Sunday, October 30, 2005

Finally, some sun! This weekend was beautiful, even though we still are suffering the muddy remains of the snow earlier this week.

Besides are usually weekend activities of trailering Red and Guin for their lesson with Marcy Baer of Briar Hill Farms; trash and recycling run; and the normal horsie care, we worked with our hay guy, Steve, to erect poles for our winter paddocks. We had cut cedar earlier this fall, and had gotten most of them stripped when the rainy weather prevented us from finishing that job. So we put them up anyway, knowing full well those will be the ones that need to be replaced first.

We created two paddocks on either side of the pipe that leads to our leach field. We have to keep the horses off of the field, and no heavy machinery on it either! But in the winter, we like to have the horses closer to the house. This eases the necessary chores of haying and watering.

Last year, as we had just moved in and were living in the cellar, we used T-posts and 3 strands of electric rope, just as we have out in the pastures. However, we found that this set-up didn't work that well in deep winter. Whether it was due to their thickened coat or the ground not being good enough or the snow acting as insulation, the shock value of the fence was considerably lessened.

So, we decided to give wood a chance. The paddocks are smaller than the pastures, and each will have their own run-in, of course. We hope to have at least one round of wood crosspieces for each paddock this year and will run electric for the rest, unless we find the wood a bit cheaper than expected. Our desire is to eventually run 3 rounds of crosspieces, and electric wire to discourage chewing.

We designed in two gates in each paddock. A 10 foot one at the bottom and a 4 foot one at the top. Horses and humans can go in and out either gate depending on the ice conditions. Hopefully, we will get started on the crosspieces this week. Here's a picture of the posts.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Snow. Heavy, wet, slushy snow. That is what we awoke to this morning. We have had almost a week and a half of very wet weather, and nigh on to three weeks of grey, with a bit of sunshine thrown in for special effects.

This has been a highly unusual fall for us. Our typical fall weather pattern is some rains in September, followed by crisp October mornings, bright, warm sunshine during the days that reflect from brilliantly colored trees....golds of poplars; reds and oranges of ash and maples; finally followed by the burnished gold of the Tamarack tree, the only conifer that I know of to lose its needles in the fall. But not this year. Throughout September we had a continuation of summer; hot, muggy, and bright sunshine but absolutely no frost! October has been grey and wet. When we finally got a frost, three days ago, it was much closer to a freeze, than the light first frosts of fall. Two nights of freeze and then snow!

As can be expected this has slowed our progress on the winter paddocks and that meant that we have had to turn two of our spring/summer pastures into sacrifice yards. Horse hooves are damaging in the best of weather, and that is why it is important to rotate them through the area, allowing parts to recover. But when it is wet and miserable, the hooves to extensive damage. This means that for next year we will have to keep them from the two pastures for much longer than expected. The damage isn't irreparable, but it will take time for the grasses to recover.

And so, we work on with a goal of completion of another three weeks.

In the meantime, we did, get to celebrate our new home by holding a house warming party for friends. This joy and fun was increased by being able to welcome our long time friends from Ontario, Bruce and Marlene Tilson. They also happen to be the breeders of our stallion, Beau. It was great to have them here and let them see how Beau has matured. We talked ourselves hoarse (pardon the pun!) Here is a picture Chuck took of Bruce and Beau together.

We certainly hope your fall weather is much better than ours and you are able to truly enjoy this change of seasons.