The Word of the Day is Leisure

Hello friends!

It has been one year (and a few days) since my fall off Ro that tore the ligament in my elbow, cracked a couple ribs, and ultimately left me with a pretty good concussion. I’ll remind you all that this fall was entirely and completely my fault, I made poor choices and acted before thinking things through. We got away lucky, coulda ended up so much worse.

Why am I bringing this up today? Well, because this week was fear facing week. I knew we were working on our solid foundations and we were working really well together. I also knew that with her sore hoof the last couple weeks that she was bored beyond belief of schooling the walk gently instead of working on new skills. So it felt like an appropriate time to try heading out into nature again. 

We are taking it super slow, because both Ro and I have a new set of nerves around leaving the arena. But we need to face the music and get out there if we are going to move on. And we have. 

Breakfast on the back porch means horse spotting

Mostly we are just hanging around the property as I haven’t gotten permission from the neighbors to ride on their land yet. I try to ask every year. I know a lot of people don’t because the roads are considered shared, but it’s still theirs and worth respecting. I just haven’t seen them out and about yet and haven’t made a sweet to justify walking up to their house and knocking on their door, ya know?

Ro has been a total trooper but I can tell she’s nervous and feeding off my energy, whereas previously she liked being out and about. I feel so bad that fall wracked her confidence too. It shouldn’t surprise me though, she worried about me so much after the fall that she inadvertently made some farm chores harder. She’s an incredibly kind hearted little mare.

I think our kohlrabi might be just about ready for the first harvest. At least, that’s what Google says. Jury’s out, because I haven’t ever grown it so I haven’t a clue what to expect. I also have never cooked it so if you have kohlrabi recipes, please share them with me. Otherwise the plan is to roast it similarly to potatoes. Hoping that works.

We also have some very happy potatoes, another crop I haven’t tried before. I think they are just about ready, maybe another week just to put some weight on them. I was walking by today on my way to the barn and I noticed a fully grown potato just sitting there next to the plants. Kinda looks like it had gotten washed away from its parents and was just waiting to be found. I was quite excited to see it, although I will admit I am not sure what to cook with a single yellow potato haha. 

My lone, first potato

Had an absolutely awesome birthday last week. Twenty six years around the sun, but i definitely still feel like a dumb teenager most of the time. I definitely don’t have it very together yet, despite serious attempts. But it was exactly the kind of relaxing birthday I had wanted. Slept in until about 6 am, lazily went down to the barn and had lots of fun with the girls, then had a lovely breakfast on the back porch while the dogs played. See, I had taken a few days off for my birthday. I’ve never done that, never bothered to take much of any time off unless I needed to help friends or family. I rarely schedule “lazy days”. But it has been so pleasant and made for such a warm and special birthday. It’s also why I am just getting around to writing about it now. My family picked up a yummy snickers flavored cake and they picked some truly thoughtful gifts. I told them not to worry about it, but they always manage to find the most heartfelt things. This year my parents picked up a couple things for my room (I’ve been working on it, a story for another post) that they knew I probably wouldn’t prioritize for myself and my brother got me some cute video game themed notions. Will always be a cozy video game nerd, with a soft spot for stuffed animals. I know, I know, it’s not the most adult thing ever, but I think I have officially stopped caring if I look immature, if my space makes me happy and is a nice retreat, who cares, right? We should all be able to indulge in our interests a little, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, why should it matter? Very grateful to have a family that understands that and doesn’t judge me about my stuffed animals or video games or anything else for that matter.

Anyways, I digress, and I need to go check the water trough (I’m refilling it), so….

Until we chat again my friends!

Makin’ and Takin’ Calls

Hello friends!

Well, we finally got the new Farrier out and he did a pretty good job. I was really worried because so many people in the horse world can grow callous and harsh and my girls so look forward to Farrier day that I really didn’t want to ruin that. But they needed trims and I just can’t get my trailer pulled together safely enough to haul up to our regular Farrier for now. He totally understood too and was such a sweetheart about the whole thing. I’m really hoping to keep him as my friend l even if for now I can’t keep him as my farrier.

The girls have sore feet now, which worries me, but it makes sense when you think about how long their hooves had grown in the time it took me to sort out this Farrier stuff, and how much trimming he really had to do. I worry though the soreness is due to the angles being potentially off, or nerves being accidentally hit, which are very unfun for the horse and also can cause longer standing issues if not addressed. I’m definitely keeping my eye on it, because if that’s the case I need to chat with the new Farrier and give him a chance to make it right at the next trim. But it could all be general soreness too, and I’m sure it’s that, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Nellie Looking for some cookies while I cleaned the feed I spilled

We’ve changed up the way on-call works at my company, and it’s become a bit of a thing now. Whereas it used to be much more casual, there’s a lot more structure, rules and consequences now. Makes it much more complicated. 

Used to be, you were expected to hang around if you put out new code. And that’s just the general etiquette. But a lot of people don’t follow through on that, or others will push your code out for you if they think it’s done enough, so, couple that with the volatility of an online real time system, and we have to have an on call system. Unfortunately we weren’t so much asked as told and weren’t so much rewarded for participating as punished for asking for grace while we worked it out. It was a bad launch for sure. And, it meant modifying a lot of my life because I had to make sure I had someone out with me when I worked the girls because we are supposed to have a 5-10 minute max response time and we are never supposed to be away from wifi. This also essentially houselocked me as in rural communities finding business wifi that’s shared is highly unusual. Needless to say, I’ve had to get creative. Luckily it’s only about a week a month. So hopefully we will get used to it. 

It made me super nervous this time with the Farrier because technically I am not supposed to make any appointments while on call (and my boss specifically called me and one other dev out because we have hobbies, like horses, that require some extra “teardown” and sometimes specialty appointments midday, so I knew I couldn’t ask someone to cover.) But the girls needed their feet done so I made the closest appointment I could, my on call week, and crossed my fingers. Luckily I also have a super supportive family who offered to jump in if I got a call. Luckily, we managed to sneak through with no issues. I actually got extremely lucky and only had 1 major and 1 minor incident, so I can’t complain too much at all. 

Whatcha doin’ down there, Mom?

It was also kinda funny, as I have a unique ringtone set up for our on call numbers, the animals on the farm learned pretty quickly what that means. The horses pretty much just stand down on whatever we were doing and wait for my dad to come get them untacked and cooled out (I make sure they are at a safe point, or I wait for someone to come grab them for me, they aren’t left alone saddled or tied or blazing hot or anything like that, and i’ve shown my dad exactly what to do in various situations to make sure they are cooled out enough) and the dogs all just make the pilgrimage to my office and lay there patiently until they’ve decided I’m not anxious anymore. It’s actually a cute little system they devised.

Anyways, I’m done complaining about work, unfortunately I don’t have much to share otherwise because I was a little chained to my desk and I haven’t quite worked out how far I can push the boundaries on this on-call thing. But hopefully it’ll get to be routine and won’t be such a thing always.

Until we chat again my friends.

Just Workin’

Hello friends!

We had a very magical moment on the farm recently! Junebug had a solo ride with Ro! What a wonderful moment for all involved! June was so proud of herself, as she should be, because she had to be incredibly brave and she had to remember everything she had learned. She had to convince Ro that she was confident and capable enough to be in charge on her own. It’s hard to convince any horse of your skills when you’re just learning, but especially a mare. Especially a full sized mare when you’re just a bit of a thing riding in buddy stirrups. And especially when you’re a little nervous because your big cousin has always been there to catch you and now she’s half way across the arena (I’d have made tracks though, and I still had the lead rope in hand, just in case). Plus there’s just a lot of moving parts to riding and even when you have been riding for a long while, it can be easy to let the frustration bubble up if you miss a cue or can’t achieve what you hoped. Sometimes it feels almost like ballet or something, a constant practice towards unattainable perfection, something I still have to grapple with. Also, horses are living creatures with their own opinions and worldviews and sometimes you can do everything right and still “fail” because it’s a partnership that takes 200% (pretty sure there’s a star trek quote in there somewhere, oh well). Ro loves working with the little ones, and she takes it very seriously, but she will see exactly how far she can push an envelope, and June got a small taste of the stubbornness only a mare can produce. It’s the stuff of legends.

A rare mare share! The girls sharing one of the mineral licks!

I was told an old cowboy saying once “you can tell a gelding, you can ask a stallion, but you have to discuss it with a mare”. I think that fits Ro pretty well. She’s rarely truly naughty, but sometimes she would rather know “why” than just agree. June had to answer the “why do I have to listen to you instead of my mom” question a lot as well as the “what happens if I just refuse to walk on”. June handled it like a seasoned pro, and when both horse and rider got a little more serious than I liked, we hopped off to go practice other things.

I’ve had to laugh this week, as the most stereotypical, the-universe-said-no thing happened. So, I really should drain, clean and refill my stock tank. I like to do it in the summertime, when it’s hot enough that the inevitable, giant mess I make evaporates quickly. This year, since sometime in April, my auto waterer was leaking like a sieve and would flood out the corral if left on (a bad trait for an auto waterer, it has but one job). I’ve had to manually check and turn on the water several times a day, which is no big deal really, but planned on replacing it because I don’t want something to ever come up and leave the girls low on water, ya know? Anyways, I figured, since it floods out all the time anyway, I’d just leave the auto waterer on, let it flood out in the 100+ degree weather, it would cycle the water out, I could just suck it up and do the cleaning when the water was overflowing, and it would sorta save me having to manually drain and refill. I’m sure you see where this is going…. It stopped leaking. Works fine now. Has worked fine for days. I’m not complaining, they aren’t necessarily cheap to replace, but like, really? It’s just confusing. Oh well.

I also put up the pool noodles on the metal gates. It’s the tackiest looking thing, duct taping pool noodles to your fencing, but I prefer to not scorch my hand every time I wanna go through the gate. Plus with little ones I really need to up the safety factor around those things, because a burnt hand is annoying to me, but could be a whole day ruined for a little one. This year, instead of full sized noodles, the dollar tree was carrying slightly skinnier ones. I thought this was going to be a problem but it actually worked out better as the noodles had a stronger grasp on the fence making them easier to install. I had hoped to get green duct tape, but couldn’t find any easily accessible this year, so teal it is. Learn from my mistakes here, don’t zip tie them to the fence. Yes I’m sure the duct tape is going to melt and I’ll probably have to saw the pool noodles off at the end of summer, but I had to do that with the zip ties too, plus contend with the mares spinning the noodles and then cutting themselves on the little end bits, they weren’t as secure, and if you move them too much through day to day use, the zip ties will saw their way through the noodles all on their own. Trust me, find another solution. And then share it with me. 

Alright-y, well that’s the news of the farm, thanks for hanging out for another week. 

Until we chat again my friends

Squishing Ponies

Hello friends!

In a happy turn, it looks like some of the garden that we thought was a goner is still with us! Some of our kohlrabi has come back, our potatoes are on their way, and maybe, just maybe the squash is holding its own. Pretty exciting considering the hard battle it had to fight. 

We’ve had a lot of little things to fix and figure out on the farm lately. We have a sticky valve problem in the sprinklers system which means no matter what your intentions are, you are watering the backyard. It’s also a little hectic because the particular zone that wants to always be stuck open waters the garden path and the driveway, which basically means if you are trying to get down to the rest of the farm, ya know, maybe you want to go to the barn, you are going to get wet. Really really wet.

Super fun things happened this week as well! My little cousin is coming out to ride again, and that always brings so much joy to the farm. 

We goofed a little in that we had planned on her riding after I got off work, and the universe planned on that being the first day to climb above 95 degrees. It was unfortunately very very warm, so rider, horse, and yours truly all melted a little. It was not supposed to do that according to the forecast. I broke a couple of my working horses rules to pull that one off, but since it’s not actually terribly difficult work for Ro at this stage we were able to fudge it a little. 

But we had so much fun anyway. Lots of smiles and giggles and high fives. She’s a little taller now, so her cues are starting to be recognized. Ro still ignores them in favor of listening to me, but at least when I say “squish your pony and cluck” we are squishing actual pony, and not just saddle leather. When I help her make the cue with her leg, we can actually feel Ro react, moving gently away, and that was an aha moment for sure. Soon she’ll be able to do it all on her own.

(Squish the pony is a very silly alternative to telling someone to kick, because as my riders get older it’s easier to teach them to escalate their asking methods to meet the pony’s needs, than to deescalate. Squishing the pony requires a constant, firm but not sharp pressure, and when the pony responds, is a very fair, clean cue with a simple end.)

She’s also got a lot more confidence in herself and her actions, which made for a much more interactive ride. She was able to let go of the horn more and use her reins, and she was able to raise her little voice and ask Ro to whoa. She even asked me if I could mark her reins so she could remember where her hands go (little hands have to put down the reins a lot in order to do other things). I was super proud of her for advocating for herself.

I promised her that soon she would be getting her own official, certified riding helmet and a set of safe boots. She’s so so so excited. As she’s working with a new found confidence, I really want her to be safe while riding. Injuries are absolutely inevitable, if she’s lucky she’ll never have more than a bruised ego and some squished toes maybe, but more than likely she will have a fall or two, pull or strain a muscle, scrape a knee, hopefully nothing worse. But a correct helmet and boots will just be one step in the right direction for ensuring she walks away from a dust up with nothing but a good story. So, one Saturday soon, when I can get some time, we will be heading to the tack store, which is just incredibly dangerous for my wallet.

I am also spending some horse focused money on finally getting the trailer up to snuff. It’s been the project that just keeps getting pushed back but the problem now exists that if I want to keep my current farrier, I need to travel to his place for the foreseeable future. He no-showed our last appointment and has been having a generally hard time the last little while, so I don’t mind making his life easier, but it’s also another project I really didn’t need on my plate. It’ll be fine though, realistically it’s the kick in the tail I need, what if I have to trailer to the vet? Or pick up an unexpected animal? Or wanna go trail riding in my childhood happy place? It’s time to get the trailer functional and the girls retrained.

This was simply too cute to not share even though it has nothing to do with the post

There’s always something that needs doing on a farm anyway, might as well be a trailer restore.

Until we chat again my friends.


Hello friends!

The fiddle festival was in town last week! I had so so so much fun! I always love that little festival each year, love the camaraderie in the air, the music, the sunshine, and the inherent nostalgia for a different time. Love the visitors enjoying a town that’s close to my heart, the excitement from the shop owners and residents, and the busyness of main Street. The town really comes alive for those few days.

This year I was able to enjoy the festival a little more than I have in a while, even if it was the smallest version of the festival yet. I didn’t end up in charge, or helping much at all, with the float for our local charity, and while I missed being involved more in the planning and building, it was a much needed change to just enjoy everything as a tourist. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, if you are tired of living where you do, try playing tourist for a day or two and see if you can restore a little of that goodwill, at least temporarily. Everywhere I’ve lived that advice has worked, especially when I am especially fed up with the day to day.

Thursday I went into town to soak up some of the atmosphere on our main street. Our main street is actually called state street, and main street more or less just connects state street to the highway. State street has its ups and downs, right now a lot of the little mom and pop stores have had to close up, and when the grocery store collapsed a few years ago and had to be rebuilt, they chose to leave state street and move out to the highway for a bigger building and lot. It was a smart move for them but a bit of a rough one for the smaller businesses on state who enjoyed the impulse stop business of customers on the way to grocery shop.

Nonetheless it was light and happy all up and down the street, and its neighbors, on Thursday. First stop was the second hand bookstore, or course, where I managed to spend so much money it was a little silly. But I love to support local businesses and I really love old books so, win win, ya know? I got so many fun titles, my intention had been to pick up a couple Agatha Christie titles, because while I love my kindle for some things, mystery novels sometimes need to be physical. You need the dusty smell of the old book, the well loved pages, the slightly damaged cover where someone clearly clutched it too hard while reading… these all add to the perfect mystery book. And let me tell you, I found some great examples. I’m So excited to read them. 

The Nancy Drew books were for my collection, the Evanovich was a book my mom read and loved, and the Marsh book was suggested to me because I love Agatha Christie! Let’s not talk about my clear lack of self control displayed on the right.

Then we went to a music store, focusing primarily on stringed instruments used in bluegrass and folk styles, but they also carry a few other things. My brother fell in love with some electric drums, and to be honest, if I can swing it, I might know what to save for his Christmas gift (don’t worry, he doesn’t read this blog). I wanted to ask about mandolins, as I’d really love to learn in my theoretical free time (the same theoretical free time I’d love to use to read more, learn languages, reintroduce myself to piano, etc) but some actual, legitimate musicians came in around that time and I opted to step back, since there was clearly a sale to be made there whereas I was just information gathering. Also, I live here, so I can go back whenever, no biggie. Of course no tourist day is complete without stopping by the candy shoppe, which also serves lunch and snacks. I got a soft pretzel with cheese, which I haven’t had in a while, and very much enjoyed the snack.

Finally we moved onto the festival grounds themselves after meeting up with a few of my extended family members, and while there were some cool things (I purchased some freeze dried candy, which I had never seen, taffy and skittles, and it is a new obsession), unfortunately as of late the festival itself has been slowly declining. I take some comfort in knowing it’s done this before, and comes back better than ever, but my love for this festival, and this town, makes me want to get involved and try to help fix it up. Unfortunately, anyone who’s dealt with small town politics knows why that’s a very daunting, possibly unattainable, goal.

But don’t worry, we still listened to the music and walked through the small festivities before scaring the pants off the workers at our local pizza joint. Twenty two people in a party is a lot for a Thursday evening. 

I sorta got so wrapped up in playing tourist I forgot to take photos of the festivities… Sorry about that.

The parade was on Saturday and, like I said, while it felt very weird to not be involved, it was so much fun to see the parade for the first time in years as a spectator. It was a short little parade this year, which makes sense with the smaller feel of the festival all together this year, but the turnout was big. It was so fun cheering on the charity and some of my family from the sidelines, as well as getting to see all the lovely participants. Lots of local Pageant Royalty, lots of horses, I was super happy to see the local 4-H participating as they had a bit of a rough patch. I got to reinstate my tradition of getting a fancy drink for the parade, usually I try to get something uniquely fiddle-y if I can, this year I tried a mint latte from the ever popular candy store. While we waited we also hunted down a small pawn shop that was new to me, and saw some lovely vintage jewelry.

All in all it was just a lovely time, got to reconnect with my town, unplug and get away from the normal, and see some family. I definitely need to take my own advice more often and go play tourist. My family often does, and I always “have to work” but this was a good reminder that work doesn’t trump everything.
Until we fiddle again my friends!