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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beautiful Lady Wrapped In White

My beloved craggy and ancient apple tree in all her marvelous glory.

Absolutely lovely, delicate flowers that become small, sweet fruit in the fall.

A happy bumble partaking of her nectar.

Industrious honey bees doing their due diligence.

Gathering nectar for the hive.

After a day of self-indulgent woe-is-me I thought it appropriate to show the other side of the coin. As long as the bad is balanced by the good, life stays on an even keel.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Too Many Irons

in that proverbial fire.

I overwhelm easier now. That is to say, I am overwhelmed. What I want and what I can do are not the same. They truthfully haven't been for a long time. In my mind dwells the life of perfect. In reality it is quiet chaos. And I am lucky that it is quiet. Not quite quiet desperation, but give me time.

I have a large place and mostly me taking care of it. In the past week I have scraped paint on the garage and primed and painted one door to completion, one to the first coat of paint and one primed only.

After I finish the doors I need to paint the garage itself. Yippee.

Then there are the gardens. It doesn't seem like that much, but it sure is feeling like it. This stuff is getting ready to bloom and I still haven't got all of the weeding and mulching done, much less any planting.

So I still have this bed,

and this,

and this

as well as this to weed and mulch.

And of course too many of these fine animals to care for. Mud, hair and tangled manes. I don't even consider clipping anymore.

I cannot forget this, which always needs to be cleaned.

The bright side is, I have three beds done like this. Northern gardens are not exotic, we work with what survives -30 + degrees F. 

And then there is still this project to be done. Repairing and staining the walkway. And sowing the nasturtium seeds. And fixing Howard's dead spots. And where the big hole was dug last year to repair the leak from the well to the house.

While I'm at it, I may as well give hives to Allegra of Beading Stars. All of this lawn to mow. Plus more in the back, as well as the grass dressage arena. And look what that awful man did to my trees. I'm feeling her purple passion.

I believe I just had a very fine whine. I'm all better now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I still bounce. I know this because I got the opportunity yesterday to find out.

I realize that what I experience in a day is not common in the world outside of the horse industry. Sometimes the large animals knock me around. Yesterday Laddy got spooked at the gate as the farrier tried to shoo the other horses away, so he made a move. Over me. I have this thing about not letting go of the rope, so I got dragged a little and then I got a good case of rope burn. I really should have let go, as he got loose anyway. But I never let go. So I should get back into the habit of gloves.

I also know better than to let people help me, as it usually goes wrong. But he insisted I needed help and would not be dissuaded. Unfortunately, my horses lead a sheltered life. This is a private farm, so there is not a lot of outside activity for my horses. There is routine and all things familiar. A man at the gate flapping a cap was too much for spooky Laddy. And there was that truck parked right there.

This is for those who don't know horses. They are prey animals, they are dinner for predators. This gives them a flight instinct; those with the strong instinct are more likely to survive than those without it. Except for one like Laddy. He stops thinking when he is frightened, leading to mindless reaction. In the wild, if he didn't end up dinner, he would surely end up committing suicide. For humans dealing with horses, the lack of survival tendency is not necessarily a bad thing. The 'dead heads' may not survive the mountain lion, but the human will survive life with the horse!

I have bred many mares and raised lots of foals. Sometimes the way the genes work surprises you. Laddy is the product of two wonderful horses. His sire is one of the nicest, most even tempered horses I have ever known. The mare will do anything I ask of her. Laddy cannot trust. A horse which is incapable of trust can never be trusted. So you are left scratching your head. It's called a nick, and these two bloodlines don't nick. I'm also left taking care of a horse that is of no use. But I caused him to be, so I care for him. And for two others that did not nick well.

Lest I leave an impression that horses are dangerous I want to say that this is not so. Of course they are large and they can think, which means they can have an idea different from your own. But they don't want to hurt you and most never do. It is the business of raising them and the number of them which sometimes puts me on the ground. The vast majority of horse owners never experience what I do. And since I stopped raising foals, I don't experience what it feels like to be hit by a linebacker much anymore. Except when nervous Laddy is overwhelmed by the guy with the cap and needs to exit. We'll blame it on the cap and let Laddy off the hook. If you have ever spent time with crazy horse people you know it's never the horse's fault.

I learned I still bounce. I got up, kept the horse from leaving and got him safely into the paddock. I was sore last night, but feel alright this morning. My hand is a bit of a mess, but it will be OK.  How's that for a glimpse into the life.

This is the reason why I did it. And why I still do.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Penned Up & Pent Up

The horses have been confined to paddock turnout for two months, a negative side effect of the early spring. They are full of energy with no place to put it.

So they run circles in the paddock.

Mr. Solo is enjoying his new-found freedom as one of the geldings. Topper is giving him the snake eye as he takes a spin past him. Tops is keeping Ari and Scamper in the corner; they are mine, says he!


Bounce showing how he got his name. Yee-haw.

The Lad-Man is amazed.

I have been busy but not with anything worth writing about. I am scraping paint, pulling weeds. Not very interesting to anyone but me. And I think I am beginning to find it less interesting as the days go by. Perhaps the next photos will be of me running wildly around the paddock!

The farrier will be here for the morning, so I will hear some news as we give the beasties their pedicure. The handsome chestnut in the photo above will have his tootsies done, which means the vet will be here as well. Laddy takes great exception to farrier work. And the farrier takes great exception to being launched by Laddy. So he gets a cocktail of drugs to put him in the mood. Bad Lad.

It is a beautiful day, I have work to do. Enjoy your day good people.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

As Far As The Eye Can See

White headstones. My father was interred today at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. It has been nine weeks since he died but my mother couldn't find his discharge papers, so it took longer than it should have done.

It would have been best to put a period to this process earlier, but it was a beautiful day and the place doesn't look desolate in the spring. It is very overwhelming in winter to see all of the stark white headstones in the winter landscape. My mother may have been overcome by that.

We were in a small section of the cemetery and look at all of these headstones. Your eye cannot not see where they end. Amazing. Sobering. And strangely peaceful and comforting.

Look at them all.

There were a lot of these in the thirty feet or so that we walked about in. Notice the headstone in the background as well. When I commented on this Mark said it isn't any different now. The US has the highest infant mortality rate of the industrialized nations. Still, to see so many in such a small space.

When Taps is played there is no getting away without a catch in the throat and tears in the eyes. He got a three shot salute and a full honor guard. My father didn't want to be buried so his ashes will be interred in a wall niche. There is a space beside him for my mother.

Now this chapter is closed. He became a different person in his last few years, so I will remember and miss my dad as he had been and not as he became. I'm glad he will spend eternity here, with so much company.

Monday, April 19, 2010

In a Day

I wanted to check in, so you know I am alive and well.

We've had wonderful weather and have been taking advantage of the gift we've been given, leaving me busy throughout the day and tired in the evening. I don't know why I am continuously surprised that I tire more easily as the years wear on. Somehow it does not seem fair.

There has not been one interesting thing happening in my life on the farm these days. It has been a continuation of the constant; horses, maintenance and refurbishing. And I am happy doing it. The awakening of all things green has given me a much needed lift in attitude and energy. The heat and humidity which is to come will sap me of both soon enough, but for now it is full steam ahead!

So on this lovely day Mark will spread manure, I will be busy holding horses for the farrier, getting all the news fit to pass on, and simply enjoying simplicity. Seems like a good way to pass a day. And it won't be long before these are in bloom.

Enjoy your own day good people.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rainy Days & Thursdays

Always make me think.

The horses will spend the day in the barn again. We have had a lot of rain and the soil is sloppy and slippery. My delicate flowers don't get put out on days like this. I think it has more to do with my own reluctance to trudge through the muck, but I will continue to maintain it is for their benefit.

What a difference some rain makes. I have not altered this photo, the grass really is that green. All of the green things are sprouting, working their way out of the soil and toward the light. I wonder if the plants are as confused as I am. This is the way the landscape looks in May.

Green, lots of green. And fence boards needing paint. Fence boards always need paint.

Puddles and peony. I am a fan of the peony. No maintenance and so much beauty. I have the original farm family to thank for the many large peony plants that adorn the property.

The last day of tax season. Mark will emerge from his cave at the end of the day. I wonder if he will recognize me. The odds will improve as to whether he will now remember at least half of what I say to him.

I am lazy today. My mind is lazy and only wants to think of things simple. Like puddles and peonies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dancing in on Thunder's Call & Lightning's Flash

We entered spring.

Spring is quietly creeping into my life, by way of my yard. Perhaps not so quietly, as we had a humdinger of a thunderstorm overnight. If you feel tremors under you feet it would be me doing the happy dance. We needed rain in the worst way.

I bought two cold hardy repeat blooming rhododendron today, which is why they are in full bloom. We have a limited selection of azalea and rhododendron we can choose from because of our harsh climate, but I am grateful to the University of Minnesota's horticultural college for developing these winter hardy plants.

The box elder are budding.

Old fashion orange day lily making an appearance.

The asiatic lilies are feeling brave, it is April after all.


Never spring without dandelions.

French tarragon.

A favorite - delphinium.

Blurry red twig dogwood. I liked the image with the wood pile focused behind. We dig the dogwood out of the ditch and transplant it, as well as honeysuckle. They grow wild and I use the free landscape material.

I use a lot of what I have on hand; like horse manure. It makes a good fertilizer, but I also use it as mulch. The bedding is ground wood, so it works great as a mulch. After fermenting in a pile all winter you can hardly tell what it once was! I do live in the country, you know.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Concrete Solution

We are having very temperate weather for April in Minnesota, which is wonderful if you have lots of outdoor projects to complete. It is too early to plant, so I'm taking advantage of the mild temperatures to get some big projects done.

We have a gravel driveway, but there is a concrete apron, which has an area in front of the third stall that is badly cracked. I am going to mix quick setting cement and fix it today, as well as repairing the cracks in the sidewalk with a handy, self-leveling product I found in the building department of Home Depot.

When all is dry I will use a concrete stain to finish my little repair project off. Some of you may remember I had developed an addiction to HGTV. Well this project is a direct result of my habit. Who knew you could stain concrete?

In the next week I plan to paint the garage. The front is peeling badly and it looks terrible. I usually paint in the fall, but our gift of a real spring this year will allow me to do this now. I am, as you can see, the handy person in the family. It's not that Mark can't do, he won't do. He really should live in a condo. I will set him to fence repair and listen to a long litany of complaints about the horses. As long as he fixes the fence, he can complain all he wants.

I love projects so I live in the right place. The long suffering husband does his best to stay out of the line of vision and avoid the dreaded words "I need this fixed."

It's a great day, I hope you all enjoy yours.