Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Ali over at The Blessed Country Mom was kind enough to give this newbie some sweet blog awards. Thank you Ali! One award is called the Attitude of Gratitude award. We are to describe what we are grateful for so that is really easy for me! I am so very thankful that God has given me my faith. I am also thankful that He has allowed our family to experience life with minimal suffering. We have not experienced hunger, homelessness, serious sickness, etc. We are surrounded by love and blessings and are able to have our wonderful animals babies and keep them in good health. The other blog award she gave me was the Lovely Blog award. Thank you! One more thing, I am very thankful that I got into blogging. I love to read about my fellow bloggers, their creative ideas, lives, stories and to see their photos. It is great fun to learn what others find interesting. Many thanks to those of you who take the time to comment and read my blog. My most frequent commenters are Ali, JAM, Jan's Place, Pony Girl and Delphine. Their blogs are awesome. I truly appreciate your time as I know each of you are busy. The list below are neat blogs that might not have the award or accept awards; might not be listed on my blog or allow following, but definitely deserve your click!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Big Man Garden

The good husband came from a farm family and has recently returned to his roots. Last year, he and his brother decided to grow veggies. Of course, being men with large egos, everything had to be large to match those egos. The garden is huge. We now have 300+ ears of frozen corn, and bag upon bag of half runner beans. I also canned about 50 quarts of beans, some salsa and a few pickles. It was my first canning experience and thankfully I had a dear friend show me the way.

We are now embarking upon our second year. The land was 'plowed' last week, the plants were purchased a few days ago, the rows were dug yesterday, and today the tomatoes and beans are going into the ground.

I am sure we do things a little differently on our farm. The good husband's brother likes to use his deceased father-in-law's tool they call a "liner". It makes the rows. This brother also has a creative streak and made two handy 'bean and corn planters'. He attached a plastic holder to a plastic pipe. He fills the holder with beans. He then firmly indents the dirt with the pipe, drops 2 beans and continues this procedure every 18 inches or so. Before covering the beans, they do the same only with fertilizer. With gloved hands, they pinch a bit or use a small spoon and let it fall about an inch or so beside the two beans. Now the beans are ready for their summer blanket of dirt. This neat little tool eliminates sore backs at least for the bean and corn planting. The tomatoes must be planted the old fashioned way.

Their favorite tomatoes are Mortgage Lifters and Big Boy's. Mortgage Lifter was developed by a West Virginian and I guess he was pretty successful with his plants. Upon the advice of our local garden expert, I was told to use Roma or the new name "Viva Italia" tomatoes for salsa. So I finally found some, but my good friend who helped me last year insists that they are not that great and to find some 'German Queen' plants. So far, I haven't found any! Will look again today.

It is supposed to rain all this week, so the plants should be happy in their new surroundings. I still have a pear tree to plant, lots of weeding, some more planning as to where I am going to put my flowers, and I need to add some better dirt to my blueberries. Other than that, all is well on the farm!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring's Sweet Surprise

The day is hot with the high being 85-9o degrees. It was time for turnout but I had to administer Jessie's Tri-Hist since the pollen is up. So far, she is doing well. The borer bees continue to guard their mates while darting within inches of my head. I cannot stand them! One came into the barn and somehow I got it with the broom, making the total kill to five this year. Daddy Cat was not in my sight but meowed and came running upon hearing his name. He was in the wash rack looking at something. There are no mice in the barn so I dismissed it thinking he was lounging in a cool corner.

On the way to the cemetery paddock with Blue on my left and Jessie on my right, I spotted something large and wide and black floating in the pond. Blue being 16.1 is a better 'wall' than 'window' and each time I tried to see what it was, he would prance and act up. It was windy and that never helps. It looked too small for a goose but too big for the wood ducks that have been hanging around. Whatever it was, it hid. On my walk back all I saw was an empty brown pond.

The ponies needed water so I filled several five gallon water bottles with cool clean well water. When I moved the hose a black slithery thing about three inches long wiggled back under to hide. Initially I thought it might be something gross like a large 'thousand legger'. We hated those 'centipedes' when we were kids. Instead it was a beautiful blue tailed skink. I dropped a few kibbles in Daddy Cat's dish to divert his attention and by the time I began using the hose, it was gone.

On the drive back out to the paddock, I saw them. In the back of my head I wondered if that was it, but since we never had those before I shrugged it off. My jaw dropped with total surprise as the farm has not been blessed with this gift until now. Thankfully I had the camera!
The Spring surprise are darling little wood ducks learning to navigate water probably for the first time. Watching the sweet little dark yellow and brown fuzzy bodies carefully following their mama gave me a warm and wonderful feeling that our little pond was finally chosen to raise wild baby ducks. For years I wondered why the ducks refused to use our pond. Was it the aerator? The Great Blue Heron? The snapping turtle? The muskrats or the red or gray foxes? Well, the aerator is turned off, the Heron hasn't shown up for awhile probably having its own babies, there are no more muskrats, a huge snapping turtle died last summer but I am sure the foxes are still around. Maybe the fallen trees make a better haven for wood duck babies. Either way, I am so thankful that I have discovered these little jewels. What an awesome Spring surprise!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rolex! Cross Country Photos!

The last weekend in April is reserved for one the finest riding competitions in the world! Hosted in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky at the amazing Kentucky Horse Park, the Rolex Three Day Event highlights the abilities of our world's finest riders as a four star event. Eventing is a sport for brave souls who along with their talented horses are all around athletes that can succeed across the board in dressage, cross country and stadium jumping. Some come as far as Germany, England, Australia, the list goes on, depending if the competitor has a horse that is ready to compete at the four star level. My favorites are the O' Conner's but David is now retired which leaves Karen who is awesome but had no horse this year ready for that level. It is truly a wonderful experience see in person these potential Olympian athletes dominate the difficult cross country course with their brave and courageous equine partners. We never tire of joining 60,000 + horse loving spectators to watch the thrilling cross country portion of the competition. Be sure to click on the links to learn more about this amazing sport. Our little group had a wonderful but tiring time. The shopping was great though I didn't purchase any frivolous and fun items and mostly found supplement deals for the 'ponies'. Dog watching proved exceptional and for some reason we saw so many German Shepherds. We also spotted this huge mastiff weighing in at 180 pounds right at the entrance. My photo does no justice to his true size but he looked so beautiful hanging out with everyone else. It was a great day to be with friends, to be surrounded by fellow horse enthusiasts watching such courage in action and to top it all of we were blessed with fantastic weather.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Runnin' -n- Buckin'

The poor ponies were in for two days due to this dreadful rainy weather. I usually don't carry the camera during turnout, especially with Blue, as he can be a handful requiring constant attention. The other day, Blue reared straight up and held the pose for a second. It was awesome, but I didn't have the camera! I was hoping for a repeat rear. He and Jess love to romp in the field when they are first turned out but only after the mandatory 'play like a pig' game in which each tries to be the muddiest after lots of rolling. The rain finally let up and due to the high winds, the ground wasn't too soggy so the footing was decent. Jessie being an all American Quarter Horse continues to have that amazing buck in her that I find amusing. It wasn't fun when I first got her and she pulled that stunt once while under saddle, but it is cute now that she is retired and going on 26 years old! I love that horse! Blue likes to rear, buck, kick, and rock back and forth, sometimes with all four hooves off the ground. Silly equine teenager full of antics! I am blessed with these 'babies' and love every minute we are together. By the way...look who I spotted chasing my deer... that beagle! It allowed that 'strange lady who just yelled at me' to pet it, but decided to return to the scent and catch up with the black lab who completely ignored me. Typical black lab!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day is Every Day

Happy Earth Day! It is wonderful that we as a country are experiencing a collective consciousness in that all of us are more aware of the need to help the earth on a daily basis.

Due to budget restraints, I learned about cutting energy usage from my parents. If you were not in a room, that light better be turned off. No radios were left on in bedrooms, either. Our garbage was separated...paper in one bag and plastic, foil, cans, etc, in another. Dad burned the paper. Never would he burn plastics or other harmful materials. Dad limed the grass; he never fertilized it. We had to reuse our brown paper lunch bags until they fell apart! Seriously! We weren't perfect by any means, but those little things that were money savers ended up helping the earth in a small way.

I must admit, my own family is not as diligent as other folks, but I have developed some good habits that hopefully help. My pet peeve is plastic grocery bags. I despise them. I have about 8 cloth bags that are awesome. I can get so much more in those bags and they do not strangle my fingers. No more weak handles that tear apart splattering the goods all over the dirty parking lot. I ask for the groceries to be packed to the hilt which provides good exercise for my arms to carry them up the steps and onto the kitchen counter. I rarely see anyone around here with those bags when I go to Walmart, Kroger, etc. What a shame.

Our lights are not on until the evening or unless bad weather darkens the house. I turn out the lights immediately. The good husband (bad!) does not. I turn the TV off. The good husband leaves it on. We are both guilty for not unplugging our cell phone chargers which I understand uses electricity regardless if it is charging or not. My outlet is behind a piece of furniture. Excuses, excuses, I know! We do use those special light bulbs but they have mercury in them which prevents normal disposal. I no longer buy bottled water unless I am on a trip. We have a well which we love so we do not use city water. It is advised to close the doors of unused rooms; I do that anyway to prevent curious kitties from distributing their fur in the clean guest bedrooms. I try to buy milk from cardboard containers and not plastic...but what about the trees? I tell myself trees can be planted, cardboard can be burned but plastic stays in the ground forever. We have energy star appliances, and the list goes on and on...
My diesel car is being repaired at the moment. Diesel...ughhh. When I visited a friend in Vermont a couple of years ago, that was the first thing out of his mouth...why are you driving that thing?? Well, think of it this way, my car has 166,000+ miles on it since my good husband bought in 1994. How many cars did he buy in the past 15 years? Are his old cars lying in junk piles now? I figure a repair here and there beats a huge monthly payment. I learned something amazing from my car doctor last weekend...he uses old oil from area restaurants to run his vehicles. He strains it of course, but I think that is the ultimate!

I have a great idea for cat litter. I used to use wood pellets for the horses bedding but it got too dusty and Jess would cough. Now I pour some in the barn cats litter box and they love it! The box does not stink even if you haven't cleaned it for several days. The pine absorbs the odors very well. I tried it with Princess' box and of course, she didn't approve. Bad kitty! But there is that dilemma again...which is worse...contributing to cutting southern pine trees or cat litter that does not disintegrate and is not earth friendly? The 40 pound bag costs $6.49 and last for months... yes, months!

Have you ever heard of juicing? No, not juice from fruit...juice from horse manure. Yep, horse puckies! Last year our neighbor wanted some of those brown balls and of course I said yes, go to it! He explained that he lets several sit in water (not sure how long) and then waters his new plants with it. His tomatoes plants were green as could be but my good husband said that they didn't yield much...Hmmmm....I have some in a bucket soaking for four days now. I think after a week or more, I am going to water my flowers with it and see what happens. Of course, we have a nice long manure pile that has sat for 5 years. Time to get that good black bottom material and spread it on the vegetable garden in May. And by the way, I read that we should not till the earth as it contributes to topsoil erosion. Do you till before you plant? We always have...

So, what do you do to reduce your carbon footsteps? I would love to read your suggestions about how you help the earth!