Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Horsey summer

The Minnesota summer is flying by. Ian and I are enjoying the weather – lots of hot, humid, sunny days – but being in the country we are also very aware of the draught conditions. We drive by cornfields and look at the height and color of the stalks, we watch for the leaf curling, which indicates the plants need rain. We pray for rain and have gotten some recently. Of course, we don’t want just any rain, we need the slow moving systems that drench rather than flood. I mowed our lawn yesterday for the first time in several weeks. I don’t water the lawn, but do keep the flowerbeds and vegetable gardens well hydrated. Soon we will have tomatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, and three types of squash to enjoy. Next year we’ll plant a larger and better variety. Since our kitchen is not ready, it seems wasteful to bring in a huge bounty with no place to prepare it for eating and/or preserving for later enjoyment.

Speaking of the house … things are moving along. We continue to tackle the renovation ourselves and Ian’s made great strides with the kitchen. Its ready to have the ceramic tiles laid and the cabinets will be assembled (from IKEA) and installed, followed by the sink and appliances (double oven, refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher). The kitchen is completely wired and the canned lighting is installed and working. The decorative lights over the island and eat-in area will be installed later.

Once the kitchen is done I think the rest of the house will come together quickly. There is so much that goes into a kitchen and we started from bare walls with no insulation or drywall! The next area we’ll tackle is the upstairs, readying the new full bathroom and three bedrooms. Then we’ll relocate our bedroom and office upstairs (the latter is temporary) and replace and level the living room floor (like we did with the kitchen floor) and then install a new staircase. Somewhere along the line and before the snow flies we will install eight new casement windows, two sliding glass doors and two exterior doors.

The barn’s north wall also needs replacing and we’re hoping to have that done in the next several weeks. We’re not crazy enough to do that work ourselves. Once that’s done we will begin installing three new box stalls for the horses, which will give us a total of six in the main barn.

We are up to seven horses now. We have the two-year-old purebred Arabian geldings Cairo and Trouble, the eight-year-old Quarter horse mare Nutmeg, the purebred Arabian mare Windy (Cairo’s dam) and her National Show Horse foal Kiss, the two-year-old part-Arabian stud Whisper (he was born with only one testicle and needs a special castration operation at a vet hospital in October) and our latest acquisition Bentley, an 18-year-old registered Thoroughbred mare. We plan to breed Bentley and Nutmeg in February or March 2007 to purebred Arabians for foals in 2008. Windy is already bred to an Arabian and will deliver in May 2007.

Both Nutmeg and Trouble are at training centers. Nutmeg will return soon with new under-the-saddle manners. Trouble is on the Arabian horse show circuit in halter classes (Arabians are not ready to go under the saddle until they are three years of age). Both Trouble and I have taken lessons from Tony Steiner at his Genesis Training Center. We must have been pretty good students because on Saturday, August 5, we won a blue ribbon at a Class A Arabian horse show! The next day we won a Top 5 ribbon! Amazing! I haven’t shown horses since my teens and then it was always performance classes like Western Pleasure or over the fences in Hunter/Jumper classes. We’re going to a big horse show in late September at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and we may get in another show in Des Moines, Iowa in mid-September. The show season ends in November, but Ian and I want to take Trouble and Kiss to the big Arabian show in Scottsdale, Arizona February 16-25, 2007.

Once he is weaned Kiss will go to Tony’s this November for the express purpose of readying him to show in yearling halter classes beginning with Scottsdale. In November Trouble will be moved to a training center in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin so he can be started under the saddle. During his first 30 days there Trouble will be assessed to determine whether or not he should continue his under-the-saddle training to show as a performance horse in the 2007 show season or if he should continue only showing in halter classes because he may need to mature mentally for another year. Some horses just aren’t ready for the rigors of performance riding until they are four. We will know one way or the other before Christmas 2006. We expect Cairo will join Trouble and his half-brother Kiss at shows in 2007. Cairo has been in a growth spurt this season and looked quite gangly for most of the spring and summer. He’s beginning to pick up weight and may enter training at Tony’s in the spring. Cairo was on the show circuit as a yearling so he should come up to speed pretty quickly, plus now that Ian and I know more of the mechanics and we can begin refreshing his memory here on the Auld Macdonald Farm.


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