Jolly January

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I decided a few weeks ago to join Facebook, thinking maybe I could Facebook instead of blog. But after one Facebook post I realized that microblogging is nice, but not super nice like blogging. The real thing. Here's what Lilly thinks of social media.

It's been really cold around here a lot of the time the last few weeks. We've also had a lot of icy rain so the road and the woods have been treacherous. This means not a lot of riding for me. But a little weather has not been so successful at curtailing picture taking!

In spite of the cold, I am sticking to my guns about no blanketing of Lilly. But look! I have not needed to. My brumby-turned-wooly bear is doing just fine in the frigid temps.

Last weekend Mother Nature ensured that the conditions were too dreadful for safe riding. First she coated all of our snow with a day of icy rain. And then she probably laughed when I couldn't make my annual Martin Luther King trail ride. Infuriating.

I spent the afternoon rolling around in the snow trying to get a few good shots of the horses. I carried this plastic cow head all over trying to get the perfect shot. One thing about rolling in the snow with a plastic head: it piques the interest of all the brumbies milling around. They went from being very interested to alarmed to very interested to bored.

Ruby refused to leave me alone.

This is the top of Ruby's head which makes me laugh. She looks like a muppet or someone from fraggle rock.

Another darling muppet.

So this weekend the weather was very nice. Except for the wind. The dastardly wind. And there was still ice on the road. But if you managed to bundle up sufficiently, the temperature was just fine. Today I went down into the pasture the get Lilly and discovered the horses had snuck into the ring and were naughtily nibbling sumac trees.

In two days, it is predicted that we are going to have a blizzard! I have heard words like HISTORIC and BIBLICAL applied to the coming storm! When I got to the farm today, Bill was busy getting ready.

I see that Boston might get up to 36 inches of snow. Out here where we are, it looks like 12-24 inches are on their way.

After tinkering with the giant tractor, Bill had to mend the fence down by the ring. The one that had allowed the horses to be where they weren't supposed to be.

Then this tractor came out. More pre-storm chores. I said to Bill with a chortle: No rest for the wicked!!

And then he had to help Lilly since she was missing a shoe.

 I gotta say, Lilly's feet are looking really great right now. They even look a little concave! This is great. It goes to show you that shoes are not all bad. In Lilly's case they are practically medicine for her feet! She'll stay shoe-free at least until the storm is over. Maybe longer. It will all depend on how ouchie she looks. Some years she has been shoe-free all spring and into June.

Spring and June? What are those?

 Oh look, there I am jumping for joy again. Wouldn't you if this were your horse? Your beautiful and tolerant horse?

Parting shot:

Jodie's hilarious little mustache!

Getting Wild in Western Mass

Monday, January 12, 2015

I love that my new knife for the trail is PINK.  So far the only thing I have used it for is cutting stubborn ribbons off of Christmas presents. I am sure Lilly approves of its color.

As usual, we got the day started at Elmers. I ordered the usual: eggs bene sans muffin and a GF blueberry pancake. Same thing every time. I know it sounds like a lot of food for one person. But in these frigid temps, I need a lot of fuel to keep me warm! After that gobblefest, I headed over to the barn.

It was so cold that every time I took off my glove to snap a picture, my hand almost froze off. And every time I began to snap a picture Pokey had to come nosing around. All of the horses are friendly but Pokey is the most inquisitive.

But is that Pokey? I can't even tell. I do have a video of Pokey wanting the camera all to himself. Click here to see it!

I took several photos down by the gate to the part of the pasture that has been closed off. Eventually I had several spectators.

Bill came out and thought that if the closed off pasture wasn't too slippery still from the icy weather a week ago, we could open it up and let the horses run around out there. They haven't been able to run around too much lately thanks to Mother Nature and her dastardly weather conditions. That's Bill's new GoPro camera on his helmet!

As soon as the gate was opened, it was nearly a stampede of horses setting themselves free!

They had been pent up in a smaller pasture for a while and had a lot of energy to kick around! Thank goodness it wasn't too icy for them. because it quickly became crazytown out there. Pokey jumped up off of all four feet and did a binky mid-air! Click right here to see it!

I don't see them get this way very often.

Bill yelled for them to not trample the fences!

Meanwhile, Lilly and Qtee had been watching from the pasture across the street where Lilly has been feeling ornery because she too wants to to stretch her legs, When I put her across the street with the others, first she did some roly polies. 

Then she noticed that everyone else was in the open field. I thought: Oh no. Here comes trouble.

She was not going to let this opportunity to literally kick up her heels pass her by.

There was much squealing, snorting, and double barreling. Yeeeehaaaaaaw!!!!!!!!

 And then, all quiet.

On that note, good night!

November, December, May!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

People who have reading glasses are always losing them. I am like that with my camera. I am always losing it. This is probably because I carry it around with me everywhere, just like someone would a pair of glasses, which means there is never one place that it will be found in. It could be anywhere. When I can't find it, I panic. I am lost without my camera. Maybe it is like a pair of glasses in that it allows me, in a way, to see. However, although I'd like to blame my short lapse in blogging on having lost my camera, I'm afraid I do not have such an excuse. I have not been blogging because the short number of hours in one day is daunting to me, and because even at my age, I have not learned the art of excellent time management. It is a subtle art indeed.

But we all have our weaknesses. Take Mother Nature for example. She cannot decide if we are going to have weather fitting for December or for April.

Before Christmas we were having the most wonderful snowfall. And who doesn't want a little snow in December? After all, can Santa's sleigh really fly without snow?

The truth is, the snowfall was so pretty, the season rivaled the summertime for the best time to be out on the trail. It wasn't even so cold that you needed hand warmers in your mittens. On some rides, I wasn't even wearing mittens.

It just couldn't get  any better. This is winter riding at its best: Snowy. Magical. Beautiful and bug free.

But just in case there were going to be any non-magical hunters in our midst, I made sure that Lilly looked as un-deerlike as possible. In fact, I made her look like an equine fairy. All she needed was a little wand.

It was like riding through a fairy tale. Not the German kind where people are mean and scary.

In all the beautiful riding opportunities, I met no one out on the trail. This is not so unusual. Typically I do not encounter anyone out on the trail. It's just me and Lilly and my terrible singing voice. I don't ride on public land so the few people I have seen over the years are either people who actually own the land, or people who happen to live on Bill's road.

This picture is from the Short Trail.

I took a photo from this exact spot in October when the leaves were changing color. Monet-like, I decided to capture the same image under different light. Just as beautiful in December as it was in October. I must remember to get it again in June, my favorite month of the year.

Then Mother Nature pulled a fast one. Just when all the children were probably starting to feel confident that the various snow squalls would ensure Santa being able to buzz around on Christmas Eve, before Christmas Eve had a chance to arrive, it got balmy.

All the snow began to melt. It got very dirty and ugly looking, and then vanished into thin air.

Lilly said, Mmmmmm! Fresh green grass! It must be July!!! Maybe the weather was a Christmas gift for all the grass eaters. But meanwhile, people were surprised and confused. And the question begging to be asked was: How will Santa get here with no snow?

Well, Santa made it all right. He brought Lilly these boots in her favorite color.

And I got this hat from Bill. When I wear it around the horses, I wonder if they think I am him.
Probably not.

I refuse to complain about these springy temps. Although I do love snow and wouldn't mind a blizzard or two, I am taking full advantage of the situation. The last two weekends I have been on the trail having one awesome ride after another. Here is Lilly drinking some snowmelt along the path.

Here is some witch's butter that is usually frozen to death around this time of year (Lilly got curious about this photo I was taking and ended up eating this stick, mushroom and all)...

And here is some coyote poop that we just observed today. That is,  I think it is coyote poop. I am not a fecal expert. Thank goodness.

It was so warm while riding yesterday I had to take off my coat and leave it on a tree. When we came back through, Lilly snorted at it. She's right--it does look weird.  It looks like a midget having a time out.

Stay tuned to see if our early spring continues and the skiers start to get madder than hornets. 

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A funny little thing happened to my brumby's fetlock recently which I will describe in lurid detail in one moment. Well, actually,  none of the details are truly lurid. They were curious and baffling. But thank goodness, not lurid.

We began our Saturday by getting our Christmas tree. After gobbling up Eggs Benedict (sans muffin) and gluten free pancakes at Elmer's. Yes, again. Best pancakes around. It is not easy to get gluten free baked items right. Elmer's does it every time. So, stuffed with yummy food, we headed to Pieropan's tree farm.

Each year I struggle with getting a real tree. But I just can't imagine having a plastic Christmas tree. So when we head to the tree patch, my rule is that we cannot kill the tree. We can only take part of it. The rest will be left to flourish on the mountain.

Pieropan's is not your average Christmas tree farm. It is not tidy. It is not easy to navigate. It is wild and unkempt to say the very least. And it is on the side of a steep hillside. So you better wear your muck boots, and do not let yourself fall down, ass-over-teakettle,  since you are carrying a saw.

Up we go!

One year Bill and I rode our horses right by Pieropan's during one of its busiest days of the season! People see my gorgeous brumby coming and their mouths just drop open. If there is a little snow falling (like there was that day), it is like you are caught in a very magical moment indeed.

On this particular day, the partial tree that became ours was at the very top of the farm.

First there was some bickering over if, when we cut the tree, it would feel pain. Kestrel said
definitely yes and I agreed with her. This is why we thank the tree spirit for giving us the beautiful bounty of a Christmas tree.

Success! Our tree is as one-sided as they come. But this will be perfect inside the house.

This is what teens do: they cannot tear themselves away from texting with their friends even when their fathers are telling them to put the phone away and focus on the matter at hand.

After gathering the tree and installing it at home, it was time to go see my brumby at the farm.

Guess who is the cutest snow nibbler in the land? LILLY! Lilly caused a little stir the previous day when I went to take her out for a ride on the short trail. First I showed up and got her from the pasture. I did not notice anything amiss.

I took her to the barn and tacked her up. Bill came out and I chatted with him for a while. Finally when I went to turn Lilly around and head out, something was wrong with her right rear foot. After a moment of hysteria (on my part) because it looked like there was something seriously wrong, it became clear that Lilly's fetlock seemed to be locking up and then snapping back to the right position as she began to lower it to the ground. She did not appear to be in any pain. But it was super weird. It was like her foot was breakdancing all on its own.  We decided to wait and see what came up the next day.

The following day after the Christmas tree event, I was back over at the farm to see how Lilly was. At first I saw the strange locking/snapping again. But only a few times. I walked Lilly around. She seemed fine. I decided to take her down the trail to see what would happen. My instinct told me that movement would be good for her.

My brumby was in the best mood! She was walking fine. There was no pain. Her ears were forward and she went along with me more willingly than ever. Bill was not at home so I texted him that Lilly was acting totally normally. This was a relief.
This picture shows how easily my paint mare blends in with her woodsy environment. Bill will say that this is a reason for working in the ring and not the trail during hunting season.

While I was out walking around in the woods with Lilly, I began to notice all of these little prints in the snow. They were so adorable I was forced to study them.

They were so small and perfect! I could not get enough of them.

This is when having a field guide would really come in handy. But seriously, have you ever seen anything so cute?

They were all over! Such busy little creatures!

Evidence of another busy creature. Busy looking for ferns under the snow that is!

Getty is always so heartbroken when I don't take her to the farm. This means she gets time in the woods too but separately so the horses don't scare her and she doesn't eat the chickens or dig up Jackie's gardens. This picture was taken at a cliff called Chapel Ledges just up the road from my house. If you are new to rockclimbing, Chapel Ledges is an excellent place to visit.

While there I became mildly obsessed with these icicles.

I just wanted to get one really cool photo.

All my pictures started to look the same!

And then I finally got the one I wanted!

I call this picture: Muppetdog Watches Waterfall.

Hope everyone is enjoying the trail in this fabulous holiday season!