to ends, gently working out any tangles, and then brushing and brushing and brushing to pull the natural oils from the dock down into the longer hair. It takes a lot of effort and it takes a long time, but the result is the most wonderful, rich tail you've ever seen. 

The same goes for the mane. The conditioner is at the roots - you just have to take the time to brush that down to the ends. And the best part is they LOVE it. It's like our scalp massage.

This morning it's so cool outside, with a rolling breeze bringing in more cool air. It really does feel like fall. It's not time for manes to be trimmed back, not until the horse flies of August are gone, but it's getting closer. Until then, the manes fall where they will.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

lemons and lemonade and all that

Sometimes things just come in bunches, threes, my grandma and mom have always said, and we may be on our second set of three about now.

Dickens is still not home, though a neighbor called to tell me that she was at church on Sunday and after the sermon the minister held up one of our flyers and asked everyone to keep an eye out for Dickens and pray for his safe return. Even as someone who doesn't participate in organized religion I found that heartwarming and very sweet. It's been 10 days now and I find myself hoping but preparing. 

Saturday Cody started exhibiting the telltale signs of a hoof abscess and that's always worrisome until it starts to erupt. 

Yesterday I was in the garden planting more fall vegetables when I came upon a fire ant mound in one of my beds. I decided to use the boiling water approach since it was so close to the back door and the kettle on the stove. Husband boiled the water for me and set it down inside our little Corgi-proof garden fence. I carefully lifted it and then for some unknown reason lost my sense of caution as I marched forward, hot kettle in hand.

A big slosh of boiling water went into my left muck boot and I immediately put the kettle down, removed as quickly as I could the boot and sock, and grabbed the already-on hose to let the cool water wash over the burned area. It was painful and after 5 minutes of hosing I came inside and started researching. Honey seems to be the state of the art treatment now, and we had good local honey on hand. I let the burn dry on its own and then layered on the honey. The intense needly stinging stopped completely in about 20 minutes. The burn is slightly less than the size of my hand, and there is one small blistered area. Husband made a run to the store for non-stick dressing, and raided the horse supplies for some soft gauze wrap. Near bedtime I layered on more honey, wrapped it carefully, and this morning it looks better. Still a burn, and after letting it air I'll re-dress it for the day. 

After the burn and first aiding yesterday husband went out to put a new head on a muck rake. The old bolt and screw was not coming out of the old rake and somehow he cut his finger pretty badly. There was enough bleeding that we had to wash the deck! That pretty much put the end to Labor Day and chores!

But as the sun set I noticed Cody was out grazing, which means the abscess is progressing, and we watched a few episodes of X-Files and had a nice dinner. 

Today I've removed the dressing, aired the burn for a few hours, and I'm getting ready to wrap it up with more honey and go get a load of hay. Horses got to eat! 

And I got to heal - it looks like our highs at week's end are 80 for days in a row, which says Time To Ride to me!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Dickens update: a scare

Last night my husband got an email from someone who saw a flyer and who lives in a nearby neighborhood. He found a dead cat in his yard on Tuesday and moved it to the woods nearby on Wed. He said he couldn't say if it were Dickens or not but would be happy to show my husband where he had located the remains.

This morning my husband met the man but the cat's remains were no longer where he'd put them. He said there was definitely no collar on the cat he moved (a good sign since Dickens was wearing one) and that there has been a black and white cat hanging around his neighborhood for awhile and he thought maybe this was that cat - he said the one hanging around his neighborhood was definitely not Dickens.

My husband brought the only thing left from this mystery cat's remains - a few tufts of fur. It isn't the same kind of fur that Dickens has. So we feel fairly certain the deceased cat was NOT Dickens. 

But this evening marks a week since we have seen him. I am envisioning him holed up somewhere sleeping and safe and happy on his grand cat adventure. And hoping he'll head home soon. Last Friday night we had a very cool night and I can imagine him setting off to enjoy it. It got warm again since then but we have more cool weather rolling in late today so maybe that will send him home. 

I so appreciate the good thoughts everyone has sent to him and to us. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Dickens Come Home!

Dickens, our oldest resident feline on November Hill, didn't show up for breakfast on Saturday. A neighbor says she saw him that morning but he hasn't been spotted since.

It's Wednesday now. We've checked the local animal shelter and all neighbors have been notified. Dickens is very savvy and has gone AWOL a few times during his 10 years of life with us, so we are still hopeful but of course very worried.

Send some good thoughts his way if you will. I got home today from my writing residency and am hoping maybe I'll be a homing signal of sorts to lure him back.

The photo is Dickens taking a ride with me from the barn to the house last winter. He's a farm cat through and through. 

Dickens Edward Wickens - come home!!!