Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Foliage, Flowers & Dirt Under The Fingernails

I have been very busy trying to cram a lot into a short few days. Spring has not been cooperative, too cold, then too hot and always too dry. We have been having a worrisome change in our climate and it isn't something I want to see. But that isn't the story. I spent the day in the nursery and the garden. I need to go back tomorrow, but I got everything that I bought today planted. So I turned this.....

into this,

and this.

I had the help of Howard & Grace.
Mark's idea of gardening.
I planted a few items in this small plot. I have garlic coming up, some lettuce showing itself, zucchini & chives.
Heirloom tomatoes & peppers, several different basil, two heirloom eggplant, some carrots & lemon cucumber.
The iris are blooming. I wish they went all season.

When we were finished for the evening I started the grill & made turkey wild rice & cranberry bratwurst accompanied by potato salad & baked beans. A nice early summer day. More ahead tomorrow.
Now we really need rain. Not only for my yard and gardens, but for the horse's pasture and hay. Please rain.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bearded Iris & Sundry Items

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  
Claude Monet

The bearded iris are opening their blooms. I love iris and have many, but my blooms are down because I need to divide. Aren't they beautiful!

Yesterday, my day of thinks. I had no time or energy for thinks. My poor brain was muddled from two consecutive late nights and I had all I could do to function at the basic level for the tasks ahead of me for the day. I was too busy and too tired to even stroll through my list of favorite blogs. I simply am not able to miss my needed sleep anymore, especially two nights in a row.

If you look at this blog  We Go Together Like Peas and Carrots  you will read what kept me up late Wednesday night. Never a dull moment in the suburbs!

So I am slow moving this morning as well, but the sun is shining, the iris are blooming and I have a good cup of coffee before me. I should wake up soon. Today there will not be any pearls of wisdom or words laden with wit flying through my fingers to the keyboard. Alas, all I have is a good morning to you all and make it a great day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


A Rose from the Concrete

A rose from between the concrete
grows, stilted, scraggy, worn.
Until the first hint of blossom
starts to open. Then the voices
going by, stop, smile, and sometimes laugh.
But are forever changed by a small 
red rose growing from the concrete.

Stephen Pray

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wild Horses

My friend Shelley Paulson is a professional photographer. She took many of the photos on my sidebars. Shelley had the opportunity to go to New Mexico to photograph wild horses. She said it was a life changing experience for her and I believe her. Shelley has a photo blog and she has been putting photos up in increments. They are beautiful and I thought people who come here may enjoy looking at her efforts. She also sells her work and what she does with it is stunning. Enjoy the horses.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Festive Gala At Reflection Farm

Sunday was the quintessential All-American day! Green lawn, happy people, great weather and horses. Jean and her daughter Jaime hosted a tail cutting celebration for the Champion miniature stallion that they got into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest tail on a pony! Jaime started this process without telling Dakota's owners, the Pitmans of Hudson Wisconsin. It took a year before it was finalized, but the stallion and his tail made the record book. Ron Pitman wanted to cut the tail, so finally, a year later, a celebration was held and the deed was done. I think a good time was had by all, including Dakota.

Complete with cake.
Ron & Jaime (and a little dog) with the certification.
Unveiling of the tail.
Showing his long locks.
Showing off.
It's cut off!
Gimme a kiss.
Driving away.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life's Final Sunset

I received word this morning that an old adversary from an internet forum died at age 58. This man and I did not get along, to the point of my leaving that forum as a member. Strange how one can feel such dislike of a person never met.

I know several people who knew him and it seems we had something in common; people either really liked him, or not so much. We had a couple of other things in common, age and horses. And opinions. And this is where we butted heads. Opinions.

I understand he died in his sleep. Hardly seems fitting for such a crusty person to slip away quietly. I would have expected he would go telling everyone around him they didn't know what they were doing. Aggravating all around him to the end. But he exited with peace.  And I am sorry. I never met him and I did not like him. And I'm sorry he is gone. Like him or not, he was a presence, a real person behind a computer screen with a family and years that he should have had in front of him.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Morning

A glimpse of life on the farm on Saturday morning.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


To be happy at home
is the ultimate result of all ambition.

Samuel Johnson

I am not a hugger. It's odd I'm not a hugger because I am certainly a bleeding heart liberal. But I am not a hugger. 

I'm not a gusher, either. If I say, 'That's great", you just got gushed at. I don't know how to talk in the upper register of my voice.

I don't have a poker face. If you are annoying me, you know it. I say it this way because I tend to be annoyed more often then not now. I believe it's a sign of the times. Nerves are at the skin, not under the skin. So curmudgeonly people such as myself are more likely to be irritated easily. I never have been a ray of sunshine.

I'm tired of knee-jerk stupid. 

I am so Minnesotan. There is nothing we enjoy more than complaining about the weather. Two days of near 100 degrees in May is too much. It's hot and dry and summer hasn't started yet. 

I have a couple dozen roses to plant. I think it seemed like a good idea when it was just an idea during the dreary month of March, as I was waxing nostalgic about tending my gardens. Now it's lunacy in May. Not only do I need to plant them but I have to prepare the beds for their little tootsies to rest in. So a bunch of bare roots are soaking in buckets waiting for my inaction to kick into action. Oh my, that's pressure.

I am, I believe, an idiot. I deemed it a good idea to make a pie. In 100 degree weather. Turning on the oven in 100 degree weather. Don't put me in charge of anything, as it is obvious I am not capable of making a wise decision. 

I have 90, yes 90 gladiola bulbs to plant. I don't know where I will plant them. I get carried away sometimes. 90, oy. I think I need a stiff drink. Or two. Refer to the prior paragraph.

I think a number I heard yesterday may be of some interest. 428%. The profit attained by the health care insurers from 2000 - 2007. I already knew this intuitively, since our monthly premium has increased by 100% in the past 4 years. I think this is something to ponder.

Oh, and the pie is good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Letter to My Sister

It is dangerous for a woman to defy the gods;
To taunt them with the tongue's thin tip,
Or strut in the weakness of mere humanity,
Or draw a line daring them to cross;
The gods own the searing lightning,
The drowning waters, tormenting fears
And anger of red sins. 

Oh, but worse still if you mince timidly--
Dodge this way or that, or kneel or pray,
Be kind, or sweat agony drops
Or lay your quick body over your feeble young;
If you have beauty or none, if celibate
Or vowed--the gods are Juggernaut,
Passing over . . . over . . .

This you may do:
Lock your heart, then, quietly,
And lest they peer within,
Light no lamp when dark comes down
Raise no shade for sun;
Breathless must your breath come through
If you'd die and dare deny
The gods their god-like fun.

Anne Spencer ~ 1882 - 1975

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bon Jour

The world's favorite season is the spring. 
All things seem possible in May.
-   Edwin Way Teale

We have a glorious day ahead. Spring seems to have forced the issue and is in full swing. I am able to open the windows and smell the apple blossoms. All we are missing is the rain. 

The horses stand at the fence line, gazing at the grass on the other side. This is the traditional week for turning out to pasture, but we haven't had enough rain, so the pasture grass is not up enough to put them out. I have a lot of horses and limited pasture, so I must be careful in my management. Some patience at the front pays off in the long run. I hope. Topper, on the other hand, has a whole pasture to himself and is getting shiny and sleek on the grass. He is a lucky stallion. Lucky that I have a pasture that needs rest, so he gets it to himself. I'll put Ben back with him when we get past breeding season.

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Box Just For Wishes Or Dreams That Will Never Come True

Life is a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you can spend it only once.
Frances Bacon

Remember that old Jim Croce song. It's been playing in my head lately. If I had a box just for wishes and dreams that would never come true, what would it be filled with?

My mother would tell me, when I said "I wish" if wishes were horses then beggars would ride. Maybe that's how I ended up with so many horses, that's where my wishes went.

My mother. I have wondered about people who have close, loving relationships with their mother. It's a totally foreign concept to me.  My poor mother who never felt she was able to get past the shantys of Ireland, the Ireland of the time of her parents. The harsh, unforgiving, starving Ireland.

Mother was a teenage bride to an older, dominate man from a family that looked down on her heritage and her religion. My father took her religion from her, but no one was ever able to take her sense of inferiority from her. Marrying into a family that constantly pointed it out surely did not help.

So she took refuge in a smoldering rage. She hid her emotions away and only displayed a no nonsense front. No dreams, no wishes. This is what you are and this is what you'll stay. Her shield of survival. She was never as tough as she portrayed herself to be, but as a child you don't know that. You only know what you see and experience.

Like her mother before her, she was a much better grandmother then mother. My mother opened up some for my son and I am grateful for this. For her sake.

I was going to write some little piece about wishes and instead I came to the topic of my mother. I don't know how that happened, but I think I'll let it stay. I know my mother has a trunk full of wishes and dreams that will never come true. I'm sad for her. I let the lingering anger go long ago and now I wish she could have a wish and a dream come true. But the old, dominant man she pledged her troth to is still controlling her destiny and old habits will not be broken.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The rhubarb is up.

I've been chasing my thoughts around all morning, as if they are sent fluttering in the wind we are experiencing. I have so much on my mind, but I think for now many of my thoughts need to remain out to pasture. They need time to formulate, percolate, animate. 

For some reason my coffee tastes better this morning, the first sip sent a flavor burst right to my brain. Don't you love it when an everyday experience has a brief moment of exceptional? 

We are experiencing a reluctant spring. The grass is green, the flowers are emerging from the earth, where they slumbered the winter away. The lilac is blooming, the apple tree is in blossom. All this is spring, but it persists in remaining cool and overcast. The rain that hangs in the air passes us over, leading me to fear that once again we will have a dry summer. The horses stare over the fence to the grass beyond. They turn to look at me with quizzical faces, wondering why they stand in a square of dirt when there is lovely green on the other side. The pasture grass has been slow coming. The lawn grows heartily, but the pasture is almost dormant. How do you tell a horse you are sorry.

A friend of mine is off to Montana to attend a bucking horse sale. It's a big festival and she attends as often as she can. I think this is an odd occupation and I don't believe I would care for any of it. But she loves it and has a great time. Further evidence that one person's pleasure is an other's displeasure. I think this is the stuff life is made of and we would often benefit from at least peeking into someone else's interests. I'll never be a fan of a Montana bucking horse sale and all that goes with it, but I can listen to the excitement in a friend's voice as she talks about her adventure and accept differences. I think this means I may be growing up.

I wonder if the earth has accelerated its spinning, as time seems to be moving so swiftly. I can't seem to hold onto it, it simply flies through my fingers as I watch it unravel and disappear. I need to take time more seriously, not waste it as has been my habit. I need to view time as a valuable commodity, something to be savored and used wisely. Which leads me to wonder, is clicking away at a keyboard a constructive use of my waning time? Perhaps. 

Since I was on the subject of time, I see how much has passed since I started this clickety-clack of keys. Too much time has passed, I have things to do in the here and now that cannot wait. Enjoy the day, make use of your time, and stop to marvel for a moment at wonder of it all.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Robert Bly was born in Minnesota and continues to reside here.

The Indigo Bunting

I go to the door often.
Night and summer. Crickets
lift their cries.
I know you are out.
You are driving
late through the summer night.

I do not know what will happen.
I have no claim on you.
I am one star
you have as guide; others
love you, the night
so dark over the Azores.

You have been working outdoors,
gone all week. I feel you
in this lamp lit
so late. As I reach for it
I feel myself
driving through the night.

I love a firmness in you
that disdains the trivial
and regains the difficult.
You become part then
of the firmness of night,
the granite holding up walls.

There were women in Egypt who
supported with their firmness the stars
as they revolved,
hardly aware
of the passage from night
to day and back to night.

I love you where you go
through the night, not swerving,
clear as the indigo
bunting in her flight,
passing over two
thousand miles of ocean.  

Robert Bly

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Beginning

The start of The Vegetable Garden. This is the result of a Sunday of turf digging. A little more to go for turf removal and then I'll haul more manure over and till it in. 

Planting is just around the corner. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Busy Bee

I have a very busy day ahead, but I thought I'd take a moment to announce, it arrived. The book which will help launch me into my new title of Beekeeper.
I have paged through it a bit but have not sat down to actually read it yet. 

I sowed wildflowers in the unused paddock yesterday and eyed where I will put my hives next year. Mark is not so jittery now that my new venture has been put off for a year. 

Well I am off for a full day of barn work and yard work. It is a beautiful day, so far. I have a little buzzing of motivation in my veins, so I need to act before it dies away.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

End Of An Era

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it. 

This is a nice photo - click for larger image

Horses have been a part of my life all of my life. I decided I had the tumidity to breed and raise the beasts almost two decades ago, but they have always been in my world. The smell of them is ingrained in my pores. Not everyone likes this, but I can't smell it, so it's all good.

Some people are born to do something. I was born for horses. An unfortunate thing, being so connected to something of no practical value. I found I liked breeding and raising them, even though I have some battle scars and some badly creaking joints to show for it. I was also, overall, good at it. But the economy tanked and the horse market went with it. My little business came to a screeching halt.

This isn't about that, although it is relevant. Times have changed. There are fewer and fewer people like me around. Kids whose parents didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with a kid getting on a horse, unsupervised, and doing god only knew what. My parents didn't treat me like precious cargo, I was a kid. I'd mend. Now it's all supervised and under someones control and direction. I understand the concern, I really do. But in the meantime, these kids don't learn to be brave. I'm not sure they really learn to ride. I mean ride. These same parents will buy the child a car and send it out on its own to navigate the unpredictable on the highways and byways. Or send them off down ski slopes, or buy them motorcycles or snowmobiles. I'm an anachronism. I think a horse is safer.

So I wonder where will the next generation of trainers and breeders come from? You can't be timid and see horses as a threat and work with them. I don't understand the fear combined with the desire to have a horse. I just wonder about this sometimes. But that part of it is not my dilemma.

Which leads me to my dilemma. I breed horses you have to ride. They are good horses. They are smart, athletic, willing and quick. They are not people carriers, they are equal partners in the venture. People who really ride love them. But people who really ride are becoming an endangered species. I don't like breeding horses enough to breed horses I don't appreciate and the horses I appreciate are not highly valued anymore by the instant gratification mentality of the 21st century. Which leads to an understanding that I can't expect to sell what the general buyer in the market doesn't want. This has been a change.

There is something else. For as long as I can remember, people of average means have been breeding quality horses and been able to take proper care of herds. Minnesota has a lot of rural space and usually an abundance of hay. Some of the most famous names in Arabian horses have come out of Minnesota, from small breeding farms. This is bound to change. For many reasons. Hay that I used to buy based on the ag market price is now based on what boarding barns will pay for it. Grain prices don't seem to be following the commodities market. Bedding costs are through the roof, based largely on a lack of waste wood because of the downturn in new housing. Its been my experience once something goes up, it rarely comes down in. So I assume bedding will stay high regardless. 

And then there is veterinarians. Farm vets are going the way of the dinosaur. It's hard work, requiring dedication few people possess. Equine vets exist, but this is a different breed from the horse vets of the past. My beloved vet retired three years ago and it has been a nightmare for me. Horses are pets, owned by people who baby-talk to them, buy blankets, sheets and color coordinated frou-frou. They love their pet and will spend great sums of money. It's sort of like having a very large dog. This is not in itself a problem for me, except that this is the prevailing owner and this has caused a shift in horses no longer being considered livestock. Vets have adjusted to this. Large animal is now going the way of small pet. Equine vets have learned how to charge lots of money. When a farm treated colic costs me $500, I know the world has changed. I realize I cannot manage the costs associated with maintaining a breeding farm when everything around me escalates in cost at such a rapid speed. I had someone point out to me recently that although the classic horse vet has disappeared, the advances in knowledge and treatment available make up for it. Depends on your perspective. Medical science has advanced. Equipment is available to diagnose and treat many things not possible 20 - 30 years ago, if you go to the clinic. What happens on the farm is by and large the same. The diagnostic and surgical procedures are really phenomenal, but they come at a large cost. And if only a few can afford it, it's not of much help, it just makes you feel bad that you can't. But oil is still oil, a gastric tube is a gastric tube. Wounds get treated, sometimes mysteries get solved. Same as always. Only the cost has changed. 

Things change and that means some people get left behind. It really is unpleasant when it's you. Not nearly as much so when it isn't. This time it's me. I'm getting too old for this anyway, but still..........I guess I had some rambling thoughts on an early Sunday morning. I know this is of no relevance to most people, but my woes creep into my fingers sometimes and they just get themselves typed out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Life In The Slow Lane, Or Why I'm Not Let Out Much

I'm not overweight.  I'm just nine inches too short.
~Shelley Winters

So, I went to the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis on Monday evening for dinner and a concert. I spend my life on a farm, in a barn so the wardrobe is limited. And that is being charitable. Being the prepared individual that I am I decided Monday morning that I should try on my 'good clothes' because somehow 25 lbs found me this winter. If someone out there lost them, I found them and you may have them back. OK, back to point. No way, think stuffing a sausage.

Well now, seeing as I am a calm and prepared person, I didn't panic. I had a couple of hours free in my day to buy something for my excursion to the big city, where I would actually be placed among a herd of humans.

Has anyone else noticed how ugly clothing has become? What's with pant legs that are so wide three sets of legs could fit into one? I am short & fat. Wide pant legs make me look like a clown, they are not, as we are so often told by skinny fashion designers, slimming. Take my word for it. They're not.

I have developed a weird shape. Let's call it The Golden Delicious Apple Shape. Round at the top and tapering . Somewhere along the way I look like I ate the whole thing and it settles around my middle. This does not make for easy clothes fitting for a short person. It is assumed if you buy my size that you are six feet tall. A whole other pair of pants could be made from what puddles around my feet. It is also assumed, perhaps correctly as I look odd, that if you wear this size, you have the butt and thighs to go along with it. I don't. So I have sagging butt and bagging thighs in my couture.

My tortured brain is spinning after several trips to the dressing room. Mostly from having a panoramic view of what has become my body. Crap. Back to point. I need to walk through the maternity clothes each time I trek to the dressing room. I think, pregnant women have big bellies, but it isn't assumed everything else is as big as their gut. Hmmmm, I think I'm onto something.

I find a nice pair of slacks that are just wide-legged instead of WIDE-LEGGED and make my way once again to the torture chamber disguised as a dressing room. Voila, success. They feel a little big, but I'm tired of this merry-go-round and call it good.

So the time to leave approaches, and being the prepared person I am, I start to dress. I have a puddle of pant leg on the floor. I don't remember this from the dressing room. I guess I was so thrilled with the upper part of the equation I neglected to look down. I have a whole five minutes, no problem. Off they come and I do a quick slip stitch hem and hope they aren't too obviously off from one leg to the other. Perfect!

We take the drive into town, park and get out to walk over to the theatre. Something is amiss. My pants want to fall down. Not too bad, but they are slipping. I manage to make it to the restaurant and my seat without losing my drawers. 

Time to get to our seats in the theatre. By now I am feverishly trying to keep my pants up as I attempt to retain some semblance of dignity. Did I mention they felt a little loose when I tried them on? It seems the fabric has 'give' and every time I sat, it gave. A lot. During the break I learned a new walk. Hands in pockets, firmly pulling upward as you move along stiff-legged. Kept my pants up. I looked like a penguin.

Lesson learned? I need to stay on the farm, away from civilized company. I really do.

Friday, May 8, 2009

If I Could Put Time In A Bottle, Or Get Off Your Butt And Do Something

      Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.

Remember the old Beatles song I'm a Loser? It's been playing through my head all morning. And it's already been a long morning (thank you Secret for doing a big horse scream before the birds were up).

Since Tuesday morning I have had the place to myself, as far as no other two-legger being around. I had such grand plans schemed in my mind. And that's where they stayed. The clean house I was to have, no. The day lily transplant project which would be completed, no. Horses brushed to gleaming glory, hardly. How can one person waste so much time? Obviously very effectively.

Alright, I'm a loser. A loser of time, which I can't reclaim. Crap. I also have a zero learning curve because I will do this again, the next chance I have for uninterrupted projects will result in my looking around at the end of the week with a glazed expression wondering what I did with my time. Trying desperately to reel it back in so I can have a do over. Fat chance.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Too Much Adventure at Brandywine!

I thought I should pull up the post in which I decided I was Wonder Woman. I hadn't been blogging very long when I wrote this little treatise, so many people have no idea what I am talking about. This is from September 2008. 

I sit here now with sore 'Popeye muscles'!  We trailered over to Brandywine for a lesson with Zing. Firstly, Zing has decided he doesn't load into a trailer anymore. So we couldn't get him in. Ashley, this is for you. Zing is a scent horse, he can't sniff enough horse dung, so I went and picked some up. He got interested and made it half way in before he power backed. The manure lost its interest. I have at least one mare that is in heat, reference my prior post, so I went to her stall and got some soaked bedding for him. He liked that and got in. We didn't have time to play with him, so do what works. Uneventful trip over there.
We have arrived at our destination and open the trailer doors, Zing is up on his toes about everything. I open the divider enough for Kristina to clip the lead rope to his halter and I guess I don't realize he is still attached to the trailer tie. He has a leather halter on and he pulls, breaking the halter. Kristina shouts (a shout for mild Kristina) "He's loose! I told her no he's not and pressed the divider back into him. We proceeded to have a battle of wills on who would push whom. He is at least 1000#'s and I'm not, but I am determined not to have my STALLION loose on someone else's farm, causing harm potentially to himself and others. I felt I was losing him a couple of times, but my super powers kicked in and I kept him in the trailer. He finally turned around and I got the divider closed. Kristina was on my side at this time and I told her to get the halter on him. The halter was useless so I went into a barn full of Warmbloods and grabbed a huge halter and gave it to Kristina. She got in on him from outside his space and stood there. I told her to get in there and she looked at me and I repeated get in there. She did, I opened the divider and we got into the barn.
I have a well-stocked trailer, so I had duct tape to get the halter fixed for the immediate need. A little twine to get the throatlatch long enough. As I was repairing the damage, Kristina came to the trailer and said "You don't have any thought for personal safety, do you." I couldn't argue, so I said no, I don't. My horse would get loose over my dead body. The prospect of that meant more than anything else. Adrenaline is a powerful thing and a strong personality combined with it kept everyone safe. I told her I am Wonder Woman. She later told me I would be the mom who would pick up the car pinning her child. Yes I would, but then I wouldn't be able to walk for a year!
On the way home I told her this is my defining line between amateur and professional, the understanding that the person who works with horses as a life choice is responsible for everyone's safety, often at the risk of their own. I am not reckless, quite the contrary, but that horse was not getting out of that trailer. And now my poor, old body hurts, but he is in his stall and all is right with the world. Hopefully Wonder Woman won't need to show up again!