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!

Fair December

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The trouble with the winter season is that so many weather conditions have lingering effects. All our beautiful snow can later mean an icy roadway to the trail. Throw in a few really frigid temps and December can be a real bear.

But as I have said before, with the right gear, a lot is really possible.

For example! Lilly now has her turbo cleats on her front feet.

Last weekend by the time I made it out on the trail with Bill, the gorgeous puffy clumps of snow were gone. I was really looking forward to riding through the trail when it looked like something from a Christmas card, but it just didn't work out that way. No worries--another nor'easter is scheduled for this week. Here's what the trail looked like last Sunday. Not so fantastically glorious, but frankly, it was awesome out there.

We rode the Ridge Trail and then all the way through Trollwood, though the Chapel, and then back up the upper and lower loop trails, including Toad Road and Sunset Trail. Amazing to do all of that after a big snowfall since that is a common trek we follow in the summertime. The snow was  slippery under Lilly's back feel when going down the steeper parts of the trail but I am thrilled to report she kept her cool and took very good care of her rider.

Yesterday we had nothing but rain. It rained from the time I got up in the morning to the time I settled in my comfy chair in front of the TV at 10pm to watch the rodeo finals in Las Vegas. However, a little rain is no reason to stay away from Lilly. Does this mare look like she will melt? Hardly. I set up a tripod and snapped a few pictures in the rain.

I never get tired of taking my brumby's picture.

She is so fun to be around.

Look how huge she looks in this picture!

Looks like the Pieropan signs are back up! How exciting. That means one of my favorite holidays is coming soon.

Today I was back out on the trail. It was dry but really cold. Bill was moving snow out of the ring and round pen and the sun was shining there, but I knew if we could make it onto the trail, it would be worth it. It was. It was bright and peaceful out there.

Here is what a horse elf looks like on the trail after finishing a nutritious carrot snack.

Here we are about to pass under the widowermaker. I just hope when that old tree finally decides to fall, I am not under it. That's after that little branch may or may not poke my eye socket out of existence.

Lately when ambling along on the trail, I have been trying to practice stopping using my seat alone. I don't lift up on the reins. I don't say whoa. I try to get Lilly to stop based on what my bum  is doing and nothing else. We are making progress, proving that ambling along on the trail offers many training opportunities.

Just in Time for Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This is what my kale in the side yard garden was looking like Wednesday afternoon. What is that fluffy white stuff?  My friends,  That is the result of a Thanksgiving eve Nor'easter. It is just like Mother Nature to throw a monkey wrench into everyone's holiday plans. I left work at 2oclock that day, drove home very slowly through a blizzard only to walk into the house and have the power go out.

We are always prepared for a power outage since we are far enough in the wilderness that  losing power in a storm is not unusual. We had all of the candles, headlamps and flashlights ready, along with a stash of water, playing cards and my favorite Memory game featuring French impressionist paintings. Luckily, our power was only off for three hours. (I realize that playing card in front looks a little provocative, but I assure you, it is the drawing of a mushroom.)

The next day was Thanksgiving, but we drove to Bill's to give Lilly a side dish of Thanksgiving Day carrots before heading to friends' for dinner. In the car, it takes about 10 minutes to get to Bill's. It was a real November winter wonderland.

Brandon and I live practically on a main road. But Bill's farm is really off the beaten track. Getting there was spectacular. For a short clip of what Bill's road was like, just click here. Take my word for it,  it was gorgeous. But it's a good thing Bill has equipped himself with a generator--his place will still out of power! Having a generator allowed his Thanksgiving Day festivities to remain unscathed!

Even though Bill's whole family was inside, he was outside working on getting the fences in order. The snow was so wet and heavy, much of the fence was on the ground. He also pulled Lilly's shoes off since the snowballs building up under her feet were ridiculous. Nobody likes to see a horse in high heels, and I've yet to meet a horse that likes wearing them.

Originally I wanted to ride. I knew the forest would be drop dead gorgeous ad I also know that Lilly does not mind walking through snow. But we only had time for a walk.

There I am jumping again. I cannot stop. Jumping for joy.

My dad called from Florida to chuckle over New England weather. But look what he is missing!

We walked to the gate and back. Getty ran off and started gobbling something rotted and so vile looking I almost threw up. Her Thanksgiving Day treat.

At dinner I got to sit at the head of the table. That's my friend Dre Rawlings down at the other end. She and her husband just bought a restaurant.

The following day, Lilly was off the hook again as Brandon, Kestrel and I started  some christmas shopping. At Whole Foods I found this darling mushroom.

Dear Santa, Just so you know, I would love to have this hot tub. This wintery weather is just perfect for it. And when I get hot tub burnout, I'd just fold it up and put it away for a while. Santa, are you reading my blog?

I insisted Brandon put this on when we were at Target. He did not want to. He's always worried that someone with lice had it on first.

Parting shot:

Future brumby owner with friends