Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hobby Farm Porn

It’s easy to imagine that other women in their early thirties fantasize about nice cars, or jewellery, or fancy houses. I fantasize about manure spreaders. Or, more specifically, this manure spreader. Is that so wrong?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Wind that Doesn’t Shake the Tonka

We’ve had unseasonably mild and sunny weather in Southwestern BC for the past month, but the meteorologists have been warning that it would come to a crashing end early this week.  Georgia has been teaching three local sisters (ranging in age from 11 to 18) to ride for the past year, and on Sunday we told them that we’d take Tonka, Pepper and three bikes down to the dike on Monday morning to practice some trail skills.  The day dawned incredibly windy and Georgia called early to get my opinion on whether we should cancel.  Call me foolish, but I said that we should continue as planned.  Despite caution being the better part of valour, I think that experienced riders need to set a strong example for beginners and chickening out because of the weather sends the wrong message in my opinion.  Pepper and Tonka are both solid, sensible geldings and the day provided an excellent opportunity for the girls to learn about riding confidently in less-than-ideal conditions.

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Tonka was a star.  He took the bikes in stride, endured the passing of a train, went over the tracks without tripping on the rails, and crossed the big highway bridge under saddle with dump trucks coming and going.  Down on the dike he was  very relaxed, but none of the girls wanted to ride him because (1) they never have before and (2) he is bigger than either of Georgia’s horses.  About halfway through Georgia climbed aboard though, and he was very well-behaved for her as well.  Fifteen minutes into her ride a tree cracked, snapped and fell about 30 feet to his left.  Both horses spooked hard, but Tonka regained himself almost immediately and helped Pepper to settle down.  Yvonne (the middle sister. Johanna, the youngest, is in the picture above) rode through Pepper’s spook just fine, and I switched places with the slightly-shaken Georgia to help boost her confidence in the following minutes.  About ten minutes later another small tree cracked, snapped and fell at the edge of our path about 20 feet ahead.  I saw Pepper decide that it was time to leave NOW, and I didn’t even give Tonka time to react…I just booted him around into Pepper’s escape route.  When Pepper thought about dodging behind Tonka took three voluntary steps backward, perfectly understanding what I was asking him to do.  Pepper came to a halt with the stellar Yvonne still in the saddle, looking a little pale.  She switched off with the older, stronger Danielle and we turned around to head out of falling tree territory.  The wind died down about half an hour later and we had a calm, pleasant ride home.

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I could feel Tonka fading fast on the way home, both physically and mentally. After the last push up The Hill I was considering how many apples he deserved (and could safely eat) after such a winning performance when he stumbled and feel to his knees just at the gate to Farcical Farm.  It was funny because it was like a scene from some epic movie, but it was also heartbreaking because that bloody horse tried his heart out for me all day and I asked too much.  Four apples, founder be damned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Irony in Action

Tonka's new Renegade hoof boots arrived last week, and we put them to the test this afternoon. The irony, of course, is in the idea of "Tonka" and the word "renegade" being used in the same sentence. Regardless, he seemed very comfortable and we went a long way up the new local logging road with no trouble whatsoever. He was keen and forward, but I eventually turned him around to protect his heart rather than his feet, since the route is steep and his (our?) condition is flabby. Hooray for the Renegades!

While we were out exploring the neighborhood, Roger was out beating up on the goats. Or were the goats beating up on him?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

As If to Thank Us

For several weeks before we left for the UK David and I had noticed that Pipsqueak was drooling and that her breath was foul. When the problem worsened instead of resolving itself (as we and our wallets had hoped it might) I brought her into the vet expecting that she would need an abscessed tooth extracted. It turned out that she had eleven abscessed teeth that needed extracting, causing the vet to extract another $800 from us. Pip came through the surgery like a trooper and went on to take her twice-daily medicine with less dignity and/or grace than any other creature we've owned. Who knew that six pounds of the sweetest cat imaginable could be so very strong? Anyhow, she seems to have thanked us for all this torture by eliminating the rats in the garage. For about a week we found one dead every other day, and now the place is perfectly silent at night. Thanks Pip!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor

Apologies for the long hiatus, but I have had other things on my mind while gearing up to defended my PhD dissertation last Friday. All went well, and I expect you all to address me as "Dr. dp" from herein. Now I am looking forward to getting FFF back into full swing for a couple of months.