Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer rhythms

Summer officially begins on the 21st, but I feel that we’re already into a summertime rhythm. This time last year we hadn’t been to our first horse show yet. This year, we’re showing less as handlers and we’re focusing almost solely on Legacy’s Renoir and all the marketing needs of a breeding stallion. I like horse shows and could go to one every weekend, but this big picture/long term view has its appeal as well. The energy that comes from bouncing our ideas off others – renowned trainers/handlers, breeding specialists, and other stallion owners — is refreshing. There are measured steps to take in successful stallion marketing; conditioning, training, showing and doing well, which create what our trainer calls [marketing] “hot buttons”, the breeding, settling mares, which is horse industry speak for “impregnating”, the resulting foals, advertising at the right junctures; all take time.

Another added bonus to being Renoir’s owners is that when he was a yearling he created quite a stir at the Scottsdale show by winning when he was supposed to be “just another pretty horse in the ring” with a handler who was young, Latin American and had never shown in the U.S. Renoir and Gil won first place and reserve champion ribbons at that show in 2003 and people are still talking about it. Many are also excited to see Renoir in the show ring again.

So, being less frantic about going to shows, we have time to settle into the pace of farm life. Oh, a friend who is in agri-business explained that while this is Auld Macdonald Farm we are not “farmers” but ranchers. I suppose I can agree with that, as we don’t plant/harvest anything. When I think of “ranch” I think of wide expanses and words like hacienda and the “the back 40” come to mind.

Before our housecat Tiger came to live with us, he was an indoor/outdoor cat in the city. Now he likes to sleep all day and go out at night during the warm weather months. Who doesn’t? The sky takes on the right cat-about-town tint at 9 p.m. and he begins to display departure behavior. I open the door and he pads out. Providing there’s no inclement weather Tiger’s night out ends at 5 a.m. when he meows at the dining room window, which is adjacent to our bed. He and I have fallen into this wee hours dance that coincides with me going potty. He meows, I get up and let him in, make a pit stop and we all curl up in bed with sleeping Ian, who remains dreamily oblivious.

We have 11 hens that lay between six and eight eggs daily. I did find the rooster John Wayne dead in a hidden corner of the coop. Sad, because he did not look poorly – well, other than the fact he was stiff as a board! We have not had the sickness on the farm this year that we suffered last, when we had days when as many as three chickens died in a single day. With that behind us, having these chickens that have been with us through the winter is really special. They are quite friendly, although not the jump-up-in-your-lap kind of friendly. They do come when I call them and I scatter seeds, peelings, and fruit cores daily. The weather has been so nice lately that we often leave the back door open and we’ve had curious feathered guests – sometimes leaving their calling cards.

Ian is between contracts right now [a new one begins late June] and he’s grooving with the kitchen project. The drywall is all up and taped, the countertop bases are built and very soon he’ll be able to install the ceramic tile. Once that’s done, the kitchen drawers, dishwasher and sink are next on the list!

Tomorrow, we leave Tina in charge while we take Lady, truck and trailer to the fairgrounds to watch Renoir show Wednesday morning and Thursday evening. Then late Thursday we will head to South Dakota and plan to return to the farm late Friday or early Saturday.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Happy June

Kisses is one month old today. She enjoys running in large loops in the grassy pasture under her mother’s watchful eye. Windy is actually a rather laid back mommy. Ian and I get to handle Kisses quite a bit, as does Tina when she does barn chores.

Today, I noticed that the rooster John Wayne is no longer with us. I thought I’d missed him yesterday, but made a concerted effort to locate him today. No rooster. We’ve got 11 hens and that’s it. I began collecting eggs daily again. The hens have done me the favor of laying eggs in one nest in the coop, so I don’t have to hunt for other nests. My Mom and younger brother Matthew came to visit on Friday. I sent Mom home with two dozen. Friend Marcia is bringing me several dozen cartons from her dad’s place in South Dakota. I’m always running out of cartons.

Yesterday, Ian and I hauled 15-year-old mare, Sax Fifth Avenue, to a farm in Buffalo for her to be bred this month to Sirius Trouble for a purebred Arabian foal in May 2008. Sax belongs to a friend and we are leasing her for the purpose of the 2008 foal. We like Sax very much. In fact, we own her three-year-old son Jay, who is making a 14-year-old girl very happy this summer as her 4-H project horse.

I’ve found a local woman who starts horses under saddle and have scheduled both Cairo and Whisper to go and work with her in August. She has no slots before that time – a good sign. These two are not slated for the show ring, but we do want them for trail riding. Sooner or later we would like to sell them to good homes and to do that it’s important that they be broke to ride.
I am hoping that sometime this summer we will set up a round pen and begin working on developing better working relationships with the horses we have here. Ian and I still want to go to classes in California at Monty Robert’s Flag Is Up Farm, but getting into the horse business has taken us on a bit of a detour. We’re also taking about hiring our own horse trainer in 2008 or 2009; someone who will train our horses here on the farm for show and come with a Rolodex of contacts that will help us to be successful in selling horses too.

The weather has been delightful here. There has been a nice balance of sunshine and rain. The lawn, gardens, pasture and fields are green and growing very well. Farmers are ready to cut their first hay crop. Knowing that we’d rather not run for hay as much as we did this past winter, we will be buying hay earlier and in more numbers (of bales) soon. Tina is cleaning out the hayloft so that we can use it for its intended purpose.

Our stallion Legacy’s Renoir will be showing at two shows held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul in mid-June. First, Renoir will show in an open halter class with a professional handler. If he does well in that class he will qualify to show at the regional championship show that follows the first show. The two shows run almost seamlessly. This is the first time Renoir has been shown since 2005, and we are curious to see how he does. We believe he will do very well.

There is other good news related to Renoir too. There are two mares that are in foal to him, due in April 2008. One of the mares, VG Elambra, we are leasing from her owner so the resulting purebred Arabian foal will be ours. We are planning to breed both of our Thoroughbred mares (Bentley and Missy) and a purebred Arabian mare Khatalina Bey to him in June for foals in May 2008.