“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17, 2013

I say “Happy Holidays”.

This time of year there are many celebrations and I don’t feel threatened or see it as  politically correct, or politically incorrect, to be inclusive. To be exclusive and only acknowledge one holiday at this time of year doesn’t seem to follow the theme of loving others. This is the time of season to celebrate our diversity and rest our prejudices. Prejudice is not necessarily a problem of race or lifestyle, but also of faith. At a time of peace, joy to the world, and good will towards others, let’s not passively say it, but truely practice it.

I think my friend Karen said it best – to paraphrase her, “I will say Merry Christmas on Christmas Day, Happy Chanukah on Chanukah, and recognize each celebration on their respective day, but I still say Happy Holidays throughout the season. Happy Holidays is inclusive.” 

I agree. It is the holiday season, and I want to recognize and celebrate all our differences just as much as I want to celebrate my faith, for that is what my faith leads me to do, and what I believe my faith is about.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

We call it Louie’s worry path. It’s a short path along the paddock fence that runs between the pasture fence and the stable. Louie has made and remade the path over and over again hundreds of times, whether the ground has been muddy, dry, or covered in snow. Sometimes the path is parallel with the paddock fence, while other times it slightly curves along the firmer, drier shores around rain softened ground.  I don’t recall any time that some form of the path has not existed. Or that I have seen a day that Lou hasn’t walked or trotted it, gracefully pirouetting at each end and heading back the other way.

I am not so sure if it’s the right descriptive to call it his worry path, but we still do. Lou will walk or trot it when he’s excited to see us, anxiously waiting to be fed, or while playfully tossing his head at Zippy or Pat. My heart always lifts when I begin walking to the stable and suddenly Lou will turn from where he is nibbling grass in his paddock, and begin trotting the path with his tail flagging, and calling to me, happy that I am coming to see him….But there are times when he quietly and slowly trudges along his path with head down, as if he is in some deep train of thought or practicing some form of mindfulness, giving us reason to call it “Lou’s worry path.” Just like Pat waiting at the fence for one of us to kiss his nose, or Zippy sliding his bared teeth across his stable door bar to say “I’m here!” Lou’s path has become his brand, his trademark. It is a part of his personality, a part of his identity.

But lately Lou’s worry path has been ours.

Lou has given us a lot of worries this year. Losing his eye, contracting lymes disease and erchlichia, and then two weeks ago, he scared us with a bout of colic, which in a horse, can be fatal.

We recognized that Lou wasn’t feeling well right away and called the vet. She was on her way to another emergency colic about an hour away, and after she finished there (successfully!), she came out to see Lou. Lou had stopped eating and drinking, his breathe was heaving, his head hung low, and his eye had no sparkle... and the huge masses of muscle that hug his hips were sagging and too weak to hold him steady.

The vet worked on him for hours – working over his intestines, pumping his stomach out and pumping back in fluids and electrolytes, giving him antibiotics, and a good dose of banimine to soothe his pains. Lou was almost too weak to resist any treatments, but had a look of trust in his eye, and he let Kath and I hold him by his halter as he resigned to the tubes being pushed up through his nose and threaded down into to his stomach, the resulting nosebleed, and all the discomfort that must have been coursing throughout every part his body….

After all was done, and Lou was back in his stall, we all sank to the stable floor exhausted. The vet sat down a bit opposite of me and began writing up the records of what had just been done. I turned on my phone and started up Pandora. A song by the Fleet Foxes played and the vet looked up, recognizing the sound, and said it was one of her favorite songs. The moment brought us all to a sense of some normalcy…the tension lifted and each of us sighed.

It was a long night that night, walking out to the stable every few hours to check on Lou, knowing that we could as well find him on his feet as well as on the ground. Each walk to the stable was filled with hesitancy and hopefulness, yet each time, he was on his feet…

It took a couple of days of careful feeding and keeping him hydrated before he started coming around, and another week of slowly reintroducing him to his regular feed and pasture schedule before we really knew that he was, and would be, ok.

Once again, we dodged a bullet. The old guy came through…

I know that Louie has a guardian angel watching over him. Most times I think he has more than one, and they all walk with him on his worry path. It is a path we have all come to share –  the good and the bad. This morning he was standing still on his trodden piece of ground, napping peacefully, with the warm sunlight lying across his back…I felt grateful to have this day, having had another reminder not to take another day for granted.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

Sometime in late June I stop mowing the small field behind the house and simply let nature take its course.

At first the grasses just grow high while the sedges surge even higher and tower like little skyscrapers over all else. Throughout July it ages and looks like a chaotic mess of weeds and bent over grasses, which would send most other people to the Home Depot for a cart full of tasty herbicides and a new riding mower. But I just let it go…

…and by September, as if it happened in a single moment, the field explodes in white with heath aster, a native, woody, wildflower. It grows not just in the field, but along the fence rows, the wood lines, and almost anywhere that isn’t kept mowed.

Its hard to track all the insects that I find on its flowers, or hiding in its canopy – grass hoppers, moths and butterflies, praying mantis, native bees including the mason and bumble bees, and its hugely popular with my honey bees. At times, the entire plant is softly shaking with the traffic of so many insects visiting it at one time. The other evening on one plant I stopped trying to count the honey bees that were flying from flower to flower as there were just too many.

As I had written last spring, I think that too many fields and wild areas are gone, cut down, or sprayed to death, and for those reasons there are not enough wild flowers to support healthy populations of honey bees, native pollinators, or the hundreds of other insect species that rely on pollen and/or nectar for food. I have to wonder where all these insects that are visiting these asters would go to feed or hunt if I had cut them all down to keep “appearances”. I think they just wouldn’t be, or at least, there wouldn’t be as many.

And then I wonder, how many more insects could be sustained if I had given my whole property over to nature? It comes down to the point that doing anything, even just a little, is better than doing nothing at all.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013

Fall is coming…each morning as I walk out to the stable, I see that Orion has inched up over the eastern tree line just a bit more. The horses and goats are growing out thicker coats, getting ready for cooler days. Sour gums are showing small, hanging berries and red leaves, and the sassafras leaves are turning yellow at the lobes. Evening’s light is growing shorter, while the morning’s darkness lingers on long past my awakening.

I love this time of year. It’s all of subtle changes….and it brings sentimentality to the summers end and I think back…

A fallow year on the farm…Lou’s eye and Lymes disease…seven new chicks…harvesting honey…bluebirds and grackles…rain, and more rain…mud…digging potatoes…broken ribs…Martha.…strawberries…poison ivy and chiggers… baby sitting a friend’s chicken flock…pulling garlic…first time riding English style, leaving my western boots at home…Lou ambling over to hang his head on my shoulder, as close to a hug as can be…waiting for Cherokee Purples to ripen…discovering the Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov, a farmer/ musician…Zero 7…Margot….our vet, Tanya, coming to the barn at 11pm for Lou, more than once…Paddy waiting for me at the fence corner each morning…losing my religion…peas and eggplants out growing the hoop house…first summer without any kids at home…a rained out concert…letting the  back yard grow into a meadow…watching kids that visited touch a horses nose for the first time…Topsy…Zip running laps in the pasture, kicking his heels at the wind…friends who showed up just  when I needed to break out of my silence.

Overall, it was a good summer, but I am looking forward to fall’s slower pace and maybe, if I am lucky, napping in the hammock for an afternoon.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2023

Sex in the hoop house hasn’t been so great. I thought it would be, and I thought it would be really fun, but that’s just another one of those fantasies that come true in friends drunken stories and in books and magazines but not so much in real life, or especially at least in my real life. It’s been so bad I had to ask for advice, search the internet, and do some experimenting. Its embarrassing for someone like me who usually takes it for granted, but at times, not everything goes as easily as planned, and at my age, it gets a bit frustrating.

The problem is getting the pollen to the stigma. The eggplant and the tomatoes just don’t get it, or just can’t get it right. Although the plants are huge and full of flowers, there hasn’t been any developing fruit.

Tomatoes and eggplants don’t necessarily need bees to pollinate them. They don't need a match maker. They are considered self pollinating since each flower has both male and female parts; pollen doesn’t have to be carried from a male flower to a female flower. Mostly they rely on air and a little wind, and insects and bees to a lesser extent. Last year when I did my first hoop house tomatoes there wasn’t any problem at all- I set up a fan to keep a breeze on them that gently swayed the flowers back and forth enough to dislodge the pollen from the anthers so it would land on the stigma for the trip to the ovaries, and I was happy with the amount of tomatoes I  harvested, but this summer, the fan isn’t doing the trick at all.

Stacy gave me some advice – she told me to try a brush and to pollinate the flowers myself – going to each flower and brush the pollen from the anthers to the stigma. I would be an artificial wind and/ or artificial bee (lets forget I have 100,000 or so honey bees hived a few hundred yards away that could do this for me through all the vented openings) ….so I found a soft makeup brush in my daughter's leftover things (when kids leave the nest they leave you with all sorts of stuff that looks like junk until you need it, then its sorta not like junk anymore) and I began the process of brushing each eggplant flower. All of them. And every day. Or at least every day that I could and can, just adding another hour job to my day!

It seems to be working a little bit as I do have a few pregnant eggplants, although there are not as many as there probably would be if the plants were outside, according to my past experiences. Sex out doors is definitely better!

Brushes don’t necessarily work for tomatoes because of their flower structure. The flower needs to be
shaken either by hand or, as I was doing last year, aiming a breeze from a fan at them. I have repositioned two fans so that they blow more directly on the flowers and I shake the plants and the individual flowers as many times a day as I can. But so far nothing much has happened – one tomato for seven plants. Outside in the garden, the tomatoes, though not as healthy or as tall, have quite a few more fruit. Again, outdoors seems key.

It’s interesting though because I also have pepper plants in the hoop house which are also self pollinating and with no help from me, are producing a good amount of peppers. So why just them? I don’t have an answer. They aren't inhibited and like sex anywhere?

I did read that temperature and humidity are the keys to germination. At high temperatures, tomatoes, etc don’t release pollen. With high humidity, the pollen sticks to the anther and can’t be released. This environment has happened in the hoop house often this summer and I am thinking that maybe I need more ventilation than what I already have. Or maybe after the apex of summer weather passes, these environmental conditions may get more favorable. 

Or maybe I don't have the music right to get these flowers in the mood and need to change to another Pandora channel - I hope to God it isn't country music that get's em turned on cause I wont do it. They will just have to like Aexi Murdoch and Zero 7 for now. 

I think though, the real challenge to all this hoop house libido is to make the inside more like the outside while keeping it inside. I am confused too.

Its all relative. In the hoop house there are no huge insect populations, nor is there fungus or blights. I can control watering, etc so these plants are the healthiest things I have ever grown, while outside the same plants are weaker and are already showing signs of blight and insect damage and overall are not as healthy. They do have fruit though, but I don’t know for how much longer or how good they will be with all the rain and heat we have been having. Its a trade off now, but in the long run I think the hoop house will still be the better way to get a perfect harvest.

I think that I will eventually get this hoop house sex thing figured out. I think that in time, all the work and the frustration will reward me. And if not, well, it has been fun trying. Like some therapists say, “you don’t necessarily have to be good at it to enjoy it”. That's the way I feel about farming too.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013

I have been doing my best these last six months or so to get some half decent shots of our horse’s eyes to do a photo series. I don’t think that I have yet to, or ever will, capture what I think will be a photograph that shows all the meaning I see in a horse’s eye. I think it is only possible to come close, but never close enough.

I think there is something special about a horse’s eye that sets it apart from any other animal. To me, a horse’s eye shows a deepness, a spiritual wisdom, and when calm, an indescribable peacefulness. It is mystic…a horse’s eye can draw you into the horse’s being and outside of your own…

I included a shot of Lou’s orbit … he may have lost the eye, but within the recess and the surrounding rim there is still so much expression. It seems that he can still sense the world from that side as if it were seeable. The skin wrinkles with excitement, curiosity and happiness, and relaxes when the world is still and he is contented. It is still his eye…just a different form and just as reactive.

This series will always be a work in progress, so please don’t judge it as an end…I am going to keep trying!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 11, 2013

 Nature is rarely kind.

I put up a bluebird house on my raspberry support end pole sometime in early March and was happy to see a pair of bluebirds take up residence in it in early April. I spend a lot of time near the birdhouse as it’s near the garden, the hoop houses, and the compost area – places I am constantly moving in and out of and working in.

A Sunday morning just a few weeks ago I leaned up against the hoophouse and watched and photographed the bluebird couple diving into the garden for bits of straw for nest building, and taking the pieces back to the house. Since then I have watched the pair going in and out of the house, perching on nearby fence posts, and fluttering over the back field where Lou grazes.

Late yesterday afternoon when I went out to the hoop house, two starlings were perched on top of the bluebird house as if guarding it. I shooed them away and when I looked down, I saw the mother bluebird on the ground, life having passed away from her as she must have been doing all she could to defend her nest. I checked inside the box and in the nest were 5 blue eggs.

It was one of those moments that left me feeling somewhat empty. Nature isn’t always kind and it leaves me wondering why it evolved in this way. It seems so senseless.

Lately, I have been wondering why a lot.

Events such as Sandy Hook and the bombings in Boston have left me wondering why.

It seems that no matter how much we gain in knowledge and technology to advance our civilization, we are still stuck with a senseless instinct for violence that is not changed by law or spirituality or social pressures. We work hard each day to hurt each other whether it is done with bombs, guns, or words. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the violence that we create. And it’s all the time. There are just certain types that thrive on the ability and the power to hurt another.

I went back to the blue bird house and taped duct tape over the opening just to feel that I was doing something.  The entrance hole to the bird house was made too small for the starlings to fit through, and they would not have been able to nest there anyway. The duct tape was pretty much an empty attempt, but I felt the need to respond, even if in vain…and the starlings flew away, never changed, leaving six bluebirds never to fly.

Seems we are all the same.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013

The hardest thing for me is bees. The hives just don’t make it. And I don’t think it’s me as a beekeeper… I think that there is just not enough nectar or pollen in the area to support all the bees. Popularity is great, but it might be killing them.

I have been doing bees for almost five years now, and my losses have averaged over 50% every year. As recently as last September, 2012, I had seven hives and today I have three. Two hives lost queens to unknown reasons late last fall and two starved during the winter. A long time beekeeper told me the other day that he has lost nine out of ten hives due to starvation. These loses aren’t a new phenomenon. These are accepted as normal.

At every bee club meeting I attend I am told to feed, feed, and feed my bees. Almost any sugar will do – sugar water, fondant, fructose corn syrup, etc. The more food, whether natural or not, will allow the hive to increase it’s population, raise more forage bees, and in theory, make more honey.

Whenever I have started new hives and haven’t fed them, they never expanded much. The ones that I fed got bigger, but not big enough for extra honey. (And I always wondered if the honey they did make wasn’t from foraged nectar but instead made from the sugar I was feeding them?) There was a year that I had an exception.  A few of my hives expanded without being fed and produced enough excess honey that I could take some off. That year was definitely an exception. Yet two of those hives are dead now too.

If we can’t raise bees without feeding them sugar, it has to mean that there just is not enough food out there. Maybe with all the popularity of bees, are there now too many honey bees and not enough flowers? The State tries to track and count hives, but do they count flowers?

If you look around the area I live in, there isn’t a field of wildflowers and there certainly aren’t many farms with flowering crops (and the farms that exist are small like mine). Right of ways are cut down, weeds are killed, etc….what’s left are backyard gardens, and a few flowers decorating houses. I don’t think that’s enough. It can’t be.

I bought fondant a week ago and put some in each of my three remaining hives to get them through these last days of winter. After the two that I previously mentioned starved, I felt I needed to do something. My plan, which seems to be working, is to only feed them until they start foraging, which is already happening. At the most, each hive will get less than a pound of sugar, which is a lot less and a lot better than 10, 20, or 50lbs plus which I have heard some people in this area are forced to do to keep their hives going for awhile.

And then there is this: Area beekeepers are beginning to suspect that maybe the sugar water that is being fed to the bees isn’t acid enough, which compromises the bee’s digestive system, and eventually weakens the hive for mites and disease. A granted study is being proposed.

But I think – feeding them doesn’t help and feeding them is killing them? Something is wrong here. From my lay person’s perspective, it’s a merry –go – round situation. I had been told long ago that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If something isn’t working, try another way.

What I think we need is more weeds and less hives. A few strong hives are better than an apiary of weak, sugar boosted hives that are unsustainable and susceptible to disease and mites.

 I am beginning to think that bees can be as simple as that. We need to work in natures balance.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 2013

To all those who never came off a horse the wrong way – don’t.  I have fallen off a horse a few times now, but never like I did a few weeks ago. This time the saddle slipped and dumped me on my ribs. Bruised, broken, or cracked – who knows? I wasn’t given x-rays because the x-rays don’t always pick theses things up and the treatment is the same for all three scenarios anyway – pills to kill the pain.  Of course, depending on the pill, they can be quite addicting or cause liver problems, so it’s not really a “win” situation. Any way, I understand that the heal time can take months. And yes, I am riding again. Twice this week, but nothing dumb.

Since I led in with horses… Louie has made a full recovery from his eye removal. He’s bouncin’ around the pasture like a charged up ping pong ball - happy and seemingly pain free. He’s doing really good and it’s really good to see him so playful! Watching him now, I know we made the right decision at New Bolton. And no, it wasn’t Louie that caused the above mentioned incident.  Louie never would have let me fall. Super Lou, would have felt that saddle slipping and inhaled. On the other hand, I think Bill Clinton trained the horse I was on.

A week after I did in my ribs, Kath and I headed back up to the Allentown area for another goat adventure. We purchased two boer does, approximately 3 1/2 months old. The farm owner was happy to see them come with us – all the goat kids at his farm are eventually sold at auction and finished for meat. I think he liked these two and was glad to know that they will have a different chance at fate. Right now they are in a separate pen from the others until they get acclimated and checked out by the vet. In another week or so, we will put them in with Frances, Irene, and Mary. The names of the new gals are Martha and Ellen.

Wearing of the green is tomorrow….and I will admit it – I don’t like bagpipes. They sound like fingernails across a black board. Like two cats screaming in a brawl. Bad brakes on an eighteen wheeler.  Like an old guy moaning in pain that just fell off a horse and broke a rib or two. My opinion has nothing to do with the fact that I am not Irish; it’s just that awful noise that bagpipes make. I don’t think anyone really likes bagpipes. I think they pretend to like them just to be polite.

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15, 2013

that eye

wet with sun and allergy

kissed with a prayer

Awhile ago I wrote and put these three lines in the “Reflections”. These lines are a reference to Louie’s eye which was clouded and blind. It always had a small tear drop in the corner, and because of its stillness, was almost spiritual to me. With all the light and movement in the world around us, Lou’s eye always seemed at peace, even in the center of all the confusion. It is one of those type feelings that I have never been able to fully explain. But that eye had a calmness that could make the world seem quiet…

Unfortunately, Lou’s blind eye began to worsen – it became darker and the tears increased until a constant rivulet formed that ran down his cheek. It wasn’t just a blind eye anymore – something else was going on.

The vet suspected that cancer was growing in his nasal passage which was putting pressure on the eye, and she arranged for us to take Lou to New Bolton to get a more thorough examination and a definite diagnosis.

At New Bolton, the veterinarians, veterinarian interns, and veterinary students under the supervision of  the resident surgical veterinarian did a lot of testing –they gave him a basic physical, checked his vitals and heart, gave him a complete ophthalmological study of both eyes, scoped his nasal passages twice, did x-rays, and other work-ups.

The good news was that the veterinarians didn’t find cancer in his nasal passages where it was originally thought to be. They found what possibly could be cancer in his eye. (See note.) The eye was becoming more and more painful to Lou. The resident surgical veterinarian gave us a few treatment options but recommended that the best approach would be to remove Lou’s eye altogether.

That all happened a week ago. Louie’s recovery has been going well since. We removed the bandages Tuesday and the stitches and skin are healing nicely. Where his eye was is the eyelid sewn over. It looks as if his eye is closed.

Since Lou had been blind in that eye ever since we’ve had him, he is well adjusted to life with sight from only one eye.  And now, without the constant eye pain, he should be a more relaxed and happier Lou. It already seems to be happening. There’s a new found spirit in his step these past few days.

I feel blessed that things are turning out this well. At almost 26 years old, Lou is past the average life span age of most horses, and the chance that fate would not have been so kind to him is considerable. But he’s fine now – and though age has given him a few nicks and dings along the way, the doctors said his health is “remarkable” and his prognosis is “excellent”.

Note: February 20, 2013. Histopathology results indicate that Lou's iris was growing into the "ruptured and detached lens capsule",  and mineralization was taking place which gave it an appearance of cancer.

I want to recognize Lou’s doctors –Dr. Beth Hirsch of South Jersey Equine Associates and Dr. Janik Gasiorowski of the New Bolton Center. It takes a very special type of person to be a large animal vet. I really appreciate all they have done for Lou.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013

I was looking forward to having spinach as part of dinner tonight…sauteed and draped over something or other. I wasn’t thinking it that far ahead. I am one who can eat spinach in almost any way that it can be cooked, and in anything that it can be folded into or smothered with. And I can just eat it plain.

I like it best on a cold morning in the late winter, freshly picked from the garden row when its leaves are still framed with the crystals from the night’s frost.  I like it best when I eat it there in the garden. Tart. A hint bitter. I don’t mind the grain or two of sand that hitchhikes on the leaf and grinds a bit between my teeth. It’s my ultimate connection to the earth.

So while I was thinking about spinach, I was coincidently scrolling through articles on Google News and I found one from U.S. News about the viruses and other disease bugs on our foods:

“…a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that leafy greens are also the riskiest foods in terms of causing food-borne illnesses.”  -  Laura McMullen, US News.

In this dead of winter, I have nothing left in the garden and I have finished off everything I had grown in the hoop house. I started to feel anxious about the “industrial spinach” in its brittle plastic bag that was in the fridge – the spinach I asked my wife to pick up at the store last week (still perfectly fresh, a week from the store and who knows how long from the field).

Tasteless. Paper like. I wonder if it has any nutrients. No sand. No hint of the earth. And maybe it’s full of germs from the unknown. I don’t even know where it came from, if its gmo, or if it’s really spinach at all.

It just isn’t the same as mine. It doesn’t compare.

Tonight, I realized again how much I miss my garden. I think about how much I want to get out and plant seed again….and how much I miss knowing my own food.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013

I guess the holidays are over. I will spend the day taking down the outside lights. We hadn’t done lights outside in years; living so far back from the road there’s not much point. But I was in the mood this year and I did it more for myself rather than the cars that speed by 200 yards away on the highway. Those guys are traveling so fast they don’t have any time to look around enough to notice a fainted light display anyway. Even so, the delivery guy from Giuseppe’s appreciated the extra light when he came to the door.

So today I will be taking the lights down.

We already have the Christmas tree down. We have a little tradition with our Christmas tree….While all the neighbors drag their tree out to the curb for pick up, we drag ours out to the backyard. We tie it up to a tree near the bird feeder so that the song birds can take cover from the weather and from the Coopers hawk that hunts them there. We also tie it up in reach of Snoopie, who will snack on it until spring, stripping it of the needles and bark. When she’s done, there’s usually very little left – a few twigs on the trunk.

I have considered salvaging trees from the curb for the birds and Snoopie and the other goats, but I have always stopped short of this because I can’t be sure if they haven’t been treated with sprays to keep them fresh and green, or to make them fire retardant. I just don’t want to take a chance of possibly poisoning the goats. That’s just the thing – one never knows what’s on any things theses days. So if I don’t have to gamble, I don’t.

Today is not a bad day to be outside as its pretty warm for a day in January. It’s warm enough that the bee hives are active today. On warm winter days like today, the bees do housekeeping – they clean the hive of dead bees and whatever, get some fresh air, and stretch their wings so to speak. When it gets cold again they will ball up in the hive to conserve energy and heat. For now though, I know that all the colonies have made it this far through the winter.

The horses are doing a bit different today too- taking time to lay down and stretch out to capture as much sun on their bodies as they can. It’s no different than what we call sun bathing.

Later today I will be taking Patrick for a ride. I have been working with him almost every day, now that I have time since the growing season is over. I have been doing my best to work on his spooking – things that scare him. Being prey animals, it is an instinct for a horse to spook – it is a defensive mechanism that keeps a horse alive. Problem is, a horse that spooks can get out of control and either the horse or rider or both can get hurt. The trick is to teach the horse to trust the rider so that the horse stays under the riders control….even when he spooks. Trust takes a lot of time.

I guess I am keeping busy even if it is winter. Soon I will be ordering seeds and onions and leeks and potatoes and then before I realize it, I will be back in the field again digging and tilling and hoeing and weeding and planting and worrying if anything will come up! And hopefully, I will be ready when that time comes!