Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mud, Sweat and Tears

That's tears as in rips. The rain sheet I bought Tonka last winter got resurrected today, despite its half-shredded condition (little did I know how much I would grow to love ripstop material). The horse has very little respect for the clothes that I buy him (teenagers these days), and I caught him rolling around on the crusher dust in his new 1200D shell. When I went to assess its condition I found that the lining was clammy and that he was damp underneath, more from his own unevaporated sweat than from leakage I think. My theory is that he got too hot, started to sweat, got uncomfortable and started to roll. Even though the sheet is uninsulated it has a light nylon lining under a heavy nylon cover that may must be too much over his puffy coat.

After letting him air out for an hour I put (what's left of) the old 840D sheet on and he seemed happier. This afternoon we picked up a 600D ripstop sheet with a very thin nylon lining for $80. I'm not sure how durable it will be, but the price was right and now I can switch off between them throughout the winter. If the Canadian dollar makes a gain over the coming weeks I will get this for Tonka and this for Raven. So far I have been VERY impressed with the durability of the Schneider's turnouts.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reading Recommendations?

Faithful FFF readers (all 12 of you?) have probably guessed that Raven can In many ways she is a typical thoroughbred...sensitive, dramatic and hot. In some other ways she is the typical result of poor training...confused, over reactive and fearful. Underlying these natured and nurtured challenges is one heck of a good horse...willing, hard working and bold.

I'm not ashamed to admit that Raven is more of a challenge than I bargained for, but she is turning out to be a fantastic teacher. With the help of Clinton Anderson her manners on the ground have improved 100% -- even during her antics the other day she stayed out of my space with the cutest "I just can't help myself!" expression on her face . Now I need to pursue a similar improvement under saddle. I know that nothing can replace lessons with an experienced trainer, but Farcical Farm is not currently not set up to haul her out or to have someone in. Next summer I hope to send her for 30-60 days of good training, but until then I am looking for valuable books that specifically address the challenges of working with horses like Raven. Everything on Amazon seems to have a 5-star-rating, but I'm not looking for sunshine-and-flowers anecdotes -- I want concrete examples and specific exercises. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Morning After

Raven is sore today and the joint is hot to the touch, but not swollen. Yesterday was too much too soon, I think -- I blame the bucking bronco routine rather than the trotting. Raven is not American, but I'll give her the holiday weekend to recuperate and we'll restart more gently on Monday. Happy thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hot to Trot

Raven worked her sets today in typical Raven style. We trotted down the pasture (about 200 meters) and walked back up 10 times. She was light in-hand and moving freely. After the first five or six sets she did some bucking, rearing and airs above the ground at the end of my lead. In retrospect I should have brought my stick to get her working through those shenanigans, but I just waited her out. She is a lot of horse to be cooped up for two weeks and putting too much pressure on her when she's in that mood is a recipe for disaster. Patience paid off in the the last four sets, which were more mentally collected and physically respectful.

Any sensible person would have walked her hotness back into the paddock on a lead, but I thought it would be informative to set her free from the far end of the pasture. Sure enough, she bolted off with a mighty fart and proceeded to rodeo around for another few minutes with the dazed-and-confused Tonka in tow. At one point she floated all the way around the top half of the pasture in a perfect extended trot. I am finally convinced that she is going to be fine.

Share and Share Alike

This morning I sensed an odd shadow lurking around Raven's feed dish. While moving closer to investigate I hoped to find our feral cat safe and sound, but it turned out to be a sleek gray rat with a fat pink tail. By the time I arrived it was right in the feed dish, eating nose-to-nose with Miss Thing. Neither seemed concerned with the presence of the other, so they are obviously not familiar with the Chinese zodiac.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Nets

In light of Raven's recent injury I have decided not to build feeders into the horse shelter -- I simply can't think of a design that would be safe and practical for that trouble-making mare. They will have to make do with hay nets.

Hay nets are not ideal for a couple of reasons. First, they need to be hung up high to avoid legs getting tangled in the nylon webbing. This forces the animals to eat with their heads and necks in an unnatural position, and hay in contact with the eyes can lead to irritation and infection. Tonka and Raven eat at least 75% of their forage from the feeders so I am not too concerned about these impacts. Second, traditional hay nets (see above) are made of mesh measuring about 6 inches -- lots of hay comes out of the holes, and feet can easily slip into the holes if one is pulled down. It would be just a matter of time for Raven, I'm afraid.

Fine mesh hay nets (above) are gaining popularity in the UK and the USA, but I couldn't find any at our local tack stores or from Canadian online retailers. Last week I bit the bullet (i.e. the plummeting exchange rate and ridiculous cross-border tariffs) and bought two from They arrived yesterday, and I rigged them up tonight on breakaway bindings. The horses really have to pull to get hay through the 2 inch mesh, so the darned things bounce around like punching bags. So far Tonka thinks it's fun and Raven thinks it's a pain in the ass.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

Christina Cline has been trimming the horses every month for nine months and it has never rained while she was at Farcical Farm. On a couple of occasions I have cleared out the garage just in case, but it appears (to me) as though she travels in a pocket of dry weather (she assures me that she does not). Today it was chilly and sunny when she arrived (not in a goat van VW, but it seemed like a good excuse to promote one of my favourite movies).

Both horses are getting better about being trimmed. Tonka used to fuss and pull and sink and wriggle, but now he prefers to nap. Raven used to kick out randomly with her hinds but today she stood like a statue. In both cases I think that their improved behaviour follows from their improved health and circumstances. Poor Raven was stiff on the right hock when Christina put it down, and strained to hold herself up for work on the hind left, but she did it like a trooper. After a conversation with Kerstin this morning I will hold off riding her for another week at least, but we are supposed to start trotting sets up and down the pasture on Wednesday. I think this means I have to trot too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Man Hands

It's getting chilly (i.e. 2 degrees Celsius -- don't laugh) through the nights now and I find my fingers getting cold during morning and evening chores. Wearing gloves while working is a challenge for me, mostly because I have ridiculously square hands.

My maternal grandmother was tall and slim with the long, elegant hands of a model or a movie star. My mother and sister are very petite with tiny little hands that require child-sized jewelery and gloves. My hands are exactly like my father's, only 2/3 of the size. The fingers of any glove made for women are too narrow, and their tips inevitably extend half an inch beyond my own. The fingers of small gloves made for men are still too wide so that my hands flop around inside. Beyond Farcical Farm I am happy in mittens or those stretchy one-size-fits-most gloves, but neither is ideal for doing chores. Today I found these nitrile-coated nylon beauties. They are tight through the fingers but they are the right length and they make me look like the Incredible Hulk.

It was beautiful here today and I am finally feeling confident enough about Raven to voluntarily leave her unattended for hours at a time. David and I took the dogs down to the river for a walk in the chill wind and I snapped this picture around 15:30. Daylight hours are getting short and sweet.

And some more of the dogs, because it was too dark to take any of the horses by the time we got home:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Raven Update IV, A Message from Tonka

We cut Raven's bandage off yesterday and I am happy to report that (1) there was no swelling around the joint and (2) the gauze was bone dry. The site of the puncture remains slightly warm to the touch so we will continue with 20cc of Excenel for the next four days. Despite some stiffness she is moving well, and I have taken her off the bute so that I can be immediately aware of any changes to her level of pain.

Tonka would like you all to know that he wants more coverage on the blog. Whenever we (me and my lovely assistant David) are fussing over Raven he hangs his head over the stall fence, paws at the ground and acts totally pathetic. The poor horse is desperate for attention (or maybe just bute) -- who knows what trouble he is willing to get himself into. I will turn them out on the pasture tomorrow (for the first time since last Thursday) with utmost trepidation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just My Type

David sent me this link. Pretty good, really.

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters. This shows what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Naming Raven

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is my very favourite book. Susanna Clarke painstakingly (brilliantly, humorously, horrifically) reimagines a Victorian-era Europe in which magic exists, but its practice has fallen into near-obscurity. During previous centuries a powerful faerie-raised human known as John Uskglass and/or the Raven King kept English magic flowing freely from his stronghold in the North, but he and his company have forsaken the human world in exchange for...elsewhere. They are, however, not above abducting the occasional pretty girl:

Not long, not long my father said
Not long shall you be ours

The Raven King knows all too well
Which are the
fairest flowers

The priest was all too worldly

Though he prayed and rang his bell
The Raven King three candles lit

The priest said it was well

Her arms were all too feeble
Though she claimed to love me so

The Raven King stretched out his hand

She sighed and let me go

This land is all to shallow
It is painted on the sky

And trembles like the wind-shook rain

When the Raven King goes by

For always and for always
I pray remember me

Upon the moors, beneath the stars

With the King's wild company

When I bought Raven her name was Ebony, which was too unsubtle for my tastes. Family and friends made several suggestions but she quickly struck me as a creature belonging partly to the Raven King. That poem has been lodged in my head since being confronted with the possibility of losing my black beauty, so I thought I would share it with you.

For her part Miss Thing is doing better each day. She has the endearing habit of pawing at the air with one hoof when she's really excited about her feed, and she did that tonight for the first time in a week. Warmed the cockles of my heart. Tomorrow we cut the bandage off to assess the joint and the medications from herein, but I strongly suspect that none will be needed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lie to Me

This probably goes without saying, but I like animals a lot. I like the way they all have their own personalities and I like the way they are willing to build relationships with us big monkeys. At the same time I think it's dangerous to anthropomorphise any animal. Attributing them with human thoughts, feelings and intentions muddies the relationships between us and does gross disservice to their own languages, instincts, and motivations. In general I believe that animals live in the present, with a vague-yet-persistent concept of past consequences (it sucked last time I tried to bite that monkey, I didn't die the last time that monkey climbed on me, it was awesome last time I lay down when the monkey did that with her hand) and no concept of potential futures.

This doesn't mean that animals aren't complex. Many are intelligent, thinking creatures that have huge capacities for learning. But to what degree are they capable of dishonesty? Exaggerations, white lies or big whoppers? Are some animals less honest than others, and is it nature or nurture that fosters dishonesty? Over the past four days Raven was at her very lamest on Thursday night and I wonder if she wasn't laying it on thick to really get my attention. Please. I need you to notice this.

I have read that Koko the gorilla once blamed her kitten for doing gorilla-sized damage to something in her enclosure, and I know that if my dog Tilley is injured she limps more severely when she thinks someone is watching. I'd love to hear your stories about animal dishonesty and its motivations...

Raven Update III

When the alarm went off at 06:30 Raven and Tonka were munching at one of the feeders -- she has been down in the soft dirt at the top of the paddock every other morning. She lifted her head in greeting when I stepped outside, and I could see that she was feeling perky and troublesome -- her usual self.

There was no swelling under the bandage and the joint is cool to the touch. The best possible outcome imaginable. Kerstin wrapped it again to keep it clean, and we will stay with 2g of bute and 20cc of Excenel each morning for the next four days. Any backslide at this stage will be a bad sign, but Kerstin was visibly pleased with how well things have turned out. I was trembling with relief -- so much that I needed to sit down for an hour before I could trust myself to inject the Excenel safely.

Raven took herself for a trot around the paddock after the vet left, tossing her head and kicking up her heels. Then she hung her head hopefully over the gate to the pasture, but she's going to have to wait another few days before that happens.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeder 2.5

Given that my time and disposable income have for the next little while, the new feeders are on the back burner. In the meantime I was inspired by the Swedish Hoof School to replace the hose-sheathed rebar in my feeders with two panels from the dogs' 48" exercise pen. It works so well that I cut some bars out of another panel to make a new facing for the goat feeder (and I bought a new ex-pen).

I am watching Raven out our bedroom window as I type. She has been off her feed a little over the past 24 hours, but I guess that's not surprising in a high-strung thoroughbred pumped up on bute and antibiotics -- we are lucky that she is eating at all. Watching her after she gets up from being down is heart wrenching, but once she gets going she is moving quite well. No more bute until tomorrow morning so that Kerstin can honestly assess her degree of lameness when she arrives. It is beautiful outside and I was able to exchange her rain sheet for her fly sheet (why are there still flies in the middle of November?) at least. I am so glad that we are not getting last week's heavy rain through this difficult time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Raven Update II

Both vets (Kerstin and her partner Abigail) came out this morning to treat Raven. Miss Thing *cantered* away from me when I went to catch her, which I take as a good sign. Overall the vets were very pleased with how things look. Inflammation has gone down around the joint, and they were able to detect two pockets of fluid with the ultrasound. The fluid appears confined to the joint and is not affecting the tendon sheath -- I am rapidly learning more about hock joints, and this is good news. Both pockets of fluid were drained, flushed and infused with antibiotics again. Raven got another 350cc of Excenel (about $100 worth -- eek!) and 2g of bute. More bute tonight, more Excenel and bute tomorrow, and Kerstin will be back on Monday morning to see where things stand. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Still no sign of the culprit despite much searching. Abigail suggested that I get a metal detector, which is a really good idea. Raven now has a big edema under her chest, but I can't say whether it's from stress or trauma or maybe just her blanket binding around her when she's down. The good news is that Kerstin examined Tonka this morning and thought that I was crazy for worrying at all about strangles. Daun will be pleased to hear that we decided against further vaccination.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Raven Update

Just a quick post to let you know that Kerstin made it out first thing this morning. She confirms that the puncture is clean and deep into the joint -- probably a nail or a piece of wire. She drained off fluid, flushed with saline, infused with antibiotics and wrapped it up. She also administered 3g of intravenous antibiotic (Exceden or something...brain not really working) and 2g of bute. She will be back to do the same tomorrow, and she left me with a shot of Banamine for this evening as well as oral bute. She prefers the Banamine so that the exact dosage is known, as degree of lameness is an important indicator of how things are going. Raven was a total star throughout the treatment.

Kerstin feels we have a 50/50 chance or preventing a primary infection. If the joint does get infected I will be forced to make a difficult decision. Hock joint infections are notorious for being difficult to treat and for leaving their victims only pasture sound. This has not been a great day so far, but I am cautiously optimistic given that we caught it so fast. All good wishes welcome!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It Never Rains But It Pours

It was actually nice here today. Mild, sunny and pleasant until I went to feed the crew this evening and found Raven hobbling along on 3.5 legs. There is a puncture wound on the inside of her right hock, and it's swollen up like half a softball. She was just fine this morning, but I think she might have been jealous of all the attention that Brego is getting. The site is hot to the touch and she's only putting weight on the toe. I hosed it down for 20 minutes tonight, and we'll try to get the vet out on an emergency call tomorrow. Someone on the local horse boards recently had to have their gelding put down due to a similar injury, so I won't be sleeping well tonight.

I Want a Bulldozer for Christmas

Tom showed up with his Caterpillar bulldozer at 08:00 and he left at 10:30. During this period he excavated six inches of top soil from the area around the horse shelter, used it to even out some rough areas of the paddock, put aside three large rocks for us to move into the goat paddock, and spread four loads of crusher dust. Even if I got a bulldozer for Christmas I think it would take me longer than 2.5 hours to do all of that.

The goats have been cooped up in their little paddock for the past three days because of the severe weather (heavy rain, big wind). Once Tom was on his way I transferred them to the horse paddock to get some exercise. They went pretty nutty in the new crusher dust -- I guess they like how it feels under their feet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


For the past week Tonka has been rubbing at his jaw line on the trees, the fence posts and me. He has had a slightly runny nose, and when he nickers he sounds congested. The lymph glands around his throat are swollen, but he is eating with gusto and his temperature is normal. I was cautiously unconcerned about these symptoms until this afternoon when I heard that there has been an outbreak of strangles in the Maple Ridge area, about 40 km west of us.

Strangles is the bacterial equivalent of strep throat for horses, but its clinical manifestation is much more alarming. A severe infection can cause large abscesses around the lymph nodes and in the Eustachian tubes. So large, in fact, that they can crush the windpipe -- hence the name. A very severe infection (or bastard strangles) can cause abscesses around other organs, putting the horse's life at risk when they rupture and drain. Both Tonka and Raven have been vaccinated again strangles, but immunity is short-lived in all cases and simply isn't developed in 25% of the treated animals. Their overall risk of contracting the bacterium is low because they live in a closed herd, but a couple of weeks ago I cared for a neighbor's competition horses all week (none of whom are symptomatic). I put a call into our vet as soon as I heard about the outbreak, and we'll get them both swabbed and tested.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget

My father had eight children, of which I am the youngest by seven years (I was not planned). He turned 55 the year I was born and I turned 27 the year he died all too suddenly. My father and I had a lot in common -- big noses, sturdy builds and a vexing emotional reserve. Many of my core values (atheism, philanthropy, curiosity, loyalty, hard work) were his core values. He was also a pacifist at heart, but he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a young man and he served in WWII as a navigator in the Ferry Command, shuttling aircraft back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean via the Azores Islands (which were notoriously hard to find with a bubble sextant and a slide rule).

My father never talked about the war, wasn't very involved in veterans groups, didn't have the special license plates. I'm sure that he was proud to have served, but I'm not sure that he was happy to have served. For me Remembrance Day is an opportunity to respect the men and women who fight our wars without respecting the act of war itself, and I think my father felt the same way. I wanted to express that respect by attending the ceremonies in Mission this morning with David, but even though we arrived early we couldn't get in the door. A good sign, I think.

My Little Ponies

Renovations to the basement of the Ruddy Beast are now complete, so David and I have finally been unpacking the last of our boxes. These contain mostly books, CDs, miscellaneous stuff we probably don't need if it's been in storage for two years, and lots of oldskool photographs. One album from 1998 had portraits of all my ponies that summer. EvenSong mentioned that they looked well-cared-for the other day, and I have to agree. While I hated to work them as hard as we did, the park owners are astute business folks who understood that caring for the animals was within their best interest. My most persistent problem was with girth and saddle galls -- big ticket problems like teeth, feet, worming and feed were always covered. Furthermore the footing around the ride was great, and the ride itself was designed to be pleasant for the animals (not the mention the staff, kids and parents). It meandered through little rolling hills with shrubs and greenery -- not the dusty hot-walker-style circle you so often see. These pictures from the end of the season show how well we were able to maintain them through their long, hot and demanding summers. They spend their winters on the park owners' ranch in eastern Ontario, and any pony that works on the ride has a guaranteed retirement home there.

Here is Bubba as a 4-year-old. Any successful pony ride pony has a sweet and willing personality, but he really was (and probably still is) a cutie pie.

This is Teddy, who was just fantastic. I can't say enough good things about this pony. We got him in 1996 and he never put a foot wrong. The other staff used to call me "The Pony Whisperer" and on one of my days off someone scrawled "The Pony Whisperer says that Teddy is da BOMB!" on our tack room wall. I wonder if it's still there.

This is Zeddy, who was bought at auction with Bubba in 1998. Another great guy, and built like a brick shit house. He never caused me any trouble, and he would have made some kid a fantastic little riding pony (I rode him often, and he was super willing).

And this is Spot, who was my best success story (and my favorite pony). He was new in my first summer, and very timid about the kids, the cameras, the environment, the other ponies -- you name it, and he would spook at it. Spookiness is a problem in pony ride ponies, but he had such a sweet personality that I committed to helping him succeed. If he was in the ring I was the only one I trusted to handle him (and kids and parents) through a spook, but after six weeks of treating him with calm confidence he caught on and became really reliable. These animals really do draw a lot of their attitude from trusted handlers. More pictures to follow one day when I need material.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Flogging a Dead Horse Feeder

The two hay feeders I built for the horses are approaching the end of their first half life. No major repairs have been needed thus far, but nothing made of wood lasts for long in a rain forest (hence the steel shelter). Like any good engineer I am already working on an improved design to be implemented next summer. Two treated posts will be required to hold the whole thing up, but otherwise it will be made entirely of steel. For anyone interested in the construction of slow-release hay feeders, this site recently came to my attention. There are some great ideas here, though none of them appropriate for the wet coast (with the exception of this huge round bale net -- brilliant!).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hay Nets

dIn my last year of high school I got a summer job managing the pony ride at a local amusement park. The 60+ hour work week was grueling for both me and the ponies, but it paid much more than $500/summer. I actually kept that job throughout my undergraduate degree because it also paid more than good summertime engineering positions (especially because I was living with my generous parents in Toronto instead of paying rent in Vancouver). Most other ride managers were university students working hard to support their educations, and we had a lot of fun in our scarce spare time.

The pony ride had 10 - 12 ponies that I would rotate as fairly as possible (never fairly enough). When not working they lived in a paddock at the petting zoo along with an insane zony (a zebra crossed with a pony) and an ornery zonkey (you do the math). To maximize efficiency while minimizing wastage I fed them all by hanging 6 - 8 stuffed hay nets around the paddock each morning and evening. When you multiply this by six days per week, 12 weeks per year for 5 years you might believe my claim to being the fastest hay netter in the west (this lady is doing it wrong).

We are using hay nets to minimize wastage in the shelter*, and I think of my ponies every time I fill them. Some of them were with me every summer (the picture above was taken long after my time in 2005, but the bay is Bubba who I trained in 1998 when he was 4), and that job gave me an immense respect for the pluck and personality of the little guys (they were all geldings). One day I would like to give an old pony a retirement home, in honour of their hard work for me over the years.

*The horses love the shelter again. David is convinced that they are just messing with my head, and I am beginning to believe him. Either way, Tom is coming out on Wednesday to put crusher dust around the whole thing, and to make a path up from the south end of the paddock.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bad Vibrations

It is absolutely pouring here today and our neighbors are doing some serious deforestation on their property. The excavator, big trucks, chainsaws and toppling trees have put both horses on edge since early this morning. When I woke up they were standing under the cedars beside their shelter, but ever since they have been down at the bottom of the paddock looking wary in the rain. Unfortunately the whole shelter vibrates slightly with the heavy equipment nearby, and we suspect they got seriously spooked sometime midmorning when a truck rattled past. This evening I cannot coax them up there for love nor money (nor alfalfa cubes nor sweet feed) , and Raven reared up on my when I tried to do it by force.

I'm feeling at wit's end tonight. This shelter has been nothing but a headache, and now it's a headache that my horses won't even use. I don't have the time or patience to baby them through the desensitization process every time they decide it's scary, and I don't have the heart to let them stand in the rain day in and day out. After some discussion I think that David and may try relocating it (no small feat) to the south end of the paddock, which they tend to prefer. And if that fails we might have to try something else entirely. This is not the end I had envisioned after six months of frustration, but I guess that I shouldn't be surprised.

Addendum: When I went out to feed they were both cleaning up the alfalfa cubes I spread earlier. They didn't look happy about it, but they were doing it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Twenty Bucks!

At the beginning of the US primaries I (ever the optimist) bet David (ever the pessimist) $20 that Obama was going to win the election. I don't want to get all political on you, but I do want you to know that I cried like a baby during his speech this evening.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Getting My Kicks

It was raining hard this morning but I turned the horses out on the pasture so that I could get my chores done in peace. It has been gray and mild here for the past several days so I thought it would be safe to let Tonka graze unmuzzled for an hour. After mucking, restocking the feeders and playing some fetch with the dogs I went to collect the horses. I guess Tonka likes grazing without his muzzle because he took off at a trot when he saw the halter in my hand (Raven hot on his heels, of course). As I walked down to their new location I watched him tuck into a new patch of grass and I figured that small shenanigan was over. But when I approached to offer some skritches he turned his rump, kicked out in my general direction and bolted back up the length of the pasture and into the paddock (Raven hot on his heels, of course). And boyohboy did he look good doing it! He rarely sustains a voluntary canter for more than a few strides, but this was 200 meters of four-off-the-floor flying gallop.

You need to understand that Tonka is sweet and polite to a fault. Food is the only thing that will push him to test human authority, and even his treat-induced bad behavior is mostly just silly antics. He has never avoided being caught before today, and he has certainly never kicked out at anyone. I suppose that I should be worried about this development, but I'm actually kind of proud of him. To me that show of spunk and power means that he is starting to feel spunky and powerful.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Apple Sauce

Roger* showed up on Friday with ~50 lbs of apples. Yesterday he systematically produced 10 liters of applesauce (yum!) and a pile of discarded apple pieces. Of course we can't feed these to Tonka and Raven all at once, but we stashed them in a freezer to be doled out as pony popsicles over the coming week. Perhaps I will do the same thing with our own apples next year.

The weather has normalized over the past three days, so we are getting the wind and rain that's typical of fall on the coast. Still, Roger was kind enough to help David and I get the horse shelter finished yesterday despite the rain and the entirely unhelpful antics of the goats. Raven is definitely appreciative of all this effort on her behalf, but Tonka still prefers to stand out in the weather. At least I know that he has the choice now, and I feel like I have held up my end of the bargain.

*Since returning to Vancouver from LA Roger has been living in his father's basement. He will take possession of his condo next month, but in the meantime short getaways to Farcical Farm have helped him to maintain his sanity. He lived in our Vancouver basement suite for years, so having him around feels just like old times.