Another Crop Bites the Dust

Monday, August 25, 2014

Of course it's no secret that summer is my favorite season. Even with the heat and the bugs, there is something about warm air and blue skies that makes me feel more alive. And this summer we've hardly had any hot, muggy weather at all! Just perfect for afternoon horseback riding.

Summer always means that my brumby's tender white nose might get sunburned. Zinc oxide to the rescue!! Not that she appreciates me putting it on her...

Here is another excellent use for zinc oxide that Lilly and I take advantage of all the time: It is a very good remedy for Scratches! It is the one thing that can really help them clear up. Nevermind that it is often used on babies bottoms!

Some say that fall is the best time to to ride. Whatever! Here are Bill and me yesterday roaming around in the woods and then having a nice canter around a slightly twisty trail. Do you know what happens when you go trail riding with Bill? Instead of stopping at big logs in the trail, you keep cantering and go sailing over them. And if you are like me in this instance, you lose both your stirrups and your crop and almost sail right out of the saddle.

Never a dull moment!

All of these crops have gone missing. The woods are littered with a trail of my lost crops. Last Saturday I lost one cantering up the River Trail's steep end, and then yesterday while out with Bill I lost another. One of my theories is that I should buy myself a very expensive crop. Then I'd make sure not to lose it. Or would I lose it anyway and then be mad I lost a very expensive crop?

Earlier this month when Bill was in Maine, I got a call from him at 11:30 at night telling me that his neighbor just informed him Lilly had broken free from the pasture and was in the road! Brandon and I zoomed over to the farm in pitch blackness, but Jackie K already had everything under control.  She had fixed the fence and collected the wanderers (Lilly and Sophie). The next morning, we checked the entire perimeter again, just to make sure. This photo was taken of the horses eating breakfast in the beautiful morning light.

While out checking the perimeter by the manure heap, I happened upon these little guys that love to grow on horse poop.

Here is a mushroom that does not grow on horse poop that Brandon found this weekend: a black trumpet! Edible and delicious. Each black trumpet looks a little different because they grow in leaf litter and curl and grow around the leaves piles around them.

I am concluding today's post with something you can do with roadkill. It has nothing to do with horses, but it does have to do with appreciating and learning from nature!

In June we were in Maine and sadly came across a snapper that had been killed by a car in the road.

Brandon pulled over and collected him. Boy did he smell bad! Because snappers can get enormous, we knew he wasnt very old when he died. We decided to preserve him.

First you get some borax and a sturdy plastic bag.

Pour the borax into the bag, just like Brandon is doing here.

Put the dead creature inside.

Cover him up the rest of the way. Seal it up and then, depending how large it is, let it sit for weeks, maybe even months.

What you end up with is a very interesting, dehydrated addition for your personal Cabinet of Natural Curiosities!!!! I put him on the clothesline in the sun because months later, he was still very smelly when we took him out of the borax baggie.

That's it for now! Enjoy the final days of the best season of the year!

Like Painted Kites Those Summer Nights Went Flyin' By

Monday, August 11, 2014

Once again, the horse that looks so positively darling in this photo was actually quite the pill in the round pen before this photo was taken. Once again I asked her to trot and she pinned her ears at me and shook her sour, pointy face in my direction with real conviction. POO ON YOU, she seemed to be saying, BECAUSE THIS IS CRAP!  Sigh. I do my best to ignore it.

Then I imagine what the proper response would be. In case I forget to imagine, there is this handy dandy sign on the road near my house that reminds me. So I imagine what I'd like Lilly to do, as if she is magical and clairvoyant and can read my mind.

This past Thursday after work I went over to Bill's to ride. As usual, my brumby was as far away from the gate as possible. She probably sees me trudging out to her swatting flies and tripping through the divots in the dirt and snickers to herself.

But enough about the boring ole ring. The real fun is always out on the trail. Saturday I decided to take the Parallel Trail to the River Trail. There is nothing better than the River Trail on a summer day.

To get to this part of the trail you start on the short trail and then take a right to head up to Quartz Corner. Then you go down Cliffwalk (nothing like the cliffwalk in Newport, but still very lovely) and pop out right here where this picture was taken. It's watery and muddy here.

It's the kind of mud that if Lilly were wearing her Renegades, I would be very worried that one (or both) would get sucked right off. This is the joy and the freedom of having traditional shoes on her feet. Now I know it doesn't sound like a freedom to have shoes nailed on your feet. All I can say about that is that things are not always what they seem.

See how you can get out in the woods? Philosophical. Thoreau would be so proud.

With all the rain this summer, the mushrooms have been all over the place. This one Kestrel identified (with Brandon's help) but now I forget what they said it was. I think its common name should be Griddlecake because the cap looks like a pancake with brown sugar on top.

In fact, had the trail we were on been unnamed, I prompted would have appointed it Griddlecake Trail.

Here's the underside of the griddlecake mushroom. Notice how it has pores and not gills. This is one of the first places to look when identifying an unknown mushroom. Does it have pores? Or gills? I would like to point out that while I was down in the dirt snapping these pictures, Lilly was peacefully munching greenery along the trail. She is an excellent trail companion, allowing me my many trail madnesses, quite unlike her crabby, perhaps-I-will-trample-you round pen self.

Oh look, a giant rock to crack your skull open on.

These little guys are about the size of a pencil eraser. Their common name is Earth Tongue. This confirms that mycologists have got to be some of the most creative people on this planet.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer? Only in the summer can you canter around in the woods and then go home and eat  locally grown farm food. YUM.

So at work, I am commonly recognized as a goofball.

Not sure why anyone would think that about me.

I mean, I'm just trying to live a fulfilling and merry life....

...with my brumby.

Goofball? What goofball?

Happy Trails!

Farewell, July. Welcome Augustus!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I once read that horses have prehensile upper lips. Just like a monkey tail!!?? I thought this was so strange and amazing. Ever since, I have loved to watch Lilly gobbling grass because she is so discriminating at what fronds she wants to eat. But she eats so fast, I never get to see any prehensile action. So this weekend, I enlisted my camera to help me see it.

At first I just got dozens of normal looking pictures. So I kept snapping.

I got a few weird prehensily snapshots!

Just think of all the little muscles hard at work in that upper lip, feeling and sorting and picking! It's almost as good as having little fingers in there.

When I'm not staring at Lilly gobbling clover, we have been out on the trail. With all the rain and clammy weather we've been having, there has been no shortage of mushrooms on the trail. I think these guys look like visitors from another planet.

Brandon scolded me for not bringing this home home to eat. But really, a harvest of one mushroom?

Well, this one is not one you'd ever want to eat! There you see Lilly waiting patiently for me down on the trail while I rush to document the first Destroying Angel I have seen this year.

We kept ambling along the River Trail. Lilly is going so great now that she has shoes back on. Last weekend I ended up getting off of her and walking the last 2 miles of our ride because her feet seemed to hurt. I mean, I never really know if she's slow because she wants to be back with her buddies at the barn, or if something is wrong. I have to intuit what the heck is happening. This ride though, there was no crabby reluctance to go anywhere. So I am convinced my hunch last weekend was correct: ouchie feet.

Miraculously, I spied this little guy in the leaf litter as we were passing by!

A wood frog!

 This is another miraculous observation! I saw this mushroom MOVING as we went by. It just so happens that a busy beetle was underneath it, having a mushroom feast! The interesting thing about this mushroom is that it has been parasitzied by another fungus. Weird...and a little gross.

On Sunday  I snapped this picture of Glitter who I find totally gorgeous. Everyone loves a redhead. Then I headed down into the round pen to get on Sophie who I have not ridden in almost a year!

 My brumby was milling around by the round pen. I could not help but notice how she had applied her own version of bug repellent: mud. Oh, she looks awful.

I didn't get any pictures of me with Sophie, I am sorry to say. It is not easy to ride a sparky little pony and snap pictures at the same time! I did however get some photos of Bill working with Willie.

What a nice gelding!

 This is what happened every time I am in the pasture and pull out a few carrots! A few donkey mouths come around, ready for a sweet nibble. I would like to nibble them up, they are so cute.

Farewell for now!

Tour de Conway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July has always been known for speed. It's been two weeks since I have made a blog post and I can honestly say it feels like I just made my last post a few days ago. How time flies! Maybe one day, after I have invented my Time Slower Downer, I will blog more often.

A lot has been happening! Last weekend Brandon and I went to Boston to visit  friends. My brumby was not invited. She got to stay home and have her nails done. With an alpaca looking on.

On a hot day, who isn't happy to be in the barn, in front of a fan with no bugs and lots of attention? It has been buggy and muggy around here lately. Sometimes even with bug spray, the flies still buzz around us on the trail. Now that's obnoxious!

Most people (aside from Bill maybe) aren't always snapping photos like I am. Perhaps that is why this swimming suit (spotted in Vanity Fair) appeals to me. I would wear it! Maybe on a hot day I would even wear it in the saddle.

If the weather is decent and I don't have anything else going on, I have been trying to get to see Lilly mid-week. I don't even plan to tack her up. I take her down in the round pen and get her walking, trotting and cantering upon command, just like Julie Goodnight. Maybe using the phrase "just like" is an exaggeration. First my brumby ignores me and nibbles the clover along the rail. And then she throws a double barrelled kick in my direction when I ask her to trot. Is that before or after she pins her ears to her head? I can't remember.

Here's the problem: It's late and she wants to eat. And horses are like toddlers who like to test boundaries. And I'm probably not as good as Julie Goodnight either (probably, heh heh, that's a good one). And Lilly has never liked the ring. Here's the bottom line: Ringwork  is something we both need to get better at.

What to do when ringwork gets you down? Head out on the trail! This Saturday was extra nice because Jackie K showed up! I have not ridden with Jackie K in forever! Wait, where did she go?

There she is!

I was on Lilly, Jackie was on Pokey, and there is Bill on Ruby, tinkering with his GoPro.

Trail rides do not get any better. Even though there were a few aggressive flies (grrrr), the trail was so beautiful and the horses were kind and mellow. Even Pokey was super sweet, and sometimes he can be a handful!

Pictures in the winter pasture always look so nice.

In the middle of January I will look at these pictures and give a little sigh. This is July at its best!

After passing through the winter pasture, Jackie and I carried on to Trollwood, but Bill turned left onto the road and headed back to the BP to drop Ruby off there.

To see Bill's GoPro record of his trail ride both with Jackie & me and after, Just Click here! He's labeled in August 26, but it truly is  from yesterday.

Jackie and I traveled through Trollwood, down the nave of the "Chapel,"  through the In-Between, across Carrot Bridge, and then back toward the barn via the Upper and Lower Trails. One day, when I finish my map, all of these trail names will make perfect sense!

The great thing about a weekend is that when Saturday is history, Sunday still remains! Today I was back on the trail again. It was like the Tour de Conway! No other riders this time though. Just me and Lilly. Our own break away! This colorful Amanita caesarea caught my eye immediately on Sunset Trail. I had to get out of the saddle and snap it's photo.

Here's a grown up version of the same. Don't you love it's little skirt?

We also discovered these remains! Actually, to be completely honest, I would have to say that my brumby could not have cared one bit about these discoveries. I do know that she loves my frequent  stops to take pictures though, because it means she can snack on all of her favorite leaves.

These are from a pignut hickory tree.

A  nosy somebody thought they were little green apples and tried to gobble them up.

After feeling very sure we heard a bear crashing around in the woods to the right of us, we popped out of Trollwood and into the Blueberry pasture where Bill is working on harvesting some hay. I thought maybe we would run into him out there but he must have called it a day by then. Lilly sees this field the exact same way I would see a giant dish of ice cream. DELICIOUS!!!

I love how someone in the Road Department thought that just in case you couldn't read the sign on the left, they set up the exact same sign on the right.

One final discovery out on the trail!

 Look what Mother Nature provided for entertainment on my way home!

Good grief, the next time I post it will be August. Open letter to July: Stay a while! Don't hurry off!