Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hunter's moon

We’ve been very industrious lately. On Wednesday, we weaned two foals – Clifford and Kisses. Clifford and Mona recently arrived from South Dakota. Cliffy is a Half Arabian, as his sire is a palomino-colored American Saddlebred [Mona is a purebred Arabian] and because of this Cliffy should get quite tall. Kisses and Cliffy were both born in May; her at the beginning of the month, him, Memorial Day weekend. Usually, weaning is done at four months of age; some even do it as early as three months. We’re a wee bit behind, but I wanted Kisses to have a pal to keep her company. Happily, she and Cliffy have bonded nicely.

Ian has been working on the main floor. He’s got almost the entire 14 x 23 foot area framed with 2 x 10s lag bolted to the oak beams. He will install joist hangers and new joists soon. All of the old joists are now out. He and I removed that last four on Friday afternoon using a saws-all. That cuts through most anything like butter. Once the new joist grid is in place, Ian will put in a vapor barrier and some insulation between the basement, crawl space dirt and the new floor. There’s also an in-floor heating system to install. Then the sub-flooring gets screwed down and the cement board follows, making it ready for the ceramic tile. We expect to move back into the house as soon as the grout seal dries.

Donna burns wood in her fireplace and came with her chainsaw to whittle away at the huge ash tree we had dropped some 18 months ago. Its down to the main trunk now and I’m sure what she took will burn very well. She and I consulted together on how the two apple trees should be cut back and then she got to work. Branches from other trees were trimmed too. On Saturday morning, she and her father came and dropped three trees in the row of conifers that line our eastern border. Donna took wood from two and left the dead pine for me to cut up, using our new, yet-to-be-used electric chainsaw. I’m going to buy chain oil today so I can give it a go.

On Tuesday, the dirt road that passes in front of our house, running east to west, will be widened to double its size to allow for construction machines to get back to the property to our west where new neighbors are building a house in the woods. The new neighbors bought an easement from Donna, which she’s still grumbling about because it will change things that she’s accustomed to doing … like extending her pasture area by running electric fence across the road allowing the horses to feed on the long ditch grass. Ah, well, ‘change goin come.’ We’ll lose a stand of trees that shade our mailboxes and supposedly act as a snow break for our driveway, but there’s nothing we can do about it, as that stand is not ours. We’ll battle whatever snow drifts in by getting it plowed.

Yesterday, we hooked up the trailer and went to a friend’s home in Wisconsin to pick up an Arabian mare we’re leasing from her. Sometimes I feel turtle-like as we travel down the road, house on our back. I work at the post office Saturday mornings, so by the time we reached Kathy’s two hours later we were happy for her offer of lunch [yummy homemade chow mein, brown rice, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies plus lemon meringue pie]. After a lovely visit, we loaded 12-year-old VG Antazia and headed home. Taza was well received into the herd. She will cross nicely with Legacys Renoir.

This last moon cycle has been extraordinary. It has been so large as it rises through the trees, lighting the fields of yet-to-be harvested corn, rising soft amber yellow at the horizon to a pearly white overhead. This is the first year I’ve heard the term ‘hunter’s moon.’ I’d always described these fat risings as harvest moons, but learned those come earlier in September. Indeed, it is the hunting season now – grouse, pheasant, deer – through November. Last night, Ian and I burned piles of limbs and stood together watching the fire and the moonrise.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Horse and house update

Yesterday, Ian and I went to southeastern South Dakota and picked up a mare and foal; MAF Last Dance (Mona) and “Clifford.” Mona is a 10-year-old purebred Arabian broodmare. Clifford is her 2007 Half Arabian foal born Memorial Day weekend. Both mama and baby are chestnut. His sire is palomino American Saddlebred stallion Goldmount Royal Design. Mona is bred back to “Roy” for a 2008 foal too. Clifford’s registered name will be Royals Red Ferrari. We bought these two from Bill & Tammy of Whispering Pines Arabians. Mona’s bloodlines are exceptional and she will cross well with Renoir.

Three-year-old geldings Whisper and Cairo are back from the trainer and are ready to ride. They are young and still need some kinks to be worked out but the more ride time they get the more comfortable they will be on the trail with a rider. Both are advertised for sale and I have someone who is interested in Whisper.

Ian is working in the living room and dining room floor. The area that is being replaced is 14 feet wide and 23 feet long. The floor in the northwest corner has settled a good three inches, so the floor replacement will bring that level. Right now it’s a combination dirt pit and chasm, but so was the kitchen when w replaced that floor Christmas 2005.

In the meantime we continue to live in our living quarters horse trailer. It’s cozy, with its own propane furnace. We’re parked next to the house and hook up to its electricity, water, Internet, satellite TV and phone and use the laundry, bathroom, etc. as needed. Sometimes I forget what is in which refrigerator, but after doing this for several months now those things don’t happen too often anymore.

This coming weekend cousin Brenda is coming up to help me plant two different kinds of tulip bulbs and some crocuses. She did this with me last fall using bulbs I’d brought back from Holland the previous fall – none of them came up, so I ordered fresh ones so we can have some color right away in the spring. I just love bulb plants.

Ian and I will be married for five years on November 5! Sometimes it seems like no time at all and other times it feels like we’ve been married for years and years – and I mean that in the kindest sense.

Tomorrow, I am going to begin three days of training to become a U.S. Post Office employee. Our Stanchfield Postmaster Helen asked me if I would be interested in being her relief person. So, after completely an application that was as thick as a small phonebook, I underwent a background check and drug test and after completing my training I will learn how the local post office works and will work at the counter on Saturday mornings and be Helen’s backup if she’s sick, has medical appointments or vacation. There are no benefits, it is part-time, but it’s a way to meet more of our neighbors and it should be fun. I suppose I will also be able to apply for other internally posted jobs should something strike my fancy. It will be interesting to see where this goes.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy October

Last night Ian came home from a 10-day business trip to Cupertino, California. It was good to see his smiling face and to kiss his lips! After nine days of meetings, on Thursday evening Ian met our dear friends Ronda & Claudio for dinner at Joe's Italian Diner in Gilroy, the garlic capitol of the world. Ian had already been shopping in Gilroy and brought home three jars of green olives stuffed with different goodies; haberno, jalapeno, whole garlic cloves.

On the way home last night – it’s an hour drive to the farm from the airport – we had dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ. I had a shredded Georgia Pork sandwich with a side of coleslaw and Ian had ribs. All good! The best BBQ pork sandwiches Ian and I have ever enjoyed was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Pigman’s. That said, Famous Dave’s runs a close second.

While Ian was gone, Richard and I did various jobs around the farm. We tidied up different piles of this and that – everything from railroad ties to telephone poles – and tossed lots of junk into the rented 30-yard roll-off container. Richard sledgehammered concrete pavement that needed to be removed and took apart old cold-air return vents in the house. After removing 12 foot 2 x 10 inch floor joists, he and I both dug out and leveled the dirt floor that is the basement’s crawlspace. Now Ian can mark the spot for what will be the living room floor and mark it level and begin installing the new joist grid. He did this with the kitchen floor, which was so wavy it took a drunken sailor to navigate it correctly. This morning when Ian saw what Richard and I had accomplished he was mightily impressed.

Of course, it wasn’t all work, work and more work. Richard and I went to the Minnesota Arabian Horse Breeder’s Fall Fest show too. Legacys Renoir was there for four days and participated in the stallion parade. It was nice to see him in a show setting and also to hear appreciative comments from other horse owners and enthusiasts.

Our three-year-old geldings Whisper, Cairo and Trouble are now all in under saddle training. I try not to say “being broken to ride” because it’s not about breaking their spirit, as much as it is about teaching them a new skill. Whisper and Cairo started earlier this summer with a local woman, Heidi. She’s done a fine job with them. My Arabian show gelding Lookin For Trouble went to P & H Horse and Cattle Company in Almena, Wisconsin and is being trained by Hoyt & Pam Rose. I look forward to showing Trouble under saddle sometime in the 2008 show season.

On Thursday, I had the two barn cats, Tonic and Zeus, scheduled to be neutered and vaccinated. Tonic was easy to find on Thursday morning, but Zeus was nowhere to be found. I crated Tonic and took him to the vet. When I came home, who was sunning himself on the front step? Zeus! I called the vet and she said to bring him in. It took me two tries to get him in the crate, but I finally did and now they’re both ‘gentlemen’ rather than roaming, breeding tomcats.

Later this afternoon we’ve been invited to our neighbor’s to the south to attend their cattle auction. Chad and Cameo raise Charolais cattle and host an annual auction the first weekend in October. This is the first year we have been home to attend. It should be interesting. We’re not buying any – I draw the line at cloven-hoofed animals.

It’s unseasonably warm today, but there have been very fall-like days and nights – enough to turn the trees beautiful shades of reds and yellows. I heard a news report last night that explained it’s not really that the leaves turn as much as it is the green chlorophyll receding for the winter, which reveals the leaves other colors.

A family of blue jays has been quite busy picking up acorns and flying off to store them for winter. I watch them from the trailer window – such hard workers. And I thought the squirrel was the only one to harvest acorns.

Ian goes to Scottsdale, Arizona on business for two days next week (9 & 10). It will be nice when we’re both here and not traveling so that we can focus on getting the house ready for us to move back in. Of course if we get a call that we have a buyer for chalet 11 we'd happily travel to Spain for that! My hope is that we can cook Thanksgiving dinner (last Thursday in November) in our new kitchen and eat it at our own dining room table, with the corn stove and in floor heating keeping us warm!