Thursday, January 10, 2019

WHY do we continue to do it?

1.10.2019

Vent:

 So for years- decades actually- I have tried so hard to be nice to others. Sure, when I hurt so badly I can barely walk, there's a tendency to get crabby. There have been times when I have not said anything just to see it happen over and over again. Sometimes we horsewomen hurt to the point that we wonder "why".

Why do we keep trudging forward?

Why do we keep putting up with bad pay clients?

Why do we continue dealing with people who ask so many questions (yes, some over and over again) and never seem to absorb the answers?

Why do we put up with the supposed know-it-alls that have it oh so wrong but continue to teach students or train horses in abusive methods incorrectly? ( the worst- others actually believe them)

Why do we deal with fractious horses (their people too) just to have money coming into the barn?

Why do we head to the barn every single day - in knee deep snow, in 100-degree summer heat and springtimes torrential downpours?



 WHY?


Lately, I have once again opened this barn to those in the area who really want to learn how to be around horses in the correct manner. It began with inquiries from various people who when they found out that they (oh my gosh) would have to help at the barn in order to learn more. To me, it's an exchange of help (yes- stalls) and education. The 'barter system" if you may.

It began alright- but slowly but surely things dwindled down to the ever popular " sorry" over and over again. I did my part in teaching all about horses (within a beginners level) Finally it was enough and I am taking the option away. No more "sorry"- no more 'oh this or that happened" the morning of the self-appointed day.

And so it is over. I am finished dealing with people who haven't the smarts to realize that we barn owners/managers have needs too...

A need to be paid on time, a need to have a possible day off, a need to be able to discuss things with clients and not watch/ listen to their excuses, or 'hissy fits' about how terrible we are to even ask to have things accomplished, paid or  just to stop gossiping.

Never do /did I want to run my barn or any others as far as that goes with the proverbial Iron Fist. There have been some managers like that and it bothered me. Sadly- now I understand their 'whys'.

I know there are many of barn managers out there who have had bad pay boarders. Those people who don't seem to care whether they get their board or monthly lessons paid. Little do they know (or perhaps they DO know and ignore it??) that a farm is run by their prompt payments- each time, every time. I wonder how many would complain about a board being broken or a fence post loose? Do they ever consider that their late or not at all payments are used for that sort of thing? It is very expensive to keep a barn and farm repaired and safe for animals of any kind. We, horsewomen and men, take in other's animals to care for because we love doing it. Not "just for the money"- but it costs money to keep things safe and in good repair. Feed, hay, bedding, electric and more. Those who make late payments or just never bother are the ones who will be the first to complain or gossip to others who will listen about how bad it is where they board, or ride.

And so it goes and here's one more well educated, willing to help horsewoman who is closing those doors.










Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

12.24.18

 As I sit here smelling the pumpkin pies baking in the oven, and my husband snoring as he snoozes to some of his favorite TV programs, ( I call it watching TV w/ one's eyes shut...) I realize how blessed we really are.

We have a cozy little house that keeps us warm in winter snows and cool when it's hot enough to fry the proverbial egg outside. A wonderful strong barn that prevents winter winds from blowing inside, freezing everything solid (so long as I remember to shut the doors, that is). Pastures that look brown with mud all over give me a promise of soft new grasses growing strong, come Spring.

Thinking of the year gone past, there have been some wonderful moments and some awful times too. All in all, I think the good and bad have balanced themselves out just fine. I lost a lifelong friend that I cherished deeply, but losing her brought along more firm plans for our future.

Remembering Christmas's past, I find I miss the glorious family moments that will never happen again, but others have taken their places. So many presents, so much laughter, and joy. So much love. Times gone by... Kids are grown up and have their own families- scattered all over the country. 

Happily for me, no more frantic shopping, decorating the house, making sure there will be plenty of food for family gatherings. Now, Christmas is a relaxed time with just us two. I managed to do probably 90% of my shopping online, thank goodness. Remembering Christmas's when there was no money available and having to create gifts for loved ones. Some were absolutely horrid, but I never realized that until many years later when I saw some of those gifts.  Oh lordy.

 Tomorrow will be kind of a normal day for us but for the gifts purchased and the grand dinner we have planned.  Always being one for not a lot of fuss n' bother, I like a peaceful day. I have always had 'country' like celebrations but for a few years when I was expected to have the house decorated by some designer to perfection. No thanks, I like pine boughs instead of the fake stuff... homemade decorations on the Christmas tree. Those mean more than the well-balanced balls hanging in the correct places so all is perfect. I DO give in and have a fake tree- but it's as realistic as possible.  Cutting a wonderful tree down and sticking it in ones' house isn't very kind to me. So I leave the trees in the woods and use a "pretend" one.  It's just as pretty and no one has to die because of it.

I suppose there'll be no snow here for this Christmas. Chilly, but no snow, thank goodness. We are to the point where a big snow storm just means harder work for the people and animals too. I do hope, however, the sunshine peeks out.

So, here's to everyone having a stupendous Christmas Day 
and to all those who celebrate in other beliefs,
May your celebrations be filled with love, peace, and joy.

                            Merry Christmas with love,
                                        from all of us at
  WoodFinn Farm. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOlasA9rycI  



Image result for christmas quotes














Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The City Husband

11.7.18

I was telling someone of a story concerning my husband and was told that I really needed to write it down. So- here goes.

We met in 2001. He was from the city, and I, a country woman. Total opposites and we both realized that each of our passions were important enough to learn about and accept. We got hitched in 2003, and pretty much have lived 'happily ever after'.

The next thing was buying a farm in Pennsylvania and it was his first time being a country husband. He did really well and I thought it was wonderful that he loved me enough to give this way of life a try. "wow, it is dark at night out here, isn't it?"

He'd hadn't much experience with animals but for the typical city types- dogs,a car or two. Nothing having to do with horses though. I heard comments about how he'd never noticed how many horses there were around his city, and how nice they had looked. Ha- he had no idea...

Life was going along great until I woke up to a rather odd note for me. I read it and couldn't quite understand it.
                                                  "The cat stole my shoe"
  Oooooooooooooookayyyyyy. I didn't think much more about it until later on that day when I found 'the shoe' under the rocking chair. ( at least I think that's the right area- it's been a while you see) When he got home from work, I heard the rest of the story. The shoes were the ones he'd be wearing to work, and at 6 AM, only finding one didn't bode so well with him. We had gotten a new 6-7-month-old kitten/cat whose favorite game was stealing various items. Apparently, the cat had a grand time playing with shoe strings and had dragged the shoe across the living room... thus 'stealing' it.  Shoe was replaced and guess who was a little more careful about those shoes?

Then another time, I don't remember if it was a weekday or a weekend, but he gets up earlier than I do. He does his best to keep things quiet in the house which I adore about him. I'm able to sleep in a little that way. One morning I was awakened to something pounding on the floor. It wasn't in the bedroom and stopped after a few pounds, so I went back to sleep. Later on that morning, I happened to remember to ask him about the noise. Turns out that the now, TWO cats had caught a mouse. Of course, one had stolen it from the cat who'd done all the hard work to catch it. Cats have a terrible way of torturing their prey before finally killing it, and that's just what was happening that morning. ( ugh)  The husband decided he'd pick it up and toss it in the woods or somewhere so there wouldn't be gross mouse stuff on the floor. Ha- it turns out the mouse wasn't quite dead! So, he grabbed the thing most certain to do it in- my kitchen broom!
 ''Smack, Smack, SMACK "  Finally the mouse wasn't moving- no wait, yes it was.  "SMACK, SMACK!!"  He figured it was dead and he figured right. What mouse would survive that anyways? No more mouse and we had a good laugh over it all.

There have been many more husband stories but I am testing the waters here to see how he likes reading them again. ( in public < winks>)
















Monday, October 29, 2018

Chicken Tales

10-29-18

 Yes- they continue...<winks>

 As you remember, my favorite breed of chicken is the Lavender Orpington. They are friendly, lay huge light brown eggs consistently and are a lovely light lavender color. They come across to a non-chicken person as a smokey grey, but when the sunlight hits them 'just right', one can see the lavender shading on them.

I found some Ummm, teenager aged Lavenders for sale and bought 7 of them.  They were kept in one of the stalls in the barn because I was tired of finding my hens destroyed or just gone thanks to fox, mink and other nasty little critters. ( good grief- there's SO much forest n' field around here, I'd think they'd find easier food, but nooooooooooo)  Understanding completely that they too must eat, I didn't want my chickens to become a feast for anything from the woods or fields. And so it goes- and so they grew! Below is "SamIam'' checking out the water leaking from a hose...

I'd let them wander about the barn and outside if they wanted, but they were not that brave. A gal who helped out here, tempted them outside by dropping cracked corn on the asphalt for them. That worked great and it wasn't long before they'd go outside the barn. Not very far though... I would call them and they'd all come 'a runnin'- just not far from the barn. Eventually, they got brave enough to go out around the horse trailer and areas there. They loved eating the grass, looking for bugs and worms like the other hens always have.

Ending up with FOUR roosters and three hens, it wasn't long before I had to find homes for three of the roosters as that was too many! At any rate, they were all getting along fine having been raised together, so there wasn't a huge rush to sell the three. Luckily I sold one hen and one rooster to a friend.  That left me with 6. Three hens and three roosters.

In the meantime, the little flock of lavender chickens was brave enough to travel on the sides of the barn and met the older hens. The older girls really had not much to do with the young studs wandering about crowing their darned heads off. Basically, they ignored them and went about their chicken lives. When it was time to bring them back inside the safety of the barn they chose to not want to. Heck,so many worms n' bugs outside, comparing the barn w/ just boring old chicken food- well it was a simple choice. We shall be OUTSIDE chickens!
 (at least that's how it came across to me, the chicken herder.) They are around 5-6 months old now and more independent.

One late morning a few days ago, they all came running down the aisle like the devil itself was after them. If you've ever seen chickens run, you'll understand when I type that they remind me of a bunch of little old grey men running as fast as they can, with their hands in their pockets. I stood there chuckling at them all. Convincing 7 semi-adult chickens to now go into their stall for the rest of the day isn't an easy thing. It consists of much arm flapping, walking behind, singing the "chicken song" to keep them all moving forward and towards the open door. Every once in a while, there will be a maverick. She/ He will turn around and quick as a fox run the other way. Towards the front of the barn, or even into an empty stall, hoping the chicken herder didn't notice. Ummmmmm, yeah, I noticed. The rest of them hopped into their stall and hoping that they would remain in there, I herded the maverick back to her/his stall. Most of the time it works really well.

However. When I did a chicken head count, there were just 5. Hmmmmmmm........  Just as I thought I'd better begin trekking about the barn, I heard a distant crow. There were no neighbors with chickens any longer, so I knew where the one maverick had gone. He was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy across one of the pastures, yep, crowing his fool head off. Ok- so I admit that basically, they are 'eraser brains' but, come on. Why was he so far away from his friends? I guess we'll never know as he sure wasn't talking much.  Crowing, sure, but no good reason as to the ''why'' of his walkabout. 

Ever try to herd one fast rooster any place that he didn't want to go? Oh, it's great fun.  Here n' there, scooting under one fence, into another pasture, then back again. Up n' down the hills, under fencing, over to the big mares and FINALLY towards the barn. Ha- I didn't have to do my walk that day; I'd already done it!

Once 'SamIam' saw the barn, he began walking towards it and down the aisle.
 (whew) Then and I saw that little eraser brain thinking " oh no- I didn't want to come here. I shall turn around and run".   I caught him under the lawn rake I had, picked him up and carried him down the aisle to his "chicken house''.  < sigh>  I hope he was embarrassed at being delivered to the others in such an un-manly fashion, but it didn't seem to phase him much. He hasn't gone exploring much since. Thank goodness!

These are my hens-" Princess, Micah and Tillie's'' butt.  One of their many excursions down the barn aisle.

















Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Evie's Dream

When Evie was just a youngster- around 2 years old, she had her own ideas on how life was going to be for her.  Evie was my filly that was born here in Pennsylvania.  There had been other foals but they had all been born in Maryland.  Evie ( if you like- go back and see the stories about her on this blog) was to be something spectacular and I had high hopes for her. She was born on a cold windy April morning and I missed seeing her born. Her mama, Katie, kept it a secret so learning Evie was finally here was a great way to begin my day!


She was smart, funny and so incredibly brave.  I loved her with every part of me, even when she stepped on my little toe one day. Evie was my hard luck filly though. Something was forever going wrong with her. First, she was so tall at birth, it was hard for her to get up alone. For three days, I helped her by giving her butt a boost up. It worked and soon she was doing it all by herself.

Later on, as she grew taller and taller, she suffered from OCD.
( https://www.acvs.org/large-animal/osteochondritis-dissecans-horses)  This caused her a LOT of discomfort in her stifles especially. I am sure later on in her life she'd have developed arthritis in her stifles, but I was never to find out. Evie was 18 hands tall as a three-year-old- all arms n' legs, as they say.  Slowly she learned how to handle her great height and became
so elegant in the way she moved.


When she was a little more than three years old, she made a mistake and upon rolling in some dirt, she rolled over- right into that horrid high tensile fencing. We had plans to replace the next spring. She ripped heavy-duty staples from the posts and cracked three of the posts in getting free. Her left hock in front was a disaster. She was stall bound for almost 3 months and in a protective wrap for another two or so. But- she healed and did such a good job that her scar was barely able to be seen. Evie was perfect whenever a veterinarian or myself had to re-do her bandage. She stood still as she could. 
What an incredible mare she was becoming, if she could only stop having problems!

Sadly we never got to go to a show as one day when she was just 7, she got sick. Taking no chances, I called my equine veterinarian to let her know Evie had a bit of a colic, and that I would let her know if it got bad enough for her to come out. The next morning, Evie was just "off"... not really wanting to eat, and well, just not happy. I called my vet. again, asking her to come out. After checking vital signs, etc, she decided to check Evie rectally. Perhaps something would tell us how to treat her. Evie was tranquilized and checked out. 
I was told that she had an ''Anterior Enteritis''. I wasn't sure what that was and my vet wanted to have us take Eve to a horse hospital. She tubed my mare and there was a good bit of fluid return from Evie. I said that I had to discuss it all with my husband, and would let her know soon.

I did a lot of reading and learning about Evie's problem and found that with big Percheron mares, the chances of survival were not good, even at an equine hospital and proper care. The chances of her developing Laminitis was huge and most likely would have to have a careful diet for the rest of her life. IF she even made it. I couldn't do that to my wonderful mare. I loved her enough to let her go so she could dance in the meadows of heaven.  The next morning, my love was gone.  It was a heartbreaking morning and one I never hope to face again.

Later on that day, I remembered a dream a dear friend of mine told me that Evie had told to her. 
That ''one day, Evie and I would go to horse shows and win all kinds of big fancy ribbons. That Evie's "mom" (me) would put a red harness with diamonds on her. I would then hitch her to a bright red cart with sparkles on it. I'd wear red gloves covered in 'diamonds' and we'd win the biggest ribbon Ever at that show!!!"



Sadly, she never got to have that dream come to fruition, but I still get a chuckle when I think of it and "Herself".








Having Fun !

I found this blog in my travels online and thought I'd share it with you all  :

https://annablakeblog.com/2018/10/05/finding-your-horses-sense-of-humor/

This gal has it to a perfection-  finding your horses' sense of humor.  They all have one, believe it or not.  I don't know how many times I have fallen for my horses' jokes. Now, jokes from a horse sure aren't like our jokes. If you really pay attention, you'll get to witness a few.

Imagine the younger horse playing with cones set up in a ring for driving... I had a Percheron colt who would find fun in pushing mine onto icy patches, then watching me attempt to retrieve them. I swear I could hear him laughing. He was also the one who would pick those cones up with his mouth, and innocently wait until the flighty Thoroughbred mare would wander by.  Wham! Across that fence that cone would fly, usually landing very close to her. Of course, she'd flip out, thinking that it was raining driving cones. I loved seeing that colt's very amused face as he watched her antics.

I've been told and read that a horse never 'lies'. HA! I have had a few who did. My Percheron mare, Lynna, would Big time. If she didn't care for my choice in hay for her, she'd push and shove it into a big pile underneath her feed tub. Then I'd hear her soft nickers to me that Lynn didn't get her hay that morning. I knew darn well I'd given her hay. ''No, I hadn't- I have none at all"... from Lynn.  Finally, after trying to ignore her pleas of starvation, I'd give her some. There was the original hay pile that she didn't think was quite good enough, stuffed up under her feed tub! The same hay and she'd happily be eating it. < sigh >

There was an old Appaloosa mare here who wouldn't go out if she thought it was too hot or cold out. I always let her out loose in the barn area so she could graze in peace. She'd walk to the aisle doorway, look both ways, testing the weather and if it wasn't to her liking, she would turn around and head back to her stall. This dear soul would whinny loudly when she was done eating also.  She and her old friend, Chance, would be down at the gate nearest the house at dinner time- no matter what. She would sometimes whinny loudly for us to know it was time for dinner at the barn.  There were times when those two were early- around 1 or two in the afternoon. She'd be calling and calling until I came out of the door. Well, she'd try to convince me it really was late afternoon and time for a little something to eat.  Chance would stand there all but chuckling...

There have been horses in my life that were hat thieves... especially the ponies. Shoelace un-tiers  ( haha- is that even a word??). There have been some who liked to get a hold of belt loops on jeans and move their humans. Some loved to unbuckle Farriers' leather aprons oh so innocently...

So you see, horses can have a wonderful sense of humor, so long as their people don't put them down for having one. For ages, I've enjoyed watching horses play jokes and remember getting a soaking from an equine mouth holding a hose that was supposed to be filling up a water tub outside or to check outside at night and find that someone with very mobile lips has turned the lights on in the barn AGAIN. Pay attention to your horse or the horses around you-you will find they are quite funny.

 Don't try to fool them by putting on a happy face when you're in an awful mood too. They know sometimes before you'll get in the barn and word spreads so fast. Life with the equine mind can be wonderfully interesting!












Monday, August 20, 2018

Trying to hire help

8.20.18

I have had to hire and sadly, fire people in the past. Running a horse farm is hard work and sometimes it is just nice to have a day off. Thus my wanting to hire someone to come to the farm and make life easier so I can have a day off. Most of the time, horse people don't have days off. Most times they have no insurance coverage, and they have to work when it is miserably cold, hot as Hades; when it is snowing with a blowing cold wind. They deal with all kinds of weather and all kinds of horse- and yes, all kinds of people. So many folks are not suited to working in a barn; not suited to handling 1200 - 2000 pound equines of all temperaments and personalities.  Haha- believe me- I have met all of them at one time or another.

Here in central Pennsylvania, there's not many who have enough true horse experience to work in a barn full of horses. They're either totally uneducated, scared, or angry at a horse trying to be bossy. Or- they know it all.

There ARE some wonderful people who are worth paying though- but sadly in this area, there are few. I have had to accept someone who tells me they "have horse experience" but haven't a clue about a lame horse, a lost shoe, or how to deal with a horse that's feeling silly upon going out to pasture. Soooooooooooo, I train/ teach them and some have gone on to bigger barns and making more money. This I love because I know they'll make me proud in doing a great job. Even with some, I attempt to teach about ailments, what to do in emergencies, or even to show up when expected. Many times they don't work out... Thus the 'firing'. There are some that decide that this kind of work isn't for them, and they just never return.  Eventually, it's easier to just do it myself and not have to deal with people.

I've hired folks that say they 'rode as a teenager' and I find myself thinking
 " ooooookay- that means you really haven't a clue, but know how to show that horse who's boss"  If they're interested in coming to meet me and the horses, most times, they're not really going to.  I am sure those of you who have had to hire the 30-somethings to work at a job find the same thing is true. Sure, they want to make the money but aren't going to actually work to earn it. Then the teenagers who apply for a beginner level horse oriented job- suited to their knowledge- and the first thing asked is "how much will I make?".  Ummmmmmmmmmm, it is very bad manners to even mention money until one has the job. In fact, that kind I'll leave behind.

Finding that my recent weekend helper wasn't as responsible as I thought, it was time to move on and hire another person. This little part-time job was super simple. Let 5 horses in for the evening (or turn them out for the night- depending on weather), make sure they all have their feed, proper hay, and full buckets of water for the night.  Easy, right? Apparently not. I advertised and got only a few responses with a resume`. Again- why can't people learn how to fill out one properly? Misspellings, bad language skills... sheesh.  Their ages ranged from 21 - 35 years old!  These weren't children, but adults. A couple of them asked about the money first when it was clearly posted in my ad... some had very limited horse experience, some, none what so ever. <sitting here shaking my head, all over again>

Why answer an ad, make an appointment and don't bother showing up? That I don't understand. It shows how immature, unresponsible and rude some of the 30-something crowd is once again. Hard to believe- but I see why they don't have a job!

Perhaps it is just this area. Perhaps it's how people have been raised, or have become... I don't know.

What I do know is that, once again, I'll just do those weekend evenings myself. That way I won't have to risk a horse being in trouble if I'm not there being a 'babysitter' to my "employee". Some how, paying them to be babysat by me kind of defeats the purpose...














Monday, July 30, 2018

Memories

7.30.18

Another tale is about working at a Steeplechase farm in Maryland a mighty long time ago. This farm was owned by some rather "well to do" people. It was gorgeous - designed similarly to some English yards from a good while back... The stalls were in a large square with open sides for riding out, and with a lovely courtyard in the center. The stalls were huge for huge horses needed to be able to lay down and sleep in comfort.  There was grass in the center for horses being cooled out and to graze a little. This design really helped keep the cold winter winds out and afforded the horses' fresh air all of the time. Painted in the farm's race colors, it was ultra classy and made me feel like I was working "across the pond".

There was also a smaller enclosed barn with 3 stalls in it for those horses needing peace & quiet or had been injured. '' the Layup Barn". That's where I worked. There was so much to learn and I was in heaven doing it. Hard work, EARLY hours and some horses that even though they had been injured were still racing fit and full of themselves. My day ended around noon. Long, hard hours, but anything concerning horses wasn't "hard" to me.

In this layup barn, there was an older guy named Dave. He was from England and had trained horses to run on the flat and also the "chasers" as they were called back "when he was a kid". Dave must have been over 60 years old when I met him. It was tough to tell because he never complained about aches and pains and his face showed his years. He was quite the character and I became a friend of his. At least I hoped I was. Dave would tell me stories of long ago back in England of his horse he'd entered in the Grand National Steeplechase. He'd never say exactly what year but long before I'd been born. His horse made it over Beecher's Brook only to be knocked into a rail, or was it over a jump and was hurt. Ohhhhhhhh, he was so wonderful in telling about it! He especially loved hearing that my dad had been Irish- and would add in some Irish stories too.

Dave used to play Broadway show tunes early (5 AM) in the morning. I knew if he had arrived or not, thanks to those records. Every morning it was a different Broadway play! I'd drive home whistling tunes each morning. He'd sing to the horses as he took care of them. They relaxed in listening until he sang the tune from ''Oklahoma!''   I was cracking up at the reactions from those horses.

One morning, I was wrapping one of my favorite mare's legs and heard Dave singing in a stall. All of a sudden, I heard someone whistling the same tune- but from outside the barn. Hmmmmm. I finished wrapping my horses' leg and saw it was one of the older Irish grooms from the main barn. Apparently, he knew that tune also. I don't remember what the tune was but it became a pair of guys trying to outdo each other, whistling! I loved it and in no way was even going to join in. This was around 5 in the morning. It had been a foggy night, and now slowly the sun was trying to burn that fog away. The small barn was almost magickal that morning. Finally, they'd both run out of 'whistle' and decided to teach me how to jig. I cannot remember what the Irishman's' name was but he was my teacher. Dave whistled and sang some Irish tune, while I was taught the steps. We were laughing so hard at my mistakes I could barely keep up!

So there you have it- try learning an Irish Jig at 5 in the morning. I surely don't remember much about the steps, but I do remember how that little barn glowed in love that day.

Image result for grand national race - did a rider cheat in any race?

https://www.pandora.com/station/play/4028742212397618055